TV REVIEW: Merlin Series 5, Episode 12 – The Diamond of the Day (Pt 1)

merlin5x12_001High in the mountains, Morgana prepares for war with a vengeful Mordred at her side while Merlin feels the weight of his destiny on his shoulders like never before. But before he can save his beloved Camelot, he must save himself as Morgana isn’t going to just let him remain by Arthur’s side as the powerful Emrys. She means to destroy him as well.

I think it’s somewhat fitting that the day the world was supposed to end (sorry Mayans, you lose!) is the day that I finished watching Merlin for the last time. I will say that fans will either love these last two episodes and take them for what they are or hate them completely because of so many missed opportunities for improvement of the characters and storylines. Regardless, read on for a recap and my thoughts on the penultimate episode.

Morgana and Mordred are trying to find a way to deal with Merlin, now that the former knows he’s her doom. They test out their latest plot on a poor unsuspecting sorcerer. Chanting a spell, a box opens to release a giant slug that attaches to his face but doesn’t kill. But what it does do is steals a sorcerer’s magic. We know that this is what she plans to use against Merlin so he can’t help Arthur in the coming battle.

Her lackey easily sneaks into Camelot with the box, while Merlin and Arthur are at the Rising Sun playing craps. It’s a fun scene that I was able to see filmed in studio peeking through a window so it was nice to see what it looked like onscreen. Merlin uses magic to cheat and it grinds Arthur’s gears to see his servant beating him at something. They tease each other and it’s all in good fun – but this is probably the last lighthearted moment of the series before things get serious.

Back in the castle, the intruder finds his way to Gaius’ chambers and incapacitates the old man. Merlin tries to gracefully sneak into his room later that night but soon trips over a stool making a racket but doesn’t notice his unconscious mentor. Stumbling into bed, the slug sneaks out and attacks Merlin. He’s able to fight it off quickly with Gaius apparently awakened to kill it. The old man thinks it didn’t do it’s job but that wasn’t her plan as we know – Merlin’s magic is gone.

Research shows that the slug creature devours magic and it’s beyond Gaius’ level of power to restore it. In the meantime, Mordred & Morgana attack a garrison at the northern border of Camelot and Gwaine saves a young woman from being killed. Merlin is at a loss of what to do without his magic so Gaius puts him to work as his skills as a physician are still valuable to help treat the wounded – one of which is Gwaine’s new love interest, Eira. The knight delivers the news that she is the only survivor and gives his word to protect her. There’s a bit too much focus on her to think that anything good is going to come out of this particular relationship.

At the Round Table, the current situation is discussed and ideas are thrown about as to where they can best fight back. We all know where this is leading, an upset Merlin included. Arthur refuses to let innocent Camelot citizens die as those are not the values that the kingdom was built on and as the King asks the name of a place on the map where they will make their last stand – the words that Merlin has dreaded hearing since the beginning are uttered – Camlann.

Back in her stony lair, Morgana gets Aithusa to forge a sword in dragon’s breath – something equal to Excalibur for Mordred. The young man is quite pleased with his new weapon. We learn that Merlin needs to go to the Crystal Cave in the Valley of the Fallen Kings and is taking Gwaine with him. As they say, loose lips sink ships and unbeknownst to Gwaine as he spills the beans on Merlin’s plan, Eira is a plant working for Morgana.

The first of many heart-aching moments occurs when Merlin goes to tell Arthur that he needs to leave – making an excuse that Gaius needs some very special ingredients to help the wounded. Arthur looks shocked and hurt that Merlin won’t be there with him this time. When one is stung, they respond in kind as the King reveals to him that he never really believed Merlin was a coward until now. Ouch – low blow Arthur! A teary eyed Merlin is hurt by the words but knows he can’t reveal the true reason for his departure.

