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Recap: Merlin S 03 E 12 The Coming Of Arthur Part I

The Coming of Arthur Part I

In a forest clearing, a group of Camelot knights lies dead. Among them is Sir Leon, battered and bloody.

Back in Camelot, Arthur hands over a torn and filthy red cloak with the Pendragon insignia to Uther. According to him, King Cenred's men were responsible for the massacre, believing that they were trespassing on Cenred's land. Every last man is dead, including Sir Leon.

Out in the forest, a group of Druids move among the dead, checking over the bodies. Among them is a familiar face, who hurries to join one of his fellows as he discovers that Sir Leon is still alive. Iseldir orders the others to take Leon back to the Druids' encampment. Inside a cave lit with candles, Iseldir leads the Druids in a chant as they tend to Leon, gently tipping water from a silvery cup into his mouth. Leon drinks, and the injuries on his face vanish.

Back again in Camelot, Leon's return has been welcomed by Arthur and the court. Everyone is all-smiles until Leon reveals that it was the Druids who found him. Leon tries to defer Uther's questioning on whether or not he was cured by magic, stating that he drank from some sort of cup. From opposite sides of the room, Merlin and Morgana listen intently.

In his room, Leon is looked over by Gaius and given the all clear. Out in the corridor Merlin listens in on a conversation between Uther and Gaius. Leon is deemed to be in perfect health, and Gaius identifies the cup he spoke of as the Cup of Life. He assures Uther that the Druids would only ever use it for peaceful purposes, but Uther is worried about the fact that the Druid's cave lies in Cenred's kingdom. He wants to get to the cup before Cenred does.

Over dinner, Merlin tells Gaius that he thought the Cup of Life was destroyed along with Nimueh on the Isle of the Blessed.

Gaius: The cup cannot be destroyed. Its magic is eternal, unbound by time or place.
Merlin: But why does Uther fear it so much?
Gaius: Because the cup can be used for evil as well as good.
Merlin: I don't understand.
Gaius: Many centuries ago, it fell into the possession of a great warlord. One night, he gathered his army before him. He took a drop of blood from each and every man and collected it in the cup. Such was the vessel's power that the soldiers were made immortal where they stood.
Gaius: The carnage they wrought was beyond all imagining. The king's no fool. He knows the forces of the Old Religion are rising against him once more. Heaven forbid that the cup should fall into the hands of Morgause.
Merlin: Or Morgana.

Arthur is called to a meeting by his father, who tells him that they cannot risk Cenred getting his hands on the Cup of Life. Arthur is ordered to retrieve it in secret - not even taking any of his men. He must go alone so as not to attract attention, and it must be him as Uther trusts no one else. From within an alcove, Morgana listens intently.

Arthur and Merlin get ready for the expedition, with Arthur refusing to tell Merlin where they're going, much to his frustration. They are however, going undercover, so they can't take anything bearing the crest of Camelot.

In the vaults of the castle Morgana smiles and turns, sensing the presence of her sister. Morgause steps out of the shadows and the two women embrace. Quickly Morgana fills Morgause in on the re-emergence of the Cup of Life and Arthur's mission to retrieve it. Morgause is delighted at this news, and claims that she will go to Cenred to enlist his help in getting to the Druids before Arthur.

By morning, Morgana watches Arthur and Merlin gallop out from the courtyard.

Arthur and Merlin ride their horses through a forested area, unknowingly watched by Cenred's cloaked and hooded spies. They head back to Cenred's castle to inform Cenred and Morgause that the prince is heading toward the Forest of Ascetir. Cenred orders that scouts in that area be prepared for his coming. Cenred reassures her as to the reliability of his men and their eventually possession of the cup. Morgause reminds him that Morgana is to claim the throne, not him.

Cenred: I make no claim upon the throne. Only the spoils of victory.
Morgause: You will get what you deserve, Cenred. I can assure you of that.

