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Recap / Merlin S 04 E 04 Aithusa

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Aithusa

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In a large, dark cave lit with candles and full of sleeping Druids, a rope is lowered from a higher area, and a man lowers himself down. He looks around at the sleeping crowd, and uses his dagger to pry open a chest. He retrieves a smaller box and pulls out a spiral-shaped gold artifact with carvings on its surface. He draws a matching artifact out of his pocket and the two halves magically fuse together. He turns around to see all of the Druids standing there, watching him in silence.

He makes a run for it, but as he sprints through the forest, he sees the Druids have already gathered around him, standing silently in the trees. He veers left and stops short near a cliff. The Druids gather around him, and he punches one in the face, taking him hostage with his dagger.

A familiar face from the Druids steps forward and tells him that the artifact isn’t worth anyone’s life. He exposits that the Triskelion is worthless without its third and final part, but the thief tells him that he already knows where it is. He shoves the hostage back and takes a flying leap over the cliff, using his dagger to climb up the other side.

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The next we see of him, he’s approaching Camelot on a beautiful sunny day. Which is a bit odd since he reaches Camelot by nightfall in the middle of a thunderstorm to knock on Gaius’s door. Merlin is asleep in bed, but the voices wake him up and he creeps to the door to hear Gaius talking with the stranger. He reveals the Triskelion of Askanar and translates the runes, telling Gaius that they guide the bearer to the Tomb of Askanar. The legend says that Askanar hid a dragon’s egg there, but Gaius points out that he’s still missing a part of the Triskelion. But it’s here, in the castle vaults.

Gaius refuses to help, telling him that the Old Religion should die. The man tells him that he’ll be waiting in the tavern in case he changes his mind. As soon as he’s gone, Merlin comes out of his room and asks to know why Gaius won’t help him. Gaius tells him that the man is Julius Borden, an old pupil of his who parted with him on bad terms, and who isn’t to be trusted.

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However, Merlin is excited about the thought of a new dragon, even though Gaius insists that the egg is safely hidden away in the tomb, and out of Borden’s hands.

But while Gaius is still asleep, Merlin creeps out of the castle and into the forest to have a conversation with Kilgarrah. The Dragon is also excited about the prospect of not being The Last of His Kind and asks Merlin to retrieve the egg. Merlin is a little hesitant considering that Gaius has forbidden it, but the Dragon reminds him that he’s a Dragonlord and that his father would want him to find the egg. Merlin promises.

He goes to the Rising Sun tavern and up to Borden’s room, where he’s grabbed and pressed up against the wall with a dagger to his throat. Merlin introduces himself as Gaius’s pupil, but Borden still tries to push him out until Merlin tells him that he has access to the keys to the vault.

Merlin sneaks into Arthur’s room when he’s sleeping and begins to search through the keys hanging beside his bed. Arthur wakes up, and Merlin tries to cover by pretending to search for woodworm. Merlin spots the key on Arthur’s belt and gathers up clothes that need to be washed, only for Arthur to ask for his belt back just as he’s leaving. Later in the council chamber, Arthur is discussing political matters with Agravaine and the rest of the council when Merlin decides to retrieve the key by magically yanking down Arthur’s trousers and tackling him to the ground in the attempt to help him get them back up again, whilst pick-pocketing the key from his belt.

So, having fulfilled their weekly quota of slash-bait, the writers get back to the story. By night, Merlin lets Borden in through a side-door in the castle, and the two of them hurry down to the vaults. Merlin gives Borden the key and tells him he’ll have to get past the guards.

In the vaults, two guards are playing dice. Borden pulls out a coin and throws it onto the ground. When the guards investigate, Borden manages to knock them out (despite their helmets) and unlocks the vault. He sees a small casket and opens it up to find the last piece of the Triskelion.

Merlin and Borden exit through the side-door and press themselves up against the wall as guards walk across the parapet above them. Borden gives him back the key and asks him if he’s a good liar. When Merlin answers in the affirmative, Borden knocks him out and runs away.

By morning Merlin wakes up to find himself in the compromised position of lying in the doorway of the side-door, the key beside him. He grabs it and takes it back up to Arthur’s room. Having returned it to the belt, he carefully places it on the side-table, but accidentally flicks a goblet as he turns around. It goes flying over the bed and Merlin dives after it, using magic to levitate it before it hits the floor. Unfortunately, Arthur has already woken up, and Merlin has to pretend to use the goblet to listen for woodworms in the headboard.

Arthur: What the hell is that?

Don't worry, it’s just the warning bells, which tend to ring every time someone so much as stubs their toe in this place. Down in the vaults, Arthur realizes what’s gone missing, and a suspicious-looking Gaius fills him in on the dragon's egg. Agravaine tells him that dragon eggs can survive for thousands of years before hatching, and Arthur decides to ride out with the knights and destroy the egg before Borden reaches it.

Down in the physician’s quarters, Gaius is furious. Merlin doesn’t apologise, but tells him that they have to hope Borden reaches the egg first. To Gaius, this is even worse news.

Merlin, Arthur and the knights head out of Camelot, following the hoof-prints of Borden’s horse. Merlin notices a campfire in the distance. The campsite is deserted by the time they reach it, and it’s getting too dark to continue.

Around their own campfire, Merlin serves the knights a stew and is about to eat for himself when Arthur tells him to feed the horses. Separated from the others, Merlin hears the name “Emrys” whispered on the wind. On returning, the knights line up to return their bowls, and it would seem that they’ve eaten everything…but Sir Leon is hiding an extra bowl behind his back.

