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King Uther Pendragon
The Fisher King
Voice of the Great Dragon
Despite claiming to be fighting fit, Arthur never once seems to wonder why he suddenly felt so drained and then better once he lost the Eye of the Phoenix bracelet, which he doesn't seem to notice as missing.
The Wyverns are able to pull doors open (towards them), rather than pushing them.
Goof: Merlin and Gwaine have time to stop and talk for some seconds before jumping into the hay while those chasing after them run in unrealistic motion towards them.
Also, there is no apparent reason for those men not to jump into the hay as well instead of simply looking at them as they escape.
It is the second time that the true appearance of a sorceress disguise is revealed by her reflection in a mirror. It happens to Morgause in this episode and it happened to Mary Collins in episode 1x01 The Dragon's Call.
According to Arthur's maps, the Perilous Lands are to the north of Mercia and the forest of Anber and to the east of Bidge and the forest of Engred. The Fisher King's castle is called The Dark Tower.
Wyverns are creatures of magic and distant cousins of the dragons.
The Fisher King was a sorcerer who lived many hundreds of years ago. Legend has it he was wounded in battle and that the wound festered making the infection spread not just through his body, but through his lands as well. His mighty kingdom was reduced to a wasteland and it was referred to ever since as the Perilous Lands, since very few entering them would come out alive. The Fisher King was kept from death by his magic, although the only way to bring prosperity to his lands again is for Merlin to help Arthur become the king of legend. The Fisher King has been waiting for the arrival of Arthur's time as the king who will unite Albion. However, before it happens, Merlin will have to help and the Fisher King gives him water from the Lake of Avalon, which is supposed to be a valuable gift to make it all possible.
Just like he told Merlin in episode 3x04 Gwaine, Gwaine has been in Engred (Mercia) since he left Camelot.
This episode features a task that princes have to fulfill in order to prove themselves worthy of the throne as well as their worth to their people. Deciding on a quest to complete alone and unaided becomes on of the most important days in a Prince's life. It's been a tradition for hundreds of years.
Arthur decides to travel north to Mercia and enter the realm of the Fisher King and find the golden trident, spoken of in the legends of the Fallen Kings.
According to Grettir, Arthur is 'Courage', Merlin is 'Magic' and Gwaine is 'Strength'.
The title of the episode refers to the gem in the bracelet that Morgana gives to Arthur. The eye of the Phoenix or firebird burns with a fire that consumes the life force of anybody it comes in contact with, slowly drawing energy until death.
When the Fisher King refers to Arthur as 'the once and future king' who will unite the land of Albion, Merlin replies that he has heard those words before. The Great Dragon told those same words to Merlin in episode 1x01 The Dragon's Call and then Guinevere was alluded to as 'the once and future queen' in episode 2x02 The Once and Future Queen.
Goof: The horses that Arthur and Merlin ride are different between takes (they leave Camelot and arrive back on the same ones, but they use different ones during the rest of the episode).
The Fisher King is the third character who refers to Merlin as 'Emrys'. Mordred did so in episodes 1x08 The Beginning of the End, episode 2x03 The Nightmare Begins and 2x11 The Witch's Quickening, Taliesin in episode 3x05 The Crystal Cave and then The Fisher King in this one.
Goof: Wyverns only have two legs (or even none); however, the ones depicted in this episode have two pairs of legs.
(Merlin and Gwen watch Arthur in the council room)
Gwen: What's he actually doing?
(Gwen elbows Merlin)
Merlin: (Closing the door) Sush, he has to decide upon a quest.
Gwen: And crouching on his knees all night is going to help?
Merlin: Yes, he has to transcend his body so that the quest is revealed to him in a vision.
Gwen: And you're going to stay here and watch?
Merlin: Gwen, this is one of the most important days in a Prince's life.
(Cut to Merlin, who has fallen asleep on the ground, snoring)
Uther: What is the quest you have chosen?
Arthur: I can see but one path, sire. I am to enter the realm of the Fisher King and find the golden trident, spoken of in the legends of the Fallen Kings.
Uther: You do understand that if you are to prove yourself worthy of the throne, you must complete this task alone and unaided?
Arthur: I do.
Merlin: Who is the Fisher King?
Gaius: He was a sorcerer who lived many hundreds of years ago.
Gaius: Legend has it he was wounded in battle. The wound festered and the infection spread not just through his body, but through his lands as well. His mighty kingdom was reduced to a wasteland and has remained that way till this very day.
Merlin: I don't understand, why is Uther so worried?
Gaius: Some believe the Fisher King is still alive... kept from death by his magic.
Merlin: Do you?
Gaius: Perhaps, perhaps not. But the people of the north call the area the Perilous Lands. Few who have ever ventured there have lived to tell the tale.
Merlin: Couldn't you have chosen something a bit easier?
