Season 2 Episode 9

The Lady of the Lake

Aired Unknown Nov 21, 2009 on BBC
out of 10
User Rating
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Episode Summary

When Merlin discovers by chance a beautiful Druid girl called Freya trapped in a bounty hunter's cage, he feels like he has to do something about it and despite Gaius' advice not to get involved, he goes with his instincts and helps the girl escape. The young warlock can't think of a better place to harbour the girl than the tunnels beneath Camelot, but it would be a short remedy since the bounty hunter won't resign to lose his prize and will conduct a frantic search for her and a fierce magical beast has been reported to be on the loose. As Merlin's friendship with the Druid girl grows in intensity, it is tested to the limit by the adverse circumstances and the boy is forced to make a heartbreaking decision in his struggle to keep Freya safe.moreless

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  • A thin attempt at a love interest for Merlin is made watchable by the fine acting of Colin Morgan and the continued Merlin/Arthur buddy antics.

    What Worked:

    Colin Morgan – Given very little screen time to develop feelings of actual love, Colin Morgan still manages to pull off several good scenes as Merlin falls for Freya. His giddiness after kissing a girl, his sweetness as he comforts her, and his anguish as she dies in his arms are all very well conveyed. When he has to steel himself to set the boat on fire, it's extremely moving. When he looks at the line of boots yet to polish, his regret for what might have been is clearly expressed. Morgan conveys Merlin's many layers exceptionally well and improves the material he is given by his performance.

    Arthur/Merlin – At this point, they have passed the level of friendship of Series 1 and we see real progress as Arthur sits on the floor next to the depressed Merlin and pulls him out of his funk, just a little. He actually is worried he caused Merlin to be sad, which is a far cry from the usual banter. Of course Arthur can only stand to be nice for a few minutes before he goes back into "prince mode" but he is definitely loosening up. Earlier, when Arthur tells the bounty hunter Merlin has his "absolute trust" it should be one of the most rewarding moments Merlin has. This is what Merlin has been waiting for – for Arthur to trust him. At this point, however, with the love interest in the picture, the import of that moment gets lost. Regardless, there is definitely a "brothers" vibe, beyond friendship, starting to build between these two. The great barrier is still Merlin's secret and that is ultimately what makes Merlin's smile still half-hearted as Arthur leaves at the end of the episode.

    The curse – It's a very plausible Grimms Fairy tale kind of curse. Of course it was obvious after the first killing that it was Freya but that allowed the audience to see that Merlin was clearly blinded by his infatuation and not really listening to her.

    Beast CGI – The CGI has been better this year in general, but the basten's face was particularly well done and we actually got to see Arthur injure one of these beasts. So many times, it looks like Bradley James is just swinging the sword because the creature of the week doesn't look hurt or it is killed with a single blow. If they are going to have creatures, it needs to feel integrated into the action versus posing. The Beast in Lady in the Lake felt far more integrated than most.

    Partial/Potential Success:

    Gaius – It worked that Gaius knew Merlin was lying and put a stop to it. Gaius comforting Merlin at the end was also the right tone (instead of the usual faux happy scene). What didn't work was that Gaius didn't give Merlin time to save Freya. Sure, he had to tell Uther, but Gaius knew she didn't turn into a Beast until midnight and he could have given Merlin a head start because it was still daylight. Merlin didn't realize it was Freya until Gaius put the picture together for him. He also had to know Merlin wouldn't sit idly by and let Freya be killed. These two usually work as a team and this mandate to rush to Uther seemed off.

    Merlin's dissatisfaction arc – This is a Series 2 long arc, carried over from Series 1, which is hit and miss. Almost every episode emphasizes how Merlin feels put upon with manual labor and hiding his talents. Fine, but what is he doing about it? He has Arthur's trust now but he's also digging a deeper hole as he keeps lying to him. If the manual labor is depressing him, shouldn't he have figured out a spell for instant boot and armor polishing by now? It's a difficult position but without progress, it feels like Merlin's character is stagnating and the issue is getting stale. What Didn't Work:

