The Beginning of the End
In which the show suddenly grows itself a great big bushy beard
. Just to be safe, I’ll leave the guest star's name under the spoiler bar. Everyone "knows" who it is, but on the slight off-chance that you don’t
, it really does deserve to remain a surprise.
Under the strains of suitably eerie music
, a young boy and his guardian (Word of God
states that this is the boy’s father Cerdan) walk through the marketplace of Camelot. As they collect supplies from a stallholder, Cerdan divulges to the stallholder that there are leaving the city immediately, only to realize that they’ve been betrayed. Father and son make a run for it into the castle grounds. When a guard slashes at him, the boy lets out a telepathic scream. From within the castle, Merlin hears it and begins to investigate.
Cerdan uses magic to throw the guard into the wall and then closes the drawbridge gates, ordering his son to escape while he gives himself up. Still hearing the boy’s telepathic cries for help, Merlin emerges into the courtyard and spots him hiding under a cart while the guards search for him. Catching on to how he’s communicating, Merlin silently urges him to run across the courtyard to the small door in the castle.
Holding his wounded arm, the boy races toward him, and he and Merlin dodge through the corridors with the guards right behind them. Seeing nowhere else to go, Merlin bursts into Morgana’s bedroom where she and Guinevere are talking. At first annoyed that Merlin has burst in without knocking, Morgana takes one look at the injured boy and a strange look comes over her face.Guards pound at the door, and Morgana ushered Merlin and the boy into an alcove hung with a curtain. As the boy loses consciousness in Merlin’s arms, Morgana assures the guards that she hasn’t seen anyone. As soon as they’re gone, she and Gwen join Merlin behind the screen to find his hands covered in the boy’s blood.
In the council chamber, Uther is on the warpath. Despite Arthur’s claims that the druids are peaceful and that Cerdan was only picking up supplies, Uther is insistent that anyone with magic should be executed.
Uther: Given the chance, they would return magic to the kingdom. They preach peace, but conspire against me. We cannot appear weak.
Arthur: Showing mercy can be a sign of strength.
Uther: Our enemies will not see it that way. We have a responsibility to protect this kingdom. Executing the Druid will send out a clear message. Find the boy. Search every inch of the city.
From within Morgana’s chambers Morgana and Merlin watch from the behind as Cerdan is marched out to be executed. Uther and Arthur watch from the balcony. The boy is awake, still behind the screen but aware of what’s going on.
Cerdan is duly executed (though not without a parting shot at Uther) and as he dies the boy’s fury causes all the mirrors in the room to break.
Over a meal with Gaius in his quarters, Merlin asks about the Druids. Gaius knows little about them, only that they’re very secretive, especially since Uther’s crusade against magic. Sensing something behind Merlin’s interest, Gaius prods for an answer and Merlin admits that he’s helped the boy escape.
The next morning, the boy has lapsed back into unconsciousness and Morgana frets that he’s lost too much blood. The boy hasn’t said a word to her, not even his own name.
Merlin: You know, er, for a moment there earlier, I- I thought you were going to hand us over to the guards.
Morgana: I'm glad you have so much faith in me, Merlin.
Merlin: No, no, sorry. Erm, I meant, you're the King's ward. You're taking a huge risk helping the boy.
Morgana: I wouldn't see an innocent child executed. What harm has he ever done anyone?
Merlin: Uther believes he has magic, and that makes him guilty.
Morgana: Uther's wrong.
Merlin: You believe that?
Morgana: What if magic isn't something you choose? What if it chooses you? Why are you looking at me like that?
Morgana: Why are you helping him?
Merlin: It was a spur of the moment decision. What do you think we should do with him? He can't stay here.
Morgana: We have to find a way to get him back to his people.
The transcript doesn’t even begin to convey the quietly appraising looks that Merlin and Morgana give each other as they test the waters, trying to ascertain just how much the other knows (according to the DVD Commentary
this scene had to be reshot because there was too much sexual tension).
At breakfast with Uther, he notes that Morgana seems troubled, and when Arthur enters with no news of the Druid boy she listens intently. Uther is irritated to hear that no progress has been made and insists that the boy is being hidden by someone. Being injured and young, he deems it unlikely that he’s managed to evade the guards and leave the city by himself. Arthur isn’t enthusiastic about hunting down a child, but agrees to continue with the search.
Back in Morgana’s chambers, she confides to Merlin that she thinks the boy’s wound may be infected and that they need Gaius before it gets any worse. Merlin is hesitant to endanger his mentor (and to rile his anger) but Morgana insists that they can’t smuggle the boy out of Camelot until he’s healthy. Merlin suggests that he can treat the wound himself, but before he gets a chance there’s a knock on the door.
