TV REVIEW: Merlin Series 5, Episode 11 – The Drawing of the Dark

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As the title says, the darkness is drawing closer and closer to Camelot as this episode is the lead-in to the series finale of Merlin and boy does it deliver! When Mordred was reintroduced to us this year, many thought his reappearance would be a variation of the “evil in disguise” plot we’ve seen before with Agravaine and Morgana herself.

However, it’s a bit more complicated than that when Mordred finds his loyalty to Arthur throughly tested and Merlin himself is torn between saving the life of a fellow magic user and fulfilling his destiny to protect Arthur. His decisions in this episode set the course for the beginning of the end next week.

On their return from a hunting trip, Merlin, Arthur & his knights talk about the things they’ve caught – only Merlin managed to catch a cold instead of an animal. Sir Percival hears something in the distance and in a smart move I don’t think I’ve seen before, they remove their cumbersome red cloaks to investigate. Looks like the Saxons have struck again and Mordred sees someone make a run for it. Thinking it’s a Saxon, he makes chase and takes off after the perpetrator.

However, it’s not a Saxon but a druid girl named Kara – someone from Mordred’s past. Panicking, he tells her to run but not before Merlin witnesses what he’s done. When questioned, Mordred lies and says it was a deer and the King believes him. It’s the first of many fallacy’s Arthur will buy into. In Gaius’ lab – Merlin his mentor argue about Mordred’s loyalty – again. It’s a tired conversation between the two, with the old man believing in Mordred’s innocence and Merlin staunchly defending his beliefs that the boy is not to be trusted.

Once they leave to run medical errands, Mordred searches for two ingredients and steals into the night, sneaking right past the guards. Seriously, how they didn’t see him is beyond me but this is Merlin so I’ll let it go! In the forest, Mordred uses his telepathy to locate Kara. Reunited and it feels so good…the two hug and as Mordred tends to her wound, she questions him about why and how he can be a Knight of Camelot. His impassioned reply about Arthur being a good man and friend is met with disbelieving and incredulous scoffing.

Does Arthur know his secret? Ah the magic question…literally. Of course, Mordred can’t reply positively here so she tells him he doesn’t belong in Camelot. Dispite their disagreement, the two caress each other’s faces. Uh oh – she’s more than just a druid girl he knew. Methinks there’s love in the air.

Merlin catches Mordred coming back into the castle and questions him about where he was. Colin Morgan plays a ruthless and cold Merlin really well. It’s a bit unnerving as I’ve wanted a Merlin like this for a while but as they say, be careful what you wish for because I’m not sure I’m liking this side of Merlin very much!

He pushes the nervous druid turned knight – telling him that he saw him letting the Saxon go. Mordred reveals that it was actually a druid however Merlin isn’t so sympathetic. He threatens to tell Arthur and ends up having Mordred beg for his silence – pleading with him to promise. Merlin throws Mordred’s words back at him: “You’re secret if safe with me. You have my word.” We’ll see who’s word is actually kept.

Mordred leaves when Arthur calls for Merlin. The latter two head into the woods to train Merlin in the art of tracking but Arthur notices a trail. Merlin, realizing that they’re likely going straight to Kara’s hideaway, tries to dissuade him from continuing but Arthur has a “scent” – he won’t leave it alone until he finds what’s at the other end.

They do indeed find Kara’s hiding place – a cave opening hidden by falling ivy. As they walk inside, she reveals herself, hobbling around a stone and saying that she means no harm. When Arthur goes to help her, she tries to stab him to death and says she’s only sorry she failed. Kara is brought to Camelot and thrown in prison for trying to kill the King. Mordred watches from the shadows and corners Merlin up against a wall thinking that he betrayed Mordred’s secret. Merlin denies it but Mordred doesn’t believe him. Has he caused his own vision to come true? Not yet.

