Season 1 Episode 3

The Mark of Nimueh

Aired Unknown Oct 04, 2008 on BBC
out of 10
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222 votes

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Episode Summary

Camelot faces a double danger when a lethal plague starts spreading through the castle and Gwen is arrested for witchcraft. Merlin must team up with Arthur and Morgana to find the culprit behind the evil deeds.

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  • Nimueh uses her power to poison the water supply of Camelot. Merlin tries to find the cause while keeping his magic a secret.

    I have to say I like the show. Watched the first episodes and watched more. This is a nice show. Every episode has the right balance of action, suspense, comedy and suspense.

    Michelle Ryan is a decent actress as Nimueh. This episode has to do with a poison water supply as the result of Nimueh's magic.

    Merlin tries to investigate but he has to watch himself because sorcery and witchcraft is punishable by death.

    Merlin eventually finds out the source but it's Gwen who is suspected of using magic.

    It was interesting to see how everything comes together. Once again Arthur needs Merlin. It's hilarious to see everyone minus his master underestimate Merlin, and yet they owe everything to his deeds.moreless
  • The water supply of Camelot is poisoned by the Sorceress Nimueh. People start dying and it is up to Gaius and Merlin to figure out why. Merlin saves Gwen's father with magic and Gwen faces death by fire when Uther the King claims she is a sorceress.moreless

    Great episode with a formidable nemesis the Sorceress Nimueh played by Michelle Ryan. We don't know much about her except that Uther mentioned to Gaius that she has a history with him and Camelot that seems to not be pleasant. Could she be the reason Uther is so negative about the use of magic? Also Gaius is very aware of why she is hated so much by Uther!

    At first a few random people are dying but as the numbers mount to fifty and more the need to find an answer becomes more and more necessary. Merlin figures he can do so with magic but Gaius says it is not worth the risk.

    Gwen's father gets the sickness and Merlin cannot stand to watch Gwen suffer so he enchants a remedy and places it under his head while everyone is asleep. He becomes cured and when Arthur and his men search Gwen's quarters he finds the enchanted cure. Uther charges Gwen with sorcery and decides to burn her at the stake to solve their current problem.

    Merlin is now in a bind. He admits that he was the sorcerer that saved Gwen's father but in the end it is just laughed off as the musings of a man in love. He and Gaius search the water supply when they find the water has been poisoned. They find that an Avank (Afanc) has been placed into the water poisoning the supply. Merlin needs answers so he goes to the Dragon to find out what to do. He learns that the Avank is made from earth and water and can be destroyed by the opposite elements with Arthur's help as he is Merlin's other half. Like they complete each other.

    Merlin convinces Arthur about the creature and with Arthur and Gwen's assistance the three of them go into the underground cavern below the city to hunt the Avank. Between them they destroy the Avank with Arthur's fire and Merlin's magical wind. The one real problem is Nimueh has seen Merlin's face now and knows that he is a major adversary in her plans. Gaius find the orb that the Avank was delivered to the water supply in and Gaius informs Uther that the Mark of Nimueh was on the orb so Uther releases Gwen.

    It is interesting that Nimueh is the name of the sorceress as that name is tied to the Lady of the Lake who gives Arthur the Sword Excalibur and later takes it back when he dies. She is also the sorceress who made it possible for Uther to have the child Arthur. It will be interesting to see if this is all revealed in this story.

    Enjoyable episode and good production values. This is a delightful telling of Merlin and Arthur as younger men. Thanks for reading...moreless
  • Not my favourite, but a solid episode.

    Episodes like this really seperate the dynamic characters like Arthur, Morgana, Merlin, Uther and Gaius from the average ones, like Gwen and... well, Gwen. As friendly and likeable as she is, and while I do like Angel Coulby, her performance this week wasn't quite as good as the rest of the cast's when it was their turn to feature prominently in the past few episodes. THAT BEING SAID, I did feel for her and I may be splitting hairs here - I'm not saying she's a bad actress. In fact, it may not be so much Angel Coulby's performance which I was dissatisfied with in this episode, and more the fact that I think the character of Guinevere is the most incomplete. She needs to grow into herself. I believe she will eventually join the ranks of Arthur, Morgana and Merlin.

