will be making some changes to our user base starting Feb 25, 2015. For more information click here


Season 1 Episode 13

Le Morte d'Arthur

Aired Unknown Dec 13, 2008 on BBC
out of 10
User Rating
523 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

When out on a hunt, Arthur encounters a huge monstrous creature never before seen. Gaius realises it is a Questing Beast, a creature conjured from the nightmares of a long-dead king, whose bite is always fatal. When Arthur faces the creature again, it is vanquished... but Arthur is bitten and his life hangs in the balance. Merlin is told by the Great Dragon to seek the Isle of the Blessed, where members of the old religion have the power to save the future king. However, there is a price to pay. In order for a life to be saved, a life must be taken...moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.
  • 'You have taught me so much, taught me who I am, taught me the purpose for my skills, taught me that magic should only be used for great deeds, but most of all, you have always taught me to do what is right.' (SPOILERS)moreless

    The final episode of the series takes its name from one of the most famous works of Arthurian literature- and it seems that the episode has the same ambitions. When out hunting, Arthur and Merlin come across a fearsome creature which Gaius works out to be the Questing Beast, a dangerous and deadly monster who can kill with just one bite. It is also prophecied to appear at a time of great upheaval. Naturally, Uther brushes this away and orders Arthur to kill the creature. On their next hunt, Arthur and Merlin encounter the Beast again and it is vanquished... but Arthur is bitten and lies close to death. Distraught- and with no way of curing him through conventional means- Merlin asks the Great Dragon for help. The Dragon tells him to find the Isle of the Blessed, where the old religion has its power, where someone will be able to cure Arthur. But there is a price to pay: for in order for a life to be given, a life must be taken... The first series, which has arguably hit more than it has missed, ends with a strong story full of strong performances.

    Colin Morgan is absolutely brilliant here. Strong, determined, vulnerable, angry, resigned, fighting... its a strong performance which must rank with some of the better performances he's given throughout the series. His sacrifice is noble and tender and the scene in which he decides to give up his life to save his mother is heartbreaking in its simplicity and sincerity. Similar kudos must go to Richard Wilson as his performance as Gaius is probably the best since A Remedy To Cure All Ills. He also is noble in the sacrifice he makes and I genuinely thought the cliffhanger ending of the episode would be Merlin trying to revive Gaius... but not to be, the wise old physician lives on to fight another day. To be honest, the show would be weaker without Gaius and Wilson's always dependable and deep performance. Bradley James is good as Arthur although his attitude in the final scene before Merlin goes off to die is a little puzzling. As a character, Arthur has swung between arrogant jackass and noble prince and its arguably when he's the latter that he's more sympathetic. Better is his very nice scene with Gwen when he's recovered and he jokes with her about what she said about him. The past few episodes have hinted at the Arthur/Guinevere relationship that is to come and it's worked well. Angel Coulby only has a few scenes but she does well with it, especially in the tender moment when she tells Arthur he isn't going to die because he will lead Camelot to fairness and justice. Anthony Head doesn't get a lot but does well with it. There's an incredibly powerful moment when he's carrying the comatose Arthur across the courtyard and he breaks down in tears. Always better when you see Uther the man rather than Uther the king, there are a few moments which shine here. Katie McGrath is given little to do, although the writers seem to have taken a leaf from the Ancient Greek's book in presenting Morgana as a kind of Cassandra figure in this episode: cursed with prophecy and attempting to warn those who will get hurt yet ignored and dismissed... until its shown she's right. The episode- and this series- ends with her waking from another disturbing dream. Does it have anything to do with the raging of the Great Dragon in his cave beneath the castle? Time will tell...

    The whole story revolves around the old religion, the balance of life and death and good and evil. It is interesting to see characters taking up contrary positions: Gaius, whose books of lore and old myth have informed the entire series, states that he doesn't believe in superstition when giving Merlin the rabbit's foot yet calls the Questing Beast's appearance 'an omen'; similarly Uther who states he doesn't believe in miracles yet says to Arthur he may need 'a guardian angel' on his way to becoming King. Several interesting twists are thrown in, most notably the true self-serving nature of the Great Dragon who only wants Arthur to be king because he will then be free. His final raging against Merlin hints at something interesting for the second series. I have to say this has probably been John Hurt's best vocal performance as the Dragon as he's finally been given something juicy to do. Similarly, Michelle Ryan looks like she's having an absolute ball as Nimueh. Yes, it is she who resides in the Isle of the Blessed and she who will grant Merlin's wish. Ryan seems to absolutely relish the wickedness of the character and gives a very spirited performance. The long-awaited Merlin/Nimueh smackdown looks very good but is a little brief for my liking, although the effects are good. It's a very good final episode to a very good first series. OK, the writers have played fast and loose with some of the accepted truth of Arthurian legend but it's always been fun. I look forward to seeing the second series when it comes out next year.moreless
  • Evil never really goes away.