    One-episode romance – It is almost impossible to sell the one-episode romance for any show. They tried to emphasize that the romance was heightened by Merlin finding a kindred spirit and finally being free to be himself after having to hide so long. It still made no sense he would recklessly abandon his destiny after two days and a couple of kisses. Merlin often acts rashly, but his commitment to Arthur and Albion has always been more important than his personal happiness. Running off with Freya undermined the credibility of the episode. Absence of Morgana – Morgana is missing completely from the episode. She is the other kindred spirit for Merlin. It's clear they are isolating her but this feels rushed. Perhaps they feel they need to set her up as the villain in Series 3 but isolation alone is not enough development to sell her descent into darkness. Overall grade 7. An unbelievable one-episode love story is buoyed by continued outstanding acting by Colin Morgan and the always entertaining Merlin/Arthur dynamic. The isolation of Morgana is becoming a Series 2 glaring concern.moreless
  • Sweet and sad and beautiful

    "The Lady of the Lake" was an amazing episode! While usually Merlin is still pretty much of a boy really in his often cheerful and not very serious way (even though there can be a really earnest quality to him as well), he really was shown as a man this time. It was beautiful to finally see him fall in love. He was so sweet and considerate towards Freya and I was incredibly relieved he wouldn't let her down and be killed, when he found out about her secret, but do everything in a very mature way to comfort her in the time of her dying. It doesn't happen too often that an episode of a tv show makes me cry, but this one did.moreless
Laura Donnelly

Laura Donnelly


Guest Star

Richard Ridings

Richard Ridings


Guest Star

John Hurt

John Hurt

Voice of the Great Dragon

Recurring Role

Featured Episode Clip

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (15)

    • Goof: At around 36:00 into the episode, Merlin's outfit changes from blue shirt and blue scarf to red shirt and blue scarf and back to blue shirt and red scarf again as he makes his way inside the vaults.

    • It is made obvious that Uther knows Halig, so he has most likely hunted more people with magic attracted by the king's generous rewards.

    • Goof: There is no trace of the deep wound that Arthur inflicted to the Bastet in Freya's arm when Merlin carries her to the lake and when the girls is seen inside the boat.

    • Goof: The footprints that walk away from the victims are bigger than those of a barefoot girl.

    • Goof: If Freya turns into a beast at midnight and Halig captured her some days before arriving to Camelot, she could have easily escaped from the cage before. Also, Halig is surprised when he witnesses her turning into a beast even though Freya transforms into the Bastet every midnight.

      Freya turns into a Bastet three times during this episode but she only loses her dress and turns back to human shape naked the last time.

    • It is the second time that Camelot's inn 'The Rising Sun' is depicted in the show. It first appeared in episode 2x01 The Curse of Cornelius Sigan.

    • Goof: The position of the food on Arthur's plate is different from when Merlin enters the bedroom and when he snatches it.

    • Gwen mentioned in episode 2x02 The Once and Future Queen that Arthur snores. It is made clear in this episode.

    • Arthur has a visible scratch on the left side of his upper chest. It could be continuation on the fact that the Questing Beast inflicted him a wound in episode 1x13 Le Morte d'Arthur or the gargoyle in episode 2x01 The Curse of Cornelius Sigan.

    • Goof: The sand stain on Merlin's knee appears and disappears in the scene where he first brings Freya food.

    • Goof: Tomatoes can be seen on Arthur's plate. However, they were only known in Europe after Columbus brought them from America around 1498.

    • The Druid symbol that Freya has on her right arm that resembles the one that Mordred has on his chest as it could be seen in episode 1x08 The Beginning of the End.

    • Goof: Freya asks Merlin for strawberries. However, they were only first introduced in Europe in the 17th century.

    • Goof: Gaius can be seen wearing glasses, even though they weren't commonly used until the 13th century. He can also be seen holding a pencil which were first manufactured in Germany in 1662.

    • Freya was cursed by a sorceress to transform into a Bastet (huge winged cat) at midnight and kill forever more after she discovered that the girl had killed her son. Freya defended herself from the man's attack thinking her life was at risk. The wound that Arthur inflicts to the Bastet eventually causes Freya's death.

  • QUOTES (25)

    • (Merlin sees Freya in the bounty's cage)
      Merlin: Gaius!
      Gaius: She's fallen prey to a bounty hunter.
      Merlin: She's only a girl!
      Gaius: She'll still fetch a good price though.
      Merlin: Someone's going to pay for her?
      Gaius: Uther offers a handsome reward for anyone with magic.
      Merlin: There must be something we can do?
      Gaius: Merlin. Bounty hunters are dangerous men, they are not to be meddled with. You of all people should understand that.

