It’s time for another recap of the BBC’s Merlin!
The episode opens with a work crew laboring with pick axes in the tunnels deep beneath Camelot in the dead of night. Because the dead of night seems like a great time for hard labor. As a side note, this whole things seems like a terrible idea because A.) aren’t they worried about weakening the foundation until the castle, and B.) Isn’t anyone in charge worried about them finding the dragon down there? In case you’re wondering, the answer to both of these questions appears to be no.
One of the workers busts through a wall and a terrible stench is released. He continues heaving his pickaxe until he makes the hole big enough to crawl through. Inside is a crypt – hence the smell. Meanwhile, upstairs we see Arthur tossing and turning in that giant four poster bed while the sounds of pickaxes are echoing from beneath the castle. He immediately yells for Merlin, who comes running because apparently he sleeps in Arthur’s room now? (Ow! I think Jess just cuffed me across the back of the head from MN.) He tells Merlin to go down there and tell the workers to stop.
Meanwhile, the workers are checking out all the gold and gems in the tomb, and one of them triggers a trap and dies. The rest of them run screaming from the burial chamber just as Merlin makes it downstairs and finds the body.
The next scene opens with Merlin and Gaius inspecting the tomb when Gaius triggers the trap and almost gets hit with a small poisoned dart, but Merlin saves him with magic. And a silver platter which falls to the floor and Arthur and Uther nearly trip over it which prompts Arthur to bitch about Merlin’s clumsiness. Uther is all pleased with himself because there’s treasure to be had and orders Arthur to secure the tomb and guard it.
At the local pub, we see one of the workers heavily and telling this weasely looking dude about the tomb. The weasely dude is the wildling warg from Game of Thrones, by the way, but anyway, the weasel is pumping him for information about the giant heart shaped gem that was inside and who has the keys to get down there. It’s Arthur. Arthur has the only damn set of keys. How is this possible? What if he loses them? What if someone steals them? What then, Camelot?
The next morning, we see the weasely looking dude watching while Merlin is helping Arthur onto his horse. The saddle slips right off and Arthur goes with it. The weasely guy, or Cedric as we find out, brings Arthur’s horse back with the saddle properly secured and confesses that he’s come to Camelot looking for work, so Arthur hires him to be a beater on the hunt. Merlin is jealous.
While the hunting party is gathering, Gaius is doing research on a signet ring found in the tomb and determines it to be the burial chamber of the great sorcerer Cornelius Sigan. And he also makes notes about some rune type letters found around the giant gem on the sarcophagus.
Back in the forest, a giant boar comes rushing through the trees at Arthur who readies his spear. His shot glances off the boar and it continues charging them. While everyone is freaking, Merlin slays the beast by magically whipping a fallen spear into the side of its head, saving Arthur’s life.
He wants to know who threw the spear and saved him. When no one fesses up, Cedric steps forward and claims to have done it. Arthur rewards him by giving him a position in the royal household. Merlin returns to Gaius’ chambers all morose because
that cute boy at school that he has a crush on doesn’t know he’s alive he saved Arthur’s life and someone else took the credit. Again.
He asks Gaius what he’s doing and Gaius, in a burst of explanatory dialogue, gives Merlin the rundown on Sigan aka The Greatest Sorcerer Who Ever Lived. Also, he was pretty evil. Gaius goes to warn Uther about Sigan and ask that they seal up the burial chamber and all its contents. But Uther is all don’t be ridiculous! You warn me of dire magical shit ever week, and I ignore you and terrible things go down and I act as if it’s a surprise every fucking time. So, let’s go with that again. That night, Morgana dreams of a raven and wakes up screaming. Gwen runs in to comfort her, because apparently, she’s sleeping in Morgana’s chambers.
