Merlin this year has been all about change and moving on after three years of what seem to be stagnation. We have seen Arthur become the proper king of Camelot after the death of Uther, Morgana become a worthy opponent of the kingdom itself and witnessed Merlin moving out from the shadows into a influential character who massively changes outcomes and sets events in motion.
But going into this episode I was worried that the second part of the series ending finale might not live up to all the frantic action and big moments that the Sword in the Stone Part One provided.
However, despite getting a sense of time displacement from the over use of slow motion, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised that the plot lived up to it’s hype and this is surely the best series climax to Merlin in it’s four years on television.
When we last left Arthur and his friends he was forced out of Camelot by Morgana and her troops and he, Merlin and the most of the Knights of Camelot were on the run and in hiding. Meanwhile Gaius, Ewan and Gwaine are locked in the castle’s dungeons.
It would of course be simplistic to say that the solution would be an epic battle.
Not only would it it be obvious that Camelot would have to be retaken by force but it does not put into account the five year plan the production team and writer’s have with this series, and how it ties into the overall legendary tales that the show is inspired from.
Arthurian legend is of course heavy with scenes and ideas that will forever resonate with the public and one of the largest of these is the idea of the Sword in the Stone, the sword that only the true king can remove. The concept is intertwined with the finale’s plot in such a way that Arthur doubts himself and his right to be the king of Camelot.
It is this that makes the plot go beyond a simple tale of a castle under siege being reclaimed from the bad guys into an epic installment of the series as Merlin steps up to lead and guide Arthur like the king and king’s sorcerer that we have known since childhood.
Consequently this also leads to the confrontation between Arthur and Morgana, a meeting of brother and sister who fell on opposite sides of a conflict while both trying to escape the shadow of a father who was both villain and hero. As both Arthur and Morgana realize, both son and daughter have more aspects of their father’s personality then either would want to believe.
On the flip side of the coin is the heavy use of slow motion battle sequences which truth be told made every character look rather silly, like they were posing with swords for some renaissance festival’s promotional booklet. I could understand a few of the bigger and dramatic blows being slowed down as this is television after all and in a real battle things would be moving fast and furiously so this is done for the audience at home to take in the scope of what is happening, but when it is every blow it just becomes tiresome and boring.
Katie McGrath has been quoted as saying that the end of this series leads nicely into the start of series five, so one is left to wonder what is in store by the strange appearance of a baby dragon Merlin had saved earlier on. Did the baby dragon who appeared at Morgana’s greatest time of need give Morgana the power to speak to dragons as Merlin does? A new kind of magic? Or did he just heal her to fight another day?
Time will tell.