    • Freya: Why did you do that?
      Merlin: What?
      Freya: Help me.
      Merlin: I saw you and... it could have been me in that cage.

    • (Merlin steals Arthur's breakfast and leaves an apple and a piece of bread in its place)
      Merlin: Breakfast!
      Arthur: Oi? Where's the meat, cheese?
      Merlin: That's the new breakfast menu.
      Arthur: This isn't enough.
      Merlin: We've got to get you in shape.
      Arthur: I'm fighting fit!
      Merlin: And we want to keep you that way.
      (Arthur throws the apple to Merlin)

    • Halig: The girl is dangerous. My informer told me she was cursed.
      Uther: How so?
      Halig: He didn't know. But he said even the druids were frightened of her. They cast her out of their camp.
      Gaius: It is against all the druids believe to reject those in need of care.
      Uther: Why would they do such a thing?
      Gaius: I dread to think.

    • Freya: (Eating the food that Merlin has stolen from Arthur) It's good.
      Merlin: Believe me, it's fit for a prince.

    • Merlin: I know what it's like to keep secrets.
      : Does anyone know you have magic?
      Merlin: Only you. And one other person. He knows… but I'm not sure he understands.
      Freya: I wish I was like everyone else, but...
      Merlin: You always know deep down you're not.
      Freya: Because I'm cursed.
      Merlin: Freya, don't say that. Magic doesn't have to be a curse. It can be a gift.

    • (Merlin steals a drumstick from Arthur's plate as he picks up a knife from the floor that he's made fall to distract him)
      Arthur: I had two drumsticks.
      Merlin: No, you didn't.
      Arthur: Merlin, I had two drumsticks.
      Merlin: Maybe it fell on the floor.
      (Arthur checks the floor and Merlin steals the sausages)
      Arthur: I had sausages.
      Merlin: You sure? They must've fallen under the table.
      Arthur: Merlin!
      Merlin: What? You can search me, I haven't taken them.
      Arthur: Well, where have they gone?
      Merlin: Strange.
      Arthur: Very!
      Merlin: 'Are you sure you didn't eat them?
      Arthur: I haven't had the chance!

    • Halig: The druid girl I'm looking for... have you seen her?
      Merlin: No.
      Halig: Do you know how much money she's worth to me? More than your life. So I'm asking you again. Have you seen the druid girl?
      Merlin: No.

    • Arthur: Halig! What do you think you're doing?
      : We caught the boy behaving suspiciously, Sire.
      Arthur: Merlin?
      Halig: He could be harbouring the girl. And he's going to tell us where (Tries to punch him)
      Arthur: (Grabs his arm) Leave him alone! Merlin is my servant. He has my absolute trust. If you have a problem with him, you come to me. Do you understand?
      Halig: Sire. Goodnight, Merlin. Don't forget your dinner. (Arthur notices the food on the floor)
      Merlin: Thank you.
      Arthur: Are those my sausages? (Merlin nods)
      Arthur: You took them?
      Merlin: To keep you in shape (Picks them up)
      Arthur: Are you saying I'm fat?
      Merlin: No! Well, not yet.
      Arthur: I am not fat!
      Merlin: See? It's working.

    • Merlin: Did you think I wasn't coming? I promised you I would.
      Freya: I scare most people away.
      Merlin: I'm not most people.

    • Freya: You can't always trust people.
      Merlin: I know. That's why I left home.
      Freya: Where is home?
      Merlin: Ealdor. It's a small village. A few fields, a couple of cows. Nothing special.
      Freya: My home was next to a lake, surrounded by the tallest mountains. In winter the storms whipped up the water into waves and you thought they were going to crash down and take all the houses away. But in the summer wild flowers, and the light... it was like heaven.
      Merlin: Sounds perfect.
      Freya: It was.

    • Merlin: You're not on your own any more. I'm going to look after you, I promise.
      Freya: You can't look after me. No one can.
      Merlin: (Holding her hands) I don't think you understand. I've never known anyone like you. (Releases her hands, but she places one on top of his) I wish I could stay.
      Freya: You're going?
      Merlin: We need to be careful. I'll come back in the morning. You know I will be back, don't you?
      (Freya nods. Merlin stands up ready to leave)
      Freya: Merlin? I've never known anyone like you either.

