Home > European & American TV > BBC’s Merlin: Episode One

BBC’s Merlin: Episode One

Saturday, December 6, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’ve made an introductory post about Merlin already, but that one was more squeeblage and incoherency than anything else. So here’s a prΓ©cis: Merlin is a magical, magical boy who gets sent to Camelot for training under the court physician Gaius. There’s a catch – King Uther is utterly nuts in an execute-this-peon way about magic, and his son Arthur is a bullying ass. Unfortunately, the Great Prophetic Dragon of Doom tells Merlin that his destiny is to help Arthur become the best king ever. Lots of people apparently want to kill Arthur, and Merlin has to save him with his sekrit magical skillz, albeit reluctantly. (Also, if you drank every time they mentioned magic, you’d be under the table by the first 15 minutes.) πŸ˜€

Historical accuracy need not apply.

Last week, flyingcrispi said that she didn’t get the Merlin/Arthur subtext, to which I went, LOLWHUT UR KIDDING ME RITE and immediately started to formulate an appropriate response. Somewhere along the way it turned into (wait for it) a recap (one of 13, actually) and um. Yeah. I can has one more recapping project, apparently. (Those of you who are worried about BV, it is coming. Just slower because it’s not as fun as Merlin.)

So… moving on!

~The Characters~

First, we have boy Merlin, who is younger than Arthur. And has no concept of social tact. He’s played by relative newcomer Colin Morgan.

Then Gaius of the ever-raised brows, ye olde wise sage. Played by the adorable Richard Wilson.

Maybe some Arthur.

Okay, a lot of Arthur. (What? He’s an attractive man.)

He’s ‘one of your big, strong warrior types’ but is secretly a woobie. No, really. Played by Bradley James (who was in Dis/Connected, and was a bit of a … manwhore there).

And then the lovely Morgana, who is totes not related to Uther, Arthur or… anyone, supposedly. Wtv, writers, I see right through you.

Guinevere, also called Gwen, who makes the best awkward speeches evar! Also a blacksmith’s daughter, handmaiden to Morgana and not a princess at all.

Just for the heck of it, Uther the control freak. He has Issues. (If you haven’t recognized him yet, this is Giles from Buffy.)

Are you curious yet? Click on the linky for some fun and picspam. A word of caution: not for those faint of heart, on dial-up, or homophobic. That will be all.

Episode One: The Dragon’s Call
– In Which The Dragon is Slashy

So we’ve got ickle Merlin walking (all the way from his home village, omo) happily to Camelot, going, “Dude this castle rocks!” and the poor country boy has never seen a gathering of people larger than 30 and the city is all fresh and bewildering and beautiful. I’m clutching at my screen because he’s so adorable, and um, that bone structure, and those ears! So cute.

Anyway, he comes to the market square where there is (OH NOES) an execution – precisely the execution of one Thomas Collins, accused of sorcery, which is evil and forbidden and did I mention the evil bit?

And since there’s going to be death and chopping of heads naturally there is a huuuuuuge crowd.

UTHER: I am a control freak!
CROWD: *murmurs*
UTHER: Kill the sorcerer!
MOTHER COLLINS: You bigot! I shall get you!
MERLIN: … How nice.

Slightly daunted, wee Merlin makes his way to find Gaius, the court physician – and this is how ridiculous this show is, that they would assume everyone could read, and the sign is in modern English spelling. My inner srs bsns historian died a little laughing.

Of course, within five minutes of arriving, Merlin manages to out himself as a sorcerer to Gaius. (But an instinctive one! Born with the gift! Definitely not evil!) He manages to stop Gaius from falling down a high shelf and teleports a bed directly under the old man, thus cementing our impression that this is Smallville: Camelot, especially with the glowing eyes…

Poor Gaius is more than a little worried:

GAIUS: So … your mother sent you here to learn magic?
GAIUS: Is she aware the king kills magicians for his morning pick-me-up?
GAIUS: I suppose not.

Baby Merlin is all happy because Camelot is omg so cool and pretty and he’s so innocent and not aware at all of the deadly danger he’s in.

