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Recap: Merlin S 04 E 09 Lancelot Du Lac

Lancelot du Lac

A Feet-First Introduction reveals Agravaine marching down an upstairs corridor to Arthur's chamber, where his nephew has a serious announcement to make: he woke up that morning and decided to marry Guinevere. It's hard to know who's more surprised: Agravaine or Merlin, who is polishing armour at the table and loudly drops some of the pieces on the floor. Agravaine protests, but Arthur is in control. Having learnt his lesson from His Father's Son, he smoothly lists the reasons as to why Guinevere will make an excellent queen and shuts down his uncle's protests before they get a chance to pick up much steam. Merlin looks delighted.

However, there's someone else who won't be at all happy with this news. Morgana drowses by the fire in her hovel, pulling a knife on Agravaine when he awakens her. Agravaine takes a seat and gently tries to break the news: that Arthur has decided to make Guinevere his queen. Recalling her vision and proving that she still doesn't know the difference between a Queen regnant and a queen consort, Morgana decides to come up with another one of her ridiculously convoluted plans to ensure that Guinevere will never sit upon her throne. Kill King Arthur? Nah, that's way too simple! Her plan involves soul coins, zombies, mind-control, magical bracelets and perfect timing. It can't fail!

Beneath the roots of an ancient gnarled tree, Morgana enters a cave and looks around in confusion. Behind her she hears the sound of something moving and turns around slowly to look upon a haggard and blind old hag. The woman grabs her by the arm and sniffs her hand, identifying her as Morgana Pendragon, the woman destined to bring back the Old Ways. Morgana hands over a coin that was given to her by Morgause, asking how she can use it. She's instructed to go to the last of the five gateways that separate the mortal world from the land of the dead, wade into the Pool of Neahmid, and cast the coin into the waters.

Morgana does precisely this and watches as the surface of the lake begins to bubble. A figure emerges slowly from the depths and wades toward her. It's Lancelot - or at least, it's something that looks like him. He introduces himself and bows, telling Morgana that he's hers to command. A soft smile crosses Morgana's face.

Back in her hovel, Morgana has dressed Lancelot in matching black and waits for him to awaken. He reaches for his sword, but Morgana stops him, informing him that she has something other than fighting in mind for him.

Morgana: We have work to do, but it's not your sword I require so much as your heart. There is a woman. A servant girl. A lowly peasant called Guinevere. Or Gwen as she's known to her friends. There are many who have tried to win the hand of King Arthur, but it was Gwen who won his heart. She's honest and straightforward; a simple soul.

As Morgana speaks, there is a montage of scenes between Arthur and Guinevere. Gwen is making one of the beds with Arthur watching from the doorway. Unnoticed by Gwen, he approaches from behind and covers her eyes, whispers something in her ear, and then gently blindfolds her. Meanwhile, Morgana circles Lancelot and strokes his cheek with the back of her hand.

Morgana: Arthur trusts her entirely. As he does you. For you are Lancelot, the noble, the honourable, the brave. You're everything the knight's code stands for. Before she was Arthur's, she was yours, Lancelot. You were her First Love. And you will be her last.

That's right folks, Morgana summoned a wet, naked, totally enslaved Lancelot from the bottom of a lake, just so she could send him to Camelot in order to seduce someone else. Even Lancelot seems somewhat bemused by this as he inspects his sword.note 

Meanwhile, Arthur has led Guinevere back to her house and closed the door behind them. He unravels the blindfold from her eyes and she looks around to see that the room has been turned into a massive fire hazard... er...very romantic setting with a lit candle on every available surface. (Who wants to bet that Merlin is responsible for this?) Arthur takes her hand, leads her to a small stool and kneels down in front of her. For a moment they just look at each other, and then Arthur asks her to be his wife. Guinevere's response is to throw her arms around him and hug him tightly, a reaction that requires Arthur to ask for clarification on whether it means "yes". Gwen confirms her acceptance, and big smiles are in order as Arthur slips an engagement ring onto her finger. Cue ALL the violins! Listening from outside, Merlin smiles to himself and slips away.

Agravaine enters the hovel and asks Morgana how their new accomplice is doing. Morgana tells him that he's learning fast and will soon be able to convince everyone that he's the real Lancelot. Still, Morgana has a moment of what almost passes for regret when she considers how far Lancelot has fallen from the man he once was.

