Home > European & American TV > BBC Merlin: Episode Three

BBC Merlin: Episode Three

Saturday, December 13, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Today the last episode of season one aired, and I swear my heart was in my throat the entire time. While it was showing on a different continent, and I was unable to watch.

… Yes, guys, this show is taking over my brain. Which is bad, because I still have an entire exam before I can afford to throw my brain away. *headbook*

As usual, shortened version for those of you who can’t handle the huge picspam (which is placed below, behind the link).

Merlin Episode 3: The Mark of Nimueh in 5 seconds!

Evil sorceress Nimueh is evil, which means she tries to poison everyone in Camelot instead of calling down a rain of fire or something immediately fatal. People start dropping dead everywhere, and the corpses look like bleached marble, which is never good, and Gaius is all OHNOES MAGICK.

For a long time no one knows what the hell is going on, so lots more people die, and Merlin really wants to use his magic because it can totes cure people, but Gaius is all about the science. Because, um, rash use of magic is bad or something. Merlin is unhappy because people are dying.

Then Gwen’s dad falls ill, and Merlin decides, oh what the hell, and cures him. This puts Gwen in danger because everyone assumes the gently twinkling poultice of shiny healing came from her, and that she’s a witch. Uther spazzes some more and orders her to stop the plague, but Gwen’s like, dude, what are you on, I can’t.

In a fit of panic and pique and stubbornness, Uther decides to have Gwen publicly executed. Morgana is enraged and Arthur thinks his dad should get some Valium and common sense, plskthx. Only Gaius’ genius discovery that the water is to blame puts Merlin and co. on the right track. Turns out Nimueh put a monster in the water.

Merlin goes to the dragon for advice, because that’s what he’s here for, dontchaknow. It tells him to trust in the elements (Merlin: WTF) and flies off, cryptically laughing.

Poor Morgana is frantic because Gwen is about to be burnt on a pyre (way to score for bloodthirsty, Uther), and Merlin tells her to put together a monster-slaying expedition on the sly. Arthur agrees to come because Morgana’s got him around her little finger, and through diligent application of stealthy magic (NOT) Merlin helps Arthur flametorch the monster to death.

Gwen is released, and Morgana gets the lasting impression that Merlin is in love with Gwen.

End episode.

Episode Three: The Mark of Nimueh
– In Which There is Another Dark Alluring Female Lead

This episode opens with, what do you know, a scantily-clad woman in a darkly lit cave. Brownie points if you realize that she’s evil. We don’t know who she is, but I’m pretty sure, since this episode is called The Mark of Nimueh, that this is Nimueh. So she puts this egg thing in her all-powerful bird bath of visions (probably borrowed from Galadriel).

The egg travels (through magical suction?) to a rather suspect-looking pool of water somewhere, complete with mist floating on top of the water supply. Ominously, the egg begins to crack open.

In daylight, people take drinks from the well. I guess the two are connected? Somehow? [Insert eyeroll]

A little while later, Gaius and Merlin find a victim lying in the street. By the way, you never see him doing rounds in the city ever again, but it’s probably assumed that he does. What with the marble veining and the corpse looking like it’s been carved of stone (hat off to makeup), they both know that it’s not a normal sickness.

Yay! Domestic scene with Gwen and her blacksmith father. She’s a sweet girl who takes good care of her father, and cooks for him.

Interesting that the royals are the ones to have screwed up family dynamics, and both Gwen and Merlin have loving parents. Even more interesting, we have so far not seen an entire family (mother, father and children) – Arthur’s mother is dead, Morgana as a ward is an orphan, and Merlin’s dad is MIA, probably since birth. Because he’s a magical sparkling fairy/succubus, I think.

I mean, it’s like Arthur and Morgana were raised by Gaius and Uther. If that’s not code for more subtext, I don’t know what is.

While carting the body back (under heavy cover so they don’t incite mass panic), Gwen catches up to them.

And I’m including this scene not because it’s plot significant, or, wait, it is, but it’s just sheer sweetness that I didn’t expect in an epic drama about King Arthur.

