“Why are you being like this? People I’ve met, they’re… not like you. They don’t care. I don’t matter.” ~ Daegal
“Don’t ever think that. We all matter.” ~ Merlin
Last time on Merlin, Gwen attempted to kill Arthur by sabotaging his saddle and setting him up for an attack by bandits, but when the attempt fails, she frames the king’s groom for the sabotage. When he confesses to Merlin that he saw someone else, but refuses to say whom, Gwen visits him in the night and kills him before he has a chance to tell anyone. Morgana warns Gwen that someone must take the blame so that Gwen may remain beyond suspicion and gives Gwen some poison to use on Arthur. Gwen agrees, takes the poison, uses them on Arthur and then frames Merlin for the act. That night, Gaius helps Merlin escape from prison so Merlin can use his magic to save Arthur. Merlin reaches Arthur and manages to save him just in time. The next morning, Gwen has the apothecary that sold Morgana the poisons brought in and questioned. He confesses that Morgana bought the poison and Gwen is applauded for solving the crime and saving Arthur’s life.
In the night, a boy sneaks into Camelot and heads to the castle where he is nearly caught, but Gwen sends him on his way considering him to be completely harmless. He heads to a locked gate where he reaches for the key hidden above it, unlocks the gate and enters the castle. Gwen returns to the castle to find Arthur preparing a romantic setting with her favorite flowers soArthur sends Merlin off, but before he goes Gwen tells him she wants a bath. Merlin proceeds to the kitchens to heat up the water for her bath and as he does, he suddenly notices the boy watching him in the kitchen. He asks who he is and the boy, Daegal, tells him his sister is dying from the sweating sickness and needs Merlin’s help. When Merlin refuses, Daegal shows Merlin his Druid tattoo and after a bit more pleading Merlin reluctantly agrees to help him and meets him in the forest at first light.
Later that morning, Gaius goes to Arthur’s chamber to tell the completely helpless king that Merlin has yet to return. Arthur is lost without Merlin’s assistance, so tells Gaius to dress him and waits for Gaius to put a shirt on him. Gaius pulls something out of the wardrobe and puts it on Arthur. After some struggle, Gaius announces that the shirt is too small. Arthur manages to pull his head out and sees that Gaius has grabbed Guinevere’s nightdress and attempted to put that on Arthur. They try again and this time manage to get Arthur dressed as Gaius questions Arthur’s willingness to meet with such an evil assassin as The Sarrum. Arthur assures Gaius that it is a necessary step to achieve the peace in the five kingdoms that he has been seeking for so long. While Arthur is attempting to get dressed, Gwen leaves and, using the same gate and key that Daegal used to get into the castle, sneaks out. Gwen leaves a message for Morgana in a tree and returns to the castle in time to watch The Sarrum’s arrival.
As Merlin and Daegal head to Daegal’s sister, Daegal begins to act suspicious, he hesitates briefly and then before continuing on, returns the apple Merlin had given him earlier. When Merlin asks about Daegal’s sister, Daegal seems a little nervous and then insists they must hurry. Just then Merlin notices some bandits and tells Daegal to duck, but uses his mind to say it. When Daegal doesn’t hear him, Merlin wonders about it, but decides they must continue on and rushes ahead after the bandits pass. They reach the spot where Daegal says his sister is and Merlin goes ahead to find no one there. He turns to question Daegal about what he is up to and Morgana emerges behind him, using her magic to knock him out. Then as Merlin lies unconscious on the ground, she pours poison into his mouth, kicks him over a little ledge and leaves him to die a slow, painful death, warning the boy not to say anything.
