The Fires of Idirsholas
In the chamber of an old empty castle, Morgause wanders between the still figures of armoured men, chanting an incantation. With her magic she lights a fire in a brazier in the middle of the room, and around her the knights begin to move.
In the Council Chamber at Camelot the court is listening to the account of a shepherd who insists that he saw smoke rising from the castle of Idirsholas. According to Gaius, legend states that when the fires of Idirsholas burn, the knights of Medhir will ride again. Concerned, Uther sends Arthur and a team of knights out to the castle to investigate.
As he packs for the trip, Merlin questions Gaius about the knights of Medhir and is told that they were once knights of Camelot, seduced by a sorceress and doomed to wreak havoc over the land until the sorceress herself died. If theyíve been awoken, then Gaius is deeply troubled at what it might mean.
Up in her bedroom, Morgana goes to close an open window only to find a small box waiting for her on the windowsill. Inside is a note from Morgause, asking her to meet her outside the city walls.
As Arthur and Merlin head for Idirsholas, Morgana creeps out of Camelot and finds Morgause waiting for her in the forest. Morgana thanks her for the bracelet that allows her to sleep undisturbed, but admits that sheís unhappy. She hates living with Uther, a man that would have her killed if he ever found out the truth about her magic. She recalls the chance she had to have him assassinated, and now regrets not going through with it. Morgause propositions a new possibility to her: a world without Uther Pendragon. Morgana agrees that she will side with Morgause, and with a smile on her face, Morgause casts a spell that causes Morgana to fall into a deep sleep. Morgause circles her with a stick, chanting as she goes, and Morgana begins to glow softly.
The next morning Morgana wakes up slowly, wondering if it was all a dream, only to notice that Gwen is oddly tired as she comes to bid her good morning. Meanwhile, Uther is confined to his bed with a fever as Gaius promises to bring him a tonic. Far away, Arthur, Merlin and the knights arrive in the ruined citadel of Idirsholas, whilst Gwen sits in Gaiusís quarters, looking unwell. As Gaius prepares a remedy for her, he realizes that he too is falling sick.
Arthur and his men enter the central chamber where he investigates the cold ashes in the brazier, commenting that it was probably just travellers passing through. Merlin disagrees: standing in the doorway is the seven knights who waste no time in attacking. The knights of Camelot fight bravely, but are soon lost in battle, and Arthur discovers to his horror that running one through with a sword has no effect on the knights of Medhir whatsoever. Merlin pitches him a replacement sword, and as the two of them are retreating out of the door, whispers a spell that causes the roof to collapse.
Out in the woods Arthur proudly notes that Merlin has received his first battle wound and binds it with a torn shred of his shirt before announcing that they have to warn Camelot.
Back in the Camelot Arthur and Merlin run across a team of guards that are lying still on the ground. Arthur checks them over, realizing that they are not dead, but asleep. Entering the central courtyard they look around in astonishment at the sight of knight and peasant alike strewn upon the ground, all fast asleep. A noise causes them to turn: a horse trots into the courtyard with its cart still attached, the driver fast asleep on the seat. Merlin rushes inside to find Gaius, only to immediately call Arthur after him. People are asleep inside as well, lying still upon the stone staircase.
Arthur immediately thinks of his father, and the two begin a search of the castle. Arthur checks the throne room to find it empty, and Merlin runs into the physicianís chamber to find Gaius fast asleep at his desk. They rush upstairs to the bedrooms, but on passing Morganaís door Arthur notices Guinevere passed out on the floor. Carefully he lifts her to the bed and brushes a curl of hair out of her face before hearing something move behind a curtain in the corner.
Sword drawn, he yanks back the curtain and Morgana tumbles out with a shriek. Arthur asks for an explanation, but all Morgana can manage is that people were complaining of feeling ill and then falling asleep all over the castle. She hid in fear, but has no idea where Uther is. Merlin stops Arthurís barrage of questions and the search for Uther resumes Ė Arthur however, is suspicious that Morgana is the only one awake.
As the knights of Medhir ride out from Idirsholas, Merlin speaks quietly to Morgana in the corridor. He promises her heíll keep quiet about her magic, deducing thatís whatís keeping her immune to the spell. In the distance, they hear Arthurís shout.
