Jul 14, 2018

[TV] Merlin: Season 5 (BBC) Review

Wow, I somehow made it to the end of the Merlin series thanks to iflix. It was a bit of a uphill climb past the third season but I finally got to the end and I think the show may have gone a season too long or something like that? It's not like the show was ever an accurate translation of the Arthurian myths into a television series.

But hey this is the end game and all the pieces are on the board. Arthur is truly king of Camelot. The villains against against the kingdom are fully revealed. The only thing left is for Merlin to stop hiding the fact that he has magic. But hey, it's only taken us five seasons to get to this point, eh?

But at the same time it wasn't a great ending to the show and I think the big confrontation of sorts that we wanted to happen wasn't quite what was expected. And in the end it just sort of ends and it didn't quite feel like the major culmination of Merlin as a character. Alas.

Synopsis: Merlin is a BBC fantasy drama series created by Julian Jones, Jake Michie, Johnny Capps, and Julian Murphy. The fifth season marks the final season of the show.

Camelot has largely been at peace for the past three years in what can only be described as a Golden Age and King Arthur (Bradley James) and his Knights of the Round Table have helped keep Camelot and its citizens safe. But when Sir Gawaine (Eoin Macken) and a patrol disappear in the north, the most likely culprit is that the sorceress Morgana (Katie McGrath) is once again actively working against Camelot.

Around the same time Merlin (Colin Morgan), who is still performing the role of Arthur's servant), experiences a terrifying vision of Arthur's death. Thus he finds the need to root out the threat to Arthur's life but is uncertain where to begin. But the return of Mordred (Alexander Vlahos) becomes a most likely avenue of investigation.

What I Liked: I had been harping on the need to get to the point where Arthur is finally king of Camelot and this season is the main culmination of that vision. This is after all the Golden Age of Camelot, even if on the surface things don't feel all that different from past seasons. But at least we're at this happy point and things are great as Guinevere (Angel Coulby) is Queen. So hooray for the status quo at the start of the season!

And as this was the last season, it really started to feel like Morgana's plans against the kingdom are finally getting somewhere relevant. And while not accurate to the original stories, it was cool that the found a way to get Mordred close to Arthur from the very beginning, adding a decent will-he-or-won't-he dynamic to things that didn't have to go on as long as Morgana's secret life had.

What I Could Have Been Better: That said, Morgana started rather strong, warbled in the middle only to recover decently in the end. Her plans for the kingdom had their ups and downs but I suppose we needed to go through things like that as it s a TV show. And thus you get these more hijinks-style capers still even in the final season.

And why did this season have to continue on with Merlin as a servant to the king this whole time? I know it was a main thing for the show but the fact that we had to wait until the very, very end of things before Merlin finally reveals who he is to Arthur just felt like too long in development. And add in how he needed to disguise himself as the old man again and then even the old witch character and it just felt rather silly.

TL;DR: Merlin on the whole was a unique television experience that did its best to play with the Arthurian myths and turn it into young adult entertainment. The fact that they managed to do this without gratuitous sex as is the pattern in American young adult shows these days, that's still an achievement. And thus this third season gets a fun 3.5 disguises that Merlin still has to put on  out of a possible 5.

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