GWEN: Hey Merlin!
MERLIN: Oh, hey, nothing significant in this cart at all.
GWEN: Uh, okay?
MERLIN: [brightly] So! How are you!
GWEN: Going to work!
MERLIN: Oh good, me too!
ME: L’awkward.

GWEN: … Have a flower!
GWEN: A purple flower! Purple suits you!*
GWEN: Not that red doesn’t suit you!*
MERLIN: Thanks.


GWEN: I picked these for you!*
GWEN: I know you have nightmares…*
(Me: Y halo thar plot point.)
GWEN: … but I thought these might cheer you up!*
MORGANA: You cheer me up!*

I was seriously a puddle of happy goo at that point.

Gaius is studying the corpse, and Merlin… hangs around. With a flower in his ridiculous neckscarf thing.

Then they both get summoned to the king, because this is not the only case of petrification in court.

MERLIN: Hey, it’s just like that other guy we found.
GAIUS: Sire –
GAIUS: The scientific process is a long and slow one.
ME: *spews historically accurate tea all over my computer*
EVERYONE ELSE: Omg the S word!

GAIUS: Pls to be laying off the capslock.
GAIUS: It may be… sorcery.
ARTHUR: *facepalm*

Next on CSI: Camelot, post-mortem analysis!

I don’t know where they got the glass-blowing skills to get such an even three-necked flask, and I don’t think I’ll ask.

Arthur gets orders from his father to leave no stone unturned (or something) so he has to search everyone. And when I say everyone, I mean, everyone.

GAIUS: What did you do with the magic book?

ARTHUR: There’s no way we’ll both fit in there.

(I’m sorry. Closet + gay subtext = bad jokes.)

But anyway, Merlin manages to eyeglow a shirt onto his book. That’s Arthur on the other side of the bed, btw, and making a face at the very terrible state of Merlin’s room. Somewhat ironic that Merlin is in charge of keeping Arthur’s rooms in some sort of order but is absolutely bad at doing the same for himself. Then again, Merlin’s crap at being a manservant.

MERLIN: You know what would fix this? MAGIC.
MERLIN: No, that would be the easy solution.
GAIUS: And what has mythology taught us about easy solutions?
MERLIN: *headbook*


Gaius figures out that the water is to blame, but it’s too late for Gwen’s dad. He doesn’t have a cure. Merlin, however, does not think so, and refuses to just sleep on the troubles of his friend.

Merlin braves the night patrol and sneaks out to Gwen’s house, healing poultice all picked out.

I would just like to take a moment to point out Merlin’s monumental stupidity – DOES HE THINK NO ONE WILL NOTICE? ALSO, LEAVING BEHIND CONCRETE PROOF OF MAGIC!

Like I said. People notice, and suspicion abounds about Gwen’s father’s sudden recovery.

Arthur’s men find the shiny globe of twinkly healing. *facepalm*

Aww, those poor flowers got petrified too.

Arthur comes to take Gwen away on suspicion of using enchantments, and Morgana is enraged. She knows that Gwen isn’t a sorceress, and I think Arthur knows too, but this shows what kind of king he’s going to be, when he says, “I can’t make exceptions.”


Meanwhile, Merlin realizes what he’s done by using magic foolishly. *sigh*

Uther sentences her to death without even listening to… anyone, really. He gets really irrational whenever magic comes up, thank you, we know already. Just from this cap, we can already tell that Uther’s got a frayed relationship with Morgana – but at least she stands up to him and believes in doing things for herself. I like that in a girl character.

Poor Merlin. (A part of me doesn’t sympathize very well, and keeps muttering darkly about ‘bringing it upon himself’ and ‘idiot’ but I would have probably done the same in his shoes.)

MORGANA: You are an ass. And a bad ruler.
ME: At least we know where Arthur gets his asshattery from?
ARTHUR: Uh, father, that wasn’t necessary.
ARTHUR: Look, I’m sure you missed this the first 7 million times the fantasy novels said this, but MAGIC IS NOT EVIL. IT’S ALL IN THE INTENT.
MORGANA: I hate you.
ARTHUR: *facepalm*

Merlin goes to see Gwen in her cell. She doesn’t blame him for what happened, but he does, because it really is all his fault. Anyway, he swears that he’ll get her out.

