on 5 January 2013
This being the final series of Merlin, expectations were high. As a lover of Merlin since it first began, I'm disappointed to say that it didn't quite reach those expectations.
There were some wonderful, stand out episodes, such as 'The Deathsong of Uther Pendragon,' 'The Dark Tower,' and, in particular, 'The Diamond of the Day, part 1.'
However, since the announcement that series 5 would be the last series, what we were all looking forward to was the magic reveal, and sadly, this didn't come until the very last episode. What we got in the meantime were many unecessary 'filler' episodes where the plot didn't move forward, which was very frustrating as we knew that we only had limited time left.
Part 1 of the finale is, hands down, the best episode of Merlin, ever, for me. It sets the stage for an outstanding last episode, which is a horrific let down. The ending is most clearly not what,(from the state of the show's Facebook page,)fans were looking for, and I wasn't too pleased either. For 5 seasons, we're told that Arthur and Merlin will create Albion together, but we're left not even knowing if magic is accepted in Camelot. Surely that was the whole point? And Arthur is meant to die as an old man, having ruled for years with Merlin at his side. However, whilst annoying, this is not what ruined the ending for me. The writers have never stuck to legend, so it's hardly fair to expect them to start now.
No, what ruined Merlin's finale was how rushed it was. It's almost as though they decided they weren't going to make a series 6 and then realised they had a lot of ends to tie up and not much time to do it in. Morgana's death, Mordred and Arthur's 'battle,' Gwaine's out of character stupid assasination attempt- all were rushed. There were so many questions left unanswered- what happened to Aithusa, Morgana's dragon? Was magic accepted in Camelot? Did Merlin ever return? What happens to Percival, who we see tracking Morgana? Why didn't Merlin just call upon the dragon to fly them to Avalon, if he was going to call him anyway? It was all such an anticlimax. It does make you wish that they'd cut some of the pointless episodes, such as 'Another's Sorrow,' or some of the evil Gwen episodes, to give more time and tie it up properly. What would have been good would have been to have the magic reveal right at the beginning of the series, and then had the series showing how Merlin and Arthur's relationship changed, and Camelot too. Ending with Arthur's death then, would have been reasonable, and it would have been good to see Arthur learning of all Merlin had done for him, of how he was the dragonlord, and the sorcerer who he believed killed his father.
This series does get 3 stars, for the good episodes which show Merlin at its best, the actual magic reveal, which in itself is perfect, and most importantly for the outstanding acting, which always has been the show's strength. Whilst I hated the finale, there's no denying that Colin Morgan and Bradley James, in particular,play it to perfection. My advice is - watch the series until about halfway through the final episode, then leave it. You'll never see the rushed endings to the character's stories, but will be able to appreciate all the fine points of Merlin's last series.
on 27 December 2012
There has been much of interest and value in series 5 of Merlin and other reviewers have explored each episode in some detail. But because all good things must come to an end it is often the final episode of any series that defines everything that went before. No doubt some viewers, honed on plots where the hero lives happily ever, will find the final episode emotionally challenging. But a "happy ending" in the conventional sense would radically have departed from the traditional Arthurian legends. It would also have restricted Arthur to a mere mortal ruler, when in fact he achieved mythical status by transcending the limits of an earthly king and the equally limited boundaries of an earthly Camelot.
This vital magical feature was implicit in the final scene where we see Merlin in the present day strolling along a road next to the Isle of Avalon, illustrating that the greatest sorcerer of all time, along with King Arthur, is alive and well. Could he be on his way to meet Arthur with the intention of saving Albion from the perils of our present age? If so, then the story has ended not in loss and defeat, as some commentators are saying, but in a triumph far exceeding that which can be conceived of by mere mortals. Merlin has been a great series, and is highly recommended to anyone who loves not only "swords and sorcery", but stories with a meaning on more than one level.
Last of the saga which has so captured the imagination for five seasons. It had been an audacious move to have Merlin and Arthur seemingly the same age, but the pairing of Colin Morgan and Bradley James worked a treat - offering great scope for comedy as well as extremely moving moments.
The series also did not shy from the cruel ironies that make the legend so tragic. Most of Camelot's problems stemmed from Uther's blinkered rule, fatally some of those prejudices inherited by his otherwise enlightened son. Also there was Merlin's lasting anguish. Always he knew Mordred and Morgana would cause Arthur's death, but he could not bring himself to kill either when he had the chance. His hope was to delay for as long as possible the inevitable. A heavy burden indeed.
