Season 1 Episode 2


Aired Unknown Sep 27, 2008 on BBC
out of 10
User Rating
259 votes

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Episode Summary

A knight named Valiant arrives in court to compete in a sword-fighting tournament. Valiant holds in his power an enchanted shield which causes great harm to his opponents. Merlin's attempts to warn everyone fall on deaf ears- and Arthur is next to face Valiant.

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  • excellent

  • Valiant comes to Camelot to attempt to win the courts combat tournament but he is using a magical shield that poisons his opponents. Merlin makes the discovery and then must figure out a way to save Arthur before he meets Valiant in the tournament final.moreless

    A pretty good follow up to Dragon's Call the series premiere. As Merlin is now Arthur's man servant because that was his "reward" for saving Arthur in the first episode, he has the perfect position to stay close to Arthur and keep him safe. Unfortunately their relationship is less than cordial at times and negative enough that Merlin returns to speak with the Dragon about the mistake he made.

    Valiant is a thug who is looking for any way to increase his chance of winning the tournament. It sort of takes a little shine away from the term Knight as they were suppose to be men of chivalry and honor. There is nothing chivalrous about Valiant. He has designs on Morgana and means to see them through.

    Merlin makes the discovery by chance that Valiant's shield is enchanted. Unfortunately as he is not a member of the court or a Knight his word is worthless to the King. Luckily for everyone involved both Morgana and Gwen are concerned for Arthur and believe Merlin is on to something. Arthur even tries to stand by Merlin but in the end must apologize to Valiant for miss-speaking.

    In what I see becoming a far to common occurrence, Merlin saves Arthur, exposing Valiant for what he is and in general saves the day for the court. Of course only a very few have any idea and certainly they can't or won't give the credit to Merlin. Arthur for his part reconciles with Merlin the only way he can by making some backhanded compliments about what a good man servant he is. NBC is showing these episodes the first few weeks as back to back shows. Unfortunately I believe it takes away from the individual nature of each episode. The way it was advertised my wife thought it was a special or a mini-series so NBC did not do a good job of informing the public about the show.

    Next week we see episodes The Mark of Nimueh and The Poisoned Chalice back to back. The following week we then have one episode. Hopefully this will be the case the rest of the thirteen episode series.

    Well produced, good storylines, and enjoyable characters mark this fine UK production. Thanks for reading...moreless
  • An exciting episode, Valiant is a clever follow-up to the first episode Dragon's Call.

    I was very impressed with this episode. It is important to note the promising introduction which proceeded it in the first episode, Dragon's Call, which succeeded in introducing the central characters in a way which left me curious to know more. In Valiant, we see the development of the relationship between Merlin and Arthur as Merlin begins his new role as Arthur's manservant. Despite their animosity last episode, Merlin seems to have accepted his position and treats Arthur with surmountable - if reluctant - respect, though there is certainly an adjustment period as he takes great umbrage at Gaius's take on a servant's credibility in the castle. Arthur, meanwhile, may be treating Merlin like a dog but you can tell he isn't being deliberately cruel, just a little selfish and thoughtless. I was very glad to see some depth and dimension to Arthur's character, as I had liked the character in the last episode and hoped he wasn't just going to be a villain. Here we see the first signs of a tempestuous relationship between the imperious King Uther and his son, and we realize just how much pressure Arthur is faced with, particularly during a nice scene where he rages at Merlin for humiliating him and making him look a coward. His concept of bravery and honour are admirable, if a little hard to relate to in this modern age. All in all, it was the first push to what will of course eventually be the noble, kind hearted Arthur we all know from history - but true to form, he does retain some aspects of his 'royal ass' self, which is a lot more interesting than the traditional golden boy Arthur - firing Merlin unjustly and generally being a bit cocky and self-absorbed.

    We do see some genuine affection and chemistry between Arthur and Morgana - as much as I adore Katie McGrath's performance as Morgana, I almost wish she would switch to being Guinevere, because as much as I like Angel Coulby's portrayal the whole Arthur/Morgana thing has a lot more chemistry and I know it won't work out. The final fight scene I loved, as it really showed Arthur's dedication and bravery, and him amicably clapping Merlin on the shoulder on the way out and reinstating his job at the end do show the beginnings of a friendship.