(I had the time over this weekend to think, and a Merlin/Arthur/Gwen love triangle would be truly amusing. Just saying.)

And Merlin’s way of getting Gwen out?

MERLIN: It was me! I was the one who cured Gwen’s father!
GAIUS: *headtable*
UTHER: Well then, clap this one in chains too.
MERLIN: I beg your pardon.
UTHER: Well, he’s confessed to it, son, what do you want me to do?

ARTHUR: He totally is!
UTHER: I see. Run along then, and don’t bother me again.
GAIUS: Come with me.

So the ickle warlock-in-training gets all puffed up and offended about no one believing he is magical. Gaius figuratively hits him over the head a few times to make sure he’s not being an idiot again and takes Merlin down to the water reservoir that supplies all of Camelot, and tells him to take a sample.

While they’re being scientific with bottles made from glass (look, at one point there will be too many historical inaccuracies for me keep track of, but now is not one of those times), some random evil monster springs up from behind and makes to eat them.

GAIUS: !!!

GAIUS: When in doubt, hit the books.
HERMIONE: I approve wholly.
MERLIN: So… how do we kill this afanc thing?
GAIUS: The book does not say.
MERLIN: The book sucks.
ME: Hey!

MERLIN: When in doubt, consult mystical beings who can’t speak without metaphors.
DRAGON: The great warlock returns.
ME: I hope he’s saying that with irony.
MERLIN: I need to know how to kill an afanc.*
DRAGON: Yes, I suppose you do.*
MERLIN: … aaaand?
DRAGON: Trust the elements that are at your command!*
MERLIN: Something slightly more specific, perhaps?
DRAGON: You cannot do this alone! You are but one side of a coin, and Arthur is the other.*

DRAGON: AHAHAHAHA! [flies away]

MERLIN: Oh holy wise one, what do you know about elements?
GAIUS: There’s fire, earth, water and air, and they make up every single aspect of this universe, and despite all my talk about science, at least I conform to the established opinion of my supposed time by ignoring everything Democritus ever said about atoms.
MERLIN: Right.
GAIUS: The afanc is made of earth and water. Perhaps air and fire will destroy it.
MERLIN: Okay then, brb.
GAIUS: Wait, how do you know this?
MERLIN: Um, my genius magical powers?
GAIUS: And what else do your powers tell you?
MERLIN: … that I’m only one side of a coin. The brighter side, obviously.*

MORGANA: Oh, hi Merlin.
GAIUS: About that…
MERLIN: Well, we need to kill the afanc that’s poisoning our water supply.
GAIUS: And then Uther may see that Gwen is not evil.
MORGANA: … and?
MERLIN: We’ll need Arthur.
MORGANA: That idiot clot?
MERLIN: Yes. But it’s tricky because he’s the king’s son and he’s not supposed to disobey his dad.
MORGANA: Leave that to me.

MORGANA: You know, I feel really bad for Merlin.
ARTHUR: Yeah, poor guy.
MORGANA: Well, you know, he’s a lover, unlike some people, and he’s not a coward, unlike some people, and he’s willing to do anything to help those he cares about, unlike some
ARTHUR: Let’s save some time here – what do you want me to do?

So they go down to the reservoir, which is conveniently dark and gloomy and did I mention dark? Also, the inner claustrophobic is getting some shivering right up that alley. There’s some suspenseful moments with how they can’t see the afanc and it’s trying to kill them, bla bla bla, it’s kind of not the best moments of the series, and we all know Arthur is going to vanquish it anyway, so there.

And what do you know? Arthur flametorches the thing. (With Merlin’s help, of course.) (And when I say ‘with Merlin’s help’ I mean ‘Merlin is shouting a spell for wind not two feet away from Morgana and right in front of Arthur’. Yeah.)

Gaius shows Uther a fragment of the shell, with Nimueh’s magical signs all over it (hai thar title). Uther goes all emo.

To wit, Uther says, “Will I never be rid of her?”

If it’s an ex of Uther’s, I’d say, not a chance.

Aww. Gwen is released.