So then we switch to a domestic Pendragon scene, whereupon Control Freak Uther tries to convince his ward Morgana (not daughter, not step daughter, no relation at all, no really you must believe meeeeeee) to come welcome the royal singer at the opening festivities for a festival – in honour of the sorcerer’s death. Morgana’s not so down with the killing of magical people, but Uther is Displeased and King, so he orders her to come to celebrations anyway.

Not far from the palace there is, as legend/myth/questing geography dictates, a dark and fearsome wood. The royal singer, Lady Helen, has an escort, which of course, proves no contest for the vengeful Mother Collins.

Meanwhile, Merlin hears a voice from somewhere, calling his name. (HPCoS, anyone?)

MYSTERIOUS VOICE: Merlin…. Merrrrrrrrrrrrrlin…
MERLIN: Wstflg?!

In the morning Merlin goes out to, um, deliver things for Gaius and immediately finds social inequality (OH NOES) involving a hunky knight and a much put-upon servant being used as target practice and proceeds to lay the smackdown on the bully. Unfortunately that bully is a very practiced fighter – and Merlin’s skinny frame only makes him howl in laughter.

Arthur and Merlin’s first meeting goes something like this:

ARTHUR: *bullies*
MERLIN: Yo, stop that at once.
ARTHUR: You and whose army?
MERLIN: I might ask you the same.
ARTHUR: I am the prince, plebeian. Reflect upon that in your jail cell, then.

(Don’t you love Bradley James’ faces? I would want to have his children minus the small but significant fact that Morgana is, like, 10000% hotter – also, baby Merlin’s ears have this mythical attraction for me, I do not know why but they … anyway, this is getting less and less G by the second, isn’t it?)

Gwen, watching from atop Morgana’s rooms, is all admiring of Merlin’s bravery and all worried about his recklessness at challenging the royal heir. (Strange alternative universe in which Guinevere is in love with Merlin, check.)

So now Merlin gets to stew in the Dungeon Cell of Strict Discipline.

Several floors above, evil!Lady Helen arrives at court.

And have a shot of daylight Camelot because the castle is gorgeous and if I ever marry into money this is the type of house I’d like to live in, except not, because my (ancient) high school was built like this, and boy, was it drafty in winter.

Morning comes, and Merlin hears the voice again, and this time he’s pretty sure it’s … not his imagination, so he goes to listen, and Gaius totally barges in, furious at his stupidity in confronting the prince of all people. (Thank goodness he’s so angry, or he would no doubt remark upon Merlin’s unusual sleeping posture. :D)

(Picture of Merlin because I fangirl like that.)

GAIUS: You idiot! As a sorcerer the last thing you should do is attract Uther’s son’s attention!
MERLIN: Well, sorry, but people don’t bully where I come from.
GAIUS: You are lucky I am good friends with the king, and I managed to get people to release you.
GAIUS: By doing this:


But all is not lost, because he has fans~! (Or the one fan, but there will be more, oh yes.)

GWEN: So you were really brave yesterday and I think I might like you.
MERLIN: Aww, thanks, could you pick this bit of historically incorrect tomato from my hair?
GWEN: Um, sure! It’s so rare that we get an ordinary guy standing up to Arthur. Really very brave of you.
MERLIN: … except for the ordinary part.
GWEN: Well, you just don’t look like you work out all day and take people apart with one blow, etc. Not that I’m saying you’re not heroic material, it’s just you’re kind of skinny…
AUDIENCE: Stop before you start choking on your own foot, Gwen.
MERLIN: Well, thanks for the backhanded compliments. Nice to meet you.
GWEN: *blushes*

After Merlin gets cleaned up a bit (well, even Uther’s not the kind of sadist to make Merlin get rotten vegetables thrown at him all week, you know) he is sent off to deliver more medication aka coloured Kool-Aid to the various suffering peoples of Camelot.

(The flowers join an ever-growing list of historical inaccuracies, and yes, a part of me is throwing its hands up and wailing.)

One of them is Lady Helen, who has distinctly suspect things on her table, out in the open where anyone can see them. Merlin sorta goes, “Um, why is this here?” but doesn’t investigate further.

