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‘Merlin’ Recap – The End of the End

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After five long years, we come to the end of our journey with Merlin. Picking up where we left off last week on the fields of Camlann, the hour was a roller coaster ride, not because of the action, but because of the emotion. Secrets are revealed, destinies are realized, and not everyone makes it out of the hour alive.

Merlin makes it to the battlefield, and manages to end the fight decisively with some impressive feats of magic. The Saxons start to retreat, but not before Arthur comes face-to-face again with Mordred. After a brief fight it seems that Mordred fulfills the prophecy and deals Arthur a fatal blow, but Arthur returns the favour and runs Mordred through with the king’s own enchanted sword. By the time Merlin arrives on the scene, Mordred is dead, but Arthur has been seriously wounded, and because it’s a mystical wound as well, Merlin will need some extra help in order to save his king.

Taking his cues from Gaius, Merlin departs with Arthur for the Isle of Avalon, home of the ancient magic that will heal the king. But wait! We get ahead of ourselves. Merlin reveals to Arthur that he’s got magic, and it does not go over well. Although Arthur’s been a bit more level-headed on the subject of magic than his father, he still feels hurt and revolted at the revelation that his friend, servant and confidant is, and has been, a dirty sorcerer. Arthur refuses Merlin’s help, but Merlin gives it anyway. It doesn’t help when Gaius arrives and let’s Arthur know that, “hey, I knew Merlin was a wizard the whole time and it’s totally N.B.D.” But soon it’s time for Merlin and Arthur to make their run to Avalon, and in Weepy Tissue Moment #1, Gaius says goodbye to his ward saying that he’ll have his favourite meal waiting for him when he gets back, while knowing full well that this was probably the last time he’d ever see Merlin.

Meanwhile, Morgana’s getting her revenge on. Mordred’s dead, but Arthur’s still out there wounded. She sends her Saxons out to find him, remaining as ruthless and defiant as ever.

As Merlin and Arthur make their way through the still dangerous backwoods, Arthur sees more of Merlin’s magical works. An understanding begins to occur in the king, not just all that Merlin’s hid from him, but everything that Merlin has done for him, in secret, without ever even trying to claim credit. Arthur and Merlin recall the first time they met and the fight with the mace, and Arthur asks why Merlin never told him he was a sorcerer. Merlin says that he never wanted to put Arthur in an awkward position given the laws of Camelot, but Arthur admits that he has no idea what he would have done. But despite the refreshing honesty, and honest bromance, Arthur is getting worse.

Back at Camelot, Gaius returns with news: Arthur is injured, but Merlin is taking him to help. He also gives Guinevere the ring of the dragon, a bequeathment from Arthur and with it the power to rule Camelot. And oh, by the way, Gwaine’s girlfriend Eira is Morgana’s spy. A scheme is set up where Eira sends Morgana the wrong information about Arthur’s whereabouts, and when she gets to that wrong location, Gwaine and Percival will be there to finish her off for good. As for Eira, off with her head!

As for the grand plan, it was somewhat not very successful. While Gwaine and Percival get the drop on Morgana, she still has magic, and thus the upper hand. Morgana tortures Gwaine with one of those truth snakes (Why does it have to be truth snakes?), and gets Arthur’s real location. Percival comes to and after freeing himself he finds Gwaine near death. With his last breath, Gwaine says he fails, and dies. (That was Weepy Tissue Moment #2.) Morgana does indeed catch-up with her half-brother and her mortal enemy Emrys, catching them off guard. Morgana revels in Arthur’s predicament, and taunts Merlin that as a high priestess, she can’t be killed, but oh yes she can. Merlin runs her through with Excalibur saying that he’s to blame for what she became, but it was time for the circle of violence to end. Morgana falls to ground dead.

Having lost their horses, Merlin tries to take Arthur the rest of the way to Avalon on foot, but Arthur is not doing well at all. The king is near death, Merlin is behind himself and here comes Weepy Tissue Moment #3. Arthur tells Merlin that he has something he wants to tell him, but Merlin doesn’t want to say goodbye. “No, Merlin, says Arthur, “everything you’ve done. I know now. For me, for Camelot. For the kingdom you helped me build… […] I want to say… something I’ve never said to you before… thank you.”