    Anthony Head is a consistent pleaser, his portrayal of King Uther has made a potentially inconsequential, one dimensional villain into an interesting character.moreless
  • A more than valiant effort

    The story for this episode allows the threads of Merlin's bond with Arthur to grow as a dishonourable knight threatens the life of the prince. As well as the more of the location and setting being shown, expect lots more small details of the two main protanganists and their blossoming relationship to emerge. Furthermore, some of the minor characters like King Uther, Gaius and Morgana get fleshed out some more. All of this is well-woven into the main plot of tournament in which Arthur will eventually be pitted against the baddie. It is during the climax of this tournament that Arthur finds himself in mortal danger and with his honour questioned.

    Both these threats see Merlin doing his best to save the prince, only for setbacks and the repercussions of using magic to affect young Merlin some more. The subplot of the dragon and Merlin's "destiny" is again touched upon, providing another tantalising peek at what aways us a number of series further down the line.

    A credible performance by Will Mellor as Knight Valiant was the highlight of the episode for me. Overall I wouldnt expect fireworks from this episode, but nonetheless it is entertaining while being informative and develops the ambience of the show rather well.moreless
  • The plot is reasonably predictable, but still the development of the relationship between Merlin and Arthur is the key to the overall show and this is done sensitively, with a level of trust growing and Merlin softening Arthurs character to semi likable.moreless

    Arthur is engaged in a major tournment to find the champion Knight of the realm of Camelot.Merlin is busy as his lackey and training partner and the use of magic here is simple and engaging- Merlin managing amazing cleaning feats.

    Merlin becomes suspicious of one of the Knights, Valiant, who wins a bout that he was losing that leaves a knight unconscious with suspicios fang marks on his neck. Merlin sets out to retrieve some venom so that a remedy can be made.

    Merlin warns Arthur and so convinced is he that he confronts Valiant in front of the King, but with no proof and the death of the only witness (from another snake bite)Arthur looks like a coward afraid to fight Valiant.

    Fired from his job and confronting the Dragon Merlin is frustrated about his supposed destiny, but nevertheless searches for a way to save Arthur. He steals a gargoyle and spends the night using incantations to try and animate the creature with no success. With the inevitable final confrontation about to begin Merlin tries one llast time and the stone turns into a large dog. He arrives just in time to see Arthur without his shield and losing. Merlin sens a spell toward the shield and the snakes appear ready to kill Arthur who is defenceless, Morgana throws him a sword and he decapitates the two remaining snakes and Valiant.

    Arthur reinstates a reluctant Merlin as his man servant.moreless
Will Mellor

Will Mellor

Knight Valiant

Guest Star

Keith Thorne

Keith Thorne


Guest Star

Andy Linden

Andy Linden


Guest Star

John Hurt

John Hurt

Voice of the Great Dragon

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (33)

    • Goof: When Merlin gathers Arthur's armour from the armoury, he picks a helmet that looks nothing like the one Arthur wears in all the fights throughout the episode.

    • Unlike in later episodes, Morgana's premonitory dream doesn't show footage that would eventually be seen later on in the episode.

    • Goof: The shape and size of the windows in Arthur's bed chamber clearly differs when they are depicted from the inside and when they are depicted from the outside.

    • The Pendragon device is: "Gules, a wyvern statant Or." (On a red background, a gold wyvern standing).

      Knight Valiant's device is: "Agent, three snakes proper nowed." (On a white/silver background, three realistic snakes in a knot.)

    • The golden necklace that Morgana wears during the feast at the end of the episode is the same one that Lady Catrina wears during her wedding to Uther in episode 2x05 Beauty and the Beast – Part One.

    • Arthur's shield crest is a yellow dragon over a dark green background.

    • Goof: Gaius says that the symptoms of a snake bite are slow pulse, fever and paralysis. However, snake poison makes the pace of the pulse go faster.

    • Goof: The first opponent Arthur fights in the 3rd day of the tournament is supposed to be huge (his servant can bee seen using a ladder to dress him) but then, while in combat, he is just like Arthur.

