Season 5 Episode 3

The Death Song Of Uther Pendragon

Aired Unknown Oct 20, 2012 on BBC



  • Trivia

    • Goof: When Merlin and Arthur arrive at the stones of Nemeton, a pylon can be seen in the background behind Merlin.

    • The Stones of Nemeton, where Arthur summon the spirit of his father, bear a strong resemblance with Stonehenge where according to the legends Uther Pendragon was buried

    • Goof: Tomatoes can be seen at Arthur's banquet table, as part of his dinner later on the episode and scattered on the floor around an unconscious Gwen later in the episode. However, tomatoes were only known in Europe after Columbus brought them from America around 1498.

    • This episode marks the anniversary of Arthur's coronation and Uther's death.

    • Some lines from this episode:
      Arthur: (To Merlin) If you were given the same chance to see your father, talk to him. Wouldn't you do the same?

      Resemble a similar exchange between Arthur and Merlin from episode 2x08 The Sins Of The Father:
      : If you were granted the opportunity, would you not want to meet your father?

      Both episodes were written by Howard Overman.

    • Goof: Arthur is wearing his cloak while attending the Round Table meeting. However, it is nowhere to be seen when he's left the throne room.

    • Gaius does a very poor dressing (loose and badly wrapped) on Percival's wound for a Physician of his experience.

    • Goof: When Gwen is knocked unconscious by Uther's spirit she falls on her right side. However, when Merlin finds her, she is face down.

    • Goof: After drinking Gaius' potion, Arthur can be seen shoving the Horn of Cathbhadh in his belt twice.

    • Goof: If Uther has been able to see from the spirit world all that Arthur has been up to, he would surely have seen as well that Merlin has magic.

    • The Horn of Cathbhadh has the power to summon the spirits of the dead. When Uther attacked the Isle of the Blessed, it was smuggled to safety before the temple fell. Long before the time of the Great Purge, each year at Beltain the High Priestesses would gather at the Great Stones of Nemeton and summon the spirits of their ancestors. Gaius took part in such ceremonies.
      The priestesses had to train for years to perform such rites as entering the spirits world is fraught with dangers. The one thing they were schooled never to do was to not look back at the spirit as the veil closed for that would release the spirit into this world.
      The Horn of Cathbhadh must be used to reopen the veil between the worlds and force the spirit back into the spirit world. Only the person who summoned the spirit can force it back from this world.

  • Quotes

    • Merlin: (Sneezes) You're still angry with me, aren't you?
      Arthur: We spend the entire day hunting, catch nothing, because every time we got anywhere near anything you sneezed and frightened it away.
      Merlin: Not the last time.
      Arthur: No. That time you fell into a stream. No one could accuse you of being predictable, Merlin.
      Merlin: I think I'm getting a cold.
      Arthur: Let's hope it's a bad one.

    • (A scream can be heard)
      Arthur: What was that?
      Merlin: I think it was a bird.
      (The scream can be heard again)
      Merlin: That? That was definitely a woman screaming.
      (Arthur dismounts and rushes in the direction of the scream)
      Merlin: Why couldn't it have just been a bird? (Going after Arthur) It's never just a bird.

    • Merlin: I assume you want to risk our lives and see what's going on.
      Arthur: I never thought I'd say this, Merlin, but you're learning.

    • (A woman is about to be burnt accused of sorcery)
      Alrick: Her sorcery has brought sickness and suffering to this village.
      Arthur: Did she receive a fair trial?
      Alrick: Your father would have shown her no mercy.
      Arthur: I am not my father. Now cut her down.
      Alrick: I will not endanger the lives of all who live here.
      Arthur: (Threatening him with his sword) I said... cut her down.

    • Valdis: My time has come. When you have lived as long as I, you no longer fear the journey to the next world. I have a gift for you. You showed kindness, and compassion. Those are the qualities of a true king. Open it.
      Arthur: (Admiring the Horn of Cathbhadh) It's beautiful.
      Valdis: It has the power to summon the spirits of the dead.

    • (Arthur keeps a long face during the banquet in his honour)
      Sir Elyan: He's always like this at the anniversary of his coronation.
      Sir Mordred: I thought it was a cause for celebration?
      Sir Elyan: It is, but it's also the anniversary of Uther's death.

    • Merlin: What are you doing?
      Arthur: Nothing... thinking.
      Merlin: You, thinking? Well, now I'm really getting worried.

    • (Merlin tries to see what Arthur is hiding)
      Arthur: Leave it!
      Merlin: Why?
      Arthur: Because I'm telling you to and I'm the King of Camelot, not that that seems to mean anything to you.

    • Merlin: (To Arthur) You're threatening me with a spoon?
      (Camera pans out of the room)
      Merlin: Ouch!

    • Merlin: I'm getting a very bad feeling about this place.
      Arthur: That is because you're a coward.
      Merlin: No. It's because I value my life and I don't want to die horribly.
      Arthur: Fair point.
      Merlin: So, are we going to turn back?
      Arthur: No.

