Trying new things in the blogging world can be fun and a nice change of pace. After deciding to re-watch the first episode of BBC show Merlin, I wanted to try my hand at recapping it. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work... lol. You really have to take a lot of pictures for recapping and it certainly made watching the episode a lot longer. The show came out in 2008 and ended in 2012. I had so much fun when I first watched this show and still love it today.
Ye Old Recap: Merlin, Episode 1
We start out with baby Merlin (okay not literally Merlin as a baby, but oh my goodness he looks so young in this first episode!) walking through the mountains while a dragon narrates about the legend of Merlin. Oh yeah, bring it on show!
Our hero, the Magic-Wielding Sweetie, walks through a bustling street in Camelot, all adorable wide-eyed smiles. Bad news, folks. He had to show up just as an execution is going on. King Uther Pengdragon gives a rousing speech about death to all who use magic which will probably haunt Merlin in his dreams.
Morgana watches from a window and looks away as the axe goes down.
Uther gives a speech explaining some important backstory for this show – he rid magic from the land twenty years ago and will do everything to keep it dead.
A really Creepy Lady cries from the crowd about Uther's ruthlessness for executing her son. She accuses Uther of being the true evil and warns him: an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, a son for a son. Uh oh.
Merlin heads to the court physician's "office" where he finds Gaius on a ladder. He falls but Merlin freezes time and using his magic eye-glowing abilities of telekinesis to shove a bed under Gaius to break his fall.
Gaius isn't an idiot and despite Merlin's denials, he asks where he learned magic. Merlin stutters his way through admitting that he was simply born with magic, but Gaius isn't buying it. C’mon Gaius, look at that boy’s face. Could that innocent face lie?
Gaius reads Merlin's letter where his mother explains that she's sending her son to him to be safe, fearing someone will learn about his abilities.
|"The more brutal you are the more enemies you will create"|
Uther finds Morgana alone and tries to get her to join a party, but she's not in the mood - what with an execution of a man she deems innocent. He reminds her that he's her guardian and that she’d better show up to the celebration. Yeah, Uther doesn’t come off as tyrannical at all.
Some lady in the woods named Lady Helen gets a visit from the Creepy Lady (from the public execution earlier) who kills Lady Helen and takes her place. But like The Little Mermaid taught us, her mirror reflection shows her true self.
Merlin awakes to a strange deep voice calling his name. At breakfast, Gaius tricks him into using his powers. Gaius speculates how Merlin does it: does he even know incantations? But Merlin doesn't know any. Gaius sends him out on some errands with a warning: no magic.
Merlin goes outside and who does he stumble into?! You guessed it! Prince Arthur. Uther’s son is being a bratty mischief-maker per usual and making life hard for his poor servant. Aww, Merlin intervenes with a pacifying "hey, c'mon that's enough." Only the prince isn't having a commoner address him like that.
Merlin calls him out for being a jerk and Arthur tells him to bring it on. Merlin tries to punch him but Arthur easily gets him in a hold and reveals to our Magical Sweetie Hero that, oh dearie, he's actually Prince Arthur. And one day, these boys will be besties? Hate-to-love brOTPS are the best.
Creepy Singing Imposter meets with the king who's excited about the party. He kisses her hand and I dunno why, but it feels kind of creepy.
So Merlin is thrown in jail. Literally. He’s still hearing that mysterious voice crooning his name. Luckily Gaius gets Merlin out of jail. And Merlin is super cute smiles that Gaius saved him - that is until he learns he's gotta go to the stocks in exchange for an early release.
Aww Gwen is so sweet and adorable introducing herself to Merlin and admiring his good deed. Merlin's still boy enough to think he could beat Arthur (or at least won't admit he can't to Gwen).
At home, Gaius and Merlin talk about his amazing abilities. Gaius gives us more backstory about how Uther got rid of magic and a dragon, the last of its kind, imprisoned beneath the castle.
Merlin goes to Lady Helen's room where he finds some strange items lying around. Creepy Imposter shows up before he can dig in further.
Oh no, Merlin runs into His Prickliness himself again who's taunting him off the bat. Merlin's freakin' adorable though because he won't back down and taunts him back: "got your daddy's men to protect you?" Arthur finds this hilarious - after all he could take Merlin down with one hand. Merlin immediately pulls off his jacket. Well, someone means business. Arthur manages to stop laughing and throws Merlin a mace and chain. It's a duel… to the death?
"I warn you, I've been trained to kill since birth." Prince Arthur
"Wow, and how long have you been training to be a prat?" Merlin
Well that did it. The fight's on. Merlin quickly loses his mace and Arthur gains ground. Merlin uses his magic secretly tripping Arthur up and gains the upper hand. Just when he's pressing Arthur to surrender, he sees Gaius. Arthur seizes the moment and knocks him down. Surprisingly, he calls Merlin stupid but brave. Aww, the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
At home, Gaius lays it on Merlin about using his magic for pranks when it's something to be mastered and used for good. Merlin's emotional though - he'd rather die than not use magic. He wants to know why he was born like this, but Gaius has no answers.