Back in Camelot, the engagement celebrations are in full swing. A round of jousting is taking place in the arena, with knights catching flowered hoops with their lances and presenting them to Guinevere, seated beside Agravaine in the royal box. Arthur presents one to her, and the two share a smile before Arthur heads to the sidelines. He pours himself a drink as Merlin teases him on his choice of an engagement present: "two days of sweaty men knocking the sense out of each other." (This by the way, is a fantastic engagement present. Every girl should get one). Arthur points out that Guinevere understands, and sure enough, she's in the midst of receiving another token from Sir Percival. Horns blow and the crowd cheers as a helmeted knight enters the tournament grounds. He takes a lance and expertly catches one of the flowered hoops. Agravaine side-eyes Guinevere as she steps down to the edge of the stand to retrieve the prize. She takes it from the end of the lance, but her smile fades as the knight removes his helmet. Everyone looks on in astonishment as Lancelot reveals himself to the crowd.

Later that night, Arthur, Guinevere, Merlin and the knights gather around the dinner table to listen to Lancelot's story. He claims that he remembers little after stepping through the veil, but that he owes his survival to the Mahati people, who cared for him during the months he spent away from Camelot. Once his strength returned, he made his way home. Arthur takes Guinevere's hand and pointedly thanks Lancelot for the sacrifice he made on the Isle of the Blessed, and Lancelot responds by proposing a toast to Camelot. Only Merlin seems perturbed by Lancelot's return.

Down in his room, Merlin offers Lancelot his bed, and springs his trap:

Merlin: I've spent so long thinking about what happened. Could I have saved you and if there was anything I could have done? If I could have used magic...
Lancelot: If any of us had magic Merlin, our lives would be much easier.

Merlin forces a smile and returns to Gaius in the main physician's quarters. Gaius immediately picks up on Merlin's troubled face, and Merlin shares with him the fact that Lancelot no longer remembers that Merlin has magic. According to him, that's something too important for Lancelot to have ever forgotten. Gaius suggests that they give him some time.

Agravaine meets with Morgana in the forest and breaks the news: oddly enough, it seems that Guinevere isn't prepared to throw herself on another man just days before her wedding to the King of Camelot. Huh. But Morgana has foreseen this blatantly obvious eventuality, she gives Agravaine a bracelet to pass on to Guinevere, telling him that it'll reawaken Gwen's feelings for Lancelot.

The following morning, Guinevere is brushing her hair in her little house when she hears a knock at the door. It's Lancelot, with a "heeeey baby" expression on his face. He asks to come in, a request that she's obviously uncomfortable in granting until he assures her that he only wants to wish her well. They step into the house and Gwen admits to him that she felt so guilty after he sacrificed himself, all because she requested that he look after Arthur. Lancelot assures her that he only did what he felt was right, but Gwen rather pointedly thanks him for saving Arthur's life - without him, there would be no wedding. Lancelot presents her with the bracelet, telling her that it came from the Mahati people.

Lancelot: I'd like you to wear it, for I see their goodness in you. It is a rare thing, and I was lucky to have been touched by it.

He steps closer, making Gwen visibly uncomfortable, cups her face in his hands and kisses her forehead. She looks relieved as he steps away, wishing her and Arthur happiness, and leaves the house. Thoughtfully, Gwen touches the bracelet encircling her wrist.

In his room, Merlin is researching necromancy in Gaius's books.

The tournament continues, but now the knights are jousting each other. Arthur is competing well, but Guinevere looks a little flustered when Lancelot enters the arena.

That night over dinner, Merlin asks Gaius what he knows about necromancy. Gaius is happy to provide the necessary exposition: that it's the most dangerous type of magic that there is, that even in the days of the Old Religion it was frowned upon, and that those raised from the dead were known as shades. Merlin confesses that he thinks Morgana has raised Lancelot from the dead. To prove his claims, Merlin paints a symbol on the floor (one that matches the spiral symbol on the back of Morgana's coin) and whispers a spell over it. He and Gaius hide in the closet and watch as Lancelot crosses the floor. As he steps over the symbol, an image of a skull appears superimposed over his face, accompanied by a sound that's suspiciously like that the Dorocha. They emerge unhappily from the cupboard, Merlin's suspicions confirmed. Now that they know Lancelot is really a shade, they need to figure out why he's in Camelot. They come to the logical conclusion that he's there to harm Arthur (silly boys, that makes way too much sense!)

During the tournament, Guinevere sneaks into Lancelot's tent with the excuse that she just wanted to wish him luck. When Lancelot reminds her that she should be saying that to her future husband, Guinevere seems to come to her senses and looks around in confusion, unsure why she's there. She hurries away, taking one last look at Lancelot before she goes. He smiles to himself.