Arthur has found Uther in his bedroom, slumped over his writing desk. As with everyone else, heís fast asleep, and Arthur begins to get impatient with Morganaís insistence that she knows nothing about whatís going on. Seeing her panic, Merlin quickly concocts a cover-story for her: that she was one of the last to be infected and that Gaius managed to give her a potion to reverse the effects before the spell took over. Morgana weakly agrees and Arthur buys this explanation, sending Merlin to find this potion while he checks the lower town. Morgana is left to guard Uther with Arthurís sword and as the boys leave she inches closer to Uther and sits down, sword in hand, looking utterly lost.
In the woods outside Camelot the knights of Medhir meet with Morgause, seated on her horse and dressed for battle. They dismount in unison and bow to her.
Back in Gaiusís quarters Merlin is flipping through his book of magic and trying to come up with a spell to revive Gaius. After muttering a spell Gaius sits upright, eyes open, with a smile on his face Ė still fast asleep. After knocking the chair out from under him and dowsing him with water, Merlin hears Arthur call to him.
From up on the battlements Arthur and Merlin look down on the ominous side of the knights of Medhir galloping toward Camelot. The two of them note the extra rider who is leading them, and realize that Camelot Ė and Uther Ė are completely defenceless.
Rejoining Morgana in Utherís room, Arthur tells the others that they need to move him somewhere he wonít be recognised. The three of them clumsily lift him down off the chair and begin to drag him across the floor. Outside, the knights cross the drawbridge.
Merlin hides a smile as Uther give a little snore as his head bumps against some scattered fruit, and Arthur insists that the situation isnít funny. He asks after the potion and Merlin says he didnít find it, casting an uneasy glance at Morgana. In the courtyard, Morgause and the knights dismount and head toward the castle.
In Arthurís room the exhausted trio drop Uther on the floor Ė Merlin helpfully suggests that they give him a couple of pillows, but after nestling them under Utherís head, Merlin and Arthur stagger a little. They realize that the sickness is beginning to take hold of them and Merlin casts a glance at Morgana, who is still fine. But if itís not her magic thatís protecting her, then what is? Merlin suggests that they disguise Uther to keep him hidden (Arthur vetoes the suggestion that they dress him as a woman, but agrees to the servantís clothing) and reassures Morgana as Merlin scampers off to fetch the disguise Ė they wonít let anything happen to Uther.
Seeing a knight stalk through the corridor, Merlin hides in a cupboard until he has passed and then rushes down to the Dragonís cave. Realizing that heís simply faking slumber, Merlin demands his help.
Dragon: *yawn* I don't need to listen to you, Merlin. You always say the same thing: "Help me". And yet you refuse to give anything in return. Now you will face the consequence of that decision. Camelot's end is nigh, and there's nothing you can do about it.
Merlin: I know I promised to free you, and I will!
Merlin: I will! I promise!
Dragon: I no longer trust your promises.
Merlin: I swear on my mother's life!
Dragon: Careful what you say.
Merlin: You have to help me. Please?
Dragon: Her life matters more to you than your own. This is an oath I believe you will honour.
Merlin: I will.
Dragon: It is one thing to cast a spell that puts everyone to sleep. The power to maintain it is a very different matter. It will need more than just words to break this enchantment.
Merlin: What do you mean?
Dragon: You must eradicate the source, Merlin.
Merlin: Great. What is that?
Dragon: Not what, but who. Such spells need a vessel, a constant living presence to give them strength. The source of this pestilence is the witch, the Lady Morgana.
Merlin: Can't be.
Dragon: I have warned you about her in the past, but you have failed to take heed. She is dangerous!
Merlin: *sigh* No.
Dragon: And now she has chosen to turn her back on her own.
Merlin: How do I stop her?
Dragon: That is easy, young warlock. You must kill her.
Merlin is naturally horrified at this, but the Dragon insists that if Merlin does not act, Camelot will fall, and his destiny will not be fulfilled. Back in Gaiusís quarters Merlin fetches the clothes before a strange look comes over his face. On the shelf is a bottle of hemlock; like one in a dream Merlin crosses the room and takes it.
Rushing back down the corridor, Merlin is pulled into a side-corridor by Arthur who looks over the clothes that heís fetched. The two of them here the approach of the knights and peek out to see Morgause leading them through the corridor. At the sight of her, Arthur reaches for his sword, but Merlin restrains him.