Arthur: I'm meant to be proving my worth to the people. A quick trip to the Lower Town to collect a bundle of herbs probably won't cut it.
Merlin: But the Perilous Lands are... perilous. Maybe I should come with you.
Arthur: What for?
Merlin: To... help out.
Arthur: You really don't get it, do you? The task must be completed alone and unaided. That's the way it's been for hundreds of years and it's not about to change for you.
Morgause: Tell me, what has Arthur chosen as his quest?
Morgana: He sets out tomorrow for the Perilous Lands.
Morgause: How perfect. Present this to the prince as a token of your good wishes. When the time is right, you must make a likeness of the prince and bind it to the gift using the skills that I taught you. When he does not return, you, sister, will take your rightful place as sole heir to the throne of Camelot.
(After seeing the old woman Morgana is talking to reflected in a mirror as Morgause)
Gwen: My lady? Are you all right?
Morgana: Why wouldn't I be?
Gwen: I... I thought...
Morgana: The poor woman didn't have a penny to feed her family. I felt duty bound to help her, Gwen.
Gwen: I know you have to go, but...
Arthur: I'll be careful.
Gwen: For me.
(Arthur nods, kisses her and leaves)
(Upon Arthur's departure to the Perilous Lands)
Morgana: You look troubled, sire.
Uther: He is sole heir to the throne, Morgana.
Morgana: Don't worry. I'm certain a Pendragon will rule over Camelot for a long time to come (She smirks)
Gaius: You're sure it wasn't a jewel?
Merlin: No. Brighter than that.
Gaius: And you think it was enchanted?
Merlin: There was magic there, I could feel it.
Gaius: You're sure?
Merlin: And if it came from Morgana, it can only mean one thing: Arthur's in danger.
(About Arthur's bracelet)
Gaius: It's an eye of the Phoenix.
Merlin: The Phoenix?
Gaius: Some call it the firebird. Its eye burns with a fire that consumes the life force of anybody it comes in contact with.
Gaius: The eye will draw energy from him. If it is worn for too long, Arthur will die.
Merlin: I have to go after him.
Gaius: This is not a task to be undertaken lightly, Merlin. You'll need help.
Merlin: Arthur's in trouble, I need your help.
Gwaine: What kind of trouble?
Merlin: He's gone to the Perilous Lands.
Gwaine: You serious?
(Gwaine realizes that the men they are running from are close)
Gwaine: Just now, that sounds pretty attractive.
Grettir: Who is it that wishes to cross my bridge?
Arthur: A knight... on a quest to find the trident of the Fisher King.
Grettir: Then you must be Courage.
Arthur: No, I'm Prince Arthur of Camelot.
Grettir: I'm Grettir. I have to say, you're not as short as I thought you'd be. Before I let you pass, I'll give you a little advice. As Courage, there are two more things you will need to complete your quest: Strength and Magic.
Arthur: I don't condone the use of magic.
Grettir: You'd be wise not to dismiss it so freely. The rules in the land that you are heading to are quite different to those in the world that you know.
Grettir: That's a very beautiful bracelet.
Arthur: It was a gift from someone very dear to me. She hoped it would bring me good fortune.
Grettir: Did she now? How very thoughtful of her (He chuckles and vanishes into thin air)
Gwaine: How did you find me?
Merlin: It wasn't easy, I've been in almost every tavern in Engred.
Gwaine: So have I.
Gwaine: This is it. On the other side of the forest lie the Perilous Lands.
Merlin: Doesn't look too friendly.
Gwaine: That's because it's not. Believe me, it's wretched.
Merlin: How do you know? You've never been there.
Gwaine: I've travelled to many places, Merlin.
Merlin: But not to the Perilous Lands. I know that.
Merlin: There aren't any taverns.
Grettir: So, Magic has arrived.
Grettir: There is nothing to be afraid of. Your presence is essential if Arthur is to succeed on his quest.
Merlin: How do you know about Arthur? Who are you?
Grettir: I'm the keeper of the bridge. I only wish to see the Fisher King's lands restored and prosperity reign again. Until your mission is complete, this cannot happen.
Merlin: It is not my mission, it is Arthur's.
Grettir: If that's what you choose to believe. It is no accident that Arthur chose this path or you chose to follow him.
Grettir: (To Gwaine) Finally. Strength has arrived, the trio is complete.
Grettir: (To Merlin) The Fisher King has waited many years for this day. Do not deny him what he wishes. And remember, nothing is as it seems.
(Wailing can be heard in the distance)
Merlin: What was that?
Gwaine: A pheasant.
Merlin: A pheasant?
Gwaine: A very big one.
Merlin: You can turn back if you want.
Gwaine: I'm not scared of pheasants.
Merlin: Why do you want to do this?
Gwaine: Same reason as you. Help a friend.
