This was... an okay episode. Not bad, but not good, either. It honestly felt like Arthur and Merlin forgot about the last few episode of S1 and reverted to mid S1 behaviour and banter. Don't get me wrong, the chemistry between Bradley and Colin is now solid, and Merlin's hissy fit over Cedric was fun, but I just expect a little more from this series. At least we got Morgana actually doing something and standing up to Gaius. About time. I agree with everyone who's commented that they could have done more with evil!Merlin. There was a beautifully lit moment when Merlin got his obligatory power up, which reminded me of how good this series can be when people make the effort. It also felt like they were deliberately putting in 'naked Arthur' moments but I can't complain about that.
The Once and Future QueenAKA the Arthur/Gwen episode.
I like this pairing, I liked how frustrated Gwen got with having Arthur in her house and how clueless Arthur is when it comes to cooking - I bet you that even on campaigns and hunting, someone else was turning the spit - but the kiss? Just way too sudden. The awkward silences and the soft look in Arthur's eye were much better. It was good to remind people that Arthur's life isn't exactly 'easy' either, what with everyone treating him with kid gloves and his father's constant expectations that he be better, faster, stronger, insert Bionic Man reference here. But I would like to point out that Merlin didn't technically lie to Gaius: he didn't hear from Arthur since he'd been to the north since he never went to the north! ;) But again, nothing for Morgana. I'm tired of seeing her sitting up in bed waking up from a nightmare, I want her DOING something about it!
The Nightmare Begins
Finally some action for Morgana. Actually, this episode is all about Morgana. I'm glad we've finally got some foreshadowing of the powerful magician she's going to become, from the yellow eyes to the levitating objects. I'm happy that Merlin decides to defy Gaius (and the Dragon) and help Morgana. It was nice to find out that he wasn't always so au fait with his own magic. It was also nice to be reminded that magic is, y'know, ILLEGAL and he's way too casual about it for his own good. Merlin still hasn't learned that he's a bad liar but I guess practice makes perfect. Once again I'm impressed with the portrayal of the Druids and impressed with Mordred. After seeing him in The Boy Who Wore Pyjamas, I know just how good Asa is and I can't wait to see more of him. His affection for Morgana was believable, as well as his recognition of Merlin/Emrys. And then you have that wonderful eerie moment when Mordred just SCREAMS and blows everyone away. Yeah, you'd better be freaked out, Merlin. Mind you, Merlin got another power up in this episode, so it'll be a battle of the magical gladiators. Arthur had some nice scenes too, you can tell his conscience is becoming more and more vocal. Finally, some real drama!
Lancelot & Guinevere
On the good side, we have continuity with the previous episode, we have acknowledgement that Lancelot's pretty screwed if he's not allowed to be a knight and we have the Lancelot/Guinevere relationship developing (much more believably that the Arthur/Guinevere relationshp, sadly). On the bad side, the idea of camouflage has still not reached Camelot (dressing in red cloaks, that's not noticeable AT ALL), Celtic gladiators and giant baby rats. The seeds of the Arthurian tragedy are sown, Lancelot and Merlin tell each other some home truths and Gwen is hurt by the inevitable. If Lancelot stuck around, there's no way she'd choose Arthur but at least Arthur's there, even if he's a bit of a snob and pretends he came just because of Morgana (yeah, right). He's also a bit of a looker, haha. Really, the star of this episode is the dialogue:
"Perhaps if you would stop shouting at me for one second, you would notice that I am *packing*?" Arthur: 1 Morgana: 0
"You distract the guards."
"How do I do that?"
"I don't KNOW, do I have to think of everything?!"
"What did you DO?! I said 'distract them' not 'knock them out'!"
"There's just no pleasing you sometimes."
"What are wildren?"
"They're like giant... baby rats."
"*Baby* rats? They don't sound so bad."
"They feed on human flesh."
"Maybe we should go over the mountains."
"Argh, these stink, they're really bad!"
"Perhaps you'd prefer to get eaten alive?"
"Pass me some more, would you?"
"You wanna marry Gwen?"
"No - no - I - I don't know! It's all talk and that's all it can ever be."
"When you're king, you can change that."
"Can't expect Guinevere to wait for me... And Merlin? If you dare tell anyone about this, I promise I will make your life a living hell."
"You mean more than you already do?"
"We could talk about your feelings while you walk!"
"Shut up, Merlin."
"Live for me, or everything that I am has been for nothing."
"As long as I live, my feelings for you will never fade."
"Lancelot! What are you doing here?"
"I came to save Gwen! You?"