    • Arthur: This will be the only chance I have to see my father again. I can't let it pass.
      Merlin: This is powerful magic.
      Arthur: My father was taken from me before his time. Now there isn't a day that passes when I don't think of the things I wish I'd said to him. If you were given the same chance to see your father, talk to him. Wouldn't you do the same?
      (Merlin nods)

    • Arthur: There isn't a day that passes when I don't think of you.
      Uther: And I, you.
      Arthur: There are times when I feel so alone, I wish more than anything that you were by my side.
      Uther: If I were at your side, I fear you would not like all that I have to say.

    • Uther: Many of the decisions you have made since you have become King go against all that I taught you.
      Arthur: I have done what I have believed to be right.
      Uther: You have ignored our tradition, our ancient laws. You have allowed common men to become knights.
      Arthur: They are some of the finest knights that Camelot's ever known. They would gladly give their lives for the kingdom.
      Uther: They question your decisions. They make you look weak.
      Arthur: Listening to others is a sign of strength, not weakness.
      Uther: How do you expect anyone to fear a King who does not know his own mind?
      Arthur: I don't want my people to respect me because they fear me.
      Uther: Then they will not respect you at all.

    • Uther: Your marriage should have served to form an alliance with another kingdom and you choose to marry a serving girl.
      Arthur: I married for love. I love Guinevere. More than... I can express.
      Uther: There are some things that are more important than love. It is your duty to strengthen and protect the kingdom. You have failed.

    • Arthur: I have always strived to make you proud.
      Uther: How can I be proud of a son who ignores everything that I taught him? Who is destroying my legacy?
      Arthur: I have brought peace to the kingdom.
      Uther: At what price? The peace cannot last. If you are not strong, the kingdom will fall.

    • Arthur: This can't be the last time I will ever see you.
      Uther: Think about everything that I have said to you. It isn't too late. Now go. I will always love you, Arthur.

    • Arthur: It seems my father doesn't approve of the way I have chosen to rule his kingdom.
      Merlin: You mean your kingdom.
      Arthur: The things he said about the knights, about marrying Guinevere. What if he's right? What if I have weakened Camelot?
      Merlin: Do you really believe that? You have always done what you believed to be right. People respect you.
      Arthur: Thank you, Merlin.

    • Merlin: Some people still think you're a foolish, arrogant ass.
      Arthur: Who?
      (Merlin shrugs)
      Arthur: Very funny.

    • (After some strange events have occurred during a Round Table meeting)
      Merlin: I was just thinking about what happened.
      Arthur: Did you get a terrible fright?
      Merlin: Yes. My heart nearly jumped out through my mouth.
      Arthur: Oh, well maybe you should have the rest of the day off and put your feet up?
      Merlin: Really? You were joking?
      Arthur: There really is no limit to your intelligence, is there, Merlin?

    • Sir Gwaine: Why does it always take you twice as long to change out of your armour?
      Sir Percival: Because I'm twice the size of you, little man.
      Sir Gwaine: Then why is it that your brain is so small?

    • Gaius: Merlin, I get the distinct impression there is something you're not telling me.
      Merlin: No. Why would you say that?
      Gaius: Because there usually is.

    • Merlin: At the Stones of Nemeton, I think that you may have released your father's spirit.
      Arthur: And what makes you think that?
      Merlin: Did you look back? As the veil closed, did you look back at your father?
      Arthur: I may have glanced round for a second.
      Merlin: In that second, you unleashed Uther's spirit.

    • Arthur: Do you really expect me to believe that my father's spirit is responsible for these things?
      Merlin: The Round Table represents everything that's changed since you became King. You told me how Uther disapproved. He's angry with you and that makes him dangerous.
      Arthur: I know my father. He wouldn't do these things.
      Merlin: I think he'd do anything to protect his legacy. Who knows what he's capable of?
      Arthur: Enough! That's enough.

    • Merlin: You know this was Uther.
      Arthur: We don't know what happened.
      Merlin: So Gwen just mysteriously ended up locked in the kitchens, which just mysteriously caught fire. You said yourself Uther disapproved of you marrying Gwen.
      Arthur: He wouldn't do this.
      Merlin: I know how hard this is for you.

    • Gaius: She was lucky to escape with her life.
      Arthur: I've always known my father could be cruel, but why would he do this to Guinevere? He knows how much I love her.

    • Arthur: Gaius. What do you know about ghosts?

    • (Merlin drops something to the ground startling Arthur)
      Merlin: Sorry.
      Arthur: You're fortunate I'm not easily frightened.
      Merlin: Really? Because it looked like you jumped out of your skin.
      Arthur: That's because you're a clumsy oaf.

