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The Sins of the Father
Series: 2
Episode Number: 8
Starring: Bradley James
Colin Morgan
Emilia Fox
Anthony Head
Katie McGrath
Angel Coulby
John Hurt
Enemy: Morgause
Setting: Camelot
Morgause's Fortress
Odin's Kingdom
Writer: Howard Overman
Director: Metin Hüseyin
Producer: Johnny Capps
Julian Murphy
Broadcast: Sat 14 Nov 2009 BBC One (in the UK)
Mon 16 Nov 2009 BBC Three
Format: 1x45
Prod. Code: 2.8
Previous Story: The Witchfinder
Following Story: The Lady of the Lake
This is what fuels your hatred for those who practice magic. Rather than blame yourself for what you did, you blame them.
Arthur to Uther

The Sins of the Father is the eighth episode of the second season of Merlin and was first broadcast on 14 November 2009.

Synopsis Edit

When a mysterious warrior challenges Arthur to a duel, no one could possibly predict the devastating chain of events that is set in motion - least of all the young Prince himself.

Arthur and Merlin soon find themselves on a strange quest at the behest of the beautiful Morgause. Through her, Arthur discovers a dark secret which threatens to bring about the downfall of the kingdom.

Plot Edit

In a ruined castle, a beautiful seer uses magic to observe Arthur through an enchanted crystal. She comments Arthur has a great destiny, and that the battle for his soul is about to begin.

Morgause defeats Arthur in sword combat

At Camelot, Uther and Arthur are knighting men who are to become future Knights of Camelot, when a mysterious warrior enters the city, and fights her way to the castle, killing five guards with ease. The warrior fights their way into the Great Hall and throws down their gauntlet, challenging Arthur. Arthur accepts, and requests the warrior identify himself. The warrior removes their helmet, revealing himself to be a woman and the seer, and says her name is Morgause.

In the aftermath of the incident Geoffrey of Monmouth is unable to find any rule stating a woman cannot issue a challenge, and by the knight's code, Arthur is obliged to fight. Arthur is confident, but Uther warns him not to underestimate her. Morgause's presence also seems to unnerve Morgana, who claims to have a vague recollection of her. Later that evening, Merlin is sent by Arthur to ask Morgause to withdraw, since he has no wish to kill a woman in combat, but if he withdraws, it will be viewed as cowardice: however, Morgause refuses.

The duel is fought the next day: Arthur initially has the upper hand, wounding Morgause on the arm, but she eventually overwhelms him. Left lying on the ground with Morgause's sword aimed at his heart, Arthur is offered a reprieve: she will spare his life if he agrees to meet her outside Camelot in three days time and accept whatever challenge she lays down. Arthur reluctantly agrees. Afterwards, Morgause's wound is treated by Gaius, who recognises the bracelet she wears. When he asks, Morgause says she has only been to Camelot once before as a baby and he probably won't remember her. She thanks Gaius and leaves.

Later on, Morgana goes to Morgause's chambers to introduce herself: however, Morgause claims to know who she is and notices Morgana is tired. When she asks, Morgana admits she's been having troubles sleeping lately. When Morgana asks if they have ever met, Morgause denies this, but asks to be remembered fondly and offers Morgana the bracelet she wears as a gift, saying it has healing powers and will help with her nightmares: Morgana refuses the gift. That night Morgause leaves the bracelet beside Morgana's bed while she sleeps and casts a spell. Morgana wakes the next morning, having slept better than she has in a long time.


Morgana meets Morgause

Morgause departs Camelot the next day, reminding Arthur of his promise, and complimenting him as a man of honour...a trait inherited from his mother. Arthur, surprised, questions Morgause if she knew his mother. She agrees and rides away before Arthur could ask more. A confused, but desperate Arthur tells Uther of his promise and his plan to meet Morgause. However, Uther refuses to let Arthur leave, fearing she plans to lure him into a trap. Though Uther confines Arthur to his quarters, he escapes with Merlin's help and sets off with Merlin to find Morgause. The next morning, Gaius discovers Merlin and Arthur are gone and informs Uther, who immediately dispatches search parties to find Arthur.