In the council chambers, Kara stands before the court and Arthur where both passionately articulate the reasons for their own actions in quite a calm fashion for those who’ve tried to kill and were almost killed due to differing opinions on magic and its users abuse of power. It’s a fantastic scene for Bradley James and guest star Alexandra Dowling. Arthur isn’t as unobservant as he sometimes seems as he notices that she’s received care for her wound and wants her to reveal who in Camelot helped her. She won’t give up that it was Mordred and because she shows no remorse for her actions, is sentenced to be hanged.

Distraught, Mordred goes to Kara in the dungeons – the love they share is sweet but has unfortunate timing because she will die the next morning. Mordred vows to save her by going to Arthur to beg for Kara’s life. He believes that his fellow knight, his King will see reason. Alexander Vlahos is so heartbreakingly good here and it hurts to see both Mordred & Arthur wrestle with their emotions. But the King does not change his mind since Kara admitted her guilt and the law must be upheld. Mordred leaves, crushed.

After he leaves, Merlin tells Arthur that he thinks he’s making the wrong choice – he will lose Mordred’s trust in breaking his heart. Arthur says that they will find out in time but Merlin knows what the outcome will be – that his vision will come to pass.

Merlin catches up to Mordred in the hallway telling him that he knows he’s going to leave with Kara and asks him not to do it. The younger man asks Merlin if he wouldn’t do the same – Merlin doesn’t deny it. I was happy that the writers made sure that Mordred is aware that Merlin did not betray him the first time. But he now pleads that the older sorcerer not betray him now. This is where things start to get dicey.

Mordred tells Kara that Arthur wouldn’t listen – unsurprised she says it’s too late and continues to badmouth Arthur to a shell-shocked Mordred, who starts to believe her propaganda watching the gallows being put together. He goes to Arthur to “apologize” but you can tell he’s lying through his teeth especially when he states that he’ll remember everything Arthur’s done to him. Arthur is a fool to believe someone would forgive an act like this so quickly.

Gaius is just Merlin’s sounding board really because he doesn’t listen to a thing the old man says anymore – for better or worse. He decides that he needs to stop Mordred from leaving if there’s any hope of reconciliation with Arthur. He doesn’t want Kara to die, but he wants Arthur alive more than anything else. He makes the decision to betray Mordred and I think with that, seals Arthur’s death warrant in the process.

Merlin thinks he can convince Arthur to repeal the sentence. With quiet resolve, he asks Arthur to let them both go – that one more death will not help bring about the peace they are after but Arthur says the decision is his alone. There’s nothing more Merlin can do but hope that his words take hold.

The two druids escape and Kara ruthlessly kills a guard to Mordred’s disbelief – to me, it seemed like he was wondering if he really knows who she is. Arthur sends the knights after them and the chase is on. Arthur and Co think they see something and Mordred reveals himself, begging everyone to let them go and never return while Kara telepathically yells at him to use his magic to kill them all. When he’s about to, Sir Percival knocks him out.

In their cells, Mordred forcefully asks Merlin telepathically, why he couldn’t just let things be. That’s what I’m wondering too as so many of Merlin’s decisions to act have ending up making things much worse than if he just left things alone. In trying to save Arthur once more, Merlin keeps making decisions that will lead to his death.

In the morning, Leon comes to take Kara to the King as Mordred watches, heartbroken. In the chambers, Arthur gives her a second chance Kara stupidly throws it away for pride – idiot girl. If only Mordred knew that Arthur was benevolent towards her – what he does next would have likely never happened.

Mordred cries in his cell as she ascends the gallows and with silent fury screams out his anger, unleashing his magic as Kara is hanged. Merlin tells Arthur that he’s disappeared and yet again, Arthur realizes he’s made a terrible mistake. The moment that everyone has been expecting finally comes to pass: Mordred goes to Morgana and in a surprise move to me, revealed the secret she’s been longing for – that Emrys is in Camelot and Emrys…is Merlin. Katie plays the shock of learning Merlin’s true identity quite well.

And with that, Camlann is on the horizon. This was a stand-out episode for Alexander Vlahos and Colin Morgan – the way they play the complicated relationship between Mordred and Merlin makes the coming finale all the more exciting. What did you think of this episode? What are you hoping to see in the finale?

Rating: 4/5

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