Season 1 Episode 11

The Labyrinth of Gedref

Aired Unknown Nov 29, 2008 on BBC
out of 10
User Rating
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Episode Summary

When Arthur kills a unicorn, he brings a curse upon Camelot. With the mythic city plagued by both famine and drought, time is short for the curse to be lifted. The mysterious Anhora, keeper of the unicorns, tells Arthur he is responsible for bringing the famine to Camelot- and to lift the curse, Arthur will be tested... but unless he makes amends for the killing of the unicorn, Camelot will be doomed.moreless

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  • Arthur is out hunting with Merlin and some other men. Merlin is sent to flush out some game when a Unicorn appears. Merlin tries to stop him but Arthur kills the creature. Arthur unknowingly brings disaster to Camelot and destruction to the kingdom.moreless

    Another fine set of performances in this episode of Merlin. Both Colin Morgan as Merlin and Bradley James as Arthur give outstanding performances.

    We are seeing the defining of Arthur the man and the differences between he and his father Uther. Uther at times lacks compassion and mercy. He rules with and iron hand and is unphased by the consequences. We are learning that Arthur because of his relationships with Morgana, Gwen, and especially Merlin is maturing into a fine man with a well rounded sense of what is right and wrong.

    One of the truly defining moments of this episode is when Arthur confronts his father with the fact that without the people what is there to defend. The realization is that the people are Camelot not the territory or the armies.

    We also see more and more the maturation of the Arthur/Merlin relationship and the final understanding Gaius has of trusting Arthur to do the right thing. He no longer lectures him about right and wrong.

    A wonderful episode with some deep moral revelations. This and the last episode are definitely the right direction for this series. Also it shows the bond that Arthur and Merlin must forge to truly make Arthur the great king of legend. Thanks for reading...moreless
  • Arthur kills a unicorn which has disastrous consequences. He is warned of danger but doesn't care until he sees the damages he's done with his own eyes.

    This is basically Arthur's lesson in punishment and decorum. He has behaved arrogantly, smug, and reckless in many episodes up till now.

    This time his reckless actions come back to haunt. In typical Arthur fashion, he doesn't care till the damage grows to such an extent that he could no longer be in denial of what's he's done.

    I loved this episodes. All the episodes are entertaining, however, this was especially significant given Arthur reputation.

    Forget the whole heir to King angle for a second, this episode is basically a morality tale about accountability and making amends for a mistake.

    Arthur kills a unicorn. He is warned of the curse that comes across people who kill these special animals. He shrugs it off until he sees the damages his stupid actions done.

    Merlin tries to help but Arthur's arrogance and smugness stop him from making amends.

    It's a decent episode. I never liked Arthur in this series. This was an episode to see the character grow from an arrogant, smug individual to a more accountable, wiser person with help from Merlin of course.moreless
  • 'Until you have proven yourself and made amends for killing the unicorn, the curse will not be lifted. If you fail any of these tests, Camelot will be damned for all eternity.' (SPOILERS)moreless

    From out of the doldrums of last week's episode, The Labyrinth Of Gedref brings the show back to the high quality it can achieve. Out hunting, Arthur shoots and kills a unicorn. He is lauded for this kill but Gaius is uneasy- a legend states that grave misfortune comes to anyone who kills the mystical beast. Uther waves this away- but soon, the crops around Camelot wither and die, and the water in the well turns to sand. On guard, Merlin and Arthur encounter an old man named Anhora, the keeper of the unicorns. He informs Arthur that his slaughter of the unicorn has brought a curse upon Camelot and that the mythic city is doomed- unless he makes amends. He will be tested, and unless he passes the tests, Camelot will be doomed. An interesting script, some nice visual flourishes and decent solid performances combine to make this a strong episode indeed.

