Title: The Coming of Arthur, Part 1
Director: Jeremy Webb
Writer: Jake Michie
Picture Credit: BBC Merlin site
Reviewer: Verushka

The episode begins with a scene of an attack. We see knights lying dead and/or injured, including Leon. In Camelot, Arthur presents Uther with a tattered cloak bearing what looks to be the crest of Camelot, the dragon. Arthur reports that it was Cenred who attacked the patrol as – he says – they passed into his land and had to be made examples of. Arthur is in shock as he delivers his report, while Uther, ever the king as he has to be is furious. Unfortunately, everyone has been lost in the attack, including the knights and Sir Leon. Everyone, including Merlin and Gaius react badly to that.

However, in the forest, a group of people dressed in tattered clothes, search through the dead knights. My first thought is they are druids, but nothing is exactly revealed to us. We see them going from body to body until they find Leon alive. I am going to assume that Cenred’s messenger is the one who delivered the news that everyone in the patrol had perished.

The group takes Leon to a cave filled with candles. They set him down on a rock where the leader, Iseldir, tells everyone that Leon is close to death. While the members of the group begin a chant, Iseldir gives Leon some water from a cup – the Cup of Life – and Leon is healed. I would guess that it is his report to Uther of how he survived that alerts Morgause and Morgana to its existence. I think I already feel sorry for the people who have it – all they did was help Leon, and I’m guessing they’re going to pay for that dearly.

When Leon returns to Camelot, Arthur greets him warmly, but when Leon innocently reveals that it was the druids that saved him, Uther is immediately suspicious and begins firing questions at him. Leon answers and with each one seems to realize he is digging himself deeper into a hole. He tells Uther about the Cup, while Morgana looks on. Uther, it seems knows exactly what he is talking about and dismisses him. Morgana tracks Uther as he leaves the court, knowing something is up, while Merlin watching Morgana realizes the same.

Gaius examines Leon, reporting to Arthur that he is exhausted and dehydrated, and that given time he will make a full recovery. Uther follows Gaius out asking for a more detailed report, while Merlin slips out, lingering behind them to listen to what they are saying. Uther really doesn’t see him – in that he thinks Merlin invisible and converses with Gaius openly. He asks Gaius about his opinion of the Cup Leon spoke of, and Gaius reveals he thinks it was the Cup of Life. It seems both Uther and Gaius know of its existence, but neither spoke to each other about it. Uther, unfortunately, has decided that because the druid’s cave lies in Cenred’s kingdom he needs to take it from them before Cenred does. Gaius tries to dissuade him from this by pointing out that the druids are secretive by nature and would have it well hidden. But Uther isn’t prepared to take that risk.

Finally, Merlin and Gaius are able to have a conversation alone in their quarters. Merlin admits he thought Cup had been destroyed when he defeated Nimueh on the Isle of the Blessed, but Gaius says the magic of the Cup is eternal, unbound by time and place. Uther fears it, he reveals, because the Cup can be used for evil as well as good. Gaius tells Merlin of a great warlord who lived many centuries ago who collected a drop of blood from each man in his army in the Cup, and the Cup’s power made the army immortal where they stood. Gaius knows Uther is no fool – should the Cup fall into Morgause’s hands (or Morgana’s – this is Merlin’s addition) Camelot would be lost.

Morgana overhears Uther ordering Arthur to retrieve the Cup alone and then she scuttles off to warn Morgause and Cendred.

This was one of the season’s strongest episodes and a welcome one with the revelation to Arthur and Uther of Morgana as the traitor. I am so over the evil!smirking in the shadows Morgana because no one is suspicious of her (besides, Gwen, Merlin and Gaius).
Uther is wrecked when he finds out what she has done, and Arthur is shocked to find out of Uther’s lies. I would hope this heralds a change in Arthur and Uther’s relationship going forward.

It was great to see that Arthur considers Merlin the exception to his father’s rule when he takes him with to retrieve the Cup. Their relationship was strongly showcased in this episode, but more from Arthur’s side in his trust of Merlin. All in all this was very much Arthur’s episode more than Merlin’s .

I think I’ve said this like three times in two reviews, but Gwaine is fantastic. He’s a breath of fresh air that adds to Arthur and Merlins’ characters – he is Merlin’s friend simply because he’s Merlin and brings Arthur down to earth where the other knights would never think of treating him with such familiarity. I sincerely hope he returns full time next season.

So, are you looking forward to the final episode?