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Merlin “The Death Song of Uther Pendragon” 

Photo Credit: BBC One

Peace seems to have returned to Camelot, until Arthur and Merlin stumble across a village where an old woman is tied to a stake and about to be burned.  Arthur steps in and saves her, even after the villagers tell him she is a sorcerer.  This is Arthur at his best, turning away from the legacy of his father, Uther Pendragon.

Before dying, the crone gives Arthur a horn that has the power to summon the spirits of the dead.    Gaius warns him that the horn is powerful and needs to be kept safe.  That night, Camelot gathers to celebrate the anniversary or Arthur’s coronation, but Arthur is preoccupied by the fact that it is also the anniversary of his father’s death.  He goes to his father’s tomb and stares sadly at the effigy.  As horrible as Uther was, Arthur never wavered in his love for him.   Driven by a desire to see his father once more, Arthur takes the horn to The Great Stones of Nemeton, which strongly resembles Stone Henge.   Arthur blows the horn and summons the spirit of Uther Pendragon.

We know that Arthur is Arthur’s bane, and his constant desire for Uther’s love, acceptance, and approval is a source of weakness.  Faced with his father’s spirit, all of Arthur’s doubts come flooding back.  Uther condemns Arthur’s choices, such as letting common men become knights and marrying a serving girl.  For Arthur, talking to Uther is like looking into a dark mirror and hearing all the horrible doubts he may secretly have.  Arthur has always worried that he is not strong enough to manage the kingdom.  Uther’s parting proclamation of love is hollow after he so ruthlessly stripped the value from all of Arthur’s accomplishments.

At a meeting of the knights of the roundtable, the doors of the hall are violently thrown open and the candelabra crashes down on the middle of the table.  Merlin is concerned that something isn’t right, but Arthur is unfazed.  The unseen force becomes more aggressive when Percival is alone in the cellar.  An ax flies off the wall and buries itself in his shoulder.  Merlin and Gaius determine that Arthur has unleashed Uther’s spirit.  This is a critical moment for Arthur.  He is coming upon a crossroads in his journey where he must decide if he has the strength to be his own man, or if he will continue with traditions his father established.   With Uther’s spirit loose, Arthur must make a decision.

However, Arthur is in serious denial about the extent of Uther’s wrath.  For some reason, he cannot imagine that Uther’s spirit could be behind the attacks.  It doesn’t even occur to him that Guinevere could be the next target – and she is.  Uther attacks her in a darkened hallway and she barely escapes.  She is knocked unconscious in the larder and if not for Merlin, she would have been killed by a fire that Uther leaves in his wake.  Arthur cannot ignore Uther any longer, as he is causing harm to the people Arthur cares about the most.

The only solution is for Arthur to definitively say goodbye to his father and his father’s legacy by sending him back through the veil.   To do so, Arthur and Merlin drink a potion and set out in search of Uther’s spirit.  Arthur confesses that he’s always wanted to make his father proud.  What he doesn’t realize is that his father can never be proud of him.  Uther and Arthur are cut from different cloth, and the only way Arthur could live up to Uther’s expectations would be if he abandoned all of his own beliefs.

Uther’s spirit isolates Arthur by trapping Merlin.  When father and son finally face each other again, Uther’s uncontrollable rage pours out towards his son.  This is the moment where it is easy to see how being Uther’s child could have predestined Morgana to her path of evil.  When Arthur stands up for himself, Uther knocks him unconscious.  Before he can kill Arther, Merlin confronts Uther.  By revealing his magic even to Uther’s spirit, Merlin puts himself in danger, but also demonstrates how dedicated he is to Arthur’s vision of Camelot.

Going into the weapons room with an angry spirit flying about may not have been the best idea Merlin ever had.  Uther hunts him down, but before he can kill him, Arthur blows the horn.  As he disappears, Uther tries to tell Arthur that Merlin has magic, but he is out of time.  We are getting so close to the moment that Merlin reveals his powers to Arthur.  Arthur would not necessarily be shocked by Merlin’s magic, but might be more affected by the notion that Merlin is more powerful than he is.

Camelot is still an incomplete vision, but as Arthur continues to gain confidence, it comes closer to reaching its full potential.  Mordred, though, now lurks within Arthur’s inner circles because he is a knight of the roundtable.  Mordred still feels like the biggest threat to peace in the kingdom.

Merlin airs Fridays at 10/9c on Syfy.

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