Merlin series 3 episode 12 review: The Coming Of Arthur Part 1

Merlin takes a dramatic turn in a game-changing episode which sees Uther Pendragon and Camelot beaten into submission…

This review contains spoilers.

3.12 The Coming Of Arthur Part 1

So, the season finale is upon us and Morgana’s greatest day is at hand. The Cup of Life (last seen in the season one finale Le Morte d’Arthur) has somehow fallen into the hands of the Druids since Merlin’s battle with Nimueh, and they use its powers to revive Sir Leon after Uther’s men are ambushed and slaughtered by King Cenred.

Sir Leon returns to Camelot and tells Uther that the Cup is still in existence. A panic-stricken Uther sends Arthur and Merlin to retrieve it. If a weapon like it was to fall into the wrong hands “Camelot would be all but lost.”

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Morgana learns of their plans and talks to Morgause, who decides to ally herself once more with Cenred and use his resources and manpower to get it by whatever means necessary.

Arthur and Merlin are captured by a slave trader and are reacquainted with Gwaine. Unfortunately, Gwaine and Arthur are forced to compete in a brutal pit fight to the death, but the boy wizard has some sly pyrokinetic tricks up his sleeve and the triumvirate quickly escape.

Once they find The Druids whereabouts and make sure the Cup is in safe hands, they head back to Camelot. They are ambushed by Cenred’s soldiers and Arthur is wounded with a poison dart. Merlin tries and fails to get the Cup and it is soon in Morgause’s hands.

Morgause wastes no time in making an immortal, unstoppable army who march toward Camelot. She also wastes no time in betraying Cenred and having him executed. The army leaves a trail of carnage in their wake and a pleased Morgana tells Gwen she will be spared if she remains loyal to her.

With the poison working through Arthur’s system and Merlin’s attempts at reviving him failing, Camelot falls. They make it back, but realise they’re too late and there is nothing they can do but run. Arthur chooses to stay and fight, while Gwaine and Elyan take Gaius to safety. The boy wizard stays by Arthur’s side.

Uther is brought to the throne room and tells Morgause she cannot do this, that she has no right to the throne, and Morgana emerges from the shadows. She spitefully tells Uther she knows he is her father and her deception is revealed. Uther is lost for words and Arthur and Merlin helplessly look on as Morgana is crowned queen.

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This episode was by far the best of the season, with multiple betrayals, a pace which never slowed down, and villains who finally revealed different facets of their characters.

Morgana’s bargain with Gwen offered us a glimpse of the woman she once was. I am under no illusions that even though Morgana has been crowned queen, Morgause is the real leader now and the new order in Camelot will be anything but a peaceful one.

Katie McGrath was given very little to do in the first part, though I expect that will change come next week. Emilia Fox shined in her occasionally flamboyant performance as the duplicitous witch, and it’ll be exciting to see where her character goes next.

Next week’s teaser promises The Round Table, the Lady of the Lake, Excalibur and an epic battle between Morgana and Merlin. Who will be left?

Read our review of episode 11, The Sorcerer’s Shadow, here.

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