Recap / Merlin S 02 E 03 The Nightmare Begins

The Nightmare Begins

Outside Camelot a thunderstorm is brewing. Up in her room Morgana stirs restlessly in her sleep, her eyelids flickering. Beside her, an unlit candle bursts into flame. Guinevere enters the room with some extra blankets, but on finding Morgana asleep she blows out the candle and places it by the window before leaving quietly. Once again Morgana’s eyelids flicker, revealing the gold shine of magic in her pupils, and the candle wick ignites. Morgana sits up in bed, watching in horror as the flame of the candle grows in height, catching fire to the curtains. She screams, and the windows explode out into the storm.

The following morning, Arthur, Uther, Merlin and Gwen have gathered in Morgana’s room. Gwen insists that she puts the candle out and Arthur tells her father that he believes her – a significant look passes between the two of them.

Arthur suggests that perhaps lightning caused the fire, though Uther is more suspicious and voices his concern that someone started it deliberately. Outside in the corridor Arthur questions how this is possible, and Uther falls back on his usual fear: that someone used magic to attack his ward. He orders Arthur to arrest all those who are under suspicion.

As Merlin approaches the Physician’s Chambers he hears voices from inside and stops to listen to Gaius and Morgana. She is tearfully admitting to Gaius that she was the one who started the fire, just by looking at it.

Gaius: I could've been a gust of wind.
Morgana: It wasn't. It was me. It was magic.
Gaius: My child...
Morgana: I'm not a child!
Gaius: Last night was an accident. It had nothing to do with you. How could it have? I am going to draw you up a fresh remedy that will make you feel better, I promise.
Morgana: No...
Gaius: You must trust me.

Later Merlin watches as Gaius makes his potion, and tells him that the glass of the window had been blown out into the courtyard below; indicating that whatever caused the accident had been inside the room. He suggests that Gaius admit that Morgana has magic and help her cope with her powers instead of trying to drug her. He even says that he’s willing to tell her that he has magic, but Gaius shuts him down immediately. Merlin goes to a second option: that Morgana seek out the Druids who would be willing to help those with magical gifts. Yet Gaius is obstinate, and insists that he has the matter under control.

Merlin heads towards Morgana’s chamber with a bouquet of flowers, hiding them behind his back as he passes Arthur. Arthur however, manages to catch a glimpse of them as he turns the corner. Gwen answers Merlin’s knock at Morgana’s door and takes the flowers on her behalf, telling him that she’s afraid to leave Morgana on her own.

That night, she offers to stay with Morgana, but Morgana assures her that she’ll be fine, reminding her to take the candle as she goes. Again she tries to sleep, but wakes up in a cold sweat and panics as the vase of Merlin’s flowers explodes.Down in the Physician’s Quarters, Merlin looks up in alarm as a distressed Morgana rushes in, still in her nightgown, asking for Gaius.

Morgana: I need to speak to him. Where is he?
Merlin: He's gone to see the King. What's wrong? You can trust me, Morgana. You know you can.
Morgana: I'm scared, Merlin. I don't understand anything anymore. I need to know what's happening. Please.
Merlin: Gaius will be back soon. He'll be able to help you.
Morgana: He won't. I don't any more remedies. They won't do any good. It's magic, Merlin.
Merlin: What?
Morgana: I'm your friend, you know I wouldn't make this up.
Merlin: Of course.
Morgana: Then you believe me? You think it's magic too. Please, Merlin, I just need to hear someone say it so I don't have to keep feeling like I'm imagining it.
Merlin: I really wish there was something I could say.

Morgana – who has stepped close to Merlin to look him pleadingly in the face – senses that he’s not going to say anything more and turns around in disappointment. Though Merlin tries to call her back, she hurries away.

Merlin goes down to the Great Dragon’s cave to ask for the location of the Druids, reluctant to tell him the reason why. The Dragon realizes that he’s speaking of Morgana, who he dismissively labels “the witch,” warning Merlin that it would be better if she never learnt the true extent of her powers. Merlin protests at his claim that Morgana is dangerous, but the Dragon refuses to help.

As Merlin cleans Arthur’s chainmail in his chambers, Arthur enters with a scroll of parchment and a knight. It’s Sir Leon! The two of them discuss the list of people they have under suspicion of magic or of consorting with sorcerers, witches or druids. Merlin’s ears prick up at this last word, and Arthur orders that Sir Leon gather the men. Arthur confronts Merlin about the fact that he took flowers to Lady Morgana yesterday, but while he’s busy getting ready, Merlin uses his magic to sneak a look at the list of names.

In the lower town Merlin watches as people are rounded up by the guards and uses magic to unlock the door of a nearby house. He searches the place, only to end up with a sword at his back, wielded by a woman who demands to know what he’s doing. Merlin warns her of the approaching guards and the two escape out the back. In repayment for saving her, Merlin asks where he might find the Druids.

That night Merlin delivers Gaius’s potion to Morgana’s door, and she asks him to forget what she said last night. Merlin assures her that he hasn’t said anything to anyone, and Morgana apologises for her tearful demeanour. Merlin tells her that he understands her fear and tells her about the Druids, people who would help her if only she could reach them. Morgana seems interested.

