“Merlin” 5.04 Recap: “Funny Feelings”

Our scene opens on a picturesque-looking kingdom in flames. Hmm. Seems as if Universal might finally be getting serious about its rivalry with Walt Disney World (where your intrepid recapper used to work, believe it or not). No, actually, Morgana and this week’s minion-du-jour, Odin, have decided that Camelot may be too tough to pick on right now, so they go beating up on its lesser-endowed (militaristically speaking) neighbor, Nemeth.

After their victory, Morgana tells Odin that now they are ready to take on Camelot. Odin, realizing that it is his army that will be doing the heavy lifting here, wonders what’s in it for him? To which Morgana replies, “Arthur, to do with as you wish…” I don’t know about Odin, but that would sure motivate me!

In Camelot, Sir Leon is surprised to see a pair of riders arriving after dark—good thing he left the porch light on! It turns out to be Mithian, princess of Nemeth, and her faithful servant Hilda. Mithian is “deathly” ill, and she is rushed to Gaius for care. It’s touch and go for a moment, but luckily for her the leeches and the blood-letting seem to do the trick. Arthur wishes to see her, but Merlin stops him, flat out telling him he cannot.

When Arthur asserts his rights, Merlin replies, “Who died and made you boss?” To which Arthur rejoins, “Uther.” Actually, Arthur teases Merlin about having fun bossing him around for a change (“Feels good, does it?”) and Merlin replies with a cute little half-smile and says, “Not unpleasant.” Adorable! These two really are quite cute together.

Alone in her room, Mithian rests in her bed while her faithful servant hovers nearby. Only it turns out her faithful servant is really Morgana, using an aging spell that makes her look like a cross between Joan Rovers and a gargoyle. Incidentally, that looks pretty much exactly like Joan Rivers.

It seems Morgana is holding Mithian’s father, King Rodor (which I’m pretty sure was a name of one of my He-Man figures when I was a kid) hostage so that Mithian will “cooperate” with Morgana’s evil plan. Mithian meets with Arthur and pleads for his aid: “You’re my only hope, Obi-Wan Blonde-obi.” She tells Arthur that her father is holed up in a tomb just across the border, and that Odin is looking for him. Frankly her tale has more holes in it than Manti Te’o’s “I didn’t know she was my fake girlfriend” story, but who I am to judge?

Arthur agrees to help and orders a small strikeforce to cross the border into Nemeth to rescue the king. Morgana summons a crow to take a note to Odin about Arthur’s impending journey (Crow Express: When you absolutely, positively have to get it evil overnight.) Merlin checks in on Mithian, bringing a calming vial of something that is legal only in Colorado, Washington, and the Dark Ages.

He becomes suspicious by the odd way Mithian and Hilda behave. He tells Gaius of his concerns, but Gaius suggests Merlin may be a bit paranoid because, hey, nothing fishy ever happens in Camelot. Merlin isn’t buying it. He tells Gaius he saw fear in Mithian’s eyes.

Guinevere is worried that Arthur is going after Odin for revenge, because Odin killed Uther (frankly, after the crankypants way Uther acted last week, Odin might have done Arthur a favor there.)

Odin, of course, only killed Uther because Arthur killed Odin’s son (who I’m pretty sure is Thor, right?) But Arthur only killed Odin’s son because Odin’s son ran over Arthur’s kitten in his chariot. But Odin’s son only ran over Arthur’s kitten in his chariot because Arthur’s kitten batted his favorite ball of yarn off the table and made a really big mess. Sigh. Won’t these people ever learn that revenge is not the answer? They should solve their problems like we do in my family: with a spirited (read: drunken) game of Toss Across.

Mithian manages to sneak off, swapping out the large door key Morgana is clutching in her sleep for a hairbrush. Uhh, this is the sixth century, people. I’m pretty sure the hairbrush would have opened the door as effectively as the key. She roams around the castle but, surprisingly for a place with as many security issues as this one, there isn’t a soul to be seen, and Morgana catches up with her first.

It is only then that they run into Guinevere, and in order to throw off any suspicions Morgana as Hilda asks Guinevere what she thinks about Taylor Swift breaking up with Harry Styles. Guinevere sighs and wonders if Taylor will ever find the right guy, while Morgana speculates that she thrives on conflict and constant change to fuel her music. Mithian worries about the reputation Taylor may be getting—she has been with a lot of different men after all—and Guinevere tells Mithian to grow up, that it’s the sixth century already and women can do anything a man can—except vote, inherit property, wear pants, ride a horse astride, or make their own decisions in life about anything.

