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Merlin “The Drawing of the Dark” 

Photo Credit: Syfy

There had to be a trigger to make Mordred turn against Arthur.  In this week’s Merlin, we meet Kara, the woman who Mordred is in love with but who also has a serious grudge against the house of Pendragon.  She is the person who will drive a wedge between the hearts of the king and his knight, setting the stage for the final confrontation between the two.  

Arthur stumbles across several of his knights killed in an ambush and Mordred chases after a fleeing, cloaked figure.  When the person  is cornered, Mordred discovers that he knows the murderer – it is Kara, a girl he grew up with and for whom he has strong feelings.  Kara seems to return Mordred’s affection, but we learn later that there is little room in her heart for anything except hate for Camelot.  In a rash moment, Mordred decides to help Kara.  He hides her and later sneaks back to the forest to treat her wounded leg.

Arthur is determined to find the killers of his men.  He too returns to the forest and this time discovers footsteps in the mud that lead him to Kara.  She initially plays innocent and begs Arthur not to hurt her and tells him she means him no harm.  However, as soon as Arthur is close enough, she pulls a knife on him and would’ve stabbed him but for Merlin’s intervention.  This Kara is hardly the sweet soul that Mordred remembers.

Mordred is desperate to save Kara after she is sentenced to death.  He witnesses her venomous speech to Arthur, in which she essentially declares her allegiance to Morgana.  Yet, this does not change Mordred’s feelings for her.  Mordred is devastated by her death sentence and goes to see her in jail.  He doesn’t see how she manipulates him by saying that Arthur would never grant mercy on a person like her.  As Arthur pointed out earlier, Kara wasn’t on trial for sorcery; she was on trial for committing murder.  She is only using Mordred and taking advantage of his feelings for her.

Merlin can see the direction that all of this is heading in.  Mordred is becoming angrier and angrier and all of that will end up directed at Arthur.  Mordred goes to see Arthur and begs for Kara’s life, but Arthur is unwilling to budge.  On the one hand, Arthur is right that the law is clear, and he is dealing with an unrepentant criminal.  On the other hand, Arthur could have considered Kara’s actions the result of Morgana’s influence and commuted the death sentence into a prison sentence.  After all, it was not very long ago that Gwen was under Morgana’s spell.  She committed murder and there were absolutely no consequences for her actions.  Is the moral here that if you are married to the king you can do whatever you want, but all others will be punished?

Merlin urges Arthur to give Kara one more chance to repent.  Mordred is surprisingly not present for this.  Kara is unwilling to capitulate and reconfirms her enmity to the throne.  Left with no options, Arthur says she will be hung the following morning.  Mordred decides that he will break Kara out and tells Merlin to stay out of his way.  It is at this point that Merlin makes the decision that will ultimately lead to the battle between Arthur and Mordred; Merlin goes to Arthur and tells him of Mordred’s plan.

As they try to escape, Mordred and Kara battle their way out of Camelot.  Mordred looks on with disbelief and horror as Kara kills a soldier.  Mordred has now seen her commit murder and knows that it is wrong and still follows her into the woods.  When the two are eventually cornered, Kara urges Mordred to use his magic to kill.  He refuses to do it, but at her persistent goading, he finally appears to be ready to strike down Arthur.  He is knocked unconscious before he has the opportunity.

Mordred’s inner struggle is where the episode is problematic.  There is insufficient context to show why Mordred would abandon all of his loyalties to Camelot for Kara.  He loves her, but she isn’t exactly a gentle soul.  Mordred witnesses how harsh and horrible she has become.  She has no concern for Mordred’s safety and is content to put him at risk to save her own life.  Because we have no context for what Kara was like before, it is hard to see why Mordred is so attached to her.

The death of Kara sends Mordred straight into the arms of Morgana.  In the ultimate betrayal, Mordred tells Morgana that Emrys’ true identity is Merlin.  It would have been better to see Mordred’s allegiance to Arthur and Merlin crack gradually, rather than the abrupt fissure created by Kara.  Even if we’d seen more flashes of temper over the season, that would’ve given some credence to the violence of Mordred’s behavior.

One the most interesting moments occurs after Morgana finds out that Merlin is Emerys.  She still refers to him as Emerys, even though she has always known him as Merlin.  In her mind, she can’t process that a mere servant could be the one who’d bring about her downfall.

Again, I can only think that some of the storylines have been truncated by the approaching end of the series.  If there had been more time, perhaps Mordred’s disillusionment with Camelot would have been drawn out more.  Regardless, it was satisfying to finally see Morgana learn Emrys’ identity.  The series finale is approaching and there still is a lot to resolve.  Arthur still does not know that Merlin has magic, and there is no way the show can end without that discovery.

Only two episodes left. Merlin airs Fridays at 10/9c on Syfy.

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