For all its predictability that we’ve experienced throughout the series’ run, Merlin’s grand finale has a surprisingly surprising end. Bravo to cast, crew and writers on creating a game-changer of a finish. The series will leave you with a sense of completion, and how you feel about that completion is, of course as in all things, a matter of opinion. Without giving spoilers in the first paragraph, I can say that it was well-executed and mature.
Merlin casts a mighty figure across Camlann in his aged guise, winning the battle for Camelot with his Gandalf-like lightning emanating from his staff (a prop all good wizards must have). For all of his might, Merlin cannot stop one legendary event– King Arthur becoming fatally wounded by his one-time friend Mordred, to whom Arthur quickly returns the injury. Merlin finds his friend collapsed upon the battlefield, and so begins his final quest to save Arthur’s life. He must travel to the Lake of Avalon in order to help Arthur, as the tip of the blade forged in a dragon’s fiery breath travels towards his heart.
As they make camp in the woods, the moment we’ve all been waiting for occurs– Merlin finally reveals to Arthur that he is a sorcerer, and demonstrates a bit of magic. Typically, Arthur’s initial reaction is to dismiss Merlin and tell him he wants him out of his sight. We know Merlin though, always stubborn, and always looking out for his King. What follows throughout the rest of the episode is truly touching. It gradually dawns on Arthur as they travel, all the ways that Merlin fooled him and hid his talent from him their whole relationship. He wavers back and forth between impressed and betrayed, and eventually arrives at grateful and reverent.
The show could not end without tying up the loose end that is Morgana. Her army is defeated but she is still at large, and is thirsty for Arthur’s blood. After a brief pouty respite on her dark throne, and a refreshing “Force-choke” of one of her disciples, she’s on the trail once again.
Sir Gwaine’s meddlesome girlfriend Eira is not of much consequence, other than to try to throw a wrench in the forces of good. It’s hard to remember how she gained asylum inside the castle walls, and why she is helping Morgana. She doesn’t serve much purpose other than to show Guinevere’s power as Queen when she is hung as a traitor.
To make amends for his lady’s actions, Gwaine and Sir Percival try to track down Morgana. Unfortunately for them, the nasty witch turns the tables on them and after having tortured some information out of them, heads in Arthur and Merlin’s direction.
Her final end by Merlin’s hand comes as no surprise. Her death has been attempted and feigned so many times that at this point she’s like Rasputin– she keeps coming back. Even after Merlin’s, “Goodbye, Morgana,” I don’t quite believe she won’t rise again.
The final scenes of the show will be debated over and over throughout the Merlin fandom. I can see now how it will go– First, fans will pick apart Merlin and Arthur’s final words to each other before the end. Then, they will pick apart whether it was necessary for Arthur to die. Finally they will do one of two things– they will either rail against this ending or praise it for being so bold. Personally, I’m in the second camp. I think the writers were bold enough to have the show end in a way similar to the original legend. I’m not without sympathy for Merlin, however. Colin Morgan really brings out the helpless feeling in his character– he did so much for King and kingdom, to make sure he would thrive and build a just and magic-friendly Albion, and now the Dragon tells him there is nothing that can be done. He claims that Arthur will rise again when Albion’s need is greatest, but now the King is dead… and long live Queen Guinevere, the subjects cry out.
The very last scene is kind of jarring, but an interesting choice. Comment below and let us know what you thought of it!
I’m sad to see the series come to an end. The characters have become very well-known to me and it’s like saying goodbye to an old friend, as is the case with many beloved TV shows. I would like to quote the Dragon: “It has been a privilege to know you, young warlock. The story we have been a part of will live long in the minds of men [and women 🙂 ].”
I just literally finished watching the Season 5 of Merlin, and I am quite lost.