Girl Genius
Girl Genius

“Oh, yes—But now I understand why the great Dr. Beetle couldn’t be bothered to work on this oh–so–important assignment. Unlike we mere mortals, he had real work to do.”

When we first meet him, Doctor Silas Merlot is second in command to Doctor Tarsus Beetle at Transylvania Polygnostic University. He is not a Spark, a fact that clearly frustrates him immensely. If he had been a spark, his project to turn chalk into cheese might have actually have a chance of succeeding, although it is possible this was a sarcastic reference to a non-Spark attempting to behave like a Spark; he wants to be something other than he is.



From the Secret Blueprints

Most of this background material is supplied by The Secret Blueprints rather than the actual comic. As a student, Merlot studied at the College of Alchemical Inquiry at Wittenburg, where he was the first in his class (outdoing even a few minor Sparks), before coming to work at TPU where he hoped to rise to a position of power.

He was short–tempered, detail–minded and efficient; he managed to become as disliked by staff and students as much as Doctor Beetle was loved. Some noticed that by letting Merlot play the antagonist, Beetle avoided the stain of unpleasant tasks and therefore got to maintain his image.

Not one to make friends, Merlot nonetheless managed to achieve that status with fellow TPU employee Doctor Hugo Glassvitch. Before the start of the story, they and a certain lowly lab assistant had been assigned by Beetle to work on assembling a complicated pile of machinery known as the Dihoxulator, a project ordered by Baron Wulfenbach himself. They had been unable to finish, hitting a block in connecting the final linkages.

Merlot and Agatha[]

As our story actually begins, he and Glassovitch are unpleasantly surprised to learn that Klaus has arrived at the university expecting, supposedly, to find the Dihoxulator finished. Merlot's first impulse is to throw the bumbling Agatha into the Baron's path as a distraction, but as events unfold, he comes to the enraged realization that they were never intended to finish, and the whole thing is just another test Klaus is putting his son Gilgamesh through. The fact that Beetle certainly knew this and foisted the project off on his underlings finally takes Merlot to his breaking point (see above quote), and he reveals to the Baron's party that Beetle has been hiding a Hive Engine in the University. Unsurprisingly, it turns out Klaus already knew about the Engine and had plans to...use...Beetle in some new capacity. Beetle again unsurprisingly objects to this idea and goes down fighting, resulting in his getting blown up by one of his own bombs. And so, the angry Baron puts Merlot in charge of everything at the University, with a very-much-stated threat hanging over him. Merlot's first official action is to vindictively kick Agatha out of the University. With her protector Beetle gone, she has no choice but to leave.

Following this, as far as Agatha and the reader are concerned, Merlot drops out of sight for an extended period. Their paths finally re-cross soon after she enters Castle Heterodyne, where it turns out that (non-surprise #3) things had not gone well and Merlot is now among the Castle's prisoner-repairman brigade.


Prisoner Merlot: More horrid than ever

The two's first meeting is very brief; Agatha scarpers, and Merlot abandons his current job of escorting Zola "Heterodyne" and runs off into the Castle labyrinth as well, vowing vengeance. He turns up later manning a Heterodyne-badged one-man battle stomper, and as he runs amok he also reveals what happened: a team at TPU manged to decode Beetle's encrypted notes, whereupon Merlot learned to his horror who Agatha actually was. He was unable to find her, and so his solution to the problem was burn all of Beetle’s effects as well as the Beetleburg Hall of Records and the cryptography team. (He was able to destroy some but not all of the notes; the Baron later tells Bangladesh Dupree some of the information that survived.) This worked out about as well as you might expect, and off to the Castle he was sent.

Anyway. With all of that established, he attempts to gun down both Agatha and Gil, the person who "ruined his life", as well as the son of the man who sent him to prison. He shoots Gil in the shoulder (with a handgun, rather than the clank, since Gil attacks from behind) which enrages Gil to the point he tosses the enormous clank across the room, partially damaging it. This allows Agatha enough time get her current Death Ray, and confronting Merlot, tells him why he couldn't find her, and generally what an idiot he is. She then threatens to put a hole in him “the size of the Castle” if he doesn't stand down. It appears that this information and attitude really breaks Merlot's brain, but before Agatha is forced to carry out her threat, the somewhat-repaired Castle drops a giant block on Merlot and the stomper, presumably killing him.

The Works[]

The The Works card for Silas Merlot lists Villain and Lackey.

Unanswered Questions[]

  • Did he even manage to complete the first task given to him by Klaus, to make Dr. Beetle’s corpse presentable for a hero’s funeral, before he cracked?
  • What else did Merlot find in Beetle’s decrypted notes?
  • In that final confrontation, was Merlot actually breaking through? His font started to turn somewhat Spark-like..
  • Did the Castle truly kill him, or was that block hollow?

See also[]

Secret Blueprints: Dr. Silas Merlot & Dr. Hugo Glassvitch