    • Goof: Valiant's shield is clearly scratched during the fights; however, when it's seen on his chambers, when shown to the king and when Merlin makes the snakes come alive it's in perfect condition.

    • Goof: Merlin says he's seen one of the snakes in Valiant's shield come alive but actually all three were alive as Valiant was feeding them a mouse for dinner.

    • Goof: The tournament is said to last for 3 days; however, it goes on for 4 days.

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

    • Bradley James steps on Katie McGrath's dress as Morgana is helping Arthur with his armour.

    • Goof: Bradley James' stunt is noticeably stronger built than Arthur.

    • Goof: Merlin uses magic to perform all the tasks that Arthur has ordered him to do. Among them, we see how Arthur's cape is being washed in a bucket. However, when Gaius enters his chamber and Merlin's magic is interrupted making all of the objects fall to the ground, there is no water in the bucket.

    • Arthur is the reigning champion of the tournament. By winning it again, he gets 1,000 gold pieces and the honour to escort Morgana to the feast.

    • Gwen is the blacksmith's daughter and her father is the only family member she's got.

    • We learn that knight Valiant comes from the Western Isles.

    • Goof: The stone dog sculpture that Merlin makes come alive has a shield with snakes, but only the dog is brought to life.

    • Goof: When Arthur removes his helmet during his fight with Valiant, the face that we see for a first couple of seconds is clearly Bradley James' stunt.

    • Goof: When the stone dog has become alive, he growls for a while. However, Merlin notices that the spell has worked when the dog barks.

    • Goof: When Merlin carts the stone sculpture up the steps that lead to his chamber, it would have fallen without the help of somebody else holding the other side of the wheelbarrow.

    • Goof: A snake hisses loudly in Arthur's rooms after Merlin tells him that Valiant used magic to win in his combat with Ewan but neither of them seem to hear it.

    • Goof: To get the venom of a snake, it must bite on something. However, Gaius gets it out of the cut head of a dead serpent.

    • Goof: When Merlin gets into Valiant's chamber, the snake hisses loudly but Merlin only realizes it has become alive when he sees its shadow.

    • Gaius, pretty recklessly, lefts his chamber door open when he talks to Merlin about how Ewan's sickness is the product of magic and an antidote is needed. It doesn't sound like something he would do seeing as he keeps reprimanding Merlin every time from mentioning about magic and spells.

    • Goof: Even though 24 knights take part in the tournament, there are only 11 shields in the scoring board.

    • Goof: When Merlin is dressing Arthur by the combat ground for his fight with Valiant, he puts a red cape over the chain mail hood. However, immediately afterwards, the chain mail hood can be seen over the cape.
      Also, Merlin holds the sword by it's cutting edge without getting hurt.

    • Goof: During Arthur and Valiant's combat, some footage taken from a different fight is sliced into the scene.

    • Goof: Right before starting to fight, Arthur puts his helmet on directly over his hair. However, when he removes it after the fight, he is wearing his chain mail hood.

    • Goof: Merlin needs his magic to unlock the bolt on the inner side of Valiant's chamber door. However the room is empty so there's no way for the door to be bolted from the inside in the first place.

    • Goof: Arthur beheads the snakes as they approach him next to the stands. But later, their bodies are lying (in perfect alignment with one another) several feet away from where they should be.

    • Merlin seems to have regressed in his powers in this episode. In 1x01 The Dragon's Call, he was seen controlling magic (moving objects, slowing time) just by using his mind and looking at the situation. In this episode, Merlin now seems to need to cast spells to do the same thing.

  • QUOTES (18)

    • Arthur: I wanted to say, I made a mistake. It was unfair to sack you.
      Merlin: No, don't worry about it. Buy me a drink and we'll call it even.
      Arthur: I can't really be seen to be buying drinks for my servant.
      Merlin: Your servant? You sacked me.
      Arthur: Now I'm rehiring you. My chambers are a complete mess. My clothes need washing, my armour needs repairing, my boots need cleaning, my dogs need exercising, my fireplace needs sweeping, my bed needs changing and someone needs to muck out my stables.

