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 contains spoilers so if you haven’t watched Episode 4 “The Lady of the Lake” you may want to skip the recap.
Camelot Episode 4: “The Lady of the Lake”
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. Readers: 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, the final episode of Season 3 relates how Merlin acquires the sword Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake. This is the version of events that we’re all familiar with. However, the version depicted in Camelot relates a much darker and more tragic chain of events.
And now, on to the recap/review…
Arthur and Guinevere
Still in thrall to his nightly dreams of being with Guinevere, now all the more maddening for having been with her in reality, Arthur fights a losing battle to control his lust. Despite warnings from both Igraine and Merlin to move on because she is now married, Arthur moves to impress Guinevere with his skills as a warrior by challenging his champion, her husband Leontes to an exhibition sword fight. Secretly acknowledging her own longings for Arthur, Guinevere nevertheless resolves to be faithful to her husband, despite Arthur’s entreaties and her true feelings. During a brief conversation with Guinevere, we get an inkling that Igraine might have an agenda of her own, to be revealed in her own time. Meanwhile, Gawain is tasked by Arthur to train the king’s mostly unskilled army in the ways of combat, Gawain having been the legendary champion of other kingdoms in his checkered past. Arthur himself makes the mistake of challenging Gawain himself to combat. He learns quickly enough that he is outmatched in skills and armament, as Gawain shatters Arthur’s sword and bests him with his prowess. Merlin determines that the new king needs a new and special sword, suitable for a king. Gawain tells Merlin of Caliburn, the finest bladesmith in the land.
Merlin sets out to find Caliburn and ask him to construct a special sword fit for his king. Caliburn demands that the king be present so that he may fashion a sword suited to Arthur’s attributes alone, but Merlin refuses this request and assures Caliburn that he can answer any question about Arthur that Caliburn might have. Caliburn is familiar with Merlin and his previous exploits. Once again, as with Morgan, Merlin is questioned about not using magic to get what he wants: why not just create a sword himself using magic? But now, in a fit of annoyance and clearly testing himself, we see Merlin call upon his powers to turn a campfire into a raging inferno that he struggles to keep under his control. After she witnesses the display of Merlin’s power, Caliburn introduces Merlin to his young daughter, Fearing for his daughter’s safety, he calls Merlin out on what he thinks is Merlin’s lack of respect for and the safety of Caliburn’s family. At this point, Caliburn presents Merlin with the finished sword, which he says is the finest he has ever forged, and bids Merlin to now leave. Merlin angers at the bladesmith’s suggestion that Merlin knows nothing of the loss of loved ones, and unable to control his rage, he accidentally burns Caliburn to death in the roaring fire, just as Caliburn’s daughter comes into view, only to see her father consumed by the flames. Merlin attempts to console the girl by telling her that it was an accident.
In her anguish, and in retaliation, she grabs the sword from the side of the hut her father worked in, and refuses to relinquish it to Merlin, running down to a nearby lake and climbing into a rowboat moored at its shore. Still caught up in his own guilt and shame over what he’d just done to her father, he pursues the girl to the lake. She paddles out furiously, and by now she’s completely out of his reach. Merlin again uses his powers, this time to freeze the entire surface of the lake so she can paddle no further while he strides out on the ice to her to retrieve the sword. The girl topples over the side of the rowboat with the sword in her hand, crashing through the ice. By now Merlin has caught up to her and stares helplessly at the girl, now floundering under the ice. The girl finds the strength and resolve to desperately thrust the sword upward through the ice, one imagines to end Merlin’s pursuit of her, and Merlin seizes it. Merlin is unable to break the ice and help her out of the lake. The girl cannot find her way to the spot where she fell in, and she finally drowns. We now see why Merlin avoids using his powers, because they appear to overwhelm his emotions to such a degree that he loses control over them.
Upon his return to Camelot with the sword, in his shame and sorrow over the events that had just occurred, he decides to tell Arthur’s court a completely different version of what happened; and thus is born the legend of “The Lady of the Lake”. In his telling of the story, he decides to name the sword Excalibur, after the young girl, who was named so by her father.
Morgan and Vivian
Morgan sets out to deliver a wedding gift to Guinevere in Camelot (probably something enchanted, and not in a good way!), accompanied by Vivian. Vivian, as mentioned earlier, is a descendant of slaves brought over from Africa hundreds of years earlier, and she proudly wears the markings of her tribe as drawings along the sides of her face and neck. These seem to be of particular interest to Morgan, though it’s not clear why just yet. While preparing to debark for Camelot, Morgan falls ill, and Vivian, concerned for Morgan’s safety, finally convinces Morgan to delay the trip and get some much needed rest. Vivian gives Morgan a protective, but concerned hug that somehow suggests her interest in Morgan goes deeper than just as her lady-in-waiting. While returning to her castle, Morgan is surprised and angered by the sudden, unwelcomed appearance of a member of the nunnery to which Uther banished her from his court. It seems the nunnery came under attack, and this nun was the only survivor.
Her body now under constant siege, Morgan becomes ravenous, cannot stay warm (even with a huge fire burning), has violent mood swings and has to rely more and more on Vivian to help her through these moments when she loses control. It’s clear that the use of dark magic is taking a terrible physical toll on Morgan when Vivian informs her that she blood is dripping down her face from her eyes! Morgan refuses to acknowledge the nun at first, but eventually relents. We learn that the nun was completely aware of Morgan’s aspirations to win Uther’s crown, even so far as appearing to encourage it herself! The nun is clearly familiar with whatever Morgan is going through, because Morgan gives her care completely over to the nun, who then dismisses Vivian from their presence. The nun determines that Morgan has performed a “summoning” to get what she wants, and her body is now under attack by dark spirits. She then reminds Morgan that she was warned by her earlier that her arrogance would be the death of her. Under the spell of these malevolent spirits, Morgan sees the reflections in mirrors of those she’s dispatched through her machinations, King Uther and King Lot. She also somehow summons the appearance of Queen Igraine in a mirror, and this image is seen by the nun. Apparently nursed back to health by the nun, she tells Morgan “You were reborn”. After which, Morgan physically morphs into Igraine, pronouncing she can now feel what Igraine feels. She eventually returns to her own form again, at which time the nun makes it clear to Morgan that the nun’s help will be needed for Morgan later to wrest the crown from Arthur.