Merlin, still troubled by his suspicions, tries to talk Arthur out of the rescue attempt, even though he cannot wholly articulate why. Arthur tells Merlin that he appreciates his “funny feelings” but that cannot stop him. The group sets off and Hilda collapses, since the strain of being that old for so long is really getting to Morgana. Seriously, some days I know exactly how she feels, and I ain’t even hit forty yet.

Gaius tends to her and becomes suspicious when he realizes she has the pulse and vigor of a much younger woman. Hilda quickly fibs and tells Gaius she does yoga and takes Chinese supplements and herbs.

Mithian tells Merlin to go fill her water bags (geez, that sounds like it should be euphemistic of something) and when he goes to the river he sees one word that Mithian has scratched into a large rock: Morgana. And finally, hallelujah, someone does something smart in this episode. Of course Morgana had her suspicions about Mithian’s incredibly obvious gesture so she attacks Merlin before he can warn anyone and leaves him to die. Arthur leaves Gaius and Gwaine to tend to Merlin while the rest of the group sets off to rescue Rodor.

Merlin appears to be slipping away, but when Gaius sends Gwaine to fetch wood, he uses his remaining magic to save him. Merlin tells them Hilda is Morgana and he and Gwaine take off like a pair of rabid marmosets, and Gwaine is never once suspicious that the Merlin who was near death sixty seconds ago is now as spry and jumpy as a rabbit on Red Bull. Oh, well. At least the knights of Camelot are pretty.

Arthur and his band approach the tomb, and Mithian, Hilda, Arthur, and Percival go inside. You know, it only occurred to me at this point, but what would ever be the reason to take an old lady like Hilda on a trip like this? Crossing into dangerous territory, with an enemy army at your backs…I’m sure many is the time a soldier in a firefight pauses and thinks, “Gee, I really wish my granny-boo was here right now.” Did Mithian need a chaperone? Did they hope Hilda could use her “senior” discount at the local IHOP to buy them all cheap flapjacks? Seriously, it makes no sense.

Anyway, once inside, the trap is sprung and Hilda reveals herself to be Morgana. Mithian begs for forgiveness as Arthur and Percival try to fight their way free. But Odin has too many men, and Arthur ends up subdued while Percival is bent at the waist over an old tomb with a pair of men behind him and…umm…seriously, why does this show keep doing stuff like this to me when they know my recap has to be rated PG-13? It just isn’t fair…

Odin tells Arthur to prepare to die, and Arthur tells him that if Odin kills Arthur all the knights of Camelot will not rest until they hunt Odin down. Seriously, it was the most badass speech Arthur has ever made, and it caused me to forget brawny Percival bent over at the waist.

For a minute.

Okay, minute over…

No, it was actually pretty fierce, but Odin is less than impressed. Meanwhile, Gwaine and Merlin have caught up with the others. They find one of Odin’s knights “relieving” himself in the woods and Gwaine whacks him over the head. Okay, seriously, that is why I never pee anywhere rougher than a three-star hotel. You never know what could happen!

Gwaine frees the knights trapped outside by Odin’s army while Merlin sneaks in through the back door to help Arthur. He causes a big earthquake and the group gets free and sets off into the woods.

They are pursued by Odin’s men but Arthur and Merlin lead the bad guys away from Mithian and Rodor. They are soon trapped and Arthur and Odin face off, Thunderdome style (Two men enter…) Arthur gets the upper hand but then gives another big speech, only this one is about finding a better way and burying the hatchet and giving up on revenge and “let’s have a kiki” and all that sort of nonsense.

Two men enter—two men leave? Auntie Entity is not having it, but that’s what happens. Odin agrees and a truce is made between Camelot and wherever Odin comes from (if I had to guess…Norway?) Gaius wonders if this is a sign of Arthur’s real destiny, of him uniting all the lands of Albion into one (don’t put the cart before the horse, Gaius: Odin made a truce with Arthur, he didn’t adopt him!) while Merlin worries about Morgana. I’m worrying how they plan to fulfill Arthur’s destiny with only eight episodes left and, even more important, when will Bradley James run around shirtless? Well, there’s always next week…