    Arthur is initially back to his arrogant and unlikeable self, which is a shame given how the character had mellowed from the beginning of the season. However the whole episode is based around Arthur's redemption so he needs to begin as unlikeable- otherwise he cannot redeem himself. It is a decent turn by Bradley James. There's a particularly nice moment during the final task where the affection and regard he has for Merlin comes out. It's a quiet, lovely moment that would have slash fans positively salivating. Colin Morgan also gives another well-rounded performance as Merlin. The rest of the regular cast- particularly the ladies- don't have an awful lot to do, although Morgana gets a philanthropic moment. Richard Wilson is dependable in his few scenes as Gaius, explaining the threat as usual. There's another steely turn by Anthony Head as Uther, and a particularly good scene where he butts heads with Arthur about ordering that the meagre food left not be distributed to the people of Camelot.

    There's yet another commanding guest turn in this episode by veteran actor Frank Finlay as unicorn keeper Anhora. Truly only the messenger, he arrives in Camelot to tell Arthur of the curse he's brought upon the city. There is something nicely ambiguous about Anhora; he's not truly evil but he's more than willing to allow the suffering to continue, insisting that Arthur is the only one to lift the curse. The final scene- nicely trippy- on the beach with the goblets was one of a number of nice visual flourishes throughout the episode by director Stuart Orme. Plus major kudos to the designers as the unicorn actually looked half-decent (rather than just a white horse with a horn stuck on its head). A shame the same can't be said for the CGI vines that trap Merlin in the labyrinth. But that was a minor niggle in a thoroughly excellent episode.moreless
  • Best Episode Yet!

    Its always a good sign when a show just continues to get better and this is certainly the case with Merlin. While the beginning shows were still good, I though for awhile that this would just be another "New monster to kill each week" type of show however that no longer seems to be the case. While we are still seeing those types of episodes we are also seeing shows that depart from that type of plot device. The latest episode has aurther killing a unicorn and thus bringing a curse down upon the kingdom and only through proving himself worthy can he save Camelot. It was the best episode yet both in regards to story and also in the acting well. This episode really brings the strengths of this show out and as long as the writters continue to make episodes that are this well written and also this well acted, I have no doubt that Merlin will become a long lived series.

    I for one certainly hope we see this show for at least a couple more seasons.moreless
Frank Finlay

Frank Finlay


Guest Star

Richard Riddell

Richard Riddell


Guest Star

John Hurt

John Hurt

Voice of the Great Dragon

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (9)

    • Goof: When the unicorn falls, no arrow can be seen piercing his body.

    • Goof: The wall light that can be seen in Arthur's bedroom as they eat the rat stew remains fixed, clearly not being produced by a candle.

    • Due to the shortage of food and absence of water, Gaius prepares tea out of Merlin's bath water.

    • Goof: When Arthur finds Evan in the forest, he's got tomatoes among the many goods he owns. However, tomatoes were only known in Europe after Columbus brought them from America around 1498.

    • Goof: When the crops began growing again and villagers are harvesting, oranges can be seen among the many goods they have collected. However, they were first introduced in Europe in the XV century.

    • Goof: Arthur fills his mouth with the contents of the goblet and drinks it up in one swallow. However, since both goblets were half filled, Arthur would have needed more than that to drink it all.

    • Goof: Gwen and Merlin follow their different ways as she reaches the well. The she tries to get water from the well for 4 times before calling Merlin out. Even if Merlin should have been far enough already, he shows up immediately.

    • Goof: Merlin is carrying two bags on his shoulders and something else in his left hand as they progress across the forest when they are hunting. However, when he finds the unicorn, the bags have disappeared and his hands are empty.

    • Uther hasn't ever seen an unicorn. The horn of the one Arthur has killed is meant to grace the walls of Camelot and be the envy or every kingdom.

  • QUOTES (22)

    • Anhora: (voice-over) When he who kills a unicorn proves himself to be pure of heart, the unicorn will live again.

    • Merlin: You've killed him! I was meant to protect him!
      Anhora: He is not dead. He has merely consumed a sleeping draught. He will come round shortly.
      Merlin: What?
      Anhora: A unicorn is pure of heart. If you kill one, you must make amends by proving that you also are pure of heart. Arthur was willing to sacrifice his life to save yours. He has proven what is truly in his heart. The curse will be lifted.

