Merlin: Review: Series 5 Episode 13: The Diamond of the Day part 2 (Spoiler-free)

merlin_series_5_1The final battle between Morgana’s troops and the forces of Camelot is underway– will Merlin be in time to prevent Mordred from killing Arthur?

As with the preview of episode 12, I’m not going to deal at length with the various spoilers and speculation that have appeared on the net – as you’ll have seen by now, some elements predicted for episode 12 didn’t turn out as suggested, and it’s fair to say that the same applies for the finale.

Merlin goes out with a flourish. The producers are to be commended for giving us a final episode that deals with some of the questions raised by the series so far – What is Merlin’s destiny? Will Arthur learn of Merlin’s magic (and we know from the throw forward that someone does)? Will other people guess or be told? Why has Merlin stayed as a servant all these years, and not used his powers more openly?

A good proportion of the episode focuses on Merlin and Arthur, with scenes featuring just Colin Morgan and Bradley James, both of whom are put through the wringer. The affection and bond between the two characters is put to the test, and you will have a lump in your throat as the episode progresses.

However there is darkness, and it wouldn’t be fair to suggest otherwise. Not everyone will survive. I’m reminded in some ways of another series that came to a close 21 years ago this week, although of course the events in Merlin are following the precedents set by previous chroniclers of the myth. But there is humour, there is banter, there is high emotion – and at the end there is some hope.

Verdict: It won’t please everyone – no series finale ever does – and there are some interesting ways suggested that deal with some of the criticisms levelled at this version of the story which will certainly divide opinion, but this provides a firm conclusion to the BBC’s Merlin.  7/10

Paul Simpson


Our spoiler-filled review of the episode, and the fifth series is now live


27 thoughts on “Merlin: Review: Series 5 Episode 13: The Diamond of the Day part 2 (Spoiler-free)

  1. Thank you. What can you tell about Colin Morgan’s performances in this final episode, please?

    Posted by Merlin Watcher | December 22, 2012, 10:13 pm
  2. what show finished 21 years ago?

    Posted by Bridget | December 23, 2012, 5:09 am
  3. Thanks for leaving me still in the dark about what will happen in Ep 13. I’ve had a good advance idea of events already past, so I’m hoping at least some of my expectations for Ep 13 will become true ones. As far as I’m concerned this ‘Merlin’ has surpassed my expectations and rekindled hopes for a novel and inspiring end to the legend, now retold again. There must be something about a legend that evolves if it is to remain a legend in the future, so new wrinkles and turns, characters and characterizations are necessary to any retelling. Our ‘Merlin’ fulfills all these hopes and expectations plus adding more so the tale can continue to grow into the future. Well done!

    Posted by tomeg | December 23, 2012, 7:45 am
  4. Thank you for this review.I loved this bit:”But there is humour, there is banter, there is high emotion – and at the end there is some hope.” This gives me great and positive vibes.The Merlin Circle deserve a huge pat for having survived the ordeal of being put through the wringer for 5 years by fans for shoddy writing of the characters and their developments. 🙂

    Posted by Puhana Sundrampillay | December 23, 2012, 11:01 am
  5. If they are still thinking of making a movie then we know that at least that Merlin or Arthur won’t die …
    I hope it won’t be another knight especially Gwain

    Posted by Viktoria | December 23, 2012, 12:28 pm
  6. I do wonder if you are trying to be polite here: to the producers and to the fans appeasing some of us with some calm thoughtful words. Thanks for that. However, I would love to find out why you gave the episode only 7/10. There must be issues that were annoying. Snags, incongruities you did not appreciate.
    I am totally pleased that the focus will be on the 2 main characters, and I do expect gloom and doom to some extent. But I hope that I will be able to share your final thought : ‘There is hope’ once I have seen 4.13.

    Posted by Nimueh123 | December 23, 2012, 4:40 pm
    • I wouldn’t say I was being polite – careful I think is the word. In this sort of review, particularly where we have been (quite rightly) asked by the BBC not to give any away of the reveals or the characters’ fates, you have to tread lightly. I hope that when people read my spoiler-filled review on Christmas Eve and afterwards that they won’t feel that I’ve misled them with this!

      Posted by PS | December 23, 2012, 5:48 pm
  7. I suspect that this episode will lerave many people unhappy. It’s sad that neither the producers or the writers cared about that. The series could have ended with Arthur and Merlin leading Albion into a golden age and left Camlann to the distant future. A happy ending would have been best , but I doubt that will happen.Too many rumors have materialized for me to think otherwise. So many children will be sad.

    Posted by ivyteainn | December 23, 2012, 8:13 pm
    • I don’t think the main goal of the story of Merlin, from the producers’ point of view, was really to make Albion united. I think their goal was to show Merlin’s path and destiny and how he becomes the most powerful sorcerer of the Merlinian legends. This final episode is, I think, meant to show us what Merlin is now compared to what he was in his 1st day in Camelot.

      Posted by Merlin Watcher | December 23, 2012, 11:36 pm
  8. The producers could have shown how powerful Merlin had become without Camlann. The results of this episode will make a very sad ending for many fans, particularly children. Capps and Murphy had a responsibility to please an audience, not leave it in an uproar or unhappy. The bottom line; this is entertainment, not real life. But thank you for your response on the matter.