Everything was thus in place for eventual tragedy, episodes increasingly scary (which is why shown later in the evening).
In this final season there is as ever much to applaud. As well as the two leads, so many impress - Angel Coulby rising to extra challenges as Queen Guinevere, Katie McGrath better than ever the more wicked that Morgana becomes. Happily Richard Wilson as Gaius is around to the end, his scenes with Merlin a particular pleasure. Interestingly Mordred is depicted more sympathetically than usual, he keen to succeed in Arthur's court, but set off course by fellow Druid Cara.
Add great special effects, colourful villains, fine dragon, magnificent castle, knights in heroic mould (their striking red cloaks apparently a nuisance when filming), and a stirring final battle - Merlin dramatically to emerge as depicted in legends, complete with well directed thunderbolts. What more could one wish!
Actually for a better last episode. I share the regrets expressed by fellow reviewers. The season's finale needed more work done on it, those tagged on last few seconds amongst several disappointments.
(Lots of commentaries. Of the other bonuses "Making of Merlin" proves the most interesting.)
Despite reservations, the season still deserves its five stars. The last few evenings have been packed with excitement and most agreeably spent.
In one word? Magical.
on 10 February 2013
I have issues with the very final episode, but I'm going to talk about the great bits of the series, and this box set.
After a three year gap, the storyline suddenly gets a lot darker with series 5, a darkness is looming ahead as we suddenly get a lot closer to the legends of King Arthur. The reappearance of Mordred (Alex Vlahos) seems to be leading to a bad end as well, which Merlin is trying hard to avoid. How Arthur rules is brought into question, and how Merlin protects him becomes a focus. There are some very hard questions being asked the destinies of all three, are they avoidable at all? And finally, the character and relationship development is simply fanstastic. Gwen has grown into a new role, which she suits perfectly, Mordred makes huge changes in a very short spaces of time (perhaps too short), Arthur and Merlin are both forced to grow into their every increasing roles in Camelot, but it is their friendship which makes the whole of Merlin such a pleasure to watch. The last episode has been described as 'A platonic love story between two men' (although some people don't think it's so platonic!).
The box set has every episode, as well as commentary on commentary from the cast and directors on about eight of them. I love watching these, as they really give an insight into how they filmed, what it was like for the actors and what it's all meant to mean for us. The bloopers are as funny as usual, and the deleted scenes a great addition, although they do keave you wondering why some of them were left out!
I would reccomend this to everyone, although I would be tempted to wait until the price has dropped a little.
on 11 November 2012
ARTHUR'S BANE - PART ONE: A strong opener with amazing visuals. Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones) is a great guest star and steals most of the scenes he is in. Gwen has come far in the three-year gap between Series Four and Five. She appears to be much stronger and confident in her role as Queen - at one point even proving that she can make tough decisions when Arthur is away from Camelot. The episode ends on a great cliffhanger which leads nicely into Part Two. (4/5)
ARTHUR'S BANE - PART TWO: This episode follows on from the previous and like episode one, does not disappoint. The visuals are just as good and in some parts better than the first and the fight scenes are great. This episode also sees the return of Aithusa (from Series Four) and also another character who plays a huge part in Arthur's fate... Morgana appears to be slightly psychotic and in one particular scene shows how much she despises Arthur. There is no going back for her character, who appears to be a cat with nine lives. The ending is a huge surprise and will get viewers excited for the rest of the series. (4/5)
THE DEATH SONG OF UTHER PENDRAGON: Whenever a TV series has a really strong opening story, the following episode sometimes seems to be a little bit of a letdown. Episode Three however proves that this never has to always be the case. Anthony Head (Uther Pendragon) obviously returns as a guest star and proves that just because his titular character is dead, doesn't mean he cannot be a threat. Arthur, being a very different king to his father, has brought more peace to Camelot and even allowed men who are not born noble to become knights. This would always have shocked Uther and viewers are able to see his disgust. Uther's words at times are truly harsh to the son he craved so much. Certain scenes feel slightly like Poltergeist and as such may not be suitable for young children. Like the previous two episodes the ending is almost the best part. For those waiting for the big reveal this will surely come as a nice surprise. On the other hand, with this only being the third episode, the truth is not revealed just yet. But how much longer can it be? (5/5)
