Recap / Merlin S 01 E 12 To Kill The King
To Kill The King
Guinevere is beating a carpet outside her house in the lower town when her father Tom sneaks up behind it and pops his head over the top with a ďboo!Ē He has another surprise in store for her: a new dress. Gwen appreciates it, but is suspicious as to how her father managed to pay for it. Tom assures her that things are changing for the two of them, and that he wonít be back for supper.
Working in his forge that night, Tom is joined by a hooded man known as Tauren who looks down at the lump of lead that Tom has prepared for him. Tauren retrieves a stone from his cloak and chants a spell, causing the lead to transfigure into gold. Tom protests against the use of magic, but is awestruck at the sight of the gold. Tauren offers it to him in exchange for his silence.
In his chamber, Merlin is awoken from his sleep by the power of the stone.
Back in the forge Arthur and his guards burst through the doors. Tauren makes a run for it, dropping the stone in the progress. Tom is left holding the lump of gold and after ordering some of his men to chase Tauren, announces that Tom is under arrest.In the physicianís quarters Merlin wanders out of his chamber, complaining that a strange feeling woke him; that he sensed powerful magic somewhere in the city. Just then Gwen rushes in to share the news that her father has been arrested, accused of making weapons for a sorcerer and charged with treason.
In a private chamber Morgana and Arthur consort with Uther. Still in her nightgown Morgana insists on Tomís innocence, even when confronted with the evidence of gold retrieved from Tomís possession. Uther insists that itís proof enough, but Arthur tries to convince him that no one is sure what really happened.
Arthur: Father, the blacksmith committed a crime, but we don't know for certain he meant treason.
Uther: No. You're right. Nothing's certain. Save one thing. The law stands or this kingdom falls.
Morgana: But the law must give him a fair trial!
Uther: He'll get a fair trial, and he'll be found guilty, 'cause that's what he is.
Morgana: You execute Gwen's father, and I will never forgive you. Never.
Arthur suggests that they investigate further, and Uther demands that anyone found sheltering Tauren is to be arrested and punished accordingly.
Down in the dungeons Gwen speaks to her father through the bars of his cell. He insists that he didnít know Tauren was a sorcerer and that he was only trying to make life better for Gwen. Insisting that she was already perfectly content with her lot in life, she now promises that sheíll find a way to free him.
Waiting for her outside are Merlin and Gaius, and Gwen relays the information Tom gave her: that he was being paid by Tauren to help in an experiment that involved some sort of stone.
Back in the physicianís quarters, Gwen gets some rest in Merlinís bed as he and Gaius discuss what she told them. Gaius suspects alchemy mixed with magic, and Merlin wonders if thatís what awoke him.
Morgana walks through the lower town in search of Gwen, not finding her at her house and so entering the forge, where she finds the stone on the floor. As it did with Tauren, the stone begins to glow in her hands, and Merlin senses its power as he watches over Gwen. Back in her room, Morgana stashes the stone in a small casket.
Morgana joins Merlin in his vigil over the sleeping Gwen and the two quietly exit to let her rest. Merlin asks Morgana to speak to Uther, telling her that everything is just a misunderstanding. Morgana states that itís no use: Uther has made up his mind that Tom is a traitor.
Merlin: Then...there's little hope?
Morgana: There's no hope, Merlin. None at all.
Sneaking into Arthurís chambers, Morgana quietly retrieves a key from a drawer, and in the dungeons she carefully palms the key into Tomís hand, wishing him luck.
Outside several men are escorted through the square by the guards, accused of giving shelter to Tauren. Arthur warns Merlin not to argue with his fatherís orders.
That night Tom pretends to be asleep as the guard passes, and then unlocks the cell door with the key Morgana gave him. He sneaks through the dungeon passages, but the guard returns to his cell and notices the open door. The warning bell begins to ring as Tom knocks out a guard and takes his sword.
Up in the Council Chamber, Uther orders that Tom be killed on sight.
