Season 1 Episode 7

The Gates Of Avalon

Aired Unknown Nov 01, 2008 on BBC
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Episode Summary

Arthur and Merlin save a young woman and her father from a band of brigands. Arthur becomes quite besotted with the young girl, Sophia, and offers them refuge in Camelot. However, it's not just Merlin who is suspicious of the new arrivals- Morgana awakes from a nightmare about Arthur's death at the hands of a beautiful young woman to find Sophia is the girl in the nightmare...moreless

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  • Arthur saves the enchanting Sophia and her father from robbers in the forest. Uther invites them to stay in Camelot. Things are not what they seem. Arthur starts to act very strange. Morgana is having seer dreams and Merlin must save the day.moreless

    Interesting characters and mythology in this episode. I like how they are not afraid to borrow from different sources but they stay fairly accurate to the actual mythology they borrow from.

    Sophia and her Father Aulfric are Sidhes pronounced "shee". The are a supernatural immortal race similar to fairies from Irish Folklore. Sophia needs to sacrifice the heart of a Prince to cross through the Gates of Avalon where the Sidhes belong. Her father is willing to sacrifice himself to help her get to this end.

    Morgana has a vision of the girl before she arrives and realizes all is not right with this woman. She tells Gaius who realizes that her powers as a "Seer" are growing and advises her to keep it from Uther as he tends to put anyone to death who even thinks about magic.

    Gaius realizes what these creatures are and in the end it is up to Merlin, who takes the brunt of the abuse in this episode for Arthur, to save the day.

    Uther's reaction to Arthur's announcement of marriage was one of the first times I think Uther seems to have shown common sense in the show. A good show that was very enjoyable with a interesting story and good acting. Thanks for reading...moreless
  • 'I saw Arthur lying underwater, drowning, and there was a woman standing over him, watching him die- and she's here. In Camelot.' (SPOILERS)

    In The Gates Of Avalon, there's more playing hard-and-fast with Arthurian legend which will annoy the purists but should entertain everyone else. On a hunting expedition, Arthur saves a young girl- Sophia- and her father- Aulfric- from bandits. Uther suggests that they stay at Camelot to break up their journey- and Arthur becomes very smitten with Sophia. However, not everyone is pleased with the new arrivals. Morgana awakens from a nightmare in which a strange young woman is standing over a drowning Arthur... to find Sophia is the girl in her nightmare. Gaius also becomes suspicious of the newcomers and discovers their secret. They are Sidhe, mystical beings condemned to a mortal life for the killing of a fellow Sidhe. However, there is a condition which means that Sophia can once again pass through the gates of Avalon and back home- if she gives up the soul of a mortal prince. But with Arthur enchanted by Sophia and completely in love with her, will they be able to save him? Of course they will, but the route is always more exciting than the destination.

    The fact that the Sidhe are a mythological race from Ireland with no link whatsoever to either Arthurian legend in general or Avalon in particular hasn't stopped writer Ben Vanstone from throwing the two elements together to form the motivation for the villains of the week. That said, both Holliday Grainger and Kenneth Cranham turn in strong performances. Cranham is good as the elder statesman and Grainger makes a wonderfully fatale femme, enchanting Arthur to her will. However, she also gets a few decent scenes with other characters- notably a catty conversation with an agitated Morgana. After six weeks on the sidelines, Morgana finally gets her own episode- and Katie McGrath gets a chance to shine. And shine she does. Throughout the previous episodes, mentions of Morgana's nightmares and awry sleeping patterns have hinted at a different cause. It now appears that she's a seer or prophetess. She is by turns agitated, scared, upset, defiant, cautious, coaxing and brave and it's a strong performance by McGrath. She's equally matched by Richard Wilson, again acting as confidante and friend and also handily filling in on backstory. Anthony Head is as able as ever as Uther, coming to the fore when he callously suggests he will execute Sophia and Aulfric if Arthur doesn't pay him respect. He also gets some good scenes with Colin Morgan and lays on a nicely comedic edge. Morgan is as good as ever, with a slightly broader streak of comedy coming through here. The running joke of him ending up in the stocks just about works and isn't run too much into the ground. Bradley James is also good, showing yet another side when he is bewitched by Sophia. It's just a shame Gwen hasn't much to do, besides one scene with Morgana at the window.