It’s Arthur, come to search Morgana’s chambers as part of a systematic search. As she tries to get rid of him, Merlin notices that the boy’s boots are in plain view and uses magic to make them tiptoe out of sight. Finally Morgana resorts to telling the truth:
Morgana: The Druid boy's hiding behind the screen. I'm sure your father would love to know how you wasted your time by rifling through my things. Go on.
Arthur: So you can have the satisfaction of making me look a fool?
Morgana: In my experience, you don't need any help looking like a fool. What are you waiting for? Take a look.
Arthur: Why don't you go back to brushing your hair, or whatever it is that you do all day?
Morgana: Bye, Arthur. Good luck with the search!
Arthur storms out and Merlin and the boy remain hidden.
In the physician’s chambers, Gaius is interested to find Merlin poring over his books. Jumping at the chance to instruct him in some basic anatomy, it’s not until nightfall that Merlin makes it back to Morgana’s room. While she’s getting him some water to tend the boy, Merlin hears the boy in his mind. He thanks him and addresses him as “Emrys”.
Merlin (telepathy): Emrys? Why do you call me that?
Boy (telepathy): Among my people, that is your name.
Merlin (telepathy): You know who I am. How?
Merlin: Speak to me.
Morgana: I don't know if he can't speak, or... he's just too scared to.
To get some answers, Merlin heads down to the dungeons to speak to the dragon. The dragon tells him that he too can hear the boy speak and that Emrys is just one of many names that Merlin has. But there are more important things to discuss: namely, the fact that Merlin should not protect this boy.
Dragon: You and the boy are as different as day and night.
Merlin: What do you mean?
Dragon: Heed my words, Merlin.
Merlin: Why should I not protect him?
The dragon doesn’t answer, but simply flies off.
Back in Morgana’s room, Gwen is encouraging Morgana to rest for a while, but Morgana is too worried to listen to her. Just then, she hears the boy call her name, not realizing that he did so telepathically, she asks if Gwen heard it too. Gwen denies hearing it, but before the girls can discuss it further Merlin knocks on the door. Morgana begs him to fetch Gaius, certain that the boy will die without treatment.
Down the physician’s quarters, Merlin comes clean to Gaius who is disappointed that he’s gotten involved.
Gaius: Every guard in Camelot is searching for this boy, and you're harbouring him under their very noses. Can't you see how dangerous that is? What were you thinking of?
Merlin: Was I supposed to hand him over to the guards to be executed?
Gaius: You think you can save this boy? What happens if you're caught? Who's going to save you?
Merlin: You're saying it's wrong to harbour a young magician?
Gaius: The difference is, Merlin, that your magic is still secret. Though it's a wonder how, considering how careless you are.
Merlin: The boy's hurt. He's really sick. I've tried to treat him. We need your help.
Gaius: So now you want me to risk my neck, too? I wish the boy no harm, but it's too dangerous.
Merlin: But if you don't, we may as well hand him over to the guards, because he'll die anyway. You didn't turn your back on me. Please don't turn your back on him.
Up in Morgana’s room, Gaius agrees to treat the boy on the proviso that they get him out of Camelot at the first available opportunity.
Down in the marketplace Morgana, Merlin and Gwen watch the guards search every cart that leaves through the gates and discuss their plan of escape. Merlin mentions that there’s another way out through a secret door in the armoury that leads to the lower town. Morgana insists that she’s the one who will smuggle the boy out, for if they’re caught Uther is more likely to be lenient. There’s only one problem: the door needs a key, and Arthur has it.
In Arthur’s chambers Merlin watches as Arthur dines on soup. With a quiet incantation, Merlin levitates the keys off his belt, only for them to jangle behind Arthur’s head. Keeping them out of sight, Merlin only just manages to manoeuvre them into the soup bowl as Arthur futilely prowls the room for the mysterious sound, and leaves in disgust as Merlin insists that he can’t hear a thing.
Meanwhile, dressed in Gwen’s clothes, Morgana prepares herself and the boy for their escape, apologising to Gwen for the position she’s been put in.
Morgana: I feel I've put you in danger without ever stopping to ask how you feel about it. I'm sorry.
Gwen: I know how it feels to face the threat of execution. And I wouldn't wish that on anyone.