In agony, Merlin calls out to the Great Dragon for help, and although he takes Merlin and Arthur the rest of the way par avion, it really is too late. Merlin thinks he’s failed, but the Great Dragon disagrees and gives Merlin some last bit of wisdom. “Though no man, no matter how great, can know his destiny, some lives have been foretold, Merlin… Arthur is not just a king, he is the Once and Future King. Take heart, for when Albion’s need is greatest, Arthur will rise again. It has been a privilege to have known you, young warlock. The story we have been a part of will live long in the minds of men.”

Merlin puts Arthur on a boat and points it towards the island of Avalon. Merlin breaks down in tears as the boat leaves the shore, but he stands and watches his friend sail away into the mist. Meanwhile, back in Camelot, it is announced that the king is dead, and the court rousingly declares, “Long live the Queen!”

Flash-forward to the present day, and a legitimately old Merlin strolls by the water’s edge where he sent Arthur on his way hundreds of years before, still waiting for the time of Arthur’s return.

The End.

EPISODE NOTES

-Mordred went down like punk bitch, didn’t he?

-That was pretty sweet when the Saxon bursts into the medical tent and Gwen takes him out. It was a nice reminder that Queen Gwen is the fighting daughter of a blacksmith.

-I realize there’s a TV budget constraint, and there was a lot to get to in the hour, but it did seem like the Battle of Camlann was over really fast for such an important benchmark.

-I liked that Merlin took the mulligan for making Morgana what she became. It was kind of alluded to in the past that if Merlin had taken Morgana under his wing when they realized she had magic, they might have mitigated some of those evil doings.

-RIP: Arthur, Morgana, Mordred, Gwaine, and the Great Dragon

-I remember when they announced Merlin’s cancellation there was a possibility mentioned of a spin-off, but now having seen the finale, I’m curious to see what a spin-off would look like. Would it be the adventures of Queen Gwen in a post-Arthur Camelot, or would it be Arthur and Merlin in the modern world solving crimes and other stuff? I really hope that it was the later rather than the former.

Thanks to the cast and crew of Merlin for five great years of TV. It was a helluva ride.

‘Merlin’ Recap – The Beginning of the End

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It seems like forever since we recapped Merlin, which makes it all the more sadder since we’ve nearly reached the end of our adventures with him and the rest of the Camelot gang. Friday night kicked off the first of the two-part series finale, “Diamond of the Day, Part 1” and set up Arthur’s final (?) battle against Morgana and Mordred for the future of Albion. But who will win? Whose secrets will be revealed? And how did Merlin get so good at medieval craps? The answers are below.

We begin where we left off: Mordred has spilled the beans to Morgana that Emrys is, in fact, Merlin. Morgana has a plan to rob Merlin of his power, and since this is Morgana we’re talking about, it involves a horrible slug-like thing that hugs your face and seemingly sucks out your magic through your mouth. Gross. But that was the last thing on Merlin’s mind when he got sprung by the creature, which was sneakily left under his bed while he was reliving his fraternity days with Arthur and the knights at the Rising Sun pub.

Step one of Morgana’s plan is to rid Merlin of his powers. Step two is to draw out her brother and his army and engage them in battle with the her Saxon forces. As fate would have it, the scene for their inevitable face-off is Camlann. Merlin is stuck, he knows what’s coming, but he’s powerless to do anything about it. What can a powerless wizard do to change the inevitable?

For Merlin, the answer is in the Crystal Caves, the mythological birthplace of magic. Journeying there with the help of Gwaine, Merlin misses Arthur’s departure to Camlann. Arthur too is disappointed that Merlin won’t be there, in fact it seems to hit him harder than Mordred’s betrayal. But Merlin’s gotta do what he’s gotta do, and so does Eira, a nice young lady who Gwaine’s been seeing. Too bad she’s actually one of Morgana’s spies who spills the beans, not only of Arthur’s plans, but of Gwaine’s side trip to the Crystal Caves with Merlin. Morgana knows that there are some doings transpiring.