    The scene with the Sidhe works well- the combination of CGI and prosthetics striking a good balance for once. However, the totally over-the-top death-blasts for both Sophia and Aulfric wouldn't have looked out of place in something like Starship Troopers. The niggles are minor though- this does rank quite strongly out of the episodes seen so far.moreless
  • Ugly Guardian Fairies and the gates of Avalon. A very balanced episode.

    This show is starting to get far better. Where as it is called Merlin the fact is that its becoming an ensemble type show and fleshing out all the other characters and that is no bad thing. This time its Morgana who we get to know better and her relation to the world and the other characters. Till now this character has been very bland and its good to see that she has been born as a seer because it ends up making the character more fitted to her legendary self, and to the premise of the show. The fact that Gaius has known for a while means that he is guarding 2 people's magical secrets now. Another thing that this does well is keep the magic plot low key and not in Uther Pendragon's face. Last episode did something similar but this is a little more successful. The evil faerie guardian's (Sheee's) of Avalon are suitably creepy (and actually good effects as well). Where as most episodes have had you believe that magical societies do not exist and its mainly the work of magical individuals the feeling that magic is all around is a good set-up.

    The running joke of Merlin in the stocks was funny however he is keeping secrets from Uther already so its not very convincing that he can't lie to him. In all honesty all the characters get almost equal screen time here and that makes it balanced. Some get developments, others don't. What I would like to say is though that Arthur is the weak link here if anything as he's being taken for a complete and utter fool. This is a very enjoyable episode and this show goes from strength to strength, lets just hope Arthur isn't played the fool every week. Merlin also needs a little more gravitas as a main character otherwise he's likely to sink too deeply into this ensemble.moreless
Kenneth Cranham

Kenneth Cranham


Guest Star

Holly Grainger

Holly Grainger


Guest Star

Michael Jenn

Michael Jenn

Sidhe Elder

Guest Star

John Hurt

John Hurt

Voice of the Great Dragon

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (15)

  • QUOTES (25)

    • Gaius: (about Morgana) She must never find out the truth.
      Merlin: Why not? She had a premonition that helped save Arthur's life.
      Gaius: And it could cost her her own. If Uther ever found out, things would never be the same again. It must remain a secret.
      Merlin: Is she like me? Can she use magic?
      Gaius: No one's like you, Merlin.
      Merlin: But she has the gift?
      Gaius: For her sake, I hope not.

    • Uther: When you failed to show up for patrol this morning, I feared you'd eloped with Sophia in a fit of passion.
      Merlin: I wish he had, because then I wouldn't be stood in front of you looking like an idiot. Again.
      Uther: This is becoming a near daily occurrence with you.
      Merlin: But there was a mistake, and I would not say it was anyone's fault... not really... (off Arthur's look) You could say it was mine.
      Uther: Could somebody tell me what happened?
      Merlin: Well...
      Uther: Somebody with a brain.
      Arthur: After Sophia left, I wanted to take my mind off her so I went for a hunt.
      Morgana: So killing things mends a broken heart?
      Arthur: No, but it's good fun. Merlin was meant to inform you that I wouldn't be back til later today.
      Uther: Have you some kind of mental affliction?
      Merlin: Probably.
      Gaius: I'm looking into it, sire.
      Uther: Well, I hope for our sake you find a cure or we'll find ourselves with a food shortage on our hands.
      Merlin: Food shortage?
      (Cut to Merlin in the stocks, being pelted with rotten fruit)

    • Merlin: Arthur?
      Arthur: What happened? Where am I?
      Merlin: Can you remember anything?
      Arthur: (sitting up in bed) Oh, my head. There was a girl. Sophia. She... I asked my father something about her... I asked him... What was I thinking?
      Merlin: Well, we did wonder. Especially when you eloped with her last night.
      Arthur: I did what?
      Gaius: Merlin had to bring you back to Camelot.
      Arthur: I don't recall any of this.
      Gaius: It must have been some blow.
      Arthur: What blow?
      Merlin: Well, when I caught up with you, I couldn't persuade you to return. You were beyond reasoning. So I had to make you.
      Arthur: You managed to knock me out?
      Merlin: Yep. With a lump of wood.
      Gaius: He only did it to bring you back safely.
      Arthur: No-one can know about this. Any of it. Is that understood?

