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Merlin “The Kindness of Strangers” 

Photo Credit: Syfy

There are only a few episodes remaining until we say goodbye to Merlin.  Unfortunately, this means that I have high expectations for the characters. Five years is a big investment in a show, and fans deserve a big payout.  So far, these final episodes are not doing enough to reward fan dedication.

At the outset of the episode, we see there is no hope that Guinevere will be emotionally accountable for her actions under Morgana’s spell.  There’s nothing to suggest that Gwen feels bad for killing Tyr.  Nope.  Gwen gets flowers and breakfast in bed.  It is too bad, but it was it is, so we’ll just accept this story hole and move along.

Morgana has broadened her obsession from just taking the Camelot throne to destroying Emerys.  She still doesn’t know that Emerys is Merlin, but she captures Alator hoping that he will disclose the secret.  This is Morgana at her full evil strength.  She is willing to torture and even kill a man just because he refuses to tell her what she wants to hear.  She truly has become the proper heir to Uther’s legacy.  Morgana underestimates Alator’s ability to resist all manners of torture.  Even Morgana’s prized Nathair cannot pry Emerys’ identity from him.

Merlin finds strange markings on a tree that indicate someone with magic is hiding in the forest.  He discovers an old sorceress who works with Alator.  She wants to save Merlin from Morgana and goes to great lengths to do so.  She sends a note to Alator in prison (via raven) letting him know that she is keeping Emerys safe.  What I don’t understand is why Alator does not destroy the letter.  I would’ve expected that step one after reading would have been to chew it down.  Instead, Morgana’s men find it in his cell and race off to the forest.

While Merlin searches for the sorceress, he runs into Mordred, who again tries to assure Merlin of his allegiance.  Merlin is still skeptical, naturally.  When Merlin finally catches up with the sorceress, he is wounded by one of Morgana’s henchmen.   He and the sorceress end up cornered in a tower with Morgana’s forces pounding on the door.  The sorceress sends Merlin to the safety of the roof, and as he walks away, she tells him it has been a privilege knowing him.  What does Merlin say?  Nothing.   I would’ve expected him to say thank you or something.  It almost seemed like Merlin felt entitled to protection.  It was very un-Merlin like.

The best part of the episode was the Great Dragon coming to Merlin’s rescue.  Merlin has a genuine affection for the dragon and immediately notices that he is injured.  It was touching to see Merlin tear up at the idea that the dragon is old and dying.  The dragon has always been one of the highlights of the show for me.  He roots the story firmly in the realm of fantasy – even more than glowing eyes.

When he returns home, Merlin opens a box given to him by the sorceress.  A note inside foretells of Arthur’s fall at Camlann.  Merlin is wise enough to question why so many people have suffered just so he could read the note in the box that predicts Arthur’s death.  It’s a prophesy he has heard before many times, but now he has a location where Arthur will fall.

This was a strange episode.  It felt out of place.  There was nothing to advance the storyline – it was just more of the same.   This episode would have been better at the beginning of the season.  This close to the end, I want to see big, game changing storylines.  I was also confused about the point of the sorceress.  If Alator didn’t tell Morgana about Emerys’ true identity, why did Merlin need to be protected from Morgana?  It is true that the sorceress gives Merlin a box and warns him about Mordred, but it seems like there were easier ways to do this.

It’s hard to view some of the stories objectively since I know the end is coming.  Things that don’t make sense are best explained by the need to wrap everything up.  For example, Morgana sends the “ultimate warning” to Arthur by obliterating the face of one of Arthur’s knights.  This is a sign that she has declared war on Camelot.  Given how obsessed Morgana has been all season, why did she not declare war sooner?  If she has the power to suffocate a person by removing his face, why not do that to Arthur long ago?  These are practical questions that may not make sense in this impractical world.  I guess I was just hoping for more as one of my favorite shows prepares to disappear.

Merlin‘s final season airs on Fridays at 10/9c on Syfy.

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