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Oh lumme, here we go…
The powerful druid Ari has arrived in Morgana’s throne room. She asks to see a demonstration of his powers, to see if he’s as good as people say. Having done as she asks, he is suddenly seized, and Morgana sets an Eancanah on him, a fearsome creature that can eat magical powers. Avi is stripped of all magic, and left sobbing.
This is the plan Morgana has for Merlin. And now she knows it works, despite Mordred’s misgivings.
In a pub called The Rising Sun, Arthur is gambling with Merlin. Naturally Merlin is cheating, using magic, and Arthur is getting a little miffed. But while they play on, a hooded figure has entered Gaius’s room, knocking him unconscious and sneaking the Eancanah under Merlin’s bed. When the boy wizard returns, he’s attacked, and while Gaius fights the creature off with a spade, his magic is taken from him.
Then Morgana and Mordred’s army attack Fort Stowell on the northern edge of Camelot. Gwaine rescues a girl called Eira, and then she saves his life in return. They fall back to Camelot, overwhelmed by the Saxon hordes. Merlin struggles to work out what to do to help, as his magical powers have gone. Gaius reminds him that he still has medical skills, and he helps treat Eira.
Arthur calls his knights to a meeting, insisting that they cannot wait for Morgana’s army to attack Camelot, they must fend her off before she can get to them. They agree to head them off at Camlann. Which is the place in which the prophecy claims Arthur will die. He resolves to go to the Crystal Cave, in the valley of the fallen kings, to try and get his powers back.
Meanwhile, Morgana has forged, in the breath of a dragon, a deadly sword for Mordred to wield.
Merlin explains to Arthur that he won’t be going to Camlann, which disappoints the king severely. There’s a unpleasant moment:
Still, off Merlin goes to the Crystal Cave with Gwaine at his side. And Gwen resolves to take Merlin’s place at her husband’s side. Then Eira, who’s had a night with a knight – Gwaine again – turns out to be one of Morgana’s spies. She reveals Arthur’s plans to Morgana, and Merlin’s departure too. Between Mordred and Morgana, they work out what he’s up to, and Morgana sets off in the direction of the Valley of the Fallen Kings.
Having arrived at the cave, Merlin sends Gwaine back to Arthur, and heads inside, where Morgana is waiting for him. He stabs her with Gwaine’s sword, but it has no effect, and she then traps him in with a rockfall.
Things look equally bleak over at Camlann, where the Saxon army outnumbers Arthur’s by five to one. Gaius apologises to Arthur for sending Merlin off to get provisions, and tells Gwen that he’s actually on a mission, but he can’t say what it is.
A little later, Merlin wakes. and, after a lot of frustration, manages to drag himself free of the rocks, but not out of the cave. He collapses. Amid a glowing cave of crystals, he sees his father Balinor, who tells Merlin to keep fighting, to let hope into his heart, and not to lose faith. He tells him to rest, and that he cannot lose his magic, because he IS magic.
Arthur and his knights realise that their plan is a long shot, that Morgana’s army may not be able to escape this place, but neither will they. However, it’s their only hope, and Gwen reassures Arthur that he has made the right decision.
Merlin awakes with his magic returned, but still trapped. He uses the crystals to see what’s going on at Camlann, and uses his powers to speak to Arthur in his sleep. He warns him that they are betrayed, that Morgana outflanks him, and that the army will be trapped. Arthur rallies his troops with a stirring speech, to find the hidden path through the mountains from which Morgana’s troops approach, to end the war and fight for Albion, and the United Kingdoms.
After thanking Balinor, Merlin heads into the light of the cave, transforming into the old man we have seen before, and blowing the rocks from the entrance. He departs for Camlann, where, in the darkness, a huge battle rages.
Part 2 to come next week.
Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.
He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.
Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic