Season 3 Episode 9

Love In The Time Of Dragons

Aired Unknown Nov 06, 2010 on BBC
out of 10
User Rating
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Episode Summary

Merlin is pleased to get acquainted with a different side of his mentor when Alice, an old flame of Gaius's, arrives in Camelot. However, when the warlock discovers that she is under the influence of a Manticore, a creature from the Old Religion, Merlin has no other choice but to tell the physician about Alice's evil scheme.

Blinded by love, Gaius refuses to believe Merlin's reveal and their close bond suffers the consequence as both friends fall out.

With the King in danger and all evidence of the wicked plot pointing to Alice and the mean magical creature that has possessed her, will Merlin be able to make Gaius see sense before it is too late?moreless

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  • Love In The Time Of Dragons

    Love In The Time Of Dragons was a really great episode of Merlin. This episode had a very unique story and it was fun to see a mythological creature. This episode was fun to watch as we went between Arthur practicing with weapons on Merlin and seeing their relationship to Gaius rekindling his love with an old flame from the past. Merlin discovered that there is more to her than meets the eye, and she is under the control of some thing. Gaius refused to believe Merlin, which leads to chaos, which Merlin fixes in the end. I am glad to see so much magic being used and can't wait to see what happens next!!!!!moreless
  • A quiet and melancholic episode.

    This is one of the rare episodes centred on Gaius. The expectations for the episode were not high, which actually helped it a lot. After action, reveals and the drama of the previous episodes, a quieter and more sombre one was actually a relief.

    The character of Alice was very well done - a person who has joined forces with the dark forces and pays the price for the unholy contract. Manticore very well done in that it was appropriately ugly and creepy; also, the mentions of portal and another plane of existence had a lovecraftian vibe which is always a good thing.

    Gaius, on the other hand, is allowed to do exactly the opposite of what he always does - be rash, turn off the rational part and indulge himself.

    Uther is a hypocrite as ever with his 'magic is intolerable at any circumstances' line - but pretty in line with the character, and there is also a moment when we see that he is well aware of that as well.

    All in all, a solid episode.moreless
  • Exploration of Gaius' past via a long lost love is far less about the past and more about the Merlin/Gaius relationship. Strong performance by Richard Wilson is not enough to make up for a weak script.moreless

    What Worked:

    Merlin/Gaius relationship: We really see how much Merlin loves and needs Gaius in this episode. Although it seems like each week we see a Merlin discussing his issues with Gaius, Merlin is usually off solving the problem on his own. This week the problem WAS Gaius and his blindness to his friend's dark magic. Between the sly teasing about his new supplier, the frustration each experience as they can see eye to eye, and then the magical teamwork at the end, the episode displays the full range of their relationship. When Merlin betrays Alice to save Gaius, you can hear bitter disappointment that Merlin didn't trust Gaius to do the right thing. Gaius past and present – Although it wasn't explored enough, it's clear that Merlin is having an effect on Gaius. Apparently this tendency to work in secret to save others but stop short of taking major risks is a live-long character trait. He's also a much practiced liar as Merlin notices. But when it comes to doing the right things Merlin presses on where Gaius often stops. That Gaius chose the safety of Camelot the first time is in keeping with the man who stood by and let the purge happen. This time, though, it seems Gaius probably stayed behind for Merlin. His love for Alice is nothing compared to his commitment to Merlin. And Gaius is using more of the Old Religion as well. Richard Wilson does a nice job of showing his softer side and his appreciation for the companionship in old age that Alice could offer.

    Partial Success:

    The Concept: A show which explores Gaius' background and the Merlin/Gaius relationship is a good idea. The execution, however, was lacking. There was very little revealed regarding the "Time of Dragons. When Gaius said it was a time of experimentation, I was thinking "the '60?s". There is so much unspoken history from 20 years ago, it was a tease to see a little of what happened but not satisfying enough. More time should have been spent exploring the past.

