So yesterday marked the end of BBC’s series of Merlin! Before you proceed, this post is a no holds barred spoiler post on the Series Finale of BBC’s Merlin! So if you haven’t seen the episode yet, and you don’t want to be spoiled, read no further!
After five seasons, and after tons of near-misses, Merlin’s magic and sorcery is realized by Arthur. This finale was lackluster in many ways, but also a confirmation that this show is, in fact, a show about the friendship between Arthur and Merlin. For starters, the episode was the second part of a two parter, starting at the beginning of the battle in Camland. In one of the most British moments of the show, Arthur’s battle speech ends with “For Albion! And for the United Kingdoms!” For those of us who know, Albion is just another name for England, and the men cheer uproariously with him. The battle is entirely unevenly matched, with an approximate 1 to 5 ratio, benefiting Morgana. But despite their numbers, Merlin comes in to save the day. In a heartbreaking scene of the penultimate episode, we see Merlin’s father appear to him again in his time of need, when magic has been stripped from him by Morgana and we see him regain his power again. As Merlin enters in his disguise, he basically becomes Thor and commands lighting and thunder to terrify the armies away as well as knock out Morgana. Now everyone is cheering and happy, but all is not well. Before anyone can declare a victory, Arthur meets Mordred on the battlefield.
We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. After watching Merlin cement in Mordred’s destiny all season, I was a little angry with Merlin at this point. After all, every turn that lead Mordred down the path of evil was created by Merlin himself. So when Mordred had his showdown with Arthur, it was rather… short lived? In a quick moment, Mordred had sank his dragon’s breath sword into Arthur’s side, and somehow in the process left a chip of his blade in Arthur; this is ultimately what kills him. Mordred’s own death is quick and ends the life of a milquetoast character. Never really developed, his greatest moment was his death.
Although the episode is suppose to be a finale, it has none of the pomp that Season 4’s finale had. Instead peppered with heartfelt and heartbreaking moments are stagnant scenes. As much as I loved the scenes between Arthur and Merlin and the scenes between the knights, none of it was on an epic scale. The one scene that was perfect was Merlin’s confession to Arthur about his magic. Granted that little dragon on the fire was a little cheesy, but it was a perfectly created scene, especially down to Merlin’s tearful face and Arthur’s betrayed one. The mending of their relationship was one of the most gratifying parts of the episode, Arthur realizing his mistakes and thanking Merlin. Of course, I was in love with those scene as I tearfully watched it. But the whole time I was thinking in my head, ok they’re not bringing in the dragon because he’s old and probably dead or something. But then, in a moment of desperation, he calls for the dragon. The whole time, I wondered why he couldn’t have called the Dragon earlier. Doubtless the dragon would have helped him, and yet somehow it took him realizing that Arthur was probably beyond saving, to call in his deus ex machina.
We all knew that Arthur would most likely die. After all the legends end with the death of Arthur at the hand of Mordred and a showdown between Morgana and Merlin. However, I think what bothered me the most was that I didn’t get a cheesy adventure where Arthur and Merlin and the knights go off and fight evil together, all completely alive and happy. Even the final show down with Morgana, an enemy who is suppose to be the primary antagonist, ends before it even begins. She is stabbed with Excalibur and forgotten on the side, as if she is merely a lackey. The episode has a very uneven pacing and in the end I’m not sure if the end is suppose to be whimsical or ominous. Gwen becomes a reigning queen next to an empty throne, and I’m left wondering if Merlin ever returned to her and counseled her since obviously Gaius is too old for the job. The most developed character out of the knights, Gwaine is uselessly killed off on a suicide mission that is used as a plot device to bring Morgana to Merlin and Arthur. For a character that was so heavily written into the story, his end was, once again, quick and quite frankly, depressing.
The final scenes of Merlin in a modern world, grumpily walking by without any disturbance from the lake was a tepid ending to an otherwise entertaining series. The show was going along at such a great pace, but never truly felt like the final season, and with it’s final episode, feels incomplete. Despite such a lovely performance from Bradley James and Colin Morgan, I have to say that this was one of the most disappointing endings to one of my favorite shows.