The Castle of Fyrien
Morgana is asleep in her bed as Gwen extinguishes the candles and heads down the castle steps toward her own house. She's in for a nasty surprise, as a large, threatening-looking man is waiting for her inside, and though she grabs a poker to defend herself, she's caught off-guard by a second man, who holds a cloth to her face until she loses consciousness. Together they throw her over the back of a horse and gallop away. Morgana watches from her bedroom window, the requisite smirk on her face.
The following morning, Arthur finds Merlin irritatingly chipper as he throws open the curtains and urges him to rise and shine. His attempts at creating a new early-morning Catch Phrase only result in Arthur throwing things at him.
Over breakfast, Morgana joins Arthur and Uther at banquet table and pointedly refuses to let Merlin pour her a drink. She feigns concern: that Gwen didn't turn up for work that morning. Uther suggests that they simply replace her if she's become unreliable, much to Arthur's consternation. He tells Morgana that she'll turn up, and as soon as breakfast is over, orders Merlin to check on Gwen at her house.
Merlin enters her house to find it empty. He notices her cloak on the bed and the poker on the table, suspicious in themselves; but he really begins to look worried when he finds the cloth on the floor.
In an unspecified location, a small grating in a cell door opens, and Morgause and Cenred peer through in order to look at a young, handsome man chained to the wall. Cenred tells her that he was easy to find, as he was exactly where Morgana said he'd be.
Gwen's kidnappers gallop to a castle situated on a penisula and deposit Gwen on the floor in front of Cenred, sitting on a throne and eating an apple with a knife. She struggles upright and whimpers a little as Cenred approaches her with the knife; but he only leans over to cut the ropes around her wrists. He tells her that he has a guest that she might wish to meet, and the man from earlier is dragged in and his hood thrown back. Morgause watches from a small window as Guinevere recognises her brother Elyan. Though the siblings demand to know why they've been brought there, Cenred and his men simply leave the room.
- Gwen: Why are we here, Elyan? What have you done?Elyan: I didn't do anything, I promise. Gwen, I swear. I was at my forge and they just came for me. I tried to resist, but they drugged me. There was nothing I could do. What would a man like Cenred want with us?Gwen: I wish I knew.
She doesn't look particularly mollified, and leans back when he reaches out to touch her again. From the window above, Cenred points out to Morgause that the more Gwen feels her brother's plight, the more she'll do for them.
Back in Arthur's room, Merlin presents the cloth to Arthur who doesn't deem it important until Merlin urges him to smell it. Arthur takes a giant whiff, and it's only Merlin telekenetically moving a chair under him that prevents Arthur from passing out unconscious on the floor. Arthur comes-to and Merlin tells him that the smell is that of hog's wart and valerion. Being especially slow on the up-take this morning, Merlin has to point out that the odour is enough to knock someone out.
Back in the abandoned castle, Gwen is being forced to drink from a goblet and is close to tears as Cenred tells her that he wants her to bring Prince Arthur to him. Though she tries to downplay her importance, Cenred isn't fooled, and offers her an ultimatum: bring Arthur to the castle within the week, or her brother will die. Morgause watches silently from the upper window.
Back in Camelot, Arthur and Morgana are informing Uther that they believe Guinevere has been kidnapped. Uther isn't particularly impressed by this news, but agrees to let a squad of guards search the lower town for her. Later that day, Morgana is asleep in bed when she's awoken by Guinevere's return. Gwen tells her that she was unwell and quickly leaves the room.
As Gwen carries Morgana's laundry down a corridor she crashes into Merlin. He crouches down to help her pick up the clothes, but isn't fooled by her excuse that she was sick. Noticing the rope-burns on her wrists, he asks her what's wrong, and she struggles to keep her composure.
At her house, Merlin brings her a Spot of Tea and Gwen voices her confusion over how they knew about Arthur's feelings for her. Merlin tries to cover by saying that Arthur is known to care for all of his subjects, and that from now on, Gwen doesn't have to deal with this problem by herself.
In the council chamber, Arthur declares that he's sure Elyan is being held in the Castle of Fyrien (What, Cenred didn't tell Gwen where she was meant to bring Arthur?) According to him, Fyrien was a merchant who built the castle as a trading outpost, which was then abandoned during a war with Carleon. It's well-defended and will be difficult to get into. Gwen voices her regret that she told him any of this, but Arthur reassures her that they'll bring Elyan back unharmed, as all three of them will go and rescue him. From outside the room, an eavesdropping Morgana smiles to herself and walks away.
