The Coming of Arthur is a two-part story consisting of the twelfth and thirteenth episodes of the third series of Merlin which was first broadcast on the 27th of November and the 4th of December 2010.
Arthur and Merlin embark on a dangerous mission to capture the Cup of Life, a powerful magical artefact that carries the gift of immortality. However, before they are able to retrieve the Cup they fall prey to Jarl, an unscrupulous slave trader. They manage to escape when a trusted friend comes to their rescue but with Jarl's help, the Cup of Life ends up in Morgause's hands. With an immortal army at their disposal, will Morgause and Morgana topple Uther once and for all?
Can Arthur save Camelot from the evil Morgana? The newly crowned Queen Morgana begins a reign of terrible evil over the innocent citizens of Camelot. With Morgause's immortal army at her command, it seems there is no hope for Uther, who must watch his kingdom crumble under the unimaginable cruelty of his own daughter.
Meanwhile, on the outskirts of Camelot, Arthur regains his strength and, with Leon, Gwaine, Lancelot, Elyan and Percival at his side, plans a brave counter attack. But Merlin knows that even Arthur cannot vanquish an immortal foe. Can he reclaim the great sword Excalibur from the Lake of Avalon in time to save all those he holds most dear?
Messengers from Cenred's army arrive at Camelot to inform the Court a patrol of Camelot's has been killed for trespassing into Cenred's lands. Sir Leon is believed to be among the fallen as well. Meanwhile a group of Druids have come upon said patrol and are looking for survivors. Sir Leon is the only one still clinging to life and the Druids transport him to a hidden cave. There they use the Cup of Life to revive Leon, who is next seen recounting his tale to an uneasy Uther and the rest of the Court of Camelot.
Uther fears the Cup of Life might fall into the hands of Cenred and decides it's not safe with the Druids. Merlin asks Gaius about the Cup and Gaius explains in the wrong hands the Cup of Life could be a very powerful weapon. Many centuries ago a great warlord collected a drop of blood from each of his soldiers and through the power of the Cup the army was made immortal, causing unimaginable carnage.
Uther commands Arthur to retrieve the Cup in secret for fear of its power. Morgana overhears this and summons Morgause. She informs Morgause that Arthur rides at dawn to retrieve the Cup of Life and will be travelling through the lands of Cenred. Morgause is most pleased with this information as she believes with the powers of the Cup they can finally take control of Camelot.
On their way to the Druids, Arthur and Merlin are captured by a slave trader named Jarl and meet up with Gwaine who was also captured. Jarl decides he wants to see a fight and chooses Merlin to face his champion. Arthur volunteers instead and they then discover Jarl's champion is Gwaine. Arthur and Gwaine battle while they try to come up with an escape plan. Merlin is forced to watch and then intervenes by setting the ropes hanging above the people on fire. Merlin, Gwaine and Arthur manage to escape and head towards the Druids. Having finally arrived at the Druids Cave, Iseldir gives the Cup of Life to Arthur with the warning he is dealing with powers beyond his imagination. Through telepathy the Druid Chieftain informs Emrys he is now the Cup's caretaker. Unfortunately, Jarl has informed Cenred of the way Arthur and friends were headed and Cenred had them followed. Morgause kills Jarl with magic as a 'reward' for informing them about Arthur, Merlin and Gwaine. During an ambush Arthur is shot in the leg with a poisoned arrow and the Cup is almost grasped by an enemy soldier. Merlin uses magic to blast the soldier away, only to have the Cup fly through the air, roll off a hill and fall into the hands of the enemy.
Gwaine and Merlin are keeping watch over Arthur as he develops a fever due to his wound. Merlin suggest Gwaine look for more firewood and once he leaves Merlin tries using magic to heal Arthur, to no avail.
