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Recap: Merlin S 01 E 11 The Labyrinth Of Gedref

The Labyrinth of Gedref

Arthur is leading a small group of men through the forest on a hunting trip. Hearing a rustle in the bushes ahead he signals for his men to spread out and then instructs Merlin to go flush out whatever’s there. Reluctantly Merlin creeps further into the forest, brandishing a stick.

He drops it the moment he sees what kind of animal is before him: a unicorn. Realising that it’s about to be shot dead he tries to scare it away, but Arthur has already taken aim from behind a tree. Merlin cries out, but Arthur has already taken the killing shot and the unicorn topples before him.

Arthur is delighted at his kill though Merlin is clearly upset, and looks up from the dead animal to see a man dressed in white, with a hood and a staff, standing behind Arthur at a little distance. The next moment, he’s gone.

Back in Camelot Arthur presents the unicorn horn to his father who is very pleased, though Gaius voices his concern that anyone who kills a unicorn risks bad fortune. Uther and Arthur dismiss this claim, but outside Merlin expresses his sadness that Arthur would kill such a beautiful creature.

In Arthur’s chambers Merlin is oblivious to the list of tasks that Arthur sets for him.

Arthur: You've got a face like a wounded bear ever since we got back from that hunting trip. Don't tell me you're still upset about the unicorn.
Merlin: I don't think you should have killed it.
Arthur: Oh, really? And why is that?
Merlin: It was... It was doing no harm. What purpose did you serve by killing it?
Arthur: We were hunting. That's what you do. Would you have me bring it home as a pet?

He’s soon distracted by the sight of rat droppings on the floor and orders Merlin to get rid of the infestation as a knight requests his presence with the King.

Outside the city walls Uther and Arthur look over a field of crops, all of which have withered on the stalk. Uther orders that the remaining supplies be carefully rationed as Gaius begins to test the plants for a scientific explanation.

Outside the palace grounds a long line is forming as villagers line up for their rations, and Uther and Arthur are concerned by the lack of supplies they have in the storeroom. With reports of looting, Uther declares that order must be kept at all costs and places Camelot under curfew.

On his way through the main courtyard Merlin passes Gwen at the well and tells her of the situation. As she pumps for water she finds that only sand emerges from the siphon. One cut scene later and Uther and Arthur are investigating the same well, with Arthur reporting the news that the underground reservoir is filled with sand.

Arthur: It's the same throughout the kingdom. There's precious little water anywhere.
Uther: Gaius. Can you offer any explanation for this?
Gaius: I cannot think of a scientific explanation. I can only conclude it's the result of sorcery.
Uther: I believe you're right. It is the work of magic. The kingdom is under attack.

In the physician’s quarters Merlin sits, trying to conjure a bucket of the sand into water, but to no avail.

That night in the courtyard Arthur orders the guards to the lower town to ensure that no one leave their homes when he sees Merlin approach and questions him about the rat. Merlin is distracted by the sight of a white-cloaked man disappearing into the shadows. He and Arthur run after him, through the corridors and up and down the stairs, getting momentarily confused as to where he’s gotten to, and then surprised by his sudden reappearance before them.

Anhora: Are you looking for me? I am Anhora, Keeper of the Unicorns.
Arthur: Camelot is under curfew. What's your business here?
Anhora: I have come to deliver a message.
Arthur: And who is this message for?
Anhora: It is for you, Arthur Pendragon.
Arthur: Is it you who's responsible for killing our crops, turning our water into sand?
Anhora: You alone are responsible for the misfortune that has befallen Camelot.
Arthur: Me?! You think I'd bring drought and famine upon my own people?
Anhora: When you killed the unicorn, you unleashed a curse. For this, Camelot will suffer greatly.
Arthur: If you have put a curse on Camelot, you will lift it, or you will pay with your life.
Anhora: The curse was not my doing.
Arthur: Undo the curse or face execution.
Anhora: Only you can do that. You will be tested.

Arthur lunges for him, but Anhora disappears and reappears at the top of the staircase behind them, telling Arthur that if he does not make amends, then Camelot will be doomed.