    • Aulfric: Go. They are waiting for you.
      Sophia: I don't understand. You're coming too.
      Aulfric: Only one of us can pass through. This was never meant for me.
      Sophia: But... I only wanted this so we could both return to Avalon.
      Aulfric: Your destiny is on a different path to mine. It is my fate to live a mortal life.
      Sophia: I don't want to leave you.
      Aulfric: You must! Once the ceremony begins, you have to go through with it. The Elders expect a soul. If they don't get his, they will take yours.

    • Morgana: He's gone! Arthur's gone with her! She's taken him!
      Gaius: Slow down...
      Morgana: I know you don't believe me, but I'm so sure it's going to happen. My dream's going to come true!
      Gaius: I do believe you.
      Morgana: I've got to tell Uther.
      Gaius: You can't.
      Morgana: I've got to do something! If I don't, then Arthur's going to die!
      Gaius: You can't tell Uther about your dream. If Uther thinks you've got the seer's power, he'll charge you with witchcraft.
      Morgana: I don't have a choice. I couldn't live with myself knowing I'd let him down.
      Gaius: Wait. We've known each other a long time. You trust me, don't you?
      Morgana: Yes. You know I do.
      Gaius: Then trust me now. Stay here. Don't say a word to anyone about this.
      Morgana: But Arthur...
      Gaius: I'll take care of it.

    • Arthur: Get out.
      Merlin: I thought the king was a bit harsh.
      Arthur: I don't need sympathy, Merlin, especially not from you.
      Merlin: But I did think he had a point.
      Arthur: I ordered you to get out. Now leave me!
      Merlin: I know you think you know what you're doing and I know you think you're in love with Sophia...
      Arthur: Who are you to tell me what I'm thinking?
      Merlin: I'm you're friend.
      Arthur: No, Merlin. You're my servant.
      Merlin: You don't know what you're doing. She's cast a spell on you! You're enchanted!
      Sophia: (entering the chamber with Aulfric) I told you people would try to keep us apart.
      Arthur: I know. I won't let that happen.
      Merlin: Look, don't listen to her, she's controlling you!
      Sophia: We can elope together. Get away from this place, these people.
      Merlin: I saw you. I followed him. They're planning to sacrifice you.
      Aulfric: You let your servant talk to your guests this way?
      Merlin: I know what you're going to do because I followed you to the lake and I heard everything! You have to believe me!
      Sophia: Don't listen to him, Arthur. Let's go. Let's leave tonight.
      Merlin: She's going to kill you. Sophia plans to sacrifice you to buy a life of immortality. If you go with her, you'll die.
      Arthur: It doesn't make sense. We're in love.
      Merlin: They're magical beings. Look at the writing on the staff. (Merlin lunges forward to grab Aulfric's staff; Aulfric's eyes flash red) Look at his eyes! Look at him! Do you believe me now? Arthur, do you see?
      (Arthur turns round; his eyes are also red)
      Arthur: I see everything.

    • Uther: You're not planning on springing any surprises on me, are you?
      Morgana: Don't you think you should be taking this a bit more seriously?
      Uther: He's young, foolish and in love. Give it a week and he'll be chasing after the next girl that catches his eye.
      Morgana: Sophia will never let that happen.
      Uther: Have you got a grudge against our guest?
      Morgana: There's something about her I don't trust. You've seen the way Arthur changed since she arrived.
      Uther: He's a fool in love.
      Morgana: She's dangerous.
      Uther: Dangerous? To who?
      Morgana: Arthur.
      Uther: Why do you say that?
      Morgana: I just have a sense, a feeling.
      Uther: And what has she done to make you have this feeling?
      Morgana: Nothing yet. It's what she's going to do. I don't know how to tell you this...
      Uther: Try. Whatever it is, you can tell me.
      Morgana: (after a long pause) I've just seen girls like this before. They string men along and then drop them. I don't want to see him get hurt.
      Uther: I know you want to protect him, but some lessons we have to learn for ourselves. He'll hurt for a week and then Sophia will be forgotten.
      Morgana: I hope so.