    It just finds a more willing host, and the sweet ward of the King seems destined to get in touch with her dark side...

    This series and shows like it, have been a godsend this year in terms of providing a 60 minute get-away each week, and coming away from it with a fully exercised imagination. Unconventional or not, this version of the classic has me hugely entertained, much in the way of "Seeker", "True Blood" and "Fringe". I think the performances of Colin Morgan and Bradley James have matured beautifully over the season, and the bond between their characters has also been nicely solidified as witnessed by the "so long, its been good to know you" scene between them prior to Merlin's supposed "final" departure.

    As season-enders go, this one seemed to be less than cliff-hanging until the final 10 seconds with a Morgana...what?...supercharged by an evil older than time? And perhaps to be aided and abetted by a P.O'd dragon...?

    Dunno. But I WILL be back to find out!moreless
  • Arthur gets bitten by a questing beast, and Merlin has to set out on a mission to save him.

    One of my absolute favorite episodes! Merlin shows just how far his loyalty to Arthur is when he offers his life up for the injured prince. Then he proves just how powerful he can be when he defeats the high priestess Nimueh in the end and trades her life instead. He's getting closer and closer to becoming the legend he is destined to be.

    The storyline was well written, and the actors did a wonderful job portraying their individual roles. I enjoyed all the extra scenes with Gaius, and am so glad the writers decided against killing off Gaius like they had first planned. This is an episode that calls out to be watched over and over.moreless
  • The Questing Beast a mythological creature rumored to bring grief to a kingdom returns to Camelot. One bite kills. Arthur is bitten as Merlin kills the beast. Arthur decides to do anything he can including sacrifice himself to save Arthur.moreless

    We've thirteen episodes where Merlin continually saves the day. In this episode he decides to sacrifice himself to save Arthur.

    Uther sends Arthur out to kill the beast. Morgana seeing the future tries to stop Arthur from going. When the time comes Arthur is lucky to have Merlin at his side to slay the beast but unfortunately he is bitten before Merlin can dispatch it.

    Now the deed is done. There is no cure for the bite and Arthur will die. Merlin not one to accept fate or reality for that matter. He goes to the Dragon and asks for a cure. This brings about one of the best quests we have seen this season.

    Merlin goes to the Isle of the Blessed to seek a trade of his life for Arthur's. Surprisingly he comes upon Nimueh played by Michelle Ryan. He offers his life for Arthur's but she of course corrupts the bargain.

    Things become a nightmare for Arthur until after almost sacrificing the people closest to him he starts to mature into the man and sorcerer the world will remember. He destroys Nimueh in the end restoring the balance of life and death (much to her surprise) and things should return to normal.

    This episode was most interesting because Merlin defies the Dragon and then defies and faces Nimueh all in the same episode. This is something only a very old and powerful sorcerer could or would ever do. We are seeing the maturation of Merlin in much the same way we've seen it in Arthur the last half dozen or so episodes. Merlin the sorcerer was a man of legend who changed the fates of the world. He set fate in motion and didn't wait for others to write history.

    I will be interested to see if we are back to the old Merlin or this new one in series 2?

    I liked the overall storyline but the execution was a little iffy in places so even though this was one of the better storylines of the series I don't rate it as high as say The Moment of Truth. Thanks for reading...moreless
  • A brilliant season finale... thank God there's going to be a second season!

