Season 1 Episode 10

The Moment Of Truth

Aired Unknown Nov 22, 2008 on BBC
out of 10
User Rating
209 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Merlin's home village of Ealdor is attacked by raiders led by the fearsome Kanen, but Uther will not do anything to help- to cross into Ealdor, which is outside of Camelot's boundaries, would constitute an act of war. Merlin leaves Camelot to help to defend his home- and is surprised to find help from Morgana, Gwen and Arthur. However, an old friend of Merlin forces the young sorcerer into making a difficult choice: will he use magic to save the village and thus reveal his secret to Arthur?moreless

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  • a good ep

    that episode was obviously a good because alexander siddig was in it
  • A clichéd episode that was simply not very fun. The arguments were simply painful to watch (soap opera influence?). I thought I was watching a Robin Hood episode.

    Its a "evil badguy attacks poor starving village episode".

    This villain is sooooo evil he makes Uther look like a saint. The actor looks fully concious of the ridiculousness of his role. He and his men are so evil they are willing to kill women and children. Is there a reason why they are so evil? No! I am unsatisfied.

    And Merlin's brother or whoever he is is a complete **** in this episode. Everything he says is negative. I have never met anyone in real life who I would like to punch in the face more. The "plot device" used to wrap him up is so predictable I almost screamed at the screen.

    And lastly out of nowhere comes the feminist political correctness that I was hoping would not appear (why has it taken this long?). The female characters have turned into annoying loud mouths eager to prove that "women can fight too" and to get a "1up" on the men.

    Maybe I'm going a bit overboard, I mean it wasn't THAT bad (thus the 6 rating) but I thought this series was getting better and better with every single episode (I didn't like episode 1) and now that winning streak has been broken.moreless
  • 'You're not fighting because someone's ordering you to. You're fighting for so much more than that. You fight for your homes. You fight for your family. You fight for your friends.' (SPOILERS)moreless

    After the brilliance of Excalibur, The Moment Of Truth is a bit of a let-down. When Merlin's mother Hunith arrives at Camelot with news that her home village of Ealdor is under attack from raiders led by the fearsome Kanen, she begs Uther for help. However, for the army of Camelot to cross into Ealdor would constitute an act of war- so Uther refuses to help. Merlin returns to Ealdor- and finds that Gwen, Morgana and Arthur are willing to join them in the fight. Whilst Arthur begins to train the men of the village how to fight, Merlin comes up against his old friend William who pleads with Merlin to use his magic against Kanen and save the village. The only problem with doing that would be revealing his sorcery to Arthur... A real curate's egg of an episode- some bits very good but on the whole quite mediocre. The main thrust of the episode is Merlin's dilemma on 'coming out' to Arthur. Nevermore than in this story has the magic/homosexuality allusion been so clear. Unfortunately, it's done in such a heavy-handed preachy way that rather than becoming empathetic with the situation, the reverse happens. It may therefore be a contradiction in terms to then say that this is probably Colin Morgan's most touching portrayal so far. It's a surprisingly mature and nicely underplayed performance- his tears at the end at friend William's death made me want to hug him. Seriously. There are some good scenes between Arthur and Merlin in which slash fans could get a whole load of mileage with the psuedo-homoerotic 'relationship' between them- particularly the bed scene where Arthur comments 'it must have been hard' and Merlin says 'like rock'. I have to admit to a puerile little schoolboy giggle at that. It's another strong performance by Bradley James too (his inspiring speech a la Braveheart was quite good)- although writer Ben Vanstone changes Arthur back to jackass at the end with the scene at William's pyre about the 'danger' of magic.

    Both Anthony Head and Richard Wilson get minimal screentime but do well with what they're given- especially Wilson, as Gaius' paternal care for Merlin comes out as the young warlock is about to leave. However, it's a real case of sisters doing it for themselves with strong turns by Angel Coulby and Katie McGrath. McGrath in particular shines, especially during the fight scenes where Morgana gets to kick some raider ass. Coulby gives a good turn, standing up to Arthur for the womens' right to fight for the village and there's an interesting scene perhaps hinting at the future mythological Arthur-Guinevere relationship, when she admits that she has faith in him. Caroline Faber also gives a strong account of herself as Hunith. There's a real bond between her and Colin Morgan which informs their scenes together.