At the Crystal Caves, Merlin and Gwaine part ways, but someone else is there to meet up with Merlin: Morgana. Morgana taunts Merlin, and Merlin does a pretty good job standing up for himself without magic, but Morgana ends up getting the upper hand and traps Merlin in a cave-in. Without magic, and trapped, Merlin loses hope, but the spirit of his father Balinor appears to him. Offering him words of encouragement, Balinor helps Merlin get his magic back, and just in time too.

On the fields of Camlann, Morgana and Mordred aim to out-flank Camelot’s forces through a difficult to find passage, but Merlin can see it. From the Crystal Caves, Merlin telepathically alerts Arthur, who sounds the alarm: Morgana and the Saxons are attacking tonight! Merlin follows the crystals deeper into the cave and finds the source of magic, and the source of an even greater power. More powerful than ever, he emerges from the caves ready to rejoin the fight for the future of the united kingdoms.

To be continued…

EPISODE NOTES

*Didn’t it seem wicked easy to both lose your magic and get it back?

*Mordred gets a sword forged in fire’s breath? Well, that takes some of the specialness out of Excalibur. I mean if anybody can have sword forged in fire’s breath, right?

*So it’s Old Merlin who comes out of the cave? Is that a disguise, or a magic trick, or did Merlin just age like 60 years in two minutes?

*Oh yeah, Arrested Development’s back this weekend, so maybe there’s hope that Merlin will be back in the future.

NEXT WEEK: “I’m a sorcerer. I have magic…”

‘Merlin’ Recap – The Pause Button

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So this is not a Merlin recap. Sorry if you clicked on this expecting a recap of the latest episode.

While traversing the information super-highways this week, I happened upon the Sy-Fy website. Now this important because I watch Merlin on the Canadian channel Space owing to the fact I live in Canada, and Merlin has aired continuously since bowing in January. But what I didn’t know is that Sy-Fy is holding on to the finally five Merlin episodes until May, so while I’ve been merrily continuing on spoiler-filled recaps for the past three weeks, I was blissfully unaware that our American friends had not yet seen the episodes.

So for the benefit of all fans, I’ve decided to wait until Sy-Fy airs “Diamond of the Day” Parts 1 and 2 before recapping them. Now the episodes themselves have been in the internet ether since season 5 of Merlin debit last fall on the BBC, so if you want to find out how Merlin ends badly enough, it’s not going to be that hard for you, these are the times we live and I get it. But since I think the purpose of a recap is meant for the enjoyment of all who’ve seen a given episode, and since there are still many who insist on sitting in front of their TV to catch that new episode on the day and time it premieres, it seems to me better to wait till all fans have been able to see the show to recap.

So see in May Merlin fans for the series epic conclusion. Will Merlin’s secret be revealed to all? Will Morgana and Mordred have their revenge? Will destiny be met or defeated? See you in a few weeks for the answers.

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Sorry Merlin fans but after tonight it’s just two more episodes till the end. But hey, wasn’t tonight’s antipenultimate episode amazing? It was the moment we’ve all been waiting for: fate is met, secrets are revealed, and the chess board is set for the ultimate battle of ultimate destiny. But where did it all go wrong? Let’s dive into the recap.

As you’ll remember from last week, Camelot is in the midst of a full-scale war with the Saxons led by Morgana, so when a Camelot patrol comes upon a bunch of slain knights, the assumption is Saxon attack (which is fun to say, but not so much fun to live through). Mordred thinks he sees someone in the nearby woods and gives chase, but it’s not who he expected. Indeed it is a young woman named Kara, and its painfully clear that she and Mordred share an affection. Naturally, Mordred covers for her with Arthur and the others, saying that he merely saw a deer. Merlin, however, is suspicious.

Mordred later tries to sneak remedies and supplies to Kara, but is caught by Merlin on his way out of the castle. Merlin points out that there’ll be big trouble for the knight who helps someone who helped attack Camelot citizens, but Mordred pleads with Merlin, she’s a Druid, one of them, he was duty-bound to help her. Merlin, despite himself, promises to keep Mordred’s secret, but while patrolling in the woods with Arthur later, the king and Merlin come across a trail of boot prints that lead them to Kara. Kara attacks immediately, but is captured in the process.

