[personal profile] kylezy
I realised why tons of people don't do recaps. They take for-fucking-ever.

Warnings: Spoilers (obviously), swearing and an Arthur/Merlin bias.

Firstly, Show, I'm not sure how you do it. You have laughable special effects, sometimes questionable actors, flat-out questionable writing and yet here I am wondering how the hell I'm going to live for 9 months without you.

I suspect saucery sorcery. Evil, evil, wonderful sorcery.

We open on absolute chaos and I blink and wonder briefly if I missed an episode. Merlin just let the Slash Dragon out, didn't he? Did he start this carnage as soon as he got out then? I would have gone for a snack personally, I can't imagine Uther feeds him well, if at all. Gwen tells the audience Gaius that people can't take a third night and he tells her to have faith in Arthur.

Speaking of, he's leading the archers in a pretty useless attack against the dragon. Leon is freaking out because he's sure there's something diplomatic he could be doing with Uther instead of this shit but that's the luck of the draw when you're one of Camelot's finest knights. Well, this and the fact Camelot doesn't seem to actually have a whole lot of knights in the first place, so he was probably desperately needed.

BOOM, TITLES, and I'm still trying to work out what the hell just happened.

Gwen goes to get fresh water (in the middle of all the wreckage because where else would the tap be) and when the dragon spies her, he swoops. Yeah, we don't call him Slash Dragon for nothing, dude is serious about his OTP. Arthur tries to rescue her, though I'm still unsure why he bothers, she doesn't need any help to run. Naturally, he is injured because the writers needed a plot device to allow Merlin to talk to his dad in private and also, they wanted you to get really hammered if you're playing the drinking game 'have a shot each time Arthur has his shirt off'. Cheers, guys, for the alcohol poisoning that will befall us over the next 40 minutes!

Merlin runs after them and this is the part when Arthur puts his earplugs in and his blindfold on because Merlin doesn't even try to hide his magic as he takes a shot at the dragon. Everyone else in the square must have come prepared too and they fit their earplugs in just in time to not hear the dragon yell about magic.

Ooh, here we go team, take a shot, it's shirtless Arthur time. Gwen and Arthur make moony eyes at each other and I kind of go 'aww' until the camera focuses on Gaius and his creepy uncle stare.

Merlin comes in and now he exercises a little caution by lowering his voice when he talks of his magic. Here's one place where you probably could talk normally because everyone else has their own damn problems to deal with but whatever. Gaius tells him magic is of no use and Merlin huffs. HE COULD HAVE USED THIS INFORMATION A LITTLE BIT EARLIER, GAIUS.

The castle is burning in a rather nice shot, I must admit. Arthur rattles off casualties and they're all dismayed because they have no idea how the dragon escaped. Hey everyone, look at Merlin's shifty eyes, does that give you a clue? Gaius then gets his weekly time in the spotlight, explaining how there may just be one dragonlord left and Arthur volunteers to go get him. There is a nice bit of dialogue between him and Uther that kind of takes me by surprise; Uther forbids him, of course, but Arthur stays firm and doesn't even attempt to back down. He's calm and it's with just a hint of kingly air that he pleads with Uther not to turn this into a battle of wills. He looks at the King with pity in his eyes before he walks out and we all get a glimpse of what a great man Arthur will turn out to be. Even Merlin looks a bit more in love than usual and that's saying something.

Story time over in Gaius' chambers. He explains about the dragonlords, how they could talk to the creatures, tame them. Uther saw this as evil magic and had them destroyed and Merlin fails to look surprised at this bit of information. What does surprise him though is finding out that the one remaining dragonlord is his daddy. Man, Colin Morgan must have been emotionally drained at the end of filming this season, Merlin has cried in so many episodes. I'd invent a new drinking game except whenever Merlin cries, I want to curl up in a ball and die.