    This episode is one of my favourites. When Arthur is bitten by the Questing Beast, his life hangs in the balance and everyone scrambles to come to terms with the possibility that the great hope of Camelot may not be there tomorrow. The reason this was such a brilliant culmination of the season is that it really shows how the multitude of diverse characters have come into their own, and come together. Uther is never likeable, but Anthony Head is a genius and manages to portray him as a deep, emotionally traumatized character whose aggression and unwavering hatred of magic is in this episode overshadowed by an astounding love for his only son. His grief at Arthur's predicament is moving and never overacted. There is a particularly poignant scene where Uther carries the unconscious Arthur across the courtyard (I hate to take away from the seriousness of this, but did Anthony Head actually have to carry Bradley James? He must have some serious upper body strength!). The loss and devestation on his face is heartbreaking, and particular shocking considering his usual stony demeanour. Throughout the episode Uther struggles with an overwhelming grief and we are shown once again how much he truly cares for Arthur.

    Merlin, of course, is completely frantic. Another reason I like this episode is that it nicely bookends the first episode - remember Merlin saying to the dragon, "Anyone who wants to kill him can go ahead - in fact, I'll give them a hand!"? Well things have changed, and now Merlin is willing to sacrifice his life for his friend, which really shows the purity of Merlin's spirit. The noble gesture saves Arthur's life, but unfortunately backfires as Arthur's mother falls desperately ill. Colin Morgan is brilliant at making Merlin look distraught and torn while not going into soap opera territory. I have never been a big fan of Nimueh, her character seems unremarkable to me, but her presence here was an interesting twist and the final showdown where Merlin angrily challenges her after he thinks she killed Gaius is a nice end to the episode. That relationship has been a constant grounding in the show and Richard Wilson brings an essential presence to the show.

    An Arthur-Merlin scene worth mentioning is the scene where Merlin says goodbye to Arthur - without really saying 'goodbye' of course, because he can't let Arthur know what he's doing. It really shows the strength of their friendship that Merlin can laugh and smile at Arthur's cocky - but good natured - comments, which at the beginning of the series really offended him - and the progression and softening of Arthur's character, as Merlin calls him a prat and he laughs. It's pathetic but I actually had a tear in my eye when I watched that.

    I love Katie McGrath as Morgana. She is completely brilliant! I think she's going to be absolutely phenomenal as a villain when she eventually turns, but I'm going to be upset when she does because I really like her. I'm glad the show has decided to really invest in her journey to the dark side though, not just making her turn evil for no reason whatsoever the way some supernatural shows have done with their characters. She has such a presence on the screen, I think she will only get better with time, and what happens with her next season should have an interesting effect on the rest of the characters.

    As much as I like Gwen - because she is really impossible not to like - I do prefer the old chemistry between Arthur and Morgana. But I don't want to cast judgment on that relationship just yet, as it's barely started - I did think the scene where she talks to Arthur while he's unconscious was quite sweet, and so was the joky excerpt where Arthur mortifies her by revealing he remembers what she said.

    Overall, this episode was really dynamic. Mainly, it really made an impression of Arthur not being just an essential part of the future but also an essential person in many people's lives. I think it's commendable and very important that they keep this character really human and vulnerable and not just a figurehead for the whole Arthurian crusade and Merlin's destiny. Since Bradley James didn't have much to do this episode rather than be unconscious (though he looked hot doing it :D) I think it's necessary to mention that he does do a really good job with Arthur - even when he's being a prat he's great to watch. I can't wait till next season!moreless
Michelle Ryan

Michelle Ryan


Guest Star

Caroline Faber

Caroline Faber


Guest Star

John Hurt

John Hurt

Voice of the Great Dragon

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (24)

    • Goof: In the scene where Uther carries Arthur in his arms, a sewer can be seen in the castle courtyard at their back.

    • The scene where Merlin rides from the Island of the Blessed to Camelot and the scene where Merlin rides from Camelot to the Island of the Blessed is exactly the same take but mirrored. Instead of doing a reverse shot the take has just been flipped over.

    • Footage from episode 1x06 A Remedy to Cure All Ills is used in the scene where the windows of Arthur's lit up chambers are depicted at night from the outside (the corresponding scene in 1x06 being the one where the windows of Uther's lit up chambers are depicted at night from the outside.)

      However, the shape of the windows clearly differs when they are depicted from the inside and when they are depicted from the outside.

    • Goof: After Merlin drops the spear, the arrow carrier he is carrying on his left shoulder falls and hangs from his arm. In the next shot, it is back in place on his shoulder only to hang from his arm again in the following shot. Then he holds it in his hand, but the next second it's up on his shoulder again.

    • Goof: Merlin leaves Camelot riding a horse that isn't the same one he is riding when he approaches the Island of the Blessed. Then, he arrives to Camelot on the first horse again.