Tom tries to climb the dungeon stairs to freedom, but finds himself surrounded on all sides. He raises his hands in surrender, but the order is given to execute him.
The following morning a devastated Gwen rushes through the courtyard after a cart that holds her fatherís body. From a window Morgana watches as she collapses with grief.
Downstairs, Morgana storms into the Council Chamber to confront Uther.
Morgana: You have blood on your hands, Uther Pendragon! Blood that will never wash off!
Uther: May I remind you that you're speaking to your King.
Morgana: May I remind you that a king is wise and just. You are neither. You rule only with the sword.
Uther: You know nothing of what it means to be King. The fate of Camelot rests in my hands. It's my responsibility to protect the people of this land from its enemies.
Morgana: Then the kingdom is doomed! For one by one you make enemies of us all!
Uther: You speak treason, Morgana.
Morgana: Only a mad man hears the truth as treason.
Uther: Take care, child, or I'll have you restrained.
Morgana: You just try.
One Gilligan Cut
later and Morgana is dragged into a prison cell by the guards and chained to the wall. From the door, Uther tells her that she will remain until sheís ready to apologise. Judging from Morganaís accusations, sheís nowhere near ready, but still seems a little shocked when the door clangs shut, leaving her alone.
In Merlinís chamber Gwen quietly questions why her father tried to escape when his trial was this morning, but stands to attention when Arthur enters. He assures her that her job is safe and that her home is hers for life Ė this he promises her. Gwen thanks him for his apology.
After dark, Gwen is about to go inside when she notices her new dress hanging on the clothesline. She retrieves it, only for Tauren to grab her from behind, covering her mouth and demanding the stone. As soon as his hand is removed Gwen insists that she doesnít know what heís talking about. Tauren threatens her: if she doesnít bring the stone to Darkling Woods then sheíll die. Gwen can only nod in terror.
Flipping through a book in the physicianís quarters, Gaius calls Merlin over to him to look at an illustration of the Mage Stone, a magical tool that could give the bearer the power of transformation. He believes that it was this that Merlin sensed on the night of Tomís arrest.
Morgana sits on the floor of her cell and looks up as Arthur enters.
Morgana: You. How proud you must be. Son of the mighty Uther. How you must look up to him. Does the King's little helper bring a message? Or have you just come to gloat?
The guards enter to unshackle her from her chains, and Arthur warns her that a condition of her release was that she would never challenge his authority again.
Arthur: I swore that you'd learned your lesson. Tread carefully. Next time, I may not be able to help you.
Morgana: Thank you. You're a better man than your father. Always were.
Gwen is sitting in Morganaís chambers and jumps up at the sight of her. Realizing her dishevelled state is thanks to Uther, Gwen begs that Morgana not do anything foolish on her behalf. Morgana urges her to go home, but Gwen tells her she canít, explaining Taurenís threats and his search for the stone. Morgana assures her that itíll only be the Camelot knights that Tauren meets.But that night, Morgana sits in her chambers, holding the stone. Once again it glows brightly, and again Merlin is awoken by its power. He gets out of bed and sees Morgana walking out of the castle and through the lower town. He follows her to the forest where sheís immediately surrounded by Taurenís men.
He is about to order her death when Morgana reveals the stone and makes a proposition to Tauren and his men: like them, she wants to see Uther dead as well. Revealing her chaffed wrists as evidence of her suffering, she asks what Tauren was hoping to achieve with the stone at the forge.
Tauren: With it a man can alter the very essence of things. He can turn a lump of lead into gold.
Morgana: Gold? A good man died in your quest for riches, Tauren. His daughter is now an orphan.
Tauren: I'm sorry for that. Truly. But we did not want the gold to line our pockets. The gold was but a means, a means to rid this kingdom of Uther Pendragon once and for all.
Morgana: What are you saying?
Tauren: Bribery is rife at Camelot. I will use the corruption at the heart of his kingdom, and such abundance of gold will buy me into the King's chambers, even to the King himself.
Morgana: The guards may be fools, Tauren, but the King is not.
Tauren: Do you have a better plan?