    So let's get onto the slightly less good stuff. The script is quite preachy and heavy-handed which gets wearisome. There's a very bland, woefully underwritten and cardboard cutout villain in Kanen that even a spirited performance by Alexander Siddig cannot redeem. Joe Dempsie's performance as William veered from quite good to cutting the ham thick (although that could have been the script as well). Plus there's a complete air of predictability throughout the whole thing. There's no surprise that William comes round at the end and fights (and dies). There's no surprise that Merlin uses his magic to save the village and gets it covered up. Considering the calibre of some episodes, this just doesn't come up to par for me.moreless
  • Merlin's home village is being attacked by brutal men, his mother Hunith comes to Camelot for help.

    One of my favorite episodes. A very touching storyline that allows us to see a little into Merlin's life before he came to Camelot. I love how Arthur, Gwen, and Morgana come to the village's aid, and help Merlin defend his home. There are lots of wonderful friendship scenes, and plenty of action and fighting. Colin Morgan will have you in tears over the loss of his best friend William, and Bradley James will have you laughing as he puts his princely foot in Merlin's face. Both actors work so well together, and the character's they portray truly come to life. A beautiful episode with a little bit of everything in it.moreless
  • Brilliant episode.

    I don't know why this episode is being so heavily criticized as weak in comparison to the others - in my opinion, it is possibly one of, if not the, most impressive episodes yet!

    It's good that we're starting to branch out a bit from the isolated (at least in terms of the show's exposure) court of Camelot, travelling to Merlin's old village, which is being ruthlessly pillaged by Kanen. It contributes a lot more to the epic feel of the story and Arthur's widespread opportunity for influence. Granted, Kanen is not the most memorable of villains, but considering the punch which the rest of the episode packs, I think it was necessary to use more of a villain figure than a real character, per se, so as not to take away from the stories of our core characters.

    Merlin is such a pure, innocent character, but it never grows cringeworthy or annoying, which is quite difficult to pull off in television nowadays and is due largely to the skilled performance of Colin Morgan. His dismay at the predicament of his friends and family, his loyalty to them and his sibling like relationship with his friend (whose name has momentarily escaped me) are really lovely to watch, but most interesting of all was his real conflicting emotions as he struggles to choose between saving his village at the expense of Arthur's friendship, or keeping his secret and risking the annihilation of the community he grew up in. I think the audience was growing quite antsy to see Merlin reveal his secret soon - including me - but this episode really encapsulated why it is not time quite yet, and I am not glad the writers didn't choose to sway to public pressure. I believe Merlin made the right decision not to tell Arthur just yet, but his real fear showed a flaw in Merlin's character - he is not yet the real brave, steely advisor we all know he will become. He is still very in awe of Arthur and they are not yet equals.

    This brings me to an interesting point - in this episode, Merlin is the one who seems fixated on the class division between him and Arthur, while Arthur basically ignores it and makes a real effort to integrate himself into the village, help despite Merlins' friend's bitter protests, and really try to understand what Merlin's life was like. In other episodes, it seemed that Arthur was the one maintaining the barrier while Merlin was always quite desperate to define himself as Arthur's friend, not just his servant. This shows both that Merlin still sees himself as somewhat inferior to Arthur, and that Arthur is not quite as cold as he seems - he has a real respect and affection for Merlin that is endearing and makes me love his character even more. Independent of King Uther, Arthur manages to win the trust and faith of the villagers on his own, with Merlins' support and encouragement, despite speedbumps and protests. It really shows his difference from the current, tyrannical king and the amazing potential he has; he shows real compassion, bravery and leadership.

    That being said, he does have things to learn - Guinevere can't help but chide him about his rude refusal of food which Hunith offers him, which leads to a nice moment between them, speaking of things to come. She and Morgana champion the women, convincing Arthur to let them fight. Girl power!