Anyway, Merlin stomps his feet and says he had a right to know. Just as he starts getting into a nice stride for a temper tantrum, the scene ends and I praise every deity I know that we don't have to watch Merlin regress to being a teenager (or toddler, for that matter). He apologises the next morning though and he and Arthur ride off to look for Balinor.

I really want it to be Bradley and Colin riding when the horses gallop, not stunt doubles, but they're too far away to tell for sure. The Colin one looks a bit bulky but maybe he's wearing padding because he's so accident prone? I'm overthinking this, aren't I?

They enter the city where Balinor was last heard of and it starts to rain. I'm praising those deities again for giving us wet boys. They blow into the local tavern and everybody stares the way they do in every tavern around the world, according to film. Bradley James hilariously delivers his line of 'greetings' and a man draws a knife. You'd think there would be a scuffle but they manage to get a table and when they question the waitress (?), he tells them (in significantly less words) that this is the kind of place where people mind their own damn business if they know what's good for them. Merlin takes a look around and hopes that none of these men boned his mother.

The next scene is gayer than Christmas and I'm going to skip the deities and just send my thanks straight to the writers for coming up with this bit of perfection. Merlin ogles Arthur's naked back (take a drink!) and Arthur catches him, although Merlin tries to play it off by quickly looking at the ceiling as if it is ever so fascinating. It's quite lovely to watch the Prince try and goad Merlin, who's having absolutely none of it. I like how BJ plays it here actually. He rolls his eyes, clearly not appreciating Merlin's secrets and yet when Merlin pauses, on the verge of telling him, Arthur is watching him carefully, exceedingly interested in what's about to come out of Merlin's mouth. I doubt Arthur has ever showed anyone below his rank (aside from Gwen) that much concern. It's quite a nice sister scene to the one in 1x10.

Back in Camelot, Sir Leon is in charge of the archers now and is just as successful as Arthur was in killing the Slash Dragon. Slashy tries to burn the knights but they cleverly block the flame with their shields. Don't ask how the shields don't heat up and burn their hands, it's not important. What's important is that Leon had a good idea, so take that naysayers. Uther broods in his room, most likely upset that the only person who listens to his orders was just on the verge of being roasted.

We head back to the slumber party where the boys are sleeping and I'm just going to go ahead and assume this is because they're pooped from performing a séance and braiding each others' hair. Someone tries to steal their suitcases (okay, I don't actually know what they are, my screen is too dark) but Arthur springs to action and throws the man on Merlin's bed and I imagine this must be an awkward thing to wake up to. Arthur inquires about Balinor's location. The man tells them he lives in a cave and Merlin seems disappointed, like, shit, are you telling me Dad is homeless? Weeeird. Arthur is still shirtless so go ahead and have another drink, you deserve it. Meanwhile, I'm over here wondering why they bothered writing in this town at all if Balinor was in the cave the whole time. We could have skipped this bit of the adventure and had some character development instead but maybe I'm just being nit-picky. On the plus side, we did get pillowfighting!boys, so maybe I should watch what I say?

The next morning they head off to the cave and poor Arthur stumbles along, probably poisoned from an infection in his wound. Guys, there is probably pus there on his shoulder. PUS. Just thought you should know. They hide when they see enemy soldiers and for a moment, if you pause it in the right spot like I did, it looks like Merlin is sexing up Arthur and the character development I was talking about? I changed my mind, I want this instead. Get on it, cast and crew of Merlin, more accidental sexytiems please!

GIF by [livejournal.com profile] who_love

I'm going to presume Merlin uses magic to get Arthur on that horse, otherwise my head might explode from the implied manhandling involved for someone as delicate as Merlin to lift someone as buff as Arthur. This is all beside the point because hey, nice view. The forest isn't bad either.

Merlin 'sneaks' into the cave and I know what's going to happen but Balinor still scares me when he sneaks up behind him (a trait Merlin clearly hasn't inherited). Our warlock gets his first look at his father and not for the last time in this episode, Colin's reaction is beautiful.