By this stage Merlin has guessed that they're going to Cenred's kingdom and is complaining about his chances for survival. In the midst of their bickering, a scout shoots a blow-dart into Arthur's neck. He collapses off his horse, followed swiftly by Merlin.

Merlin awakens on the floor of a large stone prison, looking up to see Arthur and a group of men staring down at him. Arthur helps him to his feet, and the two discover that Gwaine is among the prisoners.

Arthur: What are you doing here?
Gwaine: You know, wrong place, wrong time, wrong drink.

Gwaine tells them that they're in the dungeons of an old castle belonging to a slave-trader called Jarl. They barely have time to react to this news when a door somewhere above them opens and a man steps out onto a partition that overlooks the dungeon. Jarl announces that one of them will face his champion in the arena, and singles out Merlin. Arthur is quick to manage the situation, volunteering himself instead, despite Gwaine's protests. Jarl accepts his offer - at which point Gwaine identifies himself as the champion.

Back in Cenred's castle, Morgause is scolding Cenred for letting Arthur slip through his fingers. Cenred argues that the slave-traders took him before his scouts had a chance, but that he can contact Jarl and retrieve Arthur from him.

Arthur and Gwaine are pushed into a small arena in the castle, surrounded by the jeers and shouting of Jarl's men. Merlin is held off to one side, seemingly helpless. They give each other a side-long glance as Jarl throws two swords at their feet and explains the rules: one of them has to kill the other in combat, or Jarl will kill them both. The men reluctantly pick up the swords, at which point Gwaine suddenly attacks Arthur. They clash back and forth, knocking into the spectators and trying to keep their balance.

Arthur: Take it easy, will you?
Gwaine: It's got to look real, hasn't it?

They end up on the ground, locked in a stalemate with their swords lost and their hands in each other's faces.

Arthur: So far so good.
Gwaine: What happens next?
Arthur: Er...there was no next.

Having had enough, Merlin whispers a spell to cause a torch to flare up and catch fire on the nets that overhang the room. Using this as a distraction, Arthur and Gwaine crawl across the floor to where Merlin has evaded capture and the three of them make a run for it out to the surrounding forest. There Gwaine guesses that the two of them are on some sort of quest, and Merlin reveals that they're trying to find the Cup of Life. Gwaine offers his help, and Arthur grudgingly accepts.

Back in the castle, Jarl is furious at their escape. One of the men comes forward with a bag that was confiscated from Merlin, one that contains a letter with the seal of Camelot upon it. Jarl realizes that the prisoner was Prince Arthur.

As the Power Trio wander through the forest, Arthur and Gwaine are bickering over who won their fight, until Merlin abruptly points out that neither of them won, and if it wasn't for that "fortunate" fire, they'd all be dead. Silenced, the two carry on after Merlin.

Jarl stands before Cenred and Morgause, handing over the letter that proves Arthur's identity. He tells them that they were heading on foot toward the Forest of Gedney. Cenred glances slyly up at Morgause, and when Jarl asks for a reward, Morgause's eyes glow gold and she kills him by telekinetically throwing him backwards against a stone wall.

In the forest, the Power Trio nervously approach the moss-covered mouth of a cave. Inside they find the place empty, despite all the lit candles. Arthur hears a noise and the sway of an overhanging table cloth. He lunges down and pulls out a frightened-looking boy. Despite Merlin's warnings, he shakes him slightly, demanding to know where the cup is. Iseldir steps out from the shadows, along with the rest of the Druids. Arthur draws his sword and holds the boy hostage, offering to exchange him for the cup. Iseldir willingly holds out the cup and asks for the boy.

Arthur steps forward, his hand on the boy's shoulder, letting him go when he's close enough to grab the cup. Iseldir does not immediately let go.

Iseldir: You meddle with a power you do not understand, Arthur Pendragon. By taking the Cup of Life, you risk more than you know.

Arthur pulls it out of his hand and backtracks toward the entrance. As Merlin turns, he hears the name "Emrys" in his mind. Iseldir speaks with his telepathically, telling him that the cup is his responsibility now.