    • (Going through the labryinth, Arthur finds himself on a beach. Merlin sits at one end of a table, two silver goblets before him. Anhora watches on)
      Arthur: Let him go. I will take your test but not til he's released.
      Anhora: That is not possible. Merlin is part of the test. Please sit. (Arthur pauses) If you refuse the test, you will have failed and Camelot will be destroyed.
      Arthur: (sitting; to Merlin) I thought I told you to stay at home. (to Anhora) Let's get on with it.
      Anhora: There are two goblets before you. One of the goblets contains a deadly poison; the other goblet, a harmless liquid. All the liquid from both goblets must be drunk but each of you may only drink from a single goblet.
      Arthur: What kind of ridiculous test is that? What does that prove?
      Anhora: What it proves is for you to decide. If you pass the test, the curse will be lifted.
      Merlin: Let's think about this. What if I drink from my goblet first?
      Arthur: If it's poisoned, you'll die.
      Merlin: If it's not, you'll have to drink from yours and you die. There must be a way round it.
      Arthur: It's perfectly simple. One of us has to die. We have to find a way to determine which goblet has the poison. Then I'll drink it.
      Merlin: I will be the one to drink it.
      Arthur: This is my doing. I'm drinking it.
      Merlin: It's more important that you live. You're the future king. I'm just a servant.
      Arthur: This is no time to be a hero, Merlin. It really doesn't suit you.
      Merlin: What if I drink from mine first and if that's not poisoned, I will then drink yours.
      Arthur: He said each of us is only allowed to drink from a single goblet. (pause) I had no idea you were so keen to die for me.
      Merlin: Trust me, I can hardly believe it myself.
      Arthur: I'm glad you're here, Merlin.
      Merlin: I've got it! We pour all the liquid into one goblet and then we can be sure it's poisoned. Then all the liquid can be drunk, and from a single goblet.
      Arthur: You never cease to surprise me. You are a lot smarter than you look.
      Merlin: Is that actually a compliment?

    • Merlin: Let me come with you. You don't know what form the test will take. I might be able to help.
      Arthur: You're not coming. I brought this curse upon Camelot. I'm going to be the one to lift it, or die trying.
      Merlin: How does you dying help anyone?
      Arthur: I will die knowing I did everything I can.

    • Anhora: You wanted to talk with me?
      Merlin: I have come to seek your help. The people are starving. They will soon be dead.
      Anhora: You must believe me when I say it gives me no pleasure to see your people suffering.
      Merlin: If it pains you, put an end to it!
      Anhora: It is not in my power to lift the curse.
      Merlin: Then give Arthur another chance. He has accepted it is his responsibility, and he will prove himself worthy and lift the curse- if you give him one more chance.
      Anhora: You have faith in Arthur?
      Merlin: I trust him with my life.
      Anhora: Arthur must go to the Labyrinth of Gedref. There, he will face a final test. If he fails, there is no hope. The curse will destroy Camelot.

    • (Merlin and Arthur watch the villagers queuing in line for food)
      Arthur: They do not yet know there is worse to come.
      Merlin: What do you mean?
      Arthur: My father is going to stop distributing food to the people. They are to be left to starve. I had the chance to lift the curse and I have failed them.
      Merlin: You weren't to know that you were being tested.
      Arthur: My people are starving. Camelot is on the verge of collapse and it is all my doing.

    • Arthur: There are some supplies left in the palace stores. We are distributing them to the people, but there is not enough to live on. They will not survive for long.
      Uther: Then you must stop distributing food to the people.
      Arthur: They will starve!
      Uther: We must conserve the food we have for our army.
      Arthur: We cannot let our people go without food.
      Uther: We must defend the kingdom at all costs.
      Arthur: What is the point of defending a kingdom when the people starve to death?
      Uther: What would you have me do?
      Arthur: Ask the neighbouring kingdoms for help. They may be able to spare some food.
      Uther: Out of the question! As soon as they realise how weak we are, our enemies will strike against us.
      Arthur: You don't know that for certain!
      Uther: Besides, I would rather starve than beg my enemies for help. What of our kingdom's reputation? Have you no pride?
      Arthur: I cannot think of my pride when our people go hungry. They are all I can think of.
      Uther: Give the order to stop distributing food to the people. Is that understood?
      Arthur: (after a pause) You will have to give that order yourself.
      Uther: Very well. But if you'd caught the sorcerer, I wouldn't have to. That's your responsibility. One day, you will understand what it takes to be king.