    And maybe it's a bit shallow, but I tend to judge episodes by the amount of Arthur-Merlin moments they have in them - I'm not really a fan of slash as I'm rooting for Arthur and Gwen but I am drawn to that relationship. Therefore I would like to mention my favourite scene: where Merlin tries to take the blame off of Gwen and Arthur defends him from his own idiocy - grantedly embarassing him in the process, but it's funny.moreless
  • A good episode with a clever magical twist on a common occurence of the middle ages - the plague. A softening of Arthur and continued development of the relationship of Merlin and Arthur.moreless

    The episode opens with a witch creating a powerful spell that she sends to punish Camelot. Soon bodies start to turn up and the cause is not natural - they try to cover it up but that doesn't work as the toll escalates. The King is frantic and sets his son Arthur to find the sorcerer, Merlin narrowly escapes his book being discovered. Merlin is frantic to magically find a cure but he is persuaded not to reveal his talents yet. But when Gwen's father is struck done with the plague ,which is 100% fatal,he can't help himself and cures him. But left behind is a glowing plusing poultice which Arthur discovers, he takes Gwen before the King who sentences her to die. Arthur confesses but no one believes him, they all think he is in love with her.

    He visits the Dragon for help, and is given a puzzling reply to decipher - the answer involves both Arthur and Merlin working together to destroy the magical beast of clay that is fouling the city water supply. Together they do defeat the monster but she sees Merlin and wants revenge.moreless
  • 'An easy solution is like a light in a storm, Merlin. Rush for it at your peril for it may not always lead you to a safe harbour.' (SPOILERS)

    The series has started to hit its stride with The Mark Of Nimueh. A plague affects Camelot, poisoning the water supply. Merlin wants to use magic to cure the afflicted but Gaius forbids it. However, when Gwen's father becomes ill, Merlin magically cures him... but then Gwen is accused of being a witch and sentenced to death by Uther. Merlin teams up with Arthur and Morgana to find out the cause of the illness. They find an Afanc in the water supply, a creature conjured from clay by a powerful sorcerer. For an old enemy of Uther's is responsible- and Merlin has crossed her... It's interesting to see Nimueh cast as a villain because certain of the original legends give her as the Lady of the Lake. Strong performances and a decent script make this an enjoyable adventure.

    The regular cast are all on top form as Julian Jones' script gives them all plenty of meaty lines. Colin Morgan continues to impress as Merlin, giving very subtle turns occasionally and forging a good rapport with Richard Wilson- who keeps up the wise old sage act nicely here, with a particularly nice line to Merlin which compares taking the easy option to rushing for a light in a storm. Bradley James begins to soften in this episode, making Arthur less bigheaded and arrogant and more empathetic- particularly when he challenges Uther about his harsh treatment of Gwen.Katie McGrath is given more to do in this episode and does it well, championing Gwen against the stubbornness of Uther's edict, convincing Arthur to look for the Afanc and- in a beautifully played scene right at the end- acting as unwilling confidante to Merlin. Similarly Angel Coulby is strong as Gwen, still keeping up the awkwardness around Merlin even when her life looks to be at an end. I wonder if there's going to be a frisson of a relationship there before she ends up going off with Arthur. Anthony Head gives a steely performance as the singularly determined Uther. Scarred- emotionally and mentally if not actually physically- by magic, his dislike of it runs strong- even to condemning Gwen to the fire. Plus there's a great scene toward the end between the two older men where Gaius reveals the titular mark... and Uther's reaction speaks volumes and sets an interesting question ticking as to the relationship between Uther and Nimueh. Michelle Ryan has little to do in this episode, besides looking alluring and muttering a few lines of Old English and the occasional 'Merlin'. Even in having that little to do, there is still a hint of a strong performance beneath it. Bonus points for the production team too as the Afanc actually looks like it is a prosthetic creation rather than CGI. The subterranean sets of Nimueh's caves look rather spiffy. There's what seems to be the obligatory scene with the Great Dragon which clocks in at about 30 seconds and about 5 lines for John Hurt. Hopefully if they're going to keep returning to the Dragon, let's hope they beef that role up too. And I know it's a slight niggle- but were sandwiches invented back in those days (even smoked pigeon ones)? It just struck me as a little incongruous- but then I suppose the same can be said for a lot of stuff in the show.

