Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review: Camelot "The Battle of Bardon Pass"

Non Spoiler Review:
Morgan's schemes get kicked into high gear as she incites violence throughout Arthur's realm, culminating at Bardon Pass, the crucial supply route for Camelot. Igraine's return is met with shock and anger as all of Morgan's discord explodes between Guinevere and Leontes, and among the knights. Merlin embarks on a plan to expose her.

The Battle of Bardon Pass was quite compelling—the pacing and the ramifications of Morgan's interference kept coming and didn't give Merlin a chance to catch up. His actions in response are a bit questionable, but it made for some good drama. Everything is set for a tense season finale next week. The usual critiques haven't changed, though—very quick cuts and short scenes, and Morgan's over-the-top gloating gets to be a little much by the end.

Spoilers Now!
Igraine thinks she's gone mad as she faces herself. But Morgan tells her that she's her tainted soul. Igraine runs off, leaving Morgan to head for the gates. She has another fit and abruptly transforms back into herself, but still manages to flee Camelot on horseback.

At the loosely guarded Bardon Pass, Sybil's men arrive, killing some of the sentries. The head of the outpost, Lucan, sends his son Albion off to warn the king. But that's exactly what Harwel wants, as the plan was to draw him out of Camelot.

Igraine goes back to her chambers but gets another shock as she finds Merlin in her bed. She sobs about being held prisoner by Morgan, but Merlin explains calmly they were together the previous night. She protests that she killed a guard and stole a horse, and it slowly dawns on Merlin that she's telling the truth. He tells her she's not losing her mind. It's Morgan wearing her face. They have to find out what else she did while she was there.

Sybil meets Morgan at the gates, warning her Igraine escaped, but Morgan is sure they'll think her mad. All their other plans are in motion, and some men have gathered to meet with her. She wants their help to claim back their land. Arthur's pledge of protection is a lie, so she wishes to expose the truth. Similar attacks like those on Bardon Pass will show how fragile their protection is. The only safe place will be under Morgan's authority, and if the crown falls to her, those men who pledged themselves to her will have their loyalty rewarded. 

Leontes watches Guinevere wake up. He immediately asks if something happened between her and the king. He tells her to swear on the bible that nothing happened, so she makes a bad and unconvincing attempt. Leontes wants an explanation so she admits it was before they were married—on their wedding day. He states she's not his wife, but the king's whore, and leaves her. 

He runs into Merlin, who asks why he's so angry. Leontes explains Igraine told him that Arthur had his wife. This is the last thing Merlin wants to hear. If it's true, what Arthur's done is unforgivable, but what does Leontes hope to accomplish—he suggests Leontes can bear this cross and return to Guinevere, and let her absolve herself. Merlin will deal with the king.

Guinevere interrupts Arthur's meeting and tells him Leontes knows everything. Arthur wants to go to him, but that's not the best idea. Guinevere returns to Leontes with apologies. But he won't trust her again, though he admits Igraine had revealed the truth.

Merlin asks Igraine to keep the secret about Guinevere and to help keep her quiet and under control. Albion arrives, asking to speak to the king, but the guards won't let him in. Merlin finally catches up with Arthur and punches him first, then orders him to never admit what he did to anyone. His responsibility is to his realm, nothing more. The situation must be covered up or risk losing everything. That's when Albion manages to get their attention and tells them Bardon Pass is under siege. Merlin advises that it has to be defended, so Arthur assembles his men. 

Merlin tells Leontes the men need him, but he wants to return to his village. If he doesn't fulfil his oath to the king, his honor accounts for nothing, Merlin says. Punishment for Arthur can wait. When he returns, Leontes says he'll be done with Camelot. Meanwhile, Igraine tries to help Guinevere, but she's furious with the queen. Igraine tries to comfort her, but at the same time attempts to keep her from Leontes. 

The knights mount up and ride out, while Merlin tells Gawain not to let Arthur out of his sight, and if Leontes attempts to harm the king, to do what he has to do. Merlin then prepares to go to Pendragon Castle and Igraine insists on coming to see Morgan punished. Morgan must submit to Camelot's authority. Igraine admits that Merlin let her get close, but is sorry she wasn't there.

Morgan has called another assembly of her neighbours, feigning loyalty with Arthur to spread dissent. She advises that Merlin is the one who acts rashly against the king's wishes. Merlin and Igraine arrive, greeted by Vivian. The castle is full of people, as attacks throughout the realm are causing villagers to seek refuge there. Merlin calls out Morgan, who answers to his calls of witchcraft and treason. He accuses her of using magic to assume Igraine's shape. 

The people protest, saying Morgan is the only one they can trust right now. Igraine declares she was kept prisoner, but Sybil dismisses her accusations as mad. Igraine demands they be taken to the dungeon to show the witch's markings, but the room has been redressed to a chapel. 

Merlin tells Sybil a boy named Redwald is dead because of all this, and Sybil will answer to the king for her part in it. Merlin tries to arrest Morgan, but the people protest. Sybil calls the guards, and Merlin and Igraine are both taken prisoner and tied up. Merlin wants to know who Sybil is—puppet or puppeteer? What does she get in return? He tells her he has more patience than she can imagine and believes the people will see through their ploys.

Arthur's men are outnumbered, but Albion knows another way to the outpost. They're reunited with Lucan and raise the Pendragon standard to fend off the siege. Harwel is eager to fight, seeing it as his way to Morgan.

As they prepare the outpost, Arthur tells Leontes it was all his fault, not Guinevere. Then Guinevere arrives on horseback, getting shot off her horse at the barricades. Leontes rushes out to save her, and Arthur comes out to get them both. They get her back behind the barricade and Kay demands to know what Arthur did to cause all this. Leontes tells him to confess, so Arthur admits to betraying him. Kay is furious, telling him he'll never change. He's not a worthy king, or brother, but at least they were never linked by blood. Guinevere tells Leontes she came there for him. She's brought him his bible, but he tells her to keep it.

Morgan leaves for Camelot with Merlin and Igraine walking bound behind their entourage. On the way she addresses more refugees who are on their way to Camelot. She promises them all protection. Igraine wants Merlin to do something, but he knows using sorcery will play into Morgan's hands. Only Arthur can save this. And this way Arthur will see his sister's true colours.

The attack comes, and Arthur's men manage to gain the advantage in hand to hand combat. But Ulfius is killed. Harwel sounds the retreat, but does fire an arrow that wounds Kay. Arthur orders Leontes to take Kay and the family and leave the way they came. Arthur will stay. Leontes wants to remain, but he orders him to go. Though Gawain has orders from Merlin to protect him, Arthur says he'll follow on. 

Harwel, meanwhile, has sent for reinforcements. He plans to take Arthur's sword from his dead body. Arthur seems resolved to die as he watches from the wall, alone.

The Verdict:
I enjoyed the episode, and it's setting up a hopefully good conclusion to the season. Arthur's looking to make a last stand at the outpost, but something tells me it's Leontes who's not going to survive. It would be pretty interesting if he actually got drawn to the dark side over all the betrayal.

Merlin's inaction and personal struggles with magic continue to be frustrating, though. He's been a hopelessly bad advisor as everything has unfolded under his nose. He really needs some direction beyond his attitude of letting his enemies expose themselves. It will be interesting to see if Morgan succeeds (and for how long), or how she can get out of her fix if she does get found out.

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