Morgause casts a spell on the Cup of Life and collects the blood of Cenred's army in it. Cenred comments on the beauty of his army to which Morgause retorts they are her army, since she cast the spell to make them immortal; when he challenges her, Morgause decides she no longer requires Cenred and has one of Cenred's men kill him, thereby demonstrating the army is completely bound to her by magic. Cenred battles one of the soldiers, only to discover the effectiveness of the spell, and is reduced to begging Morgause for his life, which she ignores.
Meanwhile, Sir Leon again escapes Morgause's immortal army and Uther hears of the news. Gaius informs Uther the only way this could have happened is Camelot has been betrayed, and Morgana is seen smirking. Back in Morgana's chamber, Morgana tells Gwen not "everyone" has to perish and there is always a choice, to which Gwen hesitantly replies she has and always will be loyal to her mistress.
The next morning Arthur awakens and learns the Cup is now in the hands of Cenred. Gwaine, Arthur, and Merlin make their way on foot to Camelot and pass a burned out village and a patrol of Camelot soldiers who have been massacred. The lack of enemy corpses tells them they are facing an army of immortals as they make their way to the city.
Once there, they head to Gwen's house, only to discover a shocked Elyan who explains the city was overrun by soldiers who could not be killed. The four of them decide to go to the Citadel passing numerous corpses on the streets. Once in the Citadel, they come upon more slain Knights of Camelot. As Arthur's leg injury is becoming a bigger problem for Arthur. Gwaine and Elyan head towards the dungeons to see if they can find the King or Gwen. Merlin carries Arthur toward Gaius' empty chamber when there is a noise behind a closed door. Merlin grabs a sword and opens it, discovering Gaius has been hiding there. Noticing Arthur's injury Gaius says he has to redress the leg to reduce the inflammation, but Arthur says there isn't enough time and just needs something to keep him going. Elyan and Gwaine burst through the door and inform them the King is being brought to the Throne Room. Arthur asks Gwaine and Elyan to take Gaius to the safety of the woods.
Merlin and Arthur crawl towards the edge of a balcony in the Throne Room and watch as the immortals have taken Uther prisoner. Morgause takes Uther's crown away, stating he won't be needing it anymore. Uther angrily roars this is unlawful, as Morgause has no claim to the throne.
Morgana appears and confirms this, but then comments she has, since she is his daughter after all: at Uther's incredulous expression, she coldly snarls she has known this for some time. Arthur and Uther are left in shock to discover her sudden betrayal. Morgana makes her way to the throne and is then crowned: Morgana Pendragon, Queen of Camelot as Arthur, Merlin and the captive Uther watch in horror.
One week after her coronation, Morgana has a shackled Sir Leon brought to her and demands he and the Knights of Camelot serve her, but Leon replies he would rather die, nobly declaring his loyalty to Uther and Arthur. Morgana angrily has Leon and the Knights taken to the courtyard and again demands their allegiance, but even under the threat of her immortal soldiers, they refuse. Outraged by their defiance, Morgana has her archers fire at the citizens of Camelot. Watching from a cell window, Uther begs her to kill him and not Camelot's innocent people, but she replies they are no different than the hundreds Uther executed for no greater crime than having magic. She also promises to kill Uther but only after he has suffered enough, leaving Uther shocked and heartbroken at just how much his own daughter hates him.
Hiding in a cave close to Camelot, Merlin, Gaius, and the others are at a loss; they have no way to fight back and Arthur is in despondent shock over Morgana's betrayal, and his father's lie to him about her true paternity. Merlin desperately tries to convince him that he still has a duty to his father and to Camelot, but Arthur despairs of any success. In private, Merlin talks to Gaius about how they can defeat the immortals; Gaius explains that the only way to end the magic is to spill the blood in the Cup of Life, as once it is emptied, the enchantment is broken. Merlin shows Gaius the vial of water given to him by the Fisher King, explaining that it will show the way in Camelot’s darkest hour.