The next morning Merlin brings Arthur’s breakfast to him, only to find that Cedric already brought him a bigger, better breakfast. Then Cedric apologizes for not have had time to clean out the stable and Merlin gets sent to do that. Meanwhile, Gaius is examining Morgana and asking about her dream. She tells him it was about a raven – the symbol of Sigan. Instead of offering her any real comfort, he just goes ahead and let’s her think she’s going crazy and offers her stronger drugs. Real nice, Gaius.
While Merlin’s mucking out the stables, Cedric tosses a smoke bomb that’s apparently filled with some sort of sleeping compound, because Merlin falls asleep on the job and ends up passed out face first in a pile of horse shit. Cedric sneaks in and sets all of Arthur’s horses loose. Arthur sees the horses tear through the town and goes to the stables to confront Merlin and finds him asleep in the manure.
He berates Merlin and is threatening to punish him, but Cedric suggests that Arthur give him the night off because he’s exhausted and volunteers to take on his duties for the evening. Merlin tried to point out that Cedric is just trying to get rid of him and also calls Arthur a “clotpole” – by far my favorite insult of the entire show.
Merlin returns to his chamber all dejected because Arthur doesn’t trust him or see him for who he is, and Gaius cleans him up and comforts him. Gaius warns him that Camelot is in grave peril because Sigan’s soul is in that glowing heart shaped gem and whoever removes it from the setting will set the soul of Sigan free. That night, as expected, Cedric steals Arthur’s keys and goes down to the tomb, steals the gem and gets possessed by Sigan. You can tell because his eyes turn black.
Merlin is woken from a sound sleep by the cry of a raven and the next morning, Arthur, Gaius and Merlin discover that the heart stone is missing from its setting. Arthur leaves, the warning bell is sounded (DRINK!) and Merlin figures out that the only one who had access to Arthur’s keys the night before is Cedric. He races off to warn Arthur. He tries to tell Arthur that Cedric is possessed by an evil spirit and it goes over about as well as you’d think it would. Arthur doesn’t believe that Camelot is in mortal danger. Merlin attacks Cedric and a super awkward fight commences between two really gangly guys. Finally, Arthur jumps in to stop it and has Merlin thrown in the dungeon.
That night, accompanied by the sound of ravens cawing, the camera pans over all the gargoyles on the castle’s parapets. Now, I could be very, very wrong, but I don’t remember ever seeing gargoyles on the castle before. It’s true that I might have just been distracted by Arthur in that long leather riding coat. Look…it happens. But I really don’t recall seeing gargoyles.
Anyhoo, we see Cedric out in the courtyard and he’s sporting a spiffy new raven feather cape because apparently you get a wardrobe upgrade when you get possessed by a long dead wizard. He incants a spell and all of the gargoyles come to life and start terrorizing the villagers of Camelot, who, I’d like to point out rarely ever seem to venture out after dark, so it’s quite odd that they’re all going about their business now, but whatevs.
Gargoyles attack people. People panic and scream. Including Gwen who runs back into the main courtyard while lots of other people are fleeing the town. Uther orders that the creatures are hunting down and killed, because, you know…that’s his answer for everything, so Arthur and his men head out to the courtyard to battle the monsters.
Merlin hears the screaming from the dungeon and freaks out, but not as badly as Uther who’s completely flipping shit and being irrational. Gaius does manage to get a little “told ya so” in there, so good for him. Arthur and the knights battle one of the gargoyles, but it has no effect. Meanwhile, we see Gwen in a makeshift infirmary inside the castle tending to the wounded and Gaius tells her that they need more bandages. Morgana is helping tend to the injured, too.
Merlin, knowing that Arthur needs his help, uses magic to blow the door off his cell. Seriously, dude. Don’t you think someone is going to wonder about that later? One of the gargoyles in the courtyard has Arthur almost pinned, but Gwen pulls him away from danger. They stand and the creature swoops in again and Gwen knocks him down and lands on top of him and Arthur takes that opportunity to flirt with her. Like you do…
She brings him to the infirmary seeing as how he’s bleeding through his chainmail and Arthur thanks her. Uther comes in to quiz Arthur about what’s happening outside, because god forbid he stick his royal head out there. Gwen and Morgana wrap a bandage around the outside of the armor because clearly they don’t understand how bandages or armor works and I’m not more concerned than ever for the people of Camelot.