The rest of the day Merlin wanders around the town, orienting himself and generally relaxing. Unfortunately, Arthur is patrolling, and lo and behold, the two meet.

ARTHUR: Heeeeeey why are you not paying attention to me anymore? 😦
MERLIN: It may have escaped your notice but I have better things to do. ASS.
ARTHUR: Aww. I will pull your pigtails until you agree to fight me!
ARTHUR: Yay fight! I’ve been kicking ass since I could walk!
ARTHUR: I’m a prince, you have to respect me.

(Yeah. If Merlin was a girl, people would be expecting them to sleep with each other within 4 episodes.)


Merlin, however, does have magic on his side, so he magicks all sorts of obstacles in Arthur’s path. Unfortunately for him, Arthur uses a broom to knock him down. He does prevent the guards from throwing Merlin in jail though. πŸ˜€

ARTHUR: There’s just something about you, Merlin… *
FANGIRLS: *fainting in droves*

(*Verbatim. I swear to god.)

Gaius takes beaten-puppy!Merlin home, and scolds him for inappropriate use of magic. The boy has some nasty bruising coming up, but he’s more angsty about not having a way to use something he’s born with, and angst angst angst, why was he born with power if he could never use it, he’s not anything special without magic, etc etc etc. (To which I say, AHAHA THAT WILL COME BACK TO BITE.)

Somewhere else in the castle, Uther is in a private dinner with Lady Helen, who is vengeful Mother Collins in disguise, remember, and she keeps dropping ominous hints about ‘It’s certainly too late for Arthur’ into their conversation. Uther doesn’t notice, for whatever reasons you want to think of.

Merlin can’t sleep because he’s got that annoying voice whispering in his mind again, so he sneaks out of his room and follows the voice downstairs. And downstairs again. And some more downstairs. Anyway, after decoying the guards away with a pair of flying dice (so telekinesis has its uses after all), Merlin grabs a torch and goes into the deepest cavern at the bottom of Camelot castle. (And yes, I know, engineering friends will wail about the plausibility of building a giant castle on top of what is essentially a giant void, but I am not the one writing the storyline here, please.)

Anyhoo, the cavern is home to the imprisoned Last Dragon, who has waaaay too much time on his hands and probably enjoys tormenting the mundanes with cryptic prophecies.

MERLIN: … donteatmeplsImreallyskinnyandIwouldnttastegoodanyway.
MERLIN: There must be another Arthur around here somewhere, because this one is an idiot!*

(*These two lines are actually verbatim from the show.)

Anyway, he makes his way back to his room, annoyed and pissed off at the dragon, and then he goes to bed, because life has to continue even if a giant all-knowing reptile has just told you that your life basically does not belong to you anymore.

That night is the feast night, where lots of things happen, including this one:

GAIUS: *picks Merlin’s jaw off the floor* You’re here to work, boy.

Merlin gets even more annoyed with Arthur for getting the girls and all the glory after seeing him talk with Morgana for a bit. (Knowing them from later episodes, it’s probably to the effect of, ‘You annoy me’ ‘Well you annoy me more‘, so Merlin doesn’t really have a cause for jealousy.) I feel kinda bad for Gwen here.

GWEN: She’s very pretty.
MERLIN: Oh yeah
GWEN: She’s going to marry Arthur, you know. Destined to be queen and unwitting incest participant and all that.
MERLIN: What?! No!
GWEN: … Someone hasn’t been reading their Malory.
MERLIN: Yes, but more to the point, who would want to marry Arthur?

GWEN: *looks shifty* Yes, indeed, who?
MERLIN: I thought you did!
GWEN: NO. No, I don’t. I like ordinary men like you. But not you. Not specifically you. I don’t mean that you’re ordinary, just… I like ordinary men. Like you.*
MERLIN: … right.

(*Also almost verbatim. You see what I mean about awkward? Yeah.)

Unfortunately for all this lovely, developing high school UST, evil!Lady Helen comes in and sings for everyone. Except she’s not Lady Helen, so her singing kind of sends everyone to sleep. Merlin’s a smart, magic resistant boy so he knows to cover his own ears.

Hmm, I wonder what she’s up to?

