Reviewing Merlin has become an extreme sport now, after the BBC announced that this will be the final series. Anything could happen! Arthur could discover Merlin’s secret! Minor characters could die! Mordred might finally do something!
So, only four episodes left including this one –any of that happen this week? As ever, catch the episode on iPlayer before reading on, I do spoil rather.
Alator: The Torturer Becomes The Tortured
Since we’re nearing the end, The Kindness of Strangers continues this year’s pattern of bringing back old characters to amuse the fanbase. Our latest exhibit from the Merlin Museum is Alator, returning from last year’s Gaius-torturefest The Secret Sharer, and symmetrically, he’s now being tortured himself by Morgana for his knowledge of Emrys’s true identity.
Not only are they upping the pressure on that storyline, the Mordred saga gets some play as well, with the young curly knight getting surly about Merlin’s groundless mistrust of him. About time that saw real movement, also good to see Gaius really involving himself in the plot.
And the dragon is dying! Morgana declares war! After weeks of baseless, badly set-up Evil Gwen meandering, this is what we’re after for the final year of Merlin, drawing subplots together and preparing us for a hopefully epic final two-parter.
Let Us Speak Of The Future
If people do complain (and come on, this is the internet), I imagine they’ll moan about how we haven’t seen a Merlin magical outing, meaning it’ll be shunted back to the final weeks, if it happens at all. Which, in turn, leaves little time to play with that new dynamic, but clearly they’ve decided it doesn’t interest them hugely, or they’re saving it for the hypothetical future movies.
Am kicking myself for not seeing the terminal dragon coming though – removing Merlin’s mentor/father figures is an obvious thing to do near the end. Hence why Gaius is probably also for the chop – after all his emotional scenes this week, I half expected him to go before the end.
So, a good episode of setting the scene, probably necessary after the Evil Gwen diversion. Next week, by the look of the trailer, we see that Mordred genuinely was a nice chap, but turns evil after Camelot kill his girlfriend. They gotta start limiting the spoilers in those.