MERLIN CLUB: The Witchfinder

Or The One Where Uther is Deceived…Again. 

So Merlin is out collecting firewood and stupidly decided, once sitting by the fire (not sure exactly why he has a fire going but whatevs), to use magic and make the shape of a horse with the smoke. 

Side note: This scene makes me sad. Because Merlin doesn’t have a whole lot of opportunity to use his magic for fun really. And look at the smile on his face when he just does something silly with it. But then the sadness that edges it out. 🙁 (Though still super not smart, Merlin, of doing this know, when you passed people as you were gathering wood. *sigh*)

Unfortunately, it is seen by a woman who freaks the fuck out over it and rushes to go tell the king. 

Arthur says he’ll find out who did the magic, but Uther decides that stronger measures need to be taken. Because, people, a horse of smoke… How can he allow such insidious magic to go unchecked. He must bring in the “the Witchfinder”. Seriously, this annoys me. With all the magic we’ve seen in this show, which has been much more dangerous and threatening and often targeted towards the royal family, it’s a freaking horse conjured by smoke that pushes Uther to bring in the big guns? How does that even make sense?
Anyhoo, Gaius tries to convince Uther to go another way, but the king stays firm in his decision. Back in their quarters, Gaius gets after Merlin about using magic like that and tells him to hide anything that connects him to magic.

The Witchfinder, a dude named Aredian (and also known to us as Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones) arrives. 

Morgan is watching from her window, terrified. Uther tells Arthur that Aredian doesn’t work for anyone and is a law unto himself. Then, Aredian walks in and announces that Camelot stinks of sorcery. He refuses help from Arthur and his knights, since his methods are clearly superior. 

The following day, Merlin and Gaius run into Aredian in town. The Witchfinder asks to see Merlin in his chambers for questioning. During this questioning, Merlin denies seeing anything magical. While he is obviously unconvinced, Aredian lets him leave. Later, he brings three women to the King, and they all describe “magical” happenings in Camelot.

Merlin is named as a suspect. Arthur’s look of disbelief is fabulous – and I can’t find a good shot of it – but it’s great, seriously. Merlin says he has nothing to hied and Aredian and his men search the physician’s chambers. The search is quite destructive and a magical bracelet is found in a pot. As Aredian leaves to bring it to Uther as proof of Merlin using magic, Gaius stops him and says the bracelet is his. 

When Merlin returns to the chambers, he’s shaken by the state of the rooms and the fact that Gaius is now in the dungeons accused of sorcery. Uther is shocked that Gauis is apparently still using sorcery, having believed he gave that up during the Great Purge. Aredian is all gloating and in need of a good smack across the face. Gaius’ interrogations are not pretty and is refused basics like water unless he confesses.vlcsnap-2011-05-07-00h55m03s255

Merlin goes to the Great Dragon for help. He’s told that even if he does confess to being the sorcerer, Aredian would simply burn them both; he wouldn’t be saving Gaius. He tells Merlin he cannot help because he doesn’t know how to and that he’s sorry Merlin is so distressed. Merlin leaves even more upset. 


During a session of questions, Gaius mentions having treated Morgana (along with many others) and Aredian latches onto that and pulls the king’s ward in for questioning.

We finally understand how evil Aredian in this scene because…

Nothing says evil like a skull ink well, my friends. Between that and Aredian’s all-black ensemble, he is clearly the bad guy. Make no mistake.

When asked, Morgana says that she was treated by Gaius for nightmares, and when pressed, admits that the nightmares had been getting worse and she doesn’t know what was in the potions Gaius gave her. Aredian concludes that Gaius was giving her nightmares. Though he seems to still suspect Morgana of magic. He then tells Gaius that Morgan and Merlin will join him in the flames. The physician makes a deal—he will confess if Aredian leaves the other two alone. 


In front of the court, Gaius confesses he is the sorcerer who is responsible for everything happening in Camelot lately. Uther is all offended and hurt and sentences his “friend” to death the following day. Merlin is PISSED and as Gaius is being taken out, he accuses Aredian of lying, but Arthur jumps up and drags him from the room.

Merlin tries to fight him off but Arthur assures him he isn’t throwing him in a cell. He’s breaking the law and allowing Merlin to see Gaius.

The older man tells Merlin that he was trying to protect him. Merlin says the bracelet wasn’t his, and the pair realize Aredian must have planted the bracelet. Merlin is determined to prove Gaius’ innocence but Gauis insists he do nothing, fearing Merlin may die too if he attempts it. 

Morgana watches from a window as the pyre is set up for Gaius’ execution, and Aredian appears behind her. Gwen bursts into Gaius’ chambers to tell Merlin that Aredian isn’t stopping; he has Morgana and she is close to breaking point. Merlin tells her that Gaius has been set up. He goes off to sneak in Aredian’s room and search it. He finds some flower petals and nearly gets caught but manages to escape. Like he does.

Merlin and Gwen go through Gaius’ books and find that the petals Merlin found are Belladonna and can be used to produce powerful hallucinations. They deduct that they were used somehow on the “witnesses” Aredian brought before the king. They go into town and talk to the dude that sells potions and stuff—apothecary? Chemist? After some prodding, he admits he was given eyedrops from Aredian to sell. The witch finder threatened him with death if he didn’t sell them. 

Merlin sneaks into Aredian’s chambers while the man is sleeping and performs some magic. Next morning, Gauis is being led to the pyre. 

Gwen says she will convince Arthur to delay the execution. In the square, people are gathering. Uther is looking on but leaves before Gaius is even in position to die. Gwen begs Arthur to stop the execution, but he says he can’t as the king has already order it. Gwen gets angry and says he can do the right thing, that he doesn’t have to stand by and let another innocent man…like her father. Ouch. She tells him to start acing like a prince. After a moment of shock, Arthur stops the proceedings just as Aredian is about to light the pyre. 