Merlin arrives with the key as Morgana promises the boy that nothing bad will happen to him, and Gwen and Merlin leave for Gwen’s house, where they’ll meet up with Morgana before she leaves the city.
Morgana and the boy creep though the corridors, avoiding the guards, but getting spotted by a serving girl as they enter the armoury. Using the key, Morgana unlocks the door behind the shield and lifts the boy up into the secret passage behind it.At Gwen’s house, Merlin and Gwen wait anxiously as Gwen prepares some supplies and expresses her concern over Morgana’s sudden bond with the mysterious boy.
Meanwhile, Arthur is investigating the secret door, having been tipped off by the servant that someone was prowling around the area. On discovering that one of his keys is missing, he orders the warning bell to be sounded.
As the bells begin to ring, Morgana arrives at Gwen’s house to get her supplies and horse. Morgana insists on going alone so that the others won’t get in trouble, and as she leaves, the boy telepathically bids Merlin farewell.
In the lower town Morgana spots Arthur and the guards approach with swords and torches and ducks into a nearby barn. After hiding for a moment, Morgana tries to make a run for it, only for Arthur to hold her at sword-point, not realizing that it’s her. Slowly she turns around, still holding the boy. Arthur is shocked, but considering the presence of the guards all around him, has little choice but to have them both restrained.
Back in the council chamber, Uther is furious with Morgana.
Uther: All this time, you've been hiding the boy in my own palace. How could you betray me like this?
Morgana: I would not see him executed.
Uther: I've treated you like a daughter. Is this how you repay me?
Morgana: I did what I thought was right.
Uther: You think it's right to conspire with my enemies against me?
Morgana: How can this child be your enemy? He's just a boy.
Uther: He is a Druid.
Morgana: Is that such a crime?
Uther: His kind would see me dead and this kingdom returned to anarchy and you would help them.
Morgana: Then punish me... but spare the boy. I beg you.
Uther: Make arrangements for the boy to be executed tomorrow morning.
Morgana: No! Please. He's done nothing.
Uther: Let this be a lesson to you.
Morgana: You don't have to do this.
Uther: Do you hear me? I want him executed at dawn.
Arthur: Yes, Father.
Morgana: What have these people done to you? Why are you so full of hate?
When Morgana grabs Uther by the arm as he storms off, he fastens a hand around her throat and forces her back into a chair, leaving her visibly shaken.
Back in her room, she tearfully tells Merlin that she had promised the boy she wouldn’t let anything happen to him. Merlin tries to tell her that there’s nothing more they can do to help him, but Morgana isn’t about to give up just yet, and secures Merlin’s word that he’ll help.
Meanwhile, Arthur is trying to convince his father to show mercy to the young boy, but Uther is having none of it.
Uther: It is enough that his people conspire to overthrow me. This is harsh, but necessary. I take no pleasure in killing the boy.
Arthur: Well, then spare him for Morgana's sake. She's clearly grown attached to the boy, and if you execute him I fear she will never forgive you.
Uther: I do not seek her forgiveness! She has betrayed me!
Arthur: Yet you're sparing her.
Uther: She has the promise I made her father to thank for that. The boy enjoys no such privilege. He will be executed at dawn. Is that clear?
Arthur enters his chambers in defeat, only to find Morgana waiting for him. Realizing that the boy really was behind the screen when he tried to search her room, Arthur isn’t too keen on helping her.
Arthur: What I believe doesn't matter. My father's made up his mind. He won't be talked out of it. I tried.
Morgana: Then the time for talking is over.
Arthur: Whatever you're thinking, it's not going to happen.
Morgana: We have to get the boy back to his people.
Arthur: No. Forget it.
Morgana: I can't believe you'd let an innocent child die!
Arthur: It's too late. He's been caught. I have no choice.
Morgana: And is this how you will rule when you are King? You're not like your father.
Arthur: I will not betray him.
Morgana: If I know you at all, you won't stand by and let this happen. Please. If you won't do this for the boy, then do it for me.
Judging by the look on his face, Morgana has already worn him down.
Out in the square, Merlin watches as the executioner sharpens his axe, and interrupts Arthur and Morgana in the middle of their planning. Though Arthur tells him to leave, Morgana asserts that she trusts Merlin, and the two tell him plan B for rescuing the Druid boy. Arthur will break the boy out of the dungeons and take him through the burial vaults to his people in the forest. To clear Morgana of any culpability, Arthur instructs her to dine with Uther while the escape is taking place. It is up to Merlin to fetch the horses and use a grappling hook to remove the grate at the other end of the secret tunnel. Recalling the dragon’s words, Merlin is not at all happy about this, but has no choice but to agree.
