Merlin Club: The Nightmare Begins or The One Where Everyone Would Rather Let Morgana Think She’s Going Insane Than Have an Actual Conversation With Her
This episode opens with an ominous thunderstorm and Morgana sleeping fitfully. She’s apparently having magical dreams because the candle next to her bed spontaneously lights. Gwen enters with a pile of blankets, discovers Morgana already sleeping, extinguishes the candle, moves it to a table by the window and leaves. Morgana lights the candle again in her dreams and suddenly wakes. She’s still freaking out – so much so that her magic forces the candle flame higher and sets her anachronistic, acetate taffeta curtains on fire. She screams and blows out the windows to her room.
After the credits, we see Uther and Arthur “investigating” the fire while Merlin cleans up the mess. I use that word loosely, because while Arthur comes up with a relatively reasonable explanation for the fire (lightning struck the castle) Uther immediately jumps to the conclusion that someone tried to kill his ward. Look, Uther, if anyone was interested in killing someone via burning draperies, I’m pretty sure that someone would be you.
Arthur points out that he doesn’t think it’s possible for someone to sneak into Morgana’s room with all the guards around and Uther is all “SORCERY!” He tells Arthur to round up everyone they have under suspicion.
Merlin is headed back to Gaius’ and overhears Morgana telling Gaius that she started the fire using magic. Gaius is a total bag of dicks and not only dismisses her concerns but also offers her stronger drugs to help her sleep. He completely dismisses her terror and the fact that she feels like she’s losing her mind. Later, after Morgana has gone, Merlin confronts Gaius about her magic and insists that Gaius tell her the truth because it’ll make her feel less crazy, but Gaius isn’t having it. Merlin offers to talk to her, but Gaius isn’t having that either. In fact, he forbids it.
That night, Gwen offers to stay with Morgana, but Morgana declines. She does however ask Gwen to take the candle with her. The camera pans across a bunch of flowers that Merlin brought her earlier and a huge platter of fruit. Like…just a ridiculous amount of fruit for one person. Who keeps that much fruit in his/her bedroom. Morgana is startled by a crack of thunder and magically explodes the vase of flowers. She races to Gaius’ chambers looking for him, but only Merlin is there. He asks her what’s wrong, but she confesses that she’s scared and doesn’t understand anything anymore. She tells him it’s magic and says she needs to hear someone else say it so she doesn’t feel as crazy. But Merlin says he wishes there was something he could say. But he doesn’t actually say anything helpful and Morgana leaves. Merlin sneaks down to visit the dragon, whose advice is to never let her know the full extent of her powers. He refuses to help Merlin find the druids so they can help Morgana.
The next morning, Merlin is in Arthur’s chamber doing some sort of servant-y thing when Arthur and Sir Leon enter. Leon has given Arthur a list of everyone known to consort with sorcerers, witches and druids to make arresting them easier. While Arthur discussed Merlin giving Morgana flowers, Merlin surreptitiously checks out the scroll with all of the consort-ers on it.
Arthur dismisses Merlin who goes out into the city to warn a woman on the list who’d been accused of hanging out with druids. He reaches her before the city guards do and he convinces her to tell him where the druids are since he’d just warned her.
That night Merlin goes to Morgana’s chambers under the guise of giving her a stronger sleeping potion and they discuss finding the druids. The next morning, the alarm bells are ringing (DRINK!) because Morgana has vanished. Uther quizzes Gaius about what time he delivered Morgana’s sleeping draught and Arthur says it was Merlin who’d delivered it. Gaius and Merlin have another argument about helping Morgana and Gaius says that he understands why Merlin did it, but that he fears the consequences.
Meanwhile, Morgana has gone deeper into the forest while wearing her lovely screaming red cloak and matching red dress, because if you’re gonna try to be stealthy, you should always wear red.
Back at Camelot, Uther decides that all of the prisoners will be executed unless the Lady Morgana is returned. Merlin looks horrified because these are the consequences Gaius was talking about. Late that night, Merlin sneaks out of their chamber. He makes it past the guards by making their torches flame up unnaturally high. How come no one yells sorcery? Merlin also uses magic to blow the grate off the end of a tunnel beneath Camelot. Does he realize someone will eventually notice this and investigate? Come on, Merlin. Think!
