TV REVIEW: Merlin Series 5, Episode 10 – The Kindness of Strangers

Merlin is winding its way back on track as we enter the home stretch – the final 4 episodes EVER. Remember those moments where Morgana was terrified of Emrys and trying to figure out who he was? The writers have finally picked that thread back up.

The high priestess leads a manhunt in pursuit of her old accomplice turned foe Alator of the Catha (Gary Lewis). What Morgana wants, Morgana may get as he knows a key piece of information about Emrys. Namely, who he is and where to find him. However, when a woman named Finna offers to help Merlin, will he make the right decision in trusting her or not? His life depends on it.

You may remember Alator from last year’s “The Secret Sharer”; he was the one who tortured Gaius into revealing that Merlin is Emrys and turned on Morgana once he realized just who the servant boy really was. Well, she’s still holding a bit of a grudge as a well as a renewed interest in finding “her doom” aka Merlin aka Emrys.

The overall feeling throughout the story this week was tension, nervousness and dare I say anticipation as Morgana inched closer and closer to discovering Merlin’s secret. Towards the end, it really seemed like she would too and also served as a way to get the show back on track as our evil sorceress has been mostly concerned with killing her half-brother and taking back the throne that she believes should be hers.

Most of the focus is around Morgana hunting, capturing and torturing Alator, with the Catha man taunting her. He doesn’t reveal the truth about Merlin but stupidly keeps a note from his follower, Finna. With another viable option for getting what she wants, Morgana snaps Alator’s neck with magic. For some reason, this seemed like the most vicious use of magic yet.

The great thing about this episode is the focus on the title character! For all that the show is called Merlin, the show has tended to push him to the background this year. That being said, Merlin finally makes a decision that turns out to be the right one in trusting Finna. It’s Gaius who makes the wrong move in going to Arthur with his concerns, making it that much harder for the young warlock to help Morgana’s new target.

Hurt and on the run, Finna & Merlin make for an abandoned watchtower. Cornered with nowhere to go, Finna asks for Merlin’s sword and tells him to keep moving lest Morgana find out he’s Emrys. With that, another startling moment occurs: Finna commits seppuku and Morgana is yet again thwarted. That leaves Merlin on the roof, pretty much at death’s door. He calls Kilgarrah to save his life and we find out another shocker: the Great Dragon is dying.

Lastly, a declaration from Morgana is delivered: a dead knight with flesh covering his entire face. It means that she’s officially declared war. Which is slightly confusing as I thought she was always at war with Arthur but there you have it! Next week seems to be the turning point for Mordred – will he fulfill the vision Merlin saw in the premiere or are we in for a shocking and satisfying end?

Rating: 3/5

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