Synopsis of Camelot:
In the wake of King Uther’s sudden death, chaos threatens to engulf Britain. When the sorcerer Merlin has visions of a dark future, he installs the young and impetuous Arthur, Uther’s unknown son and heir, who has been raised from birth as a commoner. But Arthur’s cold and ambitious half sister Morgan will fight him to the bitter end, summoning unnatural forces to claim the crown in this epic battle for control. These are dark times indeed for the new king, with Guinevere being the only shining light in Arthur’s harsh world. Faced with profound moral decisions, and the challenge of uniting a kingdom broken by war and steeped in deception, Arthur will be tested beyond imagination. Forget everything you think you know…this is the story of Camelot that has never been told before.
Enjoy and thanks to Philip the Dazed for his episode recap.
The recap may contain spoilers so if you haven’t watched Episode 3 “Guinevere” you may want to skip the recap.
Camelot Episode 3: “Guinevere”
Click to continue reading the Episode Recap –>
In keeping with what I established as to the divergences and similarities between Merlin and Camelot, I will continue in this mode to distinguish between the two mythologies.. Since this episode is called Guinevere, the main thrust of the recap is readily apparent. Please let me know if you wish me to drop this comparative construct. Again, it is not meant to function as a recap or review of the series Merlin.
In the mythology of Merlin, Guinevere serves as handmaiden to Morgana, but for the most part she is held in high regard in Uther’s Camelot, especially in the castle proper. Gwen (as she is called by the principles of the realm (but notably not by Uther) has bonded with young Merlin, both having the same station in the natural order of things with respect to their masters. But she has seen the inherent goodness in Arthur’s heart as he speaks out against Uther when he unfairly lashes out at his subjects. Arthur is quick to come to their defense and moves to correct a wrong committed at Uther’s hand. As the frequent beneficiary of Merlin’s benevolent magic, Arthur is often saved by Merlin’s intervention when he is in mortal danger. Sensing that Merlin will do what’s necessary to protect Arthur at all costs, Gwen intuitively knows the value of Merlin as a friend of the court-and Arthur in particular-even though she is not aware of his magic powers. Over time, Gwen finds herself drawn to Arthur, and he to her, despite Uther’s laws forbidding Arthur to consort with someone beneath his breeding. Eventually, they do fall in love, but that love has not been consummated-yet. Morgana picks up on their mutual attraction and uses it against both Arthur and Gwen at various times when the opportunity presents itself.
And now, on to the recap/review…
At the outset, Guinevere (Tamsin Egerton) appears to be having doubts about her impending marriage to Leontes. She realizes that during her brief encounter with Arthur at the coronation, she felt undeniably drawn to the new king of Camelot. But, out of loyalty to Leontes, who she was promised to wed since they were children, she knows she must adhere to the plans made by her family years ago and try to ignore these new stirrings that now confuse her. For his part, Arthur is torn between his respect for and loyalty to Leontes, his lead soldier, and his growing desire for Guinevere. As Guinevere contemplates her situation with her cousin, her village is attacked by marauders bent on creating all sorts of mayhem. Guinevere’s father gathers his kin and takes them back to Camelot, where they can enjoy the protection of Arthur’s soldiers, including Leontes. Of course, Arthur secretly welcomes this, because it brings he and Guinevere in closer proximity of each other.
Morgan discovers a hidden torture chamber used by Uther against anyone who crossed him. She decides to use the room to practice her dark spells, keeping one device that looks like it was used to yoke prisoners. She also meets Vivian (Chipo Chung), a descendant of former slaves who was serving in Uther’s court. It’s clear that she will be very important to carrying out whatever plans Morgan has to undermine Arthur and Merlin. Morgan immediately elevates Vivian to her trusted confidante, telling her to clear out all staff Vivian doesn’t trust. This actor has serious presence! Her, stature, her fiery eyes, the way she almost instinctively raises to the challenge set to her by Morgan; it almost appears that the two are on equal footing in the way they interact. Morgan also makes it clear that the “boy’s club” rules of the old days are over. Women run the show here now! Morgan sends Vivian to invite Arthur and Merlin to her castle to attend a feast in their honor. Looking to bond with his newfound sister, Arthur accepts immediately, but Merlin is worried: what is Morgan really after? It turns out that Merlin was right to be concerned. She visits Arthur in his sleeping chamber to assure him that she just wants to get to know her brother, and Arthur is all too willing to oblige. I have to admit this scene made me VERY uncomfortable; the dialogue, the actors’ movements, even the lighting almost implied that incest was in the air tonight. Fortunately, I was wrong! Under the pretext of touching Arthur’s bare chest to learn what’s in his heart (purely in a sisterly way, you understand), Morgan scratched him with a ring that drew a sample of his blood. Drifting into restless sleep, Arthur again has his recurring dream about he and Guinevere.
That same night Leontes and Kay set out to find Gawain (Clive Standen), an accomplished swordsman of Leontes’ acquaintance to convince him to join Arthur’s growing band of trusted soldiers. His natural distrust of kings that can abuse their power all too easily makes him chafe at the offer, but having discovered a common interest shared by he and Kay, Gawain agrees to join them, but only if Kay will help him interpret the teachings of the philosopher king Marcus Aurelius.
Meanwhile, Morgan drugs Merlin’s wine, and then binds his wrists to his bedposts after he passes out from the potion. The next morning, he awakens to find her clipping his toenails for use in another potion. Morgan’s really big on potions. She challenges Merlin to use magic to free himself from his restraints. He refuses, and he challenges her to show him some of her magic. Upon attempting this, she shifts back to herself as a child, and then back again to herself as a woman. We’ve seen this occur before when she murdered Uther. In fact, the vision of this murder appeared to Merlin while he was drugged. This appears to Merlin to be the limit of her natural gifts as a sorcerer, at least thus far. Finally having freed himself (using brute strength), Merlin leaves Morgan’s castle, but not before warning her that she’s making a terrible mistake relying on the dark forces of magic to get what she wants. Indeed, the use of magic is already exerting some physical toll on Morgan. He witnesses this just as he rides off to Camelot.
Meanwhile, at Camelot, having learned the day Guinevere arrived that Guinevere and Leontes’ wedding was to take place in three days, Igraine decides to use the occasion to throw Camelot’s inaugural ball for the two. Arthur races to Guinevere from Morgan’s castle convinced that he isn’t the only one harboring such deep feelings while being afraid to act on them. He challenges Guinevere to meet him at the beach (always the site of his and Merlin’s dreams of his stolen moments with her); she refuses, but he goes anyway, telling her to meet him there if she has a change of heart. She indeed does, and they indulge in a tryst that Arthur doesn’t regret, but leaves them both feeling guilty about betraying Leontes. Did I mention that this was on their WEDDING DAY? Returning to Camelot, Arthur is asked by Leontes to preside over his nuptials. More out of guilt than anything, Arthur agrees to do this for his friend. Guinevere receives an anonymous gift of a beautiful, ornate seashell before her wedding. She knows it’s a reminder from Arthur of their time on the beach. As promised, a heartbroken Arthur does preside over the union of Leontes and Guinevere.
During the wedding ceremony, Morgan retires to her converted dungeon, now a black magic hovel with all the trappings of a master of the dark arts, or at least one who aspires to be. Mixed with other unknown elixirs, she ingests the blood sample she acquired from Arthur, to learn “what’s really in your heart, dear brother”. It seems that she is now able to feel what Arthur feels about having to give up the woman he really loves.
On their wedding night, having earlier acquired the blood of a dead dog while returning to Camelot with Arthur after their tryst, Guinevere tricks Leontes into thinking that she was faithful to him and chaste until their first night together.