Aithusa seems an odd title, but trust me it makes sense in the end. It’s the first in season 4 where neither Morgana nor Gwen make an appearance, and is odd in that respect given how strong they’ve been in previous weeks. Much of the action hinges on Merlin rather than Arthur, which is good to give our favorite wizard time to shine. And on to the recap.

[Spoilers ahead]

Nighttime and there’s a bunch of druids sleeping in what looks like a cave. Then a rope slides down from the ceiling and someone follows behind; we see his face when he touches down — hello strange man. He goes for one of the chests lying around the cave, and pries it open easily with his knife. Once inside he pulls out a chest, unlocks it, and removes the golden swirl within it. He pulls a similar piece from his pocket, and the two make a seal when touched together. Woo magic!

Then the thief looks back, and the druids are awake and staring at him. He bolts through the forest until he comes to a ravine, and then grabs one of them as a hostage. A man holds out his hand and asks for the triskellion; he tells the thief that he’ll never find the third piece. Apparently he already knows where the third piece is though, and after he flees we see him ride up to an exterior shot of Camelot. Why do I think Merlin has it?

And it looks like I might be wrong. The thief shows up at Gaius’s door, ostensibly to dry himself off. Gaius greets the man by his name — Borden — and we soon find out the real reason he’s there is for the final piece of the triskellion. This final piece happens to be have been locked in Camelot’s vaults for the past 400 years.

The triskellion, by the way, leads the way to the Tomb of Askanar and the very last dragon egg. Borden wants to liberate the final piece from Camelot’s vaults, but Gaius wants no part of it. He believes too strongly in the future Arthur will build as king. Borden leaves and says he’ll be in the tavern in the lower town if Gaius changes his mind. Yeah, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Merlin, on the other hand, wants to help Borden find the egg because it would mean a preservation of dragons. Gaius warns him Borden has a reputation for dishonesty, and he shudders to think what path his former pupil walks now. So he tells Merlin to get some rest, thinking that’s the end of the conversation. Yeah not so much. Merlin sneaks out and meets with the Great Dragon, who’s naturally ecstatic about the news.

But there’s a problem: Gaius has forbidden Merlin from going after the egg. The Great Dragon reminds Merlin of his father and the sacrifices made to preserve dragonkind. Also that Merlin’s a dragonlord and it’s sort of his duty. Ah crap. Now Merlin’s given his promise to the Great Dragon that he’ll go do it. Great … this is going to work out really well.

Merlin shows up at the tavern to tag along with Borden. Except, well, Borden pulls a knife on him when he comes into the room. Well that’s a fine start to a partnership. Once Borden finds out Gaius didn’t send Merlin, he can’t shove our favorite wizard out the door fast enough. That is, until Merlin drops the nugget of being the personal servant of King Arthur. And Borden’s now interested.

Merlin sneaks into Arthur’s room to search for the vault key. As he’s doing this, Arthur rolls over and wakes up. Once Arthur sees him fully, he asks what Merlin’s doing … and gets the answer of “looking for wood worms.” Arthur tells him to get out, and just when he leaves Merlin sees the vault key on Arthur’s belt. He grabs it and the pile of clothes beneath because they “need washing.” Arthur then hurls a bunch of other dirty laundry at Merlin’s head as well. He’s almost got it, except Arthur tells him to leave the belt before he goes. Ah crap.

Arthur’s discussing strategy with Agravaine, when Merlin comes in and makes his pants fall down with magic. In a rather funny struggle to get Arthur’s pants back up, where Merlin tries to help and Arthur tries to push him away, Merlin at last grabs the vault key. Arthur then clears his throat and goes back to talking strategy.

Merlin hands the key over to Borden and leads him into the castle. He waits behind while Borden goes on ahead to grab the triskellion piece. Borden knocks out the two guards, and finds the final piece in a jeweled box. He combines them and then runs back to Merlin, who leads him outside to safety. Except then Borden knocks Merlin out and leaves him to take the blame for the theft.

Thank goodness Merlin wakes up early enough to get the key back onto Arthur’s belt and up into his room. He then grabs a goblet, but spills it, and nearly throws it over Arthur. It takes a quick use of magic to halt the goblet’s fall, but Arthur wakes up anyway and demands to know what Merlin’s doing. So he goes back to his “looking for wood worms” thing … since, you know, it worked so well before.

And then the alarm bell rings. Arthur and Merlin join Gaius and Agravaine down in the vaults, where Gaius explains about the triskellion and the Tomb of Askanar. He keeps looking at Merlin through the whole deal about the dragon’s egg, and Agravaine reminds Arthur that a dragon could still hatch after a thousand years. Which means that all the work Uther did to kill the dragons will be undone. Awesome. Arthur decides then and there they need to hunt down the intruder and destroy the dragon’s egg. Good move, Arthur!

Gaius yells at Merlin back in the lab, wondering what was going through his mind. Merlin explains about being a dragonlord, but Gaius tells him the egg would’ve been perfectly safe for another 400 years. Instead Borden is now on his way there, and who the heck knows what that thief plans to do with the egg.

