We’re down to it now, the last two episodes of Merlin and the end of an era. I’ve been fascinated in the last week or so by the fever pitch of fan discussion, no doubt about to reach a crescendo on Christmas Eve.
What to expect?
Well, I imagine that the sofa set – those who don’t go online and discuss and dissect the show within an inch of its life, and don’t even know what the word “spoiler” means – will be thinking they’ll see a resolution, finally, of secrets and lies between friends, a dramatic magic reveal, maybe some humour from Old Emrys, a helping hand (wing) from Kilgarrah, an epic, by-the-skin-of-their-teeth save on the battlefield, (heavy on the CGI!), and another close but definite victory over Morgana for Arthur.
Perhaps there will be some angst – but not too much – from Arthur about Merlin not having told him about his magic before then, but that will be settled and the last scenes might be a proud, dignified Merlin seated at the right hand of Arthur at the Round Table, wearing new, finer clothes, and beginning his rightful role of Court Sorcerer and trusted adviser and friend as Arthur ushers in Camelot’s Golden Age and unites all of Albion. King Arthur, the Once and Future King – is it no wonder he is remembered for all time?
I so wish I lived in the casual fan’s world. On the other hand, it’s they who will be comforting crying youngsters when they should be celebrating the most magical night of the year. (And seriously, what is the BBC thinking, scheduling this depress-o-rama on Christmas Eve?)
At least the more hardcore fans are braced and know, more or less, what’s coming and what to expect. I, for one, won’t be letting my kids near the BBC until after Christmas.
Here’s what one watching Merlin on the 22nd and 24th might realistically expect, based on equal parts spoilers and speculation:
* Merlin being trapped in the crystal cave by Morgana and Mordred, his magic stolen from him
* Sir Gwaine being (nearly) duped by an agent of Morgana named Eira, who is hanged by Queen Mary Sue, I mean, Gwen.
* Aithusa forging a sword with her breath for Morgana, so that Morgana also has the equivalent of Excalibur
* A tearful, touching farewell, complete with violins and backlit kiss, between king and queen.
* Arthur riding into battle against the Saxons (and Mordred and Morgana) without Merlin to protect him.
* Merlin managing to escape the cave by sacrificing his youth and finding himself eternal.
* Kilgarrah helping Merlin one last time before the dragon dies.
* The knights – Leon, Gwaine, Percival – all falling in battle at Morgana’s hand.
* Old Merlin/Emrys confronting Morgana on the battlefield at Camlann (“Is this really what you wanted Morgana?”, just like in Morgana’s vision at the start of season 4), and Emrys defeating/killing Morgana.
* Old Merlin/Emrys witnessing Mordred’s fatal blow to Arthur, but arriving too late to stop it. Arthur falls…
* Old Emrys tries to save Arthur. At the last moment, he tells Arthur who he is and that he has had magic all along…
* Arthur dies.
* Merlin’s cries of anguish echo throughout the five kingdoms. There is no Albion. Arthur’s “Golden Age” lasted three years, and he accomplished absolutely nothing.
* All of Merlin’s efforts, his loneliness, grief, lack of recognition, lies and secrets, and desperate attempts to keep Arthur safe and help and influence him to be the king he was meant to be, have failed. It has all been for nothing.
* Weeping Queen Gwen sees to King Arthur’s funerary boat. Merlin is nowhere to be found…
Last scene of what used to be a “feel good” type of show: Immortal Old Emrys walks slowly along the same road he entered Camelot on as an innocent, naive, hopeful teenaged boy, all those many centuries – eons – ago. A modern-day lorry passes him. He awaits the re-awakening of his king. The Once and Future King.
Personally I think the BBC should have grief counsellors standing by. My own reaction isn’t even sadness, but weary resignation. Shine seems to think such a meaningless, tragic ending, trumpeted since season 3’s The Crystal Cave, to be “dark” and sophisticated and mature, and no doubt they’re breaking their own arms from patting themselves on the back. I think it’s pointless. They won’t be getting any flowers of congratulations from me. I won’t be buying the DVDs, and I won’t be encouraging my international friends to watch this season. I already feel emotionally manipulated and jerked around; all that’s left is regret that I ever began watching this show and emotionally investing in it.
Do you agree? Let us know below: