The Once and Future King: A ‘Merlin’ finale review

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11:00 am EDT, December 30, 2012

by MHutch

A Hypable reader shares their thoughts about the Merlin series finale “The Diamond of the Day, Part 2.”

For Merlin fans, “The Diamond of the Day, Part 2” is the end of an era that scored so many dedicated fans. Whilst we pondered our favourite scenes in Hypable’s A Month of Merlin, the theories began of how the show would end.

We’ve been bombarded by interviews from the cast promoting the final episodes, and yet I think Alexander Vlahos best describe the final episode when he called it a “platonic love story.”

To be honest, I was particularly worried about how it would end, considering that the writers had so much to do in the last few episodes. However, I enjoyed the beginning of the final episode, as Emrys arrives and saves the knights at the Battle of Camlann – although I did find Mordred’s death much too quick for a character long told to bring about Arthur’s demise.

But with him out of the way, so began Merlin’s journey to cure Arthur. And I was relieved, that once again, just in time, Merlin would save the day.

A “platonic love story” best describes the rest of the episode, with the majority focusing on Merlin and Arthur, but also providing some screen time for the rest of the cast. I had always imagined that Merlin would reveal his magic a few episodes towards the end, to give Arthur time to understand and accept this, yet I feel that it was appropriately handled in the episode.

Disbelief, shock, anger and finally acceptance showed on Arthur’s face, after Merlin is, at first, unsuccessful of convincing Arthur. “I’m a sorcerer. I have magic,” he said, only for Arthur to laugh it off, saying, “I would have known,” and as the audience we just smile and shake our heads.

Most importantly though, I must acknowledge the extraordinary acting talents of Colin Morgan and Bradley James. They handled the emotions of their characters so well in these scenes, that they can’t help but bring the fans to tears. It was evident in these last moments, that the bond of their friendship was so strong, even as Arthur accepts his fate, Merlin is unable to. Finally, before his death, Arthur says, “Thank you,” an acknowledgment of all which Merlin has done for him.

At Arthur’s end, we discover the true force of Morgan’s talent, for who couldn’t be moved by his obvious anguish and heartbreak over Arthur’s death? To the end, Merlin keeps on hoping that he can save Arthur, and even calls on Kilgarrah to help him get Arthur to Avalon. Yet, the Dragon states that this is Arthur’s fate, he is the “Once and Future King” and he will rise again.

I was shocked at this development and the brilliance of the interpretation of the legend, that Arthur would rise again and Merlin would be waiting for his old friend. Of course, I was confused as the Golden Era wasn’t very long, but perhaps in time, the writers will explain. We can only hope.

Of course the rest of the cast provided memorable moments, from Gwen’s (Angel Coulby) guess that Merlin was the sorcerer at the battle, to Leon (Rupert Young) standing steadfast alongside the new ruler. From Gaius (Richard Wilson) embracing Merlin as a father would a son before embarking on a dangerous journey, to Gwaine (Eoin Macken) and Percival (Tom Hopper) confronting Morgana (Katie McGrath) and leading to Gwaine’s death.

However, for someone so powerful, Morgana’s death at the hands of Merlin was also much too quick, for would she really let her guard down so much around the man who was to be “her destiny and her doom”? Gwen’s coronation itself was bittersweet, whilst the Queen would be a wise ruler with her faithful friends (that are still alive) beside her, her rise to ruler came from such devastating circumstances.

Thanks to the cast for such an incredible journey. Even though Merlin is over, it will remain in our hearts forever.

And we are left with an image we cannot forget, as we see Emrys (albeit in more modern times) searching for his old friend, so that they can be together once more.

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