    What Didn't Work:

    The Script – In addition to wasting the premise of exploring the past, it seemed like there was padding (exterior shots, walking down corridors, doing a magical dream gag with Geoffrey) rather than cover meaty issues (the Purge, Merlin betraying Alice, the effects of dark magic on good people). Why didn't Alice take Gaius to toll more on the Purge? We've seen how Nimueh and Edwin Muin felt. Alice could have gotten Gaius to at least talk about it. And the Merlin/Arthur training scenes were odd. If the purpose was to show Merlin turning to Arthur for advice, surely this could have been done with a little more sincerity than played for laughes.

    The Manticore – While the CGI created a sufficiently ugly creature, it's motivations were completely unexplained. Why does the Manticore want Uther dead? Surely Alice may have a motive but not this creature from another dimension. An evil creature that corrupts Alice did serve to show that even good people should not dabble in dark magic but other than that, the Manticore was a plot device and nothing more.

    Arthur's Behavior – In the pilot episode, Arthur is made to look the bully because he uses his servant for target practice. In this episode it's apparently a routine event? The awkward chuck on the shoulder and Merlin's comment about knights being dense was very funny and well played but this was such an *insert comedy here!* moment that it really was distracting. It was good to see Arthur picks up on Merlin's sullen behavior but he appears clueless when in armor. Conversely, he was very quick to figure out the likely source of the poison when his father was sick. Is Arthur stupid or smart? Apparently the answer is: it depends on what the script needs him to be. This kind of inconsistent characterization is damaging to the show for one of the two major characters.

    Overall grade 7.0. Insight into the Merlin/Gaius relationship cannot overcome a poor script which fails to capitalize on the rich potential history of the show, provides no rationale for the villain of the week's motivation, and inserts comedy in an ungainly fashion.

    Upon Second Look Review: This episode actually improves a little in context of the full season in that we see Gaius take more risks. By EP13, Gaius has openly used magic against Morgause and exposed himself. This is Merlin's influence and "Love in the Time of Dragons" shows how Gaius takes more risks and uses his magic more. The Gaius of EP 13 is not the Gaius who let so many die in the Purge and this episode was a stepping stone. Still, this episode stands out more for its lost potential than is successes.moreless
Pauline Collins

Pauline Collins


Guest Star

Eddie Marsan

Eddie Marsan

Voice of the Manticore

Guest Star

Calum MacPherson

Calum MacPherson


Guest Star

John Hurt

John Hurt

Voice of the Great Dragon

Recurring Role

Michael Cronin

Michael Cronin

Geoffrey of Monmouth

Recurring Role

Featured Episode Clip

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (12)

    • Even though Evoric doesn't want anyone to know that he was healed by sorcery, he keeps a sorcerer's chime bearing signs of the Old Religion hanging above the tavern's doorway and the remedy on a self.

    • Gaius keeps a letter from Alice that includes a lock of hair and reads: 'To my beloved Gaius. You make me so happy. Words cannot describe how much I care for you. The times we have spent together recently have meant so much to me. I am so happy we are engaged. I so look forward to marrying you.'

    • This episode marks the third time that Gaius casts a spell, the first time being in episode 1x04 The Poisoned Chalice when he prepared the morteaus flower to save Merlin's life and the second on episode 1x06 A Remedy to Cure All Ills when he tries to stop Edward Muirden from going on with his deadly plan (only that this time he didn't achieve to convey it well).

    • Goof: Tomatoes can be seen on Gaius' table. However, they were first introduced in Europe following the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

    • A scene from episode 1x01 The Dragon's Call depicting Merlin's chamber windows at night is used in this episode right before Gaius first leaves the castle to meet Alice in the lower town. The same scene was used as well in episode 1x05 Lancelot and episode 3x04 Gwaine.

    • A sorcerer's chime consists of crystals that bear the elemental signs of the Old Religion. When enchanted, the crystals resonate and their music gives succour to the ailing and the sick.

    • Goof: The bottle containing Uther's remedy has a screw cap. However, screw tops were developed in the 20th century.