Because of her seemingly bottomless appetite for murder, Kara is sentenced to death. Mordred blames Merlin, thinking he betrayed him and promising retribution. In the meantime though Mordred sees Arthur to beg for clemency and to take credit for helping Kara out in the first place. Although Arthur’s sympathetic, his judgment stands: Kara will be executed.

Visiting Kara, Mordred is beside himself. he thought he and Arthur were friends, brother knights through and through, but Kara says it just proves that Arthur and Uther are cut from the same cloth. Mordred comes up with a plan. He goes to Arthur and apologizes for his earlier outburst, and Arthur appreciates that. All is forgiven. But Merlin knows that Mordred’s not going to let it drop, and that Mordred is going to spring Kara from the Camelot brig. Gaius points out the irony in Merlin’s decision to stop him, but Merlin says that if Mordred leaves the castle, he’ll run straight into the arms of Morgana, and by then it will be really too late.

And Mordred does indeed escape with Kara from the citadel, with the knights in hot pursuit. When cornered Mordred decides to fight, and Kara urges him to kill the knights with magic, but Mordred hesitates, and they’re both taken into custody. Merlin feels that he’s brought about the very thing he was trying to prevent, but Gaius says that “some paths woven so deeply into the fabric of the world, that nothing can be done to change them.”

Merlin tries to convince Arthur to let both Mordred and Kara go, a desperate plea to avoid the future Merlin knows is coming. Arthur is resolute, but after thinking about Merlin’s words – How will two more deaths help secure a peace in the overall scheme of things? – Arthur gives Kara a chance to repent. But Kara repents not, she says she’s not guilty of any crimes, and that it is a not a crime to fight for your freedom.

So she’s hanged. Mordred, in that moment, loses his $#!% and escapes using magic.

Arthur and Merlin talk later. Arthur feels bad for letting Mordred get so close, but Merlin says it’s because he’s got a good heart and believed in Mordred. Arthur asks Merlin if he’s made a mistake, and Merlin says he hopes not.

But yep, Mordred heads straight to Morgana…

Mordred: I bring you the news you have longed for.

Morgana: Arthur’s death?

Mordred: The key to it. I was wrong to ever question your wisdom, my lady, and I wish to make amends.

Morgana: Tell me!

Mordred: There is someone you have been searching for, someone who has always eluded you.

Morgana: Emrys.

Mordred: I know where he is.

Morgana: Where?

Mordred: Camelot. And I have his true name. It is Merlin.

Boom. There it is.

EPISODE NOTES

-Oh man, that was so worth it. After five years, for Merlin’s secret to be out to the worst possible people waylays all my petty complaining about how Merlin’s secret was on lockdown for so long. I don’t think I was wrong, of course, but it was just a great moment when Mordred let drop that it Merlin was Emrys I let it slide for a minute.

-There was also compelling drama in the Arthur and Mordred dynamic. Their relationship was ruined not by an issue that was cut and dry. Yes, Kara did kill people, and Mordred was in the wrong trying to spring her, but Arthur also offered an olive branch, and it was batted out of his hand. It’s compelling that it was more a moral play than Arthur was 100 per cent right, and Mordred was 100 per cent wrong.

-Good on Gaius for calling double-standard on Merlin. I mean come on, how many people has Merlin sprung for the Camelot jail?

-With Merlin’s whole swan analogy, is it just me or did he come out of the closet in tonight’s episode? Or am I reading too much into that?

NEXT WEEK: The End, Part 1

‘Merlin’ Recap – Say It Like An Elvis Song

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This week’s Merlin brings to a head the last month’s storyline involving a puppet Gwen and her attempts to bring down Camelot and Arthur according to the will of everyone’s favorite bastard princess and witch, Morgana. The episode’s title, “With All My Heart,” refers to what Gwen said to Arthur when she accepted his wedding proposal, but it’s also a reference to an Elvis Presley song, “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You,” recorded by The King as a single in 1956. It was his second number one hit on the Billboard pop charts. I’m not sure if the writers had that in mind with the line, but it’s where my mind went anyway.

But let’s get down to this very important episode, which opens once again with Guinevere meeting Morgana in the woods outside the castle to discuss their latest takedown options. This time though, Merlin and Arthur are hiding nearby listening to every word. Arthur wants to strike now, but Merlin advises patience. They need to find a way to free Gwen from Morgana’s control.

