MERLIN CLUB: THE SINS OF THE FATHER
Or the Time Arthur Learns Some of the Truth But Then It's Buried in LIES Again!
In Camelot, a group of men are being knighted and Uther is talking about his favorite subject—the knight’s code. A figure in armor enters Camelot, killing guards and entering the Great Hall. A gauntlet is thrown down in challenge and Arthur accepts. He asks to know who his is fighting against. Once the helmet is removed, we see it’s the sorceress; she says her name is Morgause.
Uther brings in our favorite Guess Who librarian, Geoffrey of Monmouth to check the rules of challenges, I guess. But poor Geoffrey cannot come through for our king this time. There are no rules preventing a woman from issuing a challenge, and by the knight’s code, Arthur has to fight. Uther warns him not to underestimate her because she’s a woman.
Later that evening, Arthur sends Merlin to ask Morgause to withdraw, since he doesn’t want to kill a woman, but she refuses. So Arthur is stuck, because he can’t withdrawal without looking like a coward.
The duel happens. Arthur manages to wound Morgause’s arm but she eventually wins. On the ground, with her blade to his throat, she offers to spare his life if he agrees to meet her outside of Camelot in three days and accept whatever challenge she gives him. He accepts.
After, Gaius is treating Morgause’s wound and he recognizes the bracelet she wears. When he asks her, she says she’s only been to Camelot once, when she was a baby, so he wouldn’t remember her. She thanks him and leaves.
Morgana goes to Morgause’s chambers and introduces herself. Morgause notes that Morgana seems tired. Morgana says she has trouble sleeping, then asks if they had ever met. Morgause says no and asks Morgana to remember her fondly. She offers her her bracelet as a gift, saying it has healing powers and will help her sleep. Morgana refuses. That night, Morgause is Morgana’s chambers as the other woman sleeps and leaves the bracelet by the bed, casting a spell.
When Morgana wakes the next day, she has slept better and later than she has in a long time, and notices the bracelet.
As Morgause prepares to leave Camelot, she reminds Arthur of his promise and tells him he’s a man of honor. A trait he clearly inherited from his mother. Arthur asks if Morgause knew her, and she confirms this but rides away before he can question her further.
When Arthur tells Uther of his promise and plan to meet Morgause, Uther flips his shit. Obviously, Morgause is a sorceress and is luring him into a trap. And that was probably why she won in the duel. Now, in this instance Uther is right—she’s a sorceress—but he has no reason to think this. No evidence. But it’s his fall back…SORCERY. He’s obviously just worried his secrets are going to be revealed. Arthur argues that he’s honor bound to meet her. Uther, though, is having none of that. Screw the precious knight’s code now. He confines Arthur to his chambers.
Merlin helps Arthur escape so he can be all honorable and shit…and find out something about his mama. The next morning, Gaius finds Merlin missing and quickly figures out what is going on. Uther is pissed off and sends search parties after Arthur.
When the physician goes to give Morgana her sleeping draught, she tells him that she doesn’t need it thanks to Morgause’s bracelet. He goes right to Uther, informs him that the bracelet hast the emblem of the House of Gorlois. The only reason Morgause would have it is she is Morgan’s half-sister. Uther says he was told the child died, and Gauis confesses that he got her out of Camelot as a baby and gave her to the High Priestess of the Old Religion. He never spoke of it because he made an oath, and only breaks that know because he fears her intentions—and she would have been trained in very powerful magic. Uther says Morgana can never learn Morgana has a half sister; he won’t have her loyalties divided.
On their journey, Arthur tells Merlin he knows nothing of his mother, that she died right after he was born and Uther never speaks of her. Merlin shares that he never knew his father and they bond and stuff.
They eventually come to a lake—guided by Arthur’s horse which has been enchanted by Morgause. The horse takes Arthur into the lake. They boys cross and enter a cave. Once out of the cave, they see the ruins of a castle. Once inside, they find Morgause who tells him to put his head on an executioner’s block. Even though Merlin protests, Arthur does it.
Luckily, he doesn’t lose his head. Morgause was testing him. She offers him a reward and he requests information on his mother. Merlin protests again, but Arthur says she hasn’t harmed them so far and perhaps his father’s belief that all magic is evil is wrong.
Morgause magically brings forth Ygraine and Arthur is able to talk to his mother. He speaks of how sorry he is that she died because of him and she tells him he has nothing to be sorry for; it is Uther who takes the blame for her death. Arthur then finds out that when Ygraine was unable to conceive, Uther went to Nimueh to beg her to give him a son through magic. Desperate to have an heir, he sacrificed his wife without her knowledge.
To say Arthur is upset is an understatement. When they return to Camelot, he goes immediately to confront his father. He yells at Uther, calling him a hypocrite and a liar. He throws his gauntlet down and they fight—Uther reluctantly. Just as Arthur has his father down and his sword to his throat, Merlin and Gaius rush in. Merlin says what they saw wasn’t Arthur’s mother. It was an illusion of Morgause’s meant to turn Arthur against his father and destroy Camelot.
