The Drawing of the Dark
Arthur, Merlin and the knights are returning home from a hunting trip when Percival notices something in the trees ahead. They all dismount and discover signs of an ambush. Further off into the trees they spy an overturned cart, surrounded by dead people. They realize that the cart had been a shipment of weapons heading for Camelot, and that Morgana's Saxons are responsible for the carnage. They spread out to search for survivors, and Mordred spots a hooded figure in the trees. He rushes after it.
The figure stumbles on its way down a gorge and Mordred grabs it. A girl is revealed; someone that Mordred clearly recognizes. He whispers at her to keep going, and she darts away just as the others arrive. Only Merlin noticed that Mordred let her go and that he's clearly lying when he tells Arthur that the figure he saw was only a deer.
Merlin shares his frustrations with Gaius, reminding him that Finna warned him about Mordred's true intentions, and steadfast in his belief that Mordred has beguiled everyone. Gaius speaks in Mordred's favour, but Merlin isn't convinced: he saw him letting a Saxon to go free. As they leave the room, Mordred watches from a shadowy corner. As soon as they're gone, he slips into the physician's room and helps himself to some of the bottles.
Some time later he sneaks out of the castle courtyard and enters the forest. Closing his eyes, he telepathically tries to communicate with the girl, calling her "Kara." After a few moments, he hears her voice calling to him in his mind. With a smile, he heads in the direction of her voice.
Elsewhere, Arthur tells Sir Leon that they need to strength the amount of men protecting their supply routes. Up in their bedroom, Guinevere tries to comfort Arthur by reminding him that though Morgana has sorcery, he has the strength and loyalty of his people.
Mordred finds Kara hiding in a small cave behind a curtain of ivy. They embrace tightly and Mordred begins to tend to her wounded leg. As he does so, she reminds him of his odd position: that of a druid working as a knight of Camelot. Though Mordred speaks highly of Arthur and tells her that one day things will change, she looks unconvinced. Mordred promises her that he'll let nothing harm her.
The following day Mordred is accosted by Merlin.
- Merlin: Where have you been?Mordred: Nowhere.Merlin: You're lying.Mordred: What right have you to question me? Why are you doing this? Everything I do, you think the worst.Merlin: I saw you let a Saxon go. Maybe I should tell Arthur.Mordred: Merlin. She's a druid. I knew her. She was wounded, what could I do? Let her be captured? She had an arrow in her leg, she cannot walk.Merlin: You're taking a risk.Mordred: I can't let her die. She's... someone... well, I can't explain.Merlin: Where is she?Mordred: She needs a few days. She'll be gone, she means no harm - please, you mustn't tell anyone. You know if Arthur catches her she'll be killed. Please, Merlin, I beg you. She's one of us. Promise me.Merlin: Your secret is safe with me. You have my word.
Their conversation is interrupted by Arthur's approach. Mordred slips away as Arthur asks that Merlin accompany him on a patrol.
Out in the forest, Arthur comes across a twig that Mordred broke underfoot the night before. While he speculates as to what could have caused it, Merlin points out that a large stag is staring at them. But Arthur has already spotted another footprint. Despite Merlin's warnings, he follows them back to the overturned cart, and then deeper into the forest. He draws his sword as they approach the ivy-covered cave. Once inside, Kara emerges from behind a rock, asking that they not hurt her. Merlin points out that she's wounded and Arthur sheathes his sword. But as he nears to help her, she pulls out a knife and lunges at him. Merlin's magic causes the knife to go wide, and Arthur grabs her by the arms.
- Arthur: You would have killed me!Kara: I'm only sorry I failed.
Kara is taken to the dungeons in chains. Mordred watches in despair from the shadows.
The next morning, Mordred grabs Merlin around the neck as he's walking down a corridor.
- Mordred: WHY?Merlin: I didn't tell him.Mordred: You gave me your word!Merlin: I swear.Mordred: You did it because you hate me.Merlin: No.Mordred: This time you've gone too far. You will pay, Merlin.
The confrontation is interrupted by Gwaine and Leon, who getting nothing from either of them.
Later that day, Kara stands defiant in the court, informing Arthur and everyone that though she was a part of the attack on the Camelot shipment, she did it for her people. According to her, she's spent her entire life on the run from Arthur and his father before him. Arthur tells her that it is Morgana and her ilk, who misuse their powers, that have made magic outlawed. But it's not because of magic that Kara is here; it's because the attack on the cart cost many good men their lives. He then points out that she must have had help from inside the castle considering her leg was treated. She refuses to divulge who it was, and Arthur has her sentenced to death. Cue Oh, Crap! faces from both Mordred and Merlin. As Kara is lead from the room, she calls back:
- Kara: You can do as you wish. It will not stop Morgana's uprising. Your doom is near! My only sadness is that I won't be there to see it.