Gauis says there is a magic that can help Gwen, and although Arthur is hesitant, the combined convincing power of Gaius and Merlin brings the king around to the idea. But first, a field trip for Merlin. Gwen is suffering the Tiene Daga, a magical method of brainwashing that binds the brainwashee to the High Priestess by instilling horrific fear (see: The Dark Tower). Merlin must see the Dochraid in order to find a possible cure for Gwen, and she’s not going to be very accommodating.

Merlin goes in disguise as Dragoon the Great, but that doesn’t fool the Dochraid, she knows who she’s dealing with: Emrys, and he ain’t no friend to the Old Religion or Morgana. Screw it! Merlin goes gangsta on the Dochraid, and busts a cap… Or rather wounds her on the arm with Excalibur. The Dochraid gives up the info: Merlin and Co. will have to travel to the Cauldron of Arianrhod where Merlin will have to summon the Triple Goddess herself as only her healing touch can hope to save Gwen. But the rub is that Gwen will have to enter the waters of the Cauldron willingly, she cannot be tricked or enchanted, or else risk losing her soul forever. As Merlin turns to leave, the Dochraid tries to kill him with an enchanted knife, but Merlin deflects it easily and instead uses it to strike down the Dochraid.

With info in hand, Arthur, Merlin and Gaius plot to get Gwen to the Cauldron (and to disguise Merlin in order to perform the ritual, since Arthur is already aware of the Dragoon ruse). Using a belladonna-spiked drink to put Gwen’s lights out, Arthur and Merlin head out, surreptitiously followed by Mordred, who, at just the right moment, reveals himself in time to save both our heroes from falling off a perilous cliff. But that’s not the only danger. The Dochraid survived and has tipped off Morgana that her old friend Emrys is looking to de-puppetize the queen.

Morgana ambushes the gang as they’re nearing the Cauldron, and she has dragon back-up. Merlin tells Arthur to take Gwen ahead and he uses his Dragon Lord powers to call off Aithusa’s attack, but then Morgana strikes, knocking out Mordred and leaving Merlin with just enough juice to get away. That was fine by Morgana, who, with some lingering degree of affection for Mordred, tries to get out of the knight the identity of Emrys. But nope, Mordred will not tell her anything, or betray Arthur, so he knocks Morgana out with magic instead.

Finally at the Cauldron, Arthur and Gwen are confronted by the sorcerer who will help them: Dolma. If she looks familiar, it’s because she’s Merlin in drag (with some temporary magical sex reassignment, not that we got into the technicalities of the spell). Arthur tries to get Gwen into the lake, but she’s not having any of it. Merlin/Dolma reminds Arthur that he has to convince her to enter the lake of her own free will, so Arthur offers some romantic words to his queen: “Do you remember when I asked you to marry me? Do you remember what you said? You said with all my heart. That’s what you said Guinevere. No subterfuge, no trickery.” Gwen is moved, and enters the lake with Arthur. Merlin lays on the spells, and all is right with the world again.

Arthur prepares to depart and thanks the Dolma for her efforts. The Dolma asks Artur to remember that it was magic that healed his wife, and that the practice itself isn’t bad, it’s how people decide to use it. And by the way, do you want your serving boy back? I’ve got “him” all “tied up” back at my “lair.” Our heroes make their way back to Camelotand everything’s grand, at least until till next week’s crisis, and Mordred tells Merlin that he wasn’t fooled by the whole Dolma ruse. Not one bit. Arthur however, totally bought it.

EPISODE NOTES

-Who else is loving bad ass Merlin? Taking on the Dochraid was just the latest in a long line of ballsy moves the wizard’s done since offing Uncle Agravaine in “The Sword and the Stone, Part II.” Of course, somewhat muting Merlin’s development as a magical Punisher was this week’s experimentation with cross-dressing, but you kind of have to respect a man who will literally do whatever it takes to save the day.

-But seriously, is there no such thing as Polyjuice potion or fake mustaches in the Merlin universe? The two options were going old, or going fem?