    Of course, Arthur's character progression in this episode alone has led us to believe that he may just be ready to accept Merlin's secret - and then he rounds on Merlin and his friend, angry, demanding to know who just did magic. The stunned, frightened look in Merlin's eyes was heartbreaking, while his friend's last act, confessing to magic he did not do before dying with Merlin at his side (touching death scene, by the way - again, kudos to CM)showed both a genuine love for Merlin and the fact that he did manage to wrest a little bit of faith in Arthur, who he died for, after all.

    Brilliant performances by Bradley James and Colin Morgan equally - the final scene where Arthur tells Merlin he should have told him about his friend's magic was stirring, and left me breathless for the next installment. Definitely one to watch!moreless
Joseph Dempsie

Joseph Dempsie


Guest Star

Alexander Siddig

Alexander Siddig


Guest Star

Jonathan Aris

Jonathan Aris


Guest Star

John Hurt

John Hurt

Voice of the Great Dragon

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (14)

    • Goof: the man who falls from his horse when the twister starts and gets tangled in the reins can be seen being dragged about twice.

    • Goof: Hunith's house, as we see it in this episode, is not consistent with her house in episode 1x01 The Dragon's Call.

    • This is the first episode in which Merlin wears a chainmail and Morgana and Gwen wear trousers.

    • According to Gaius, Merlin gets tipsy easily with wine.

    • Goof: At no point during the sword fights blood traces can be be seen in the swords and other weapons.

    • William's father was killed fighting for king Cendred so he doesn't trust anyone of nobility. However, he saves Arthur's life by losing his own. Will takes the blame as well for the sorcery performed by Merlin.

    • Merlin left Ealdor because Will found out about his magical powers and Hunith was upset with her son for letting his secret be known. She then decided to send Merlin over to Gaius for him to take care of the boy and teach him to control and use his magic properly.

    • Goof: When Merlin makes the wind blow Hunith can be seen standing up holding a stick and falling on her back; however, a couple of seconds afterwards, she is on her knees holding the stick again and falling forward.

    • Merlin takes part in a sword fight for the first time; so does Morgana, who used to beat Arthur at it when they were younger.

    • Ealdor, Merlin's village, lies beyond the ridge of Ascetir, in the outlying regions of Cendred's kingdom.

    • Goof: When Gwen is packing an armour for Merlin, she handles the chain mail as if is not heavy at all.

    • Goof: When Kanen hits Hunith at the beginning of the episode, she brings her hand to her cheek and when she removes it, there's a bruise on it. However, upon meeting Merlin, she's got a shiner in her eye.

    • This is the first episode where Arthur and Gwen interact alone and also the first time (and only time for the whole season) in which Arthur refers to her as 'Gwen'.

    • At the end of the episode, Hunith says that Merlin and Arthur are 'two sides of the same coin'. Merlin says he's been told that before. The Great Dragon said the same thing to him in episode episode 1x03 The Mark of Nimueh.

  • QUOTES (22)

    • Hunith: You'd better be going.
      Merlin: I don't have to go.
      Hunith: Yes you do.
      Merlin: If anything were to happen to you...
      Hunith: I know where to find you. You have to go, Merlin. You belong at Arthur's side. I've seen how much he needs you, how much you need him. You're like two sides of the same coin.
      Merlin: I've heard someone say that about us before. I'm going to miss you.
      Hunith: I'm going to miss you too. When you left, you were just a boy. Now look at you. I'm so proud of you. When the time is right, the truth will be known. Until then you must keep your talents hidden. It's better for everyone.

    • William: I was right about him. I told you he was going to get me killed.
      Merlin: You're not going to die.
      William: You're a good man, Merlin. A great man, and one day you're going to be servant to a great king. Now you can still make that happen.
      Merlin: Thanks to you.
      William: This place has been boring without you. It was good to see you again.