    • Arthur: I requested this audience, father, to discuss a matter of great importance. It cannot have escaped your attention that I and Lady Sophia Tiamor have grown very close.
      Uther: Not too close, I hope.
      Arthur: We're in love which is why I come before you today to ask your permission to marry.
      Uther: (laughing) I assume you're joking.
      Arthur: No. I'm going to marry her.
      Uther: But you only met two days ago.
      Arthur: We're in love.
      Uther: In love? We had no idea that you were such a romantic. Had we, Morgana?
      Morgana: No. He's full of surprises.
      Arthur: I'm going to marry her. I don't care what either of you think about it.
      Uther: I thought you'd come to ask my permission.
      Arthur: Out of courtesy, nothing more.
      Uther: Guards. Door. (The guards prevent Arthur and Sophia leaving) Had you forgotten whose court you're standing in?
      Arthur: You won't stop me. If I want to marry her, I will!
      Uther: Arrest Sophia and Aulfric Tiamor...
      Arthur: What are you doing?
      Uther: And inform the executioner his services will be required tomorrow morning.
      Arthur: You can't do this!
      Uther: Yes, I can. And unless you show me some respect, I will. (Arthur bows his head) Release them. You've got your whole life ahead of you. Sophia is no doubt your first love, but she certainly won't be the only one. Enjoy yourself while you can.

    • Gaius: We're dealing with the Sidhe.
      Merlin: That does not sound like a good thing.
      Gaius: They're masters of enchantment.
      Merlin: You think Arthur's been enchanted?
      Gaius: Almost certainly. I'm afraid Morgana's dream is coming true.

    • Gaius: Avalon! What you saw at the lake. It's Avalon! It must be!
      Merlin: What's that?
      Gaius: The land of eternal youth. Mortals are only supposed to glimpse it the moment before death.
      Merlin: Well, I've seen it and I'm still here.
      Gaius: Extraordinary! What did it look like?
      Merlin: Does it matter? They're going to sacrifice Arthur!

    • Aulfric: I come before you to plead for the chance to win passage back to Avalon and a life of immortality!
      Sidhe Elder: Your punishment for killing another Sidhe is a mortal body and a mortal life. You will never be able to return to Avalon.
      Aulfric: The crime was mine, not my daughter's.
      Sidhe Elder: The gates of Avalon remain closed to your daughter unless the soul of a mortal prince be offered up to them.
      Aulfric: Thank you! An immortal life for my daughter is all that I desire, so I promise you the soul of the greatest prince of all, Arthur Pendragon.

    • Sophia: Our love is strong. You feel the same way too. If we were ever to be parted...
      Arthur: I'd never let that happen.
      Sophia: You may not have the choice. There are some here who don't want us to be together.
      Arthur: I'd never let them come between us.
      Sophia: Because we're in love.
      Arthur: Because we're in love.
      Sophia: You must seek permission for us to marry. So we can be together.
      Arthur: Til death do us part.

    • Merlin: You would think the appeal of pelting the same person with fruit would wear off after a while, but oh no.
      Gaius: I heard that Arthur wasn't at the knighting ceremony.
      Merlin: Yeah. He wanted to make the most of his time left with Sophia.
      Gaius: So you helped him.
      Merlin: I'm his servant. I had to.
      Gaius: You shouldn't have done that, Merlin. I fear that Sophia may not be all that she seems.
      Merlin: Why?
      Gaius: What do you know about seers?
      Merlin: Not much. They're supposed to be able to see the future, like prophets?
      Gaius: It's said to be an innate ability. Those who have it are born that way. Some of them aren't even aware that what they see is the future. It comes to them in their dreams.
      Merlin: What's this got to do with Sophia?
      Gaius: The night before she and Aulfric came to Camelot, Morgana had a dream. Sophia was in it.
      Merlin: Before she arrived in Camelot?
      Gaius: I've been watching Morgana since she was very young and, though I tried to persuade myself otherwise, I realise that some of the things she said she dreamt came to pass. I kept it secret from Uther, of course. The gift of prophecy is too close to the work of magic.
      Merlin: And you think Morgana is a seer?
      Gaius: I don't think it. I fear it. Morgana said she dreamt that Sophia killed Arthur.
      Merlin: Couldn't that have just been a dream? Maybe the woman Morgana saw just looked like Sophia.
      Gaius: That's what I hoped. but Aulfric caught me in Sophia's room and- in a flash of anger- his eyes changed colour.
      Merlin: Who are they?
      Gaius: It's not who they are that worries me. It's what they want with Arthur.

