Merlin: Review: Series 5 Episode 13: The Diamond of the Day Part 2 (Spoiler-filled!)

merlin_logoMerlin knows there is one last chance to save Arthur’s life…

And so that’s it for the BBC version of the story of Merlin. The King is dead. Merlin is still wandering the highways and byways of Britain in the 21st Century. And audiences everywhere will be wondering if we missed something…

To me, it feels as if we missed a season out between the end of last season and the start of this one. The three-year jump seemed like a good idea at the time – and certainly when we were on set earlier this year, it did seem as if it was allowing for some growth in the characters and the situation. But we didn’t really get that: three years on, Merlin was still where he had been, hiding his magic, and hearing promises of the great time to come when magic would be free within the kingdom.

That season five should have been the Golden Age of Camelot – and clearly, to the characters, that’s what it was. I have been holding out hope, even during the last two episodes (in fact, I was right until ten minutes before the end of the episode, when Arthur finally says thank you to Merlin), that the producers were going to have the same regard for this part of the myth as they have others. In other words, they would take incidents from the legend and rework them to their own purposes. Yes, Arthur would receive a wound from Mordred at Camlann, but he would be magically cured, thus giving him a reason to support magic finally, and yes, we would end up with an ending with Merlin assisting Arthur as ruler. If necessary, the “Iron Man” scenario could have been left just ticking over – Gaius could have confided to Merlin in a final scene that the tip of Mordred’s weapon couldn’t be removed and was working its way towards his heart. Astute members of the audience would recognise what that meant – Arthur’s time was limited – but it would still allow the show to go out on a positive note.

We could even have had a season five in the Golden Age, with perhaps the final three-parter charting Camlann? Instead, although, as my (p)reviews showed, I enjoyed the majority of the episodes, we went from the build-up to the aftermath with none of the triumph (or, as one person astutely pointed out, jumping from the foreplay to the cigarette without any of the fun.)

What we got was a bit of a cop-out: the dragon reminds Merlin that Arthur is the Once and Future King, and the inference is that everything that was promised for Arthur’s reign is going to happen when he returns as King in England’s darkest hour. Technically, that means all the promises about freedom of magic aren’t invalidated, but it’s not really playing fair with the audience: it reminds me of those people in the first century who were convinced that the Second Coming would happen in their lifetime because of the way they interpreted the teachings of Jesus. To me, that cheated the audience, and lost the episode marks.

But in terms of what we got, given that  this was the route the producers decided to take: the episode belonged to Colin Morgan and Bradley James, quite rightly. James played Arthur’s reaction to Merlin’s revelation with exactly the right amount of anger and disbelief – and finally acceptance – while Morgan was simply at his best throughout. If this could have been built on in future seasons, then I think Merlin would have been unbeatable. Ah well…

Paul Simpson

Don’t miss A Fan’s Guide to the End of an Era, the second part of our feature on the fans’ reaction to the finale.

Discussion

8 thoughts on “Merlin: Review: Series 5 Episode 13: The Diamond of the Day Part 2 (Spoiler-filled!)

  1. Merlin’s tragic situation made me so heartbroken! Merlin was so willing to save Arthur and then he finds himself, once again, watching a friend die in his arms like he did several times in his life (His friend Will, his girlfriend Freya, his father Balinor, his best friend Lancelot…). I’m really sad Merlin is all so sad at the end of his story! Colin Morgan dd the best work ever. Merlin’s emotions were conveyed so beautifully and with so much intensity! His eyes are so expressive! I’d say this episode (like the whole series and the whole show) belonged to Colin Morgan.
    Thanks for this review.

    Posted by Merlin Watcher | December 24, 2012, 9:40 pm
  2. Paul – this is an excellent analysis, and I agree with almost everything you’ve said. That s4-5 jump really is the crux of matter, isn’t it.

    Putting aside all my issues with the storyline(s), the acting was top form from everyone and the Merlin / Arthur scenes were some of the best we’ve ever had – which is as it should be. Colin Morgan & Bradley James reduced me to tears.

    Thank you for your reviews this season, and for hosting such animated discussions.

    Posted by Khaireddin | December 25, 2012, 9:12 am
  3. I am so heartbroken at this finale and of course the end of the whole series forever. Colin’s acting was unbelievably good showing the excellent actor he has been throughout the entire series. His scenes with Bradley touched me to the core and emotionally went beyond what we usually see on TV. Yes, this show is called Merlin and of course it is Merlin’s journey, but I see where TPTB have let his journey be told in the context of Arthur and their friendship. I will never watch another Camelot interpretation again without thinking of our Merlin and Arthur.

    PS I did recently see an episode of Game of Thrones as I thought it would be my new show, but I just couldn’t get emotionally invested in it as I did with the very first episode I watched of Merlin. We have all shared something very unique and special for five years.

    Posted by snowcat60 | December 25, 2012, 1:31 pm
    • i so agree with you on the Game of Thrones. It has been getting so much praise – so, with a view of Merlin ending- I thoguht I would watch season 1. All I can say is that it was not for me. Beautifully done – but, as you say, it did not involve me emotionally. I found it difficult to find a charcater i REALLY liked. So that’s it. No more GOT:)

      Posted by Nimueh123 | January 2, 2013, 6:47 pm
  4. I totally agree.. the story all though sad had gone down the right path of how the legend was, i will so dearly miss Merlin and my all time favorite actor Colin who got the character right from the start:) he bought the character of Merlin back to life..as did Bradley, a big thankyou to the BBC for taking it on! and a big thank you to the producers/directors and crew!xoxo Josefina.B. (Australia)

    Posted by Josefina B. | December 25, 2012, 3:55 pm
  5. Estoy de acuerdo en que la serie fue la mejor pero el final fue un desastre para todos los fans y encima tan triste la pasan la noche de navidad de terror, arruinaron cinco años de buena serie en 5 minutos de muerte sin sentido porque si merlin con toda su magia no pudo salvarlo entonces la magia para que le sirvió? se contradicen y desvalorizaron el producto final porque ahora a los que la empiezan a ver no les va a dar ganas de continuar viéndola si es un final sin sentido . gracias.

    Posted by sandra | December 25, 2012, 3:57 pm
  6. Thanks you so much for this excellent review. I have only found the heart to read about Merlin again. Your point about the writers not being prepared to tweak the final as they have done with the legend for 5 years is totally vaild. They tried to give us a little bit of hope – but it would have been easy to make us happy rather than grudgingly accepting what we were left with.

    Posted by Nimueh123 | January 2, 2013, 6:50 pm

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