Battle lines are drawn but will Merlin be able to keep Arthur from harm?
The battle begins in the penultimate episode of Merlin with plenty to cram in, tension to build and a lump in our throats when we realise to mountain ahead for the characters and our ever-nearing last instalment.
With Morgana now fully up to speed about Emrys’ true identity she knows without Merlin’s help Arthur won’t be protected. Set about executing her plan to take Camelot by force, she uses a mystical creature to attack Merlin and suck his power out of him while he’s unawares after a drunken night of jovial betting games with Arthur. Realising without his powers Merlin can no longer protect Arthur the young warlock is desolate and decides he must travel to the Crystal Cave in an attempt to regain his magic.
Morgana with Mordred as her sidekick attacks the borders leaving Arthur forced into coming up with a plan to lure Morgana and her strong army away from Camelot; leading them to Camlann he vows, “Be it life or death. It ends here.” Merlin must abandon his King while he goes on his own journey, Arthur however thinks Merlin is a coward. This leads to a sad scene between Arthur and Merlin where we truly see Arthur’s respect for Merlin and his disappointment his friend and confidant won’t be travelling with him. ” All those jokes about you being a coward, I never really meant any of them. I always thought you were the bravest man I ever met… guess I was wrong.” Merlin must live with Arthur’s disappointment knowing he’s trying to protect him.
Mordred appears at times uncomfortable with Morgana’s decisions but steadfast at others. Unless Mordred steps up to do more, (other than attempt to kill Arthur) it will feel he’s been relegated to be Morgana’s puppet and the big build up of last week irreverent. I have a feeling I know what’s going to happen with his new dragon-breathed sword which is obviously pivotal in the death of a character. Some may well ask why didn’t Morgana think of that earlier and just kill Arthur, Merlin or anyone else who has stood in her way. But with it being the finale 2-parter I’m prepared to suspend my disbelief.
Gwaine meanwhile is seduced by Eira who he believes to be a damsel in distress but is really using him to get information to pass to Morgana. Gwaine redeems himself helping Merlin travel to the Crystal Cave at which Merlin comes face to face with Morgana who traps him in the cave. Feeling all hope is lost his father appears to him reminding him he’s born of the earth and hasn’t lost his magic. Meanwhile Arthur gives a rousing speech to his Knights as they prepare to do battle that has prophesied the death of Arthur.
This was a great dramatic episode with rousing music gliding us along. Colin Morgan does a perfect job of displaying the lost sorcerer but is masterful in telling Arthur to “find the path.” Bradley James also shines as he swiftly moves between brave warrior prepared to fight to the death and sensitive during his conversations with Merlin and Gwen.
I was a little disappointed Arthur or even Gwaine didn’t discover Merlin’s secret. It seems all the battle and revelations is being held back for the last part. There’s not much hope for our characters evident but Merlin exits the cave as Emrys/Dragoon the Great the power which is sure to change the balance swiftly. My only hope is that we see Merlin do battle, magically or otherwise as himself, rather than having to hide behind the disguise. Great episode that leaves you on the edge of your seat for the final instalment on Christmas Eve.