Season 2 Episode 1

The Curse of Cornelius Sigan

Aired Unknown Sep 19, 2009 on BBC
out of 10
User Rating
191 votes

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Episode Summary

In the dark tunnels beneath Camelot an ancient tomb is discovered, filled with treasure. Gaius begs the King to seal it shut again, fearing the tomb belongs to Cornelius Sigan, an evil sorcerer who cursed Camelot and swore to one day return and destroy the city. But Uther is too taken with the treasure to listen, insisting Sigan is just a fairytale.

Meanwhile, new servant Cedric muscles in on Merlin's position as Arthur's right-hand man and turns the prince against his loyal friend. Merlin is convinced the slippery newcomer is up to something and he's right: Cedric is a conman and a thief who's after the magnificent jewel found at the heart of the tomb. Little does Cedric know, his precious prize is more dangerous than he could possibly imagine.

Camelot has never been more vulnerable but how can Merlin make things right when, thanks to Cedric, he might have lost Arthur's friendship for good? Merlin faces the prospect of turning to the creature he swore he'd never trust again: The Great Dragon.moreless

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  • A bit flat... but still entertaining (slight spoiler alert)

    There was a good build-up of suspense in this episode, but there were two major issues that marred it a little. The first is that the imposter servant Cedric plays a great thief, but as far as being the possessed incarnation of a great sorcerer, his presentation falls way short. Second, the ending is a bit contrived, with Merlin pretending to have succumbed for a few seconds (I won't say to what in case you haven't seen it). Also annoying is the blindness of Uther to real and potential dangers, despite repeated warnings, which he labels as superstitions. At some point, one would have to question whether Uther has lost a bit of his marbles. Finally, Morgana is getting a bit too hysterical. It's time for her to turn to the dark side before her whimpering gets worn on the audience. However, there were a lot of good concepts here, and I hope the rest of this season's episodes get more polished! I would consider this one a slight step back from last season.moreless
  • Merlin returns to the screen and so does Evil to Camelot and evil means magic, here evil soul of a sorceror bent on destroying Camelot.

    The plot itself for this episode is fine, we have all ingredients for a nice 1 hour Merlin adventure. The script is not though and leaves some things to be desired. After all that has transpired in the court of Camelot it seems one can get into the Prince's chambers far too easily, I am sure the writers did see that but maybe just did not know what else to do in order to advance the plot in the alotted time.

    The script also offers some blood and gore visual opportunities but the production scale does not so you are left to imagine the gargoyle attacks. I am not saying it has to be very graphic, it just is obvious that there is not enough money in this show to make such "mass attack" scenes, so you really shouldn't try and script them.

    The "stupid" and "clumsy" Merlin role has been going on long enough as well and I find it tiresome, Season 2 should lead to Arthur knowing the truth about Merlin, midseason.

    The scenes between Gwen and Arthur did come across too forced, it's like the writers trying to convey a point with a 10 foot high billboard. The art of subtleness would work like "magic" here.

    So, be more subtle with the Gwen/Arthur stuff, ditch the "stupid plot advancement" elements (that means things the viewer cannot accept easily as believable like a stranger being nominated personal servant for the prince) and do not try to write about things that involve a lot of CGI unless you have the money to pull it off.

    Other than that the episode was fine and I am sure the younger audience (9-12) will like it even more and don't have any gripes with the above mentioned points.moreless
  • Good opener in many ways, but the regression in the relationship between Arthur and Merlin was a disappointment.

    I was looking forward to the new series of Merlin, and in many ways this was a fine opening episode. It had great performances, good special effects and loads of action. However it was let down by a massive regression in the character of Arthur and the relationship between him and Merlin.

    When a dejected Merlin, with a face full of horse muck, says to Gaius 'I just want Arthur to trust me. Everything I do is for him, and he just thinks I am an idiot' I thought I was in a time warp back to early series 1. The heart of this show is the relationship, and great chemistry, between Arthur and Merlin. Without this it could just be another formulaic, joining the dots, 'family drama'. What kept viewers coming back in series 1 was the fantastic development of the characters of Arthur and Merlin, and of their friendship. Arthur started out as an arrogant, rude prince who was brave but selfish. Merlin was a naïve young man with powers he didn't understand and no idea of how to use them. As series 1 progressed, Merlin taught Arthur to be more humble, and Arthur gave Merlin confidence and a purpose in life. They moved from servant / master to something much more like a friendship, at least in private (no slash overtones intended). Suddenly in this episode Arthur no longer appears to trust Merlin, thinks he is a clumsy, lazy buffoon, doesn't listen to him, and has him thrown in the dungeon. Doesn't ring true I am afraid. I presume the writers did this deliberately as a way of bringing newcomers to the show up to speed quickly on the characters – Arthur arrogant, Merlin ditzy, Uther doesn't like magic etc etc - but that was a mistake I feel.