Merlin and his escape plan

Later that day, Gaius goes to give Morgana her sleeping draught, only to find her condition better, thanks to Morgause's bracelet. He later goes to Uther, telling him that the bracelet is marked with the emblem of the House of Gorlois, and save for Morgana, only one other would wear such a thing: her half-sister. Gaius confesses he had smuggled her out of Camelot as a baby and given her to the High Priestess of the Old Religion, who will have likely trained Morgause in great and powerful magic: he also explains he never spoke of it because of a solemn oath, which he is breaking only because he fears Morgause's intentions.

Uther insists Morgana must never learn she has a half-sister: he won't have her loyalties divided. On their journey, guided by Arthur's horse (who was enchanted by Morgause to lead the way), Arthur explains he knows nothing of his mother: she died moments after his birth and his father never speaks of her. Merlin confesses a similar situation regarding his own father.


Arthur places his head on the block.

They eventually come to a lake which appears at first to be a dead end but the horse takes Arthur into the lake which Merlin and Arthur cross, enter a cave, travel through the cave and come to the ruins of a the castle Morgause inhabits, where she is waiting for him. She challenges Arthur to put his head on an executioner's block and let her take his head, but she is merely testing Arthur. As reward, she offers Arthur a chance to speak with his mother. Merlin is uneasy about Morgause's magic, but Arthur comments she has done them no harm so far, and remarks perhaps his father's belief all who use magic are evil is wrong.

Arthur and Ygraine, mother and son, united at last

Using her magic, Morgause stops time and allows Arthur to speak with his mother, Ygraine. As they talk, Arthur's mother reveals Arthur was born of magic: Uther, desperate for an heir, went to Nimueh and begged her to give him a son through magic. She claims he gained an heir at the cost of her life, sacrificing his wife against her will and without her knowledge. Furious, Arthur returns to Camelot and confronts his father, remarking Uther's hatred of magic is caused simply because he wishes to blame someone else for Ygraine's death instead of himself. Arthur angrily derides Uther as a hypocrite and liar and attacks him: a ferocious sword fight erupts between the pair, during which Uther again displays outstanding swordsmanship. Just as Arthur overpowers his father and prepares to kill him, Merlin and Gaius burst into the chamber. Desperate to stop Arthur, Merlin claims what they saw was simply an illusion conjured by Morgause to turn Arthur against his father and destroy Camelot (a claim Uther agrees with). After Uther swears it is a lie, Arthur relents, and both father and son break down in tears.
Merlin208 1814

Arthur reluctantly aims at Uther after learning the truth of his birth

In the aftermath of the incident, Uther personally thanks Merlin for his actions, saying he has been a trusted ally in the fight against magic, but warns him he will have to be vigilant against sorcerous foes who will want to exploit Arthur's inexperience: he also has Merlin promise to tell no one of what happened on pain of death. Afterwards, Gaius remarks Merlin must have been tempted simply to allow Uther to die: Merlin agrees, but replies Arthur would never have forgiven himself if he'd killed his father. Back at her castle, Morgause again watches Arthur, but her triumphant expression turns to fury when she sees they are still on good terms.


Main CastEdit

Recurring CastEdit

Guest CastEdit

  • Rhys Rusbatch as Guard

Transcript Edit

View the transcript here.

Previous story: The Witchfinder | Next story: The Lady of the Lake


Air date : 14 November 2009. 6.16 million viewers.


  • "Sins of the Father" is also the name of a Pirates of the Caribbean book.
  • The episode marks the first appearance of Morgause, who goes on to appear in another 10 episodes.
  • The episode marks the first appearance of Ygraine, Arthur's deceased mother.
  • King Odin's men attack Arthur and Merlin in this episode.


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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