Kara is taken back down to her cell where she sits and begins to weep. Mordred approaches and a coded conversation follows in which Kara states she'll never tell who helped her. They touch each other's hands through the bars of the cell, and Mordred tells her that he'll speak to the king.
Mordred braces himself and then goes to see Arthur. Merlin is helping him with his armour when Mordred enters the room and kneels, confessing that he was the one who helped Kara and begging for mercy on her behalf. Arthur helps him get to his feet, telling him that he cannot risk the lives of his citizens by freeing someone who is a sworn enemy. Despite Mordred's tears, Arthur plans to go through with the execution. Mordred silently leaves.
- Merlin: You're breaking his heart. You'll lose his trust. Think again.Arthur: There's nothing I can do. In time, Mordred will understand that. He'll come to forgive me.Merlin: I fear you're wrong, Arthur.Arthur: Only time will tell.
Down in the dungeons, Mordred tells Kara that he was unsuccessful. She seems unsurprised, reminding him that Arthur is a Pendragon, and just like his father.
From an upstairs corridor, Mordred watches as a gallows is built in the courtyard. His mind made up, he goes to Arthur's room. Merlin watches in alarm as Mordred speaks:
- Mordred: I wanted to apologize. I'm sorry for what I did. I hope you'll forgive me.Arthur: I'd never let something like this ruin our friendship.Mordred: You took me in. I will always remember that. And everything you've done for me.
Merlin follows him out of the room, knowing full-well what he's going to do: escape with Kara. Mordred warns him not to get in his way, finishing up with an Armour Piercing Statement: "Tell me you wouldn't do the same for the woman you love."
Merlin goes over all this with Gaius, telling him that if Mordred leaves with Kara, there'll be no chance of a reconciliation with Arthur. Instead she'll take him straight to Morgana. The only chance to keep Mordred "safe" is to keep him within the walls of Camelot - therefore he has to stop him. This plan is not well thought out. Nevertheless, he goes to Arthur and tells him that Mordred is planning to help the druid girl escape. The two of them run to the dungeons, where unconscious guards and an empty cell await them.
Elsewhere, Mordred is leading Kara through the passageways when a knight appears. Kara grabs the knife from Mordred's belt and cuts the man's throat, pointing out to a shocked Mordred that he was an enemy. They make a run for it as Camelot knights fill the courtyard. Arthur orders that they begin searching the forests, and for them to put all personal feelings aside.
Kara and Mordred have made it to the forest, but Kara is struggling with her leg. Arthur, Merlin and the knights are in hot pursuit, finally catching up with them. Mordred emerges from hiding, facing Arthur, Merlin, Gwaine and Leon. He states that if they let them go, neither one will ever return to Camelot. Telepathically, Kara urges him to use his magic, more and more insistently as the stalemate drags on. Seeing no help in the eyes of Arthur or the knights, Mordred drops his sword and closes his eyes, preparing a spell... when Percival knocks him out.
Both Mordred and Kara are placed in the dungeon cells, side by side. On asking what's to be done with him, Arthur tells Mordred that he doesn't know. As Merlin turns to leave with Arthur, he hears Mordred's voice in his head for the first time in years.
- Mordred: Why couldn't you just let things be?
Once more talking to Gaius, Merlin frets. This is clearly what will turn Mordred against Arthur, and the only chance he's got is for Arthur to spare Kara's life. Despite arguing on her behalf, telling her that her youth and Mordred's life means that Kara is not beyond redemption, Arthur is adamant that her execution must go forward.
Mordred and Kara comfort each other in the cells, holding hands through the bars. She tells him that he's not to blame, and that she chose her path. The following morning Leon comes to take her to the king. With her hands in manacles, Kara once more stands before the court. Merlin looks as though he's about to die of hope when Arthur offers to spare her life in exchange for her repentance.
- Kara: I cannot repent a crime I have not committed. It is not a crime to fight for your freedom. It is not a crime to fight for the right to be who you are. You deserve everything that's coming to you, Arthur Pendragon.
With that, her fate is sealed. She is taken out to the courtyard where the gallows await, limping as she goes. In his cell, Mordred weeps for her before his face grows angry. A nearby table begins to shake. Merlin watches from behind a column, and Arthur and Guinevere from the balcony as the noose is placed around Kara's neck and she is duly hanged. Mordred screams in rage, the hinges to the door of his cell exploding.
The execution complete, Merlin tells Arthur that Mordred has vanished. Arthur realizes that he's made a terrible mistake.