While the others sleep, Merlin once again hears the name “Emrys”. He leaves the others and follows the sound into the woods until he finds the Druids waiting for him. Iseldir lowers his hood and tells him that Borden has gone east. According to him, Askanar was a cautious man and that the Triskelion is not just a key, but a trap.The following morning, the knights approach another campfire but realize that Borden is already gone. Merlin tells them irritably that Borden has gone east, and Elyan realizes that he’s right when he discovers tracks leading in that direction.

The knights appear to come across a dead end by a river, and though Merlin suggests checking the cave ahead, Arthur is about to turn back. However, Percival notices a conveniently clear and perfectly shaped footprint in the mud between the rocks. The knights move through the cave and through the waterfall at the other end, away from the riverbank and up to a hillside where a large tower stands before them.

They are moving through a shadow-filled gorge when an arrow shoots out and hits Percival in the leg. The others press themselves against the cliff-walls and try to find where Borden is firing from. Arthur draws his fire as Leon pulls Percival to safety, and Merlin telekinetically throws Borden’s crossbow up into the air as Arthur goes after him. They’ve lost him again, and Arthur decides to make camp for the night.

While the knights tend to their weapons, Merlin prepares dinner. While he’s not looking, Borden sling-shots a satchel of something into the stew-pot. Merlin is about to help himself, but Arthur and the knights get there first, and Merlin is sent to search for firewood while they eat.

Merlin returns to find them all asleep, and finds nothing left in the cooking pot but the satchel. It appears to have given Arthur and the knights asthma of some kind, as they’re all breathing hoarsely. Merlin heals with magic and takes off after Borden by himself.

He follows him into the tomb, just in time to see him fit the Triskelion into a lock and turn it. It opens a small wooden door that probably could have been kicked down long before this, but a cloud of gas pours out of a gargoyle’s head and knocks Borden unconscious. Merlin puts his jacket over his mouth and uses magic to dissipate the smoke.

He passes Borden and enters the large tomb with a flaming torch. In the middle of the room, the dragon’s egg sits on a plinth. He puts the torch on the floor, but as he reaches out, Borden appears behind him, offering him a half-share if he gives the egg over to him. Merlin refuses, stating that dragons must live in freedom. Borden begins to threaten him with the torch, pushing Merlin backwards onto the floor, and Merlin reveals himself as the last Dragonlord and telekinetically throws Borden against the wall.

Reverentially he takes the egg, but its removal triggers a trap mechanism in the ceiling. The entire temple begins to fall as Merlin makes a run for it. He rushes outside and hides the egg in his knapsack just as Arthur and the knights appear, watching the entire tomb collapse. Merlin tells him that both Borden and the egg perished inside.

Back in Camelot, Merlin shows the egg to Gaius, though Gaius is still not impressed with Merlin’s actions.

Merlin takes the egg to Kilgarrah out in the forest and places it on a tree stump. Kilgarrah tells him that the egg is still alive, but that only Dragonlords can call dragons into the world by giving them a name. Merlin closes his eyes and whispers: “Aithusa.” Before their eyes, a white baby dragon hatches from the egg. Kilgarrah says this is a good omen; not only are white dragons rare, but Merlin has named it after the light of the sun.

Kilgarrah: A white dragon bodes well for Albion. For you and Arthur, and for the land that you will build together.

Merlin has tears in his eyes as the baby dragon spreads its wings in front of him.

Tropes

  • Absentee Actor: Katie McGrath and Angel Coulby sit this one out.
  • Ancient Tomb: The Tomb of Askanar
  • Badass Boast: Merlin
    I am the last Dragon Lord. And I am warning you - leave this egg alone.
  • Cave Behind the Falls: Sort of; it's really more like a passageway.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Aithusa
  • Collapsing Lair: The Tomb of Askanar
  • Cringe Comedy: Merlin decides that the best time to get the key hanging from Arthur's belt is during an important council session in front of dozens of others. He achieves his objective by magically yanking Arthur's pants down and tackling him to the floor — still in front of dozens of others.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Admit it. The minute Aithusa hatched, you melted into a gibbering pile of goo!
  • Egg MacGuffin
  • Fanservice: We've got most of a round table to appreciate now.
  • In the Hood: The Druids
  • Left for Dead: Bordin
  • Moral Dissonance: There is an odd moment when Merlin sneaks Borden into Camelot's vaults in order to steal the third part of the treskelion in which Merlin warns him that there are guards down there. In response, Borden shows him a knife and Merlin leaves without another word. So...Merlin was apparently fine about the implication that Borden was going to slit the guards' throats?
  • Papa Wolf: Merlin is pretty darn protective of the dragon egg!
  • Recycled Set: Or rather, Recycled Location. The cave that Arthur and the knights enter on their way to Askanar's tomb is the same one used as Balinor's secret home in The Last Dragonlord. This caused some confusion among the audience considering both featured in dragon-centric episodes, but were meant to be entirely unrelated places.
    • There's a deleted scene where Merlin mentions to Arthur that this was the last place he saw his father, so yes, this was deliberate. However, as the writers must have realized, Arthur might have remembered it was the last place they saw Balinor, and connected the dots. So they removed all references from the episode so Arthur wouldn't catch on.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The titular Aithusa.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: In myths, the white dragon was actually symbolic of the Saxons and the red dragon represented Arthur Pendragon and Camelot. So a white dragon wasn't really that good of a sign for Arthur and his kingdom!
    • Actually, that turns out to have been intentional Foreshadowing.
  • There Is Another: Kilgarrah is no longer the Last of His Kind.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Merlin may have permanently turned Arthur against magic last episode. But now he's actually continued the race of dragons, and, according to the Great Dragon, the birth of a white dragon is an omen of good fortune.
    • Although it turns right back to Yank the Dog's Chain in the series finale. Seriously, can't the guy have more than one thing go right for him?
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