    • Gaius and Alice met some 20 years ago, just after he was appointed court physician. They soon got engaged to be married. She mastered every aspect of sorcery, healing above all, so she saved many lives and her fame soon spread. When the Great Purge occurred, she was on Uther's list of those to be hunted down and executed. Gaius managed to struck her name off so she could escape. They had remained apart ever since.

    • It is the second time that Uther's old battle wound is referred to. In episode 1x06 A Remedy to Cure All Ills, it was stated that Uther suffered from an old and painful battle wound in his right shoulder.

    • Uther's food and wine is tested every time.

    • Alice gave Gaius a book for his 50th birthday. Since they met when Gaius was appointed court physician (which according to episode 1x06 A Remedy to Cure All Ills happened right after Arthur was born) and have been apart since the Great Purge, that sets Gaius' age in his early 70's.

    • The Manticore is a creature of the Old Religion which has the body of a lion and the tail of a scorpion and was first referred to almost a thousand years ago. The ancients lived in fear of it, trembling at its very name. Its poison is imbued with its magic and only loses its potency once the Manticore is dead. It needs a box to act as a portal or gateway for the Manticore to materialize when conjured up. Since its life source is the ancient evil that exists in the spirit world, the only way to kill the Manticore is trapping it in this world and destroying the getaway.

  • QUOTES (33)

    • Merlin: It's unbelievable. Uther has no problem turning to magic if his family are threatened.
      Gaius: Keep your voice down, Merlin.
      Merlin: He is such a hypocrite!
      Gaius: He's also the King. So if you value your head, use it.

    • Gaius: Evoric, I am, of course, delighted that you are well again, but I must ask you: from whom did you obtain your remedy?
      Evoric: I don't know what you're talking about.
      Gaius: You mustn't be afraid. I am not the King, after all.

    • Gaius: The physician's art can achieve great things.
      Uther: But not miracles! The innkeeper was fatally ill. You said so yourself.
      Gaius: Yes, that was indeed my diagnosis. But my knowledge isn't perfect. There are many branches of my craft are yet mysteries to me. I could not heal the innkeeper. Someone else could.
      Uther: Are you absolutely satisfied that no magic was involved?
      Gaius: Entirely, sire.

    • Merlin: The potion was enchanted. I saw it with my own eyes. We both did.
      Gaius: What you saw, Merlin, was a release of gaseous pressure. Entirely normal in a preparation of that kind.
      Merlin: But what about the totem?
      Gaius: What totem?
      Merlin: The totem. In the innkeeper's doorway. It bore the marks of the Old Religion.
      Gaius: Nonsense. You're obviously tired, Merlin. I recommend you get some sleep.

    • Alice: How did you know I was in Camelot?
      Gaius: I recognised your work. Your healing magic was always equal to none.
      Alice: Oh, Gaius, you've lost none of your charm.
      Gaius: You've lost none of your skill.

    • Alice: I've missed you.
      Gaius: And I you.
      Alice: 20 years. And here we are back in Camelot, together again. It almost seems as though nothing has changed.
      Gaius: And some things never will.
      Alice: Uther.
      Gaius: It's not safe for you here. He suspects that magic is at work in Camelot.
      Alice: But he doesn't know for sure?
      Gaius: Not yet. But if you stay, he will find you.
      Alice: But, Gaius, healing is my only gift. It is my living. I must buy food, I must pay rent.
      Gaius: But why here? The dangers are too great.
      Alice: Because I wanted to see you again.
      (They hug)

    • Manticore: You have done well. The physician is vital to our plan.
      Alice: Please... must we use him this way?
      Manticore: I've told you before. Uther trusts him. He alone can get us close enough to the King.
      Alice: But he will be blamed for everything that happens.
      Manticore: And you will not. How perfect.
      Alice: But his punishment will be terrible.
      (The Manticore squals and Alice's eyes turn black)
      Manticore: You must put aside your feelings and do what needs to be done!

