Merlin: Review: Series 5 Episode 12: The Diamond of the Day part 1 (Spoiler-free)

Merlin 512The battlelines are drawn. With Mordred at her side, Morgana makes her strike on all that Arthur holds dear…

There are a lot of spoilers out there regarding these final two episodes of Merlin, and all that I’ll say on the subject of them in this review is that “context is everything”. Brief glimpses can give an entirely wrong impression (look at the fuss over the first of the Star Trek Into Darkness trailers which sent reviewers barking up the wrong tree completely).

If you’ve stuck with Merlin this far – and it doesn’t really matter whether you’re doing it rejoicing at the updated version, or with clenched fists at the wasted potential – then you will want to see this episode. There’s more humour than I anticipated, given the subject matter, and there’s one particular scene between Arthur and Merlin which you really expect to go one way, and then takes a severe left turn.

Colin Morgan has to show a very different side to Merlin in this story: he’s more vulnerable than he’s ever been before, and even some of the skills that Merlin has acquired at his lord’s side seem to desert him just when he may need them most. But he can also rely on the stupidity of others to assist him – one of his enemies makes an incredibly fundamental mistake (think Scott Evil’s complaint in the first Austin Powers movie).

There’s a nice contrast between Bradley James’ Arthur and Katie McGrath’s Morgana: one becomes more regal, more like a monarch as the episode unfolds; the other… not so much.

One major complaint has been thrown at this series ever since the concept was first revealed; maybe – just maybe – that is going to be remedied in the final episode. Personally, I’m more hopeful about that now than I was before seeing this…

Verdict: A good set-up, but everything now rides on the finale. Quite appropriate it airs on Christmas Eve: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight…”  8/10

Paul Simpson

Check out our feature on the possible outcome of Merlin here.

And our spoiler-free review of the final episode here



33 thoughts on “Merlin: Review: Series 5 Episode 12: The Diamond of the Day part 1 (Spoiler-free)

  1. Thank you soo much for this much more hopeful view. After Rose’s article this is like balm on an open wound. Deceptive trailers. There IS hope, then. I really want to believe this so much.

    Posted by Nimueh123 | December 18, 2012, 4:34 pm
  2. Isn’t it more like “Morgana makes her strike on all that MERLIN holds dear…” since from the trailers, we see that Merlin is the one being dispossessed from everything that he fights for since forever…

    Posted by Merlin Watcher | December 18, 2012, 4:53 pm
  3. “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight…”

    Is this a citation taken form the episode itself? Is it one character telling this to Merlin in the episode?

    Posted by Merlin Watcher | December 18, 2012, 4:55 pm
    • No, it’s a quote from a Christmas carol talking about the events of Christmas…. it just struck me as appropriate! Not unless they’re really pushing the Messianic angle..;..

      Posted by PS | December 18, 2012, 4:59 pm
  4. You’re almost making me feel hopeful Paul. I didn’t think that was possible any more. :-p Scott Evil’s solution is never followed in this show by a certain psychotic person with bad hair, which is just as well really. I don’t think theres any doubt where its going though, sadly, do you?

    Posted by Seb | December 18, 2012, 5:31 pm
  5. Hmm… Interesting article. Though I guess that the ep was reveal-less :P, judging from the 8/10.
    one thing though…
    ” One major complaint has been thrown at this series ever since the concept was first revealed; maybe – just maybe – that is going to be remedied in the final episode”
    A major complaint… I wonder what you could mean by that. Perhaps you mean Merlin getting some recognition for a change?or Arthur staying alive to rule more than 3 years? or Merlin finally revealing his magic? (which Alex kinda alreadyspoiled anyway)
    I hope it isn’t something like Gwen getting pregnant because I doubt it is a major compaint for the majority of the fans.

    And also about Morgana “making her strike on all that Arthur holds dear…” I really hope that doesn’t include Gwen again. We had 4 eps of tptb making sure we understood how precious Gwen is to Arthur. That is four episodes more than what we will probably get for the much wanted and unticipated magic reveal, ffs.

    Posted by mpamies | December 18, 2012, 5:37 pm
    • MUCH more fundamental than that. And anything regarding a reveal – in either episode – would be embargoed.

      Posted by PS | December 18, 2012, 6:08 pm
      • You mean they wouldn’t allow you to reveal anything about the reveal ? 😛
        Not surprised.
        Much more fundamental than all the things I’ve mentioned… I’m at a loss. I think that the only thing the show has denied to do is give Merlin credit, make him the wizard of legends instead of the servant he’s been all this time.

