Merlin [2012] (BBC) Season 5. 13 Episodes, Conclusion

This Season, Everyone Dies! ~or~ “By the way, Arthur, I’m a Sorcerer!”

Merlin_BBC_season_5_colourful_camelot_castle

Five seasons of BBC Merlin comes to an end. The Smallville inspired adventures of young Arthur and his occasionally-magic footman reach their inevitable, tragic Arthurian conclusion. Oh, don’t get us wrong. We like this series, but it’s weighed down by the Arthurian legend itself, and a lack of series-arc momentum. It all comes flooding to an end before fully cooked. How many seasons did they think they were going to get? More arc progression doled out along the way, or perhaps some years passing between seasons, might have brought this series to a level of maturity that would’ve left the ending more resonant.

Merlin_BBC_season_5_arthur_legend_end

(This picture strategically placed to keep your spirits up.)

(This picture strategically placed to keep your spirits up.)

Remember the Star Wars prequels? We knew the whole tragic future. A once proud Republic rots from the inside to become the Empire. A young boy with promise becomes the galaxy’s worst villain. All the Jedi but Obi-Wan will die. Yoda retreats into hiding. Senator Palpatine seizes power to become an Emperor. Luke Skywalker’s mother dies. None of these things could be altered, and we could only watch it play out.

"I may not look happy, but I'm jumping for joy on the inside. My character Gaius actually lived to the end!"

“I may not look happy, but I’m jumping for joy on the inside. My character Gaius actually lived to the end!”

"Well, my character dies and I'm out of a job, but I'll always have my fabulous jaw."

“Well, my character died and I’m out of a job, but I’ll always have my fabulous jaw.”

This version of the Arthurian tale never has its golden age. Camelot never flourishes under Arthur, though he is often purported in the show to be so great. His time as king is short, his marriage to Guenevere shorter, and not until the very last episode does he even find out Merlin has magic, right before he dies. Arthur did not even become king until halfway through the series. It would have helped had the golden age been at least alluded to. Set the final season later, and open with, “For ten years, Camelot has experienced an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity.”

Merlin_BBC_season_5_battlefield_happy_season

The Merlin producers pushed the Doctor Who crew off the quarry site for a day of filming Camelot's 'prosperity.'

The Merlin producers pushed the Doctor Who crew off the quarry site for a day of filming Camelot’s ‘prosperity.’

Goofy Arthur, noble Arthur, and slapstick Arthur, in that order.

Goofy Arthur, noble Arthur, and slapstick Arthur, in that order.

But enough about pacing and inevitability. Let’s do the classic Fortress season in the sentence: Arthur’s king, and married, but we hope he enjoyed his honeymoon because Camelot will be besieged for the rest of the season by hordes of computer-generated armies brought down by the crazed Morgana (why someone would want to be one of her short-lived henchmen is beyond us), while Merlin still goofs around using a little magic in the background to help Arthur while the cast encounters punk faeries, more ginormous monoliths, Stonehenge, Obi-Wan Kenobi (sort of), an alien(!), and a couple more run-ins with the evil twin plot.

The Obi-Wan? We'll start with the reappearance of Merlin's dragonlord father. "May the (magic) Source be with you."

The Obi-Wan? We’ll start with the reappearance of Merlin’s dragonlord father. “May the (magic) Source be with you.”

Just a few days ride from Camelot is Ye Old Giant Northern Megalith.

Just a few days ride from Camelot is Ye Old Giant Northern Megalith.

"Must I come back to do evil this season?"

“Must I come back to do evil this season?”

Evil twin plot reprisals:

  • Arthur’s father Uther returns, but to do evil!
  • Princess Mithian returns (remember how well she and Arthur got along last season?), but is being forced to do evil!
  • Gwen is broken and spelled by Morgana, to secretly do evil!
"See how eeeevil I look?"

“See how eeeevil I look?”

Bad guy checklist: Horrid asymmetrical expression? Check. Plethora of unnecessary buckles? Check. Ripped dirty clothing? Check. Scimitar? Wow, this guy went all in.

Bad guy checklist: Horrid asymmetrical expression? Check. Plethora of unnecessary buckles? Check. Ripped dirty clothing? Check. Scimitar? Wow, this guy went all in.

Merlin_packing_his_bag

Okay, so a lot of people stand around and let themselves be stabbed by swords. Is that so wrong? It’s only Arthur, Mordred, and Morgana, and all in one episode! It seems for this epic confrontation we all knew had to come someday, there were so many episodes in the past that did not help set it up and can now be seen as ‘fancified,’ sometimes entertaining, often interesting, but ultimately extraneous.

"Extraneous? Look at all the eeevil looks I accomplished this season!"

“Extraneous? Look at all the eeevil looks I accomplished this season!”

Merlin's beard! What the &^%#@! is that? ET is going to have to wait a thousand years to phone home.

Merlin’s beard! What the &^%#@! is that? ET is going to have to wait a thousand years to phone home.

Did this season rely too much on the “force push” as the major expression of magic? Yes. Is it a budget saving measure? Probably. But we did get to see a number of computer-generated monoliths, and at the very, very end, Merlin calls down a little lightning. But don’t forget the alien. That was worth it… *sigh*

"This place will be famous one day." "Please, Merlin, it's a bunch of big stones."

“This place will be famous one day.” “Please, Merlin. It’s a bunch of big stones.”

Add a dash of punk.

Add a dash of punk.

"Who keeps building these! And how is it they are all so close?"

“Who keeps building these! And how is it they are all so close?”

We liked this show. It took some initial adjustment, but it’s been a good ride for five years. Too bad the ending was such a rushed downer.

"I'm dying too Merlin, and Arthur's gone. But in the time of Albion's greatest need he shall rise again." "Five years of shining boots for what? This story is really starting to stink."

“I’m dying too Merlin, and Arthur’s gone. But in the time of Albion’s greatest need, he shall rise again.” “Really? Five years of shining boots for what? This story’s really starting to stink.”

This picture strategically placed to keep the next one of Arthur's final trip to Avalon from being too depressing.

This picture strategically placed to keep the next one of Arthur’s final trip to Avalon from being too depressing.

Merlin_BBC_season_5_arthur_avalon

Our Takes on all the Merlin Seasons:

Merlin [2008] Season 1

Merlin [2009] Season 2

Merlin [2010] Season 3

Merlin [2011] Season 4

Merlin [2011] Season 5

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