    • Merlin: Did you... go out last night?
      Gaius: Yes. I had to get some herbs.
      Merlin: Herbs?
      Gaius: A... a new supplier. Just arrived.
      Merlin: Right. Do your suppliers normally kiss you?
      Gaius: You followed me! How dare you?

    • Gaius: (About Alice) We were once engaged to be married.
      Merlin: When was this?
      Gaius: More years ago than I care to remember. I had just been made physician to the King when I met her. It was like finding a kindred spirit. We had so much in common. Our love of science, of healing... and of magic.
      Merlin: Magic?
      Gaius: I was just a novice. But Alice's power and ability was uncanny. She had the gift. Soon she had mastered every aspect of sorcery, healing above all. It was wonderful to behold, Merlin. She saved a great many lives.

    • Gaius: There was a time when her skills were famous in Camelot.
      Merlin: So what happened?
      Gaius: Uther declared war on magic. Overnight our world was turned upside down.
      Merlin: The Great Purge.
      Gaius: Uther drew up a list of everyone suspected of using magic. One by one they were hunted down and executed. As a close friend of the King, I was permitted to see this list. Alice's name was on it.
      Merlin: What did you do?
      Gaius: The only thing I could do. I struck her name off.
      Merlin: Gaius, if you'd been caught...
      Gaius: I know. But it bought her time. Just enough to get out of Camelot, to escape.
      Merlin: But you... stayed behind?
      Gaius: I was scared. I felt... I had no choice. I thought I'd never see her again. But now here she is. After all these years, I feel we've been given a second chance.

    • Gaius: I remember everything. All that we saw, all that we did, each and every day we spent together. I remember the day you left.
      Alice: Let's not dwell on that. We have found each other again. Isn't that all that matters?

    • (Merlin is holding a shield while Arthur practices with a mace on it)
      Arthur: Come on, Merlin. Put your back into it.
      Merlin: I'm sorry, sire, I'm just a bit...
      Arthur: Pathetic. You're pretending to be a battle-hardened warrior not a... daffodil!
      Merlin: Sorry, sire, I'm just a bit tired, that's all.
      Arthur: Fair enough (Throws the mace away and Merlin relaxes. Arthur chooses a huge hammer as his new weapon) Maybe this will perk you up.
      (Merlin's jaw drops)

    • Alice: Good news, my pretty. Gaius has taken us into his home.
      Manticore: So he does not suspect?
      Alice: No, no.
      Manticore: Then you must work hard to keep it that way.
      Alice: Yes. Yes.
      Manticore: You're doing well. Take some of my venom. Do not fail me. Be careful not to hurt yourself.

    • Merlin: When you first knew Alice, what kinds of magic did she practise?
      Gaius: All kinds. It was a time of experimentation, of learning.
      Merlin: Right. What about dark magic?
      Gaius: I dare say. But those days are long gone.
      Merlin: What if they aren't? Last night, there was some kind of creature in her room.
      Gaius: A creature?
      Merlin: I've never seen anything like it. It had the body of a lion, and the tail of a scorpion.
      Gaius: Come on, Merlin. You must have been dreaming.
      Merlin: No, I saw it. With my own eyes. And I could feel its power. It was magic like nothing I've ever felt before.
      Gaius: What utter nonsense!

    • Alice: Oh, Gaius. it's just like old times.
      Gaius: We always made a good team, did we not?
      Alice: Yes.
      Gaius: I wish Merlin had your skills. I fear he finds the physician's craft boring.
      Alice: Well, never mind. You've got me to help you now, haven't you?
      Gaius: Indeed I have.

    • Merlin: I wonder, do you know anything about this creature?
      Geoffrey of Monmouth: Ah, now, that is the Manticore.
      Merlin: A Manticore?
      Geoffrey of Monmouth: Nasty-looking beastie, isn't it?
      Merlin: You can say that again.
      Geoffrey of Monmouth: I believe it was first referred to almost a thousand years ago. The ancients lived in fear of it, trembled at its very name.
      Merlin: I've never even heard of it.
      Geoffrey of Monmouth: Well, I'm not surprised because as far as I'm aware the Manticore is a legend. A figment of the imagination.
      Merlin: Are you sure?
      Geoffrey of Monmouth: Oh, yes. So... if you were hoping to see one, I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed.