Later that day Guinevere watches adoringly and Merlin suspiciously as Arthur and Lancelot meet on the battlefield. First Arthur and Leon go up against one another, resulting in Arthur unseating him. After saluting Gwen with a: "Did you see that? Did you see what I just did?" expression on his face, he turns back to face Lancelot. Percival notices the worried look on Merlin's face and tries to cheer him up, telling him that people will love the idea of Arthur and Lancelot jousting together. The crowd cheers as they get ready, and Agravaine glances over at Guinevere, who seems distracted. Gaius warns Merlin to be ready just in case magic is needed. Their first joust together results in Arthur getting wounded in the shoulder. Naturally, he decides to play on, but is clearly struggling in the saddle as he gallops toward Lancelot. The situation is resolved when Lancelot yields to him, and the two dismount, though Merlin is confused as to why Lancelot spared Arthur.

Still struggling, Arthur meets Lancelot on the field, right before the royal box. Guinevere is situated right between them, watching from above. Arthur urges Lancelot to his feet when he tries to kneel.

Arthur: I always thought you were the noblest of my knights, and you just proved me right. Thank you for your courtesy. It won't be forgotten.

From the sidelines, Gaius and Merlin wonder what the shade is up to, if not to hurt Arthur. But of course, Shade!Lancelot's plan has worked perfectly: it's only by playing on Guinevere's love for Arthur that he's able to draw her attention to himself. Gwen enters his tent and runs her hand across his shoulder blades, moving around him until they're face to face. Silently she interlaces his fingers with her own and rests her cheek against their clasped hands. Lancelot smiles down at her.

Night falls, and Lancelot sheathes his sword as he marches down one of the castle's corridors, shadowed by Merlin. He watches as Agravaine and Lancelot meet on the stairwell, and overhears Lancelot say that Gwen is on her way to their assignation. Elsewhere, Gwen slips away from the other ladies of the court and makes a quiet dash into the hallway. As Lancelot turns into another corridor, Merlin uses his magic to throw him through the air. He goes sliding across the floor and falls unconscious. It's pretty hilarious actually. Merlin hurries over to check on him and Lancelot jumps to his feet and hits Merlin in the head with the hilt of his sword. Now it's his turn to be unconscious.

Arthur is asleep in bed when he's awoken by Agravaine, who claims that there's something he must see.

Lancelot is waiting for Gwen in the council chamber, and sheathes his sword as she appears in the doorway. Gwen hurries across the floor to him and throws herself in his arms.

Gwen: Are you sure this is safe?
Lancelot: No one visits the council chamber at this hour of the night.

He smiles down at her. Arthur and Agravaine march down the corridor toward them. Merlin regains consciousness and sits up, rubbing his head. Realizing what's happened, he gets to his feet and hurries away. Gwen runs her hands across Lancelot's shirt and then reaches up to kiss him. He responds, glancing up when he hears the sound of approaching footsteps and the sight of shadows flickering in the doorway. Certain that it's Arthur, he deepens the kiss. Arthur enters the room, Agravaine behind him, and stops short, trying to understand what he's seeing. Merlin enters from another door, sees Arthur's face, and turns to see what he's looking at. Lancelot and Guinevere are standing in the shadows, arms around each other, kissing passionately.

Arthur reacts about as well as you'd expect. With an inarticulate roar, he draws his sword and attacks Lancelot. The shade is at once on the defensive, and a Sword Fight commences all across the council chamber. Guinevere looks on in horror, while Merlin desperately tries to keep track of who's got what sword. Arthur's fury is enough to knock Lancelot's sword right out of his hand, and while he scrambles for it, Arthur elbows him in the face and tries to strike him, his sword bouncing off one of the pillars. Even Agravaine looks a little disturbed. Lancelot manages to shove Arthur back up against another pillar, causing him to lose hold of his sword. Both of them fall to the ground, but Lancelot reaches his sword first. A spell from Merlin causes it to fly from his hand, giving Arthur time to grab his own sword. He advances on Lancelot, ready to kill him, when Guinevere steps in between them and begs them to stop. The fight leaves Arthur, and he retreats, looking appalled as he stares at Gwen.

A door to one of the dungeons opens, and Lancelot is shoved through. Gwen is taken to another cell. Noticing the bracelet on her wrist she pulls it off and flings it aside, where it lands in the corner of the dungeon, forgotten. She falls to her knees, weeping. Up in his chambers, Arthur stands with his back to Agravaine and Merlin, looking shell-shocked.

Agravaine: Far be it from me to advise you on personal matters sire, but this is a matter of state. You've been made a fool of and you must respond robustly. Of course, in the days of your father, adultery in noble families was punishable by death. And as for Lancelot, death's too good for him. He must die, but...painfully.