    • When the wind blows his scarf out of place, Merlin can be seen wearing a black undershirt under his blue shirt.

    • Goof: When Nimueh provokes rain to fill the Cup of Life, she isn't rained on contrary to Merlin. However, when she hands Merlin the water container, her arm is soaking. Also, when Merlin leaves, he is dry again.

    • Goof: How does Merlin reach the Island of the Blessed the second time if Gaius has used the boat?

    • Gaius refers to Nimueh as 'My Lady'.

    • Following the plotline about Arthur's birth that was started in episode 1x09 Excalibur, we learn that Gaius was the one who sought once and again Nimueh's help for Ygraine to conceive Uther's son.

    • Merlin tells Arthur: 'You are a prat, and a royal one'. It is a wink to episode 1x01 The Dragon's Call, where Merlin told those some words to Arthur when they first met.

    • By killing Nimueh and restoring the balance of the world, Merlin has mastered the power of life and death.

    • The Great Dragon, Merlin and Nimueh are all creatures of the Old Religion.

    • Sir Bedivere, one of Camelot's knights, is killed by the Questing Beast after he helps Merlin stand up and carry on running from it.

    • Goof: Merlin doesn't tie his horse when he goes in the boat for the Isle of the Blessed.

    • Goof: Even though Merlin brings Arthur enough water to take some sips, when Gaius first gives him some, hardly two drops fall from the receptacle.

    • Goof: When Gwen nurses Arthur she is supposed to dip the compress that keeps Arthur's forehead cool in water. However, the bowl is clearly empty since she doesn't wring it out.

      Also, before Gwen removes the compress from Arthur's forehead, his right hand rests on the sheet. In the next take, it rests on his chest only to be back on the sheet seconds after.

    • Goof: Gaius gives Merlin a rabbit's foot that his mother gave him. However, it's a rabbit's tail, not a foot.

    • Goof: When Arthur is brought into Gaius' chambers, he is lacking the hard pieces of his armour that he was wearing when he was hurt.

    • Goof: The Questing Beast takes a swipe at Arthur. However, it's said once and again that he has been bitten by it.

    • Goof: When Merlin and Arthur are looking for the Questing Beast, Merlin is carrying a bag on his shoulders. However, as they enter the cave where the beast attacks Arthur, Merlin's bag is nowhere to be seen.

    • Goof: Uther asks Arthur to summon the knights and then says 'we ride at dawn' but he doesn't join in the chase of the Questing Beast.

    • When Nimueh and Merlin first meet at the Isle of the Blessed, Merlin mentions Nimueh trying to kill him. This refers to episode 1x04 The Poisoned Chalice, when Nimueh poisoned Merlin.

      Nimueh also says that 'Arthur is not destined to die at her hand'; she told Arthur that in the same episode. Nimueh tells Merlin that 'a life must be taken if a life is given'; she said the same to Uther in episode 1x09 Excalibur.

    • Goof: During the introduction, one of Arthur's knights has a crossbow that he aims at the creature. On some shots it can be seen that the crossbow isn't charged.

  • QUOTES (25)

    • Merlin: Gaius! You're alive!
      Gaius: What did you do?
      Merlin: Nimueh's dead. The balance of the world has been restored.
      Gaius: You amaze me. You've mastered the power of life and death itself. We'll make a great warlock of you yet.
      Merlin: So you believe in me now?
      Gaius: Well, I would do... if... if you could... stop this blasted rain.

    • Nimueh: You too are a creature of the old religion. You should join me.
      Merlin: You think I would join forces with such a selfish and cruel magic? Never.
      Nimueh: So be it. (She casts a fireball that hits Merlin square in the chest, knocking him down. She walks over to him) Pity. Together we could have ruled the world.
      (Nimueh walks away; Merlin gets up)
      Merlin: You should not have killed my friend.
      (Merlin conjures a lightning bolt which hits Nimueh, incinerating her)

    • (Merlin finds Nimueh at the altar casting a spell and Gaius lying on the floor)
      Nimueh: Back again so soon, warlock?
      Merlin: What have you done?
      Nimueh: Your mother is safe. Isn't that what you wanted?
      Merlin: Have you killed him?
      Nimueh: It was his wish.
      Merlin: I bid my life to save Arthur's! Not my mother's, not Gaius'!
      Nimueh: The old religion does not care who lives and who dies! Only that the balance of the world is restored. To save a life, a life must be taken. Gaius knew this.
      Merlin: It is not the old religion that has done this, it is you!
      Nimueh: Come now, we are too valuable to each other to be enemies.

