I would be more excited about the series finale of “Merlin” if Episode 11, “The Drawing of the Dark”, wasn’t just so darn predictable. Granted, the acting is fantastic, as are the costumes, atmosphere, and nearly everything else, but the events that occur to initiate the long-expected turning point in the final story, do not surprise or offer anything new.
We have long known that Mordred, the Druid boy taken under Arthur’s wing as a young man, is prophesied to bring about Arthur’s destruction. For pretty much all of Season 5, the show has danced around this fact, with Merlin clearly eyeing Mordred suspiciously in everything he does, while Mordred acts as Arthur’s golden boy– almost an apprentice knight. He’s so good and kind and helpful, how could this guy ever cause Arthur any harm? Gaius supports this statement. Yes, yes, Merlin knows better. And what does it take to push Mordred to the dark side? The loss of someone he loves, a Druid woman named Kara (played by Alexandra Dowling). Not just any loss– she is executed by Arthur.
I wish we knew more about Mordred’s backstory, and not simply that there is this Druid girl who appears in the story from out of nowhere as an impetus. When Merlin sees Mordred let her go as Arthur and his knights are tracking a killer in the forest, Mordred begs him not to tell Arthur where she is, as he knows the consequences. Unfortunately for Mordred and Kara, Arthur and Merlin come upon her on their own, and she gets herself in even more trouble by trying to kill the king. Of course she’s taken into custody.
Mordred jumps down Merlin’s throat, telling him, “You’ve gone too far! This time you’ll pay, Merlin.” This time? I can’t think of another time that Merlin has wronged Mordred. Perhaps “this time” was a poor choice of words. So Kara appears in chains in Arthur’s court, and it’s another case of a magic user telling Arthur that he needs to pay for his crimes against her people, with Arthur telling her that it’s those who use it for evil that have brought him to go after them. What is her sentence? Say it all together: Death (in this case by hanging. Can’t always burn ‘em, I guess.) I’ve lost count of how many times this scene has played out in the court of Camelot.
As the episode progresses, it isn’t looking good for any trust and friendship that still exists between Arthur and Mordred. (Imagine if one of your best friends had your girlfriend killed!) He makes every attempt to beg for Kara’s life, but of course Arthur remains unconvinceable. There are two instances where Merlin consults Gaius before speaking to Arthur– once to warn him of Mordred’s plan to escape with Kara, and the other time to beg for Arthur to give Kara one more chance. This seems to be purely expositional, as Merlin doesn’t really follow any advice Gaius has to offer.
Arthur does trust Merlin, no matter how many times he might call him dimwitted or idiot, and he does give Kara one last chance to repent her crimes– killing the Camelot supply convoy at the beginning of the episode. However, being the proud Druid girl she is, she refuses to accept his mercy and tells him he deserves everything that’s coming to him. I understand her pride, but I think this is rather selfish of her. But we have to make Mordred angry! And he is, of course. So angry that he does EXACTLY as Merlin said he would do and runs straight into Morgana’s court where he reveals to her that Merlin is Emrys. She looks more shocked than I think she should be.
Mordred has shown more character in this one episode than he has in nearly every episode in which he’s appeared (as the adult version of himself). It has to do with the writing, and Mordred finally getting some major action to take care of, but kudos also go to the actor Alexander Vlahos. Cheers to you, Mr. Vlahos, and may your career flourish!
Merlin Merlin Merlin… I love this show, but I really hope for great things for the two-part series finale that begins airing next week. It looks like it’s all-out WAR! I have a feeling the good guys will win, but now I’m interested to see HOW!
Next week, the war is ON with “The Diamond of the Day: Part One”.