The following morning Merlin and Gaius find themselves drinking Merlin’s bathwater and Gaius recommends that Merlin convince Arthur as to the truth of Anhora’s words.

Up in his room Arthur is frustrated at the discovery of a rat-gnawed hole in his boot, but Merlin tries to make him see reason, telling him that he first saw Anhora in the forest after the death of the unicorn. Arthur dismisses his claims, warning him that a sorcerer’s word cannot be trusted, but that they need a plan as to how to proceed.

That night Arthur awakens Merlin from guard-duty outside the storeroom; irritated by the thirsty noises that he’s making in his sleep. The two of them hear movement in the storeroom and confront a frightened-looking man who introduces himself as Evan and claims he’s stealing grain for his hungry child. Though Arthur reminds him that looters are to be executed, he allows the man to go free, and even gives him a small sack of grain to take with him.

Arthur: Use it sparingly. It might be the last food you and your family get for some time.
Evan: You have shown yourself to be merciful and kind, My Lord. This will bring its own reward.

The following morning Gwen watches the guards chase a man accused of looting, only for something else to catch her eye. Water is dripping from the spout, and as she works the pump, water gushes out.

In his room, Merlin and Arthur enjoy the return of the water, and Merlin suggests that Arthur’s act of mercy in letting the villager go was the first test that Anhora spoke of.

Merlin: If you're tested again, you have a chance to end your people's suffering. I know you want that more than anything. Perhaps we should seek Anhora out.
Arthur: I cannot negotiate with sorcerers. My father wouldn't hear of it.
Merlin: Then it's probably best you don't tell him.

Arthur is not yet convinced, ordering Merlin to find some food and get rid of the rat. As he goes, Merlin’s eye catches the rat squirming out of a hole in the wall. He looks rather thoughtful…

Outside, Arthur is joined by Morgana as a crowd of people arrive from the outlying villagers in search of food. Arthur realizes that there’s not going to be enough to go around, and as he leaves Gwen approaches Morgana, having smuggled some food from the kitchens. Morgana instructs her to pass it around to the children and old people.

In his room a depressed Arthur is reluctant to eat while his people are starving, and agrees with Merlin’s plan: that they’ll go to the forest first thing in the morning in search of Anhora. Merlin cajoles him into eating some of the stew he’s prepared, and it’s not long before Arthur realizes he’s eating rat.

The following morning Merlin and Arthur hunt through the forest for any signs of Anhora. In the distance Arthur catches sight of him and races after him, shouting for Merlin. Merlin goes another way and the two are soon separated. Arthur runs through the forest only to find a small encampment full of hoarded food, where Evan sits with a smirk on his face.

Arthur: You? You're a thief.
Evan: Wasn't that obvious when you caught me stealing your grain?
Arthur: Fortunately I have more important things to deal with.
Evan: You didn't really believe that story about my children, did you?
Arthur: What kind of man lies about starving children to save his own skin?
Evan: Your people starve because you let thieves steal their grain. That is why they doubt you.
Arthur: You don't speak for my people.
Evan: Hey, your father would never have allowed himself to be fooled like that.
Arthur: You hold your tongue, or I will make time to teach you some manners.
Evan: Your father would have had me executed, but you didn't have the stomach for it, did you, Arthur? And that's why he doubts you'll make a good king.
Arthur: You know nothing of what my father thinks.
Evan: I think he wishes he had another son, one who was worthy of taking his place. You shame him.
Arthur: Pick up your sword.
Evan: The King must fear the day when you will take the throne.

Goaded by his taunts, Arthur attacks Evan and a fight breaks out. Just as Arthur makes the killing strike, Evan disappears and Anhora takes his place, asking Arthur why he behaved in this way. Stating that Evan insulted his honour, Anhora asks why he didn’t simply ignore him instead of giving in to his pride. Arthur demands that he lift the curse, but once again Anhora states that only Arthur is capable of that before disappearing.

Back in Camelot, Arthur learns from Uther that the remaining supplies have completely rotted.