    • (Gaius travels to the Isle of the Blessed and meets Nimueh)
      Nimueh: I never thought I'd see you here again.
      Gaius: My lady.
      Nimueh: It's a long time since you called me that.
      Gaius: I've come to ask for your help.
      Nimueh: As you did once before, for Uther? You did not like the outcome.
      Gaius: I offer you a chance to atone for the death of his wife.
      Nimueh: I have saved the life of her son. What more do you ask for?
      Gaius: That this time, you take a just price. Merlin intends to offer his life for his mother's. I want you to take mine in his place.
      Nimueh: (laughing) With all my powers of prediction, I could never have foretold this. Gaius the hero. Why should I grant your wish? You stood and watched as our friends burned in the Great Purge. You are nothing but a traitor.
      Gaius: Merlin is the one man who can bring magic back to this land. At Arthur's side he can help forge a new kingdom. A world of peace and beauty that we can only dream of.
      Nimueh: And you're willing to give your life, Gaius, for the future they will bring? I'm waiting. Are you ready to die, Gaius? Gaius?
      Gaius: For Merlin, I will give my life.

    • Gaius: (voice-over; his letter to Merlin) Dear Merlin, my life is already near to its end. There has, for the most part, been very little purpose to it. Very little that will be remembered. In contrast, Merlin, your life is destined for greatness. Live by the tenets I have taught you and I believe you will, in time, become the greatest warlock ever. To have known you has been my greatest pleasure and to sacrifice myself for you is but an honour. You are, and always will be, the son I never had.

    • Merlin: I'm going to make you well again. I promise. You'll see.
      Hunith: You're such a good son.
      Merlin: But I don't want you to worry about me. I know that the gods will look after me and that, one day, I will see you again.
      Hunith: I'll miss you.
      Merlin: I'll miss you too.

    • Merlin: I need to talk to you.
      Arthur: You still haven't got it yet, have you? I decide when we need to talk.
      Merlin: Not today.
      Arthur: I sometimes wonder if you know who I am.
      Merlin: Oh, I know who you are.
      Arthur: Good.
      Merlin: You're a prat, and a royal one.
      Arthur: Are you ever going to change, Merlin?
      Merlin: No. You'd get bored. Promise me this. If you get another servant, don't get a bootlicker.
      Arthur: If this is you trying to leave your job...
      Merlin: No. I'm happy to be your servant. Til the day I die.
      Arthur: Sometimes I think I know you, Merlin. Other times...
      Merlin: Well, I know you. You're a great warrior. One day, you'll be a great king.
      Arthur: That's very kind of you.
      Merlin: But you must learn to listen as well as you fight.
      Arthur: Any other pointers?
      Merlin: No. That's it. Just... don't be a prat.

    • Merlin: I have to save her.
      Gaius: You cannot.
      Merlin: If the balance of the world needs a life, then Nimueh must take mine.
      Gaius: No, Merlin.
      Merlin: Yes. I must return to the island.
      Gaius: You are young. Your gifts, your destiny, are much too precious to sacrifice.
      Merlin: My destiny? This is my mother! My powers mean nothing if I cannot save her. (pause) You have taught me so much, taught me who I am, taught me the purpose for my skills, taught me that magic should only be used for great deeds, but most of all, you have always taught me to do what is right.
      Gaius: Merlin...
      Merlin: (starting to cry) I need to say goodbye to Arthur.

    • Merlin: You knew this would happen! You had me trade my mother's life for Arthur's!
      The Great Dragon: You said you would do anything.
      Merlin: Did you know my mother would die?
      The Great Dragon: I knew the price would be a heavy one.
      Merlin: But you sent me anyway.
      The Great Dragon: We need Arthur to live.
      Merlin: I'm not one of you!
      The Great Dragon: We are both creatures of the old religion. It is the source of your power.
      Merlin: What's that supposed to mean?
      The Great Dragon: Your destiny is to protect the young Pendragon until he claims his crown and, when he does, magic can be returned to the realm. Only then will I be free.
      Merlin: So that's all you cared about. I though you were my friend.
      The Great Dragon: I am more than that, Merlin. I am your kin.
      Merlin: No. The only family I have is my mother and you had me murder her.
      The Great Dragon: Her life has not been taken in vain. We will achieve great things together, you and I.
      Merlin: You will never be released! For what you've done, I'll make sure you never see the light!