    • Morgana: Has your father apologised yet for not believing you?
      Arthur: He'll never apologise. I hope you're not disappointed Valiant's not escorting you.
      Morgana: Turns out he wasn't really champion material.
      Arthur: That was some tournament final.
      Morgana: Tell me about it. It's not every day a girl gets to save her prince.
      Arthur: I wouldn't say I needed exactly saving. I'm sure I would have thought of something.
      Morgana: See, you're too proud to admit you were saved by a girl!
      Arthur: Because I wasn't.
      Morgana: You know what? I wish Valiant was escorting me.
      Arthur: Me too. Then I wouldn't have to listen to you.

    • Arthur: I thought I told you to get out of my sight.
      Merlin: Don't fight Valiant in the final tomorrow. He'll use the shield against you.
      Arthur: I know.
      Merlin: Then withdraw. You have to withdraw.
      Arthur: Don't you understand? I can't withdraw. The people expect their prince to fight. How can I lead men into battle if they think I'm a coward?
      Merlin: Valiant will kill you! You fight, you die.
      Arthur: Then I die.
      Merlin: How can you go out there and fight like that?
      Arthur: Because I have to. It's my duty.

    • Gwen: Is it true what you said about Valiant using magic? (Merlin nods) What are you going to do?
      Merlin: Why does everyone seem to think it's down to me to do something about it?
      Gwen: Because it is! Isn't it? You have to show everyone that you were right and they were wrong.

    • Merlin: Where are you? I just came to tell you, whatever you think my destiny is, whatever it is you think I'm supposed to do, you've got the wrong person! That's it. Goodbye.
      The Great Dragon: If only it were so easy to escape one's destiny.
      Merlin: How can it be my destiny to protect someone who hates me.
      The Great Dragon: The half cannot truly hate that which makes it whole. Very soon, you shall learn that.
      Merlin: Oh, great. Just what I needed. Another riddle.
      The Great Dragon: That your and Arthur's path lies together is but the truth.
      Merlin: What is that supposed to mean?
      The Great Dragon: You know, young warlock, this is not the end. It is the beginning.
      Merlin: Just give me a straight answer!

    • Arthur: I believed you. I trusted you and you made me look a complete fool.
      Merlin: I know it didn't go exactly to plan...
      Arthur: Didn't go to plan? My father and the entire Royal Court think I'm a coward. You humiliated me!
      Merlin: We can still expose Valiant.
      Arthur: I no longer require your services.
      Merlin: You're sacking me?
      Arthur: I need a servant I can trust.
      Merlin: You can trust me!
      Arthur: And look where it got me this time. Get out of my sight!

    • Uther: You have no proof to support these allegations. Have you seen Valiant using magic?
      Arthur: No. But my servant...
      Uther: Your servant? You make these outrageous accusations against a knight on the word of your servant?
      Arthur: I believe he's telling the truth.
      Knight Valiant: My lord, am I really to be judged on some hearsay from a boy?
      Merlin: I've seen those snakes come alive!
      Uther: How dare you interrupt! Guards!
      (The guards come forward and seize Merlin)
      Knight Valiant: My lord...
      Uther: Wait.
      Knight Valiant: I'm sure he was merely mistaken. I wouldn't want him punished on my account.
      Uther: You see? This is how a true knight behaves. With gallantry and honour.
      Knight Valiant: My lord, if your son made these accusations because he's afraid to fight me, then I will graciously accept his withdrawal.
      Uther: Is this true? Do you wish to withdraw from the tournament?
      Arthur: No!
      Uther: Then what am I to make of these allegations?
      Arthur: Obviously there has been a misunderstanding. I withdraw the allegation against Knight Valiant. Please accept my apology.

    • Merlin: Ewan was bitten by a snake from the shield when he was fighting Valiant. You talk to Gaius, you can see the puncture wounds in Ewan's neck where the snake bit him. Ewan was beating him. He had to cheat.
      Arthur: Valiant wouldn't dare use magic in Camelot.
      Merlin: Ewan was pinned under Valiant's shield. No one could see the snake bite him.
      Arthur: I don't like the guy but that doesn't mean he's cheating.
      Merlin: Gaius is preparing an antidote to the snake venom. When Ewan's conscious, he'll tell you what happened. If you fight Valiant in the final, he'll use the shield. It's the only way he can beat you. Look at it! Have you ever seen any snakes like this in Camelot? I know I'm just a servant and my word doesn't count for anything. I wouldn't lie to you.
      Arthur: I want you to swear to me what you're telling me is true.
      Merlin: I swear it's true.
      Arthur: Then I believe you.

    • Merlin: I've just seen one of the snakes on Valiant's shield come alive. He's using magic.
      Gaius: Are you sure?
      Merlin: The snake ate a mouse. One swallow, straight down. Ewan was fighting Valiant when he collapsed. It must have been one of the snakes from the shield. I have to tell Arthur.
      Gaius: Is there any chance you might be mistaken?
      Merlin: I know magic when I see it.
      Gaius: Perhaps, but have you any proof?
      Merlin: Don't you believe me?
      Gaius: I fear you'll land yourself in trouble. How will you explain why you were in Valiant's chambers?
      Merlin: That doesn't matter! He's using magic to cheat in the tournament.
      Gaius: But you can't go accusing a knight of using magic without proof. The king would never accept the word of a servant over the word of a knight.
      Merlin: So what I say doesn't count for anything?
      Gaius: I'm afraid it counts for very little as far as the king is concerned. That's the way it is.

    • Gaius: It's most odd. Look at this. See these two small wounds? Looks like a snake bite.
      Merlin: How could he be bitten by a snake? He was injured in a sword-fight.
      Gaius: His symptoms are consistent with poisoning. Slow pulse, fever, paralysis.
      Merlin: Can you heal him?
      Gaius: If it's a snake bite, I'll need to extract venom from the snake that bit him to make an antidote.
      Merlin: What happens if he doesn't get the antidote?
      Gaius: Then I'm afraid there's nothing more I can do for him. He's going to die.

    • Morgana: They all seem rather impressed by Knight Valiant.
      Arthur: They're not the only ones.
      Morgana: You're not jealous, are you?
      Arthur: I don't see that there's anything to be jealous of.

    • Knight Valiant: Knight Valiant of the Western Isles, my lord.
      Uther: I saw you fighting today. You have a very aggressive style.
      Knight Valiant: As my lord said, to lose is to be disgraced.
      Uther: I couldn't agree more.

    • Uther: Knights of the realm, it's a great honour to welcome you to the tournament at Camelot. Over the next three days, you will come to put your bravery to the test, your skills as warriors and, of course, to challenge the reigning champion- my son, Prince Arthur. Only one can have the honour of being crowned champion and he will receive a prize of one thousand gold pieces. It is in combat that we learn a knight's true nature, whether he is indeed a warrior or a coward. The tournament begins!

    • Merlin: (after preparing Arthur for combat) I think you're all set.
      Arthur: Aren't you forgetting something? My sword.
      Merlin: Oh, yeah. Sorry. You'll be needing that.

    • Gwen: I guess you know what to do with the helmet.
      Merlin: Yeah. Yeah, that was the only bit I figured out. How come you're so much better at this than me?
      Gwen: I'm a blacksmith's daughter. I know pretty much everything there is to know about armour, which is actually kind of sad.

    • Merlin: I save Arthur from being killed and end up as a servant. How is that fair?
      Gaius: I'm not sure fairness comes into it. You never know, it might be fun.
      Merlin: What, you think mucking out Arthur's horses is going to be fun? You should see my list of duties.
      Gaius: We all have our duties, even Arthur.
      Merlin: It must be so tough for him, with all the... girls and the glory.
      Gaius: He is the future king. People expect so much of him. He's under a lot of pressure.

    • Devlin: With your swordcraft and this shield, I guarantee you'll win.
      Knight Valiant: Show me how it works.
      Devlin: Certainly. (He says a spell and the snakes on the shield come to life) When you're competing in the tournament, you pin your opponent under the shield. The snake strikes; your oppenent will be paralysed. (He hands the shield to Valiant) The snakes are now under your command. They will do anything you tell them to do.
      Knight Valiant: Anything?
      Devlin: Just say the word.
      Knight Valiant: Kill him.
      (A snake strikes and kills Devlin)

    • The Great Dragon: (voice-over) In a land of myth and a time of magic, the destiny of a great kingdom rests on the shoulders of a young boy. His name... Merlin.

