This episode also did nothing to further the overall plot, but oddly enough, I didn’t have a problem with it. I wish I could explain why this is, but I don’t have a reason. I’m simply okay with it this time around.
In this episode, Arthur kills a unicorn while on a hunting trip and Camelot is now suffering from a curse – the crops are dying, there’s no water, people will soon die too. My first thought: Was it Starbeam?!
To lift the curse, Arthur must pass a series of tests from the keeper of the unicorns. He passes the first one, where he lets a thief go instead of turning him over to Uther to be executed. Then fails the second one where the same thief insults his pride and honor, they get in a sword fight, and Arthur kills him. Cept the thief turned out to be fake and just all part of Arthur’s tests.
The final test is ultimately that Arthur has to prove he is pure of heart, like a unicorn is. He drinks poison to save Merlin’s life, and is presumably dead. But it turns out it’s just a sleeping drought and he’s not really dead, the mere act of his sacrifice is enough to lift the curse.
I think maybe the reason that I liked this episode was simply because although I know it is not Arthur’s fate to die from poison, I kind of forgot for a minute. I was sad, I could feel it inside me, when we think he’s dead. I felt for Merlin, pleading to take Arthur’s place so that he could go on to lead the kingdom as is his destiny.
The series has yet to bring me to tears, but it came close. Of course, the episode ends well, with Arthur waking up, the crops growing back, and everyone happy. It did do more to show the ugliness in Uther – at one point he orders the people to essentially starve to death instead of asking for help from the surrounding kingdoms. Arthur argues this with him, explaining that it does no good to have an army if all the people in the kingdom are dead.
I believe, folks, that this is why he is the once and future king. Even though he’s still a bit of a brat in this series.