Shirtless Arthur, take a drink. You've got to be a bit sloshed by now, yeah? Balinor mutters a few words in the Old Religion after a careful glance at Merlin, who he decides is not a threat.

Allow me to interrupt my own recap briefly to ask: is it just me or did Balinor sometimes look a smidge like Luke Wilson?

Separated at birth or; do I need to start wearing glasses?

Merlin drinks in every little detail of his father's appearance and he's about as subtle at pretending to not be interested now, as he was with Arthur earlier. They eat dinner and the conversation is totally awks but I'm too focused on the amazing things Morgan is doing with his eyes. He is on fire in this scene, but not literally, as hilarious as that would be. I'm not an actor but I imagine there must be a degree of difficulty involved in scenes that require you to be somewhat normal. I mean, when you cry you look sad, so the audience is going to believe what you're selling, in most cases. But how do you 'act' normal and still act at the same time? Colin does a bang up job here, I'm really impressed.

Balinor somehow knows Arthur is the Prince and he expresses both his dislike for Uther and his unwillingness to do anything about their little dragon problem. Merlin begins fishing for information closer to his heart and Balinor tells of Ealdor and a woman whom he loved. Merlin is about to blurt out that Balinor is his father when Arthur picks that exact moment to moan his name. Twice. This show could not get any gayer if it tried and I love it for that. The mood broken, as tends to happen when another man moans out your name, Balinor heads off to bed. In the morning we come to see Merlin watching his father from a distance. There seems to be no ulterior motive in this scene except for us to see how much Merlin desires a father and I appreciate it for this. Arthur comes out of the cave, apparently on a slight high from the salve Balinor rubbed on him. He learns that the dragonlord won't help and he asks what kind of a man he is. Merlin's reply is broken as he says "I dunno. I thought he was something more".

Camelot (remember there's like a dragon or something attacking the city, I dunno, can we go back to Merlin and his daddy please?) barely stands now as people run about in slow motion, trying to put fires out. You know, if you went in full speed, things would get done a lot quicker, yeah? Fucking city dwellers and their flair for the dramatic, am I right? Gaius and Gwen talk which is nice because they usually don't interact unless Merlin is in danger. He asks if she misses Morgana and we're suddenly reminded that the dragon's release wasn't the only event from last week. Oh yeeeeah, that hot Irish chick was dying. Hmm, I wonder if she survived? OH WELL, LET'S NOT TROUBLE OURSELVES OVER THIS TRIFLING MATTER, BACK TO TODAY'S STORY. Gaius and Gwen continue but all I can focus on is where Richard is putting his hands (eeek, watch out for the pigeon poo Mr Wilson).

Back at the pretty cave, Balinor sends them on their way but not before Merlin sneakily name drops Gaius. I'm distracted briefly by the fabric Balinor wears over his clothes and the way it kind of looks like a dragon's wings and wait a second! He's a dragonlord, and oh, I see what you did there costume department! Clever!

In the next scene, the boys are picnicking and Arthur decides he needs to goad Merlin some more because clearly it worked a treat last time. This time Merlin indulges him though and he mentions one or two of Arthur's character flaws (condescending, patronising, overbearing) before they are interrupted by a twig snapping. OMG IT'S BALINOR, HOW COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED. Merlin shyly nods his approval and whatever shred of maternal instinct I possess kicks in and demands I pet him softly on the head.

Balinor and Merlin collect wood together and Merlin gathers the courage to ask about the words his father uttered while healing Arthur. He tells him that the Old Religion is something that can't be taught, it's either a part of you or it isn't. Merlin finds even more courage and asks again about Ealdor and Hunith, eventually admitting he is Hunith's son and that she never married. Unlike on Maury Povich or Jerry Springer, there is a lot less swearing going on when Balinor finds out he IS the father. Arthur walks by in the distance, checking up on them without any subtlety whatsoever and Merlin quickly tells Balinor that he mustn't tell Arthur. For a second I think his dad is going to walk away but he approaches Merlin carefully and...hands him his pile of sticks? He's only been his father for five seconds and already he's giving out chores, sheesh. They both smile and cry a bit but neither say a word until later by the fire.