Uther decides to seal the citadel, but Arthur goes back outside to save the people trapped on the drawbridge even though Uther forbids it. Arthur tells him it’s his duty to Camelot and himself. Merlin is watching this unfold and calls to Gaius discreetly saying he has to help Arthur. Gaius tells him that the only one who can help is the dragon. And if you’ll recall, Merlin broke up with the dragon in the last episode and vowed to never speak to him again.
Sucks to say never. So Merlin grudgingly heads down to the basement to talk to the dragon. The dragon is pissy, of course, but Merlin begs for his help and he comes out. The dragon agrees to give him a spell if he promises to free him one day. Merlin promises. The dragon breathes a super magic spell on him and I guess it soaked into his brain.
Arthur gets separated from his men by one of the gargoyles and he orders the knights to retreat inside the castle. Uther has a meltdown when he realizes that Arthur is out there and has to be restrained by some of the knights to keep him from going outside.
Merlin goes to the courtyard and finds Arthur unmoving. As a gargoyle begins its descent, Merlin uses the nifty new spell the dragon breathed into him and turns the gargoyle back into stone then smashes him into rubble. Merlin runs to Arthur and makes sure he’s still alive while Cedric-Sigan strolls out of the billowing dust.
Cedric-Sigan tries to convince Merlin to abandon Arthur and join him, but Merlin won’t. But here’s the thing – they’re having this super loud argument outside in the courtyard where things are all echo-y. It’s likely that people are staring out the windows because previously they had been. Seems like a questionable place to have a showdown. So anyway, Cedric-Sigan threatens to become Merlin and harness his power for himself. Sigan’s soul begins to leave Cedric who collapses to the ground. The soul winds its way up Merlin’s body and inside him. His eyes turn black and a raven caws and we’re all worried.
Gaius comes outside and calls Merlin’s name. The way Merlin looks at him is a little creepy and the viewer can’t help but wonder if he’s possessed. But then he smiles and shows Gaius the heart shaped stone and it’s glowing again. Merlin trapped Sigan’s soul back in the stone.
The tomb is walled back up with the stone inside, and Uther lectures Gaius about how he was right all along and magic is evil. Please note: there’s nothing in his speech about ignoring Gaius’ many warnings. Nope. Not Uther. No way.
Arthur goes to Merlin’s chambers and admits that there was some truth to Merlin’s accusations against Cedric. He also says that he hasn’t forgotten that Merlin called him a clotpole. Then he dumps his armor on the table and tells Merlin he needs to clean it. Poor Merlin doesn’t get any appreciation in this episode either.
Okay! On to the questions!
1. If I’d written this episode…I would have made it clear what happened to Cedric. Did he die? Escape? Get thrown in the dungeon? What?
2. The thing I loved/hated most about this episode. In a word? Clotpole.
I hated that Uther once again, despite being proved wrong in every episode, doesn’t listen to Gaius. Drives me nuts.
3. Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before. All the damn gargoyles. (Of course, I’m still not convinced they were ever there before.)
4. Favorite Costume. Finally! A new costume! About freaking time. I just love this one. So pretty and springy. I just adore it.
5. Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created. Sorry, it’s another week of no real canon here – none that I’ve created, anyway.
6. What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? I think it’s when Merlin is throwing down with Cedric over Arthur. Then when Arthur gets involved and throws Merlin in the dungeon, I’m convinced that that narrative in Jess’ head involves Arthur going down to “visit” his prisoner.
7. What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in this episode – I’m thinking it’s Uther dismissing Gaius’ warnings AGAIN. Uther’s an idiot.