By night, Morgana strides through the lower town and out to the forest to meet with Morgause at what looks like a ring of standing stones.
- Morgause: Is everything in place?Morgana: Arthur's taken the bait.Morgause: So he means to rescue her brother.Morgana: Just as we thought, there is nothing he would not do for her.Morgause: Excellent. And he comes alone I take it?Morgana: Uther would never sanction an army for such a task. He rides with just Gwen and Merlin.
Morgause makes the mistake of declaring that he's as good as dead and reminds Morgana that this will make her Uther's sole heir.
The following day, Arthur enters the council chamber, and proves that Morgana is not the only one who has a gift for manipulation: by telling his father that he lost a wager with Morgana and now owes her two silk dresses, he successfully comes up with an excuse to explain his absence for the next few days.
Merlin prepares his travel gear in the physician's quarters and explains his plans to Gaius. For the millionth time, the writers feel the need to have Gaius remind us that since Morgana is Uther's ward, no one would believe Merlin if he tried to expose her, and Merlin tells him that the plan is to rescue Gwen's brother without Morgana finding out.
This great plan is squashed when Merlin notices Morgana's approach as he's preparing the horses in the courtyard outside. As Gwen and Morgana saddle up, Merlin confronts Arthur who tells him that Morgana insisted on coming. She and Merlin exchange another Death Glare just before the four of them ride out.
Out in the forest, Gwen is looking a little spooked by the noises around them in the trees.
- Arthur: I used to be afraid of these woods.Gwen: I find that hard to believe.Arthur: My father would bring me here when I was a boy. It seemed every falling leaf was a bandit, every puff of wind was a ghost. You just get used to it in the end.Gwen: I don't think I'd ever get used to it.Arthur: You don't have to. You've got me.
Realizing what he's just said, Arthur clumsily tries to cover for himself by stating that what he meant was that they all have each other. Merlin smiles at this, but catches a sight of Morgana's Death Glare and looks queasy instead. While setting up camp at a river, Arthur gives Gwen a sidelong glance and stands up to ask Merlin to go fetch wood from the forest.
- Merlin: I thought Morgana was doing that.Arthur: Well, go and see if she's alright.Merlin: Why wouldn't she be?Arthur: Maybe there are wolves in these woods.Merlin: I don't think so.
It's not until Arthur clearly signals get lost at him that Merlin gets the picture, and hurries away. Composing himself, Arthur goes to help Gwen with her saddlebags.
Out in the woods Morgana is collecting firewood when Merlin confronts her with what she's doing.
- Merlin: Arthur sent me. He wanted me to make sure that you were okay.Morgana: How very thoughtful of him.Merlin: Well, he cares for you. You know, Gwen too. They're your friends, Morgana. They've always been loyal to you.Morgana: Why are you telling me this?Merlin: Because, I don't understand how anyone would want to hurt their friends.Morgana: No, you just poison them.
This effectively shuts Merlin up, but when Morgana tells him to stay out of things that don't concern him, he reminds her that Arthur and Gwen are his friends too, and that he'll do whatever it takes to protect them. Morgana approaches him slowly, and the two stare at each other for a moment before she throws the firewood at his feet and stalks off. And that, children, is what we called Foe Yay.
Back at the camp, Gwen is still unpacking restlessly when Arthur calls her over to sit down. She's obviously worried about Elyan, and she confides in Arthur that her brother is always getting into trouble and relying on her to bail him out again. When Arthur has some trouble lighting the fire, Gwen takes the flintstones and ignites the kindling on her first try. After reminding him that she's the blacksmith's daughter, Gwen leans in to kiss him, but before anything happens, Merlin and Morgana reappear. Realizing what he's just interrupted, Merlin offers to go back for a twig...
Over dinner, Arthur goes over their strategy: because the Castle of Fyrien backs on to the sea, there are a number of tunnels under the castle that were used to smuggle goods in and out of the kingdom. Though Merlin is visibly uncomfortable with Morgana hearing all these details, there's little that he can do to prevent it.
By night, Morgana relates the plans to Morgause, and her sister gives her a ring that she is to leave at the entrance to the tunnel which will act as a signal to the Cenred's men. Morgana joins the others, though only Merlin notices her slide back into her sleeping rugs.
The following morning he confronts her about it, but Morgana isn't fazed. As they approach the castle on horseback, Merlin enchants a nearby snake to scare Morgana's horse, causing her to fall to the ground with a shriek. The others hurry to help her up, but though she's hurt her ankle, she insists that she can go on. Noticing the tension between herself and Merlin, Arthur tries to defuse the tension, and the four of them are soon on their way again.