Back up in Arthurís room Morgana jumps a little as Merlin returns, telling her that Arthur has gone to find somewhere safe to move Uther. Morgana thanks him for not telling Arthur about her magic, but Merlin canít bring himself to answer. Arthur reappears, insisting that they must move Uther before Morgause arrives, and Merlin notes that Morgana is not at all surprised at the sound of that name.
The three of them drag Uther into a small servant room, and Arthur and Merlin collapse in exhaustion while Morgana goes to the window to gaze out at the enchanted courtyard. Arthur and Merlin comment on how effective the potion Gaius gave her must be, but itís clear that Merlin is thinking much darker thoughts as he watches her. Arthur abandons the ďdress Uther as a servantĒ plan, pointing out that Morgause can easily identify him, and states that they need to get him out of the city. Merlin recalls the cart in the square outside, and Arthur commends him on his quick thinking.
Merlin heads out into the corridor to look and is immediately attacked by a knight. He uses magic to throw it against the wall and returns to the others, telling them that thereís no way they can make it out to the courtyard carrying Uther. In his absence, Arthur and Morgana have made a rudimentary stretcher out of the curtains, allowing them to drag Uther around.
They hear the approach of a knight and the three of them hide as it enters the room. Arthur attacks, and as he finds it off, he shouts for the others to get Uther to safety. The two of them are pulling him down a corridor when another knight appears and advances with its sword raised. Morgana trips and falls directly in his path, and screams to Merlin for help. With the knight approaching, Merlin makes a split-second decision and continues to run with Uther. Morgana screams as the knight raises its sword, only for it to stop mid-strike and stare at her intently. Then it turns away and heads after Merlin. Merlin is just about to use magic on it when Arthur jumps in and fights it off. He kicks it down a spiral staircase and the three of them Ė plus Uther Ė escape into the Council Chamber.
Merlin and Arthur bar the door, and Arthur turns to Morgana, demanding to know where to find the potion that Gaius gave her. She cries ignorance, but Merlin points out that it makes no difference now Ė theyíre trapped. As Arthur is distracted, Merlin asks Morgana why the knight didnít kill her. She comes up with the flimsy lie that it was because sheís a woman, and Merlinís fears are confirmed. He tells Arthur that the only way out is to destroy the source of the magic, but since he canít bring himself to tell Arthur what that is, he agrees with the plan to get themselves out of Camelot. From the window they can see the cart, and Arthur instructs Merlin and Morgana to cut the curtain into a rope that they can lower Uther from the window with. He prepares to leave, telling them that heís going to fight his way to the courtyard and bring the cart over to the window. Morgana tries to tell him something, but he interrupts her. Itís a suicidal plan, but Arthur can see no other option.
As he and Merlin stand before the barred doors, they begin to drift off to sleep, roused only when Merlin slaps Arthur across the face. Arthur takes a water flask that Merlin has with him and pours it over his face. As they unbar the door, they say their goodbyes.
Arthur: If I need a servant in the next life...
Merlin: Don't ask me!
Arthur laughs, braces himself, and then rushes through the doors. Merlin bars it behind them, hearing the sounds of combat. As he returns to Morgana, busy tearing up the curtains, she points out that heís not going to survive out there. Merlin agrees. With his back to her, Merlin pours the hemlock into the water flask and then turns, offering it to Morgana.
With a little bit of coaxing, Morgana takes the flask and has a drink. Merlin turns away in horror, wiping his eyes. Behind him, Morgana begins to cough and puts her hand to her throat. As Merlin turns to face her, she glances down at the flask and then up at Merlin in horror, realizing what heís done. Merlin kneels down beside her, reaching out. She bats his hands away, but as the poison begins to take effect she lets him hold her and clutches his arm as she struggles for breath.
Outside Morgause watches the knights battle answer, but a strange look comes over her face. As Morgana gasps for air, Morgause clutches her own throat and then races toward the doors of the Council Chamber. With magic, the doors are thrown open and Morgause rushes to Morgana, pushing Merlin aside.
Morgause: What has he done to you?
Merlin: I had to.
Morgause: You poisoned her!
Merlin: You gave me no choice.
Morgause: Tell me what you used and I can save her.
Merlin: First, stop the attack!
Morgause: You're nothing but a simple servant! You don't tell me what to do!