    • (Merlin conjures a whirlwind to defeat Kanen's men. Arthur kills Kanen in battle but William takes a crossbow bolt to save Arthur's life.)
      William: That's twice I've saved you.
      Arthur: Twice?
      William: It was me. I'm the one who used the magic.
      Merlin: Will, don't...
      William: It's alright, Merlin. I won't be alive long enough for anyone to do anything to me. I did it. I saw how desperate things were becoming. I had to do something.
      Arthur: You're a sorcerer?
      William: Yeah. What are you going to do? Kill me?
      Arthur: No. Of course not.

    • Merlin: Whatever happens out there today, please don't think any differently of me.
      Arthur: I won't. It's alright to be scared, Merlin.
      Merlin: That's not what I meant.
      Arthur: What is it? If you've got something to say, now's the time to say it.

    • Gwen: Hunith made you some food.
      Arthur: Thanks. I think.
      Gwen: Food is scarce for these people. You shouldn't turn your nose up at it. (off Arthur's look) Oh no. I shouldn't have spoken to you like that. I'm sorry.
      Arthur: Gwen...
      Gwen: I'm sorry. I don't know what I was thinking. It won't happen again.
      Arthur: Guinevere! Thank you. You're right. And you were right to speak up. I should've listened to you and Morgana. We're going to need all the help we can get.
      Gwen: We'll be fine.
      Arthur: How can you be so sure?
      Gwen: Because I have faith in you. (off Arthur's look) I mean... we all do.

    • Hunith: I should never have gone to Camelot. I've ruined everything for you.
      Merlin: You haven't. Why would you say that?
      Hunith: I know what you're planning to do.
      Merlin: If it comes to a choice between saving people's lives and revealing who I really am, there is no choice.
      Hunith: You can't let Arthur know about your gift.
      Merlin: Why not? Maybe it's meant to be this way. And if he doesn't accept me for who I really am, then... he's not the friend I hoped he was.

    • Arthur: Tomorrow morning, the women and children should gather what belongings they can carry and go to the woods.
      Gwen: We're not going anywhere.
      Arthur: I know you want to help but the women can't stay here. It's too dangerous.
      Gwen: The women have as much right to fight for their lives as the men do.
      Arthur: But none of you know how to fight.
      Gwen: The more of us there are, the better chance we stand.
      Arthur: This is your home. If you want to fight to defend it, that's your choice. I'd be honoured to stand alongside you. Kanen attacks tomorrow. Kanen's brutal. He fights only to kill, which is why he will never defeat us. Look around. In this circle, we're all equals. You're not fighting because someone's ordering you to. You're fighting for so much more than that. You fight for your homes. You fight for your family. You fight for your friends. You fight for the right to grow crops in peace. And if you fall, you fall fighting for the noblest of causes- fighting for your very right to survive. And when you're old and grey, you'll look back on this day and you'll know you earned the right to live every day in between. So you fight. For your family. For your friends. For Ealdor!

    • Merlin: William's father was killed fighting for King Cendred. so he doesn't trust anyone of nobility.
      Arthur: Do you think the villagers believed him?
      Merlin: No. He's... always been a trouble-maker. They're used to ignoring him.
      Arthur: And if he's right?
      Merlin: He isn't.
      Arthur: I'm treating these men like soldiers, and they're not. You've seen them fight. They haven't got a clue. You need to tell them all to leave the village before Kanen returns.
      Merlin: No. We're going to stay. We're going to fight and we're going to win.
      Arthur: Merlin, it can't be done. The odds are too great.
      Merlin: It can. We're going to make Kanen rue the day he ever came to this village. All you need to do is get the men ready for battle and the rest... will take care of itself.
      Arthur: How?
      Merlin: You've just got to believe in them. Because if you don't, they'll sense it and the battle will be lost before it's even begun.

    • Merlin: Tomorrow Kanen attacks and whether you like it or not, we'll have to fight.
      William: Not if I'm not here.
      Merlin: That's up to you, but the rest of us are staying. Join us, Will. This isn't about Arthur. This is about your friends. Are you really going to abandon them?
      William: What, like you did?
      Merlin: I'm here now.
      William: Yeah. Yeah, you are, and you could end this. If you used your magic, then no-one else would have to die.
      Merlin: You know I can't.
      William: Can't? Or won't? I'm not the one abandoning these people, Merlin. You are.

    • (Matthew is killed by Kanan- his body is brought back to the village)
      William: You did this. Look what you've done. You've killed him!
      Merlin: It wasn't his fault!
      William: If he hadn't been strutting around treating us like his own personal army, this would never have happened.
      Arthur: These men are brave enough to fight for what they believe in, even if you aren't.
      William: You're sending them to their graves. You've killed one man. How many more need to die before you realise this is a battle that can't be won? When Kanen comes, you haven't got a chance. You're going to be slaughtered.

    • Morgana: Looks like the battle's already fought and lost.
      Arthur: They'll toughen up.
      Gwen: They need to.
      Arthur: How are we doing for weapons?
      Morgana: There isn't much but we should be able to scrape together what you need.
      Gwen: It's not the weapons that worry us. It's having enough people to use them. We think the women should be allowed to fight.
      Morgana: You haven't enough men. If they were trained soldiers, maybe you'd stand a chance. But they're not.
      Arthur: It's too dangerous.

    • William: Why did you leave?
      Merlin: It wasn't what I wanted. My mother was worried. When she found out you knew, she was so angry.
      William: I wouldn't have told anyone.
      Merlin: I know you wouldn't.
      William: You'd be able to defeat Kanen on your own, wouldn't you?
      Merlin: I'm not sure. Maybe.
      William: So what's stopping you? So what if Arthur finds out?
      Merlin: I don't expect you to understand.
      William: Try me.
      Merlin: One day, Arthur will be a great king. But he needs my help and if anyone ever found out about my powers, I'd have to leave Camelot for good.
      William: Are you telling me you'd rather keep your magic secret for Arthur's sake than use it to protect your friends and family?

    • Hunith: He must care for you a great deal.
      Merlin: Arthur would do the same for any village. That's just the way he is.
      Hunith: It's more than that. He's here for you.
      Merlin: I'm just his servant.
      Hunith: Give him more credit than that. He likes you.
      Merlin: That's because he doesn't know me. And if he did, I'd probably be dead by now.

    • (Merlin is helping Arthur dress)
      Morgana: Have you still not learned how to dress yourself?
      Arthur: You don't have a dog and fetch the stick yourself. No offence, Merlin.
      Merlin: None taken.

    • Arthur: Have you always slept on the floor?
      Merlin: Yeah. The bed I've got in Camelot's luxury by comparison.
      Arthur: It must have been hard.
      Merlin: Hmm. It's like rock.
      Arthur: I didn't mean the ground, I meant... for you. It must have been difficult.
      Merlin: Not really. I didn't know any different. Life's simple out here. You eat what you grown and everyone pitches in together. As long as you've got food on the table and a roof over your had, you're happy.
      Arthur: Sounds... nice.
      Merlin: You'd hate it.
      Arthur: No doubt. Why did you leave?
      Merlin: Things just... changed.
      Arthur: How? (Merlin pauses) Come on. Stop pretending to be interesting. Tell me.
      Merlin: I just didn't fit in anymore. I wanted to find somewhere that I did.
      Arthur: Had any luck?
      Merlin: I'm not sure yet.

    • Merlin: He knows what he's doing. You've got to trust him. Look, when I first met Arthur, I was exactly like you. I hated him. I thought he was pompous and arrogant.
      William: Well, nothing's changed there, then.
      Merlin: But in time I came to respect him for what he stands for, what he does.
      William: I know what he stands for. Princes, kings, all men like him.
      Merlin: Will, don't bring what happened to your father into this.
      William: I'm not. Why are you defending him so much? You're just his servant.
      Merlin: He's also my friend!
      William: Friends don't lord it over one another.
      Merlin: He isn't like that.
      William: Really? Well, let's wait until the fighting begins and see who he sends in to die first. I guarantee you it won't be him.
      Merlin: I trust Arthur with my life.
      William: Is that so? So he knows your secret then? (Merlin doesn't answer) Face it, Merlin. You're living a lie just like you were here. You're Arthur's servant, nothing more. Otherwise you'd tell him the truth.