Merlin: Arthur's lucky to have us.
Gwaine: Not Arthur.
Merlin: I'd do the same for you.
Gwaine: I hope so. You're the only friend I've got.
Merlin: I'm not surprised.
Gwen: I'm not sure who else I can talk to.
Gaius: What is it, child?
Gwen: It's Morgana.
Gaius: What's happened?
Gwen: She had a box. And her eyes... it was like they were on fire. What do I do, Gaius? She's using magic.
Gaius: Everything may not be as it seems, Gwen.
Gwen: No, no. I know what I saw. I've known Morgana for so long. I didn't want to believe it. But she... isn't the person I knew. She's changed, Gaius. I don't think she means well to any of us any more.
Gaius: I wish I could say otherwise but I fear you are right.
Arthur: (Coming around) What the hell are you doing here?
Merlin: Why can you never just say thanks?
Arthur: Thanks? What, for completely ruining the quest?
Merlin: It's a good job I was here, otherwise you'd be wyvern fodder!
Arthur: How many times do I have to get it into your thick skull? I'm supposed to be doing this alone!
(A Wyvern enters the room squealing menacingly, startling both. Gwaine appears behind the creature's back and kills it)
Arthur: Great. This just gets better and better. Are Gwen and Morgana here too? Are we going to have a surprise party?
The Fisher King: So, Emrys, you are here at last.
Merlin: So you are still alive.
The Fisher King: For now.
Arthur: Now, I'm sure if we can just reach in here... (Arthur removes a stone and bugs start coming off) ... we'll be able to find something to release the door.
Gwaine: Go on, then. Don't be such a princess. This is your quest, after all.
Merlin: What is it you want?
The Fisher King: I want an end to my suffering.
Merlin: You want to die?
The Fisher King: I have been waiting all these years... for the arrival of a new time, the time of the once and future king.
Merlin: I've heard these words before.
The Fisher King: And you will hear them again for that time is dawning. And my time finally can come to an end. This is why you were brought here. For this is not Arthur's quest, it is yours. Arthur thinks the prize is the trident (He lets it fall to the ground) But the real prize... is something far greater.
The Fisher King: Water from the Lake of Avalon. I have kept it safe these years, waiting for the right person to claim it. And that is you. You are the one chosen.
Merlin: What are you talking about?
The Fisher King: Albion's time of need is near and in that dark hour you must be strong, for you alone can save her. Your powers are great, but you will need help. And that is what I'm giving you. When all seems lost, this will show you the way.
Merlin: Thank you.
The Fisher King: I have given you a gift. Now you must give me one in return.
Merlin: But I have nothing to give.
The Fisher King: (Groaning as he stands up) I think you do.
Merlin: (Retrieving the bracelet from his pocket) If I give you this, you will die.
(The Fisher King stretches out his arm and encourages Merlin with a nod. Merlin kneels down and places the bracelet on the king's wrist. The eye of the phoenix shines and the king vanishes)
Voice of The Fisher King: Thank you.
Gwaine: This is the border. By Uther's decree, I can go no further.
Arthur: I'm sorry, Gwaine. There's nothing I can do to change that.
Merlin: Maybe one day.
Gwaine: Yeah, when Camelot gets itself a half-decent king.
Arthur: Careful... he is my father.
Gwaine: Well, you can't have everything, huh?
Merlin: Where will you go this time?
Gwaine: Think I'll ride south.
Merlin: You can't keep living like that.
Gwaine: Yeah, but it's fun trying.
Merlin: Thanks, Gwaine.
Arthur: I'll remember this, Gwaine.
Merlin: Got to say, that was a good quest. Did you meet that man on the bridge? Then the wyverns, they were really scary. And the door to the throne room! That was so close.
Arthur: You do talk some nonsense sometimes, Merlin. What on earth would you even know about it? It's not like you were there.
Merlin: Of course I was.
Arthur: You were not there, you have not seen me for days. You've been on a little trip to... pick herbs, or whatever it is you do in your spare time.
Merlin: Ah, course, if your father was to find out you weren't alone...
Arthur: Yes, Merlin. So just keep your mouth shut!
Merlin: Absolutely, sire. Do anything you say. For a price.
Arthur: What kind of price?
Merlin: A day off.
Arthur: Mmm. I think you've had too many of those herbs you've been picking.
Uther: Arthur, I don't know what pleases me more: to be in possession of such a precious artefact or know that you have finally proved yourself to be the man I had always hoped you would be.
Arthur: Thank you, father.
Uther: I have no doubt that you will one day make a fine king.
Gaius: It's from the Lake of Avalon?
Merlin: That's what he told me.
Merlin: You think?
Gaius: Well, it must have some significance.
Merlin: Maybe... do you believe his warnings?
Gaius: Well, we already know of one enemy within our walls.