Creepy Imposter talks with the king, digging about Arthur and rambling on about how hard it must've been that he grew up without a mother. Uther’s sadly oblivious to the fact that she’s about to kill his son.
Third times a charm and when the mysterious voice wakes Merlin up again, he finally decides to find out where it's coming from. He goes down into the depths of the castle while the voice keeps on calling to him. In an underground cavern he finds, what else but the dragon that Gaius was talking about!
|"How small you are for such a great destiny."|
The dragon knows how to capture Merlin's interest and hints at his great destiny. The dragon foretells that Arthur is the "once and future king" destined for greatness. Merlin doesn't get what that has to do with him. The dragon assures him that Merlin is central to Arthur's triumph. Merlin's clearly not pleased. He still hates Arthur's guts, after all.
|"But I'm serious! If anyone wants to go and kill him [Arthur], |
they can go ahead. In fact, I'll give them a hand."
The dragon's adamant though - destiny is destiny, after all. He flies off without giving Merlin any juicy details he wants to know.
Merlin's back on his medicinal delivery service. He goes to Morgana's chambers where Morgana, thinking that Gwen's there, asks for a dress behind her changing screen. Morgana complains about having to hang out with Arthur and needles Gwen to answer back. Merlin responds with a high-pitched "mmhmm" hahaha. Oh Merlin. Luckily for him, Gwen shows up just as Morgana asks for her to lace her up.
Aww poor nameless servant girl. She accidentally sees Creepy Imposter's reflection and gets the life literally drained out of her.
The banquet's finally here and everybody whose anybody is present. Arthur and Merlin both look stunned by Morgana in her dress.
|"Some people are just born to be queen."|
Gwen adorably fawns over her mistress and her beauty. She's happy for her, but admits she wouldn't want to be her. She's not interested in men like Arthur. She'd rather have someone ordinary, like Merlin - which starts an awkward conversation of Gwen clarifying that she means like Merlin, not specifically like Merlin. Except... I dunno. Does she have a secret crush on him?
Uther introduces the Creepy Imposter who starts singing a really pretty song. Only everyone's falling asleep by her magic singing, complete with creepy webs growing over everyone. She's got a dagger out, only she's failed to notice that Merlin put his hands over his ears and is still awake. Merlin drops the chandelier on top of her and everyone wakes up, pulling the webs off.
In a last ditch attempt at vengeance, the Creepy Poser throws the dagger at Arthur! Merlin jumps in and pulls Arthur out in the nick of time.
Uther is beyond grateful and promises a great, and special reward for saving his son’s life. Merlin gets to be Prince Arthur's manservant!! Lol. Oh man, the looks of disgust of Arthur and Merlin's faces.
At home, Gaius theorizes that perhaps Merlin's powers are for this - protecting others, particularly Arthur. He gives Merlin a book of magic and his little face glows with excitement.
A knock at the door is followed by a servant telling Merlin that Prince Arthur is looking for him. Destiny calls.
Thoughts: Wow, this show is just as adorable and lovely as I remember it was. There’s such a charming fairytale feel. The set-up of the characters is a lot of fun, watching how they all “first” meet. Merlin and Arthur’s introduction is my favorite. Arthur is such a hilarious jerk – I really feel like I should hate his guts but he’s just too innocent looking to do that, right? Seeing Arthur at this early stage compared to how he’ll be later on, though, is too much fun.
I definitely think they set up everything perfectly – with moments for everyone to showcase who they are. Morgana and Uther’s tension is immediately teased along with hints at Morgana and Gwen’s closeness. Seeing Morgana and Arthur flirting together admittedly is a bit funny because of, well, spoilers if you haven’t watched the whole show. Uther is a nice mixture of a cold soulless ruler with just the right amount of quiet implications that he really cares about his son and Morgana as well.
Gaius and Merlin’s relationship is perfect right off the bat. It’s impossible to not see the father-son connection between them that is effortless on both of their parts. Gaius is adorable grumpily worrying and fretting over Merlin.
Merlin’s just sweet and precious and perfect. I loved the fact that his magic was from birth, making him particularly special in this world. His love for justice and compassion for others is evident from how he intervenes with Arthur’s servant. It’s awesome to see how pure his heart is from the beginning – and honestly to the end, despite some pretty terrible choices that he had to make along the way.
Overall this is a wonderful beginning taste for all that is too come. There’s so much promise in this episode, of shenanigans with Arthur and Merlin, of a mysterious wise dragon, a fierce “princess” Morgana, an adorable Gwen, a calculating King Uther, and all the magical beings who will be coming to Camelot. Of course Merlin will save the day. And we’ll love watching him do it again and again.