    • Merlin: Your father's bestowing a knighthood on one of your men this morning.
      Arthur: I'm giving it a miss.
      Merlin: Won't your king mind?
      Arthur: Not if you cover for me again. By the way, thanks for yesterday. I heard you ended up in the stocks. Bad luck.
      Merlin: They were throwing potatoes at me. It's only supposed to be rotten fruit!
      Arthur: I'm not sure there's any hard and fast rules. But, if it's any consolation, I think it was worth it.
      Merlin: It went well?
      Arthur: Great. Fantastic. She's incredible.
      Merlin: Don't worry. I'll find a way to get you out of it.
      Arthur: Make sure you don't end up in the stocks this time.
      Merlin: I won't. I think I'm starting to get the hang of this whole deception lark.
      (Cut to Merlin in the stocks, being pelted with rotten fruit and potatoes)

    • Morgana: You seem very fond of her.
      Arthur: You make that sound like a bad thing.
      Morgana: Not necessarily. I've just never seen you fall under a woman's spell so quickly.
      Arthur: If you're jealous, Morgana, it's OK to admit it.
      Morgana: Don't flatter yourself!
      Arthur: Come on, it wouldn't be the first time now, would it?
      Morgana: I'm trying to protect you! She isn't what she seems.
      Arthur: Why? What makes you say that?
      Morgana: I just have a feeling. It's difficult to describe. I had a dream. A nightmare.
      Arthur: (laughing) You really are very sweet, Morgana.
      Morgana: Why are you laughing?
      Arthur: You. Your feelings, bad dreams. You don't have to make this stuff up. You can tell me the truth. It's obvious you like me.
      Morgana: Less and less by the second.

    • Aulfric: You've not been gone as long as I expected.
      Sophia: We were interrupted.
      Aulfric: What happened?
      Sophia: I was nearly killed. For a moment, I felt what it would be like to die a mortal death. He saved me. Someone so weak, so feeble saved me. I can't bear to be like this a moment longer.
      Aulfric: You won't have to. Once his heart is yours, the gates of Avalon will open once again for us, and we can regain our true form.
      Sophia: I need a little more time.
      Aulfric: We must hurry. The physician. He can see us for what we truly are.
      Sophia: And he is not alone. The Lady Morgana. She fears her powers but that will not keep her quiet for long.
      Aulfric: Tomorrow, you have to finish the enchantment. Otherwise, our chance to rid us of these mortal shells will be lost forever.

    • Sophia: Lady Morgana, isn't it? I'm Sophia.
      Morgana: What are you doing here?
      Sophia: My father and I are guests of the king.
      Morgana: You're lying. I know what you're going to do to him, and I won't let it happen.
      Sophia: Does Arthur know you feel this way about him? (pause) Of course he does. I suspect he's already turned you down.
      Morgana: Don't think you can make a fool out of me.
      Sophia: I don't have you. You're managing to do that well enough already.
      Morgana: Stay away from him.
      Sophia: Or what? (pause) Jealousy is such an unattractive trait in a woman.
      Morgana: If anything happens to Arthur... I'll find you. However long it takes.

    • Gaius: Have you been playing with your food again?
      Merlin: The king put me in the stocks.
      Gaius: What did you do this time?
      Merlin: Nothing. (off Gaius' look) Honestly, it wasn't my fault. Arthur wanted to get out of going on patrol with Uther and the guards so I covered for him and took the blame.
      Gaius: And Arthur was prepared to let you do this?
      Merlin: It was his idea.
      Gaius: What made him neglect his duties? It must have been something terribly important.
      Merlin: Sophia.
      Gaius: The girl from the forest?
      Merlin: He wanted to take her out for the day. He is besotted.
      Gaius: But they've only just met.
      Merlin: I know. I guess it must have been love at first sight.
      Gaius: Yes. I suppose it must be.

    • Uther: Where's my son?
      Merlin: I'm not sure where he is. I think... there's been a mistake. But it's not his fault. Arthur's, I mean.
      Uther: Stop gibbering and tell me where he is.
      Merlin: It's probably... no, it's definitely my fault.
      Uther: Where is Arthur?
      Merlin: He's not here.
      Uther: I can see that.
      Merlin: Arthur wasn't sure of his orders so he asked me to check with the guards and see if he was riding out this morning and, well, I may have forgotten.
      Uther: You forgot?
      Merlin: I'm sorry, my lord. I am sure he would have been here- had I told him.
      Uther: If this was a time of war, I would have you flogged.
      Merlin: And since it's not, we'll let it go just this once?
      (Cut to Merlin in the stocks, being pelted with rotten fruit)

    • (Morgana and Gwen watch Arthur riding off with Sophia)
      Gwen: You're sure it's her?
      Morgana: I could never forget that face.
      Gwen: You should speak to the king.
      Morgana: And tell him what? That I can see the future?
      Gwen: If you think Arthur's life is in danger...
      Morgana: You know how he'd react.
      Gwen: You're his ward. He wouldn't harm you!
      Morgana: He hates magic more than he cares for me.
      Gwen: That's not true.
      Morgana: Would you care to put it to the test?
      Gwen: But what else can you do?
      Morgana: I'm going to have to try and stop her myself.