As the Trio head back through the forest, Arthur assures the other two that they did a great deed. Now the cup will be safe in Camelot's vaults, even though Merlin thinks it was safe enough with the Druids - and they still have to get the cup back to Camelot. Sure enough, Cenred and his men are waiting in the trees. They are nearing the border of Cenred's land when Arthur realizes that the forest is abnormally quiet. Out from the trees appear Cenred's men, and the trio split up as they make a dash for it. One of the soldier's successfully shoots Arthur in the leg and pulls the cup out of his bag. Seeing him brandish it, Merlin throws him backwards through the air. The cup goes flying, and Merlin loses it down a steep incline where more of Cenred's men are waiting to catch it. It begins to rain as Merlin decides to let the cup go and answer Gwaine's calls for help.

By night, Merlin and Gwaine tend to Arthur who has not only been shot, but poisoned by the arrow's tip. As he tries to make Arthur more comfortable, Merlin explains to Gwaine that the cup is highly dangerous in the wrong hands.

In the courtyard of Cenred's castle, Morgause and Cenred stand before Cenred's army. In Morgause's hands is the Cup of Life, and the two of them look over the lines of soldiers as Cenred addresses them.

Cenred: Loyal friends, our time is at hand. From today, no sword will fell you. No sword will stop you short. Your blood will not be spilled in vain, but in victory! You march with the mightiest weapon of them all. Immortality!

Morgause begins to chant over the Cup, raising it up over the legions gathered before her. She sets it down on a stone pillar, and the first of the soldiers steps forward. Morgause cuts his finger, and his blood drips into the cup.

In Camelot's throne room, Uther frets over Arthur's prolonged absence. Leon tries to reassure him, but it is only Morgana who can quietly comfort him. Uther sends Leon out with a patrol out to find Arthur, and fondly touches Morgana's hair before leaving.

Merlin and Gwaine watch over Arthur by a smouldering campfire as Arthur shivers on the ground. Merlin asks Gwaine to fetch some more firewood, and as soon as he's gone he tries to use magic to heal Arthur. It doesn't seem to work.

Cenred and Morgause watch the army march out of the castle towards Camelot, and Morgause tells him that they are no longer his men - they are bound to her, she who made them immortal. Cenred scoffs a little and warns her not to cross him. Without further ado, Morgause orders one of his men to kill Cenred. He stabs him in the stomach, but the soldier is completely unharmed. Despite his begging, Morgause does not desist and Cenred is duly taken care of.

Led by Sir Leon, the Camelot patrol watches in horror at the massive army that approaches Camelot. They make a run for it but are waylaid by soldiers on horseback. Slow Motion ensues as the Camelot soldiers are swiftly slaughtered. Leon manages to get an opponent out of the saddle, but on stabbing him with his sword, realizes that his weapons do no good. He makes a run for it.

Arthur wakes up the following morning wakes up, apparently cured of the poisoning but still suffering from a bad leg, to find that the cup is gone. Gwaine and Merlin help him to his feet, and he insists that they all return to Camelot.

In the throne room, Leon is informing Uther of the army that marches upon Camelot, and that they could not be killed by any weapons. Morgana listens casually from her chair by the throne. Uther loses his cool a little, and shouts that Leon prepare any defenses that he can. Morgana smiles to herself as Uther turns to Gaius.

Uther: It's Cenred. It must be. How? The location of the cup was secret.
Gaius: There's only one explanation, sire. We have a traitor in our midst.

The knights of Camelot hand weapons to each other from the storeroom. Out in the courtyard, they gather in formation. Inside, they sharpen their swords and prepare their crossbows. Leon looks grim, knowing what's coming. From a window, Gwen watches as Cenred's army gather outside the city walls. Morgana enters the room and smiles at the sight of her handmaiden.