        Hmm… Maybe they’ll unite Albion? They have been dropping hints and allies throughout this series.

        I think that what the majority of the fans, and I’m talking about the normal sofa watching fans too, want to see Merlin geting recognized for what he has done. To have Arthur create Albion will be a plus, but if he is to die by the end of the ep, all his work and, most importantly, Merlin’s entire life until that point would have been for nothing and will have lasted what, a day? Come on.

        The only way “Merlin” won’t disappoint in the end is for the show to deliver in all it’s promises. Magic reveal, respected Merlin being on Arthur’s side (and have a seat on that god forsaken Round Table… Mordred got one and he was a baby knight…), creating Albion. In that order too.

        I pray for a Christmas miracle.

        Posted by mpamies | December 18, 2012, 6:42 pm
        • I would like to think that the major complaint mentioned is that Merlin never gets any credit for what he does.And that this will be remedied. We all want to see him acknowledged.
          But as Paul says that this was a complaint since the beginning of the show (when we did not moan about Merlin never getting any credit YET) I wonder if it refers to ‘not sticking to the legends’ enough. The show got critisized a lot over the years for this – but is sticking to it something we really want to see now?
          I assume it depends which part of the legend we are talking about. Arthur’s death, Merlin’s demise – no thanks. The creation of Albion, Arthur’s beginnings as the Once and Future King, Merlin’s rise to an advisor role – yes, PLEASE!

          Posted by Nimueh123 | December 18, 2012, 7:09 pm
  6. I am trying so hard to understand…there are so many things they need to show and how are they going to do that in two eps?? And i agree with MPAMIES!!! Through the seasons we have been taught that Merlin is the greatest warlock who has ever lived…but yet in this season he appears more vulnerable than ever before!!! Pfff we want Merlin to take some action…we want Arthur to finally know and recognize his loyalty and affection!!!!

    Posted by Kelly | December 18, 2012, 8:09 pm
  7. Nice: “There’s more humour than I anticipated, given the subject matter, and there’s one particular scene between Arthur and Merlin which you really expect to go one way, and then takes a severe left turn.” Lovely to read this bit despite all the talk of doom and gloom in both the last 2 eps!
    Alexander Vlahos in his recent interview on BBC1 with DJ Gemma does confirm that the REVEAL happens and I believe it does,if not in Part 1 then in Pt 2?If this really comes to pass I am hoping that it would be the greatest emotional scene of the show between the BUDS! 🙂

    Posted by Puhana Sundrampillay | December 18, 2012, 9:27 pm
  8. First I want to thank you and the magazine for the opportunity to express my/our opinions on the trajectory of “Merlin” and specifically season/series 5.

    I’ve read many reviews over the years of the show and have found them mostly inaccurate from a hard-core fan point of view. I did notice this year some of the online magazines were more unforgiving in their opinions. My take on that was because the producers touted s5 as ‘more mature’, it seemed formal reviewers took that to heart and were using a more critical eye. However, in my opinion, that did not continue. I can only speak for myself, but it’s obvious from the comments on your earlier article there are many who feel similar to me. I want to believe the fans will ultimately be ecstatic over what happens in s5e12-13. I want so much to be completely wrong in my fear of what’s to come. I want egg on my face over the comments I’ve made in many forums because I want to believe the very best will be the ultimate outcome. With that said, it’s a shame the s4 and s5 story arcs were not paced better. I feel much screen time has been wasted on reused storylines, etc., and I have a difficult time believing that what needs to be accomplished can be in two episodes. For me, it comes down to being disappointed over and over again. It’s hard to muster the optimism after constant frustration and feeling disheartened. However, I’ll not dwell on the past and hope against hope the producers have pulled out a miracle.

    Posted by adrienne5413 | December 18, 2012, 9:35 pm
  9. I really don’t see how we can get all that we want–a magic reveal between the two male leads, Merlin receiving the ever-elusive recognition and respect he’s been denied the entire time of the show, Arthur uniting all of Albion, Morgana and Mordred defeated–in the space of two episodes. It’s impossible. At this point I guess we as fans are set up to grab desperately at even the most slightly hopeful moments in these last ninety minutes. Here’s my prediction: The Arwens will be pleased, (they always seem to be the only faction who eventually get what they hope for), the Merthurs will be heartbroken, the Arthur fans will be disappointed, and the Merlin fans will be, as always, deprived of anything they’ve been hoping for. Does anyone here really think Arthur won’t die and Merlin won’t be left to grieve horribly for him for eternity? That there will be a united Albion or a legacy from Arthur or Merlin that would justify the great legends? Just the names and details will be different. I’m disappointed in the actors who keep insisting that the finale will be spectacular and the fans will be “upset but satisfied.” I expect that type of out-of-touch outlook from the Js but I really thought the actors were aware of what the fans have hoped for. I guess as performers they just can’t give up the thrill of playing a dramatic death scene, and screw the fans’ wishes.