GWEN: Thank you so much!
MORGANA: Thank Merlin! He loves you so much that he did all the hard work.
MERLIN: I did nothing!
MORGANA: Aww, you’re so sweet!

Exeunt Gwen.

MORGANA: It’s okay, your secret’s safe with me!
MORGANA: I totally understand. πŸ˜€
MERLIN: Ah! You have no idea how hard it was to keep a secret!
MERLIN: So when do we get together to chat about –
MORGANA: I still think Gwen’s a very lucky woman.
MERLIN: – magic?
AUDIENCE: *facepalm*

MERLIN: – and so even the smartest girl in Camelot doesn’t realize how great I am!
GAIUS: [eyeroll]
MERLIN: I mean, what is that?! My skillz are clearly awesome!
GAIUS: Let’s have a toast to disaster avoided and leave it there, shall we?

But! Now Nimueh’s all pissed off.

End episode.


– Hands up, who thinks Nimueh is also really hot? (Yes, I am destined to be shallow.) She probably has some angsty backstory with Uther, the way we got EMO!Uther as soon as she was mentioned. Maybe she was in love with him?

– As usual, conversation with a * behind it means that it came from the show.

– Wrote this listening to David Archuleta, and, duuuude the funny was not in ep3.

– FC, I need to know how my conversion attempt is going…


  1. flyingcrispi
    Sunday, December 14, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Your conversion attempt is going great, lol.
    Your recaps are still super funny! (actually, they make the episode better and expose all the gayness of the show)
    I’ll watch the last ep this afternoon, I hope nothing bad happens.
    *fingers crossed*

  2. moonytravels
    Sunday, December 14, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    You have me totally converted, its not funny. Every Xmas i get into a new fandom phase, and its totally distracting me from more productive pursuits such as GETTING YOUR PRESENT READY! *grabby hands for Arthur/Merlin*
    I love Gwen, WHERE IS THE GWEN!LOVE COMM ?? ;-;

    Also, Nimueh IS hot. Not denying that.

    Watching epi 12 and 13 tonight *____*
    HAR HAR LE GAY, it sparkleblinds!

    Write. Moar. Fic *pokes*
    But first, good luck on les exams!

  3. gabbymac
    Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    OH. MUH. GAWD.
    every time i read your recaps, i freaking LOL. and die.
    …and my roommates come in and ask if i’m ok.
    more? please? *begs*
    and ok, i’m totally with you on the whole arthur and merlin are totally in love with each other, and also want to get in each other’s pants.
    if gwen weren’t so gd cute i’d wonder wtf the girls were even doing in the series.
    i mean, come on.

    ok i’m done now i promise!
    write more!!! πŸ˜€
    please and thank you!
    *loves you*

  4. krad.pualt
    Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    I completely agree with you that this is overwhelmingly better than Beethoven Virus. That show got so boring so fast, if not for the star power I wouldn’t watch it.
    But now! You have introduced me to a fitting replacement, joy to the world indeed.
    Happy holidays and keep up the good work!

  5. Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Ok, am I the only one who wanted to shout, “That is not a poultice!”? At best it’s a pomander.

    Very funny again. Thanks for posting.

  6. Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 9:44 am

    I really suspect the dragon sits around down there plotting ways to be as obscure as possible. I mean, what else does it have to do all day?

  7. cutierabbit
    Saturday, May 2, 2009 at 2:47 am

    hey where’s the recap on episode 5!! please…do it asap..thanks

  8. cutierabbit
    Saturday, May 2, 2009 at 2:49 am

    i meant to say PLEASE!!PLEASE!PLEASE! DO IT ASAP..

  9. mhm
    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 2:38 am

    i love MERLIN

  10. Monday, September 21, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    when will he realise he loves her…tsk tsk…lol πŸ™‚

  11. Fingon
    Sunday, November 29, 2009 at 5:01 am

    Morgana is so hot

  12. LikeMerlin
    Monday, November 15, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Later Morgana is bad

  13. Amy
    Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 11:53 am

    You’re complaining about glass being historically inaccurate? What about the magic?

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  15. Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 12:35 pm

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  1. Tuesday, June 9, 2009 at 6:20 pm

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