How Merlin conquered the Darkest Hour in Camelot as Lady Morgana and Morgause heads to the mystical Isle of the Blessed
….Camelot’s king Uther is now a shell of a man following Morgana’s betrayal and is under Gwen’s care.
…It’s time for a sword and sorcery battle as Merlin returns to save camelot from falling.
The fourth series kicks off with a cloaked figure pulling a cart through a desolate landscape. As four knights approach, led by Sir Leon and Sir Elyan, the figure is revealed to be lady Morgana!
More powerful than ever, she overcomes the knights with ease, killing two of them outright. And on the cart, hidden under a blanket, is Morgause – still alive, but badly disfigured from her last battle with Merlin.
Following a fancy new title sequence, we find ourselves back in Camelot, where a year has passed since Morgana’s brief tyrannical reign.
Merlin is busy making a nuisance of himself in the castle kitchens and accidentally spills red wine all down Arthur’s nice clean shirt.
Luckily, the dashing Lancelot is around to remind Merlin that difficult-to-remove stains are no match for his magic.
Rushing keenly to Arthur’s chambers, Merlin is shocked to find the prince already dressed well, more or less.
Arthur is all of a fluster as he’s trying to write an important speech, but faithful Merlin has already done it for him. Never one to resist an easy opportunity. Arthur is mock-appalled that Merlin’s not more grateful for the opportunity.
Meanwhile, Morgana and a weakened Morgause head to the mystical Isle of the Blessed by boat, uniting more evil forces on how weaken and destroyed the Kingdom of Camelot.
Camelot’s king Uther is now a shell of a man following Morgana’s betrayal and is under Gwen’s care. “His heart is broken, and his
spirit is gone,” notes the king’s old pal Gaius.
Sir Leon and Sir Elyan returned to Camelot, relating their violent encounter with Morgana to Arthur. He seems concerned, but these days the prince is receiving advice and order from council which his not-at-all-shifty-honest Uncle Agravaine.
“Camelot is strong,” he insists. “If Morgana were to act, we’d be ready for her.”
A feast is thrown in the royal castle to commemorate a special festival, in which Camelot remembers its long dead. But Morgana and Morgause are taking advantage of this special time, in which our world and the spirit world are most closely intertwined.
At Morgause’s behest, a tearful Morgana stabs her sister, killing her, while reciting a spell of the darkest magic.
As Morgause (apparently) dies, a veil is torn open into the spirit world. Back in Camelot, Merlin suffers a vision of a creepy old lady, who identified him as Emrys. It’s all too much for the poor boy wizard, who collapses to the floor. Arthur is not impressed.
Back at the Isle of the Blessed, Morgana is confronted by the same creepy lady, she’s the Callieach, the gate-keeper to the spirit world.
The Callieach explains that Morgana has unleashed an army of hellish creatures, the Dorocha – but also warns the sorceress about her ultimate foe – Emrys. “He is your destiny,” she says. “And he is your doom.”
When Merlin wakes up from his collapses, he’s still a little shaken from his encounter with the Callieach. “She knew who I was,” he tells Gaius. “She called me Emrys.” But there’s bigger things to worry about, the next morning, Arthur is summoned to the council chambers.
A young girl named Dreya has been taken into Camelot, after her own village was attacked and her family slaughtered by the Dorocha. “There was no-one,” she explains to Arthur. “Just… shapes.”
Arthur, Merlin and the knights ride out to Dreya’s village, but it appears deserted. “It’s too quiet,” notes Arthur – talk about tempting fate! As the group explore the village, they encounter a number of fake scare tactics, a goat, Gwaine eating an apple and even the world’s loudest chicken!
However, Elyan soon discovers dead bodies – drained of life, frozen in death. Merlin becomes separated from the knights, but when one of the Dorocha descends on him, his magic proves useless. Lancelot arrives in the nick of time to save him as only a flaming torch seems able to ward off the creatures.
“It’s not something you can chase or something you can kill,” Merlin warns Arthur and the knights.
The knights beat a very brave retreat, but Camelot is already under siege from the Dorocha.
A devastated and frightened Merlin tells Gaius that his powers are useless against the threat, admitting “I have never felt so powerless.”
Gaius tells Arthur and Agravaine that Morgana is likely behind the attack on the kingdom.
(“You see her hand in this?” asks a none-too-sharp Arthur).
As night falls, the knights patrol Camelot, armed with flaming torches. Percival breaks away from the others and discovers three frightened children, dropping his torch to carry them in his powerful arms, – what a sacrifice from that guy!
As citizens from across the kingdom flock towards Camelot, looking for protection, Gaius tells Arthur that there’s only path open to them – to repair the tear to the spirit world, which will require another blood sacrifice.
“If laying down my life will spare the people of Camelot, then that is what I must do,” insists the noble prince.
But there’s a twist to this tale – Agravaine is a wrong ‘un (*GASP!*) and meets with Morgana in the forest to inform her of Arthur’s plan.
She’s still worried about the mysterious Emrys, but Agravaine assures her that Arthur will soon be dead and she will return to the throne.
Arthur prepares to leave Camelot, bidding farewell to his near-comatose father. Uther shows a flicker of life – begging his son not to leave – but the prince tearfully departs.
He also says an emotional goodbye to Gwen and leaves Agravaine in charge in his absence. Meanwhile, Merlin bids farewell to his own loved one – he and Gaius hug it out.
The knights head back out into the forest, with Merlin ignoring Lancelot’s pleas for him to return to Camelot. Back in her woodland hut, Morgana has a vision of a nightmarish future – she lies on the ground powerless, surrounded by thousands of slain soldiers. “Is this really what you wanted, Morgana?!” growls the all-powerful Emrys, looking down on her with contempt. But she soon wakes with a start – it was all just a dream!
Later that night, the knights take refuge inside an old castle, but the Dorocha swarm nearby.
The group decide to wait out the night, building fires to ward off the creatures. But as Arthur and Merlin head off to collect more firewood, a creature attacks and they are forced to flee, cutting them off from the other knights.
The knights, concerned for their friends, set off to rescue them. But Merlin and Arthur are trapped in the depths of the castle. Merlin attempts to convince a worried Arthur that together they will defeat the Dorocha. “You’re a brave man, Merlin,” quips Arthur. “Between battles.”
But the male bonding doesn’t last long – the Dorocha descend and Merlin leaps in front of one of the creatures to save his prince. The knights arrive and ward off the creatures with a flaming torch, but it’s too late – Merlin is already stone-cold.
This action-packed fantasy-drama revisits the saga of King Arthur and his wizard, Merlin, by focusing on the two characters when they were ambitious young men struggling to understand their destinies.
In this telling, Prince Arthur is known to be the heir to the throne (no sword from the stone here).
And he is acquainted with all those who will one day form the legend of Camelot, including Lancelot, Guinevere, and Morgana. Merlin is also forced to deal with King Uther’s Great Purge, which bans all use of magic.