While everyone else was getting ready for the upcoming battle with Morgana and Mordred at Camlann, Merlin was trying to regain his powers after Morgana stripped them away using a magical slug thingy that thought it was a Facehugger from Alien. The idea of Merlin losing his magic is a good one, and would make for a great episode. But this was not that episode.
The writers really dropped the ball on this one. Apart from the confrontation with Morgana in the cave, they really didn't take full advantage of Merlin being powerless. Worst of all, Merlin was able to get his powers back by the end of the episode with virtually no effort whatsoever. All he had to do was wish for them back. I'm sorry, but 'believe in yourself' is a very undramatic way to resolve what should be a crucial plotline.
This plotline only served two purposes. The first was to get Merlin away from Arthur before the final battle, leading to a rather OTT goodbye scene. The poor king was heartbroken that his loyal servant was abandoning him at this crucial time. And the young warlock was close to tears believing his beloved king thought him a coward. I was surprised, shocked even, by how little Merthur interaction there was in this episode. Merlin and Arthur's romance is the central relationship of the entire series. Keeping them apart for almost half of the series finale feels wrong.
The second was to get Merlin to the Crystal Cave so he could be reunited with his dead father. Merlin's papa showed up Obi-Wan style to give his son some sage advice about how to
The build up to Camlann was by far one of the strongest parts of the episode. But I was rather perplexed by where the battle eventually took place. In the legends, as well as all the visions and prophecies this series has given us, the Battle of Camlann is described as taking place on a 'mighty plain'. And yet here it's in a narrow pass. I can only assume that while researching the battle the writers got bored and decided to watch 300 instead, because now the Battle of Camlann seems to be a re-enactment of the Battle of Thermopylae. Morgana even sends troops along a hidden path to outflank Arthur's army, just as the Persians did to the Spartans. I can see the practical reasons for doing this. By having the battle take place in such a confined place the production team can limit the number of extras needed.
Mordred is now in full Darth Vader mode, standing at Morgana's side all dressed in black and looking creepy. But he is just as uncomfortable with her methods now as he was back in 'Arthur's Bane'. Morgana is becoming more and more unhinged of late. Once again she proved to be her own worst enemy. She finally has Emrys, the man she has been hunting for so long, in her grasp, powerless and at her mercy. She could've easily killed him then and there. But she didn't. Instead she left him trapped in the Crystal Cave. The very same cave he was going to in order to regain his powers. Decisions this dumb require some epic Star Trek facepalm action.
(I would've included Archer but couldn't find a suitable picture on account of I didn't even bother to look.)
Judging by the look on Gwen's face, this isn't the first time Arthur has called out Merlin's name while they were in bed together.
Ari was played by Peter Guinness, a veteran character actor who has appeared in films such as Alien 3, Sleepy Hollow and Centurion. Eira was played by Erin Richards, who is probably best known for playing detective Nancy Reed in season three of Being Human.
Notes and Quotes
--Once again Camelot proves to be the easiest place in the realm to break into.
--Merlin is now using his magic openly. Right in front of Arthur. He seems to have caught on to the fact that his friends wouldn't know a sorcerer if one burst into the great hall, leapt on the round table, danced the robot, belted out Queen's A Kind of Magic and finished off by pulling a rabbit out of his hat (a killer rabbit, to be sure).
--There's another spy for Morgana in Camelot. Christ, three in one season, that is a record. Which reminds me, whatever happened of Davos' daughter?
--Possible locations for the Battle of Camlann include Queen Camel in Somerset, the Roman fort called Camboglanna (identified now as the nearby Castlesteads), the River Camel in Cornwall, Camelon near Falkirk and the River Camlan in Wales.
--Arthur has another chance to do his St Crispin's Day Speech and does much better here than he did in 'The Moment of Truth'. Although the 'United Kingdoms' line was rather cheesy.
--Again, too much slow-mo in the action scenes.
--Merlin being trapped in a cave by Morgana recalls the story of Niviane. In many of the legends, Niviane was an apprentice of Merlin whom he fell in love with. In some versions she tricked Merlin and trapped him in a cave using magic.
Mordred: "He was a loyal soldier. In robbing him of his magic, you've lost yourself a powerful ally."
Morgana: "Perhaps. But we now know the war can be won. For Arthur is nothing without Emrys and Emrys is nothing without magic."
Arthur: "It's no disgrace for a servant to lose to his King."
Merlin: "Or a King to his servant."
Sir Leon: "But, Sire, Morgana commands an army of thousands."
Arthur: "Nonetheless, it's our duty as protectors of this land. We cannot stand by and let our citizens be slaughtered. Those are not the values that Camelot was built on. Whatever the outcome of this battle, my sister cannot and will not desecrate those values. The war has begun."
Arthur: "You know, Merlin, all those jokes about you being a coward... I never really meant any of them. I always thought you were the bravest man I ever met. Guess I was wrong."
Two and a half out of four magical slug thingys.