Some time later, Guinevere stands before Agravaine and the assembled court in the council chamber. I can't recap this part, just watch it here if you must. It is in two parts. Basically, Gwen gets banished. Yes, take a moment to pick your jaw up from the floor. One of Morgana's evil plans actually worked.

In the physician's quarters, Merlin tells Gaius that this is what Morgana wanted all along. He wants to tell Arthur that Lancelot was really a shade, but Gaius points out that telling him won't change what Gwen has done. For some reason, it doesn't occur to either of them that Gwen was enchanted. I mean, it's not like they've ever seen a love potion before.

Dawn breaks, and Agravaine enters Lancelot's dungeon and gives him a note from Morgana. Lancelot reads it, and though we can't see what it says, we can guess it goes something like this: "Dear Lance, please kill yourself. Thanx!" Lancelot dully states that he's Morgana's to command, and Agravaine gives a little smirk as he leaves.

In the lower town, Merlin watches as Gwen leaves her home, all her worldly possessions in the cart behind her. He gets to his feet and seems to want to say something, but she sadly turns away. Merlin watches her go, looking teary.

In the great hall, servants are dismantling the wedding decorations as Arthur looks on, still in shock. Merlin urges him to forgive Gwen and allow her to stay in Camelot, telling him that Agravaine is wrong and that the people will find Arthur merciful if he relents on Gwen's punishment.

Arthur: You're brave to speak out Merlin. Gwen's your friend, I understand. But I'm afraid you're wrong. I love Gwen with all my heart. And I'm sure in time, I'll find a way to forgive her. But I'll never trust her. I can't live like that, not as a king, and certainly not as a husband. Though it pains me, it's best that she's gone.

Merlin looks somewhat devastated by these words (and what they may mean for himself) when Agravaine appears with news. Down in the physician's quarters, Arthur, Gaius, Merlin and Agravaine look over Lancelot's dead body. Gaius tells him that Lancelot took his own life.

Arthur: I guess we shouldn't be surprised. In all ways but one, Lancelot was a man of honour. See to it that he receives a proper burial.

On the shores of Lake Avalon, Merlin has placed Lancelot's body for a Viking Funeral. As the boat floats past, Merlin places his hand on Lancelot's forehead and whispers a spell to put Lancelot's spirit to rest. His eyelids flicker and he takes a breath, looking up at Merlin just long enough to whisper: "thank you". Merlin manages a small smile, knowing that his friend's soul has been freed, and pushes the boat into the lake. Without the need for any spell, Merlin's eyes glow and set the boat alight.