Back at Camelot, Guinevere convinces Morgana to let her speak to Leon to convince him to join her; in truth, she persuades Leon to escape with her to try and find Arthur. Unknown to them, Morgana and Morgause are listening from above: a furious Morgana wishes to execute Gwen, but Morgause advises patience, suggesting that they can use her to find Arthur. When Gwen claims she has persuaded Leon to join Morgana, the queen offers her a glass of wine spiked with a potion; that night, Gwen steals the key to Leon’s cell, makes a copy and gives it to him. When they escape the next evening, heading for the cave, Morgause and a group of immortal soldiers follow, as the potion Morgana used allows her to magically track Gwen.
At the cave, Arthur finally snaps out of his depression, commenting that in one of his rare displays of wisdom, Merlin was right; he does have a duty to his people. Merlin tries to use magic on the vial, but it has no effect. But when he falls asleep and accidentally breaks it, the water collects into a puddle in which Merlin sees the face of his old friend and love, Freya. She explains that she has come to repay the kindness Merlin once showed her and explains that only a weapon that can slay those already dead will kill the immortals: realising Freya means the sword forged in a dragon’s breath, Merlin summons Kilgharrah and has the dragon take him to the Lake of Avalon where he hid the sword. Kilgharrah repeats his warning that the sword could perform terrible evil in the wrong hands and has Merlin promise to hide it where no one can find it once he is done with it. Merlin promises and rides out into the middle of the lake in a boat. The sword suddenly emerges from the water, held in the hand of Freya who gives Merlin the sword.
By now, Guinevere and Leon have reached the cave, but so have Morgause and her soldiers; fortunately, Arthur and the group are saved when Lancelot and his companion Percival appear and block the immortals’ attack by dropping boulders to block a narrow path. The group retreat to an abandoned castle of the ancient kings that was once ruled by Camelot. In the ruins, Arthur finds a round stone table and gathers all of them, explaining that none of them would have survived without each other and they are equal in their cause. Arthur then explains he intends to return to Camelot and rescue Uther; one by one, all the others agree to go with him. In gratitude, Arthur knights Lancelot, Gwaine, Percival and Elyan. That night, Merlin tells Lancelot his plan to go after the Cup of Life and Lancelot volunteers to go with him. The next day, Arthur and the knights devise a plan to rescue Uther without getting caught. Lancelot suggests removing the warning bell so that the soldiers cannot communicate. Arthur agrees and Lancelot asks for someone who knows the castle to accompany him. Merlin quickly volunteers. Gaius, having overheard the conversation between Merlin and Lancelot, warns Merlin that Morgause will kill them if she catches them, but Merlin is determined to go ahead with the plan. Gaius, overwhelmed with pride for Merlin's bravery and self-sacrifice and fear for his safety, embraces him tearfully. The group head for Camelot; Gaius and Gwen are to stay hidden and tend to the wounded, Arthur, Gwaine, Percival, Elyan and Sir Leon will head for the dungeons and free Uther and the knights, while Merlin and Lancelot stop the guards from raising the alarm (though in truth, they plan to go after the Cup of Life); however, once Arthur, Merlin and the others have left, Gaius disappears.
The plan goes well enough as the heroes are able to get into Camelot without being seen. In the dungeons, Arthur finds Uther badly shaken and in a hopeless state; the group manages to release the imprisoned knights and together they battle the blood guard in the dungeons. But when the alarm is inadvertently sounded, Arthur and his allies find themselves trapped; surrounded by the immortals, they decide to go down fighting (All except Uther, who is too shocked and hurt by Morgana's betrayal). Meanwhile, Merlin and Lancelot fight their way to the throne room, the sword easily destroying any immortals. However, as Merlin reaches the Cup and is about to spill the blood, Morgause appears and uses her magic to stop him. As she is about to kill him, Gaius reappears and, for the first time, uses magic of his own to blast Morgause across the room. A surprised Morgause recovers from her fall and turns to deliver a magical blow at Gaius, but before she can, Merlin uses his magic to smash her into a pillar, seriously injuring her. Merlin recovers and uses the sword to knock the Cup of Life over, spilling the blood within and breaking the enchantment; all over Camelot, the immortals instantly perish as the spell is broken.
