“I dont want you to change. I want you to always be you”
How quickly we’ve reached the final episode. If you haven’t seen it, prepare yourself (and be prepared for spoilers below). If you have, I feel your pain.
Following on from last week, we jump straight back into the action. Just as Morgana saves Mordred from the Knights (Why? What’s wrong with his own magic?) Emrys turns up and uses his staff to even up the odds. Arthur stands in shock and awe before he continues the fight. As he comes across a wounded knight the prophesy comes true as Mordred pierces his magical blade through Arthur leaving a shard of it embedded. Arthur uses his last strength to kill Mordred. And from here is where the episode truly begins as we go on the fateful journey of Arthur and Merlin.
After five long years (and probably more in Camelot time seen as we did a few time shifts), Arthur finally discovers Merlin is a sorcerer and Merlin fights to save the King and stop the prophesy of his friends demise coming true. There will be opposing opinions on how the finale should have ended as with most popular long-running shows, especially fantasy shows. Do I think its true to each character? – Probably not. But it is beautiful yet tragic end with a tinge of hope as the fateful servant continues to wait even till this day for “the once and future king” to rise again.
If you’re an Arthur / Gwen fan then there’s nothing for you unfortunately. The real focus is the friendship and devotion of Merlin to Arthur. It’s one of the most sad yet empowering bromances you’ll see; Arthur initially struggles to see Merlin the same but watches his friend initially feeling betrayed, “You’ve lied to me all this time,” which gradually changes to utmost respect as he realises the selfless sacrifices Merlin has continually made for him, and the people of Camelot. “Everything you’ve done I know now. For me, for Camelot and for the Kingdom you helped me build. I want to say something I’ve never said to you before. Thank you!” There’s no doubt the tissues come in handy as there’s plenty of crying and declarations. Colin Morgan and Bradley James both acted superbly. Colin Morgan was especially heartbreaking as he cried while confessing his secret to Arthur and again when he realises Arthur is gone with the help of the Dragon’s wise words one last time at Avalon. Merlin may not have saved Arthur but he has succeeded in building Albion – he just didn’t know it.
Morgana’s end was a let down considering we’ve had several series of build up; I was expecting a showdown. What we got was Merlin swiftly dealt with her as Arthur comments he’s finally brought peace to Camelot. Gwen took to the throne after the fate of her husband is revealed, but not before having Gwaine’s devious girlfriend hanged. Having her initially at the battle scene was quite a red herring leading audiences to believe she would be there if Arthur was to die. Alas they got no goodbye but she did what most of the characters have failed to do – she figured out Merlin’s secret with a little help from Gaius. It was a nice sentiment when she said she was pleased.
I’ve watched Merlin from the beginning and have seen it go from a simple threat of the week to a well thought out fantasy full of mythology. Its become an epic show both in popularity and its filming sequences as the battle at the beginning showed as we saw slow motion captures of Arthur in battle. Dont get me wrong, there been a few mistakes; storylines and continuity forgotten and several plot opportunities woefully missed. But when it get it right its immense and has been thoroughly entertaining throughout and I shall miss it and the Dragon’s wise words to the young warlock on our screens come next autumn. As Kilgharrah elegantly put it, “it has been a privilege to know you young warlock. the story we have been apart of will live long in the minds of men.”