    All in all, an enjoyable episode- I'm looking forward to seeing more of Nimueh in the next one.moreless
David Durham

David Durham


Guest Star

Rick English

Rick English

The Afanc

Guest Star

Michelle Ryan

Michelle Ryan


Guest Star

John Hurt

John Hurt

Voice of the Great Dragon

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (10)

    • Goof: When the camera shows a close up of the courtier woman that lies dead in Gaius' chamber, her pulse can be clearly seen beating in her neck.

    • Goof: When Merlin drops a shirt from the bed to hide his book of magic as Arthur is checking out his room, the book gets totally covered; however, when Arthur is looking under the bed, a corner of the book can be seen sticking out of Merlin's shirt.

    • Goof: Gaius wears glasses, even though they weren't commonly used until the 13th century.

    • Goof: When Gwen is seized by the guards, she lets a vase with flowers fall from her hands. However, no water whatsoever is spilt.

    • Goof: Gwen's father (the blacksmith) is hitting on a sword that it's gotten cold and that hadn't been heated enough before.

    • Goof: Merlin follows Gwen inside the castle running some steps behind her but he arrives to Gaius' chamber a good while after she's arrived. This delay prevents Merlin from listening that her father is sick. However, once Gwen has left, Merlin tells Gaius that they have to do their best to cure him.

    • We can see 43 corpses aligned in the castle and later on, at least 83. Wouldn't it be more sensible to take them away if they are trying for the sickness not to spread?

    • Goof: Gaius and Merlin cart away the corpse of a dead man who is partially covered, but his boots can be clearly seen. Gwen asks them what they are doing and she is tricked with a lame reply, when she could have actually figured out herself.

    • Goof: Strawberries can be seen among the food leftovers in Arthur's room. However, strawberries were only first introduced in Europe in the 17th century. This same goof occurred in episode 1x01 The Dragon's Call.

    • Goof: Gwen makes a sandwich for her father even though such type of snack didn't receive that name until the 18th century.

  • QUOTES (19)

    • Arthur: Merlin! Come here, look what I found. (Merlin runs into his messy room expecting Arthur to be talking about the magic book) I found a place where you can put things. It's called a cupboard.

    • Arthur: You should stay here.
      Morgana: I'm coming with you.
      Arthur: No.
      Morgana: Scared I'll show you up?
      Arthur: Father would slam us both in chains if he knew I endangered you.
      Morgana: Good thing he doesn't know about it, then.
      Arthur: I'm telling you, Morgana. Turn back. You could get hurt.
      Morgana: So could you, if you don't get out of my way.

    • Morgana: Merlin, I wanted you to know your secret's safe with me.
      Merlin: My secret?
      Morgana: Come on. Don't pretend. I know what you did.
      Merlin: You do?
      Morgana: I saw it with my own eyes.
      Merlin: You did?
      Morgana: I understand why you don't want anyone to know.
      Merlin: Well, obviously...
      Morgana: I won't tell anyone. You don't mind me talking to you about it?
      Merlin: No. It's... you have no idea how hard it is to keep this hidden.
      Morgana: Well, you can continue to deny it but... I think Gwen's a very lucky woman.

    • Uther: I've never heard of an Afanc before.
      Gaius: It's conjured from clay by powerful magic. The type that can only be invoked by an ancient sorcerer. One who has the power to mirror the spirit of life. I found this at the water source.(showing a piece of the Afanc's egg) It bears the mark of Nimueh.
      Uther: No.
      Gaius: We must be vigilant, sire.
      Uther: Will I never be rid of her?