Merlin uses his glowy eye thing to send a chandelier flying towards Vengeful Mother Collins, right before she moves to stab a sleeping (and cobwebby) Arthur. The spell is broken as everyone wakes up, all agog at being covered in yucky special effect spider webs and HOSHIT IS THAT A WITCH UNDER THAT CHANDELIER.

However, being crushed only slows her down, and she uses her ninja skillz to toss the deadly sharp dagger at Arthur and it looks like the series is going to come to a premature end (or involve Merlin helping Uther father another prince named Arthur, I dunno), but Merlin to the rescue!


MERLIN: *glowy eyed*
DAGGER: Hey what? *slows down*
ARTHUR: … dagger?
DAGGER: … aww.

UTHER: This merits special rewards.
MERLIN: No, really, your majesty, it’s fine.
UTHER: You saved my son’s life, surely some reward is needed.
MERLIN: Um, no, honestly, I’d rather be spared.
UTHER: I know! You shall be his manservant! *walks proudly away*

MERLIN: *facepalm*

A little later, Mr. Newly Elevated Peon of Manservantness mopes in his room, utterly defeated at this new turn of events.

GAIUS: Well, it seems like you’ve found your purpose in life.
MERLIN: I may start wearing black nail polish.
GAIUS: Here, have a book of magical spells that could totally get the both of us killed if people ever discover it!

MERLIN: OMG! Thanks! 100% happier now!
GAIUS: I trust it will be put to good use?

Somewhere, the dragon is laughing.

End episode.


– Sometimes my brain is a bad place. I admit this. Also, epic post is epic! (And to think, there are more!)

– There’s this thing called slash goggles, like beer goggles, but instead of making everyone attractive, it allows you to see ghey subtext, and they occasionally make people giggle a lot. I have a pair, that’s all.

– Caveat: I know Merlin’s not a great show (critically, objectively speaking) – it’s screwing with almost every aspect of the Arthurian Legends as we know them (or not), some of the lines are wincingly bad, the CGI fluctuates wildly in terms of quality and I wish they would stop with the Evil Sparkly Magical Thing/Person of the Week because I’d like some subplot or episode arcs (yum), but this is one of the few shows that manages to turn me into a smiling fool at the end of an episode, so I’ll stick to what works.

– How many of you also want normal, regular episode summaries before the picspam + squeeblage of doom? Let me know and I’ll include one (promise it won’t be too verbose, no, really.)


  1. flyingcrispi
    Saturday, December 6, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    I’m just gonna say this: LMAO
    Also, I like this new kind of summary very much!
    And (I just can’t stay quiet, can I?) why do you insist on the Merlin/Arthur thingy? WHY? I’m beginning to see it too now!
    Pleez Arthur, kiss Morgana already!!!!!!

  2. sevenses
    Saturday, December 6, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Yay! I shall convert you with time!!

    (I think Arthur kisses Morgana at about the same time he kisses Merlin, which is to say: Never.)

  3. Saturday, December 6, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Holy…simply amazing. I couldn’t stop laughing πŸ˜€
    Your new format of recap is wonderful, too. I personally have no problem with the “squeeblage of doom” (and quite enjoy it, in fact), but the short summary beforehand might be handy for those with slower Internet…

    Slash goggles? I has ’em too! Ahahaha…
    P.S. Have officially started watching online. Let the gheyness begin!

  4. crinury
    Sunday, December 7, 2008 at 1:25 am

    *sports skull-embedded slash goggles*
    YOU = β™₯

    I never realized that the evil witch lady was Mother Collins, hoshit it makes so much more sense now! Arthur’s idiocy is revealed to its true extent now that there’s less interludes between his appearances. And you are so totally in love with Morgana it’s adorable ^^. I wish I could highlight or the like all the places where I laughed, but it’d be the entire post, so… yeah. Next time I’ll be having Notepad open and writing notes on what to comment about XD.
    Also, I love your internet!speak πŸ™‚

    (OMG I’m hungry and want hot waffles *~*)

  5. qkyra
    Sunday, December 7, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    can I say love the new recap format?