Arthur must know an important conversation is about to happen because he's taken that sleeping draught that allows him to not be disturbed by anything that might be useful to hear. Balinor whittles and Merlin watches him as if this is the greatest thing ever. It's about here that my love for Colin Morgan really cements.

Merlin: We could have come with you.
Balinor: What kind of life would you have had here?
Merlin: We'd have been...happy. *magical grin that melts my ovaries*
Merlin: When we finish in Camelot *toothy grin* I will take you to Ealdor.


They get into a discussion about dragonlords and Balinor tells him the gift is handed from father to son and once Merlin faces his first dragon, he'll know if he has the power. Merlin realises he's faced his dragon more than that and is unaware of any power. I start to worry Balinor might not be his father because I am gullible. Balinor says "goodnight son" and Merlin looks like he's about to explode with happiness as he gets to say for the first time in his life "sleep well father".

When he wakes in the morning, Daddy had left him a whittled dragon and Merlin has a moment to smile peacefully before things start turning to crap. Arthur shoves Merlin away as a soldier attacks and the three of them fight bravely until Balinor pushes himself in front of a sword to save Merlin's life. You had to ruin Merlin's potential happiness by dying on him, didn't you, Balinor? You selfish bastard. Merlin goes all Mordred on the soldier and throws him into a tree just by yelling at him but that doesn't solve anything because his father still dies in his arms. Arthur runs back into scene, who knows where the fuck he's been, and is mighty pissed off the dragonlord had the gall to go and die on him. Balinor is letting everyone down today, isn't he?

Colin Morgan then slays everyone's heart as Merlin tries to stifle his suffering but cannot without one last sob. This is where I began sniffling.

They ride back to Camelot and Arthur informs his father he has failed. Colin Morgan's lip wibbles and he struggles to contain his emotions and this is where I stopped sniffing and actually started crying. Goddamn you, Morgan, goddamn you.

Arthur decides a suicide mission would be swell and Leon is the first to volunteer, as if you had any doubt. The prince needs eleven other knights to go with him and coincidentally, that's the number of knights in the room. HOW ABOUT THAT? Merlin is shaking his head in the background and I really thought he was about to reveal himself but I'll get into that later.

Merlin is still crying and so I'm still blubbering as well. Gaius informs him that the dragonlord power only kicks in once your father is dead, so PHEW, there's that mystery solved. Merlin asks if Gaius believes he's strong enough and Gaius replies that only time will tell. Right, so Gaius is not the one you go to when you need a pep talk, apparently?

In Arthur's chambers, Merlin is preparing his Prince for battle. Arthur deals with his impending death by joking, Merlin deals by giving him advice. It's not often I admit when I'm wrong but the show actually does manage to get a little gayer right here:

Arthur: The dragonlord today. I saw you.
Me: *shocked* WHAT? Did you actually witness and understand something important, Arthur?
Arthur: One thing I tell all my young knights; no man is worth your tears.
Me: *sigh* Nope. No. He just thinks Merlin is sad about losing the handsome older gentleman.

Arthur is incredibly supportive of Merlin's life choices, not to mention liberal for a man of that era. The look on Merlin's face simply suggests Arthur is now banned from all chick flicks, lest he quote any more bad lines.

The warlock surprises Arthur by insisting he's joining the fight and Arthur is genuinely surprised, confused and proud all at the same time. So many emotions all at once hurt his brain and he recovers only by giving Merlin a manly punch because boys don't hug, ew homo stuff, and they go off to meet their *~fate~*. They all head off in slow motion again but this time I think it could help them because a dragon would be pretty fast at full speed, yes?

It gets a bit ridiculous now but we've gotten this far.