    • Merlin: This is going to be the best bread you have ever tasted. What do you want with it? Come on, you can have anything. Ham, cheese...
      Freya: Strawberries.
      Merlin: Strawberries it is. (Rubs his hands together and casts a spell, making a rose appear between them)
      Freya: (Smiles) That's not a strawberry.
      Merlin: It's the right colour (Gives her the flower)
      Freya: Why are you so good to me?
      Merlin: Because... I can't help it and... I dunno. I like you. With you, I can just be who I am. We don't have to hide anything. We don't have to worry.
      Freya: Merlin, please. Listen to me. I'm not like you.

    • Freya: (Crying) They're going to find me. I can't go back in that cage, I can't.
      Merlin: I won't let that happen. I promised you I'd look after you and I will. No matter what. You really don't realise how special you are, do you?
      Freya: You're not scared of me?
      Merlin: (Shakes his head) Being different is nothing to be scared of.
      (Merlin sheds a tear as they kiss)

    • (Merlin keeps humming as he eats his dinner)
      Gaius: What is wrong with you?
      Merlin: Nothing. I feel great.
      Gaius: Good.

    • Merlin: I'm fed up with being careful. I'm fed up with all of these. So I've decided I'm going to get you out of here. Out of Camelot
      Freya: How?
      Merlin: I'll get you some clothes. Disguise you. What's wrong?
      Freya: It's just... I'm going to miss you.
      Merlin: No, you won't. Because I'm going to come with you.

    • Freya: Merlin, you have a good life here. My life is... I have to keep moving, always looking over my shoulder. People chasing me.
      Merlin: Then we'll go somewhere no one knows us. Somewhere far away. You haven't given me your answer.
      Freya: I want that more than anything. Where will we go?
      Merlin: Somewhere with mountains.
      Freya: A few fields.
      Merlin: Wild flowers.
      Freya: And a couple of cows.
      Merlin: And a lake.
      Freya: And a lake.

    • (Arthur sees Merlin carrying the dress he's stolen for Freya)
      Arthur: What are you doing?
      Merlin: Erm… running an errand for Gaius.
      Arthur: For… Gaius?
      Merlin: Yes.
      Arthur: Strange.
      Merlin: I don't think it's for him.
      Arthur: As long as you do a decent day's work, Merlin, that's all I care about.
      Merlin: No, it's not for me.
      Arthur: What a man does in his spare time is completely up to him.
      Merlin: No, you've got this wrong.
      Arthur: Colour suits you, Merlin.

    • Gaius: I remembered what Halig said about the druid girl. That she's cursed.
      Merlin: What's that got to do with the monster?
      Gaius: Ancient chronicles speak of a heinous curse. It dooms its victim to turn at the stroke of midnight, into a vicious and bloodthirsty beast. The writers of old called this creature a Bastet, a monster of nightmare that inhabits the twilight world between the living and the dead. Merlin. I want the truth. Did you release the druid girl from the cage?
      Merlin: Of course not!
      Gaius: There was a time when you thought twice before lying to me.
      Merlin: I did what was right.
      Gaius: You know the creature and the girl are one and the same.
      Merlin: You're wrong. Freya is just a girl.

    • Gaius: Where is she now?
      Merlin: No.
      Gaius: She's already killed and she'll kill again. She can't stop herself.
      Merlin: Please, Gaius. Where are you going?
      Gaius: To Uther.
      Merlin: I'm begging you. Just give me some time to get her out of the city. Please.
      Gaius: I'm sorry. I can't let more innocent people die.

    • Gaius: I had no choice, Merlin. Uther had to be told.
      Merlin: They won't find her. She's gone.
      Gaius: I'm sorry. I do understand how you must feel, Merlin.
      Merlin: You could never understand. Do you know how it feels to be a monster? To be afraid of who you are?
      Gaius: Freya is very different from you. She's dangerous.
      Merlin: Whatever she is and whatever she's done, she doesn't deserve to die. I just hope she's safe. Somewhere far away.

    • Merlin: I'm sorry, Gaius.
      Gaius: Where's the girl?
      Merlin: She's gone. She's dead.
      Gaius: I'm sorry, Merlin. Truly I am (Gaius hugs Merlin)

    • Arthur: Something's been upsetting you, hasn't it?
      Merlin: Maybe.
      Arthur: Was it when I threw water over you?
      Merlin: That wasn't very nice.
      Arthur: It was a bit unfair. Like you calling me fat.
      Merlin: Why was that unfair?
      Arthur: Because I'm not f...
      (Merlin smiles teasingly. Arthur grabs him and play fights with him)
      Arthur: Still think I need to get in shape?
      Merlin: No! No! No! (Merlin laughs quietly)
      Arthur: That's better.
      Merlin: Thanks.

