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I'm scared, Merlin. I don't understand anything anymore. I need to know what's happening. Please.
Morgana to Merlin

The Nightmare Begins is the third story of second series of Merlin which was first broadcast on the 3rd of October, 2009. This episode sees the return of Mordred.

Synopsis Edit


Morgana terrified by her magic

Morgana's dreams continue to torment her, causing her to slowly believe that she has magical powers. Gaius insists there's nothing to fear, keeping her in the dark, but Merlin cannot watch and see her suffer. He tries to help Morgana by sending her to the Druids, but the King believes she's been kidnapped and sends Arthur to find her, and kill the Druids.


It is a thunderous night and Morgana is once again troubled by her nightmares. A candle is then lit by itself and Gwen enters the room and blows out the candle, and puts it by a window. Morgana then wakes up and looks at the candle. The flames grow, Morgana panics and the window explodes outwards as her eyes flare gold.

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Morgana senses the presence of the Serkets

Uther, Merlin, Gwen and Arthur are in Morgana's room after the fire. Uther suspects it was sorcery and orders Arthur to arrest everyone who is suspected of having magical connections.

Morgana tells Gaius that it was she who started the fire and deduces that it was magic. As Merlin watches, Gaius tries to dissuade Morgana's fears by making her a new remedy. Merlin confronts Gaius about Morgana's powers and tries to convince him to talk Morgana into embracing her newfound powers, but Gaius disagrees. Merlin is adamant that Morgana be told, as he believes he knows what Morgana is experiencing, but Gaius warns Merlin not to involve himself. Visiting Morgana, Gwen sympathetically tells Merlin there is nothing he can do for her.

After convincing Gwen of her safety, Morgana climbs into her bed only to be spooked by a crack of lightning. Her magic reacts instinctively to her fear and shatters a glass vase, causing Morgana to seek out Gaius. The physician is out, causing Morgana to speak with Merlin instead. Despite his reassurances, Morgana tells him she's afraid of what's happening to her. She knows the remedies won't work and she has powers, however Merlin does not directly agree with her.

Merlin seeks the help of the Great Dragon about the whereabouts of the Druids to help Morgana, who advises Merlin that Morgana would benefit from not knowing the extent of her powers. Merlin disagrees and the Dragon refuses to give him the information he needs, leaving Merlin to find the whereabouts on his own. The following day, Arthur is still investigating the possibility of the fire being started by sorcery and  playfully questions Merlin about his affections for Morgana. As the prince is distracted, Merlin reads a scroll containing the names of suspected witches and warlocks, hoping one of them can help him find the Druids.

In the city, the people on the list are being arrested on suspicion of sorcery. Merlin visits a household he saw on the scroll to warn a woman, Forridel, who is suspected of consorting with Druids about the soldiers. He pleads with the woman to help him find the Druids, who reluctantly agrees. Merlin visits Morgana at night and she tries to rationalise her earlier claims about magic as upset ramblings; then Merlin suggests he can help her. He tells her he understands how scary the ordeal must be for Morgana and suggests the Druids could help her; offering her directions on where to find them in the Forest of Ascitir.

The following morning, Uther raises the alarm that Morgana has been kidnapped by the woman Merlin helped to escape; while Gaius confronts Merlin about her whereabouts. Angered, Merlin tells Gaius how Morgana doesn't have the support of anyone who acknowledges magic and says that he would be lost without Gaius' guidance. The physician, while understanding Merlin's reasoning, fears the consequences.
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Arthur searches for Morgana

Uther issues the order for all the prisoners to be executed unless Morgana is returned to the castle, prompting Merlin to find her. Night falls, and as Morgana searches for the Druids, she is encircled by Serkets, large scorpion-like creatures. 



As she is attacked, a mysterious man saves her as she passes out. While Gaius awakens to find Merlin gone, Morgana is tended to by the man known as Aglain. He reassures her of her safety and Morgana is reunited with the Druid boy, Mordred, who was able to sense her distress, leading to her rescue. Mordred offers to take care of Morgana and they communicate both verbally and telepathically.