Everybody but Merlin is wearing armour. Yeah, real brave guys, look how the only real man rolls. They assemble in a tiny field that doesn't look big enough for them, let alone a great bloody dragon. Nevertheless, Slash Dragon lands and knocks out everyone except Merlin and Arthur, although Arthur realises this is an important moment and therefore blacks out anyway.

Sir Leon is not dead by the way. He's just not. Or he certainly won't be next season now the writers know how popular he is.

I don't even want to start on the why the hell Merlin didn't do magic here. Season three, you'd better deliver.

I've been saying all season that there's no way Merlin's magic would be revealed. It's just too early for them to have that potential conflict out of the way. But in this episode, oh god, I wanted it and to be honest I actually thought it was going to happen. And you know what? I would have been more than okay with it. Honestly, I don't see how they could get a more epic reveal than in this episode.

UNLESS my secret fantasy happens: Merlin and Arthur are having a conflict with Morgause and Morgana, who plan to kill them both. The girls have the boys cornered and with no hope of escape, Merlin has no choice but to surprise everyone by using magic. So, on one hand, Merlin uses some badass sorcery to escape them, shocking both M & M in regards to both a) having magic and b) how much more powerful he is than them. On the other hand, Arthur finally knows and is ~*betrayed~* and the friendship is destroyed (at least for a couple of episodes before Arthur finally forgives him for lying).

Sorry for the tangent, I'm just jonesing for that scenario. Someone get on and write it for me, will you? Anyway, like I was saying, there were a couple parts I thought a magic reveal might fit in nicely. The first, when Balinor had died and Merlin throws the soldier into the tree Mordred!style. Arthur could have seen and Merlin would be like, yeah, I'm magic, but kill me later, we don't have time for discussion and I'm the only one who can save Camelot. And Arthur would be so shocked at grieving and mad Merlin, he would go with the flow until the end, when everyone is celebrating and Merlin comes up to Arthur, timid and fidgeting and wanting to talk and Arthur just turns and walks away, all betrayed like. CLIFFHANGER is CLIFFY.

The second was when he and Arthur were in the chambers and they're both holding swords and Merlin is going on about saving him so many times. I squeed a bit, I actually thought he was going to just reveal himself right then, otherwise why was he bothering to say all that stuff? He didn't, obviously, but it would have been cool.

Insert magic reveal here? GIF by [livejournal.com profile] who_love.

The last was obviously here when they're fighting the dragon. Arthur could have woken up and seen. Let's be honest actually, he should have. Or Merlin could have done something before all the knights died. I can see it clearly in my head, Merlin, looking over at Arthur with a sad, regretful look, before throwing his arms into the sky and shouting his drgn spk (like 1337 speak but more throaty). And then the episode could have just ended with the boys looking at each other, Merlin, eyes still blazing, Arthur, with his hand on his sword.

I want my angsty!boys moment, okay?

But back to the actual plot! Balinor's voice over talks us through Merlin pumping himself up and all of a sudden Merlin roars and commands the dragon with words he must obey. He picks up a spear and prepares to kill the Slash Dragon, but decides at the last minute that he'll spare his soul brother. The dragon flies off, promising not to forget Merlin's clemency and I'm so glad he didn't die.

Arthur wakes up (and if we can compliment him on nothing else, the boy has magnificent and appropriate timing) and is informed he dealt the mortal blow. He's going to be mighty pissed when he eventually finds out he hasn't done all this cool stuff Merlin keeps telling him he's done.

The boys walk back through the smoke and wreckage (Leon is not dead, Leon is not dead) and Uther is relieved to see his son is alive and well. In what I think is unintentionally the funniest scene, Arthur and Merlin hug their loved ones, Gwen and Gaius. Guess who drew the shorter stick here?

Merlin and Gaius link arms (I'm not even deliberately gaying it up here, I promise) and bounce away to begin planning the reconstruction of Camelot, which in all likelihood will probably take around seven years. See you then guys!
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