Merlin: If you want to know what poison it is, you will undo the magic that drives the knights!
Morgause: Tell me the poison or you'll die!
Merlin: Then she'll die with me. I don't want this any more than you, but you give me no choice. Stop the knights and you can save her.
Morgause makes her decision and mutters an incantation under her breath. Outside, the knights collapse lifelessly to the ground and Arthur blinks in astonishment. With a group of knights newly awakened, Arthur bursts through the doorway to see Morgause cradling Morgana and Uther gradually waking up behind the throne. Merlin insists that Uther is safe, and with another incantation, Morgause and Morgana disappear into a magical whirl of smoke.
Sometime later, Uther is in Morganaís chamber, sadly looking over her jewellery. Arthur approaches him to tell him that thereís no sign of Morgana anywhere. Uther vows that Morgause will not be allowed to get away with her kidnapping.
Uther: Arthur. I haven't had a chance to say thank you.
Arthur: I failed, Father. I should have protected Morgana.
Uther: No. That was my duty. Her loss will forever be on my conscience, not yours.
Over dinner in Gaiusís quarters, Gaius tries to tell Merlin that he did the right thing, but Merlin is unconvinced. Gaius suggests that Morgana made her decision, and that it was to use her gifts for ill. Barely listening, Merlin stands and tells Gaius that he has something to doÖ
The Dragon (voiceover): You must steal a sword from the Knights of Medhir. Their blades were forged by the Old Religion. If you harness its power to your own, you will have the strength to break the chains with which Uther Pendragon keeps me prisoner.
In the Dragonís cave Merlin demands a promise from the Dragon that he will hurt no one once heís released. The Dragon replies that there have been enough bargains. Looking as though he knows this is a really bad idea, Merlin raises the sword and with an incantation, breaks the Dragonís chains. With a roar, he raises both his wings and flies up toward freedomÖ
- Beautiful Dreamer: Guinevere. You get the feeling Arthur would have stood there staring at her sleep for a while longer.
- Breaking the Fellowship: It had been on the rocks for a while, but this is the definitive end of the Four-Temperament Ensemble.
- Cradling Your Kill: Merlin does this as Morgana is dying from the poison he fed her
- Comforting Comforter: A variation. Arthur lifts the sleeping Guinevere from the floor and places her on a bed.
- Deep Sleep: Morgause's spell puts all of Camelot into a Deep Sleep.
- Downer Ending
- Devil in Plain Sight: Morgana is the source of the sleeping sickness.
- The Faceless: The Knights of Medhir.
- Fridge Horror: Well "horror" is too strong a word, but the fact that has to Arthur lift Guinevere onto a bed during the sleeping spell means that Morgana rather callously left her best friend on the cold ground while she hid herself.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Merlin says as much to Morgause after he poisons Morgana.
- I Gave My Word: Why Merlin releases the Dragon.
- Kill the Ones You Love: To save Arthur and the rest of Camelot, Merlin must poison Morgana.
- Not a Game: Merlin can't help but chuckle when Uther starts snoring during his lengthy drag around the castle, causing Arthur to say: "it is not funny, Merlin!"
- Not Quite The Right Thing: Merlin decision to poison Morgana. He was exhausted, out of options, and had been told to do so by the dragon, but the act has far-reaching consequences.
- Poison and Cure Gambit: Merlin turns Morgana's poisoning into this when Morgause bursts into the room, offering to tell her the poison if she removes the spell over Camelot.
- Poison Is Evil: Inverted as it's the hero that uses it.
- Real Men Get Shot: Arthur is almost delighted by the fact that Merlin has sustained his "first battle wound!"
- Rule of Seven: There are seven knights of Medhir. A Discussed Trope considering Merlin and Arthur watch the knights approaching from the battlements and comment that there's a mysterious extra rider (Morgause).
- Sadistic Choice: For Merlin — Camelot, or Morgana?
- Tampering with Food and Drink: Merlin slips hemlock into a water flask to give to Morgana.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Merlin knows exactly what will happen if the Dragon gets free (having seen a vision of him destroying Camelot one episode ago), but he's forced to honor his promise.
- The Voiceless: The Knights of Medhir.
- Was Once a Man: The Knights of Medhir.
- Wham Episode: As Katie McGrath says on the DVD Commentary, this is the end of good Morgana.