Meanwhile, Morgana is still making her way through the forest. There’s a creepy chattering noise and she starts to get a little freaked. She gets a lot freaked when the chattering noises turn out to be ginormous magical scorpions. One of them strikes her, injuring her leg and knocking her to the ground. The scorpions surround her and just as they’re about to converge a hooded figure enters the circle and magically calls them off and she passes out.
The next morning, Gaius realizes Merlin’s gone and we see him trekking across country on foot looking for Morgana.
Meanwhile, we see Morgana waking up in the druid camp where Aglain is taking care of her. Mordred (remember the little creepy druid boy?) is there, too.
Back at Camelot, Arthur, Uther and Gaius are indeed investing where the grate was blown out of the tunnel. Uther decides that because of the scorch marks, it must be magic and perpetrated by the same person that set the fire in Morgana’s room. And somehow, Arthur can tell just by glancing at the trail that it leads alllllllllllllllllllllllll the way to the Forest of Asatier where the druids supposedly are. Uther tells Arthur to take no prisoners.
So Arthur and a crap ton of knights set off to kill all of the druids. Merlin stops to light a fire, hears voices then continues on. He creeps up to the druid camp and talks with Morgana, trying to convince her to return to Camelot. The knights and Arthur quickly catch up to where Merlin had briefly lit a fire then put it out. The wood is still warm. They follow him to the druid’s camp and attack.
(An aside: This makes me wonder how time works in this forest. As near as I can figure, it takes Morgana a full 24 hours to get there. It seems to take Merlin considerably less time, like through the night and part of the next day. It seems to take Arthur and his men just a few hours. Granted, Arthur is on horseback, but most of his men are on foot, so what the hell?)
The camp is in disarray. People are dying at the hands of Arthur and his knights. Morgana, Mordred, Merlin and Aglain try to escape. There’s a lot of running, hiding and chasing. Merlin uses his magic (out of sight of Morgana to create a heavy fog to hide them in and confuse the knights. But as the mist clears, Aglain eventually gets shot, Morgana passes out, Mordred uses his druid scream to knock out three knights who were about to kill him and escapes, but not without giving Merlin a meaningful look.
Morgana is returned to Camelot and an emotional Uther who behaves in a marginally more fatherly manner than he has been in previous episodes. Later, Merlin goes to Morgana’s chambers to see if she’s okay. He promises to keep her secret and she tells him that she feels like she knows who she is now and that perhaps someday, magic will be seen as a force for good. There’s a moment when it looks like Merlin is contemplating telling her about his abilities, but he stops himself and says it’s good to have her back.
He goes out to find Arthur waiting for him. He tells Merlin that he can’t act on his affections for Morgana because the king will have his head. When Merlin goes back to Gaius’ chambers, he apologizes and Gaius hugs him. And Merlin tells him that Morgana knows the truth about her magic because the druids told her. And Gaius tells him Merlin needs to protect Morgana so Uther doesn’t find out about her powers. This kid has a fuckton of responsibility for other people.
Okay, the questions!
1. If I’d written this episode…I would have fixed the forest of time flux because that’s still making me crazy. Also, I would have let the audience know what happened to all of the people Uther had rounded up.
2. The thing I loved/hated most about this episode. Loved: Morgana finding some peace with who she is. Hated the way Gaius lied to her and insisted that Merlin do the same. I can’t help but wonder how Morgana’s story would have played out if the people who were capable of helping her actually fucking helped her.
3. Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before. The bedroom fruit! Why was there so much damn fruit in Morgana’s bedroom!? I swear, every scene in her room (and there were a lot) panned over that damn fruit.
4. Favorite Costume. Morgana’s fancy jammies get the award this week
5. Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created. Sorry, it’s another week of no real canon here – none that I’ve created, anyway.
6. What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? The bit where Arthur seems *quite* jealous that Merlin gave Morgana flowers. Now, perhaps I’m just spending too much time listening to Jess’ Merthur thoughts, but I think that was jealousy and I think Jess liked it!
7. What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in a bad way, it has to be Gaius constantly gaslighting Morgana to the point of wanting to give her increasingly stronger drugs rather than have a conversation with her about the possibility of magic.