So, for once, it was a different member of the Pendragon clan causing pain and suffering throughout Camelot.
This episode also suggests Arthur might be one of those rich jackasses who will kill endangered species for trophies.
Yes, Arthur kills a rare species while out hunting against Merlin’s advice.
Granted, it was a unicorn that Arthur killed this time, and he took the horn home to Camelot. I guess the rest made for good eatin’.
But it turns out killing a unicorn is a Very Bad Thing. It means first all the crops die while other plants are untouched by weird plagues, and then the local wells are pumping out nothing but sand, and you can’t drink that. So, the kingdom goes to its reserve supply. What gives?
Well, the Guardian of the Unicorns shows up as the world’s worst park ranger since he didn’t, like, set out warnings before Arthur decided a unicorn horn would look good over the royal fireplace. He says Arthur has to pass some tests because, well, only the pure of heart are allowed to kill a unicorn, and if the individual in question is pure of heart, then the unicorn can come back to life.
Does Arthur pass the tests? Well, he and Merlin stay up and find a thief in the food pantry, but he claims he has starving children so Arthur gives him some food and looks the other way. Uther would have just executed the guy.
Then again, Uther might have tried to execute the mystical Unicorn Game Warden too because Uther is that kind of guy.
As it is, letting the man feed his family was the first test, and then the water came back and everyone is drinking that stuff, far superior to the reused bath water Gaius made Merlin’s tea from. Merlin also made a meal from a rat in Arthur’s room, so you know how it goes.
But then while out looking for the Guardian, Arthur finds that same thief with a pile of ill-gotten gains, bragging that Arthur is an idiot who shouldn’t be king, and Arthur tries to kill the guy and fails the second test, causing all of Camelot’s reserve food to go bad and likewise causing Gaius to test beetles as food that may or may not taste like chicken (it does not). Merlin finds the Guardian and begs him to give Arthur a second chance, but really, Arthur didn’t think finding the exact same guy might not be another test?
He’s still a better man than Uther, who decided whatever food is left over has to go to the Army and not the peasants because he is surrounded by countries run by assholes or something.
Fortunately, the Guardian gives Arthur a second chance and tells him to go to the Labyrinth of Gedref. And though told to go alone, Merlin follows anyway and the Guardian, a better sorcerer than Merlin, captures the young wizard rather easily. That leads Arthur to the test: there are two mugs. One is filled with a deadly poison. Arthur and Merlin can only drink from one each. Which one will Arthur choose to drink for himself?
Well, Merlin thinks Arthur shouldn’t be poisoned because Arthur is next in line to be king. Arthur thinks Merlin shouldn’t be poisoned because everything that happened is Arthur’s fault and too many innocent people are suffering because he had to kill a unicorn anyway, making me wish this sort of curse happened to anyone who just shoots a giraffe for no good reason. They probably aren’t as selfless as Arthur. Merlin does realize the goblets are big enough that all the liquid from one can be dumped into the other, than only one of them has to drink the poison, and when Merlin falls for the “what’s that over there trick!” (seriously, people are dumb in this episode), Arthur pours the drinks into one cup, downs the whole thing, and falls over.
Fortunately, the Guardian says it wasn’t deadly poison but a sleeping drought, and Arthur passed the last test, restoring all the food in Camelot and allowing the unicorn to live again.
Arthur doesn’t kill it this time. He can be taught.