-Mordred once again got involved in the action this week, which was nice considering he’s done a lot of standing on the sidelines lately (and to prove it, Alexander Vlahos has been made to do that standing on the sidelines to show that Mordred’s still around). However, I found Mordred’s still rather staunch defense of Arthur and Camelot interesting given our proximity to the series finale. Maybe Mordred should be questioning his commitment given that Arthur was using magic to solve his own personal problems while Merlin was perfectly happy to leave him to Morgana and whatever fate she concocted?

-It’s somewhat disappointing that the episode didn’t lead to someone who’s not Mordred discovering Merlin’s secret identity, and I don’t mean Dolma. From the looks of next week’s episode though it looks like somebody might be getting close, perhaps too close. Still, I will call the evil Gwen storyline a mostly success. It added some nice shades of grey to Gwen’s story arc and the resolution was actually very emotionally moving. Bravo!

NEXT WEEK: Morgana goes from 0 to 1,000 in her quest to get rid of Emrys once and for all.

‘Merlin’ Recap – The Law & Order Edition

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Just when everything seems like it’s going well in Camelot – well, except for that pesky Morgana and her issues – a trio of three witches decide to pass judgment on the King and his rule, and the sentence is… Well, why ruin the surprise?

This week’s episode kicks off like MacBeth, three witches stirring up some trouble. They are the Disir, high priestesses of the Old Religion who speak for the Triple Goddess. They dole out justice by her hand and now the less than blind eyes of justice are tuned towards Arthur. But first, combat practice! And young Sir Mordred is coming along nicely with his training. Even Arthur thinks so. Merlin is still dubious about Mordred, and although Gaius tries to convince him that all this worrying is much ado about nothing (another Shakespeare reference – did you catch it!), Merlin remains steadfast in his doubt even though he, himself, has to admit that Mordred doesn’t seem like a bad guy.

Wait, here comes Sir Leon with news. The sorcerer and raconteur Osgar escaped some Camelot knights at a nearby outpost, and in the process Sir Ranulf was killed. The late knight was an old buddy of Arthur’s, so naturally some measure of retaliation is called for. So the Knights of the Round Table saddle up. Mordred comes along on his first official mission, one that includes some gentle hazing from the other knights. The company catches up to Osgar eventually, and though he’s mortally wounded, he manages to live long enough to give Arthur the verdict of the Disir, inscribed on a gold coin.

Merlin, of course, is concerned about the condemnation, but Arthur is merely vexed. Sure, he could understand the Disir condemning his father, but hasn’t he, Arthur, tried to be a just and moral king. Merlin points out that only those worthy can be judged, since it’s pointless to judge a man who won’t listen or examine his own beliefs to consider he might be wrong. Gwen points out that maybe Osgar was just a whack job, but Arthur saw the sincerity and knowing that Osgar was a sorcerer, and a cunning one at that, he could have easily taken out both the king and his knights. But he didn’t. Could the message of judgment have more weight than Arthur would like to admit?

Naturally it does and the Camelot knights ride out to the sacred place where the Disir dwell. When they get there, the knights are rather – um- single-minded. They enter the cave, in force, with weapons drawn, despite Merlin’s warnings that this is a sacred place that they should show some reverence to. Oh that Merlin, such a nimby. But yeah, the Disir aren’t impressed either. Arthur mouths off and disrespect is paid, which results in the Disir throwing some spears with their magic, one of which impales Mordred. The knights retreat, and return to Camelot where Gaius pronounces that it’s only a matter of time before Mordred dies.

Unless… No Merlin refuses to help. Following the advise of the Great Dragon, Merlin decides the risk to the future is too great with Mordred alive and declines to use his magic to heal Mordred. Arthur, however, is not as intractable. He takes Merlin and returns to the Disir to ask for forgiveness and to spare Mordred’s life. The Disir tell Arthur again that he has to convert to the Old Religion or else, and that he has until sun-up to decide. Arthur actually carefully considers it, after all: magic doesn’t kill people, people kill people. Not so fast, says Merlin swallowing hard every dream he has to live open and free as a wizard, magic causes a lot of bad stuff, and isn’t it possible that there’s a toxic effect to magic run unchecked? Wasn’t that the whole root of the purge, and Uther’s madness, and other anti-magic motions across the Five Kingdoms? Arthur sees the wisdom and his mind’s made up. He tells the Disir thanks but no thanks to the Old Religion and heads home.

