Recap / Merlin S 02 E 01 The Curse Of Cornelius Sigan

The Curse of Cornelius Sigan

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It is night time Camelot, and the sounds of banging and clashing echo out over the castle walls. In his chambers, an irritated Arthur calls out for Merlin, who comes running. Uther has come up with the great idea of searching for treasure underneath his own castle, and the sound of the excavation is keeping everyone up at night. Arthur orders Merlin to go down and tell the workers to keep it down.

Down in the tunnels, the workers have found an underground tomb full of treasure and a crypt with a bright blue heart-shaped jewel on it. One of the workers steps forward for a closer look, only to trigger a hidden mechanism in the floor. A dart shoots out from a raven statue and kills him instantly. The rest of the workers flee, pushing past Merlin in their terror. Merlin creeps carefully into the tomb and discovers the grisly remains of the dead worker.

Sometime later, Gaius has joined Merlin in the tomb, trying to ascertain who it belongs to. Gaius steps forward to inspect the engravings around the jewel upon the tomb, only to trigger the booby trap. Thankfully it seems to go a lot slower this time, giving Merlin the chance to levitate a metal plate in front of Gaiusís face. At that moment Uther and Arthur enter the tomb to inspect its riches.

Uther is pleased with the findings, and only mildly put out by the sight of a dead worker at his feet. He gives the responsibility of guarding the tomb to Arthur.

Later that night in a seedy pub, one of the workers is deep in discussion with a young man called Cedric, who is asking him questions about the tomb and the treasure therein. Cedric pays him a pouch of money for his information, only to pickpocket it back again when heís not looking. He learns that the only way to get in is with the keys, and the only person who has access to the keys is Prince Arthur Ė and his manservant.

In the courtyard the following day, Cedric watches from a distance as Merlin readies Arthurís horse. As Arthur mounts into the saddle, the girth breaks and Arthur topples from the horseís back. Angrily he gets to his feet, blaming Merlin for the accident. Cedric brings Arthurís horse back and offers to tighten the girth, then brushes down Arthurís coat. Impressed, Arthur invites him to join them on the hunt as a beater.

Several knights and beaters are roaming through the woods, when a huge boar comes hurtling out of the trees, straight toward Arthur. As everyone ducks for cover, Merlin utters a spell that makes a spear levitate and throw itself into the boarís side. Getting up off the ground, Arthur sees the dead boar and asks who threw the spear. When no one comes forward, Cedric takes credit for the kill. Arthur grants him a boon, and Cedric modestly asks for a position in the royal household.

Merlin returns to Gaiusís quarters in a bad mood, only to find that Gaius has translated some of the runes on the tombís treasure. He believes the tomb belongs to Cornelius Sigan, a powerful enchanter who helped to build Camelot before he was executed. According to legend, Sigan found a way to defeat death, which could pose a possible threat in uncovering his tomb.Gaius goes to Uther in this throne room, requesting that the tomb be sealed. He tells him of his fear that it belongs to Sigan Ė whose name means raven, and who once promised to return to Camelot and raze it to the ground. Uther scoffs at these claims, and warns Gaius not to spread fear and superstition.

That night Morgana dreams of a raven flapping through the air and swooping down toward her. She wakes up screaming and is comforted by Gwen.

The following morning Merlin brings Arthur breakfast, only to find that Cedric has beaten him to it. Arthur thanks him for the meal and Cedric admits that he has yet to clean out Arthurís stable Ė guess who gets to do it instead.

Upstairs, Gaius tends to a sickly-looking Morgana, who confesses that her dreams are not only terrifying, but getting worse. She tells him that the latest one involves a raven, something that clearly means something to Gaius. He tells her that heíll prepare her a stronger sleeping draught.

Merlin is hard at work in the stables, and doesnít notice Cedric throw a smoking poultice threw the window. The fumes do their work, and Merlin collapses to the ground, right into a dung heap. Cedric hurries into the stables and frees all the horses. They gallop into the village streets, causing chaos and nearly running over Arthur. He storms back to the stables to find Merlin asleep on the ground. A shouting match ensues, and Cedric tries to diffuse the situation by suggesting that Merlin needs the evening off, offering to take over his duties for the night. Arthur agrees, and dismisses Merlin.

Merlin storms into Gaiusís chambers, dung still all over his face. Gaius quietly begins to wash it off.