    • Morgana: Poor Merlin. He offered to give up his life to save Gwen's. I certainly can't imagine any man loving me so much.
      Arthur: No, I certainly can't imagine that either.
      Morgana: That's because you're not like Merlin. He's a lover.
      Arthur: Yeah, maybe that's because I haven't found the right person to love.
      Morgana: Sadly, the age of gallantry seems to be dead. You look around and all you see are small men, not big enough to fill their armour. There's not one of them that's able to stand up for what is right.
      Arthur: What do you want me to do?

    • Gaius: The study of base elements is at the very heart of the scientific process.
      Merlin: But how would they help me kill the Afanc?
      Gaius: Well, the Afanc is a creature made of earth and water. That's two of the four base elements.
      Merlin: What about the other two?
      Gaius: Well, perhaps they would destroy it. You want fire. Wind and fire.

    • The Great Dragon: The great warlock returns, as I knew he would.
      Merlin: I need to know how to defeat an Afanc.
      The Great Dragon: Yes, I suppose you do.
      Merlin: Will you help me?
      The Great Dragon: Trust the elements that are at your command.
      Merlin: Elements? What is it I have to do?
      The Great Dragon: You cannot do this alone. You are but one side of a coin. Arthur is the other.

    • Gaius: It was an Afanc.
      Merlin: A what?
      Gaius: A beast born of clay and conjured up only by the most powerful sorcerer. Now we have to find a way to defeat it.

    • Merlin: Arthur's the idiot.
      Gaius: No, he was right to do what he did. Thankfully, he saved you from your own stupidity.
      Merlin: What else could I do? It's my fault Gwen's going to die.
      Gaius: Yes, but you don't prove her innocence by offering to jump into the flames. You do it by finding out what's causing the disease!

    • Merlin: It was me. It was me who used magic to cure Gwen's father. Gwen is not the sorcerer. I am.
      Gaius: Merlin, are you mad?
      Merlin: I cannot let her die for me. I place yourself at my mercy.
      Gaius: He doesn't know what he's talking about.
      Merlin: I do.
      Uther: Then arrest him.
      Arthur: Father, please, I can't allow this. This is madness. There's no way Merlin is a sorcerer.
      Uther: Did you not hear him?
      Arthur: Yes.
      Uther: He's admitted it.
      Arthur: He saved my life, remember?
      Uther: Why would he fabricate such a story?
      Arthur: As Gaius said, he's got a... grave... mental disease.
      Uther: Really?
      Arthur: He's in love.
      Merlin: What?
      Arthur: With Gwen.
      Merlin: I am not.
      Arthur: Yes, you are.
      Merlin: There's no way!
      Arthur: I saw you yesterday with that flower she gave you.
      Merlin: I'm not in love with her!
      Arthur: It's alright. You can admit it.
      Merlin: I don't even think of her like that.
      Uther: Perhaps she cast a spell on you. (laughs)
      Arthur: Merlin is a wonder, but the wonder is that he's such an idiot! There's no way he's a sorcerer.
      Uther: Don't waste my time again. Let him go.

    • Merlin: I thought I was doing good and that curing Gwen's father would help her. I thought I was saving a life. It seemed so simple.
      Gaius: An easy solution is like a light in a storm, Merlin. Rush for it at your peril for it may not always lead you to a safe harbour.
      Merlin: I can see that now.
      Gaius: How many times have I warned you about the responsibilities of being a warlock?

