TV: Merlin S5 – Episode 13 Series Finale Summary + Review

“The end of a magical adventure…”

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(Look over there! Is it a bird? Is it a plane?)

Airing on: BBC

Genre: Magic, Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Family, Drama Age: All ages

Released: 6th October 2012 – onwards (UK Version)

From the previous episode, Mordred and Arthur meet on the battleground for Camelot. Mordred doesn’t hesitate to use magic, and Arthur is sent reeling from his former friend.

Both men want to win this battle, but only one can survive.

Warning! May contain spoilers!

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Just as the battle is getting bad for Arthur and the army of Camelot, Merlin makes his appearance. He has recuperated his magic at the Crystal Cave, and is in his form as old Merlin.

This new wizard awes everyone, and is standing on the horizon at the new dawn. He uses his magic to help Arthur’s armies, much to Arthur’s disbelief. After the battle has been cleared of Morgana’s men, he takes his leave.

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(…No. It’s epic Merlin!)

Arthur and Mordred are the only people that are left standing. The two have a showdown, and both men manage to get in a hit. Mordred renounces Arthur and his values in his dying breath.

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(Arthur always knew Mordred’s prettiness was just hiding a load of evil)

Arthur also takes a lethal hit from Mordred. Merlin, as his regular self, takes Arthur and Mordred’s sword which is burried in him, out of the battle.

When Arthur wakes up later, he is in the middle of the forest. Confused about the wizard that saved them all, he laughs when Merlin claims to be the old man.

A confession from Merlin finally blooms when he shows Arthur that he has magic, and he has been protecting him all this time. Arthur however, sees this as an equal betrayal as made by Mordred.

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(“I can make dragons, and rats and loads of other fire puppets”)

The last of the battle carnage is being sorted, and Gwen is worried about Arthur’s body, which still hasn’t been found. She also realises that Merlin had been missing this whole time, and with the arrival of the suspicious old wizard, she puts together that Merlin must have been the same person.

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(Gwen wonders if Arthur and Merlin has finally run away together)

Morgana grieves for Mordred, who had been her closest ally and friend for a long time, even before he joined the Knights of Camelot. She vows to kill Arthur, who she knows has been rescued by Merlin, and avenge Mordred’s death.

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(“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself”)

Merlin and Arthur are found by Gaius in the forest. Although Arthur refuses to be helped by Merlin, Gaius convinces him that the only person capable of saving Arthur is Merlin.

The actual wound that is in Arthur is from Mordred’s sword, which was forged from a dragon’s breath by Morgana. The sword piece will slowly kill Arthur unless he can be cured at Avalon.

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(“Oh Gaius, Arthur is such a pain when he’s injured and knows about my magic”)

Gaius returns back to Camelot to let Gwen know that Arthur is alive and that Merlin is with him. However, the queen’s troubles lie with Morgana, and her next move. Gaius, Gwen and Gwaine hatch a plot to catch the spy that has leaked information to Morgana.

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(“It’s true, my lady. Your husband is with Merlin now. But… not in that way…”)

On the way to heal Arthur, Merlin comes across some Saxons, who are searching for Arthur on behalf of Morgana. Arthur is in no condition to fight, but now that Merlin has revealed his abilities, he makes short work of the Saxons.

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(“Oh this, I’m just carrying him to the graveyeard. He’s dying…”)

Gwaine’s girlfriend, who is secretly working for Morgana, is fed the wrong information, and is caught in the act of sending information to Morgana. Gwaine and Percival decide to take this opportunity to hunt down Morgana.

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(Gwaine realises he makes poor choices in girlfriends)

Arthur is dying in the forest, and can finally admit to Merlin that he has been a true friend, and has done many brave things. It’s an emotional moment between the pair.

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(“You know, somewhere in the world, a fangirl is fainting.”)

The revenge on Morgana goes wrong when both Gwaine and Percival are captured. Morgana tortured Gwaine until his mind breaks. She now has the true location of Arthur and Merlin, and leaves Gwaine to die in Percivals’s arm.

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(“NOOOO! We had dinner plans afterwards!!”)

Deep in the forest, Merlin is left to defend both his and Arthur’s life against Morgana. When Merlin tries to cut her, she laughs off the damage initially, claiming that no mortal blade can kill her.

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(The most powerful wizard in the world, holds a SWORD against his rival. Great.)

However, she failed to realise that the blade was of her own making, forged in a dragon’s breath, and given to Mordred, who eventually embedded it in Arthur.

Morgana dies on the cold floor, and Merlin doesn’t spare any glance back for her.

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(Well, Morgana courted death too many times.)