    Posted by Hesperia | December 19, 2012, 2:00 am
    • I for one, do NOT want to be “upset but satisfied.”

      Posted by snowcat60 | December 19, 2012, 4:36 am
    • Maybe you are a little harsh on the actors. Although we all have made certain conclusions before we REALLY know, I would wait judging the actors on what they said, until I have actually seen the final episodes.

      Posted by Nimueh123 | December 19, 2012, 7:51 am
    • It bothers me that Katy McGrath said in an interview that all things will be explained — she didn’t say we’d be happy with it. I almost don’t care if there are some loose ends — I just don’t want this to end on a depressing note — I want to feel good about the show. What about all the kids that watch this show????

      Posted by snowcat60 | December 19, 2012, 8:22 am
      • Why would she say you’ll be happy with it? If nothing else the debate on these pages shows that there is a wide spectrum of fan expectation for the final two episodes – what may please me may not please you, or Nimueh123 or Hesperia or whoever (I’m just grabbing names here from the list of people who’ve commented!) Katie can’t be expected to come out with a broad answer because that wouldn’t be a fair question

        Posted by PS | December 19, 2012, 8:48 am
        • Why would she say fans would be happy with it? Maybe because Katie is a PR machine who goes around swearing that Morgana isn’t evil and that the most fantastic script she’s ever read was 4.9, pretty much the most-hated in fandom, and because all of the actors and especially the producers and writers seem to be quite out of touch with what the fans hoped for and wanted.

          Posted by Quinana | December 20, 2012, 9:04 am
          • I think you might be missing my point: Katie knows there are many different groups in fandom, and no ending will please all of them. If you’re the actor playing a part, then you may not want to believe your character is irredeemably evil (and be fair, Morgana’s not exactly had the easiest of lives in recent times!)

            Posted by PS | December 20, 2012, 9:17 am
  10. “One major complaint has been thrown at this series ever since the concept was first revealed; maybe – just maybe – that is going to be remedied in the final episode. Personally, I’m more hopeful about that now than I was before seeing this…”

    Im just hoping that ‘complaint thrown at the show’ is NOT referring to finally making Merlin old, rather than young as the series concept has him?

    But on second thoughts I’m sure Paul wouldn’t be ‘hopeful’ we’d end with old Merlin – alone, immortal (yet still oddly able to age to decrepitude- when would it stop exactly?) and miserable? I personally think that would pretty much put the final nail in the coffin for many fans. I know I at least find old Merlin indescribably irritating and frustrating as the blatant cop out he has always been for the producers.

    But I could sadly see them patting themselves on the back for their cleverness in making Merlin look like the traditional legends at the end, however miserable for his character and his fans. Amazing the things they seem so anxious to ‘honour’ and the things they choose to trash.

    Posted by Seb | December 19, 2012, 7:33 am
    • Hopeful generally, rather than specifically about them addressing the fundamental point, is what I meant, just for clarity. Spoiler-free reviews are always difficult because you know that people will inevitably read more into them than you intended.
      My hope is that this won’t be the downbeat depressing ending that many – including Rose in her feature elsewhere on the site – expect/fear. Again, once I’ve actually seen that, I won’t post further until the spoiler free review for that goes up…

      Posted by PS | December 19, 2012, 7:37 am
      • Actually I have no idea how you can do spoiler free previews. It must be really hard to say something meaningful without giving too much away.
        I think we alll share your hope of an ending free of depression and gloom. and please let Merlin stay young!

        Posted by Nimueh123 | December 19, 2012, 7:55 am
  11. Hello oh I just wanted to know is gwaine going to discover merlins magic

    Posted by habib | December 20, 2012, 9:10 pm
  12. The spoiler free preview of episode 13 will go live as soon as episode 12 airs tonight.

    Posted by PS | December 22, 2012, 2:44 pm

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