    Because of you I started watching Merlin and I’m addicted. I really wish Morgana and Arthur would get it on already…but yes…it’ll never happen…

  6. Monday, December 8, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    I love your posts (oh~ your hate on Twilight and your recaps) though I have never commented. You said “’s screwing with almost every aspect of the Arthurian Legends as we know them” and here is an interesting read that, maybe, will change your opinion: http://icarusancalion.livejournal.com/824859.html

    • sevenses
      Monday, December 8, 2008 at 5:50 pm

      Oh hey, welcome from lj! I did read that post, was going to post it with the third recap, but I see you’ve beaten me to it! πŸ˜€

      I’m glad you like my posts, and congratulations on delurking!

  7. Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    I only watched the first few eps last night. Your post pretty much captures my slash-goggly perception of what happened. LOL

    Is there a common tag for your recaps?

  8. Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Er, I also linked to this post in my LJ, let me know if you mind.

  9. sevenses
    Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    ^ The show doesn’t improve in quality but it’s such a lovable dork of a show that I just kept watching.

    Linking is fine, and the common tag is this. (The WordPress equivalent to lj tagging is the categorization system.)

  10. z
    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 9:08 am

    simply amazing. *claps*

  11. Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Haha, this was awesome! I have some permanently embedded slash goggles myself, so watching this show has been delightful. πŸ™‚

  12. tarli sherman
    Monday, April 27, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Awesome story…

  13. Jess
    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 4:13 am

    We’ve just got it on TV in Australia, and… I’m in love with the series.

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who giggled about the sign on the wall, and who wondered about how the hell a castle fit over a gigantic cavernous void, but seriously– I’m not watching it for the historical accuracy. (If it was historially accurate, I’m pretty sure there’d be more gore, way more ugly people, and the streets wouldn’t be as clean and quaint looking, for one thing.) I’m just loving the prettiness and the angst and Gwen is so utterly adorable. And then there’s the slash, which everyone was talking about and which had me interested in the first place.

    Anyway, this is an awesome summary and you’ve hit the nail on the head SO HARD for so many of the reasons I’m loving Merlin, too.

    I’m not reading any of your subsequent entries on this because I don’t want spoilers but… I’m looking forward to them. I like your vision, d00d. πŸ™‚

  14. Jaya
    Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Loved this!!!!
    I’m a big Merlin fan and currently LOVING season2!!!! It’s nice to know that there other people out there who also love the show!!!! The scenes between Gwen and Arthur are priceless!
    Hopefully there’s a season3 πŸ™‚

  15. Anonymous
    Friday, December 4, 2009 at 8:31 am

    i love colin morgan by sarah

  16. Anonymous
    Friday, December 4, 2009 at 8:33 am

    and i think he is sexy and hot and i want to see colin morgan

  17. Tooche
    Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 8:37 am

    I love Merlin the most but Arthur is second. Merlin’s laugh is so cute.

  18. Gem
    Monday, January 18, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    this is so aweosme i love you:)

  19. Lira
    Tuesday, August 24, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    you probably all know by now that arthur and gwen get together (and they are sooooooo cute! πŸ˜€

  20. maijiaxin
    Friday, October 1, 2010 at 5:24 am

    I don’t know what I say

  21. Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    I watch Merlin and I love it!XD I love your summery cuz its funny but its so parody-ish! Finally someone except my best friend admits Merlin’s cute… I mean his expressions… they’re so priceless. Gwen and Arthur should… *get together hint hint* and even though I’m watching season two (I know there is a season 3) nothing much seems to have happened! Anyway good job, I love it!

  22. Cassandra
    Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    rotflmao. That was hilarious. I tatally couldn’t stop laughing. I am a big fan of the show, but took no offence to your comments. Nice job.

  23. Dokjoyday
    Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 10:44 pm

  24. jo
    Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    i love Merlin and Arthur

  25. Anonymous
    Monday, August 27, 2012 at 9:43 am

    OMG i nearly DIED laughing!!! πŸ˜€

  26. justin
    Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 12:58 am

    LOVE IT!! i’ve watched the whole series and i loved it i had to watch it again but when i saw this merlins smartness finally made sense keep it up LMAO.

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