    • (Gwen enters the chamber and sees Arthur has recovered)
      Gwen: I knew it. I said you'd be alright.
      Arthur: I can remember you talking to me.
      Gwen: You can?
      Arthur: You stroked my forehead.
      Gwen: I was tending to your fever.
      Arthur: Never lost faith.
      Gwen: I was just talking.
      Arthur: Tell me again what you said.
      Gwen: I don't remember.
      Arthur: Yes, you do.
      Gwen: No, I don't.
      Arthur: Come on. Something about 'the man I am inside'.
      Gwen: (embarrassed) No. I never said that.

    • Uther: I thought we'd lost you.
      Arthur: Don't worry, father. I'm not going to die. I think there's someone watching over me, keeping me from harm.
      Uther: Maybe you're right. On your long journey to become king, you'll need a guardian angel.

    • Morgana: Please, Merlin, you must beware. This is only the beginning.

    • Merlin: We need to give this to Arthur.
      Gaius: What is it?
      Merlin: Water drawn from the Cup of Life. If Arthur drinks from it, he will recover. Please hurry.(Gaius stops at the doorway) What are you waiting for?
      Gaius: What price did you pay to redeem his life? Whose life did you bargain?
      Merlin: We don't have time...
      Gaius: Merlin!
      Merlin: Don't worry, Gaius. Everything's going to be alright!

    • (Merlin travels to the Isle of the Blessed and meets Nimueh)
      Merlin: You can't be who the Dragon meant.
      Nimueh: Why is that?
      Merlin: You tried to kill me.
      Nimueh: Before I understood your importance.
      Merlin: And Arthur?
      Nimueh: Arthur was never destined to die at my hand. And now it seems I will be his salvation.
      Merlin: So you know what I've come to ask.
      Nimueh: Yes.
      Merlin: Will you do it?
      Nimueh: I do not have the power to mirror life itself and yet give nothing in return.
      Merlin: I know that a price would be asked.
      Nimueh: To save a life, there must be a death. The balance of the world must be restored.
      Merlin: I willingly give my life for Arthur's.
      Nimueh: How brave you are, Merlin. If only it were that simple.
      Merlin: What do you mean?
      Nimueh: Once you enter into this bargain, it cannot be undone.
      Merlin: Whatever I have to do, I will do. His life is worth a hundred of mine.
      Nimueh: (taking a cup from the altar) The Cup of Life. Blessed by centuries of powerful sorcerers so that it contains the very secret of life itself. If Arthur drinks water from the cup, he will live.
      (Merlin takes the cup. Nimueh casts a spell and it begins to rain, filling the cup. It stops raining. Nimueh pours the water from the cup into a flask and hands the flask to Merlin)
      Nimueh: The bargain is struck. I hope it pleases you.

    • (Uther sees a candlelit vigil being held for Arthur in the courtyard)
      Uther: The people have begun to say goodbye.
      Gaius: He's not yet gone, sire.
      Uther: But he will not recover.
      Gaius: Not without a miracle.
      Uther: I don't believe in miracles.

    • Gwen: (whilst nursing Arthur) You're not going to die, Arthur. I'm telling you. Because I know that one day, you will be king. A greater king than your father could ever be. It's what keeps me going. You are going to live to be the man I've seen inside you, Arthur. I can see a Camelot that is fair and just. I can see a king the people will love and be proud to call their sovereign. For the love of Camelot, you have to live.

    • The Great Dragon: (voice-over) You must travel to the place that men call the Isle of the Blessed. Beyond the White Mountains, through the Valley of the Fallen Kings. To the north of the Great Seas of Meridor, you will find a lake.

    • Gaius: I'm going to give you this. My mother gave it to me. It's a rabbit's foot.
      Merlin: To keep you safe.
      Gaius: It was said to protect you from evil spirits. It's rubbish. I don't believe in superstitions. I don't know why I gave it to you.
      Merlin: No. I want it. Thank you.