    • Arthur: I'm taking Sophia out for a ride today. You know, show her around.
      Merlin: Where do I come into this?
      Arthur: Well, I'm supposed to be on patrol with the guard and my father this morning, so... I need you to cover for me.
      Merlin: What, and lie to the king? No. No way. No, he'll see right through me. He'll have me in the stocks quicker than you can say 'rotten tomatoes'.
      Arthur: Merlin, I need you to do this for me.
      Merlin: I am a terrible liar. I start sweating, my vision blurs, my brain stops working...
      Arthur: Well, no change there then. Look, I promised Sophia I'd take her out, and if I don't turn up, it'll blow my chances.
      Merlin: You like her, then.
      Arthur: Yeah! What's not to like? I want to spend some more time with her but I need to get my father off my back. I can't order you to lie to the king, but I'll be a friend for life if you do.
      Merlin: (after a pause) Go on, then. You don't want to keep her waiting.

    • Gaius: What brings you to this dark corner?
      Morgana: I... had another dream.
      Gaius: I see.
      Morgana: I saw Arthur lying underwater, drowning, and there was a woman standing over him, watching him die- and she's here. In Camelot.
      Gaius: The mind plays tricks. It borrows from everyday life and plays out its own fantasies.
      Morgana: But I had this dream before she came to Camelot!
      Gaius: You must be mistaken.
      Morgana: No! I know what I saw! It was so real. So vivid. I saw him die, Gaius. She's going to kill him.
      Gaius: These are just dreams, Morgana. Nothing more.

    • Arthur: Make sure you put her in a decent room.
      Merlin: The one next door's empty.
      Arthur: The one next door's fine. Excellent, in fact. (off Merlin's look) Shut up, Merlin.
      Merlin: What? I didn't say anything!
      Arthur: You didn't have to. I want to make it clear that my intentions towards Sophia are completely honourable. Put her in a room on the other side of the castle. It's warmer. More comfortable.
      Merlin: Of course. She is very... beautiful.
      Arthur: Yes, she is.
      Merlin: And if your intentions are honourable...
      Arthur: Oh, they are. Most definitely.
      Merlin: Then what's the problem with her staying next door?
      Arthur: There isn't one. You've convinced me. Put her in the room next to mine.

    • Uther: What brings you to Camelot?
      Aulfric: Our home was sacked by raiders. We barely escaped with what few possessions we could carry.
      Uther: These are dangerous times. What will you do?
      Aulfric: We travel west, to Caerleon where we have family and- I hope- a new life.
      Uther: You must stay here awhile. Break your journey. A noble family like yours is always welcome in Camelot.

    • Arthur: We're supposed to be hunting. It requires speed, stealth and an agile mind!
      Merlin: So, you're able to get by in two out of three, then.

  • NOTES (47)

    • Anthony Head, Bradley James and Jeremy Webb (episode director) recorded an audio commentary for this episode.

    • Bradley James spend most of the day filming the scene where he drowns at a water tank in Battersea, London provided by Marine Film Services. The tank held just two and half metres of water that was made misty with bits of dirt. The actor had to wear a lot of layers on not to get cold.

    • The hunting scene at the beginning was the last scene to be filmed for this episode.

    • The bandit that Arthur kills in the forest is played by Rick English, who also plays the Afanc in episode 1x03 The Mark of Nimueh, does the stunt for the Black Knight in episode 1x09 Excalibur and the stunt for one of the Knights of Medhir in episode 2x12 The Fires of Idirsholas. Bradley James accidentally 'stabbed' him during rehearsal.

    • The branch that falls over the stunt was made out of rubber and it was three times bigger than the one in the tree.

    • Jeremy Webb, the episode director, made Holly Grainger stay within Katie McGrath's eye line so Morgana had the right look in the scene where she first sees her at the castle.

