Merlin – the end

I don’t seem to have mentioned Merlin very much since the first episode, but as it’s now come to an end after five seasons, it’s probably as good a time as any to get back to the subject.

It was good to see a series come to a planned end, rather than either carrying on long past its welcome had worn out, or suffering the miserable fate of being cancelled leaving questions unanswered.

Merlin was an odd thing, really. There were loads of bits of the Arthurian legends most of us know, or at least think we know, mixed with gleefully anachronistic[1] language and attitudes. But at the heart of it was the relationship between Arthur and Merlin. Though the main question about that is much the same as the one that was asked in Lois and Clark[2], where eventually a time-travelling guest villain did ask how stupid Lois Lane was to not notice the remarkable similarity between Superman and Clark Kent. The question here was how stupid was Arthur not to notice Merlin repeatedly saving his life, the kingdom and much else by means of magic. But as that was part of the essential charm of the show, I suppose it falls under the general “suspension of disbelief” heading, so I’ll let it pass.

Anyway, many stories were told, much was done, and a general good time was had by all. But in the end, the force of Story had to come through, with the final battle between Morgana, aided by the all grown up version of Mordred[3] and Camelot. And as Story demands, Arthur, thanks to Merlin’s power, was victorious, but received a fatal injury in the process. It was surprising to see Morgana being killed by Merlin, using Arthur’s sword rather than direct magic, but never mind.

And then came the long, slow end. Merlin’s desperate quest to save Arthur, during which he finally admitted his power, and the weakened and dying Arthur finally realised what he’d been missing all this time, was either a bit rushed or a bit drawn out – I’m really not sure which. I’d been expecting the Big Reveal to take place part way through the final season, giving Arthur time to accept Merlin as something more than a servant, but the way it was done still worked well enough for me not to feel I’d been cheated of a proper conclusion.

And as Story demanded, Merlin couldn’t save Arthur, who as prophesied, had to die. The only real variation from more usual Arthurian stories was Arthur’s remarkably sensible decision to leave Guinevere in charge. We’ll never know how that works out, but she’d probably do quite well. She was certainly the brains of the outfit…

Overall, it remained Good Stuff up to the end. Nicely done. And the dragon was lovely.

[1] Well, since the Arthurian stories don’t have a “real” point in history, I suppose you can get away with that…
[2] For those who don’t remember, this was an ever so slightly silly TV take on Superman, which ran under the title The New Adventures of Superman in the UK, presumably because they thought we wouldn’t get the cultural reference in the original title. Which was probably about right, come to think of it
[3] He seemed such a nice lad when he was younger. Apart from the scary eyes, that is.