    • Merlin: I know that Arthur is pig-headed and stubborn and annoying, but he cares about his people- more than he cares about himself. He will not forgive himself for making his people suffer.
      Gaius: You must make sure he doesn't do anything rash.
      Merlin: The mood he's in, I don't know what he's going to do.

    • Arthur: You're a thief!
      Evan: Wasn't that obvious when you caught me stealing your grain?
      Arthur: You're fortunate I have more important things to deal with...
      Evan: You didn't believe that story about my children, did you?
      Arthur: What kind of a man lies about starving children to save his own skin?
      Evan: Your people starve because you let thieves steal their grain. That is why they doubt you.
      Arthur: You do not speak for my people.
      Evan: Your father would never have allowed himself to be fooled like that.
      Arthur: You hold your tongue or I will make time to teach you some manners.
      Evan: Your father would have had me executed but you didn't have the stomach for it, did you, Arthur? And that's why he doubts you'll make a good king.
      Arthur: You know nothing of what my father thinks!
      Evan: I think he wishes he had another son, one who was worthy of taking his place. You shame him.
      Arthur: Pick up your sword.
      Evan: The king must fear the day when you will take the throne. (they fight) He fears you do not have enough strength to defeat his enemies. (they fight) The king must wonder if you are even his son.
      (Arthur corners Evan against a tree and swings his sword toward him; Evan disappears. Anhora appears behind Arthur)
      Arthur: This was your doing?
      Anhora: It was a test to see what is truly in your heart.
      Arthur: Your tricks prove nothing.
      Anhora: Why did you kill this man?
      Arthur: He insulted my honour!
      Anhora: You could have chosen to ignore his taunts. What harm would they do you?
      Arthur: You will lift the curse, sorcerer.
      Anhora: It is not in my power.
      Arthur: Then you will die.
      (Arthur swings his sword toward Anhora. Anhora vanishes and appears behind him)
      Anhora: Killing me will not help you. You have shown that you would kill a man to defend your pride. You have failed the test. For this, Camelot will pay dearly.
      Arthur: My people have done nothing!
      Anhora: Your people's suffering is not my doing. It is yours.

    • Arthur: The sand has disappeared and water returned to the well. It doesn't make any sense. (off Merlin's look) I suppose you have some explanation for this, Merlin. Let's hear it.
      Merlin: Anhora said you would be tested, and last night in the grain store, you let that villager go. He said it would bring its own reward.
      Arthur: He was merely grateful- and so he should have been.
      Merlin: Maybe that was your first test? You passed it, so the curse has begun to lift. Perhaps this is your reward. (pause) I know you don't have to listen to me.
      Arthur: I'm glad we agree on something.
      Merlin: If you're tested again, you have a chance to end your people's suffering. I know you want that more than anything. Perhaps we should seek Anhora out.
      Arthur: I cannot negotiate with sorcerers. My father would never hear of it.
      Merlin: Then it's probably best you don't tell him.

    • Merlin: Have you given any more thought to what Anhora said last night?
      Arthur: Well, he may have escaped last night but at least we now know who we're looking for. I've told my father I'll find this Anhora and put an end to it.
      Merlin: What if he's telling the truth about the curse?
      Arthur: You think I'm responsible for bringing suffering upon my own people?
      Merlin: No, not deliberately. When you killed the unicorn, I saw Anhora in the forest.
      Arthur: Why didn't you say anything?
      Merlin: It was just for a second and then he disappeared. I didn't even... well, I thought I was seeing things. But he was definitely there.
      Arthur: That doesn't actually prove anything.
      Merlin: Doesn't that make you think he might be telling the truth?
      Arthur: Because he was skulking about in the forest? That makes me trust him even less.
      Merlin: Why would Anhora appear in Camelot and then lie to you?
      Arthur: We had him cornered. He was trying to talk his way out of it by blaming me.
      Merlin: Arthur, he can disappear into thin air. He didn't have to talk his way out of anything.
      Arthur: My father has warned me about sorcerers like him. They will not rest until our kingdom is destroyed.
      Merlin: I believe he's telling the truth.
      Arthur: Then you're a fool. You cannot trust a single word a sorcerer says. You'd do well to remember that.