    • There was a joke around the set about the scene where Merlin shows up at the Council chambers to excuse Arthur for the first time. Uther is fixing his cloak and belt, so it seems to indicate that he was coming out of the loo.

    • A gas bob was used to set Gaius' bench on fire.

    • The Sidhes' staffs have a torch at the end and a switch to turn it on.

    • The dart that is shot against Sophia was attached to a wire along which it was fired. The wire was later digitally removed.

    • Bradley James ad libbed most of the screaming he does when he runs off after the Camelot men who had shot an arrow against Sophia. After a while, he run out of things to say and his yelling became swearing.

    • Jeremy Webb keeps Sophia's staff in his kitchen. Her daughters like to play with it and they even brought it to school to talk about Merlin with their classmates.

    • According the Jeremy Webb, Aulfric can be seen washing his hands right before Sophia arrives from the forest because the Sidhe are supposed to be obsessed with cleanliness, since they are not human and can't stand human dirt.

    • A first attempt to enchant Arthur was shot but didn't make it into the final cut. It happened during the first night that Sophia stays in the castle: she called Arthur to go the forest and tried to enchant him but Arthur's heart was too strong and didn't succumb.

    • The scene where Aulfric talks to the Elder Sidhe was shot at night, with plenty of wind and smoke machines to recreate the atmosphere.

    • Colin Morgan was shown some pictures of what the fairies would look like and Jeremy Webb was talking to him and giving him some stage directions on what the action would be when they were filming the scene with the Elder Sidhe. With lines like: 'You are seeing the most amazing creature you've ever seen' Colin had to visually tell the story with his eyes.

    • Michael Jenn, who plays the Elder Sidhe, turned up to the wrap party of the episode and no one had a clue of who he was since only the make up department had seen him without the prosthetic job on. Mark Coulier, the make up artist in Harry Potter films, is behind the make up and prosthetics that took 4 hours to be applied.

    • The inscriptions on the Sidhes' staffs and in Gaius' book are real Ogham.

    • Holly Grainger wears hair extensions in this episode.

    • Holly Grainger is Manchester born so her natural accent was modified with some alecution lessons to sound more neutral.

    • The scene where Uther and Morgana walk along the cloister was the first scene in which Jeremy Webb directed Anthony Head. Both Anthony and Katie McGrath kept tripping all the time on his cloak and her dress so several takes were needed to get it right.

    • In the scene where Aulfric, Sophia and Arthur head towards the lake, Kenneth Cranham said the following line to Bradley James seconds before the director said action: 'Does my bum look big in this gown?'

    • It was raining for most of the filming time in the Forest of Dean so they were forced to shoot in between showers.

    • Two units were shooting simultaneously in the Forest of Dean for this episode. One was filming the scenes at the lake, the other was following Colin Morgan.

    • Despite the scenes at the lake were filmed in August, Bradley James had to wear several layers of clothes on not to get cold.

      According to Colin Morgan the water was freezing cold.

    • There were divers for security reasons and the shore had been cleaned from rocks so Holly Grainger could get into the water.

    • Health and Safety restrictions didn't allow for any of the main cast actors to go underwater in the lake, because it wasn't clean enough. They were only allowed to get into the water up to their chins so each time they are underwater it's their stunts (Bradley James isn't pushed into it and Colin Morgan doesn't dive). For the scene where Merlin pulls Arthur out of the water, the camera is which goes in and out of the water so it seems as if it's the actors, who remained out of it all the time and actually needed to get their hair wet. Colin makes a big splash with his elbow to pretend they are submerging.

    • Most of the scenes where Merlin runs towards the lake were filmed in a park in Cardiff. Some of them were shot near Speech House Lake, while another unit was filming on the shore so both crews had to be careful not to disturb each other.

    • The lake where Sophia tries to drown Arthur is the same location as in episode 1x09 Excalibur, where Merlin throws Excalibur into and episode 2x09 The Lady of the Lake, Freya's final rest. In those two other occasions, mountains were added in post production.

    • The scenes with Colin Morgan and the Sidhe staff were filmed at the studio in Cardiff.

    • Colin Morgan and Bradley James were sinking into the mud at the end of the episode due to Bradley's heavy outfit. The director instructed Colin to hold on and not drag Bradley back to shore right away so they stay in a close shot for longer and stress the impact of the drama.