    • Merlin: Alice is up to something, and it isn't good.
      Gaius: You're wrong, Merlin. Alice is the kindest and most compassionate person I have ever known.
      Merlin: No! You're wrong. You're just blinded by your feelings for her.
      Gaius: I can see perfectly well, Merlin. And what I can see is that you cannot bear for me to be happy. I cannot begin to guess why that should be. But it saddens me... more than I can say.

    • Alice: What's wrong?
      Gaius: It's nothing. A disagreement with Merlin, that's all.
      Alice: Was it about me? You musn't worry. He's probably a bit jealous, that's all.
      Gaius: Jealous?
      Alice: Well, it's only to be expected. The poor lad's had you all to himself. He's bound to be a bit hostile for a while.
      Gaius: Very hostile, if truth be told.
      Alice: He'll soon get used to having me around.
      Gaius: I'm sure you're right.

    • Merlin: Gaius and me, we had a bit of a falling out.
      Arthur: Look, I row with my father all the time. You should do what I do. Just lie low and wait till he comes to his senses. It'll soon blow over.
      Merlin: No. I don't think so, somehow.
      Arthur: Oh, cheer up, will you? (Punches Merlin in the arm)
      Merlin: How is punching me in the arm meant to cheer me up?
      Arthur: (Surprised) It works with the knights.
      Merlin: They're thick, aren't they?
      Arthur: I'm a knight.
      Merlin: There you go then.
      (Arthur punches him again)

    • Gaius: I'm afraid I cannot yet determine the cause of your father's illness.
      Arthur: He's been poisoned, hasn't he?
      Gaius: I cannot say at this stage.
      Arthur: Just look at him. What else could it be?
      Gaius: We must not jump to hasty conclusions. Please watch over him until I return.

    • Merlin: Gaius, he's been poisoned and I think we both know who did it.
      Gaius: What exactly are you implying?
      Merlin: It was Alice. It had to be. She's been helping you with the potions. She's had every opportunity to corrupt his medicine.
      Gaius: Merlin, you have no proof of any of this!
      Merlin: How else did he ingest the poison? There is no other explanation.
      Gaius: Of course there is.
      Merlin: Come on, Gaius. I understand why you're protecting her. Really, I do. But in your heart, you must know it's true.
      Gaius: All I know is the King is gravely ill and your place is by Arthur's side!

    • Arthur: It doesn't make any sense, his food and wine are tasted. Each and every meal. It is brought here under armed guard. No-one can interfere with it in any way. So it can't be his food and drink. The only other thing he's had is... Gaius's remedy.
      Merlin: Arthur. I think I know what happened. I think... I know who did this.

    • Alice: What's going on?
      Gaius: The King has been poisoned. It appears that someone has tampered with his medicine.
      Alice: But surely you don't think it was me?
      Gaius: Don't lie to me, Alice. Please.
      Alice: Gaius, I...I... (Her eyes go black as she is possessed by the Manticore)
      Gaius: Alice.
      Arthur: You are under arrest for high treason. Take her away.

    • Merlin: I had no choice. It was either her or you, Gaius.
      Gaius: It wasn't your choice to make.

    • Arthur: Do you admit to using magic?
      Alice: Yes.
      Arthur: Admit to poisoning the King?
      Alice: Yes, yes. But it forced me to do it. It made me.
      Arthur: Who forced you?
      Alice: The creature, the creature!
      Arthur: You're lying! There's no creature. You're just trying to save your own skin!
      Alice: No, no.
      Arthur: Please, my father is dying. If you have a single shred of goodness within you, you will tell me how to cure him.
      Alice: I don't know. I don't know!
      (Arthur punches the jail bars and leaves)
      Alice: I'm so sorry. The Manticore...