Back at the castle, The Sarrum and Arthur discuss their commonalities, which leads to their hate of magic and Arthur asks him about capturing Morgana. The Sarrum tells Arthur that he used her love for her dragon, Aithusa, against her. He tells Arthur how he locked them in a pit and for two years left her, buried alive while the dragon continued to grow. He then laughs about it and mentions that as the dragon grew, the pit became too small and Aithusa became crippled and twisted, its cries more heartbreaking than Morgana’s. At this point, Gwen is upset by Sarrum’s tale of conquest and excuses herself to meet with Morgana as planned. She questions Morgana about the wisdom in using The Sarrum in their plan and Morgana insists it will work perfectly as The Sarrum will happily agree to the assassination and then the knights will be sure to turn on him, killing him before he has a chance to do anything further. Before parting she tells Gwen to make sure The Sarrum suffers in death.
Meanwhile, Merlin awakens in pain and is barely able to move. He notices an injury on his leg from the fall from the ledge and attempts to use magic, but is too weak, passing out in his attempt. A while later, Daegal returns to Merlin and manages to wake him. Merlin is immediately upset by Daegal’s presence and betrayal and asks why he came back. When Daegal tells him he wants to help, Merlin says it’s too late, but Daegal insists. Merlin eventually tells Daegal what herbs he needs to get and tells him to make a tincture before passing out once more. When Daegal returns with the tincture, Merlin takes it and then has the boy hold him down as the tincture counteracts the poison causing Merlin to shake violently before passing out yet again.
Back in Camelot, Gwen watches as Arthur fights with The Sarrum’s man, Albin, and smirks when he loses. Afterward, she purposely runs into The Sarrum and mentions that he should have let Arthur die. When The Sarrum questions her about it, she sets up another time and place to meet to discuss it further and returns to her chambers. When Gaius awakens to find Merlin’s food untouched and bed still made, he goes to tell Arthur and ask for a search party, but finds Gwen instead. After he tells Gwen that he wants to send out a search party, she advices against it due to The Sarrum’s presence and leaves the chambers. Gaius agrees with her, but due to her reluctance to find Merlin is now suspicious that she may have something to do with his lengthy absence. Gwen meets The Sarrum as planned and proposes that he kill Arthur, so she may assume the thrown and in return will give The Sarrum one-third of Camelot’s lands. She tells him to appoint the assassin and when he says he has someone in mind, she tells The Sarrum that they shall kill Arthur at the treaty signing the following morning.
That night, Merlin wakes up to find Daegal still at his side. Merlin, weak and clearly upset by the boy’s betrayal, questions him about Morgana’s intentions. The boy reluctantly admits that he believes Gwen and Morgana intend to kill the king. At this news, Merlin wastes no time to start on his trek back to Camelot to warn Arthur. Daegal follows him and before long, the two reach an encampment of bandits. Merlin decides they must go around, but due to his injured leg and rush to get back to Camelot, trips and falls, alerting the bandits to their presence. The bandits surround them and Merlin warns them not to come any closer. When one of the bandits points out that Merlin doesn’t even have a sword, Merlin simply tells him that he doesn’t need one and uses magic to send him flying. The rest of the bandits quickly disperse and Merlin and Daegal continue on their way to Camelot. After a little while, the boy notices that it is becoming increasingly difficult for Merlin to keep going on his injured leg and convinces Merlin to let him help him fix his leg. As Daegal mends Merlin’s leg, he admits that everything he told Merlin was the truth except for having a sister. He then tells Merlin that Uther killed his mother because she had magic like Merlin.
Back in Camelot, Gwen gives The Sarrum a key to the balcony in the throne room and the Sarrum, in turn, gives it to Albin as they make plans to kill Arthur and later Gwen. At this point, Gaius notices Merlin’s continued absence and tells Arthur, but, unfortunately, Gwen overhears and tells Arthur that Merlin has gone to visit a girl, so there is no reason to worry. Arthur agrees and continues on to the treaty signing.
