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Episode: The Poisoned Chalice
Written by: Ben Vanstone
Directed by: Ed Fraiman
This episode begins with Nimueh in her cave, and plotting revenge against Merlin. She places a petal of a flower in a goblet, and triumphantly holds it up, saying Merlin’s name.
In Camelot, a group of dignitaries from the kingdom Mercia, led by King Bayard, meet Uther, Arthur, and other dignitaries from Camelot to form a union between the two kingdoms after years of unrest. Nimueh, disguised as a slave catches Merlin’s eye and flirts with him. She then moves to Bayard’s room and switches one of the two goblets that Bayard was giving Uther and Arthur as a peace present with the one she had in her lair. Arthur is getting ready for the ceremony and tells Merlin that he will be at the banquet as well, if only because if Arthur has to suffer through Bayard’s boring speeches, then so does Merlin. Arthur also states that Merlin has to dress in the traditional servant of Camelot uniform, which consists of a big feathery hat. Once at the banquet, just before the speeches start, Nimueh pulls Merlin away and tells him that she saw Bayard tampering with one of the goblets that he was about to present Arthur and Uther. Merlin asks whether Bayard meant to poison Arthur. Nimueh nods and Merlin runs off. As he does, Nimueh lets a slow smile crawl over her face.
Uther and Bayard are just finishing their speeches and Arthur has his goblet to his lips and about to take a sip when Merlin runs in yelling for Arthur to stop and that the goblet contains poison. Bayard denies this, but Merlin stubbornly sticks to his word and will not reveal who told him that the wine was poisoned. Uther says that they’ll test, it. When Bayard reaches to take a sip himself, Uther tells him that if it is poisoned, he wanted the pleasure of killing him himself, and orders Merlin to drink. Gaius and Arthur protest this, but Merlin takes a sip regardless, willing to take the consequences if he is wrong. Nimueh watches on gleefully. At first it seems that the wine is untouched, then Merlin suddenly puts his fist to his throat and collapses to the ground, unconscious. Arthur quickly picks him up and Gaius, Arthur and Gwen (after picking up the fallen goblet) rush him to Gaius’ room. Once there, Gaius inspects the goblet, finding a petal of what he discovers is a Morteus flower. This is what caused the poison, and the only cure there is can only be made from a leaf of the same flower. The Morteus flower grows in the caves just beyond the forest of Balor, and is guarded by a cockatrice, a fierce lady-like creature. Even though it is a perilous journey, Arthur states he will go to retrieve the Morteus flower, as Merlin would certainly die without it. When he tells his father, Uther forbids Arthur to go, stating that if he is the prince of Camelot, and Merlin is just a servant. Arthur asks “So, that means his life is worthless?!” To which Uther answers “It is worth less than yours.” During this exchange, Nimueh rides away from Camelot. After a visit from Morgana, Arthur defies his father and rides towards the caves that hold the Morteus flower.
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