The chance to save Arthur is slowly dwindling, and in desperation Merlin calls the great Dragon. The news isn’t as good as he though, the Dragon advises Merlin to leave Arthur to die, and resurrect when the time for a king is great.

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(“You can’t be dying, your CG looks better than ever! And save Arthur…”)

Merlin is crippled with emotion at the thought of losing Arthur, but he slowly releases the king into the waters of Avalon.

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(“Note to self, don’t set his body on fire. He will resurrect someday…”)

Guinevere becomes queen of the kingdom, and is left to rule over Camelot and the respective Knights.

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(The crown fit perfectly.)

Merlin is shown to have become immortal, and watching over Arthur’s resting place,  where the once and future king of Camelot will one day resurrect.

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(Merlin and Arthur will return… someday.)

Overall, for anyone hoping for a happy ending, yes, you will be bitterly disappointed. I had desperately hoped for an early revelation of Merlin’s powers, which would somehow make Arthur realise that magic wasn’t all that bad, and allow it again in Camelot.

That, unfortunately, is far from what happens.

After the confession, the episode makes an angsty turn into Arthur and Merlin’s fragmenting friendship. The rest of the episode, which is precious little time to tie up loose ends, is spent piecing together their great pairing.

Mordred is spurned aside within the first quarter of the episode. So much for the great prophecy of how he would be Arthur’s downfall. Surely someone with so much prophecy material should have a longer screen-time in the final episode?

Morgana walks around like a waif, and the only time she confronts Merlin after he reveals his magic, is the time when she has to die. This felt strangely anti-climatic. The death of two baddies, both of whom were major characters, should have had more justice done to their screen-time.

Annoyingly, Gwaine’s girlfriend, who has has an unfathomable focus on her for these two episodes, is given time again. I don’t particularly care that she was the spy. Morgana has many spies. This really, *really* didn’t need to be spoon-fed to the audience.

Gwaine and Percival’s attempt to kill Morgana, despite having no evidence that two magic-less knights can even accomplish such a thing, was such a waste of time. It only led to Gwaine’s death, which is a shame.

The conversations between Arthur and Merlin in the forest, were some of the most heartfelt in the entire series. It felt good to have all the secrets out into the open. Good to have Arthur acknowledgement of Merlin. Even though they slow down the pace of the episode, if these moments hadn’t been there, there would have been a great cry of anguish from long-term fans.

It felt like a lot of material was squashed into one episode, and felt badly paced. The friendship between Arthur and Merlin, which really came into the forefront of this series, should have had more time to project all the conflicting emotions that the characters had. Same with the deaths of Morgana and Mordred.

Arthur’s death I felt, had been quickly zapped in to the end. I couldn’t understand why Arthur just couldn’t *live*. Especially considering all of the miraculous recoveries Merlin has had, and the many times Arthur has been under the effects of a potion and recovered.

From a fan’s perspective, this was taking the cheap way out. Cheap, and almost CHEATING the fans out of fulfillment. When a person watches a series for the better part of five years, and for multiple seasons, the worst thing a writer can do is try and be “clever” or “original”.

It was going pretty well until someone bombed up the ending.

There is a slight balming in an older Merlin guarding Arthur’s resting place. How dapper does he look in those clothes? Very.

…But, I don’t think Arthur will rise again.

The last episode of this last season, doesn’t justify the journey the characters have been on. The actors themselves give such an emotional and heartfelt performance. Even to them, it’s clear that there probably won’t be another series, and they give their best.

The Merlin series is worth watching, particularly this fifth season which contains more mature storytelling. Many of the previously pivotal characters like Gaius, and some of the Knights, are stationed to the background, but there are interesting scenes and twists added to make up for that.

Arthur and Merlin are brought into a more conscious role, with Arthur being an admirable king, and Merlin becoming more capable in his magic.

I just wish the ending hadn’t rocked me to my core. Every time I look at this series now, the feeling will be bittersweet.

Rated 4/5 – Angsty and conflicting ending.

— THIS SERIES HAS ENDED

See the previous episode!

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2 Comments

  1. It is unfortunate, but many series end this way leaving a bad taste in the mouth of the fan. I think that writers rather than take a straight on approach to wrapping up a journey want to be clever and unique thinking they need to find a new wheel to invent when fan expectations are what need to be addressed.

    Reply
  2. David Kehoe

     /  January 29, 2017

    It is difficult not to have been moved by the final episode of Merlin; as Merlin fans have rightly identified it was the relationship between Merlin and Arthur that was the engine that kept the series going. I still think the ending was appropriate, but as many have noticed many questions were left unanswered.

    Reply

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