Just as Merlin and Daegal reach the castle, Arthur, The Sarrum and Arthur’s knights gather around the round table to sign the treaty while Albin prepares his crossbow in the balcony and Gwen watches in anticipation. When Merlin finds Arthur’s chambers empty he goes in search of him, grabbing a spear to use as a crutch for his injured leg on the way. When he passes the unlocked door to the balcony, he realizes something’s wrong and goes up to the balcony to find Albin aiming his crossbow at Arthur. Albin hears them and shoots an arrow at them. Merlin deflects it with his magic, but as he does Albin throws two knives at them, causing them to duck for cover. Albin reloads his crossbow and has Arthur in aim when Merlin uses his magic to send the makeshift crutch, otherwise known as a spear, into Albin causing him to misfire and shoot The Sarrum. The Sarrum falls down dead and Merlin goes out onto the balcony to see what Albin hit. Seeing that The Sarrum lay dead over the treaty, Merlin quickly turns around to tell Daegal the good news and finds that one of the knives Albin threw had struck Daegal in the chest. Merlin rushes to his side, but there is nothing he can do, except assure Daegal that he did something good and saved Arthur’s life before Daegal dies.
Later that night, as Arthur and Gwen sit down to supper and Merlin serves them, Arthur tells Merlin to make sure he gives Daegal a decent Burial. Merlin agrees on the condition that he can have some time off, to which Arthur inquires about the girl Gwen had mentioned. Gwen is caught in her lie, but continues to feign innocence, as she is well aware that Merlin has no proof and can say nothing about what actually happened. Merlin plays along, but later after burying Daegal with Gaius affirms that Gwen is too dangerous and they must do something about her.
The Hollow Queen was another great episode full of all the things I’ve come to love and will certainly miss about Merlin. It had the betrayal, Morgana behind the weekly assassination plot and Merlin saving the day just in time with his magic and a bit of humor thrown in for good measure. From the moment Daegal entered the castle, you had to wonder about how he knew to get in, so I particularly liked that all the while Daegal seemed genuine in his plight for his sister’s life, there were little hints about his possible deception. The best hint, without outright saying so, was when Gwen used the same gate and key to leave the castle. How else could the “Druid” boy have known about that?
This episode also had a bit of humor with our helpless king, a grown man, unable to dress himself. Arthur’s attempt to find his comb was funny, clearly pointing to how much he relies on Merlin for the smallest things and that Arthur really was raised as a prince with servants doing everything for him. Which isn’t completely unrealistic and is absolutely hilarious to watch. The best part was when Gaius attempted to dress him and put Gwen’s nightdress on Arthur instead of one of Arthur’s shirt. I loved that. At least he got it right the second time!
Humor aside, it was interesting finding out about what happened to Morgana in her two years of captivity and sadly, how Aithusa became the crippled mute creature Merlin met in the caves of Ismere. Morgana is evil, there is no question about that, but hearing that story and the “heartbreaking” cries of Aithusa as he grew too big for the pit he was trapped in was sad, to say the least. It really illustrated The Sarrum’s cruelty and made his death all the more welcome. The Hollow Queen definitely came to a fitting conclusion with his death at Albin’s hand and Albin’s death at Merlin’s hand. Though it was sad that Daegal had to die as well, that too was also somewhat fitting for the character and Alfie Stewart was a great choice for the role of Daegal. I enjoyed watching his interactions as Daegal with Merlin and his confusion over Merlin’s kindness. Speaking of, Colin Morgan was absolutely brilliant in this episode. From Merlin’s agony to his betrayal and his sadness over Daegal’s death, Colin portrayed every emotion perfectly. This season has really thrown some tough situations at Merlin and with more to come, Colin Morgan has met every challenge amazingly well. He makes it easy to really feel for Merlin and the people Merlin loves and has lost. That can’t be an easy thing to do. Kudos must also go to Angel Coulby with every evil little smirk and instance of feigned innocence. Angel is very convincing in the role of the treacherous, evil queen brainwashed by Morgana. This is a plotline I am definitely enjoying and am looking forward to seeing where it leads.
That being said, be sure to see what happens with our puppet queen when Merlin finally manages to find a way to tell Arthur about her treachery in With All My Heart.
Merlin airs Friday on SyFy at 10/9c.