    • Morgana: I know Gwen. She's my maidservant not an enchantress.
      Uther: Have you ever seen an enchantress? Believe me, they bear no sign, no mark. There is no sense of evil in the eye.
      Morgana: I've seen the way the girl works. Her fingers are worn, her nails are broken. If she was a sorceress, why would she do this? Why would she kneel on a cold stone floor morning after morning when she could make these things happen with a snap of her fingers, like an idle king.
      Uther: You have no right...
      Morgana: You have no right to cast a judgement on that girl!
      Uther: I have a responsibility to take care of this kingdom. I take no pleasure in this.
      Morgana: You're sentencing the wrong person.
      Arthur: She's right, father. You hear the word magic, you no longer listen.
      Uther: You saw it for yourself. She used enchantment.
      Arthur: Yes, maybe, but to save her dying father. That doesn't make her guilty of creating a plague. One's the act of kindness, of love, the other of evil. I don't believe evil's in this girl's heart.
      Uther: I have witnessed what witchcraft can do. I have suffered at it's hand. I cannot take that chance. If there is the slightest doubt about this girl, she must die or the whole kingdom will perish!
      Arthur: I understand that.
      Uther: One day, you may become king. Then you will understand. Such decisions must be made.There are dark forces which threaten this kingdom.
      Arthur: I know. Witchcraft is an evil, father. So is injustice. Yes, I am yet to be king and I don't know what kind of king I will be but I do have a sense of the kind of Camelot I wish to live in. It will be where the punishment fits the crime.
      Uther: I fear you're right. She's played with fire, and sadly she must die by fire.

    • (Gwen is brought before Uther on the charge of witchcraft)
      Gwen: Why will no-one believe me? He got better, he just recovered. I didn't do anything!
      Morgana: (entering the chamber) I believe you. Perhaps this is a disease that is not always fatal. Have you thought of that? Perhaps he recovered naturally.
      Uther: And what of this poultice that was found?
      Gwen: What poultice? I don't know anything about a poultice!
      Uther: It was found in your hourse. Undo this enchantment. Put an end to this contagion.
      Gwen: I can't!
      Uther: I'll show you no mercy.
      Gwen: I am not a witch! I don't know how to stop the illness!
      Uther: If you will not undo your sorcery, you force my hand and I must find you guilty.
      Gwen: But I've told you...
      Uther: It is therefore my duty to pronounce judgement and under the circumstance I have no choice but to sentence you to death.
      Gwen: No...
      Uther: I can only hope that when you die, this evil plague dies with you. Take her away.

    • Merlin: How's your father? Is he feeling better?
      Gwen: Yes. It's incredible. It's a miracle.
      Merlin: His skin's clear, back to normal?
      Gwen: Yes.
      Merlin: Great.
      Gwen: You don't seem surprised.
      Merlin: No. I am. It's a miracle.
      Gwen: But how did you know he was well?
      Merlin: Because you're smiling.
      Gwen: That's really weird, because I haven't told anyone, but you know. How could you know?
      Merlin: Yep. Alright. You finally found out. I'll tell you. (pause) I'm psychic.
      Gwen: No, you're not.
      Merlin: It's true!
      Gwen: Alright, what am I thinking?
      Merlin: That I'm not psychic.
      Gwen: You're strange. I don't... I don't mean that in a nasty way. You're just... funny. I like that.
      Merlin: I'm pleased for you.
      Gwen: Thank you.
      Merlin: What for?
      Gwen: Dunno. Just for asking.
      Merlin: I didn't like to see you upset.

    • Gaius: We have to hide that book.
      Merlin: No. We must use it.
      Gaius: Don't be stupid.
      Merlin: If I have this legacy, then what is it for? You keep telling me it's not for playing tricks.
      Gaius: You want to practice magic when the king is hunting for sorcerers? Are you mad? Merlin, your life is destined for more important things.
      Merlin: But if I don't practice, then how will I get to be this great warlock?
      Gaius: There will come a time when your skills will be recognised!
      Merlin: When? How long do I have to wait?
      Gaius: Patience is a virtue, Merlin.
      Merlin: Sitting by and doing nothing, that's a virtue?
      Gaius: Your time will come.
      Merlin: I could cure that man we saw.
      Gaius: I know it's tempting to use the way you find easiest, Merlin.
      Merlin: It is when it would save a life!
      Gaius: It's no good just saving one person. We have to discover how this illness is spreading.
      Merlin: Arthur is out there right now looking for the sorcerer!
      Gaius: A sorcerer who's powerful enough to do this will never be found searching the town.
      Merlin: So what can we do?
      Gaius: Hope that science can find the answer before it kills us all.