Morgana: To get to Uther, you need someone close to him.
Tauren: And you know of such a person?
Morgana: I do. Me.
Merlin overhears this conversation in growing alarm. Over dinner that night, he distractedly hands Gaius an apple instead of the asked-for salt and then prepares to leave the room Ė through the broom closet. Obviously something is on his mind, but Gaius doesnít press him for answers.
Merlin goes down to speak with the Great Dragon, asking him for advice on the situation. The Dragon calmly suggests that he do nothing at all, and let Morganaís plot to kill the king play out, reminding him that Uther persecutes Merlin and his kind. Merlin argues that surely this doesnít make it right to kill Uther, but the Dragon insists that Uther die so that Arthurís reign can begin and Merlinís destiny be fulfilled.
In the Council Chamber Uther is eating dinner when Morgana enters to make her apology.
Morgana: I didn't mean to rile you. I thought only of Gwen. The poor girl is all alone in the world.
Uther: It was not my intention to hurt your maid.
Morgana: I know. But now she suffers, and I know how she must suffer.
Morgana: I only meant, I know what it's like to lose a father.
Uther: That was a terrible day. Your father was a great friend. I had no part in his death.
Morgana: You sent him into battle. You promised him reinforcements and then gave him none. You sent him to his death.
Uther: That is not true. It was never my intention.
Morgana: But it happened! And it keeps on happening.
Morgana: I'm sorry, My Lord.
Morgana leaves, looking upset, but her expression clears as soon as her back is turned.
Back in the Physicianís Chambers Merlin asks Gaius if he thinks that Uther is a good king. Gaius believes that he is, stating that Uther brought peace and prosperity to the kingdom. Merlin argues that the cost was the deaths of innocent people, and Gaius replies that this will end when Arthur is king. Perhaps then, Merlin says, Arthur should be king now.
Gaius: Arthur's not ready. The responsibility would be too great. Brave though he may be, he lacks experience, he lacks judgment. Is there anything you want to tell me?
Merlin: I can't...I, I just...No, I can't. You've just got to trust me. Gaius, it's something I've got to work out for myself.
Gaius: I do trust you, Merlin. Whatever it is, I know you'll make the right decision.
From a window Uther watches as Morgana and Gwen wander through the courtyard, looking downcast. He approaches Morgana in a corridor and apologises for opening an old wound in regards to Morganaís fatherís death. Morgana suggests that they visit her fatherís grave and put the past behind them. Uther agrees to accompany her the following day.
Outside the palace walls Morgana meets with Tauren by night. Morgana assures him that Uther will be accompanying her to the cairn on the hill at first light, and reiterates her desire to see him dead. The conversation is overheard by Merlin, who sneaks back behind the castle wall as the conspirators depart.
Now itís Merlinís turn to stare out of an upstairs window as Morgana, Uther and a convoy of guards ride out of Camelot. Gwen notices him standing there and comes to join him. Merlin commends her on her bravery in getting her life back together, but Gwen tells him that the hardest part is knowing that people assume Tom was guilty because he tried to escape.
Merlin: I know he was innocent.
Gwen: I think he tried to escape because he knew that whatever he said or did he'd be killed. Uther had already made up his mind. That's the kind of man he is.
Merlin: I wouldn't blame you if you wanted him dead.
Gwen: If Uther died I'd feel nothing. He means nothing to me.
Merlin: But if you had...you know...the choice, what would you do? If you had the power of life and death over Uther, would you kill him? For what he did?
Gwen: What would that solve? That would make me a murderer. That would make me as bad as him.
Merlin has his epiphany and races from the room. In his chamber he retrieves the staff of the Sidhe and rushes out after Utherís party.
Tauren and his men watch as Uther and Morgana pass through the forest that hides them, and as the company dismounts, Morgana asks for some privacy. Uther agrees and orders the men to stay as he and Morgana climb up to her fatherís grave.
Rushing after them, Merlin stumbles across the bodies of the slain guards and sees the renegades heading after Uther. Morgana and Uther kneel at the grave as Merlin shoots energy bolts at Taurenís men.