In front of Uther, Merlin states his case against Aredian, with the help of the man who had been coerced into selling the Belladonna eyedrops. Aredian denies all this, of course. Arthur defends Merlin and suggests a search of Aredian’s room. That results in revealing a bunch of bracelets similar to the one found in Gaius’ chambers and a store of the eyedrops—these were clearly conjured by Merlin when he snuck in the night before. Clever boy. Aredian still insists he’s innocent but sudden is choking and gagging, and toad falls from his mouth. Uther takes this as confirmation that Aredian is a sorcerer, but a desperate Aredian grabs Morgana and holds a knife to her throat. Merlin uses magic to make the hit burn…and seriously, no one notices this or the smell of burning flesh? *sigh* Aredian stumbles back in pain, trips over a chest and falls out the window.

He’s dead, people. Dead, dead, dead. 

Gauis is freed and is beginning the long process of putting his chambers back in order. Utther comes in and says he’s pay for anything that was destroyed. He apologizes that Gaius suffered at Aredian’s hands. Gaius says he didn’t suffer at Aredian’s hands; he suffered at Uther’s. Aredian was simply doing Uther’s bidding. Uther protests that he was deceived. 

But Gaius is having none of that. 

He tells his king that his fear of magic has robbed him of reason and he sees enemies where there are none. He isn’t the first wrongly accused, and most haven’t been as lucky as Gaius. The physician then basically dismisses the king saying he has work do do. Uther insistes that all measures will be taken to make sure this doesn’t happen again. 

That night while eating dinner, Gaius discuss what happened and the older man accuses Merlin of overdoing it. Merlin jokingly promises to never save Gaius’ life again. They laugh and all is well.

 If I’d written this episode, I would have changed… The whole concept of the Witchfinder. Why was he never mentioned or brought in before. There have been how many magical threats towards Camelot, Uther and Arthur and it takes a horse conjured of smoke to bring him in. Really? Wouldn’t it have made sense to bring him in when the water was killing people? Before they knew it was the work of Nimueh? Or when they thought Morgana was kidnapped and they were rounding up suspected witches? Or dozens of other times! 

Nope. Clearly, everyone, this…

…is more threatening and urgent than this…
Totally makes sense, Uther. Totally and completely. 
The thing(s) I loved about this episode—I loved seeing Gwen and Merlin working together to figure out what Aredian did. They were awesome together
Loved that Arthur listened to Gwen in the end and acted, despite going against his father’s word. 
Loved how quickly Arthur was up and out of his chair, dragging Merlin away, when Merlin went to confront Aredian.
Merthur! I love it. 
And finally, loved that Gaius didn’t let Uther smooth it all over with words at the end. That he finally called Uther out on some things. And let his king, his friend, know that everything wasn’t okay between them. 
The thing(s) I hated about this episode—No surprise, I loathed Uther in this episode. He pissed me right off. Like after Gaius says the bracelet is his and Uther is talking to Aredian, he fully admits he knows Aredian’s methods and that he didn’t know that Gaius could hold up under them. You dick. 
Hey, Uther…
So he knows that Aredian basically tortures prisoners, denies them food and water, and all of that… Well, no wonder his methods are so “effective”. 
And him looking so hurt when Gaius confesses. Seriously? What did you expect? 
Then when Gauis is being brought out for his execution, the king doesn’t even have the balls to stay and watch what he ordered! He runs back inside, leaving this son to oversee the burning, essentially. 
Hey, Uther….
Then the last scene between Uther and Gaius… Uther is all “I can’t believe Aredian was a sorcerer.” You had no problem believing it of Gaius, but oh no, this stranger you call in to hunt witches…that is unreal, so difficult to believe. And when Gaius calls him on his bullshit, him looking all hurt and saying “I was deceived…”
OMG, I was just all…
Hey, Uther…
I’m so sick of Uther and his I-Was-Deceived card that is supposed to magically (see what I did there?) erase all his assholery. 

Something I never noticed about this episode before—That is was Sir Leon leading the group of knights/guards that searched Gaius and Merlin’s chambers, and he was the one that broke the pot that the bracelet was hidden in. Damn it, Leon! Though I stand my by assessment that he’s smart. Doing what Uther tells him, not making waves, waiting it out until Arthur’s rule. Because we KNOW he’s better than this. Yes, I love Sir Leon. 

Favorite costume—Aredian’s ensemble. Just because the all black=evil theme. And the hat (pictured above) really rounds out the whole look. 

Here is proof of some random head canon I’ve created—Well obviously I didn’t create the Merthur head canon, but that’s where I reside much of the time. 🙂 So this episode, the fact that Arthur reacts so damned quickly when Merlin goes after Aredian, shows me just how close they are. He’s so in tune with his manservant. He was watching Merlin. Not what else was going on or worrying how his father would react to his friend’s “betrayal”. Nope, it was all about Merlin. 

What would Bron steal from Camelot in this episode? Either the belt on the girl/witness on the left OR Morgana’s necklace.

What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in this episode?
In a good way? This: 
ASH in chainmail AND leather… Jen may need a moment, or several. 🙂 

Until the next episode—The Sins of the Father—which we’ll be watching Monday, 6/2, at 8pm EST. We’ll be on Twitter with the hashtag #MerlinClub.

2 Replies to “MERLIN CLUB: The Witchfinder”

  1. HORSE SMOKE IS THE MOST GRIEVOUS MAGIC, JESS!!! Sheesh. Also, that screen cap of Arthur’s disbelief is hilarious. And I’ll totally take that belt and the necklace. What can I say? I like to accessorize.

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