    On the plus side there were some lovely moments between Gwen and Arthur, the final battle was very exciting, and the villain of the piece was excellent.

    Overall, an OK start but I want to see character progression, not regression from now on.moreless
  • Great return episode!

    So nice to have this show back. Early on in the episode there is a reminder of Merlin's courageous character - as men come running terrified out of an ancient tomb, Merlin heads straight in to see what happened. The old dyanmic is there with Merlin saving Arthur and getting no credit, having to hide his power and who he really is, and the danger and vulnerabilities that creates. The evil old sorceror who comes back from the dead, who was executed in older times, is a good reminder that even powerful sorcerors can be overcome and executed. (although I'm still not sure how taht actually works, i.e., how these ultra powerfuls ever get caught, without using magic...) Sounds like Uther (who is as arrogant as ever BTW) is about to ramp up the ban on magic even more, which will make things even more challenging and interesting. Next week's ep something about a troll sounds good. This is is such a nice who, fun, adventurous, visually stunning show and always with at least a few good chuckles.moreless
  • A tomb is found beneath the city that houses great wealth. A thief Cedric easily usurps Merlin's position as Arthur's manservant and ends up taking the key locking the tomb door. Cedric's greed then unknowingly unleashes great danger on Camelot.moreless

    I definitely enjoyed the return of Merlin to US television. Somehow the writers totally forgot the relationship Merlin and Arthur had put together over the first season. Arthur is totally dismissive of Merlin and actually really treats him as a servant which was not the case near the end of last year. Especially at the end of the season after they defended the village together.

    In this season opener we see that a tomb of great wealth has been found and Gaius is sure it is the tomb of Cornelius Sigan who was a great sorcerer. Maybe the greatest of Camelot's history. He was killed by a former King for becoming too powerful, but he foretold that he would rise and destroy Camelot someday.

    Along comes a thief named Cedric played by Mackenzie Crook who usurps Merlin's position as Arthur's chief Manservant quite easily so he can get the key given to Arthur by his father to guard the tomb. The tomb is full of gold and jewels including a large stone in the middle of the chest of the crypt itself. You can see the danger coming.

    Of course it's up to Merlin to save the day without giving away his capability and in the end he must strike a deal which has long term consequences for Camelot. Also the King tells Gaius that the incident has brought him even more resolve to rid Camelot of sorcery forever. A very ominous declaration.

    Enjoyable and well produced. The special effects were adequate for a television show of this production value. I am scoring down for the poor memory of the writers or their convenient forgetfulness of Arthur and Merlin's relationship. Thanks for reading...moreless
Mackenzie Crook

Mackenzie Crook


Guest Star

Simon Nehan

Simon Nehan


Guest Star

Luke Neal

Luke Neal

Sir Geraint

Guest Star

John Hurt

John Hurt

Voice of the Great Dragon

Recurring Role

Featured Episode Clip

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (26)

    • The same footage is used in the two scenes where Arthur puts his keys inside a drawer.

    • As Cedric turns more evil, his hair and clothes turn darker trying to imitate the external looks of a raven, since Cornelius' soul has possessed him, and Sigan's crest was a raven.

    • Goof: Arthur is hurt by the gargoyle on his right side but he is shown bleeding from his left side.

    • Goof: Cedric tells Arthur that he'll fix the saddle girth but he hardly touches it.

    • Goof: Cedric was a beater in the hunting expedition so he was carrying a beating stick. He couldn't have possibly killed the wild boar himself without stealing one of the knights' lances.

    • Goof: When Sigan (in the body of Cedric) brings the gargoyles back to life it is late at night and most people in the palace are sleeping already. However, the market is still a busy place with lots of peasants walking around.

    • The Great Dragon's exhales into Merlin's mind the most powerful knowledge known to sorcerers.

    • Despite in episode 1x13 Le Morte d'Arthur Merlin told the Great Dragon that he wouldn't see him again, the boy is forced to go to him once more. This time the Great Dragon asks for something in return and Merlin promises that he will free him one day in return for the spell that will prevent Camelot from falling in the hands of Sigan.

    • Goof: When the miner first enters into Sigan's tomb and starts exploring around, his torch throws light over the treasures piled on the ground as he walks along them, and the rest of the tomb is kept in darkness. However, when he puts the torch up, all the tomb is lighted, even the objects on the ground.