    • Merlin: The Beast comes from the old religion. The cure must come from there as well.
      Gaius: There are not many left with such an art.
      Merlin: You said yourself the old religion is still alive and there is an island beyond the White Mountains...
      Gaius: No!
      Merlin: The Isle of the Blessed. You know it?
      Gaius: It was said to be the centre of the old religion, the focus of its power.
      Merlin: Why did you keep this from me?
      Gaius: Because it was too dangerous, Merlin.
      Merlin: It's our only chance! I have to find it!
      Gaius: Once you are there, what will you ask?
      Merlin: For Arthur to be saved.
      Gaius: The Questing Beast chose Arthur. That means the old religion has decided his fate.
      Merlin: Then I will convince them to change their minds.
      Gaius: It's not that simple! The high priests have the power to mirror life and death, but there will be a price to pay. They will demand a life in return. Merlin, please... I beg of you...
      Merlin: I'm sorry, Gaius. Whatever the price is, I will pay it gladly.

    • Merlin: I've failed Arthur. Failed in my destiny.
      The Great Dragon: And yet you would not be here if that were true.
      Merlin: He was bitten by the Questing Beast. He's going to die!
      The Great Dragon: Does he still breathe?
      Merlin: Only just.
      The Great Dragon: Then there is still enough time to heal him.
      Merlin: I've tried. I cannot save him.
      The Great Dragon: You do not know how to save him.
      Merlin: But you can tell me how?
      The Great Dragon: Perhaps. It will not be easy.
      Merlin: I would do anything.
      The Great Dragon: Anything?
      Merlin: Please, just tell me what I have to do.
      The Great Dragon: Very well. The Questing Beast is a creature conjured of the old religion. You must use the same ancient magic to save him.
      Merlin: But the old religion died out centuries ago.
      The Great Dragon: The old religion is the magic of the Earth itself! It is the essence which binds all things together. It will last long beyond the time of men.
      Merlin: But how could that help me save Arthur?
      The Great Dragon: You must find those that still serve it. Those who hold dominion over life and death.
      Merlin: Where?
      The Great Dragon: Go to the place that men call the Isle of the Blessed, where the power of the ancients can still be felt. There you will discover Arthur's salvation.
      Merlin: Thank you. Thank you!
      The Great Dragon: And Merlin... the young Pendragon must live. No matter what the cost.

    • (Arthur is bitten by the Questing Beast and lies near death)
      Merlin: He can't die! It's my destiny to protect him! We haven't done all the things we're meant to do.
      Gaius: That is the lament of all men.

    • Gaius: This is no ordinary beast, Merlin.
      Merlin: Don't worry.
      Gaius: No, listen to me. You don't understand. Uther may not respect the old religion, but it is very real. To face a beast such as this, you must understand where it came from.
      Merlin: What do you mean?
      Gaius: At the very heart of the old religion lies the magic of life and death itself. The Questing Beast carries that power. One bite, you die. And there is no cure.

    • Gaius: I beg you, sire, do not dismiss this. The Beast is an omen. I've seen it come before, the night your wife Ygraine passed away.
      Uther: I've told you not to speak of that night again! I have conquered the old religion. Its warnings mean nothing to me now. Arthur will destroy the beast and we shall no longer suffer at its hand.

    • Gaius: The creature you describe has all the characteristics of the Questing Beast.
      Arthur: Surely that's a myth.
      Gaius: According to the old books, the appearance of the Questing Beast is supposed to foreshadow a time of great upheaval.
      Uther: Gaius, that's an old wives' tale.
      Arthur: Look, whatever it is, it's spreading panic. The people fear it will enter the city.
      Uther: Then we must kill it. Arthur, gather the guard together. You ride at dawn.

    • Arthur: Merlin, Spear.
      (Merlin clumsily drops the spear. Arthur grabs it from the ground and glares at Merlin.)
      Arthur: Do you have any natural gifts Merlin?
      Merlin (blankly): Now...let me think. I'm not naturally rude or insensitive.
      Arthur: Just naturally irritating.

  • NOTES (16)

    • Bradley James (Arthur) and Caroline Faber (Hunith) co-star in the Tom Harper's 2008 British TV movie Dis/Connected.

      Another Dis/Connected actors makes an appearance in Merlin: Holly Grainger (episode 1x07 The Gates of Avalon) and Kyle Redmond-Jones plays Sir Owain in episode 1x09 Excalibur.