    • Merlin: Where did you get the water to make the tea?
      Gaius: Fortunately, for both of us, you forgot to empty your bath yesterday.
      Merlin: You're making tea from my bath water?
      Gaius: It's not so bad. Perhaps a little... soapy. What does Arthur think about the curse?
      Merlin: He doesn't believe it's his fault. He's convinced Anhora is responsible for it.
      Gaius: If you do not wish to drink bath water, then you'd better make sure Arthur sees sense.

    • Anhora: Until you have proven yourself and made amends for killing the unicorn, the curse will not be lifted. If you fail any of these tests, Camelot will be damned for all eternity.

    • Anhora: Are you looking for me? I am Anhora, keeper of the unicorns.
      Arthur: Camelot is under curfew. What is your business here?
      Anhora: I have come to deliver a message.
      Arthur: And who is this message for?
      Anhora: It is for you, Arthur Pendragon.
      Arthur: Is it you who is responsible for killing our crops, turning our water into sand?
      Anhora: You alone are responsible for the misfortune that has befallen Camelot.
      Arthur: Me? You think I'd bring drought and famine upon my own people?
      Anhora: When you killed the unicorn, you unleashed a curse. For this, Camelot will suffer greatly.
      Arthur: If you have put a curse on Camelot, you will lift it, or you will pay with your life.
      Anhora: The curse was not my doing.
      Arthur: Undo the curse or face execution.
      Anhora: Only you can do that. You will be tested.

    • Arthur: Merlin, you do realise there's a curfew?
      Merlin: Yeah. I was in your chambers hunting for the rat.
      Arthur: Did you find it?
      Merlin: No.
      Arthur: So you have been outwitted by a rat?
      Merlin: They do say rats are very intelligent.
      Arthur: More intelligent than you, it would seem. Go home. It'd be embarrassing to lock up my own servant for breaking the curfew.

    • (Camelot's water supply has been turned into sand)
      Arthur: I sent men down to the underground reservoir. There's no trace of water to be found.
      Uther: First the crops and now this.
      Arthur: It's the same throughout the kingdom. There's precious little water anywhere.
      Uther: Gaius, can you offer any explanation for this?
      Gaius: I cannot think of a scientific explanation. I can only conclude it's the result of sorcery.
      Uther: I believe you're right. It is the work of magic. The kingdom is under attack.

    • Merlin: Any idea what caused the crops to die?
      Gaius: I've yet to complete all the tests. No disease I've heard of could spread through the entire kingdom in a single night.
      Merlin: What could kill all the plants other than a disease?
      Gaius: It's not killing all the plants. The trees and hedges around the crop fields are unharmed. Unfortunately, you can't eat trees and hedges.
      Merlin: It's only killing plants we can eat.
      Gaius: It appears so.
      Merlin: If it's not a disease, it must be magic.
      Gaius: We can't assume that, Merlin. Perhaps there is something in the soil and water that can explain it. I can't tell the king it's caused by sorcery until I am absolutely certain.

    • Arthur: You've had a face like a wounded bear ever since we got back from that hunting trip. Don't tell me you're still upset about the unicorn?
      Merlin: I don't think you should have killed it.
      Arthur: Oh, really? And why is that?
      Merlin: It was... it was doing no harm. What purpose did you serve by killing it?
      Arthur: We were hunting. That's what you do. Would you have me bring it home as a pet?

    • Merlin: I don't see how Arthur could have taken any pleasure from killing the unicorn.
      Gaius: Arthur's a hunter. It's in his blood. Whereas you're something entirely different.
      Merlin: It was the most beautiful creature I have ever seen. I wish you'd been there.
      Gaius: It's a rare privilege. Alas, there are few unicorns still alive.
      Merlin: You try telling that to Arthur.