    • Merlin: How is he?
      Gaius: He's fading. He won't last the day.
      Merlin: Gaius...
      Gaius: It's all right, Merlin. I understand. You were only trying to save me from harm. Thank you. But I don't believe Alice wanted this.
      Merlin: I know she didn't. The poison is from the Manticore,
      the creature that was in Alice's room.

    • Gaius: We can kill the Manticore. The poison is imbued with its magic. With the Manticore dead, it will lose its potency.
      Merlin: But how do I kill it?
      Gaius: You can't. You don't have the power. It is a creature of the Old Religion. But maybe there's another way, if I can remember (Checks book) Here! The Manticore cannot live in this world long. Its life source is the ancient evil that exists in the spirit world.
      Merlin: So, if we could trap it in this world...
      Gaius: Exactly. If we were to summon the creature, and you kept it at bay long enough, perhaps I can break the box.
      Merlin: The gateway.
      Gaius: If the gateway is destroyed, then the creature's connection with its life source will be destroyed with it.
      Merlin: And the manticore will die.
      Gaius: I believe so.
      Merlin: Gaius, the box is enchanted. It would need magic to destroy it.
      Gaius: I am aware of that.
      Merlin: Do you think you can... command such magic?
      Gaius: There was a time when I could. I just hope I haven't forgotten.

    • Merlin: What if this doesn't work?
      Gaius: Then we're going to have a very angry manticore on our hands.

    • (After they manage to kill the Manticore with Gaius' dark magic and Merlin's strength)
      Merlin: Not too bad for a has-been.
      Gaius: Not too bad yourself.
      (Both laugh)

    • Uther: I am fortunate indeed that you found an antidote, Gaius.
      Gaius: It will take time, my lord, but you will make a full recovery.
      Uther: What of the woman?
      Arthur: We have her in the cells, sire. She awaits your judgment.
      Uther: She won't have to wait long. She is sentenced to death. You will execute her in the morning.
      Arthur: Yes, father.
      Gaius: Sire, if I may?
      Uther: Yes, Gaius?
      Gaius: It seems this woman was in the thrall of some kind of creature. Perhaps, in the light of that, her sentence might be...
      Uther: She practised magic, Gaius. There are no circumstances under which that is acceptable. My judgment stands.

    • Gaius: I'm sorry, Alice, there was nothing I could do.
      Alice: Don't. I knew what my sentence would be. Uther will never change.
      Gaius: No.
      Alice: I hoped that I could learn from it. That... I could harness its magic for the good, for healing. But it was too strong for me.
      Gaius: At least you are rid of it now.
      Alice: Yes. It is far better to die free than to live as a slave.
      Gaius: I can only hope that's true.

    • Alice: Gaius... before I go I want you to know something. I never forgot you. Since we parted all those years ago, not a day has gone by when I have not thought of you.
      Gaius: I fear I abandoned you, Alice. I left you all alone.
      Alice: You stayed behind to protect me, I know that. You saved my life, and there is no greater gift that I could have hoped for. And you have achieved great things here in Camelot whereas, I...
      Gaius: Alice.
      Alice: I have disgraced myself. After everything I've done you would have every right to hate me.
      Gaius: Hate you? I could never hate you. I have treasured these past days. I love you, Alice. I love you. And I always will.
      Alice: As I will you, Gaius (Crying) I don't want to leave you, my love
      Gaius: Do not be afraid. Please.

    • (The warning bell chimes)
      Merlin: Something's happened.
      Gaius: Perhaps one of the prisoners has escaped.
      Merlin: (Realizing it's been Gaius' doing) How is that possible... I wonder? The dungeons are so secure.
      Gaius: I really couldn't say.
      Merlin: You could have gone with her.
      Gaius: I could have done. But then who would look after you?
      Merlin: Me? (Chuckles) I don't need looking after. I can fend for myself.
      Gaius: Ah, well in that case, you won't be wanting any of this then (Gaius uncovers some meat)
      Merlin: Well, maybe just a slice.
      (Gaius teasingly cuts him a tiny slice)

  • NOTES (8)