Over a dinner of beetles, Merlin and Gaius discuss Arthur’s shortcomings, neither one certain what he’s going to do next.

In the Council Chamber Uther and Arthur have a disagreement over what is to be done with the palace food stores. Uther orders that they stop distributing food to the people and use it only to feed the armies; Arthur points out that there’s little point in having an army when there are no people to protect. He suggests that they go to the neighbouring kingdoms for help, but Uther considers this an affront to his pride, not to mention dangerous if their enemies perceive them as weak. Arthur speaks again on behalf of the people, but when Uther is not swayed, he tells him that the order to stop distributing food will have to be given by Uther himself.

From the castle parapets, Arthur and Merlin look down over the people, as yet unaware that their food supplies are about to be cut short. For the first time, Arthur takes responsibility for what’s happening.

Merlin goes to the forest by himself and shouts for Anhora, who appears behind him.

Anhora: You wanted to talk with me?
Merlin: I've come to seek your help. The people are starving. They will soon be dead.
Anhora: You must believe me when I say it gives me no pleasure to see your people suffering.
Merlin: If it pains you, put an end to it.
Anhora: It is not in my power to lift the curse.
Merlin: Then give Arthur another chance. He has accepted it is his responsibility, and he will prove himself worthy and lift the curse if you give him one more chance.
Anhora: You have faith in Arthur?
Merlin: I trust him with my life.
Anhora: Arthur must go to the Labyrinth of Gedref. There, he will face a final test. If he fails, there is no hope. The curse will destroy Camelot.

Having received this message from Merlin, Arthur prepares to leave for the Labyrinth alone, against Merlin’s protests. Merlin is ordered to stay and help the people, though of course, Merlin has no intention of doing so and secretly follows Arthur.

Arthur travels across the countryside on horseback, till he reaches a valley that is filled with hedge mazes that make up a huge labyrinth. Behind him is Merlin, who follows him into the labyrinth. Both wander around, completely lost, until Merlin stumbles across Anhora, who waits with a drawn sword. Merlin accuses him of setting a trap, and Anhora calmly agrees: though it’s not a trap for Arthur. Vines snake out of the hedges and bind Merlin.

Arthur reaches the edge of the labyrinth and emerges on the seashore where Anhora waits. Merlin is seated at a small table with two goblets before him.

Arthur: Let him go. I'll take your test, but not till he's released.
Anhora: That is not possible. Merlin is part of the test. Please sit. If you refuse the test, you will have failed and Camelot will be destroyed.
Arthur: I thought I told you to stay at home. Let's get on with it.
Anhora: There are two goblets before you. One of the goblets contains a deadly poison, the other goblet, a harmless liquid. All the liquid from both goblets must be drunk, but each of you may only drink from a single goblet.

Depending on which goblet Arthur drinks from, the curse may or may not be broken. Arthur is not impressed by this test, but he and Merlin think it through, coming to the conclusion that they should pour the contents of the goblets into one cup, which is then drunk by one person. Arthur commends Merlin on his thinking, distracts him, and then drinks down the contents of the single goblet filled with all the liquid. He collapses on the ground and Merlin accuses Anhora of killing him, only for Anhora to reassure him that he’s only taken a sleeping draught.

Anhora: A unicorn is pure of heart. If you kill one, you must make amends by proving that you also are pure of heart. Arthur was willing to sacrifice his life to save yours. He has proven what is truly in his heart. The curse will be lifted.

Sometime later Merlin and Arthur return to Camelot to learn that all the crops have been replenished and the curse lifted. Uther congratulates Arthur on getting rid of the sorcerer and Arthur agrees to restock the grain reserves.

Before that however, Arthur and Merlin return to the forest to lay the unicorn horn down on a small makeshift grave. As Arthur apologises for taking its life, Merlin notices something in the distance and the two look up to see that the unicorn has returned to life. Yes, the combined force of Merlin and Arthur has brought a unicorn back to life. You can’t make this stuff up.

Tropes

Merlin S 01 E 10 The Moment Of TruthRecap/MerlinMerlin S 01 E 12 To Kill The King

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