The Disir’s punishment: Mordred lives. Arthur and Merlin return to Camelot to find Mordred alive and well. Arthur is pleased, but to Merlin, it just solidifies one thing: Mordred is the fateful end to Arthur he’s been looking for. To be continued…

EPISODE NOTES

-Can anyone say “filler episode?” This was easily the weakest entry of the season so far, and basically just reinforced the outlining story arc of the season: Arthur brings Mordred into the fold, Mordred is destined to betray Arthur, et cetera, and so forth. I suppose though it must be done. Scenes of Mordred and Arthur paling around, and other knights giving Mordred a gentle good ribbing help to effectively set-up the drama coming down the pipe.

-Bravo to Colin Morgan, the stand out performer from last night’s episode! No longer the country lad caught up in the palace theatrics, Merlin remained steadfast in his doubt of Mordred, and was even more cynical than Gaius about whether or not the Druid boy could turn out all right in the end. Merlin, once defiant when confronted with Mordred’s destiny, is now all too willing to proceed as the Great Dragon advises: let the kid die. On the flip side, Merlin had to swallow any hope for a bright day of magical openness in order to convince Arthur that embracing the Old Religion is wrong in order to save Mordred. Powerful stuff and ripe with inner-turmoil, which was rather underplayed nicely by Morgan who couldn’t really act out all that frustration and doubt, but had to look like he was burying it deep down. Hope this episode makes the Emmy clip reel.

-Was the MacBeth comparison with The Disir apt, or was it just me? It would have been funny if the connection was made a little more explicit, like in the old Disney Gargoyle cartoons, which included characters from both MacBeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream… You know if Hollywood wants to remake something, a live-action Gargoyles is something I could really get behind. Just saying. And what’s the deal with those Blair Witch stick figure ornaments outside The Disir’s cave? Is that a witch thing now?

-Was there a political implication in Merlin’s advice about the Disir’s judgment? Judgment will only be given to those who will listen. I read it as kind of statement about the absolutism of extremism in all forms. So many people never test their beliefs and live in their own little echo chamber that reinforces the things they already know, so how does one learn and grow without accept the judgment of others that you might be wrong? Some wise words to think about indeed. This Merlin has come along way.

-Osgar’s line: “For even as Camelot flowers, the seeds of her destruction are being sown,” some damn fine alliteration, or subliminal Hellboy reference? Dealer’s choice.

Next week: Morgana’s back with a new plot involving Queen Gwen. An evil plot? I guess you’ll just have to tune in and see.

‘Merlin’ Recap – Better Late Than Never…

Apologies Merlin fans for the extraordinary lateness of the recap of this past Friday’s episode. Sometimes the real world bars us from doing the things we want to do, in order to do the things we have to do. But enough about my whiny, financially-tied excuses! Let’s get back to medieval times…

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‘Merlin’ Recap – The Beginning of the End

It’s somewhat bittersweet that we kick off this new season of Merlin, because we know it will be the series’ last. But as they say, the show must go on, as will these re-caps. For this season, I will forgo the usual blow-by-blow account, not because I didn’t enjoy doing them, but because they’re rather time consuming, and I just don’t have that kind of time anymore. So let’s get right down to the season premiere of Merlin, the once and future series about medieval times’ greatest bromance.

As previously reported, this season picks up three years after the end of series four. It’s been a time of peace and prosperity for Camelot, and one that’s seen a few changes, for instance, did you notice that circular piece of furniture that Arthur’s holding meetings around now? The order of the day is Ismere, a fortress in the northern plains. Sirs Gwaine and Percival were scouting the area when they went missing with 60 of Camelot’s finest, so can somebody say rescue mission?

You don’t exactly have to be a Druid seer to know that it’s Morgana who’s up to no good in Ismere. Now controlling the Saxons, she’s got a small slave labor force digging underneath the castle in search of a priceless artifact. It seemed to me that Morgana was an after-thought in series four even though she was the Big Bad at the center of it all, sometimes being squeezed into an episode just to remind us that Arthur’s uncle Agravaine is her man in Camelot. But if last season, Morgana was playing things cool and taking advantage when a situation came up, this season, she’s all proactive. So what is she looking for under Ismere? Arthur’s Bane.