    • Arthur: I know Kanen's kind. He'll be back, and when he is... we must be ready for him. First of all we have to prepare...
      William: Am I the only one wondering who the hell this is?
      Arthur: I'm Prince Arthur of Camelot.
      William: Yeah, and I'm Prince William of Ealdor.
      Hunith: Keep quiet! He's here to help us.
      William: He's made things worse! Kanen will be back and when he is, he'll be looking for revenge. You've just signed our death warrant.
      Hunith: He saved Matthew's life!
      Arthur: It's alright, Hunith. This is his village. What would you have us do?
      William: We can't fight against Kanen, he has too many men.
      Arthur: So what's the alternative?
      William: We give him what he wants.
      Arthur: Then what? Those of you who don't starve to death will face him again next harvest and the harvest after that.
      William: We manage. We'll survive.
      Arthur: The only way he can be stopped is if you stand up to him.
      William: No. You just want the honour and glory of battle. That's what drives men like you. Look, if you want to fight, go home and risk the lives of your own people. Not ours.

    • Hunith: They shouldn't be here, especially the Lady Morgana. Isn't she the king's ward?
      Merlin: Not that you'd know it. She's the only person I know who isn't frightened of him.
      Hunith: It won't make any difference to Kanen that they're women.
      Merlin: I know. But I couldn't talk them out of coming. (He touches the bruise on Hunith's face) I'm going to make him pay for what he did to you.
      Hunith: Promise me you'll be careful. No-one can find out about you.
      Merlin: They won't. They never do.

    • Gaius: You've got the food I prepared for you?
      Merlin: Yes.
      Gaius: Careful with the wine. You know what you're like. One whiff of a barmaid's apron and you're singing like a sailor.

    • Gwen: I've packed some armour for you.
      Merlin: I won't be able to carry all that.
      Morgana: You won't have to. We're coming with you.
      Merlin: What do you mean?
      Gwen: You're going to need all the help you can get. I can mend armour and sharpen swords.
      Morgana: And I know how to fight.
      Merlin: But you... you can't. I mean, why would you?
      Gwen: If it was the other way round, you'd help us. You already have. You saved my life.
      Morgana: And you helped me get the druid boy out of Camelot. We owe it to you. Both of us.

    • Arthur: I'm sorry. If it were up to me, we'd be on our way there now.
      Merlin: Well, you tried. And thank you for getting an audience with the king.
      Arthur: I wish that Camelot was able to help people regardless of how far away they lived.
      Merlin: I'm going back to Ealdor.
      Arthur: Of course.
      Merlin: It's been an honour serving you.
      Arthur: You'll be coming back?
      Merlin: She's my mother. I have got to look after her before anyone else. You understand?
      Arthur: I'd do exactly the same. Well... you've been terrible. Really. I mean it, the worst servant I've ever had.
      Merlin: Thank you, sire.

    • Hunith: The winters are harsh in Ealdor, and there are many children. Some of them just won't be strong enough to survive. We barely have enough food as it is, and if Kanen takes our harvest, our children won't live to see another summer. Please, we need your help.
      Uther: Ealdor's in Cendred's kingdom. Your safety is his responsibility.
      Hunith: We've appealed to our king but he cares little for the outlying regions. You're our only hope.
      Uther: I have the deepest sympathy for you and would have this barbarian wiped off the face of the earth.
      Hunith: You'll help us?
      Uther: I wish I could.
      Arthur: Surely we can spare a few men?
      Uther: Resources are not the problem.
      Morgana: Then what is?
      Uther: Ealdor lies beyond the ridge of Aesctir. For an army of Camelot to enter, it would be an act of war.
      Hunith: (kneeling) I know you're a good king, a caring man. I'm begging you. Help us, please.
      Uther: The accord we've struck with Cendred was years in the making. I cannot risk hundreds of lives for the sake of one village. I'm afraid Camelot cannot help.

  • NOTES (23)