Back down in the dragon’s cave, Merlin demands to know why the boy mustn’t be protected, and is told that if the boy lives, neither Merlin nor Arthur can fulfil their destiny. Merlin connects the dots and realizes that the boy is fated to kill Arthur – it’s now up to Merlin as to whether or not he lets that happen.
Eating dinner with Gaius that night, Merlin poses a question to him:
Merlin: Would you let something terrible happen if it meant you'd stop something even worse happening in the future?
Gaius: I suppose it depends on what the 'terrible' and 'even worse' things were.
Merlin: One of them's bad, really bad. And the other, it's...unthinkable.
Gaius: It sounds as if you've already made your decision. You can only do what you believe to be right, Merlin. I just hope it doesn't involve you putting yourself in terrible danger.
Merlin: For once, you don't have to worry. I'm going to do nothing.
In Morgana’s chambers Gwen helps Morgana dress for dinner and voices her fears that Morgana is risking too much for a boy she barely knows. Morgana can’t answer her, but only insist that there’s a bond between the two of them that she can’t explain.Morgana enters the dining hall where Uther is sitting and gives him a tearful apology. Still gruff, Uther invites her to join him for dinner so they can put the incident behind them.
On the staircase above the dungeons, Arthur lowers a smoking bag down to the guards, who cough and pass out. Arthur takes their keys and opens the boy’s cell, telling him that he’s there to deliver him to his people.
As they hurry down the secret tunnel, the guards awake and hurry after them. Arthur and the boy reach the grate that leads to freedom, only to find that Merlin is nowhere in sight.
As Merlin lies in bed, he hears the warning bells begin to ring and covers his ears with his pillow. In the dining hall, Uther orders a guard to find out why the warning bell is ringing. In the tunnel, the boy reaches out to Merlin with his mind, begging for help as the guards approach.
Finally, his pleas for mercy are too much for Merlin, and he leaps out of bed to his aid. Arthur is furious at his late arrival, but together they force the grate off the tunnel before Arthur mounts his horse with the boy in front, telling Merlin to make himself scarce. Once again, the boy bids Merlin a silent farewell.
Back in the dining room, Uther is given the news that the Druid boy as escaped with the help of accomplices. As soon as he’s gone, Uther turns to Morgana.
Uther: If I discover that you were somehow involved in freeing this boy, the consequences will be extremely severe.
Morgana: My Lord, you know I respect you too much to ever betray you like that.
Uther: I made a promise to your father that I would protect you. But if you cross me again, I will break that promise without a second thought.
Arthur trots through the woods on his horse to where a group of Druids are awaiting him. Extracting their promise that they’ll never reveal who it was that helped the boy escape, Arthur watches as they reclaim their young ward.Just before he disappears, Arthur calls out to him, asking for his name.
Boy: My name is Mordred.
Arthur: Good luck, Mordred.
But despite the successful conclusion to his plan, a strange look comes over Arthur’s face, as though he can sense that something is not quite right about what he’s just done.
- Child Mage
- Creepy Blue Eyes: Mordred has a huge pair, which eerily match Merlin's, Arthur's and Morgana's.
- Creepy Child: Blended with...
- Deliberately Cute Child
- Designated Villain: Deliberately invoked. Throughout the episode, Mordred does nothing wrong, he's a villain only because the dragon says he is.
- Early-Bird Cameo: The Druid that Arthur speaks to at the end of the episode pops up again at the end of season three, administrating the healing water to Sir Leon.
- Growing the Beard
- In the Hood: The Druids.
- Off with His Head!: Cerdan
- Ominous Latin Chanting: This follows Mordred around wherever he goes.
- Papa Wolf: Sort of: Cerdan stops running and starts fighting the moment his child is hurt, but it doesn't end well. At all.
- Schiff One-Liner: "My name is Mordred."
- Telepathy: Mordred uses only it to communicate until the very end.
- To Be Lawful or Good
- The Voiceless: Mordred,to the point Morgana start to wonder if he is too afraid to speak or he can't.
- Word of God: Mordred's guardian was called Cerdan, and was in fact his biological father. The Druid that Arthur speaks to at the conclusion of the episode was called Iseldir.
- Would Hurt a Child: Uther wants to execute Mordred, even if he is just a kid. The Dragon also would hurt the boy, or at least let harm come to pass.
- Wouldn't Hurt A Child: Morgana, Merlin, Gwen, Gaius and Arthur risks their necks to save Mordred because he is a child.