MERLIN CLUB: THE LABYRINTH OF GEDREF
Or the One with Sexual Tension at Weird Times, or Maybe I’m Just Seeing Things…But I’m Not Because It’s There!
RECAP – Arthur and Merlin are out hunting (along with a group of soldiers but who cares about them, really). They hear an animal moving but can’t see it. Arthur sends Merlin to go flush the creature out. Merlin goes in and finds a unicorn.
Instead of following Arthur’s instructions he tries to get the animal to run away. But Arthur shoots it. Merlin is quite upset, which exasperates Arthur who tells him not to be “such a girl”. Merlin sees an old man behind Arthur but no one else does.
Back in Camelot, Arthur presents the unicorn’s horn to Uther. The king is quite impressed though Gaius says that according to legend anyone who kills a unicorn will experience grave misfortune. The Pendragon men, though, totally ignore this, happy to have such a rare trophy.
The next day, Arthur is giving Merlin his list of duties but Merlin is staring out the window, still upset about the unicorn. Arthur is annoyed but is distracted from this when he finds rat droppings on his floor. He tells Merlin he needs to spend less time worrying about unicorns and more about ridding his master’s chambers of rats.
Uther calls Arthur to him and they ride out to a field – turns out Camelot’s entire grain crop has died overnight. Uther gives the order to begin rationing what little food remains. Gaius, meanwhile tries to find a scientific cause for the crops dying, hesitant to say it’s sorcery.
The situation only gets worse. Camelot’s water supply dries up, replaced with sand. Gauis is then forced to admit that this is likely the result of magic, and Uther agrees. Merlin tries to change the sand back into water…without success. He says that whoever or whatever is causing this is much more powerful than he is. Arthur is ordered to place Camelot under curfew and Uther says anyone caught looting will be executed.
That night, Arthur and Merlin see someone wandering around after curfew. They try to chase him but don’t do too well. Then the intruder reveals himself—he is Anhora, Keeper of the Unicorns. Or Anhora of the Impressive Eyebrows. I’ve heard it both ways.
Arthur accuses him of being the cause of what is happening in Camelot, but is quickly told that this is all Arthur’s doing. By killing the unicorn, he set this curse upon his people. The only way he can lift the curse is to pass a test that will prove his worth. If he fails, Camelot will damned for all eternity.
Merlin tries to convince Arthur to take this seriously. He does a little when Merlin admits that he saw Anhora right after the unicorn died. The conversation between them is pretty typical—Arthur’s been warned about sorcerers and you can’t trust anything they say while Merlin argues Anhora has no reason to lie.
The next night, Merlin and Arthur wait where the grain is stored, assuming this will be the next target of the curse. They catch a man trying to steal grain. He claims he couldn’t watch his children starve to death. Arthur doesn’t execute him, as Uther has ordered for looters, but lets him go. He also gives him a small bag of grain. The man says that Arthur’s kindness will bring its own reward.
The following day, Gwen discovers there is water again. Woot. Merlin suggests that the situation with the man the night before was one of the tests Anhora mentioned. He then says they should seek Anhora out for the next test. Arthur seems to consider this, but goes out to check the guard, ordering Merlin on the way out to find him some food. Alone in Arthur’s chambers, Merlin sees the infamous rat and uses magic to catch it.
Arthur watches as people line up for rations—the number growing as those from outlying villages have come to Camelot in search of food. Morgana tells Arthur not to blame himself, that she’s sure he’s doing everything he can. He replies that’s it’s not enough.
That night, Merlin serves Arthur some stew, though the prince says he’s lost his appetite. He can’t eat when his people are starving. He asks Merlin if he really believes Arthur is responsible for this. Merlin says yes. Arthur tells him they are going to the forest in the morning to seek out Anhora. Merlin says he must eat, that he can’t be of good to his people if he’s faint with hunger and cannot pass the test.
Arthur starts to eat and asks what meat is in the stew. Merlin quickly claims it’s pork, but Arthurs says no it isn’t. Then he realizes, Merlin has served him rat. He then says that he’s being selfish—stuffing his face while Merlin is hungry too. Despite Merlin protests, Arthur forces him to sit and eat some of the stew.
The next day, the boys goes into the forest, hoping to find Anhora and get to the next test. They are separated, and Arthur stumbles upon the man from the night before, surrounded by copious amounts of food. He taunts Arthur, saying that he doesn’t even have kids. He says Uther must be ashamed of having an unworthy son, that he is a failure in Uther’s eyes. Eventually, Arthur can’t take the things the man is saying and challenges him
but just as he’s about to hill him, the man disappears and Anhora appears. The old man says that since Arthur was willing to kill a man because of his pride, he has failed. Camelot will suffer greatly. Arthur is devastated.