ANOTHER'S SORROW: Not as good as the previous episode but not terrible. Princess Mithian returns (Series Four), and is being used (and at times tortured) by Morgana. Morgana appears to have advanced her magic in this episode as she spends the majority of it under the effects of an ageing spell. Viewers will know that Merlin is also able to do this but in the beginning needed a potion to reverse it. Morgana on the other hand does not - proving she is moving ever closer to being Merlin's equal. (3/5)
THE DISIR: This episode, in my opinion, was a slight improvement on episode four however was again not as good as episode three. This episode appears to be borrowing from Shakespeare, as the enemy feels like Macbeth's three witches. Unlike the previous two episodes we finally get an episode that focuses on Mordred. He has a huge scene half way through and will make viewers question just whose side he is on. If it's not Arthur than Mordred is a great actor. This episode also has a twist similar to that from "The Crystal Cave" (Series Three) which has huge concequences on Arthur's fate. There is also a moment in this episode that will shock the viewers and possibly make them go "what????". (4/5)
THE DARK TOWER: Finally! An episode as good as, or possibly better, than episode three. This appears to be the darkest episode of Merlin yet and shows why the show is now being shown only slightly before the watershed. This is a very dark episode which at times is too dark for younger viewers. This episode belongs to Angel Coulby (Gwen) who gives her best performance yet. Having been kidnapped by Morgana, she spends the majority of the episode locked inside the titular "Dark Tower" which strikes fear in the hearts of knights. This episode sees the return of psychological torture in the form of the mandrake root. Like most of the series so far, this has an ending which is totally unexpected - in lots of ways. (5/5)
A LESSON IN VENGEANCE: This episode was not quite as good as last weeks but was not terrible either. With Morgana determined more than ever to kill Arthur, darkness settles itself into the very heart of Camelot. Morgana finds herself in a unique position of power when the character she brainwashed last week hatches a sinister plan to murder the King. But when stable hand Tyr Seward becomes caught in the crossfire, he threatens to ruin everything. There is one particular scene featuring Tyr which will certainly shock fans. The creator's didn't lie when they said this will be the darkest series yet. Unlike "The Dark Tower", this episode has more humour. This episode also sees the return of Old Merlin - however I feel it was slightly a waste of time seeing as he was only used in a comedy scene. Overall an enjoyable, if slightly predictable, episode. (4/5)
THE HOLLOW QUEEN: A young Druid named Daegal (guest star Alfie Stewart, who some could say looks like a younger Merlin) arrives at Camelot seeking out Merlin's help. After a moment of reluctance, Merlin eventually heads out on a lengthy journey to the Valley of the Fallen Kings, where events take a much more sinister turn. Back in Camelot, Arthur prepares for the arrival of Sarrum of Amata (guest star John Shrapnel, who puts in a brilliantly sinister performance). Colin Morgan shows why he is perfect in his role as Merlin, especially in one shocking moment of the episode when he truly shows the pain and anguish that he is going through. Like most of the episodes from this series, Mordred is almost entirely missing. Morgana's storyline, however, does make some progress this week, when we finally discover more information about her two-year captivity between the fourth and fifth series. These facts include learning how she was caught in the first place and also how white Dragon Aithusa became so deformed. A good episode which continues to make this a truly magical series. (4/5)
WITH ALL MY HEART: Since the announcement that Series 5 will be Merlin's final ever series, I have been wondering whether it was a smart idea to end it so suddenly, simply because it raises many questions. Can the show conclude everything while still satisfying the loyal fans? Will we ever see Merlin reveal his magic? Well this episode sees the end of the "puppet queen" and finally brings Mordred back into the action. The plot wastes no time in getting Arthur to see just what his "evil" wife has been up to and after asking Gaius if he knows of a cure, Merlin goes to see the Dochraid (seen in Series 4). Unlike a previous episode in this series, old Merlin is not shown in a comedic way but instead sees Colin Morgan portray him as a force to be reckoned with. As the Mordred plot hasn't really been seen since the first two episodes, it's nice to see some development this week. We also see a moment in this episode which may pinpoint exactly who his allegiance is with, however, Vlahos still plays him in a way that you never can tell whose side Mordred is really on. With this series being, in my opinion, the darkest yet, it seemed a bit of a let-down that the ending was so silly. This series has had quite a few episodes where the situations seem impossible and a magic reveal would not only have saved the day but also captivated the audience. Overall this was an average episode that moved the plot forward slightly. Originally I was going to give this episode 3 stars but after seeing Merlin in a dress, it has to be slightly higher. (4/5)
THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS: With the `Puppet Queen' arc finally done and dusted it is essential for the creators to now begin setting up the finale and also tying up any loose ends. For this episode they do just that. Merlin's secret is now so dangerously close to being exposed it surely is only a matter of time before the big "reveal" comes. "The Kindness of Strangers" begins with immediate confrontation as within the first minute Morgana hunts down one of the few people who know the true identity of Emrys and also where to find him. Long term viewers will recognise him as Alator of the Catha (Gary Lewis - Series 4). Many will remember him as the man who tortured Gaius in "The Secret Sharer". However, in a reverse of fortune, he has become the one being tortured with some truly shocking actions from Morgana. Alator insists that Morgana is wasting her time as he will not break, but Morgana has other ideas. Fans that have waited desperately for a Merlin-centric episode will be very satisfied with this one as Arthur and Gwen are pushed aside for Merlin's story to develop further. After discovering a strange amulet, Merlin decides to investigate which leads him to a strange and mysterious hooded woman who goes by the name of Finna (Sorcha Cusack). Once again Colin Morgan puts in another amazing performance as the titular character. Merlin is not only at risk of being exposed but also ends up fighting for his life (especially in one tension building moment). Katie McGrath plays Morgana wonderfully and it really is surprising that before `Merlin' she had very little training or indeed roles in anything else. In two particularly shocking moments, Morgana becomes more ruthless than ever as her search for Emrys intensifies. Overall there are a few larger plot developments this week and despite not being quite as revelatory as some would prefer it is still a strong instalment that will leave viewers desperate for more. (5/5)
THE DRAWING OF THE DARK: This is an episode Merlin fans will not want to miss. It's a powerful story that sets-up the epic two-part finale brilliantly. The episode opens with Arthur, Merlin and the Knights coming across a Saxon camp that is full of dead bodies. Mordred receives a shock after he notices a hooded figure fleeing from the site. It soon transpires that this woman is a druid girl from his past called Kara. He knows that if Arthur discovers her she will be executed and as such orders her to leave immediately. Unfortunately for Mordred, Merlin has seen them both together and, knowing Mordred is destined to kill Arthur, is more suspicious of his actions than ever. Kara is later caught and imprisoned testing Mordred's loyalty to Arthur. Like all of series five this is another dark episode, however, with very little humour. Unlike last week's episode, which was focused mostly on Merlin, this episode finally gives Mordred a chance to shine and develop him as a character. This is an essential development that is needed in order for viewers to believe Mordred's motive as to why he would go against Arthur. This is an amazing motive because it will make the viewer question if they should be siding with Merlin... One could assume that with Merlin being the titular character we should side with him without question; however this episode proves that he can be a little harsh and may have actually shoved Mordred into this dark path. Overall this was an amazing instalment into what has been a truly brilliant and strong series so far. The episode ends on such a good cliff-hanger that the week between this and the finale will be excruciatingly long. Without a doubt the best episode of the series and will leave you desperate to see how it all ends. As for the finale - don't miss the preview... (5/5)
THE DIAMOND OF THE DAY - PART ONE: After last week's episode, it is only natural for fan's expectations to be extremely high. The story begins with Morgana and Mordred (who is immediately forgiven for his past attempts on Morgana's life due to the secret he revealed last week). They are organising the most evil of plans to strike Arthur in a way that may hurt him more than any sword ever could. For anyone who may have questioned Merlin in the last few series' all I can say is - watch this episode! It truly is one of the best so far and some could argue the best of series five. Knowing exactly who Emrys really is, Morgana is now armed with the knowledge that should she remove Merlin first, Arthur will be more vulnerable than ever. As such her final and most elaborate plan is put into action... It is not all doom and gloom with the story having Merlin and Arthur taking a trip to the tavern and having a game of dice. This is a moment of calm before the storm but with the die cast events soon take a turn for the worse. In a vicious attack, Merlin is left truly defenceless when his magic is removed, therefore leaving Morgana free to launch a merciless attack on Camelot's borders. Having Morgana remove Merlin's magic is reminiscent of "The Sword in the Stone" as it looks as though she is returning the favour. Arthur prepares for war but Merlin has no choice but to leave him to go into battle alone. Unlike the third series, both series four and five have hardly used Gwaine, so it's nice to see Eoin Macken get a bit more screen time. In this episode we meet his love interest Eira (Erin Richards "Being Human"), but is there more to her than meets the eye? Colin Morgan truly gives an amazing piece of acting with one scene being truly powerful. Morgana gets a long-awaited confrontation with Merlin however this is annoyingly cut short. I like to think of this as the starter course with the main course being in Part 2 (Christmas Eve). For fans since the earlier series', there are some nice flashback scenes and a face from Merlin's past returning. Overall, it's a captivating set-up for the final ever episode - let's hope it proves to be magical. Look out for a wonderful ending which will certainly leave you desperate for the big reveal - especially with the voiceover in the "Next Time" preview... (5/5)