    • There's an inn in Camelot named 'The Rising Sun'.

    • Goof: When Merlin is cleaning the stables the horses are neighing. However, the movement of their bodies (they don't move at all) is not consisting with the sound they are producing.

    • Goof: When Arthur locks the tomb there are 2 keys in a key ring; however, when he places them inside his drawer, there is no key ring.

    • Merlin saves Arthur's life killing the wild boar in the forest and also Gaius' one getting a plate in the way of the arrow thrown by the tomb trap.

    • Goof: Cedric first releases a white horse, then a dark brown one and then a lighter brown one. However, the horses are seen running out of the stable in the reserve order to the one they've been released. Also, another white horse appears out of nowhere.

    • Goof: Merlin's shirt is much more dirty when he arrives to his chamber than when Arthur finds him sleeping in the stables.

    • Goof: Cedric is not properly covering his nose when he makes the tomb guards fall asleep with one of his sleep inducing magic balls.

    • Goof: We learn that Arthur keeps the keys of the tomb in a locked drawer at the right side of the bed. However, in episode 1x12 To Kill the King he keeps all his keys in an unlocked chest of drawers to the left side of his bed.

    • Goof: When Cedric removes the heart from Sigan's tomb, he is standing on the trap for grave robbers but it doesn't shot him an arrow as it did before with the miner and Gaius.

    • Goof: Gwen drags Arthur out of the gargoyle's reach with extreme facility even though he is wearing his chain mail and his armour, which would make him even heavier.

    • Goof: When Merlin is on the cell, he only notices about the racket and the chaos going on outside a good while after it's started.

    • Gwen saves Arthur's life protecting him from the attack of the gargoyle.

    • Goof: Arthur is being bandaged wth his chainmail on to stop the bleeding of his wound.

    • Gaius has known for all this time that Merlin has been seeking the advice of the Great Dragon.

    • Goof: When Merlin kills off the gargoyle that is about to kill Arthur and it breaks into small stones, those are clearly fake as they bounce and roll around and on top of Arthur.

    • Goof: Arthur can be seen laying unconscious with his right leg flexed and his left one stretched after Merlin saves him from the attack of the gargoyle. However, when Gaius comes out of the castle, Arthur has his right leg stretched and his left one flexed.

    • Goof: Gaius wears glasses, even though they weren't commonly used until the 13th century.

  • QUOTES (21)

    • Arthur: (Ignoring Merlin has just saved Gaius' life) Were you born clumsy or do you work at it?
      Merlin: It's just one of my many gifts.

    • Uther: You see Gaius, I was right. There is treasure to be found under Camelot. Which of my predecessors do I have to thank for all this? Gaius?
      Gaius: Erm... I'd have to look into it, sire.

    • Cedric: It's an honour to be of service to the Prince.
      Arthur: An honour. Do you hear that, Merlin?
      Cedric: Allow me the honour of brushing your clothes down.
      Arthur: (Mouths to Merlin) The honour.
      Cedric: Is there anything else I can do for you, Sire?
      Arthur: Well, you can give Merlin here a kick up the backside.
      Cedric: I wouldn't wish to deprive you of the pleasure, Sir.
      Arthur: What's your name?
      Cedric: Cedric. I've come to Camelot in search of work.

    • (Cedric takes the credit after Merlin kills the wild boar using magic)
      Arthur: You've just saved my life.
      Cedric: Honestly, sire, it was nothing.
      Arthur: I shall be forever indebted to you. You must be rewarded.
      Cedric: No, no. I couldn't possibly...
      Arthur: Come on. What do you wish for?
      Cedric: I desire only one thing, sire.
      Arthur: Anything.
      Cedric: A position in the royal household.
      Arthur: Good. Consider it done.

    • Gaius: He was the most powerful sorcerer to have lived.
      Merlin: Really?
      Gaius: You didn't grow up in Camelot, but for those of us that did, Cornelius Sigan was a figure of nightmare.
      Merlin: Why?
      Gaius: Sigan's Pass. He could change day into night. Turn the tides, and legend has it, his spells helped to build Camelot itself.
      Merlin: What happened?
      Gaius: In the end, he grew too powerful and the king at that time ordered his execution.
      Merlin: If he's dead, why are you so worried?
      Gaius: Sigan couldn't bear the thought that his wealth and power would die with him, so he became obsessed with finding a way to defeat death itself.
      Merlin: You think he might have succeeded?
      Gaius: Let's hope not. For all our sakes.