Fyrien appears in the distance, where Morgause is relating the plan to Cenred, with a heavy dose of Subtext.
Team!Arthur scramble along the rocky beach on the outskirts of the castle, where Arthur dismisses Merlin's advice that they should try and sneak into the castle instead of taking the tunnels. As the four of them enter, Morgana drops the ring, which begins to release a thick yellow smoke.
The four creep through the web-shrouded tunnels and Gwen is startled by a skeleton that collapses in front of her. Arthur passes around a lighted torch and they notice plenty of other skeletons lying on the ground. Merlin notices that Morgana is missing, but she hurries to catch up with them. They are nearing the castle itself when they hear distant footsteps coming from all directions. Realizing that they're trapped, Gwen believes that it was her scream that gave them away. Cenred's men appear from the darkness, and it's only a short skirmish before Gwen is held at sword-point. The others surrender and they're all dragged away.
Upstairs, the four of them are forced to kneel before Cenred seated upon his throne. He takes some amusement out of goading Morgana (as does Morgause, watching from the window) before he has them all taken to the dungeons. Arthur puts up a brief struggle, but is forcibly taken away with the rest of them, and Cenred performs a campy little bow to Morgause.
Gwen has been put into a cell with Elyan, and she voices her hope that Arthur will think of something. Elyan is naturally surprised that the Prince of Camelot would be helping Gwen rescue him, but soon twigs as to the real situation between them.
- Elyan: It seems that things have changed for you, Guinevere.Gwen: Yes, I suppose they have.Elyan: I'm glad.
Morgana is taken back to the throne room, where she's ticked off that Cenred's men man-handled her. Morgause tries to calm her, telling her that they want to keep Arthur alive for the time being in order to get information out of him.
In his own dungeon, Arthur has come to the same conclusion, but states that he's not afraid of torture. After being mildly befuddled by the idea that perhaps Arthur goes into some sort of trance in order to overcome the pain of torture, Merlin is informed that all Arthur is talking about is his escape plan.
Back in Gwen and Elyan's cell, Gwen is angry at her brother for leaving four years ago without so much as a word. He apologises for not being around when their father died, but the two seem to reconcile slightly when he sits down beside her.
Merlin calls for help and tells the guard that the prince has managed to escape. They burst in and begin to rummage the cell, only for Arthur to fall down from the ceiling and knock one of them out. Merlin takes care of the other by...hitting him in the back with his sword? This seems to knock him unconscious, and Arthur congratulates him on this strange tactic.
The man who kidnapped Gwen in the first place is stationed outside her cell, and on asking for an idea, Arthur is shoved into view by Merlin. Fan-ficcers pay close attention at the fact that Merlin knows a spell to remove a man's belt, one that he performs on the guard in order to give Arthur the edge during the fight. Arthur heaves him through the door where Gwen and Elyan are waiting. Realizing that Morgana's not with them, Arthur orders Merlin to look after Gwen and Elyan while he goes to look for her. Merlin urges him not to, but Arthur's made up his mind. He checks the end of the corridor and hears voices, and so doubles back to tell Gwen to ride back to Camelot without waiting for him. Gwen and Elyan head away, and Merlin goes after Arthur.
It turns out that this place has warning bells as well, and they start ringing once the guards realize the prisoners have escaped. Morgause points out that Arthur will come for Morgana, and Cenred finally gets a chance to take the double-swords out of the scabbards strapped to his back.
Arthur creeps down a corridor and enters the room to find Cenred holding Morgana hostage. The two face off for a moment, but Arthur's face changes when Morgause steps out from the shadows. Merlin watches from behind the door as Morgause conjures up a pillar of fire that very, very slowly begins to move across the floor toward Arthur. Luckily for the pillar of fire, Arthur just stands there; unluckily, Merlin chants the counter-spell that causes it to explode. Everyone in the room goes flying as stone and rubble fall from the ceiling. Arthur gets up first and runs to fetch Morgana. Morgause lies unconscious on the ground, and though Morgana looks terrified, Merlin drags her from the room.
The two of them are hurrying through the tunnels when Morgana pulls herself free and states that her ankle prevents her from going on. They begin to fight when Arthur catches up to them and throws Morgana over his shoulder, much to her dismay. Merlin hides a smile as he follows them.