    • Will Willoughby (who needed a black wig) is the stuntman for Colin Morgan in the scenes of the fight with Nimueh. Despite Colin does some stunts, there are some takes he wasn't allowed to be part of. Will Willoughby was catapulted with a hydraulic air ram which can break limbs in case it's not used properly. A doctor was present at all times on location.

    • During the fireball scene, Nimueh tells Merlin the line: 'I hope it pleases you' which according to Michelle Ryan required several takes to be shot because it made both actors giggle.

    • Michelle Ryan defines her red dress as 'amazing'.

    • According to Colin Gorry, effects supervisor, a hot-wire matrix on a fireproof plate was strapped to Colin Morgan's chest underneath his shirt so it would look like he is smouldering after being hit by the fire ball. The 24 volts wire came down Colin's left trouser leg and was plugged into a battery. It was insulated so he wouldn't actually feel a thing, although his mind tricked Colin into thinking he was burning for real.

    • According to Paul Herbert, stunt coordinator, a crane to suspend the actors from above couldn't be used at Raglan castle because it's a historical site so air rams, trampolines and crashing mats had to be used instead.

    • Colin Morgan was harnessed to a wire and mounted on a trampoline to be propelled into the air. He landed on a mat and it was good fun to him so he had to remind himself all the time not to smile.

    • Colin Morgan confessed to be a nervous wreck at the end of the day after shooting his stunts for the episode.

    • According to Richard Wilson, the original idea was to kill Gaius in this episode.

    • The old boat Merlin and Gaius use to reach the Island of the Blessed was pulled by an underwater pulley system that faked the magical glide.

    • Broadcasts:
      13 Dec 2008 at 19:10–19:55 on BBC One.
      5 Sep 2009 at19:45–20:30 on BBC Three.

    • This episode is old French for The Death of Arthur.

    • Filming locations:
      Château de Pierrefonds, Pierrefonds, Oise, France (Camelot).
      Cardiff, Wales, UK (Studio sets).
      Fountain Court, Raglan Castle, Raglan, Monmouthshire, Wales, UK. (Isle of the Blessed).

    • This episode is Richard Wilson's favourite from season 1.

    • Also Known As:
      France: La Mort d'Arthur.
      Germany: Merlin und die alten Mächte, meaning 'Merlin and the Old Powers'.
      Italy: La Morte di Artù.
      Portugal: A Morte De Arthur.
      Spain: La Muerte de Arturo.
      The Netherlands: De Dood van Arthur.
      Ukraine: Смерть Артура.

    • International Airdates:
      Australia: July 26, 2009 (Channel 10).
      France: February 5, 2010 (V TV).
      Germany: December 19, 2009 (RTL).
      Italy: January 20, 2009 (Italia 1).
      Poland: May 30, 2009 (Polsat).
      Spain: August 14, 2009 (Neox).
      The Netherlands: June 20, 2009 (KRO).
      Turkey: November 29, 2009 (CNBC-e).
      Ukraine: July 11, 2009 (1+1).
      USA: August 23, 2009 (NBC).


    • Gaius: The creature you describe has all the characteristics of the Questing Beast.

      The Questing Beast (also known as the Beast Glatisant or Barking Beast) is a monster of Arthurian legend, with the head and neck of a serpent, the body of a leopard, the haunches of a lion and the feet of a deer. The beast makes a sound like One of the first accounts has the Questing Beast appear to Arthur after his affair with his sister Morgause (which traditionally begets Mordred). Merlin reveals that the Beast was borne of a woman who lusted after her own brother but was manipulated by a devil to accusing her brother of forcing himself upon her. Her brother was put to death by being ripped apart by dogs but prophecied that she would give birth to an abomination that made the same sounds as the dogs that were killing him. It is a symbol of the chaos that will destroy Arthur's realm.

      Other depictions of the Beast are as a small creature, pure white and beautiful, and as something 'wondrously large'. It also appears in The Once And Future King by T.H. White where it is the quest of King Pellinore to hunt the beast.

    • Le Morte d'Arthur

      Le Morte d'Arthur is a compilation of various French and English Arthurian legends by Sir Thomas Malory (c.1405-1471), completed in 1470 and first published by William Caxton in 1485. Originally, Malory intended the title to refer only to the final book in the cycle- of which there are eight- which describes the full story of Arthur from birth to death. It is the best-known English-language Arthurian literature and many Arthurian writers have used Malory's text as their source, including T.H. White in The Once And Future King.