Eira watches Merlin & Gwaine leave and in the courtyard, Gwen tells Arthur that she’s going with him – she’d rather be near her husband than waiting at the castle alone. Our suspicions about Eira are confirmed when the blonde meets with Mordred & Morgana and tells them everything she knows about where Arthur is going. However she seems to have some ridiculous crisis of conscious (when betraying her King mind) and also reveals where Merlin is going. This immediately worries Morgana which turns into full blown panick when Mordred remembers the stories about the Crystal Cave. Immediately, they know that he’s gone to get his powers back.

Merlin and Gwaine say goodbye to each other at the opening of the cave and you get the feeling this is the last time the two will see each other. Making his way, Merlin is ambushed by Morgana, who made it there before him. She plays mind games with him and he cuts her with Gwaine’s sword but it doesn’t stop her from sealing him in the cave as the armies march to Camlann. Waking up stuck inside the cave, Merlin realizes that he can barely move any of the rocks – they’re all stuck in place. He angrily screams out his frustration knowing that unless he figures out what to do Arthur will die without him there to stop it. Colin Morgan is so good at making us feel just how helpless Merlin is at that moment. At the campsite, both Arthur and Gwen question Gaius about Merlin’s whereabouts. While he covers for his young charge, neither believe him.

Merlin sees a light at the top of where he’s contained and he falls to the ground unconscious once he makes it – he’s landed in the Crystal Cave. Waking to someone calling his name we see a face that I didn’t expect – his father, Balinor has returned! In non-corporeal form that is. He imparts many words of wisdom on his son – to stay strong and not give in to despair. He also reveals what most of us likely knew – that Merlin is immortal. He is the son of the elements and he was born of that magic and can never have it taken away. When Merlin questions that, he receives no reply and passes out.

The one of last scenes between husband and wife – Arthur sits contemplating while Gwen admires him asking what’s on his mind. In true Arthur fashion, he starts doubting himself and she reassures him while they embrace. Elsewhere, Morgana watches over her camp and confirms the location of a secret passage that is well concealed deciding to attack at night.

Merlin wakes with his wounds healed and magic returned tested by creating a butterfly. Overjoyed, he decides to look in a crystal and sees the battle about to unfold. Looking for Arthur, he speaks to the sleeping man through the crystal – letting him know of the vulnerability. Arthur snaps awake with the knowledge and rushes to gather his men. Who knew these crystals were like medieval cell phones? Giving a rousing speech to bring morale to his troops who know they are likely going to their deaths, Bradley James did a fantastic job here and truly embodies all that Arthur is.

In the cave, Balinor tells Merlin that in the heart of the Crystal Cave will his true self be revealed. I hope this doesn’t mean what I think it does. As Merlin steps into the light, the two armies face off and with war drums banging in the distance, the fight begins. If you love action sequences, this is the best one thus far – fantastic slow-mo fight scenes showcase Bradley James’ prowess with a sword – utterly fantastic. Mordred cuts his way to Arthur as we see Merlin escape from the Crystal Cave as his true self, old Merlin aka Emrys.

But don’t be disappointed just yet as not all is what it seems when Merlin reaches its final conclusion on Christmas Eve. Either way, whether you’ve been reading spoilers or not, I hope you tune in for the last ever episode of Merlin. It’s well worth it.

Rating: 4/5

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One comment

  1. Paviles /

    Very true will be a spectacular finish. But for fans who have followed the series for five years, is a tragedy. We have been taken from a family show of joy and youth, where Merlin despite his mistakes, always saved Arthur. Where Arthur despite his royal arrogance in his heart respect his servant. At the end of season 4, sensed that the end was coming, nearing time when Arthur would know the secret of Merlin, would be a time of confusion for Arthur, but his noble heart would lead to understanding and then Albion. We knew how the legend ends, but it was so far. And from time to time, in Season 5, we say that they had three years of prosperity (Albion?), To lead Camlann slowly, putting more and more, the moment of revelation. Now Merlin is a sorcerer confessed that when Arturo this agony. Why are they doing this? And at Christmas.

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