The following morning the warning bells ring out over Camelot. Morgana has gone missing. In her chambers Arthur tells Uther that the guards found no sign of her, and Gaius overhears that Morgana was safe when Merlin delivered the sleeping draught to her.

Down in his quarters Gaius grabs Merlin’s shoulder and brandishes the potion bottle, reminding him that he never asked him to deliver anything to Morgana. Now she’s missing, and Uther thinks she’s been kidnapped. Merlin states that he was only trying to help her, and that she’s gone to the Forest of Essetir to find the Druids.

Gaius: I told you not to get involved.
Merlin: I had to because you wouldn't even acknowledge she had magic.
Gaius: For good reason.
Merlin: No. You don't understand. You don't understand what it's like. The years before I came here were the loneliest of my life.
Gaius: Morgana is the King's ward. Her situation is completely different to yours.
Merlin: I know. I've got you, she hasn't.
Gaius: I've always taken good care of Morgana.
Merlin: It is not the same. Everything that's good and right about magic I've learnt from you. I'd be lost without you, Gaius. Like she is now. Do you understand why I did it?
Gaius: Yes, I do. But that doesn't mean I don't fear the consequences.

At this moment, Morgana is wandering through the forest in a bright red cloak, staring about her warily. Strange noises surround her.

In the Council Chamber Uther learns that a few of their suspects have slipped the net, and orders a proclamation stating that if Morgana is not returned, all of their prisoners will be executed.

That night Merlin sneaks out of his chamber, hastily casting spells in all directions to stop the objects he bumps into from crashing onto the floor. In the secret tunnels leading out of the city, Merlin enhances a torch to scare off some guards and then magically bursts through the grate at the end of the tunnel, well outside the city.

In the forest, Morgana finds herself surrounded by giant scorpions and shrieks in fear as one of them wounds her leg. As she passes out, she’s dimly aware of a red-cloaked man approaching her, from whom the scorpions flee.

She wakes up in the morning light to find someone stroking her forehead with a cloth. The red-cloaked man introduces himself as Agalin and assures her of her safety. Her leg is bandaged and when she asks how Agalin knows her name, a familiar face appears, drawing back the curtains that separates Morgana from the rest of the druid camp. It’s Mordred, speaking to Morgana telepathically.

Agalin tells her that Mordred sensed her distress last night, and for the first time Mordred speaks to Morgana with his real voice:

Mordred: Now I can take care of you like you did me.

Back in Camelot, Arthur, Uther, Gaius and the guards inspect the tunnel grate that Merlin blew off its hinges. By the look of the scorch marks, Uther deduces that it was magic and that the trail leading to the forest makes the Druids responsible. Uther sends Arthur after them, ordering him to take no prisoners.

Out of the gates of Camelot ride Arthur with his knights and several guards with large dogs.

In the forest Merlin lights a campfire with his magic, but hears distant telepathy in his head. He calls out, but then decides to follow the voices.

In the Council Chamber Gaius joins a brooding Uther.

Uther: Is there any word from Arthur?
Gaius: No, Sire, not yet. But they haven't been gone long.
Uther: Yes. Of course.
Gaius: Why are you so certain that she's been kidnapped?
Uther: What other possibility is there?
Gaius: She was very upset after the fire. She could've gone of her own accord.
Uther: That's not Morgana. In all her years, I've never known her to run from anything. Takes after her father too much for that.
Gaius: You haven't let Gorlois down. You've looked after that girl as if she were your own.
Uther: That is what she's become. If she were to die, a huge part of me would die with her.

Agalin rejoins Morgana in her tent and is happy to hear that she had a good night’s sleep. He gives her a druid cloak to wear. As Arthur pursues Merlin’s trail with the dogs and Merlin approaches the druid camp, Aglain walks with Morgana, helping her on her injured leg. She tells him that she’s come searching for answers.

Arthur comes across Merlin’s campfire and orders his men on, just as Merlin comes to the Druid encampment and conceals himself behind Morgana’s tent, listening to Agalin’s conversation with Morgana. He tells her that she has a gift, one that she shouldn’t be afraid of. She voices her fear that if Uther found out he would have her executed, and Aglain assures her that she’s safe here. He also tells her that Uther is to be pitied.

Morgana: Pity? Why?
Aglain: Because he's a broken man, consumed by fear. His hatred of magic has driven goodness from his heart.
Morgana: I've always been taught that magic is evil, that it corrupts your soul.
Aglain: Uther told you this. Just because he decrees it, doesn't make it so. In time you will learn that magic isn't a dark art that must be shrouded in secrecy. It can be a force for good.

From his hiding place, Merlin gives a little smile.

Arthur and his men reach the woods near the Druid camp and watch the smoke rise from their fires. Arthur gives the order: to take no prisoners.