Merlin, Arthur, and the knights head off in pursuit of Borden. They find hoofprints, and then a campsite in the forest, but after a set of deer tracks decide to camp for the night. Merlin doesn’t want to, of course because he wants to catch Borden right away, but Arthur reminds him that unless he can see in the dark there’s not much he can do.

Merlin serves dinner to the knights, and they keep asking for more before he walks away. Starts me wondering how much’ll be left for Merlin. Once Merlin’s about to eat, Arthur reminds him he should feed the horses. Merlin hesitates, but the king says it again, so he gets up and heads over to the animals. Once there Merlin senses someone watching in the forest. But it seems to be nothing, so he goes back to the fire. And then everyone piles their dishes on him, while Arthur eats the last few bites of the soup right in front of Merlin’s face. Ouch that’s mean. Except then Leon reveals they saved a plate for him, so it was only a little joke. Well that’s better then.

In the middle of the night, Merlin’s awakened by a voice whispering “Emrys.” Uh-oh. That doesn’t seem like a good thing to hear. Merlin goes looking for the source of the voice calling his other name, and finds a group of robed figures. It’s the druids from the opening! One of them lowers his hood and tells Merlin that the triskellion isn’t just a key, it’s also a trap.

Turns out Askanar knew people would come to disturb his rest someday, so he threw a few surprises in as well. Methinks Borden’s in for a world of hurt. Right before Merlin leaves to tell the others Borden headed east, the druid tells him one more piece of the legend “Only when the way ahead seems impossible, will you have found it.” Huh?

The next morning, they find a fire pit that’s already cold. Borden must’ve moved on during the night, and Merlin flips out a little bit because of how close they were. He heads off to get their gear, but Arthur says they don’t even know where Borden’s going. Especially hard because there’s no horse tracks. Merlin tells him he’s moving east, and under questioning says he senses it. “Sense” is not however a word Arthur associates with Merlin, until Elyan finds some horse poop that confirms it. They all walk back to the gear, and Merlin asks Arthur if he’s ever heard of the word “sorry.” “No is that another word you made up?” Arthur tells him. Snerk … love their interaction.

They come to a cave, and at first Arthur wants to turn back. Merlin doesn’t, and the argument is made moot when Percival finds a bootprint pointing toward the cave mouth. They go through the cave and a waterfall at the end to finally come to the Tomb of Askanar.

In the midst of a ravine heading toward the tomb, Percival is suddenly hit in the leg by a crossbow bolt. Why is it always ravines? Borden’s above them, shooting to keep them pinned down. Merlin sees where he’s firing from, and when Arthur breaks cover to run up there, Merlin grabs Borden’s crossbow using magic and breaks it against a tree. Everyone of course thinks Arthur will have caught Borden now, but no such luck. Apparently Borden vanished from his spot.

Merlin nearly runs headlong into a spiked branch before Arthur stops him. Merlin wants to keep going, but Arthur wisely decides to hold off. Borden knows they’re coming, so instead they’re going to make camp and take him at dawn. At camp while Merlin’s back is turned, Borden fires something into the soup. Merlin tries to sneak a taste, but Arthur comes in and steals it away. Whatever Borden put in there made it taste really good, because Arthur tells the rest of the guys to try it.

Merlin comes back from collecting wood, and everyone’s asleep. Then he finds the bundle in the soup, and hears Arthur and Percival make noises that indicate trouble breathing. He rushes over to Arthur, casts a spell, and the king starts breathing normally. This is repeated to every other knight, before Merlin runs after Borden.

He finds Borden already opening the door to the tomb; once Borden steps inside a massive amount of poison gas pours into the room. Merlin’s able to dispel it with magic, but not quickly enough to save Borden. So he takes a torch and continues on. He comes to the dragon egg, sets the torch down, and is about to take it off the pedestal when … hey Borden’s alive!

He offers Merlin a half share in the egg, but our favorite wizard’s not hearing it. The dragon has to go free, and no amount of power offerings from Borden is going to dissuade Merlin from that path. Borden tries to kill Merlin using the torch, but Merlin knocks him back with magic. Once he grabs the dragon egg, the tower starts collapsing! All right, who saw that coming? Raise your hands.

Merlin hides the dragon egg in his bag just in time. Arthur and the knights show up and demand to know what happened; Merlin explains the tomb was a trap and there’s no way anything could have survived that much rock falling on it. Arthur needs to be sure, but Leon agrees with Merlin and the matter is closed.

Back at Camelot, Merlin reveals to Gaius that he did in fact save the egg. Gaius reminds him that it was nearly lost because Merlin was too quick to act, and admonishes our favorite wizard to think things through in the future. And what of the dragon’s egg?

Merlin takes the egg to the Great Dragon, who tells him only a dragonlord can summon a new dragon forth from its egg. To do that, Merlin has to name the creature first. He picks “Aithusa,” which in the dragon tongue means “light of the sun.” The baby dragon cracks through its shell, and the Great Dragon tells us it’s a white dragon. This bodes well for the country of Albion, and for Arthur and Merlin as well. Hooray! And yes, the sucker is adorable. I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Next week: A war comes to Camelot because of Arthur’s actions.

If you missed the previous episode, be sure to read our ‘Merlin: The Wicked Day’ recap.