Not that Bane.

According to Morgana’s new henchman, Ruadan, they will learn what Arthur’s Bane is through the Diamair, the key to all knowledge. They just need a few more guys to help dig it up.

Arthur’s rescue of his men takes a detour through a decimated village where Merlin detects a disturbance in the Force. He finds the Druid seer Lochru dying in a nearby cave, a moment that Lochru has long dreaded. He tells Merlin of Arthur’s Bane, who nobody cared about till he put on the mask– Sorry. Again, wrong Bane! What Lochru does show Merlin is a vision of the future: the Battle of Camlann, and the ultimate showdown between Arthur and Mordred. (Obviously, we don’t want to spoil how it turns out.) We don’t get to see much of the re-cast Mordred this week, but I will say that actor Alexander Vlahos makes a believable grown-up Asa Butterfield.

The Great Dragon later confirms Lochru’s gifts and advises Merlin to be weary, not that the kid needs the advice, or, for that matter, not that he needs any new concerns to get himself distracted. As Arthur and the others push on for Ismere, it seems that Camelot’s got mole issues again. Queen Guinevere’s new maid Sefa, as it turns out, is the daughter of Ruadan, who tells her father that Arthur and the Camelot knights are taking the sneaky, less direct route to Ismere from the west. The news allows Morgana and the Saxons to get the drop on Arthur, who’s injured in the ensuing battle, but saved by Merlin. They get separated from the others, but push on for Ismere on their own.

Sirs Elyan and Leon manage to return to Camelot knowing their plan has been compromised. Gwen clues in immediately that it’s Sefa who spilled the beans, and brings her before the court to find out what she told to whom. Meanwhile, Gwaine notices a funky light in a cave under Ismere as he’s breaking rocks and follows it, and after getting knocked out in a fight with the Saxons, he encounters what looks like a mix of the aliens from Signs and that thing Geordi Laforge turned into in the “Identity Crisis” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

As they continue to Ismere themselves, Merlin and Arthur get caught in an Endor Wookie trap and are later freed by some mercenaries who decide to kill them on sight. And just when it looks like our heroes have met their end a young man appears and says that it should be left to the Lady Morgana to decide their fate. “Hello Arthur,” says the grown-up Mordred. Uh oh…

Next time, we’ll learn what Arthur’s Bane really is. Hint: he’s not Camelot’s reckoning.

EPISODE NOTES

  • The winter shots look awesome. Full marks to the cinematographer as the series really stepped up its game shooting those scenes.
  • Nice shout to the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia with Morgana’s wolf-drawn sleigh. Actually, the whole episode was very good for both Morgana, and her portrayer Katie McGrath, and I love how the writers picked up on that weird torture flirting thing that Morgana did with Gwaine in The Sword and the Stone, Part 2.
  • This was also a very strong episode for Gwen, who seems to have really taken to the role of Queen by adding key strategic insight and shrewd judgement. Angel Coulby was very commanding in the scene where Gwen sentences Sefa to death, even Elyan had a look on his face that said, “Damn, that’s cold.”
  • Speaking of Sefa, did anyone hope that there might be  a less sinister outcome for her? Especially since she was making cute with Merlin in some of those early scenes.
  • Lindsay Duncan reappears as Queen Annis in the first of what’s supposed to be many familiar faces returning this season on Merlin.
  • Did anyone else wonder if Colin Morgan‘s juggling ability was natural talent of CG-enhanced?It look pretty real if it was the latter.
  • Although the humor was still there, one definitely sensed a maturation of Arthur and Merlin’s friendship. Merlin as well seems more bound by doubt than ever before after the encounter with Lochru, and tries to talk Arthur out of going on by sharing (some of) what Lochru told him. But a knight of Camelot never leaves a man behind, and the secret wizard who works undercover as the King’s servant doesn’t leave his sovereign behind.
  • One more thing: although it looks awesome, I kind of wish they’d stop doing the Zack Snyder 300 stuff during Arthur’s fight scenes. We get it, Arthur can kick a lot of ass. Maybe we can see some fights in normal film speed once in a while.

See you next week.

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