    • Uther wears a new crown in this episode, the third one he's worn in the show so far. According to Anthony Head, the other crowns were dodgy so he settled for this one. Still, he briefly wears one of his old crowns too.

    • DVD Release Dates:
      Season 1, Volume 1: October 24, 2008.
      Season 1, Volume 2: February 9, 2009.
      Complete Season 1: October 5, 2009.

    • Bradley James was given the choice to fire a crossbow and he decided to do it. A bit of string was attached to the arrow.

    • This episode features the first time in which a crossbow was used in Merlin so for safety reasons the town was cleared out. However, when they fired it, the arrow only went about six yards.

    • Broadcasts:
      1 Nov 2008 at 19:30–20:15 on BBC One.
      27 Aug 2009 at 19:00–19:45on BBC Three.

    • The scene at the beginning of the episode where Arthur fights to protect Aulfric and Sophia was shot on June 4, 2008.

    • Bradley James can be seen taking off his boots. From this episode onwards, he got a new pair because those ones didn't fit (they were too big and slopped around) making him suffer from quite painful blisters.

    • Colin Morgan is thrown tomatoes when he is put in the stocks because they explode nicely. However, since he had to pelted with them, they used some fake cream for his face and hair to fake the effect.

    • Bradley James (Arthur) and Holly Grainger (Sophia) co-star in the Tom Harper's 2008 British TV movie Dis/Connected. Another Dis/Connected actors makes an appearance in Merlin: Caroline Faber plays Hunith in episode 1x01 The Dragon's Call, episode 1x10 The Moment of Truth and episode 1x13 Le Morte d'Arthur whereas Kyle Redmond-Jones plays Sir Owain in episode 1x09 Excalibur.

    • The scene with the old sheers was shot on July 16th, 2008.

    • Colin Morgan did his own stunt when Aulfric pushes him 6 feet into the air to then be smashed against a wall. It's the first stunt he's ever done and he enjoyed it that much that he smiled at the end of it, so a second take was needed. The wall he is smashed against was a rubber one to protect his back. Two days were needed to build a rig across the top of the set to which he was attached and dragged along.

    • Filming locations:
      Chateau de Pierrefonds, Pierrefonds, Oise, France (Camelot).
      Surrey, UK (Studio sets).
      Speech House Lake, Spruce Ride, Ruspidge, Forest of Dean, England, UK (Avalon).

      The shots of Arthur in the water at the end of the episode were filmed in a tank in Battersea, London.

    • This episode is Katie McGrath's favourite from season 1.

    • Also Known As:
      France: Les Portes d'Avalon.
      Germany: Auf dem Wege nach Avalon, meaning 'On the Way to Avalon'.
      Italy: Le Porte di Avalon.
      Poland: Bramy Avalonu.
      Portugal: Os Portões de Avalon.
      Spain: Las Puertas de Avalon.
      The Netherlands: De poorten van Avalon.
      Ukraine: Брама Авалона.

    • International Airdates:
      Australia: June 14, 2009 (Channel 10).
      France: December 23, 2009 (V TV).
      Germany: November 14, 2009 (RTL).
      Italy: January 6, 2009 (Italia 1).
      Poland: April 18, 2009 (Polsat).
      Spain: July 3, 2009 (Neox).
      The Netherlands: May 9, 2009 (KRO).
      Turkey: October 18, 2009 (CNBC-e).
      Ukraine: June 27, 2009 (1+1).
      USA: July 19, 2009 (NBC).

    • The Great Dragon does not appear in this episode, but John Hurt is credited (for the voice-over which begins the episode).


    • Gaius: We're dealing with the Sidhe.

      The Sidhe (pronounced 'shee') are a mythological race in Irish mythology, comparable to fairies or elves. In folk belief or practice, they are often described using euphemisms rather than named directly and are also fierce guardians of their abodes. Generally described as stunningly beautiful, they can also be hideously ugly. There appears to be no evidence linking them with Avalon.

    • The Gates Of Avalon

      In Arthurian legend, Avalon is an island famed for its apples. In Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, Avalon is named as the place where Arthur is taken to recover from his wounds after the Battle of Camlann (where he faced and killed Mordred but was gravely injured in the fight). Geoffrey also names Avalon as the place where Arthur's legendary sword Excalibur was forged. Towards the end of the twelfth century, Avalon became associated with the town of Glastonbury in Somerset when the monks of Glastonbury Abbey found what they believed to be the bones of Arthur and Guinevere.