    • Arthur: Father! A unicorn's horn to grace the walls of Camelot.
      Uther: Magnificent! It's the first one I've seen. Gaius, look at this.
      Gaius: It is very impressive, my lord.
      Uther: What is it, Gaius? Speak your mind.
      Gaius: Unicorns are rare and mystical creatures. There is a legend that says bad fortune will come to anyone who slays one.
      Uther: Nonsense! We will be the envy of every kingdom.
      Arthur: I'm pleased you like it.

    • Merlin: No, I will drink it!
      Arthur: As if I'd let you.
      Merlin: You can't die, this isn't your destiny!
      Arthur: Seems you're wrong again.
      Merlin: Listen to me...
      Arthur: You know me Merlin, I never listen to you.

    • Arthur: I had no idea you were so keen to die for me.
      Merlin: Trust me, I can hardly believe it myself.

  • NOTES (12)

    • The name of the white horse that plays the Unicorn part is 'Unity'.

    • The scenes that take place in the forest were shot at the Forest of Dean were on November 29, 2008.

    • Broadcasts:
      29 Nov 2008 at 19:35–20:20 on BBC One.
      6 Dec 2008 at 14:10–14:55 on BBC Two (Scotland only).
      4 Sep 2009 at 20:30–21:15 on BBC Three.

    • The scene by the well with Colin Morgan and Angel Coulby was shot on September 25, 2008.

    • Filming locations:
      Château de Pierrefonds, Pierrefonds, Oise, France (Camelot).
      Cardiff, Wales, UK (Studio sets).
      Dunraven Bay, Southerndown, Wales, UK (Rocky beach with Arthur's final test takes place).
      Jubilee Maze (Hedge labyrinth).
      Puzzlewood, Forest of Dean, Coleford, Gloucestershire.

      The Jubilee Maze, planted by brothers Lindsay and Edward Heyes over twenty years ago, features the so called Labyrinth of Love design. GCI work was used to enlarge it.

    • Since both Colin Morgan and Bradley James have to eat the "rat stew" and the first is vegetarian, it consisted of cold mushroom soup with quorn, which Bradley didn't find tasty or appealing at all.

    • This episode is Colin Morgan and Bradley James' favourite from season 1.

    • Katie McGrath shared and anecdote about the cast and crew finding it hilarious to keep rolling on the scene where she had to eat the "rat stew" that she found repulsive, so she kept spooning it into her mouth, waiting for someone to yell cut and no-one did, while Colin Morgan and Bradley James laughed in a corner. However, the scene didn't air.

    • Also Known As:
      France: Le Labyrinthe, meaning 'The Labyrinth'.
      Germany: Die Legende der Einhörner, meaning 'The Legend of the Unicorn'.
      Italy: Il Labirinto Gedref, meaning 'The Gedref Labyrinth'.
      Poland: Labirynt Gedref.
      Portugal: O Labirinto Do Gedref.
      Spain: El Laberinto de Gedref.
      The Netherlands: Gedrefs doolhof.
      Ukraine: Лабіринт Ґедреф.

    • International Airdates:
      Australia: July 12, 2009 (Channel 10).
      France: January 20, 2010 (V TV).
      Germany: December 12, 2009 (RTL).
      Italy: January 20, 2009 (Italia 1).
      Poland: May 16, 2009 (Polsat).
      Spain: July 31, 2009 (Neox).
      The Netherlands: June 06, 2009 (KRO).
      Turkey: November 15, 2009 (CNBC-e).
      Ukraine: July 11, 2009 (1+1).
      USA: August 16, 2009 (NBC).

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

    • The ending credits for this episode credit Arthur twice. The first time, Arthur is credited to Bradley James (the actual actor who plays him) and and the second time Arthur is credited to Richard Wilson (who plays the court physician, Gaius).


    • The scene with Arthur and Merlin in the beach is a reference to the poisoned goblet scene (referred to as Battle of Wits) from the 1987 movie The Princess Bride.

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