In Camelot, Uther deduces the breaking of the tunnel exit (used by Merlin the previous night) was of a magic nature and orders Arthur to find the Druids and take no prisoners. Arthur enquires as to Merlin's whereabouts and assumes he is lovesick over Morgana before leaving with his men. In the forest, Merlin is alerted psychically to the presence of the Druids. Gaius meets with Uther and suggests Morgana was not kidnapped, perhaps she ran away. Uther disagrees, stating that Morgana is too headstrong to run from anything, taking after her father too much. Uther reveals that if she died, a part of him would perish as well.
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Merlin tries to help Morgana run away

As Arthur continues on his quest to find Morgana, Merlin follows the voices through the forest to the Druid camp as Morgana is given a robe by Aglain, similar to the Druids' own. Aglain questions Morgana about her reasoning for appearing in the forest, and Morgana reveals her want of their help. 


Arthur's army marches through the druid camp

Arthur and his men find the site of Merlin's campfire and continue on, as Merlin secretly works his way into the Druid camp. Morgana asks why she can see the future and start fires with her mind, to which Aglain confirms that she has a gift which is a kind of magic. He tells her she shouldn't be afraid of her gift and assures Morgana that she is safe with the Druids and that she will learn more about her powers in time. Noticing smoke from the site, Arthur and his men descend to the site while Merlin tries to convince Morgana to return to Camelot.

Merlin creates mist to buy Morgana some time

Morgana acknowledges the Druids are her people, and the two are alerted by Aglain of Arthur's presence. The camp is invaded and in the melee, Merlin and Mordred are reunited. As the Druids flee, Arthur assumes Morgana is being kidnapped as she runs with Aglain and Mordred. Merlin attempts to create a diversion to allow their escape and uses magic to produce a vast amount of smoke which disorientates Arthur's men long enough for Merlin to escape, not without being chased. Morgana begins to succumb to her leg injury while Aglain is shot by a soldier. Mordred flees the scene and is encircled by soldiers, causing him to release a wave of magic as he screams, knocking the soldiers off their feet. He escapes as Merlin watches on. Back in Camelot, Morgana is reunited with a relieved Uther; Arthur mistakenly confirms that Morgana was kidnapped by the Druids. That evening, Merlin visits Morgana and he reassures her he will not tell anyone about her secret.

Uther embraces Morgana when she is found

Morgana states that she is not scared of who she is and that maybe someday, magic will be viewed positively. As he leaves her chambers, Merlin is confronted by Arthur about his 'affections' for Morgana. Arthur advises a bemused Merlin to stop denying his feelings for Morgana, but to stop aspiring for a relationship, as their class prevents them from doing so. It is a subject Arthur knows well; it is clear that he is in fact speaking about himself and Gwen as well as Merlin and Morgana. Merlin apologises to Gaius, who hugs him, simply grateful to see his ward safe. Gaius learns that Morgana is aware of her powers, to which Gaius advises Merlin to look after her and to make sure Uther never finds out.

Morgana reassures Merlin that she is not scared anymore


Main CastEdit

Recurring CastEdit

Guest CastEdit



View the transcript here.

Release & ReceptionEdit

  • Air date : 3 October 2009.
  • 6.09 million viewers.
  • The Nightmare Begins premiered on Syfy UK at 8pm on September 15th 2017, immediately following The Once and Future Queen.


  • A working title for this episode was The Friendship Companion.
  • This episode marks the return of Mordred, making it one of the three episodes that he was portrayed by Asa Butterfield.
  • This episode marks the return of the Druid People.
  • This episode marks Morgana's awareness of her magic.
  • This episode also marks one of the many times Merlin fails to heed The Great Dragon's warnings.

See alsoEdit

Series 2
The Curse of Cornelius Sigan  • The Once and Future Queen  • The Nightmare Begins  • Lancelot and Guinevere  • Beauty and the Beast  • The Witchfinder  • The Sins of the Father  • The Lady of the Lake  • Sweet Dreams  • The Witch's Quickening  • The Fires of Idirsholas  • The Last Dragonlord

Mini-episode: Children in Need special

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