Morgana: Gwen?
Gwen: Is it true they attack at dawn?
Morgana: I'm afraid so.
Gwen: And no word from Arthur?
Morgana: Nothing.
Gwen: Then all is lost. We will be massacred, every last one of us.
Morgana: Not everyone has to die.
Gwen: What do you mean, not everyone?
Morgana: Those that defy them, those that choose to fight, they will surely die. But those who do not resist - those that choose to welcome change...they will have a future here. Everyone has a choice, Gwen.
Gwen's face gradually changes as she realizes what Morgana is saying. She manages a smile.
Gwen: You know I have always been loyal to you Morgana. And I always will be.
Morgana: Then have no fear. No harm will come to you, I can promise you that.

Morgana embraces her, though Gwen looks distinctly uncomfortable.

By day, the Power Trio come across a burning village and Arthur urges them to hurry. Soon enough they come to the slaughtered Camelot patrol, and Merlin points out that there's not a single enemy body. They realize that Morgause has succeeded in making her immortal army. Reaching the top of the next ridge, they look out over the view of Camelot to see that the citadel is burning. As evening falls they reach the outlying villages, strewn with dead bodies and with several fires still burning. The inner city is equally devastated, but the three of them make their way to Gwen's house, where Arthur has trouble knocking down the door. Gwaine does it for him and they burst inside with their swords drawn.

Arthur is looking around when a figure jumps out of the shadows and attacks him. They quickly ascertain that it's Elyan, and Merlin shuts the door behind them. Though clearly shaken, Elyan informs them that a mighty army attacked the city and slaughtered everything that stood in their path. Arthur asks after Guinevere, and Elyan grimly tells him that she was in the citadel - and that the citadel has been taken over.

Clearly struggling, Arthur leads his growing team through the city and into a secret passage to the castle. They dodge the immortal soldiers in the corridors, all filled with dead Camelot knights, but Arthur seems near to collapse. Merlin takes charge, ordering Gwaine and Elyan to check the dungeon in search of Uther, and then helping Arthur to the physician's quarters.

As he checks over several possible remedies, Merlin hears a quiet crash in a store cupboard. Brandishing his sword he pulls the door open to find Gaius hiding there. The two embrace and Gaius looks over Arthur's injured leg. He tells him that the leg is infected, but Arthur insists on a potion that'll keep him going for a bit longer.

Meanwhile, Gwaine and Elyan watch as Uther is dragged from the dungeons, helpfully identifying himself as the King as he goes.

Uther: Where are you taking me? I am the King! I demand to know!

Merlin retrieves his magic book from beneath his bed, and then the vial of Avalon water given to him by the Fisher King. Arthur downs the potion that Gaius gives him just as Elyan and Gwaine enter to tell him where the King is.

Arthur: I won't leave my father here to die alone. Gwaine, Elyan, take Gaius and make you way to the woods beyond the castle. I hope we meet again. Merlin, you should go with them.
Merlin: Nah, I've seen the woods already.

The group splits up, and Arthur and Merlin make for the throne room. They hide behind a pillar as immortal guards go by, and find hiding place on a balcony overlooking the throne room. Uther is dragged between two lines of soldiers and forced to kneel at the foot of the throne where Morgause stands. Geoffrey of Monmouth and Guinevere stand beside her on the dais.

Morgause: Well, Uther. How the mighty have fallen. I don't think you'll be needing this anymore.
She takes the crown from his head.
Uther: This is unlawful. You cannot do this. You have no right to the throne!

Morgana chooses this moment to step out from behind the throne and identify herself as Uther's daughter. Arthur and Uther are both dumbfounded as she takes a seat on the throne. Morgause nods to Geoffrey and he is pushed forward to reluctantly crown Morgana Pendragon the new Queen of Camelot, placing the crown on her head as Uther is shoved down further before her. The episode ends on Morgana's Psychotic Smirk (at least she doesn't have to hide it anymore).

Tropes


Merlin S 03 E 11 The Sorcerers ShadowRecap/MerlinMerlin S 03 E 13 The Coming Of Arthur Part II

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