‘Merlin’ 5.11: ‘The Drawing Of The Dark’ review

“I have his true name…it is Merlin!”

Merlin V

Look! We have matching hair

Massive movement in this weeks episode both in emotion and plot.  Mordred has moved to the forefront and is on his way to fulfilling the prophecy (which it could be argued Merlin’s doom mongering set the motion of events in place).  And the day has FINALLY arrived! Merlin’s secret is revealed to Morgana by a vengeful Mordred, meaning Arthur’s next in line.  It’s just a shame we had to reach the last few episodes of the final series for it to happen.

When Arthur and his Knights come across a group of his men slain in the forest, a shadowy figure makes a run for it with Mordred in tow.  Upon capture Mordred finds it to be a girl called Kara who he appears to know and care for, so he let’s her escape but not before Merlin witnesses him let someone go and yet again believes Mordred is up to no good.  Kara explains she believes Arthur is no different from Uther and without him they would not have to hide their magic.  However it’s not long before Arthur finds her and she attempts to kill Arthur and displays a determined and remorseless attitude.  It’s not long before she’s sentenced to death.  Mordred discovers “friends” means little against the laws of Camelot.

Its hard not to feel sympathy for Mordred. Not only does he appear genuine and hounded by Merlin, but everything he values and trusts is removed from him leading him to Morgana’s throne.  Alexander Vlahos shows us the depth of acting and character as he slowly disintegrates over the episode being pushed between his loyalty to the Knights and his love for Kara.  Mordred heartbreakingly begs Arthur to spare Kara, which Arthur initially refuses – but later gives Kara a chance to repent.  Unfortunately Mordred isn’t present to see this and Kara is too stubborn for the cause to back down, believing she has nothing to repent for leaving Arthur to continue with her sentence to be hanged.  Even Merlin sees he may have mis-judged Mordred but is now aware a chain of events has been set inevitably into motion.

Although the episode has the ensemble cast it very much feels a two-hander between Merlin and Mordred, each battling to protect those nearest to them.  Kara is her own worst enemy; On the one hand her belief in Arthur’s oppression is partly true, but the lengths she’s prepared to inflict make it very difficult to feel sympathy, especially when she doesn’t consider Mordred when offered her reprieve.  Interestingly Merlin utters the same words Mordred did to him earlier in the series “you’re secret is safe with me.” Both have now broken their promise.

One of the best episodes of the series, full of dark tension, action and emotion in bucketsloads.  Alexander Vlahos shines.  The setting also draws you in with its atmospheric blue hues.  However if you watch Merlin for the humour it’s in short supply, but the episode didn’t need it.  Gwen unfortunately is relegated back to supporting role again – hopefully she will get her finale as much as the rest. Frustratingly Arthur continues with the “laws of Camelot” speech which he of course could change them if he wanted.

Next week sees the first of the finale two-parter and its the one I’ve been waiting for, as I suspect have many others; the day Merlin’s magic is no longer hidden and Arthur finds out his servant is not only is a powerful sorcerer but he’s also spent 5 years lying to him about who he really is.  Can. Not. Wait!