    • Uther: Gaius. What is it you want?
      Gaius: To seal up the burial chamber and all its contents.
      Uther: Don't be ridiculous.
      Gaius: The insignia on this ring belongs to Cornelius Sigan. I believe it to be his tomb. In the old religion the name Sigan means 'raven'.
      Uther: No wonder the riches are so great.
      Gaius: Then you're aware of the legend, sire.
      Uther: Yes. I've always enjoyed the tale of the... arrogant sorcerer who came to an untimely end.
      Gaius: According to the story, Sigan cursed Camelot. He said he would one day return and raze the city to the ground.
      Uther: Gaius, you have long been my ally in the war against sorcery. You, more than anyone, should not give into these irrational fears.

    • Arthur: (Having the breakfast Cedric has brought him already) Is that lunch?
      Merlin: No, it's breakfast.
      Arthur: This is lovely, Cedric.
      Merlin: Is there anything else that you need doing, Sire?
      Arthur: No, I think Cedric's got it all covered.
      Cedric: Oh, I regret, Sire, there is one thing I've failed to do, erm... muck out your horses.
      Arthur: (To Merlin) Off you go.
      Cedric: I'll get the door for you.

    • Gaius: What was this dream about?
      Morgana: A bird.
      Gaius: What kind of bird?
      Morgana: A raven.
      Gaius: A raven?
      Morgana: It was terrifying, Gaius. What do you think it means?
      Gaius: Probably nothing.
      Morgana: It's happening again, isn't it?
      Gaius: Morgana, one raven certainly doesn't mean that your nightmares are returning. Are you taking the sleeping draughts I prepared for you?
      (She nods)
      Gaius: I'll get Gwen to give you something stronger.
      Morgana: Like a blow to the head? I'm sure she wants to.

    • (After Cedric makes Merlin fall asleep in the stables using a magic sleep-inducing ball)
      Merlin: Can't you see what he's trying to do? He's trying to get rid of me and if you weren't such a clotpole you'd see that.
      Arthur: A what?
      Cedric: Clotpole. He said clotpole.
      Arthur: He can look after me tonight. You can go home and think about whether you want to be my servant or not.

    • Merlin: I just want Arthur to trust me. And to see me for who I really am.
      Gaius: One day he will.
      Merlin: When? Everything I do is for him and he just thinks I'm an idiot.
      Gaius: Not everyone thinks you're an idiot.

    • Gaius: Camelot is in grave peril. I've translated the inscription. 'He who breaks my heart completes my work.'
      Merlin: What does it mean?
      Gaius: Do you remember the stone in the tomb, how it glowed?
      Merlin: I've never seen a jewel like it.
      Gaius: That's because it's not a jewel. It's the soul of Cornelius Sigan.
      Merlin: You think he's alive?
      Gaius: His soul is. But in order to truly live, a soul needs a body.
      Merlin: So if the stone is removed from its setting... then the heart is broken and the soul released?
      Gaius: That's what I fear.

    • Merlin: Cedric... is possessed by an evil spirit.
      Arthur: What?
      Merlin: He tried to steal the jewel. But it wasn't a jewel. It was the soul of an ancient sorcerer, Sigan.
      Arthur: Merlin, have you been on the cider?
      Merlin: Please... listen to me. Camelot is in mortal danger. Sigan is using Cedric's body to take his revenge.
      Arthur: This nonsense isn't helping you keep your job.
      Merlin: You are not listening to me!
      Arthur: If you're going to shout anyway... Cedric! Will you escort Merlin from the palace?
      (Merlin starts a fight with Cedric)
      Arthur: Merlin! You've gone too far this time, Merlin. You can spend a few days cooling off in the cells. Guards!
      Merlin: He's going to destroy Camelot!

    • Uther: Have you seen what's happening?
      Gaius: It is as I warned you, Sire.
      Uther: This cannot be Sigan.
      Gaius: It is his revenge. He's come back from the dead.
      Uther: Then he will die again.
      Gaius: You do not understand, Sire. You can't kill a man who has conquered mortality.
      Uther: Don't tell me what cannot be done. Camelot will not fall to a sorcerer while I am king.

    • (After Gwen drags Arthur out of the reach of the gargoyle)
      Arthur: Guinevere?
      Gwen: Sire.
      Arthur: That thing could have killed you.
      Gwen: (Gwen sees the gargoyle coming back) And it still might. (She pushes Arthur to the ground, falling on top of him) Sorry, sire.
      Arthur: No, my pleasure.
      (She helps him into the palace)
      Gwen: I'll get you something to stop the bleeding.
      Arthur: Guinevere. I wanted to say... just, erm... you always surprise me.
      Gwen: Is that it, Sire?
      Arthur: That's it. Oh, and, erm... thank you.