  • NOTES (21)

    • Also Known As:
      France: Le Chevalier Vaillant, meaning 'The Knight Valiant'.
      Germany: Ein Ritter Spielt Falsch, meaning 'A Knight Cheats'.
      Russia: Валиэнт.
      Ukraine: Веліант.

    • Bradley James watched Gladiator and 300 to prepare for his action scenes.

    • Angel Coulby and Bradley James recorded an audio commentary for this episode.

    • In the training sequence between Arthur and Merlin, Bradley James fights against Buster Reeves, who was Christian Bale's stunt in Batman Begins. Colin Morgan is only present at the very last bit of the sequence, once the helmet is removed.

    • Bradley James was hit in the head several times while filming this episode, so he had a mild concussion for several days.

    • Katie McGrath and Angel Coulby had to sit in the cold and react to nothing for three days to get their part of the fighting sequences filmed.

    • The fighting scenes for this episode took three weeks to be shot.

    • The fighter with the double sword routine is Andreas Petrides, the stunt coordinator.

    • At the reception feast Arthur makes a head bow to greet Morgana that didn't make it to the final cut of the episode. According to Bradley James, he ripped it off from Robert Redford's character in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

    • Bradley James didn't like the decision of having Arthur wear a crown during the feast since he isn't made 'Crowned Prince of Camelot' until episode 1x09 Excalibur.

    • Anthony Head suggested to wear a chain mail at the feast in Arthur's honour to remind people that he is a warrior king himself. It made him feel real but it restricted his movements and he found it quite a burden at the end of the day.

    • The first Merlin scene Katie McGrath ever shot belongs to this episode. It is the one where she wakes up startled from a dream, walks over to the window and sees Arthur practicing sword fight. Katie admits that she was petrified, so nervous that she couldn't talk but that it ended up being a good thing because she was supposed to be scared in the scene.

    • Broadcasts:
      27 Sep 2008 at 18:00-18:45pm on BBC One.
      21 Aug 2009 at 21:15-22:00pm on BBC Three.

    • The Rottweiler dog that Merlin brings back to life bit Colin Morgan when the scene was shot.

      That same dog appears in Silent Witness with Emilia Fox, who also guest stars in episode 2x10 Sweet Dreams.

    • Colin Morgan smacked Bradley James right in the face in the scene where Merlin helps Arthur with his cape and Bradley bursted out laughing, so it had to be shot again.

    • One of Bradley James' favourite scenes of the episode is when Morgana visits Arthur in his chambers to help him with his armour before the fight.

    • The castle background that can be seen behind Arthur's chambers windows is just a painting to make studio sets more real.

    • The fighting scenes between Arthur and Valiant were shot on April 8th and 9th, 2008.

    • According to Will Mellor, the rehearsals were more tiring than the actual filming because while staging the fights, real swords were used as they practised the strikes once and again, with the added tension to make sure not to hurt anyone. He even got blisters in his hands.

    • Filming locations:
      Château de Pierrefonds, Pierrefonds, Oise, France (Camelot).
      Small Tower and ruined walls standing below Pierrefonds Castle, Pierrefonds, Oise, France (Grounds where Arthur teaches Merlin fighting lessons).
      Penshurst Place The Baron's Hall at Penshurst Place was used as the banqueting hall).
      Surrey, UK (Studio sets).

      Penshurst Place was the home of the Elizabethan poet, courtier and soldier Sir Philip Sidney. His indirect descendant, also named Philip Sidney, still lives there today with his family.

    • International Airdates:
      Australia: May 10, 2009 (Channel 10).
      France: November 18, 2009 (V TV).
      Germany: October 17, 2009 (RTL).
      Italy: December 15, 2008 (Italia 1).
      Poland: March 14, 2009 (Polsat).
      Spain: May 29, 2009 (Neox).
      The Netherlands: April 04, 2009 (KRO).
      Turkey: September 13, 2009 (CNBC-e).
      Ukraine: June 6, 2009 (1+1).
      USA: June 21, 2009 (NBC).