Merlin: I'm not an idiot.
Gaius: What happened?
Merlin: I just want Arthur to trust me. And to see me for who I really am.
Gaius: One day he will.
Merlin: When? Everything I do is for him and he just thinks I'm an idiot.
Gaius: Not everyone thinks you're an idiot. Although, looking at you now...Now is not the time to be questioning these things, Merlin. I believe that you and Arthur are destined for greatness, and that your calling is to serve and protect him.

Gaius tries to comfort him, and then turns his attention to a greater problem. The inscription on Siganís treasure reads: "He who breaks my heart completes my work." He believes that the glowing jewel on the sarcophagus actually contains Siganís soul, and that anyone who removes it from its setting will become his vessel.

As Arthur gets into bed, Cedric swiftly removes the keys from his drawer and hurries down to the tomb where he begins to stuff his bag full of the gold and jewels around him. His eyes fall upon the glowing blue jewel, and soon enough heís pried it loose with his knife. A strange blue mist arises from within, and fills Cedricís nose and ears. He shudders and falls to the ground, his eyes turning completely black.

Sometime later, the tomb is once more being investigated by Merlin and Gaius. Realizing that the jewel is without its blue lustre and seeing that the gate has been opened with a key, Merlin deduces that Cedric is the culprit. He rushes to tell Arthur, who is completely unimpressed with Merlinís story that Cedric has been possessed by the spirit of Cornelius Sigan. At that moment Cedric enters the room and Merlin tackles him. After a short tussle, Arthur intervenes and has Merlin escorted to the dungeons.

Once night has fallen, Cedric/Sigan (now in a snazzy black feathered cloak) climbs to the parapets of the castle and shouts out an incantation to bring the gargoyles to life. Gwen is walking home over the drawbridge of the castle when she sees a gargoyle swoop down in front of her. With a scream, she turns and runs back to the castle.

From the castle, Uther and Arthur try to get a look at the creatures attacking, and Uther orders his son and the knights to hunt them down and kill them. Gaius and Gwen have organised an infirmary where they can tend to the wounded, while Uther rails against the possibility of Camelot falling to a sorcererís power. Down in the dungeons, Merlin hears the chaos going on outside and breaks down the door of his cell with a spell.

Outside, Arthur and his knights are trying to combat the gargoyles, though many people have already fallen. Inside, Gaius demands more bandages from Gwen, and voices his concern that Morgana has joined them to help the wounded.

Having been knocked off his feet and semi-unconscious, Arthur opens his eyes to see a gargoyle plummeting down toward him. Just as heís about to be crushed, someone grabs his arm and yanks him out of the way. Getting to his feet, heís surprised to find itís Guinevere, who almost immediately tackles him to the ground at the sight of another gargoyle swooping down behind him. Together the two of them retreat back into the castle where Gwen offers to get him some bandages. Still looking a little doozy, Arthur calls her back.

Gwen: I'll get you something to stop the bleeding.
Arthur: Guinevere. I wanted to say...just, uh...you always surprise me.
Gwen: Is that it, Sire?
Arthur: That's it. Oh, and uh...thank you.

Uther comes to check on his son and tell him that heís sealing the citadel to protect those inside. Arthur tells him he cannot as there are people trapped on the drawbridge. Against his fatherís wishes, Arthur goes out to do his duty. Morgana and Gwen glance at each other in worry.

Gaius spots Merlin lurking in the corner and joins him for a hurried council. Gaius reveals that he knew that Merlin used to visit the Great Dragon, and urges him to go to him and ask him for advice. Merlin is reluctant after the events of Le Mort díArthur, but Gaius tells him they have no other choice.

Outside, Arthur and his knights are checking for survivors when another gargoyle swoops down for the attack.

Down in the Dragonís cave, Merlin reluctantly asks for help for Arthurís sake. The Dragon agrees Ė but for a price. He extracts a promise from Merlin that when the time is right, he will release the Dragon from his chains. Merlin makes his promise, and the Dragon breathes over him, filling him with magic. Merlin reels from the power, but before he goes, the Dragon reminds him that one day heíll keep him to his promise.

Out in the square, Arthur is separated from his knights and orders them to retreat back into the castle. Sir Geraint rushes inside and seals the doors despite the protests of Uther who demands to know where Arthur is.

Merlin bolts outside and sees Arthur lying unconscious on the ground. As a gargoyle hurtles toward him, Merlin casts a spell that pulverises it into harmless dust. Sigan emerges from the shadows, commending Merlin on his power.