    • Gaius: One thing I do know, this is magic of the darkest kind.
      Merlin: Why would someone use magic like that?
      Gaius: Magic corrupts. People use it for their own ends.
      Merlin: Not all magic is bad. I know it isn't.
      Gaius: It's neither good nor bad. It's how you use it.

    • Uther: What's happened to him?
      Gaius: I don't know, sire. It's the second case I've seen today.
      Uther: Why didn't you report it to me?
      Gaius: I was attempting to find the cause.
      Uther: What did you conclude?
      Gaius: I don't think it's time to hurry to conclusions. The scientific process is a long one.
      Uther: Why do you conceal it from me?
      Gaius: Sire, I have seen nothing like it. The victims are dying within twenty-four hours and it's spreading fast.
      Uther: What is the cause?
      Gaius: I think we should say the cause, the most likely cause, is sorcery.
      Uther: (taking Arthur aside) You must find who did this.
      Arthur: I will, father.
      Uther: Conduct door-to-door searches. Increase your presence in the town. Double the guards on all the gates and lend the physician your servant.
      Arthur: Merlin?
      Uther: I'm going to need Gaius to find a cure. He needs all the help we can give him. If Gaius is right, believe me, the city will be wiped out. This is the kind of magic that undermines our authority, challenges all we've done. If we cannot control this plague, people will turn to magic for a cure. We have to find this sorcerer and quickly.

    • Arthur: Tell Gaius my father wants to see him now.
      Merlin: Gaius, I...
      Gaius: I heard.
      Merlin: Why could he just tell you himself?
      Gaius: Because that's the way it is. You're a servant.
      Merlin: If he knew who I was, what I've done...
      Gaius: You'd be a dead servant.

    • Gaius: I've never seen anything like this before.
      Merlin: Do you think it could be some kind of plague?
      Gaius: No. I fear that something like this could never come from nature. But who has this kind of power?

  • NOTES (8)

    • This episode makes #4 in the French DVD release.

    • The Afanc is played by Rick English, who also plays a bandit in episode 1x07 The Gates of Avalon, 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.

    • Broadcasts:
      4 Oct 2008 at 18:00-18:45pm on BBC One.
      22 Aug 2009 at 19:40-20:30pm on BBC Three.

    • Filming locations:
      Château de Pierrefonds, Pierrefonds, Oise, France (Camelot).
      The Chislehurst Caves (water supply under Camelot castle).
      Surrey, UK (Studio sets).

    • This episode is Angel Coulby's favourite from season 1.

    • Also Known As:
      France: L'Épidémie, meaning 'The Epidemic'.
      Germany: Zeichen des Unheils, meaning 'Signs of Disaster'.
      Italy: Il Segno di Nimueh.
      Poland: Znak Nimueh.
      Portugal: O Marca de Nimueh. Spain: La Marca de Nimueh.
      Russia: Метка Нимуэ.
      The Netherlands: Het teken van Nimueh.
      Ukraine: Знак Німуе.

    • International Airdates:
      Australia: May 17, 2009 (Channel 10).
      France: November 25, 2009 (V TV).
      Germany: October 24, 2009 (RTL).
      Italy: December 23, 2008 (Italia 1).
      Poland: March 21, 2009 (Polsat).
      Spain: June 5th, 2009 (Neox).
      The Netherlands: April 11, 2009 (KRO).
      Turkey: September 20, 2009 (CNBC-e).
      Ukraine: June 13, 2009 (1+1).
      USA: June 28, 2009 (NBC).

    • This episode was nominated by the Visual Effects Society Awards for its Outstanding Matte Paintings in a Broadcast Program or Commercial.