Tropes

  • Always Second Best: Arthur has never won in combat against Lancelot, and his deep insecurity issues arise once again when faced with the possibility that Guinevere loves Lancelot more than him.
  • Anywhere but Their Lips: Shade!Lancelot kisses Guinevere on the forehead after giving her the enchanted bracelet. Yet he still manages to make it intensely intimate, to the point where she's visibly uncomfortable.
  • Back from the Dead: Lancelot
  • The Bad Guy Wins: One of the few episodes where Morgana got a flawless victory in the end of the episode.
  • Berserk Button: Of course, Gwen has always been this to Arthur, but the sight of her kissing Lancelot is enough for him to lose it in a truly epic fashion.
    • It's worth noting we've seen Arthur angry before but not quite so homicidally, bat shit crazy angry like he does when he sees the kiss.
  • Blind Seer: The Dochraid
  • Brainwashed: Lancelot
  • Break the Cutie (and then stomp all over the pieces that are left before grounding them into dust): Guinevere.
  • Call Back: Arthur thanks Lancelot for the sacrifice he made on the Isle of the Blessed and takes Gwen's hand as he does so; a clear echo of their conversation and hand-holding at Lancelot's memorial in The Darkest Hour Part II.
    • Guinevere linking her fingers with Lancelot's seems to be reminiscent of their held hands in Lancelot and Guinevere.
  • Came Back Wrong: Lancelot. Justified, as that was Morgana's plan.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Arthur proves he has a streak of this when it comes to Lancelot and Gwen's history together and he flies into a murderous rage when finds them kissing passionately.
  • Downer Ending
  • Driven to Suicide: Subverted. Lancelot is Brainwashed into killing himself on Morgana's orders, making it appear as though he took his own life out of guilt.
  • Due to the Dead: Despite his feelings toward Lancelot, Arthur requests that he be given an honorable burial.
  • Dying as Yourself: Suggested with Lancelot.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Even though she doesn't know what's happening to her, it's clear that Gwen initially tries to fight the effects of the bracelet.
  • Genre Blind: Agravaine doesn't seem to notice that Morgana's callous indifference to Lancelot is exactly how she feels about him as well.
  • The Glomp: Guinevere glomps Arthur after his proposal; it's so unexpected that he needs her to clarify whether this actually means she's accepted.
  • Go Seduce My Archnemesis: Inverted and Gender Flipped. Morgana sends the shade of Lancelot back to Camelot in order to seduce Guinevere, though she has no interest in Lancelot herself.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Arthur when it comes to Lancelot, but also Morgana, who is jealous of Guinevere's elevation to the throne of Camelot.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Arthur blindfolding Guinevere before he proposes to her is sweet and romantic at first, but given what happens to Gwen over the course of the episode, the image of her in a blindfold retrospectively gains some very disturbing conotations.
  • Heroic Breakdown: Arthur and Guinevere
  • Hysterical Woman: Guinevere, for very good reason.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Lancelot and Guinevere.
  • Kick the Dog: Let's face it, the only reason not to show Morgana's reaction to her plan succeeding was because it would have destroyed all audience sympathy with her.
  • Lonely Funeral: Only Merlin attends Lancelot's second funeral.
  • Malicious Slander
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Gwen (though the evidence was pretty damning).
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: From Arthur, of all people. The first thing he does when he witnesses Lancelot's seduction of Gwen is to try and run him through with a sword. Even throughout their fight, when his rival loses his sword and is defenseless, Arthur is still dead-set on killing him and would have if Gwen had not intervened.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Gwen, all the more tragically because she honestly doesn't know why she betrayed Arthur.
  • New Old Flame: Lancelot, to Guinevere. Also described by Morgana as her First Love.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Out of nowhere, Morgana has a coin that can raise the dead. A Deleted Scene reveals that it was given to her by Morgause whilst she was in her delirium at the end of A Servant Of Two Masters. Unfortunately the scene hasn't turned up on the DVDs yet, though there's an image of it here.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Arthur versus Lancelot. Though no blood is spilled or serious injury sustained, it's made very clear that the two would have killed each other had Merlin and Guinevere not intervened.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The Dochraid
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Evil!Lancelot doesn't know Merlin has magic.
  • Paint It Black: Evil!Lancelot wears black, just like Morgana and Agravaine.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "What! Were you DOING?!"
  • Relationship Sabotage: This is the second time Morgana has tried to break up Arthur and Gwen. This time, she succeeds (for now).
  • So Happy Together: Arthur says this nearly word-for-word.
  • Soulless Shell: Lancelot
  • Spot the Impostor: Merlin is suspicious of Lancelot right from the start, leading to...
    • Pull the Thread: Merlin casually dropping the subject of magic into the conversation to see what Lancelot has to say about it, which results in...
      • Imposter Forgot One Detail: The shade being exposed by the fact that Morgana, and therefore Lancelot, has no idea that Merlin has magic. Not only that, but Lancelot says that life would be a lot easier if people had magic, a completely Out of Character comment considering the real Lancelot knew how much Merlin struggled with it.
  • Unrequited Love Lasts Forever: A Zig-Zagging Trope in regards to Lancelot and Guinevere.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Guinevere. All she did was accept a wedding gift from an old friend.
  • Villain Ball: If Morgana wants to a) kill Arthur and b) stop Guinevere from becoming Queen, then why doesn't she just kill Arthur. The latter can't happen if she achieves the former, and Shade!Lancelot was in a perfect positon in which to achieve this. The very fact that Merlin and Gaius initially believe that the shade has been sent to assassinate Arthur only draws attention to the fact that Morgana's plan makes no logical sense. Even when it does end up working (in regards to Gwen's banishment), it still doesn't bring her anywhere near her ultimate goal of seizing Camelot's throne.
    • She already tried twice to kill Arthur, once in His Father's Son and again in A Servant Of Two Masters. Her first attempt was mysteriously foiled, and in her second attempt, Emrys foiled it. She's pretty much gotten it into her head that, as long as Emrys exists, Arthur is untouchable. And as Merlin was prepared for the possibility and would have thwarted her had that been the case, she was right.
    • Even if Morgana thought that she wouldn't be able to kill Arthur, killing Guinevere was a very workable option for her. Instead of having Shade!Lancelot give her an enchanted bracelet, Morgana could have had him slit Guinevere's throat when he visited her in her house. Nobody would have thought to question Guinevere's absence until the next morning, and she'd have been long past saving by then.
  • Wham Episode
  • Your Cheating Heart: Morgana's plan to ruin Gwen is designed to make her look like this. And it works.
Merlin S 04 E 08 LamiaRecap/MerlinMerlin S 04 E 10 A Herald Of The New Age

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