Sigan: He does not deserve your loyalty. He treats you like a slave.
Merlin: That's not true.
Sigan: He cast you aside without a moment's thought.
Merlin: That doesn't matter.
Sigan: But it must hurt so much to be so put upon, so overlooked, when all the while you have such power.
Merlin: That's the way it has to be.
Sigan: Does it? You're young, Merlin. Look inside yourself. You have yet to discover your true power. I can help you. Think, Merlin. To have the world appreciate your greatness. To have Arthur know you for what you are.
Merlin: That can never be.
Sigan: It can, if you join me. Together we can rule over this land. Arthur will tremble at your voice, he will kneel at your feet.
Merlin: I don't want that.
Sigan: You'd rather be a servant?
Merlin: Better to serve a good man that to rule with an evil one.
Sigan: So be it. If you will not join me, I will become you and your power will be harnessed to my will.

Siganís spirit leaves Cedricís body, and Cedric falls to the ground, dead. The blue tendrils of mist drift across the courtyard and enter Merlinís eyes and ears. He shakes with effort and falls to his knees, his eyes turning black as Siganís spirit takes over.

Gaius enters the courtyard warily and sees Merlin emerge through the mists. Cautiously he calls out his name. Merlin steps forward, an ominous look on his faceÖonly to smile and raise the blue jewel, Siganís spirit sealed safely inside.The jewel is replaced in the tomb and the tomb sealed with rocks. Up in his throne room, Uther tells Gaius that they must double their efforts in eradicating all magic from the kingdom. Gaius dubiously agrees.

Down in the physicianís chambers, Merlin is telling Gaius that he doesnít expect any thanks, only to be surprised by the appearance of Arthur, who admits that he was right about CedricÖand empties a sack of armour onto the table that needs cleaning. He hasnít forgotten that Merlin called him a ďclotpole.Ē

Tropes

  • Ancient Tomb
  • Book Ends: Gwen saves Arthur from a flying monster in the courtyard by tackling him to the ground. Arthur will do the same to her in the final episode of the season.
  • Butt Monkey: Poor Merlin
  • Cassandra Truth: Both Uther and Arthur scoff at Gaius and Merlin's warnings about Cedric and Cornelius Sigan. You'd think they'd have learnt by now...
  • Chekhov's Gun: Merlin's promise to the Dragon that one day he'll free him from his chains.
  • Cleavage Window: When Gwen tackles Arthur. Colin Morgan has a fairly priceless reaction to this on the DVD Commentary:
    "Wha-hey!"
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Cornelius is astonished to discover that Merlin is a powerful sorcerer.
  • Death by Secret Identity: Sigan
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Morgana dreams of a raven, the symbol of Cornelius Sigan.
  • Literally Falling In Love: Guinevere tackles Arthur in a bid to save him from a swooping gargoyle, leading to their first overt shippy moment.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: When Cornelius possesses someone (Cedric, Merlin) their eyes temporarily turn black.
  • Monster of the Week: An evil sorcerer in a tomb under the castle, who has not been mentioned before, nor since.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: The Dragon "powers up" Merlin by breathing on him, something that isn't explained or brought up again.
  • Reset Button: Disappointedly pressed in regards to the Merlin/Arthur relationship. If anything, they've regressed.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Arthur leads the knights into battle while Uther cowers within the castle.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Cornelius's soul is trapped within a bright blue jewel atop his tomb.
  • Shirtless Scene: Arthur, several times. Colin Morgan and Bradley James count them all on the DVD Commentary.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: Sir Geraint was introduced in this episode as Arthur's second-in-command. He's a figure from Arthurian Legend, is given a prominent speaking-part, and had several promotional shots taken of him. He's never seen again, and his role is taken over by Sir Leon, who makes his first appearance in the next episode.
  • Suggestive Collision: After Gwen saves Arthur from the second gargoyle.
    Gwen: Sorry, Sire.
    Arthur: No, my pleasure!
  • Swiss Cheese Security: In the very first episode, Merlin had to distract the guards in order to sneak down into the Dragon's cave. Perhaps understandably, the show doesn't bother with that anymore.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Merlin is not happy about having to go to the Dragon for help, after what happen last season. The feeling is mutual, and the Dragon only bothers to help if Merlin if he promises to free him.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: At this stage, Morgana's prophetic dreams are really of no use to anyone.
  • You Have to Believe Me: Merlin, on warning Arthur about Cedric.
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