They catch up with Gwen and Elyan waiting in the forest with the horses. Though she was told to ride for Camelot, Gwen sweetly states that she doesn't always have to do what Arthur tells her to, but before anything else can happen, several of Cenred's men leap out of the trees. Arthur takes care of one and then turns around to find that Elyan has disarmed the other and killed him with his own sword. Arthur is impressed by this, and it would seem we have new future knight in our midst.
The five of them are returning to Camelot on horseback when Arthur asks Morgana what Cenred wanted with her.
- Morgana: He was trying to extract information. I told him nothing.Arthur: That's what men like Cenred will never understand. Camelot was built on trust and loyalty. We will never be defeated as long as we stay true to those ideals.
Cue another Merlin/Morgana Death Glare.
Arthur is writing in a workroom when Gwen enters with two silk dresses in order to back up his cover-story. He asks how Elyan is settling in, and Gwen tells him that he's gotten the forge up and running again.
- Arthur: Was there anything else?Gwen: I just wanted to say thank you. For bringing my brother back. It means more to me than I can say.Arthur: It's like you said Guinevere, it's what you do when you love someone.
The two maintain a Held Gaze, and Gwen leaves the room, smiling back at him once before she goes, and leaving Arthur to ponder what he's just said.
- Almost Kiss: Arthur and Guinevere.
- Bad "Bad Acting": "The wolves!"
- Dramatic Irony: "It was Morgana's idea."
- Early-Bird Cameo: In a sense; Carleon is mentioned here, though he doesn't appear until 4x05.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: Turns out Camelot's guards really are of the elite. Cenred's guards make at least five crucial mistakes within a minute. Let's count them.Mistake Number One: Actually coming when Merlin calls for help.Mistake Number Two: Believing Merlin when he says "The prince has escaped." Then why is Merlin still there? Or, better yet, why are you believing the prisoner?Mistake Number Three: Coming into the cell with their backs to Merlin.Mistake Number Four: Leaving the door open. Honestly, Arthur could have hidden behind the door, quickly stepped out followed by Merlin, and locked the door behind them and it would have worked.Mistake Number Five: When Arthur drops down on them, they don't even bother to point their swords up, which would have easily dispatched him.
- I Have Your Wife: More like, I Have Your Future Wife's Long Lost Brother.
- Improbable Use of a Weapon: Merlin smacks an escaping guard on the back with the blade of the sword. Lampshaded by Arthur.
- Instant Sedation: That compound of hog's wart and valerian seems to be more effective than most modern knock-out drugs. Oddly enough, it doesn't last long.
- The Load: Let's face it, Gwen didn't achieve anything of note during the rescue mission. However, this trope is lampshaded and subverted when Cenred's men attack in the tunnels: Gwen believes that it was her scream that alerted them to the gang's presence, when in truth it wouldn't have made a difference.
- Long Lost Sibling: Elyan
- Magic Ring: The one Morgause gives to Morgana to mark her passage into the castle.
- Over-the-Shoulder Carry: After Morgana fakes an injury, Arthur picks her up like this. She isn't amused, but Merlin is.
- Pet the Dog: Uther allows for guards to search for the missing Guinevere, knowing how important she is to Morgana.
- Rule of Symbolism: When Elyan rides back, it's on Merlin's horse. Merlin was the first one to bond with Lancelot and Gwaine, two other Knights of The Round Table.
- Spot of Tea: Merlin brings Gwen a cup when she's upset over Elyan.
- Villain Ball: Morgause and Morgana win first prize for the world's most convoluted plan. Their goal is simple: kill Arthur. Instead of having Morgana simply push him down the nearest flight of stairs or slip poison into his drink or use her magic to throw him repeatedly against the wall until dead, they decide to lure him out to an abandoned castle. They do this by kidnapping his girlfriend's brother. Then they kidnap his girlfriend. Then they return his girlfriend, telling her that her brother's life is forfeit if she doesn't bring Arthur to the castle. (Why not simply keep the girlfriend and send Arthur a note saying that she's being held hostage?) Foregoing any chance of killing him on the way there or when he's actually at the castle, Morgause and Morgana have Cenred lock him away in a dungeon guarded by morons. After he escapes approximately three seconds later, they stage a fake hostage-situation with Morgana (not sure why, as the plan is still no more complex than "just kill him") and when he's finally in the room with them, Morgause conjures up a pillar of fire that very, very slowly inches across the ground toward him. And when an out-of-sight Merlin reverses the magic, naturally neither one of them bothers to wonder how or why Morgause's magic suddenly goes haywire.
- You Are Not Alone: Merlin to Gwen.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: On rescuing Gwen and Elyan, Arthur realizes that Morgana is elsewhere.