    • Uther: Have we driven the creatures out?
      Arthur: They have control of the lower town. The market has been all but destroyed.
      Uther: How many dead?
      Arthur: Too many to number.
      Uther: I'm sealing the citadel.
      Arthur: You can't!
      Uther: I have no choice. I have to protect those who have a chance. If I don't, we will all fall. Where are you going?
      Arthur: There are people trapped on the drawbridge. I'm not leaving them to die.
      Uther: It's suicide!
      Arthur: It's my duty to Camelot, and to myself.

    • Merlin: I have to help Arthur.
      Gaius: Merlin, Sigan's power is way beyond yours.
      Merlin: I don't have a choice.
      Gaius: But Sigan is immortal and you are not. If you face him, he'll destroy you.
      Merlin: There must be a way.
      Gaius: There is only one alive who is old enough to give us the answers we need.
      Merlin: What do you mean?
      Gaius: The Great Dragon.
      Merlin: You knew, then, that I used to visit him?
      Gaius: Yes, Merlin, of course I knew. You're a creature of magic, just as he is. I hoped that he could help you.
      Merlin: He helps no-one but himself.
      Gaius: For Arthur's sake, you must go to him now.
      Merlin: I can't.
      Gaius: We have no choice.

    • The Great Dragon: To defeat Sigan, you will need a spell more powerful than anything you know.
      Merlin: Please. I have to try.
      The Great Dragon: Very well, but you must give me something in return.
      Merlin: What?
      The Great Dragon: A promise.
      Merlin: A promise?
      The Great Dragon: That one day you will free me.
      Merlin: If I release you, what will you do?
      The Great Dragon: That is not your concern.
      Merlin: I don't trust you.
      The Great Dragon: Nevertheless, you must promise, or Camelot will fall.
      Merlin: I promise. Now, please, give me the spell.
      The Great Dragon: Close your eyes and open your mind. Few men have ever been gifted such knowledge. Use it wisely.
      Merlin: I will.
      The Great Dragon: You made a promise, young warlock. And one day... I shall keep you to it.

    • Cedric/Sigan: Who would have believed it? You, a sorcerer. And a powerful one.
      Merlin: I won't let you hurt him.
      Cedric/Sigan: And you're going to stop me?
      Merlin: I'll stop you.
      Cedric/Sigan: He does not deserve your loyalty. He treats you like a slave.
      Merlin: That's not true!
      Cedric/Sigan: He cast you aside without a moment's thought...
      Merlin: It doesn't matter.
      Cedric/Sigan: But it must hurt so much. To be so put upon, so overlooked, when all the while you have such power.
      Merlin: That's the way it has to be.
      Cedric/Sigan: Does it?

    • Cedric/Sigan: You are young, Merlin. Look inside yourself, you have yet to discover your true power. I can help you. Think, Merlin, to have the world appreciate your greatness. To have Arthur know you for what you are.
      Merlin: That can never be.
      Cedric/Sigan: It can. If you join me. Together we can rule over this land. Arthur will tremble at your voice. He will kneel at your feet.
      Merlin: I don't want that.
      Cedric/Sigan: You'd rather be a servant?
      Merlin: Better to serve a good man than to rule with an evil one.
      Cedric/Sigan: So be it. If you will not join me, I will become you and your power will be harnessed to my will.

    • Uther: We must learn our lessons from these terrible events, Gaius.
      Gaius: Indeed, Sire.
      Uther: They prove beyond doubt that I was right. Magic is evil, it is our greatest threat. I have grown complacent, Gaius.
      Gaius: I wouldn't say that, Sire.
      Uther: We must renew our efforts. We must ensure that all sorcerers and their followers are eradicated from this Kingdom.
      Gaius: Of course, Sire.

    • Gaius: You know you won't get any thanks, Merlin.
      Merlin: I'm not a complete idiot.
      Gaius: (Serves him some food) There you go. It's not much. But you deserve something.
      (Knock on door)
      Arthur: I've come to see Merlin. I've not forgotten about your lazy, insolent ways, or the fact that you called me a clotpole, but I do have to admit that there was some truth in your accusations against Cedric.
      Merlin: Does this mean you're admitting that on this occasion I was right?
      Arthur: Not exactly, no. It means that I have a knighthood to bestow first thing tomorrow and no-one to clean my armour (Empties the contents of a bag on the table Merlin is dining at)
      Merlin: All that?
      Arthur: Yep!
      (Arthur leaves)
      Gaius: Clotpole?
      (Merlin and Gaius laugh)

  • NOTES (50)


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