    • (Gaius has made a potion for Arthur and Merlin to drink so Uther's spirit becomes visible to them)
      Arthur: Is it safe?
      Gauis: I can't say I'm entirely sure.
      (Merlin is about to drink it, but stops when he sees that Arthur is waiting)
      Merlin: What are you waiting for?
      Arthur: To see if it's safe.
      Merlin: So, if I don't die, you'll take yours?
      Arthur: Precisely. Get on with it.
      (Merlin drinks the potion)
      Arthur: Well, at least we know it doesn't kill you instantly (Drinks his) Eurgh! That... that is the foulest thing I've ever tasted.
      Merlin: Sorry. Did I forget to tell you about that part?

    • Merlin: There!
      Arthur: Where?
      Merlin: Oh, it's just our shadows.
      (The camera focuses on the shadows. A hand smacks a head)
      Merlin: Ouch!

    • Sir Leon: Is everything all right, my Lord?
      Arthur: It's perfectly fine. We are... Merlin. Tell Leon what we're doing.
      Merlin: We're... I'm teaching him some poetry.
      Sir Leon: Poetry?
      Arthur: poetry.
      Merlin: I was as surprised as you are. He can't get enough of it.
      Sir Leon: I'll leave you to your poetry then, my Lord.
      Arthur: Poetry? That's the best you could come up with?
      Merlin: What did you want me to say?
      Arthur: I don't know. Something that didn't make me sound like a lovestruck girl.

    • Arthur: I never thought the day would come when I would be hunting my own father. When I became King, more than anything, I wanted to make him proud.
      Merlin: What is it? You've always done what you believed to be right even if you knew your father would disapprove of it. Do you not see how different you are to him? Camelot is a better place since you became King.
      Arthur: My father clearly doesn't think so.
      Merlin: The people believe in you, Arthur. It counts for nothing if you don't believe in yourself.

    • Arthur: Why are you doing this?
      Uther: I did not spend my entire life building this kingdom to see my own son destroy it.
      Arthur: You tried to kill Guinevere.
      Uther: For your own good. How can a serving girl understand what it means to be Queen?
      Arthur: Guinevere is wise, and strong, and I trust her more than anyone.
      Uther: And that is your weakness. You put too much trust in other people. You, and you alone must rule Camelot.
      Arthur: I would rather not rule at all, than rule alone.

    • Uther: Your whole life, I tried to prepare you for the day you would become King. Did you learn nothing?
      Arthur: I watched you rule, and I learnt that if you trust no one, you will always live in fear. Your hatred came from fear, not strength.
      Uther: How dare you!
      Arthur: I loved, and respected you. But I have to rule the Kingdom in my own way. I have to do what I believe to be right.
      Uther: I will not allow you destroy all that I built.
      Arthur: Then you will have to kill me. I am not you, Father. I can't rule the way you did.
      Uther: Camelot must come before all else. Even you.

    • Merlin: You've caused enough harm. You don't belong here. You must return to the other world.
      Uther: This is my kingdom! You think you can drive me from it? You are nothing but a serving boy!
      (Uther throws a bench in Merlin's direction but Merlin diverts its trajectory using magic)
      Merlin: I am much more than that.
      Uther: You have magic?
      Merlin: I was born with it.
      Uther: I made you Arthur's servant. You are a sorcerer?
      Merlin: Even while you were King, there was magic at the heart of Camelot.
      Uther: I will not allow you and your kind to poison my Kingdom.
      Merlin: You're wrong. You're wrong. About so much. Arthur is a better, and more worthy King than you ever were.

    • Uther: (To Merlin) It will give me great pleasure killing you.

    • (Arthur is about to send his spirit back to the spirit world)
      Uther: Arthur! No! Please. Whatever I have done, I have done for Camelot.
      Arthur: You've had your turn. Now it's mine.
      Uther: Merlin has...
      (Arthur blows the horn and Uther's spirit vanishes)

    • Arthur: I always looked up to my father. I admired and respected him more than anyone. I have to accept that I can't please him, and be true to myself.
      Merlin: Uther did what he thought he had to do to protect the Kingdom.
      Arthur: That doesn't mean he was right.

    • Arthur: I want to build a kingdom that is fair and just. One where everyone is respected, regardless of rank.
      Merlin: Does that include me?
      Arthur: Of course.
      Merlin: So, does that mean you're not going to hit me anymore?
      Arthur: When do I ever hit you?
      Merlin: All the time.
      Arthur: That's not hitting, Merlin. That's merely friendly slaps. It's horseplay.
      Merlin: So, can I give you a friendly slap?
      Arthur: You can certainly try.
      Merlin: (Merlin smacks Arthur with his gloves)
      Arthur: What the hell was that?
      Merlin: It was, um... horseplay.
      Arthur: No, Merlin, you're doing it all wrong (Putting his glove on and clenching his fist tight) Why don't I show you?

  • Notes

  • Allusions

    • The Death Song of Uther Pendragon is a classical poem from the Book of Taliesin, a 14th-century manuscript containing 56 poems, some of the oldest in Welsh.