Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merlin 5.12: The Diamond of the Day I

This is the first of the two-part finale and I'm beyond ecstatic. Yes, after five years, one of my favourite television shows is ending, but it's going to be good - I know it because it can't be anything but I want Arthur to find out about Merlin's magic as soon as possible so that he can witness Merlin using it for the force of good, but that was never going to happen. Anyway, if you want a reminder of the other episodes of series 5, then look no further: Arthur's Bane Part 1, Arthur's Bane Part 2, The Death Song of Uther Pendragon, Another's Sorrow, The Disir, The Dark Tower, A Lesson in Vengeance, The Hollow Queen, With All My Heart, The Kindness of Strangers and The Drawing of the Dark

In Morgana's castle with Mordred at her side, the sorcerer Ari (Peter Guinness) is brought in, smiling evilly, thinking that Morgana has another errand for him to run. Instead, he's the one who should be shaking in his boots because Morgana uses him to demonstrate to her entourage and supporters that she has the means to get rid of Merlin's magic. After all:
"Arthur is nothing without Emrys; and Emrys is nothing without magic."
This line previewed at the end of last week's episode, but watching it in context is everything. So even though I knew it was coming, it's still going to be devastating.

In the palace, Merlin is in the limelight as he is soundly beating Arthur at dice. Of course, Merlin has got the help of his magic, but Arthur doesn't know that and the latter gets more and more frustrated as Merlin wins round after round and ends up winning all of Arthur's money. I didn't really understand the significance of this scene until I was typing up this round-up here, other than that it shows Merlin is as integrated and popular part of Camelot as Arthur is. My interpretation of this scene is that it demonstrates how vital Merlin's magic is to his life. Whether it's to save Arthur's life or to cheat at dice, Merlin depends on his magic like he depends on the air that he breathes, which only makes the impending loss even more devastating; for Morgana is right: without magic, there is nothing Merlin can do to help Arthur.

Merlin falls into bed pretty drunk and we see the snake in its box underneath the bed. It seals itself to Merlin's face and there's a brief struggle but he manages to throw it off and Gaius beats it to death. Gaius tends to Merlin's wounds and they discuss the probability that the snake was sent by Morgana in revenge. Just as Gaius leaves and Merlin uses magic to get a drink of water, reality hits and the look on Merlin's face is heartbreaking. He tells Gaius "I don't think she failed" and it's like someone died.

Mordred and Morgana have surrounded the walls of the city/town of Stawall and are bent on destroying it. Leon and others are present but they don't have enough men or resources to hold them off and so they are forced to head back to Camelot. In a meeting of the Round Table, Arthur is doubtful that Camelot and its stronghold will be able to withstand the force of Morgana's wrath. There's only one option: that they ride out to meet her.

We flash again to Morgana and Mordred and the former is using Aithusa's breath to forge a sword for Mordred. I'm pretty sure that Merlin has such a sword and I would love to see the two sorcerers battling it out with their respective swords of which "nothing can survive it's touch." Mordred responds with, "Then I shall wield it with victory and with honour."

In pursuit of his plan, Arthur consults with his inner circle about the best place to trap Morgana. It's apparently a narrow valley where although they too will be trapped, it's the perfect place to meet Morgana head on. When Arthur asks for the name of the place and Percival responds with "Camlann," Merlin turns several shades whiter than he already is. He knows he has no chance in hell of changing Arthur's mind; Arthur now is determined to protect his Kingdom, even with his own life. If Merlin is to do anything to help, he needs to get his magic back. Gaius might not be able to help him, but there is one place that this may be a possibility: the Crystal Cave, the birthplace of magic itself.

The scene where Merlin tells Arthur that he won't be able to go with him to Camlann is heartbreaking. Merlin has laid out all of Arthur's armour and necessities ready to go and Arthur is suspicious. He guesses that Merlin wants something in return and with a catch in his voice and looking forlorn, Merlin says "I'm afraid I won't be coming with you. Not this time." Arthur is  surprised like he couldn't ever imagine a scenario where Merlin wouldn't be at his side, and it's horrible that it's taken this long for him to realise how much he really does depend on Merlin. He says that he never really meant any of the jokes about Merlin being a coward and "I always thought you were the bravest man I ever met ... Guess I was wrong." I want to punch Arthur for this, however much I love him! Merln is prevented from saying anything and so he has to let Arthur carry on thinking that he's a coward. Sucks.

Morgana is tipped off that Merlin is headed to the Crystal Cave and she rides after him and Gwaine. Now without his magic, Merlin is helpless to protect himself and when they are ambushed by bandits, he huddles into a fetal position and yells for Gwaine. Personally, I think this was overdone. Merlin doesn't even have a sword on him and even without his magic, I'm sure that he could defend himself with the right weapons, if needbe. We've seen him do so before and I don't see why it's any different now that he's without magic. When they arrive, Merlin asks that Gwaine leaves him and although he obviously can't say that he's looking to get his magic back, he does state "Once I have what I'm looking for, I'll be perfectly safe ... You just have to trust me." Gwaine hands Merlin his sword and wishes him luck and I just wish that others knew about Merlin's magic too. It's annoying that the only person who ever found out was Lancelot, and since he's dead, that's no good to anyone.

Morgana has managed to arrive before Merlin and this is the first time they've met since she's discovered that he's Emrys. Now that she's got rid of his magic, she's gotten bigheaded and thinks that that is the end of the matter. She leaves him with the words "You have defied me for the last time, Emrys" and causes a rockfall to trap him inside. It's a cowardly way to let Merlin 'die' and so of course short of actually sticking a sword in his heart, he's not going to die.

Merlin wakes to the voice of his father and although he is happy to see that his father is there to offer his guidance, he doesn't think it will be of any help. After all, "the battle is already over. Morgana has won" and he has no idea of how to get his magic back. As much as I would have liked, it isn't some big bang and pop that gets Merlin's magic back. His father says:
"You are son of the eart, the sea, the sky. Magic is the fabric of this world and you were born of that magic. You are magic itself. You cannot lose what you are ... Believe what your heart knows to be true. Believe that you always have been and always will be."
And apparently, believing is all that it takes.

When Merlin wakes again, he has his magic back! Like I said, I would have loved some huge confrontation with the Powers That Be, or something similar, but this was just as effective and I suppose more meaningful than anything else would have been. Merlin sends a dream/message to Arthur warning him of a secret pathway in the cliffs that Morgana will use as ambush. Arthur wakes suddenly and knows without doubt that Merlin's dream-words are true. He's out of bed like a shot and off to warn the men to get ready. His battle-speech is brilliant:
"Tonight ... we do battle. Tonight, we end this war. We end a war as old as the land itself. A war against tyranny and greed and spite. Not all will greet the dawn. Some will live. Some will die. But each and every one of you fights with honour and with pride. For not only do we fight for our lives, we fight for the future. The future of Camelot. The future of Albion. The future of the united kingdoms. For the love of Camelot!"
And so the battle begins. Arthur is ruthless on the battlefield and further away, Mordred similarly cuts down men of Camelot with ease. Morgana watches on evilly (of course she wouldn't get her hands dirty) and men are falling left, right and centre. Back at the Crystal Cave, there's a huge explosion and who do we see walking out? Emrys, of course.

I thought I would have to wait a week for the next episode and I was annoyed because I would have been at work; but I'm ecstatic seeing that The Diamond of the Day II will be on tomorrow - I'm not kidding when I say that this is going to be the best birthday ever. Christmas Eve shopping and the final ever episode of Merlin: bring it on!

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