    • Freya: You must hate me.
      Merlin: No.
      Freya: I'm a monster. I tried to tell you.
      Merlin: I know.
      Freya: I wasn't always like this.
      Merlin: You shouldn't try to talk.
      Freya: There was a man. He attacked me. I didn't mean to hurt him, but I thought he was going to kill me.
      Merlin: It was an accident
      Freya: But his mother was a sorceress. When she found out, said I'd killed her son, she cursed me to kill forever more.
      Merlin: I'm going to make you better, Freya.
      Freya: No, Merlin. The wound is too deep. Please go.
      Merlin: No. I'm not leaving you here.

    • (Merlin takes Freya in his arms to the shore of a lake, surrounded by tall mountains)
      Freya: You remembered.
      Merlin: Of course. I'm so sorry for what that sorcerer did to you.
      Freya: Merlin, you have nothing to be sorry for.
      Merlin: There must be something I can do. Some way to save you.
      Freya: You've already saved me. You made me feel loved.
      Merlin: I don't want you to go.
      Freya: One day, Merlin, I will repay you. I promise (She dies)
      Merlin: Freya? (Holds her against him and cries)

  • NOTES (11)

    • Also Known As:
      France: La Druidesse, meaning 'The Druid Girl'.
      Germany: Merlin und das Druidenmädchen, meaning 'Merlin and the Druid Girl'.
      Italy: La Signora del Lago.
      Poland: Pani Jeziora.
      Portugal: A Dama Do Lago.
      Spain: La Dama del Lago.
      Ukraine: Озерна діва.

    • Bradley James and Laura Donnelly were watching Colin Morgan as he filmed the scene where Merlin pushes the boat into the lake. It was Colin's idea to make Merlin hesitate before burning Freya. According to Colin, during that emocional moment he was simple staring at a rock.

    • Several markers were attached to Laura Donnelly's face and body so they could later on match her physical movements into the CGI creature and match the two up making the transformation from girl to beast look like a smooth transition.

    • International Air Dates:
      Australia: June 20, 2010 on Ten.
      Canada: November 6th, 2010 on Space.
      France: March 21, 2010 on Canal + Family.
      Germany: February 9, 2011 on RTL.
      Italy: February 6, 2010 on Italia 1.
      Malaysia: January 31, 2010 on TV3.
      Poland: October 30, 2010 on Polsat.
      Spain: March 13, 2010 on Neox.
      Turkey: January 31, 2010 on CNBC-e.
      USA: June 4, 2010 on Syfy.

    • Freya's final rest is the same location as the lake where Sophia tries to drown Arthur in episode 1x07 The Gates of Avalon and the lake where Merlin throws Excalibur into in episode 1x09 Excalibur. Both in this occasion and in 1x07, mountains were added in post production.

    • This episode editing and post production was only ready on November 21st 2009, so it was delivered to the media the very same day it aired.

    • Colin Morgan's brother Neil appears briefly in this episode several times as a background peasant. It is the third time that Neil is featured in the show (he previously appears in episode 2x06 Beauty and the Beast – Part Two and in episode 2x08 The Sins of the Father).

    • Despite featured in the opening credits, Katie McGrath (Morgana) does not appear in this episode.

      Angel Coulby wasn't featured in the press release for the episode but she does appear in it.

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

    • Filming locations:
      Château de Pierrefonds, Pierrefonds, Oise, France (Camelot).
      Cardiff, Wales, UK (Studio sets).
      Speech House Lake, Spruce Ride, Ruspidge, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, England (The lake where Merlin takes Freya).

    • Broadcasts:
      Sat 21 Nov 2009 at 18:05-18:50 on BBC One.
      Sun 22 Nov 2009 at 20:00-20:45 on BBC Three.
      Fri 27 Nov 2009 at 20:00-20:45 on BBC Three.


    • Episode title: The Lady of the Lake.

      'The Lady of the Lake' is a name given to several characters taking part in the Arthurian legend. These characters play important roles like providing King Arthur Pendragon with his sword Excalibur, enchanting Merlin, and raising orphan Lancelot.