Review: Merlin 1.03 – The Mark of Nimueh

Episode three The Mark of Nimueh brings another side to understanding magic. For magic itself is neither good or bad but a force that is within all living things. It is within the person if the magic will be used for good or evil. As we can see in this episode how each character decides who they are going to be. Merlin stands for the good, Nimueh for the bad, Uther who is trying to be good yet shuts down when he is afraid so is, he good or bad? You tell me. Guinevere stands on the side of good. Arthur he is good yet stands for justice.

We can all learn from this episode to decide with in ourselves what type of person we are. If you had the magic like Merlin what would you use it for?


We begin our story like any other with a plan to bring down Uther. The High Priestess Nimueh is the villain who seeks the destruction of all who stand in her way. She has cast a spell “ Bebiede þe arisan ealdu which means I command you, ancient one, to come forth” which gave the Afanc life for it is an ancient creature created formed by earth and water.

Merlin just can’t tolerate to see anyone suffer when he is a warlock who has magic to help. Even though Gaius does his best to convince Merlin to not be so quick on using his powers. That advise is ignored when he sees Guinevere suffering because her father is sick from the Afanc in the watering system. Hence being the loyal and good person that Merlin is, he uses enchantment to heal her dad.  Using the spell “Þu fornimest adl fram guman!” which means “Overcome the sickness in this man”. Of course, his insignificant plan does not go as unnoticed by the court of Camelot as he would have hoped. Once Guinevere is brought before the court and questioned, Gaius knows it was Merlin yet she was taken the fall.

Although this episode doesn’t show much of Arthur, we still get to see him act in a princely way as well as when he is teasing Merlin. For example, when he went into Merlin’s room. You remember how he found a cupboard for Merlin so that he could put things away. Ah the entertainment that is put in for comic relief for when things look so severe. When Merlin storms into the throne room saying that he used magic the only one who believes him is Uther yet there Arthur stand with that disbelief on his face. There Arthur stands talking about Merlin having a “grave mental disease” which of course means that he is in love with Guinevere. Watching Arthur work the courtroom and his father with Merlin astonished face is the best part of this episode. True wonder is how much Arthur wont let his father kill Merlin his only friend.

We get to see how the elements are used in magic for what else can destroy earth and water if not air and fire. Merlin uses the incantation “Lyft sy þe in bǽlwylm ac forhienan se wiðere!”, which means “You are air in fire’s heat but defeat the hostile one”.

This episode is a wonderful teaching moment for Gaius to share with Merlin not just about science but about how power can change a person because magic isn’t anything it’s just how you use it. Therefore, we get dark magic from those who want to use it for their own gain and light magic for those who use it to serve others. Just as Merlin learns we also learn that it is up to us to use our gifts for good. We all need to have a guide like Gaius who forgives our mistakes and teaches us to fix them after making sure that we have learned our lesson.

Like always Merlin helps Arthur save the day only this time Nimueh knows and seeks revenge. The thrill continues…


Guinevere is the character we follow closely in this episode. She is happy to be taken care of her father who is truly the center of her world. We watch her talk with Merlin with slight humor in our minds as the flirting never goes according to plan. The relationship with Morgana is perhaps my favorite in season one. The Great lady and her maid aren’t just an association by employment but a deep love of kinship like a sisterhood. Everyone but Uther can see that Guinevere has only love and kindness in her heart. She is a smart, hardworking and cares for all things around her. Also, Guinevere is the closest to finding out that Marlin has magic.

Gaius as court physician not only knows medicine with the science and magic but he knows the entire royal family along with history. He was there with Uther when magic was forbidden in Camelot, he was there when Arthur was born, he was there to take care of Morgana through her nightmares. Gaius uses this knowledge to his advantage. Especially when he receives a visit from Arthur.

Morgana is so amazing when she turns to Merlin and Gaius to try and help Guinevere, she instantly understands why Arthur is needed to defeat the monster. Her character is such that only she can persuade Arthur to do anything including disobeying the King. Morgana a girl who is not about to stand by and watch. Even though she is the Kings ward she is all about girl power. Arthur knows this and yet tries to keep her safe.

Together Morgana, Merlin, Gaius and Arthur try their best to save Guinevere. This show how each of these characters care for someone who has been wrongly accused. The punishment must meet the crime.

Although we only see Nimueh though a few scenes you can discern that she isn’t just any enemy. You feel fear when you see her anger towards Merlin for helping Arthur defeat the Afanc. Just hearing her name brings King Uther to misery as he whispers to Gaius “will I never be rid of her” Gaius knows more about this sorceress then he is able to say at this time. Which is great for us as the audience to want more.

Design and Setting

Episode three is spent filming in long shots as well as close up when the actors are talking. The design here is well done from the different outfits for our characters to wear. Now for the sets there are a lot of darker places that are being filmed with the cavies where Nimueh is waiting and the well under Camelot where the Afanc dwells. The design for the egg was put together in a mysterious way from the shape of the egg to the writing design on the shell.

The creation of the Afanc was very well done although I believe that it did look fake the way it walks around. Which can work for it is a creature that has been created from water and earth. This pretty much mud for what else does water and earth make?

The makeup artist is used even more in this episode to show what being poised by water can do to their face. To the lighting the dead men and woman’s faces shading with blue with darkling the veins to really popping them out. The eye contacts used to make them seem scary, cold and appropriately dead.


Angel Coulby who plays Guinevere does a beautiful portrayal of a woman who has only love in her heart. To go from a happy servant who seems to be living the best life even though she is awkward around boys mainly Merlin to a sad helpless child whose only thoughts turn to her dying father. The changes that Angel can create for her character shows just how talented of an actor she really is. Although Guinevere is about to die her only concern is that she will be remembered and that someone looks after her father. She is selfless wanting the best for others. Then the joy she feels as her father rushes to her side knowing that death will not be occur today. Finding out through Morgana how it was all Merlin who did the saving that he was the hero.

Richard Wilson truly does a wonderful job of being Gaius. As an older gentleman he takes on his role as a guide, a teacher perhaps even a type of father figure for Merlin. Watching Richard act from serious conversation to a humble servant then back to being wise is a joy to see. As far as characters go Gaius seems to be the only one who knows what’s going on at least 90% of the time.

Although John Hurt is just the voice for Kilgharrah I find that he gives life to the dragon. By helping Merlin though riddles and other things there seems to be joy in his voice by the frustrations of Merlin.

These are the actors that have really stuck out to me in this episode. All the performers have done a great job from being dead to the King himself. They all worked hard to bring this show to life.


BBC Merlin is a family friendly TV show that is clean for anyone who watches. Though I believe this to be slightly more terrifying for little children for seeing so many dead people on the screen. this is still a great show to watch as a family. However, if you are in the mode for a light friendly episode of Merlin this is not the episode for you.

Characters in order of their appearance

Nimueh- Michell Ryan

Merlin- Colin Morgan

Gaius-Richard Wilson

Guinevere-Angel Coulby

Morgana-Katie McGrath

Arthur-Bradly James

Uther Pendragon-Anthony Head

Kilgharrah-John Hurt

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