Upon their return, we find Camelot’s remaining grain rotted. Uther orders Arthur to stop distributing food to the people, arguing that the army needs to be fed. Arthur refuses and says they need to go to the neighboring kingdoms for help. Uther is appalled at the suggestion, saying that it would be seen as weakness and their enemies would strike them. He asks if Arthur has no pride…not the best thing to say after the nature of the test he just failed.
Arthur says he cannot think of his pride while his people suffer, that Uther will have to give the order himself. Uther, in a brilliant parenting moment, calls after his son, saying that if he’d killed the sorcerer, he wouldn’t have to give the order. Laying the blame solely on Arthur’s feet.
Arthur and Merlin have a conversation as they watch people lined up for food that will soon stop being distributed. Arthur is devastated that he’s brought this on his people.
Merlin goes to the forest, looking for Anhora. He begs the man to give Arthur another chance, that Arthur has accepted responsibility and deserves another chance to save his people. Anhora asks if Merlin has faith in Arthur and Merlin says he trusts him with his life. Anhora says that Arthur needs to go to the Labyrinth of Gedref, where he will face a final test. This is the Arthur’s last chance.
When he tells Arthur, the prince insists on going alone, though Merlin argues with him about this. Of course Merlin follows Arthur.
And I just have to ask? WTF is this huge labyrinth doing here? And it seemed like it was well known. When Anhora tells Merlin where Arthur must go, he didn’t seem confused or anything. And who the hell is maintaining this place? It’s HUGE and quite well kept. So many questions…
Okay, back to the story. Inside the labyrinth, Merlin comes across Anhora with a sword and accuses him of setting up a trap for Arthur, but Anhora says that the trap is for Merlin, and uses magic to trap Merlin with roots.
Arthur finally reaches the end of the labyrinth, which opens to the sea. Anhora and Merlin are already there. Arthur is NOT happy to see his boyfriend…I mean his servant there.
Arthur tells the old man to let Merlin go, that he will take the test but not until Merlin is released. Anhora says that’s not possible since Merlin is part of the test.
Merlin is sitting at a table which holds two goblets. Arthur sits and Anhora explains the test. Each goblet contains a liquid—one of them is harmless, the other a deadly poison. All the liquid from both cups must be drunk, and each man can only drink from one goblet.
The boys banter back and forth a bit. And it’s freaking adorable. They fight about who will drink the poison. It’s seriously their version of “You hang up.” “No, YOU hang up!” “No, you…” except it’s “I’ll die for you.” “Oh no, I’ll die for you.” “Nope, I’m gonna die for you.”
Um, Arthur where have you been? Merlin is always ready to die for you; haven’t you noticed? And then…
Merlin figures it out…they will pour the contents of one into the other goblet, ensuring that one goblet is poison. Arthur distracts Merlin
and pours the liquid into his goblet. Merlin argues that he will drink the liquid, that this isn’t Arthur’s destiny but Arthur is having none of that. He drinks the liquid and immediately collapses.
Merlin freaks out. Obviously.
And begs Anhora to take him instead. The old man tells him it’s only a sleeping draught Arthur drank. The prince will recover soon. He explains that the unicorn is pure of heart. That to pass the test Arthur had to prove he was also pure of heart. By sacrificing himself for Merlin, Arthur showed what was truly in his heart and passed the test. The curse is lifted.
When they return to Camelot, they find everything is good—crops have regrown, there is plenty of food and water. The suffering has ended. Uther asks if the sorcerer is dead. Arthur says he won’t be bothering Camelot any longer. Then Uther says “Good, make sure the grain stores are restocked and walks away. Well then, Uther, don’t go overboard with the praise. It’s not like your son just saved your sorry ass and the entire kingdom.
But Arthur must do something first. He and Merlin go to the forest and bury the unicorn’s horn. Arthur apologizes for taking it’s life. As they leave, the see the unicorn. We hear Anhora say “When he who kills a unicorn proves himself to be pure of heart, the unicorn will live again.”
If I’d written this episode, I would have changed… It pisses me off to NO END how Uther don’t LISTEN. When Gauis warns them of the legend surrounding the killing of a unicorn (a magical creature), Uther totally blows him off. Then the following day, all the crops have died. Does it enter either of the Pendragons’ minds that perhaps it has to do with the freaking unicorn Arthur killed? Oh no, let’s have the court physician run some tests…it must be science. Connect the dots, people!