In the throne room, a horrified Morgana runs in, distraught at both her army’s destruction and the sight of an unconscious Morgause lying on the ground. As she cradles her sister and ally’s body in her arms, Merlin tells her it is over, but a devastated Morgana swears it is only just beginning. In her grief and rage, Morgana starts to scream, and her magic causes her cries to make the chamber begin to collapse; Merlin, Gaius and Lancelot escape, but Morgana and Morgause seemingly perish when the throne room's ceiling collapses on top of them.
In the battle’s aftermath, Arthur expresses concern that Uther won’t recover from Morgana’s betrayal, to which Merlin suggests that Arthur may have to take the throne as Regent king. Gwaine, Elyan, Lancelot, and Percival then arrive in the armour of Camelot’s knights, Gwen with them. Arthur greets them all and for the first time, kisses Gwen publicly. In Gaius’s quarters, Merlin worriedly mentions that the guards searched through the rubble but found no trace of Morgana or Morgause; they may well have survived after all and escaped. Gaius then tells Merlin, in regards to all he has done, what he deserves to hear and what no one else will tell him: "Well done". After making an excuse, Merlin leaves with the sword and, honouring his promise to Kilgharrah, uses his magic to embed the sword in a stone in the middle of a forest.
- Colin Morgan as Merlin
- Bradley James as Arthur
- Katie McGrath as Morgana
- Angel Coulby as Gwen
- Anthony Head as Uther Pendragon
- Richard Wilson as Gaius
- Rupert Young as Sir Leon
- Eoin Macken as Gwaine
- Emilia Fox as Morgause
- Santiago Cabrera as Lancelot (part 2 only)
- Adetomiwa Edun as Elyan
- John Hurt as the voice of Kilgharrah (part 2 only)
- Laura Donnelly as Freya (part 2 only)
- Michael Cronin as Geoffrey of Monmouth (part 1 only)
- Tom Ellis as Cenred (part 1 only)
- Trevor Sellers as Iseldir (part 1 only).
- Ralph Ineson as Jarl (part 1 only)
- Grahame Fox as Rider (part 1 only)
- Matthew Crawford as Bandit (part 1 only)
- Raul Griffiths as Druid Boy (part 1 only)
- Tom Hopper as Percival (part 2 only)
Release & Reception
- Part One air date : 27 November 2010. 7.12 million viewers.
- Part Two air date : 4 December 2010. 7.67 million viewers.
Behind the Scenes
- Every seat at the Round Table is marked by an engraving with an Old English word that is meant to describe the person that was originally planned occupy that seat. More about this matter at the Round Table page.
- For some unknown reason, the Cup of Life - previously introduced and seen in Le Morte d'Arthur changed from silver to gold-plated.
- The Round Table was officially designed with specific seats for the nine characters but, for reasons unknown, only Arthur, Merlin, Gwen and Leon sit where Art Designer Paul Cripps planned.
- Characters: Sir Leon, Druids, Iseldir, Jarl, Gwaine, Morgause, Geoffrey of Monmouth, King Cenred, Elyan, Lancelot, Percival, Freya
- Locations: Jarl's Fortress, Castle of the Ancient Kings
- Magic: Elemental Magic (Fire spell)
- Objects: Cup of Life, Avalon Vial, Excalibur, Round Table
- Events: The Coronation of Queen Morgana
|The Tears of Uther Pendragon • Goblin's Gold • Gwaine • The Crystal Cave • The Changeling • The Castle of Fyrien • The Eye of the Phoenix • Love in the Time of Dragons • Queen of Hearts • The Sorcerer's Shadow • The Coming of Arthur |
Interactive quest: The Quest for Morgana
Mini-episode: Merlin in Need special