Merlin creeps into Morgana’s tent, much to her surprise, and tells her that she must return to Camelot. He tells her that Uther believes she’s been kidnapped and that if she doesn’t return he’ll end up executing the dozens of innocent people that he believes might have had something to do with her disappearance. This only terrifies Morgana further, and she refuses to leave her newfound sense of belonging with the Druids. Though he sympathises, Merlin is clearly troubled at Morgana’s refusal to return to Camelot, but before he can try and convince her Aglain appears with news that Arthur and his men are coming.

Outside the Druid camp is in chaos as the people run in fear, and through the crowds Merlin sees Mordred, who silently addresses him as “Emrys.” Arthur rushes into the camp with his men and spots Aglain helping Morgana run away, Mordred close behind. Misinterpreting the scene as a kidnapping, Arthur orders his men after them down a narrow gully.

Merlin is close behind them and as Morgana slows down Merlin offers to stay behind and cause a distraction. Morgana manages to thank him as Aglain hurries her away. As soon as they’re out of sight Merlin conjures up a thick fog that billows down the gully, completely obscuring Arthur’s view. Merlin darts away up a slope, and his dim figure is seen by the men below. They take a few shots and hurry after him, though Merlin manages to hide under a rocky overhang as Arthur and his men jump right over him.Despite his efforts, the guards spot Morgana’s party and as she slumps onto the rocks in a faint, Aglain is shot with a crossbow in the back. Terrified, Mordred makes a run for it as the guards surround Morgana. Mordred manages to escape a little way, only to find himself surrounded by guards. Looking oddly calm all of a sudden, Mordred opens his mouth and screams – a scream that throws the guards backwards, seemingly killing them. Merlin watches in astonishment, and even he is affected by the power of the child. Silently Mordred surveys his handiwork, and runs away into the trees. Merlin watches in alarm.

Back in Camelot, Arthur and the knights return with Morgana. She gets down from Arthur’s horse and is embraced by Uther as Gwen watches. Arthur reiterates that it was the Druids who kidnapped Morgana, and Morgana doesn’t correct him.

Up in her chambers Morgana lies on her bed fully clothed. The door knocks and she opens it to find Merlin, who promises her that he won’t tell anyone about what really happened.

Merlin: You can trust me, Morgana. I won't tell anyone.
Morgana: Thank you, Merlin. I know now who I really am. And it isn't something to be scared of. Maybe one day people will come to see magic as a force for good.

For a moment Merlin seems to want to say something more, but for now he’s just glad to have her back. On the way down the staircase he is stopped by Arthur, watching him from an alcove. Arthur tells him that Merlin’s feelings for Morgana are obvious.

Arthur: The King would have your head if he found out, and there's no point denying it.
Merlin: Denying what?
Arthur: Your affections for the Lady Morgana.
Merlin: Right.
Arthur: Take a bit of advice from someone who knows about women.
Merlin: Well, if such a person existed, I would.
Arthur: Stick to girls who are can I put it? On your level.
Merlin: Thanks.
Arthur: She can't be your friend. Let alone anything else.
Merlin: Yeah, I know.

Obviously the conversation is no longer about Merlin and Morgana, and Arthur sadly tells Merlin to watch himself as he walks away.

Back in the Physician’s Chambers Merlin apologises to Gaius, who only hugs him in return.

Merlin: Morgana knows the truth. The druids told her she has magic. Sorry.
Gaius: It's not your fault. You were only doing what you thought was right.
Merlin: We both were. What happens now?
Gaius: You must take care of her. And hope that Uther never discovers the truth about her powers.


  • Leave No Survivors: Uther orders Arthur to slaughter all the Druids.
  • Little Dead Riding Hood: Morgana (almost).
  • Magical Negro: Quite literally with Aglaine.
  • Mindlink Mates: According to Aglaine, Morgana is found because Mordred heard her distress.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: A variation. Arthur warns Merlin to stay away from Morgana, even though he's not aware that she's his sister, and because he's concerned for Merlin's safety if he pays too much attention to her.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Aglaine. It's tragic thinking of What Might Have Been had he lived to become Morgana's mentor.
  • Parental Substitute: Aglaine to Mordred, and even Morgana, temporarily.
  • Playing with Fire: Subverted considering Morgana has no control over her powers, and ends up lighting candles in her sleep.
  • Scary Black Man: Aglain, at least at first, when he approaches Morgana with his hand raised.
  • Scary Scorpions: Giant ones at that, which attack Morgana as she enters the forest.
  • Series Continuity Error: Morgana tells Gaius that he's "the only one" she's told about her precognitive dreams; apparently forgetting that she also told Gwen back in The Gates Of Avalon.
  • Sonic Scream: Mordred
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: When Arthur warns Merlin that he has to get over his feelings for Lady Morgana, there's a light, comedic note on the soundtrack, meant to signifiy that Arthur has completely misinterpreted Merlin's feelings, and that Merlin's attention on Morgana is purely platonic. It doesn't really work considering the writers already established at the start of the show that Merlin is attracted to Morgana, and Colin Morgan and Katie McGrath have incredible chemistry together.
  • Start of Darkness: For Mordred.
  • Witch with a Capital B: The Dragon begins calling Morgana "the Witch" in this episode and will do so for the rest of the series.