This week’s episode of Merlin actually opens with a shot better suited for Project Runway: Dungeon edition. We spy a fabulously appointed cloak, mostly from the hem upwards, done in a regal gothic black. It might be a Christian Siriano original, but, alas, it is just Guinevere—or, perhaps, alternate-universe Guinevere (wouldn’t it have been hilarious if she had come back evil with a goatee?) stomping her way through Camelot’s dungeons. She is spotted by hunky slab of man-meat Percival, who wonders where the Queen is going. Guinevere feeds him a cock-and-bull story about how being the Queen all the time can be harsh and she prefers wandering around the streets of Oldtown, alone, in the middle of the night.
Hey, if Guinevere wants to give up the job of being queen at anytime, I will be happy to take it over. I’ve been accused of being a queen once or twice in my life anyway, and this way I’d get the throne and tiaras that come along with it. Percival, to his credit, isn’t necessarily buying what Guinevere is selling, but then she plays the dead brother card and he pretty much lets her have anything she wants. Yes, she really uses the dead brother gambit to play Percival like a one-stringed violin.
Guinevere sneaks off into the woods to see Morgana, and the two plot their latest plot (something about a route the knights are taking to collect levies.) More interesting is who is watching all of this—none other than Merlin and King Arthur himself. Busted! Now Arthur knows for sure Guinevere is in Morgana’s evil clutches, and he looks positively ill over it. Give the boy some Milk of Magnesia and a backrub, Merlin, and maybe he’ll feel better. But no, Merlin offers words of comfort instead, saying, “We’ll bring her back…promise.”
Ahh, but how? That’s the rub for our young sorcerer. Gaius, being a bit more helpful than usual, initially says there is no way to bring Guinevere back at all, that she is a slave to the High Priestess forever. Bummer. Gaius then finally proffers that if there is a way to free Guinevere, the only two people who would know would be Morgana herself and the powerful sorceress The Dochraid. Merlin plans to visit The Dochraid, but Gaius warns she cannot be trusted.
Meanwhile, Arthur has to pretend that everything is a-okay and that his wife isn’t actively trying to murder him. Soon we discover that acting is not amongst Arthur Pendragon’s many talents. As the two enjoy breakfast, Guinevere keeps asking Arthur if he would like to go for a ride, and Arthur keeps squirmingly replying, “Nooo…” I’m starting to think from the way Guinevere keeps repeating herself that “going for a ride” might be a euphemism for a medieval version of “afternoon delight,” but trust me when I tell you that for Arthur, that skyrocket is going nowhere.
Arthur does his best to wriggle out of the Queen’s company. He meets secretly—in a closet, cough, cough, metaphor, metaphor—with a couple of knights (including Mordred) about a new route for collecting the levies. Mordred’s suspicions are raised, but Arthur tells him to leave well enough alone. And then brushes an eyelash off of his porcelain cheek, just for good measure.
Merlin visits The Dochraid, who is an eyeless old hag and also the spitting image of my kindergarten teacher (which explains the bed-wetting until age seven.) The Dochraid is not feeling particularly helpful to Merlin, even if he is wearing his old man Emrys guise and doing his best to give The Dochraid a winning, flirty smile. (Hint to Merlin: eye contact works better when someone actually has eyes.) Merlin tries another tack and gets all flinty and demanding, and I find this take-charge persona very exciting, even if Merlin’s beard appears as if a baby sloth is sleeping in it.