Sure enough, Mordred is walking through the forest towards Morgana's hideout where she sits on her make-shift throne. Her men force Mordred to kneel at her feet. He tells her that he's brought her to the key to Arthur's death.
- Mordred: I was wrong to ever question your wisdom my lady, and I wish to make amends.Morgana: Tell me.Mordred: There is someone you have been searching for. Someone who has always eluded you.Morgana: Emrys.Mordred: I know where he is.Morgana: Where?Mordred: Camelot. And I have his true name. Merlin.
- Action Girl: Kara, despite her wounded leg.
- Both Sides Have a Point: During her trial, Kara gives Arthur a scathing speech about how he has ignored the plights of the magic users and persecuted the druids in the past, like Uther before him. Even if he now has no quarrel with the druids, he still outlaws magic, making life little easier for them. While she does make a valid point, Arthur also does when he points out how Morgana and her followers have abused their powers and thrown the kingdom into chaos, forcing him to outlaw magic. Kara's case is also weakened by the fact that she is on trial for murder, not magic.
- Call-Back: Mordred's rage at Kara's death causes objects around him to start shaking, reminiscent of the way he telekinetically broke all of Morgana's mirrors after his father was executed way back in The Beginning of the End.
- It's a bit of a stretch, but Kara was the alias that Nimueh assumed in The Poisoned Chalice when she infiltrated Camelot. Just as Nimueh's role in Ygraine's death brought about the ban on magic, Kara's Plot-Triggering Death looks as though it'll bring about the death of Arthur and the end of Camelot.
- Childhood Friend Romance: Mordred and Kara. It doesn't end well.
- Cliffhanger: The episode ends just as news that Emrys is Merlin is sinking in on Morgana's face.
- FaceHeel Turn: Mordred
- Disposable Woman: Somewhat gratuitous example with Kara. Despite all her agency, her ultimate purpose in the narrative is to provide Mordred with the motivation he needs to turn against Arthur and Camelot.
- Foregone Conclusion: the HeelFace Turn
- Grey and Gray Morality: Aside from Morgana, the episode has four moral players: Arthur, Kara, Merlin, and Mordred. All of them have valid reasons for what they do both right and wrong.
- Headbutt of Love: Between Kara and Mordred. What, did they make a mandate to have no kisses in this season?
- Honor Before Reason
- Hypocrite: Gaius reminds Merlin that if he were in Mordred's position, he would have done the same thing (and he almost did), but he says that this time is different.
- I Kiss Your Hand: Kara kisses Mordred's hand before she's led to her execution. Doubles as a Last Kiss.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Kara killing a guard unnecessarily because he was the enemy. Mordred's pretty shaken, but gets over it.
- Last-Second Chance: Arthur offers Kara one. She refuses.
- Love Makes You Dumb: Mordred. YMMV, of course.
- Love Makes You Evil: Mordred again.
- Mindlink Mates: Mordred and Kara, as you'd expect since they're both druids.
- Musical Spoiler: The second you hear the violin refrain, previously played over Lancelot and Isolde's deaths, you know that Kara is a goner.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The next time promo from last episode had Mordred slamming Merlin against the wall and saying he'd gone too far and he'd pay. In this episode, Mordred eventually forgives him. Not so much the second time around.
- Neutral No Longer: Kara tells Arthur that her once-peaceful people have been driven to war by Arthur's persecution.
- Oh, Crap!: When Mordred gives up Emrys' identity to Morgana.
- Before that, when Merlin realizes that Kara isn't going to take up Arthur's offer of a pardon.
- And before that, when Mordred and Merlin hear that Kara is to be executed, though for different reasons.
- Plot-Triggering Death: Kara, which starts up the Disaster Dominoes of the final two episodes.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Kara gives a scathing one to Arthur for continuing to ignore the plights of the magical people.
- The Reveal: Of Merlin's identity as Emrys to Morgana.
- Sarcastic Confession: Merlin telling the knights he's the best tracker out of all of them. Given his magical GPS, this is completely true, but they take it as a joke.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Sadly, Merlin has not learned from the last two times he saw/knew the future.
- Well, he did try to avert it by Arthur granting Kara amnesty..however, he didn't expect Kara to refuse pardon.
- Self-Serving Memory: Morgana says that the last time Mordred met her, he tried to kill her. She leaves out that she intended to murder him first, as well that he merely knocked her out to escape and left her otherwise unharmed.
- The episode title is taken from the novel The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers, which has Arthurian themes.
- Mordred's final turn to evil has him use his magic to make the things around him tremble and then screams. Sounds a bit like another magic-user's Face Heel Turn.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Kara uses one to get Arthur close enough to stab him.
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: How Kara sees herself.