THE DIAMOND OF THE DAY - PART TWO: This is it. After five wonderful series' of Merlin we've made it to the final ever episode. This episode picks up immediately where Part One finished with the greatest battle in Camelot's history proving deadly on both sides. Knowing this is the battle which will ultimately lead to Arthur's death, Merlin races to help the friend he has fought so hard to protect. We finally get a look at the true might of his powers when he effortlessly defeats the majority of Morgana's soldiers. The fight scenes are of a truly epic scale and it really is impressive that the BBC managed to pull this off on a much smaller budget then Hollywood would have given had this been a film. The battle, however, is soon over and leads straight to the moment fans have been waiting for - Mordred vs. Arthur. I will not spoil the outcome for viewers who haven't seen it but let me just say it may just shock you. I would have preferred if it was young Merlin defeating Morgana's men but I suppose it looked more epic with older Merlin. Everyone in this show upped their game for the final outing and Colin and Bradley truly shone. After Eira's treachery is discovered, Gwaine and Percival try to kill Morgana, which I thought was stupidity at its greatest. How could they possibly defeat her? However, this was simply a way for Morgana to track Emrys down for a final confrontation. Despite how evil she has become I still love Morgana's character so credit must go to Katie McGrath. And that brings us to the ending. It truly is divisive - some will love it and others may not. Overall, this was a satisfying finale - one that hopefully gives all fans the ending they wanted. Goodbye Merlin and thank you for four magical years! (5/5)
Camelot's great trial has begun and with the die cast, expect the unexpected. This series has been truly amazing and after the final episode is easily the best yet. With the fifth series confirmed to be the last - complete the collection with this amazing DVD!
on 24 December 2013
I watched Merlin from series 1-5 and it did not get any worse series wise. I like Merlin a lot but was very disappointed with how the last episode ended. It was all going very well, but i thought how Merlin told Arthur that he had magic was poor, as well as how they killed Morgana off. Merlin simple stabbed Morgana in the back when she wasn't looking, there could of been many better way of killing her, it all felt a bit of a rush- like they only remember they had to kill her off at the very last minute. It felt the same about how Merlin told Arthur he had magic. Though the rest of the episodes were as good as quality as anything. Like i said 'Good Series, Poor Ending.
This show has changed with time: from an entertaining fairy tale to something of greater intensity. The actors have given their best all through the 5 seasons, but this last one is the best of all.
Colin Morgan and James Bradley are really good. The death of Arthur is heartbreaking, two friends who are going to be separated by death. The excruciating sorrow of Merlin who sees his lifelong friend leaving this world while he is unable, notwithstanding his magic, to help him survive. The only thing Merlin can do is hold his friend in his arms and cry
This is the scene where I shed tears together with the young warlock. A scene that, in my opinion, will be remembered as one of the best.
on 20 March 2013
Although others may have slated the ending of the series, i liked it. Once the initial sadness was gone i came to the conclusion that it ended as it should have; close to the myth. There were a couple of things i didnt like, Morgana's brief exit etc but overall it was very satisfying.
The fifth series continues bettering the previous series and the character development is good. Colin Morgan and Bradley James give outstanding performances as Merlin and Arthur throughout this series and the return of Mordred was an interesting arc and well played by Alex Vlahos.
Overall, a good end to a brilliant series
on 25 April 2013
Ordered as a pre-order and it arrived around a week after the release date, however it arrived in good condition once it did arrive.
A great twist on the age old King Arthur legend by the BBC placing Arthur and Merlin as the same age and in a king/servant relationship. Merlin must protect Arthur while keeping his magic secret as it is still outlawed even though King Uther's is now gone.
Fantastic (if emotional) ending to a well loved series with amazing acting by Colin Morgan and Bradley James in the lead roles.
on 4 April 2013
If you are into the king arthur legend and you love a modern twist to it you will love this series!
It is young, full of little jokes and big exciting moments. Certainly not something for the lover of historically correct adaptations but when you put that fact aside, it is an adventure worth watching when you need to get away from your daily chores and worries.
The young actors play with an enthusiasm and energy that makes the story very real and exciting.Well done!