After making Uther swear it is a lie, Arthur lowers his sword and is in tears, apologizing. Father and son embrace.
Later, in Gauis’ chambers, Uther thanks Merlin and calls him a trusted ally in the fight against magic. He tells Merlin he has to vigilant against those who would exploit and harm Arthur. He also says that if Merlin ever tells of what happened between Uther and Arthur, he would be killed.
After Uther leaves and Gauis returns, the physician says it must have tempting to just let Uther die. Merlin says it was but he knows Arthur would never have forgiven himself if he’d killed his father.
Back at the castle ruins, Morgause smugly looks into her crystal, but becomes angry when she sees father and son sitting together laughing.
If I had written this episode, I would have changed….They could have been more original with the opening, introducing Morgause. It was just way to similar to how they did it with Nimueh. Mysterious sorceress in an isolated place encanting spells. And the ending as well, looking to see how their plan worked (Morgause looking into the crystal, and Nimueh scrying into the pool of water) only to then be pissed off when it didn't work out in their favor. Just wish they'd varied it up a little bit.
Thing(s) I loved about this episode—Let's face it, Bradley freaking James...he acted HIS ASS OFF in this episode. From the desire Arthur feels to learn about his mother, to the scene WITH his mother, and finally the showdown with Uther. OMG, angry Arthur...it was a sight to behold and just lovely. That was my favorite part of the episode.
The boys bonding over their absent parents was nice.
And finally, Merlin lying to Arthur to save Uther. He could have let Uther die; it would have been so easy, but he knew Arthur would hate himself, wouldn't be able to live with the fact he killed his father. It's clear that Arthur means more to Merlin than anything. Think about it--Arthur's attitude toward magic was definitely changing/softening, Uther is a huge obstacle to the destiny the two younger men share. By all rights, Uther's death would have taken them one step closer to what Merlin is working so hard to acheive. But Arthur and his emotional wellbeing totally trumps that.
Thing(s) I hated about this episode—This was hard for me this week. So here goes nothing...
All the freaking...
Seriously, all the lying is maddening. And at least right now, poor Morgana is the one most lied to. Gauis lies to her about her powers. Uther lies about a whole lot, but makes of hiding the fact that she has a half-sister.
And, I feel like a broken record saying Uther again. But come on, Uther! People can read fatherly concern into his actions and that he is so worried about Arthur. But that's not it at all. His concern is his lies and secrets being revealed. When he finds that Morgause has spoken to Arthur about knowing Ygraine, WHAM, he's suddenly calling her an enchantress.
Hell, he even says Morgause knowing the circumstances of Arthur's birth and telling him is what he fears most in the world. That is your worst fear? Not that perhaps your son is going to be killed or something horrible like that? Nope, Arthur and others learning his secrets, that's the worst thing that can happen.
Something I never noticed about this episode before—A continuity error in Merlin's costume. When he's running to go stop Arthur from killing Uther, on the stairway, he's wearing red shirt and blue neckerchief. The next shot of him running in the hallway, he is wearing the red shirt but no neckerchief. Then when he's in the council chambers, pleading with Arthur, he's suddenly wearing a blue shirt and red neckerchief.
I rewinded it a couple times to make sure I wasn't seeing things. LOL I tried to find good screen shots of it but failed. Then I was rewatching again when I was writing up this post and watched with commentary, for shit's and giggles. And Colin Morgan totally pointed it out. :D
That's why it took Merlin so long to get there, he was changing along the way. :D
Favorite costume—Merlin in leather gloves. Does that count as a costume? I have a thing for his hands already...now leather gloves? Le sigh
Here is proof of some random head canon I’ve created—There is more than sisterly love going on with Morgana and Morgause. I could go on about the incest-y vibe this family show throws at us, but I won't. I'll just say that from the beginning there is more than platonic love between siblings between these two. I stand by this theory and will tell you why as the series considers. From this episode...
Morgana seems enamored with her from the beginning. Watching her from the window etc. During the duel, Morgana is clearly more concerned when the hot chick she barely knows is wounded in the arm then when Arthur, who she's grown up with, is clearly losing
The exchange in Morgause's chambers. Holy sexual tension! Seriously, it was THICK. Morgana was totally checking out Morgause in her see through top.
She can't keep her eyes off of their gloriousness.
Morgause was intense as hell. And not in a omg-you're-my-long-lost-sister way. In a definite I'm-digging-you way.
And the soulful, longing looks as they part...with Morgause asking Morgana to remember her fondly.
What would Bron steal from Camelot in this episode? Morgana's bed spread
What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in this episode? I don't know!! I would have to say the continued lying to Morgana from Gauis and Uther.
Until the next episode - The Lady of the Lake - which we’ll be watching, 6/9, at 8pm EST. We’ll be on Twitter with the hashtag #MerlinClub