I didn't think that I would ever see the day when I would feel sorry for Mordred, be on his side and want to cry for him, but every day (and every episode of Merlin) is full of surprises. His presence has been a constant threat throughout the entire series, not only because of legend, but in particular this series because he's had an active role; this episode is really Mordred's episode. There's several glimpses of hope where we think there might be a chance for redemption and a happy ending, but this is fate after all, and you don't mess with fate.
Arthur, Merlin and the gang are heading back to Camelot from a hunting trip when they stumble across an abandoned site. Only it hasn't been abandoned; the men transporting cargos of weapons to Camelot have been killed by Saxons. Mordred's sharp eye catches a cloaked figure making a run for it and he's the first to follow. When she trips from her injured leg and he gets an eyeful, he realises that it's his childhood love, Kara, and gives her the chance to run, not realising that Merlin has seen all.
He returns later in the night, having stolen potions from Gaius' chambers for her wound. She's flabbergasted that he's a Knight of Camelot, living alongside Arthur who would likely kill him or at least exile him if he knew who he really was. The happiness that radiates from Mordred's face simply from being with Kara again is beautiful to see and I just can't get over what a pretty, pretty man he is. Truly worthy to be a Knight of Camelot alongside the others. He tries to tell Kara what a good man Arthur is and how things will change over time, but she doesn't seem convinced.
Merlin ambushes Mordred when he returns the next morning and the latter is reduced to begging Merlin to keep silent.
"What right have you to question me? Why are you doing this? Everything I do, you think the worst ... She's one of us."Merlin agrees to keep Mordred's promise, though clearly not happy about it. But when out patrolling with Arthur, there's absolutely nothing Merlin can do when Arthur finds and follows Mordred's tracks which lead him straight to Kara who then tries to kill the King ...
Kara is an arrogant, stubborn and silly bitch. I'm sympathetic towards her because Mordred is in love with her and clearly a better man because of it, and she's completely entitled to want to fight for her freedom and the freedom of her people, but boy does she know how to turn a bad situation into an even worse one. It's already bad that she's being charged with the murder of the men in the forest, but she only taunts Arthur with his fate, with, amongst other things: "It is not I, Arthur Pendragon, who needs to answer for my crimes."
Mordred is distraught when Kara is sentenced to hanging. He swallows his pride and gets down on his knees, begging for Kara's life. When he says "She's always lived inside my heart," I think I fell in love a little bit. Arthur went to the lengths he did to save Gwen; Mordred isn't asking for anything more than the chance to be with the one he loves. Merlin is watching in the background and the whole scene is just unbelievably sad:
Arthur: "You know there is nothing I wouldn't do for you. [Being a Knight of Camelot] is a bond we share. Yet what you ask ... This girl, she is a danger ... She has admitted her guilt. I have no option.Merlin knows of the pit that Arthur is digging for himself and tries to intervene on Mordred's behalf, knowing of the potential consequences that a grudge would have, but to no avail.
Merlin: What of the bond between Knights?These scenes are really quite depressing: amazing to watch, but you just know absolutely that Merlin is right, Arthur is wrong and the whole thing is just going to end inexplicably badly.
Arthur: The law must apply. It is paramount
Merlin: You're breaking his heart. You'll lose his trust. Think again.
Arthur: There's nothing I can do ... He'll come to forgive me.
Merlin: I think you're wrong
Arthur: Only time will tell
As might be expected, Mordred escapes with Kara, only to be caught. The scene in the forest where Mordred is standing alone with his sword, facing all these men who are his brothers-in-arms at the receiving end of their fury is deeply deeply sad. Mordred is heartbroken and I think deep down knows that he's not going to be able to get away with it, but didn't want it to be this way with these men who were (and still are) his friends, against him.
Back at Camelot, Arthur has absolutely no idea what to do with Mordred. He trusted him just like any other of the Knights of the Round Table and Mordred has become one of Arthur's best knights, but most importantly, his friend. Through no fault of his own, Mordred was in love with Kara but she has persuaded him to take the wrong choices and he's now become an enemy of the land. This is exactly what Merlin feared and what he wanted to avoid; again, he speaks up for Mordred (I wish Mordred could see these moments, though Merlin isn't acting altruistically) and asks that they both be set free and exiled from Camelot to pursue their lives and love somewhere where they are not a threat to the land.
I'm very surprised that Arthur did take Merlin's plea into account; then again, Arthur isn't his father. He gives Kara the chance to repent for her sins and in return, her sentence will be cast aside and she can leave a free woman. It's the perfect chance: she's young, she's in love and it will allow her to start a new life with Mordred that she longs for. Of course she doesn't choose it. I didn't manage to get down all of her speech, but it went something along the lines of "It is not a crime to fight to be who you are ... You deserve everything that is coming to you, Arthur Pendragon."
Mordred's fury rocks the dungeons and up in the courtyard, Merlin feels the force of it. Arthur is desolate later in his chambers and asks himself why he trusted Mordred so - this isn't exactly the time, place or mood for Merlin to say 'I told you so,' but it would really serve Arthur right.
Where does Mordred go? Straight into Morgana's arms, of course. I'm surprised at how easily Morgana accepted Mordred back on her side without any greater questioning or suspicion; how does she not know that he isn't working as a spy? He's not, but this is a time of war. Mordred - the bastard - delivers exactly what Morgana has been so fruitlessly searching for on a diamond-encrusted, platinum platter: Emrys' identity and location. This is going to be one epic finale.