Uther: Your father was the greatest man I've ever known. He stood for everything this kingdom represents. Truth, justice, valour. A hundred times he saved my life on the battlefield. His courage and his honour were without equal. When Gorlois died, I lost the truest friend I ever had. For he was as fearless in questioning my judgment as he was in defending my kingdom. That's the mark of a true friend.
Morgana: I know how he respected you, My Lord. But I don't share these memories. How can I? I was ten years old. I only know I loved him and he was taken from me.
Uther: When he died, and I took you into my care, you fought me from the beginning. Your will is as strong as my own. You challenge me as a friend must. As your father did in his time.
Morgana: And when I do, you clap me in irons.
Uther: I know I'm not an easy man. My temper blinds me sometimes. There are things that I regret.
Morgana: Gwen's father?
Morgana: Are you saying you were wrong to have Tom killed?
Tauren watches the two of them from behind a tree and is about to approach when he hears Merlin behind him. He pulls out the Mage Stone and uses it to deflect Merlinís energy bolt back to him, knocking Merlin unconscious. Meanwhile, Uther is promising to listen to Morgana more often, telling her that sheís the daughter he never had and asking for her forgiveness. Morgana is about to answer when she sees Tauren looming over them with a sword and cries out.
Uther manages to block the killing blow and begins to wrestle with Tauren on the grass. The two of them roll down the hill together as Merlin wakes up and gets to his feet. Just as heís about to intervene, Tauren is stabbed in the back. As he collapses onto Uther, Morgana appears behind him, a dagger in her hand. Merlin is witness to Uther and Morgana hugging one another, and quietly makes his escape.
In the Physicianís Quarters later that day, Gaius has heard of Taurenís assassination attempt and backhandedly congratulates Merlin for his part in the proceedings.
- Alchemy Is Magic
- Anti-Hero: Tauren
- Assassin Outclassin': Unsurprisingly, Tauren's attempt on Uther's life is not successful.
- Black Shirt: Tauren
- The Blacksmith: Tom
- Come to Gawk: Morgana accuses Arthur of this when he comes to see her in her cell. Turns out, he's just letting her go free.
- Decoy Antagonist: Not Tauren, but Morgana.
- Decoy Protagonist: The first half of the episode centres on Guinevere; the second half is about Morgana. This is actually quite a clever bit of Foreshadowing for Morgana's Character Arc - though she's initially sympathetic toward Gwen's loss, she eventually usurps the situation and makes it all about her.
- Defecting for Love: Gender Flipped and eventually subverted. Morgana approaches Tauren to form an alliance, convinces him of her intention to assassinate Uther, and then changes her mind, stabbing Tauren in the back.
- Dramatically Missing the Point: Once Morgana sees Tom dead, she goes to confront Uther and spends the rest of the episode plotting against him, never once comforting Gwen for her loss. It's possible that she's subconsciously guilty that her actions led to Tom's death, and avoiding Gwen is her way of avoiding that guilt.
- Expy: Though not strictly a character, the Mage Stone is clearly The Philosopher's Stone, presumably changed in order to avoid comparisons with Harry Potter.
- Gilligan Cut: When Morgana challenges Uther to restrain her.
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Guinevere understands this right from the start and shares it with Merlin, who is debating whether to let Morgana go ahead with her assassination attempt.
- In the Back: Is where Morgana stabs Tauren.
- Killed Off for Real: Tom
- Start of Darkness: For Morgana.
- Tempting Fate: When Morgana dares Uther to imprison her.
- Unwitting Pawn: Tauren uses Tom as one, and later is used as Morgana's.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Tauren and Morgana.
- Whoopi Epiphany Speech: Gwen gives one of these to Merlin after he asks her whether she would kill Uther if she had the choice. She tells him no - because that would make her no better than him. This motivates Merlin to intervene in Morgana's assassination attempt.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Tauren thinks he's a brave freedom fighter. Morgana has other plans for him.