Then Gaius is all for running the tests and not claiming sorcery. But I think this may be a reaction to Uther and his behavior. I don’t know. But this isn’t something that happens just in this episode. And frankly it makes Uther look like an idiot. He may be an ass, but he’s not an idiot. Uther is so quick to blame magic and sorcery for the stupidest things, but then when it is the logical explanation and people are saying “hey, it’s probably sorcery”, he’s all “oh don’t be silly.” WTF? DRIVES ME INSANE!!
The thing(s) I loved about this episode… I’ll admit, there is a lot I loved. It goes without saying, I loved the Merthur moments. My favorite is the final scene at the labyrinth. There’s a specific line that just slays me every time. When Merlin insists he’ll drink the poison, Arthur says, “As if I’d let you.” That right there… It seems simple, yeah? But it’s so meaningful. He’s not willing to let Merlin put himself at risk for his sake. That speaks volumes about his feelings, I think.
The rat stew scene. OMG, I’m a sick woman and probably am the only person to read into this scene like this. When Arthur forces Merlin to sit and eat it…I’m sorry but I was getting all sorts of D/s feels from this. Dear god…
And the look on Arthur’s face there…GUH.
Also the things everyone was forced to do when food and water was scarce made me laugh so hard. Obviously there is the rat stew. Then there’s…
People, they are drinking water Merlin soaked his ass and balls in… And all Gaius can say is “Oh it’s a bit soapy.” LMAO
And finally (I told you there was a lot I loved about this episode!) is Arthur’s character development in this episode. Sure he’s douchey at times and killed a unicorn, but damn, the glimpses into the man, the king, he is going bo become…amazing. Like standing up to Uther when he refuses to order the food distribution stopped. That’s a huge moment for someone who is so clearly desperate for his father’s approval and love. And how devastated how is when he does take responsibility for what is happening. Kudos to Bradley James for acting this out so brilliantly. You can just feel his pain that he has brought this on his people.
The thing(s) I hated about this episode…Aside from the issue I mention above when talking about what I’d change, I just hate how Uther treats Arthur. When Arthur wants to go for help to feed the people and Uther blames the situation on Arthur… And he’s not even blaming the right thing. It’s not about Arthur killing the unicorn. Oh no, it’s that Arthur failed to kill the sorcerer. Then when everything is good again, he’s so blase about it. Oh good, now go and make sure the grain stores get stocked again. WTF, Uther, would a little praise be so difficult? Is it any wonder Arthur has daddy issues?
Something I never noticed about this episode before—I’ve seen this one a number of times too, but I actually did notice something new. Or something that didn’t connect in my head, at least.
Essentially, it was Merlin who decided Arthur’s final test. When he goes to Anhora and begs him to give Arthur another chance, Anhora asks if Merlin has faith in Arthur. Merlin’s response, “I trust him with my life.” Anhora gets this weird look on his face then agrees.
At the labyrinth, Anhora is waiting to trap Merlin and basically makes him the test. Was Merlin right to trust Arthur with his life, because it is now very much in Arthur’s hands.
Favorite Most Hated costumes— I don’t have a favorite in this episode, to be honest. I can tell you the ones I hated. Loathed. Arthur’s red jacket. I do NOT like it.
And whatever Uther was wearing when he wanted Arthur to stop handing out rations.
This is the best pic I could find of his ensemble but it’s just weird. It’s like he’s dressing down or something. Why? To prove he’s “suffering” like his people? I don’t know, but it’s just dreadful looking.
And while we’re gazing at this pic, I don’t care for this jacket of Arthur’s either. It’s better than the red diddy, but just give me the leather trench, FFS, not some leather studded thing.
Here is proof of some random head canon I’ve created—I realized I skipped this question the last couple weeks, but I think everyone knows what my head canon is. Merthur all the way. Now in this episode, I think it’s so obvious Arthur’s true feelings for Merlin. First there is the line I mentioned in my answer above and why I think it’s so important. Then, there’s the fact that Arthur constantly complains about Merlin and how annoying he is. But who is the person he insists on having with him all the time. Going to stake out the grain reserves? Sure, it’d make sense to, I don’t know, bring a knight or two with him, but oh no, Merlin must come. Heading to the forest to find Anhora, yep, Merlin’s coming. He wants him with him ALL THE TIME. 😀 So yeah, this episode is major proof of Merthur, in my eyes.
What would Bron steal from Camelot in this episode? Morgana’s three-tiered necklace.
What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in this episode? That Arthur didn’t realize the man in the forest taunting him was a test. He had an idea that his first interaction with him was a test (which he passed and water was returned to Camelot). And now, it’s like he completely forgets that.
Until the next episode – To Kill the King – which we’ll be watching Monday, 4/7, at 8pm EST. We’ll be on Twitter with the hashtag #MerlinClub