Gaius: Her abilities are growing. Whether the Fisher King is right or wrong, we would be foolish to ignore his words.
The Perilous lands were Alice Troughton's favourite shot to film of the show.
The vial with the Avalon water was originally three times the size is was supposed to be and it looked ridiculous for Merlin to hide it and carry it around so they had to film the scenes without the vial and replace it later.
Canada: March 5, 2011 on Space.
France: March 27, 2011 on Canal + Family.
Italy: April 7, 2011 on Italia 1.
Poland: April 23, 2011 on Polsat.
Spain: January 29, 2011 on Antena 3 Neox.
Turkey: February 27, 2011 on CNBC-e.
USA: March 4, 2011 on Syfy.
As it can be deducted from Bradley James and Colin Morgan's Geek Syndicate interview during the September 5th, 2010 during a BFI event, the airing order of this episode and episode 3x10 Queen of Hearts was swapped. When asked what their favourite episode was, they said episode 10. Colin mentions that it is a The Princess Bride type of adventure and Bradley mentions the 'Perilous Lands'. Both statements fit this episode and not 3x10.
According to Barney Curnow from The Mill, to design The Dark Tower they created an initial 3D concept (since 3 takes were going to be needed) starting from the original storyboard for the shot and also several digital matte paintings of the Tower and the Perilous Lands.
The Wyverns were based on the Great Dragon model.
The special effect that makes The Fisher King disappear in a whirlwind of rags and dust was done with CG rags and cloth with CG swirling smoke and practical wind-blown elements. Even though this effect has been used before (Mary Collins in episode 1x01 The Dragon's Call, Morgana and Morgause in episode 2x12 The Fires of Idirsholas) this one was closer up and more drawn out than before.
Warwick Davis loves to watch Merlin with his family and he was thrilled to have been offered the role of Grettir. He had a great time with Bradley James and Colin Morgan, whom he defines as 'top blokes, really good guys and very welcoming'.
Château de Pierrefonds, Pierrefonds, Oise, France (Camelot).
Cardiff, Wales, UK (Studio sets).
Caerphilly Castle, Castle Street, Caerphilly, Mid Glamorgan, Wales, UK (Marketplace and covered walkway Merlin and Gwaine run through while being chased. Also Fisher's King castle).
Puzzlewood, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, England, UK (Grettir's bridge).
Trefil Quarry, Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent, Brecon Beacons, Wales, UK (Lands surrounding The Dark Tower where Arthur is first attacked by the wyverns).
Llanwonno Forest, Mountain Ash, South Wales, UK (Perilous Lands).
According to Shine's location manager Midge Ferguson, the after-effects of forestry operations and a fire at the site left a dramatic and wild-looking landscape which made Llanwonno Forest the ideal setting for the Perilous Lands.
According to Warwick Davis none of the scenery in Puzzlewood was done by the art department; everything is natural including the bridge his character guards.
Emilia Fox found her old woman disguise a terrifying experience since it gave her an unwelcome glimpse into the future. She had never been applied prosthetics before, and the process took up to four hours to be completed. She considers it the best disguise she's ever had on screen.
The Great Dragon does not appear in this episode, but John Hurt is credited (for the voice-over which begins the episode).
Also Known As:
France: Les Terres De Perils , meaning 'The Perilous Lands'.
Germany: Das Auge Des Phoenix.
Italy: L'occhio Della Fenice.
Poland: Oko Feniksa.
Portugal: O Olho Da Phoenix.
Sat 30 Oct 2010 at 19:55-20:40 on BBC One.
Mon 1 Nov 2010 at 19:00-19:45 on BBC Three.
The scenes where Arthur is trying to figure out a way into the Fisher King's chamber and finds a trap that releases bugs before rolling under a door resemble scenes from the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
The wyverns flying around the Fisher King's castle bear a lot of resemblance to the Nazguls flying around Barad-dur in Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers. The castle itself looks a lot like Barad-dur fortress and they are both called 'The Dark Tower'. Also, the Perilous Lands resemble Mordor's devastated landscape and the Eye of the Phoenix has in Arthur the same effect as the ring has in Frodo: draining their strength. Moreover, the hourglass containing water from the lake of Avalon that the Fisher King gives to Merlin to show him the way when all seems lost resembles the light of Earendil that Galadriel gives Frodo to show him the way in dark places, when all other lights go out' in Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of The Ring.
The Fisher King: I have been waiting all these years for the arrival of a new time, the time of the once and future king.
'The Once And Future King' is a title often ascribed to Arthur, taken from the supposed inscription over his grave HIC IACET ARTORIVS REX QVONDAM REXQVE FVTVRVS (Here lies Arthur, the once and future king).
Also, T.H. White wrote an Arthurian fantasy novel published in 1958 and entitled The Once and Future King.
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