    Posted by ivyteainn | December 24, 2012, 4:15 am
  9. Funny that you say that. Capps and Murphy spent three seasons retelling the same story line. Morgana gathers overwhelming force and attacks Camelot….same story each year. I don’t think the series grew at all during that time. I didn’t see much progress for Merlin being a sorcerer till the final stages of season five. Arthur was constantly oblivious to Merlin’s magic or knocked out. There a lot of stories that Capps and Murphy could have told and didn’t. Yes, I think they had the responsibility to tell the story well and failed. As to the ending, they could have taken Arthur to a battle that he won against the Saxons and called it quits there. Merlin is a success because of its cast, not its producers.

    Posted by ivyteainn | December 24, 2012, 9:13 am
  10. First, last and always this is entertainment that the people are supposed to enjoy. In this case, this show has always been touted as “family friendly”. Many children have come to love both Arthur and Merlin because of the light hearted humanism of their characters. Tonight, they will see one of their two heroes die and the other having failed to save him. This is not what most people would have expected given the nature of how this tale had been presented for five years.Yes, you would expect this in the Game of Thrones, but from the beginning that has always been out in the open. I doubt very many children identify with Ned Stark as they do with Arthur Pendragon. This ending just reinforces the gloom that many children already experience in their lives. So, in this instance, the ending should have fit the last five years of the program, not just season five.

    Posted by ivyteainn | December 24, 2012, 6:27 pm
    • I really suggest you wait until you’ve watched the episode before you dismiss it out of hand. We are specifically embargoed from discussing plot points but I think you may find that some of your pessimism isn’t justified. A few Christmases ago, the Doctor’s companion died in the special; two years ago, the central female character was going to die almost immediately at the end – the point being that children that life is what you make of it, and take the opportunities.

      Posted by PS | December 24, 2012, 6:31 pm
    • Oh – and yes, I do have children before that gets thrown at me…

      Posted by PS | December 24, 2012, 6:32 pm
  11. Just seen the last episode and am very disappointed it has ended and Arthur died. What does it mean at the end when you see Emeris in present day?

    Posted by ali | December 24, 2012, 9:13 pm
  12. In response to ivyteainn opinion that Capps and Murphy have spent three seasons “retelling the same story line”, I think it is important to consider the “bigger picture.” Behind the individual episodes and series, is the identifiable character of the show itself or what the show is communicating that propels viewers to not only return week after week, year after year, but to emotionally invest in specific characters and the show itself. An literary analysis of the story lines identifies a well-known and historically utilized theme associated with Christian doctrine, that of love evidenced by self-sacrifice [“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 KJV] central to virtually every episode starting with S1E1. Merlin is introduced as a type of Christ, as he is the “prophesized” savior of Albion in the guise of Arthur’s “servant”. Symbolism (12 knights/12 diciples; red capes, round table/last supper, dragon, etc. – one could go on and on…) and the underlying storyline of love/loyalty/duty evidenced (hence, “the Truth”) by self-sacrifice (need I say it…God becomes “man”, Christ as “servant”), are all writers elements that have been used for centuries to entice readers/viewers into identifying with what they are looking at. To the degree skilled writers/producers/directors/actors/make-up artists, etc., effectively and seamlessly amalgamate their various craft skills into the product they present is what we call, “entertainment”. The three years Capps and Murphy spent “retelling” were in actuality also well known literary elements of plot development called “suspense”. This is where the protagonist (character the story revolves around) Arthur is assaulted by the antagonist (character or force that opposes the protagonist) Morgana while the dynamic character (character that changes in some important way) Merlin matures and accepts his “destiny”, i.e., “S1E1 “You’ve got the wrong person.” This period of trial is intended to emphasize the CONFLICT, and create an ever intensifying RISING ACTION for the great CLIMAX or crisis of the story while further enticing the reader/viewer to “pony up” their emotional investment. It reminds me a bit of deep sea fishing wherein, having caught a great Marlin (like the play on words!), the fisherman,reels the fighting fish in, only to let it run with the line so as to repeat the process. The point being that the joy of catching the fish for the fisherman is not in the hauling it aboard and having one’s picture snapped beside it. It is in the experience of interacting with the fighting fish, in the act of “catching” it that the joy lies. I think it is also important to note that sometimes, even after hours and hours of fighting, the Marlin jumps the line and the fisherman loses his fish…. just a thought. To sum this up, you only have to review fan based responses to the finale to determine how wonderfully and beautifully – how magically! – Capps and Murphy have executed their vision. I mean the anticipation is palitable!!! I have every faith that, whatever the outcome of the storyline, viewers will go away satisfied with their experience. With respect to all those who loving poured themselves into what I have thoroughly enjoyed for five years and will sorely miss after today, I align myself with Colin Morgan’s statement, “Its been fun!” which is what it was created to be all along.

    Posted by Kathryn | December 24, 2012, 9:46 pm
  13. I’m sorry, I’m not sure exactly what Kathryn’s comments have to do with this final episode nor the bulk of the previous series. I have watched 513…twice by the time this has been posted. Whilst I will not ague with Christian ‘self-sacrifice’ as a doctrine, nor how this can be seen through the canon stories, this has little to do with J4’s retelling of the Arthurian / Merlinian legends. They plundered both of these canon sources for their edification and to wind the viewers into the ‘legends’ and keep them tuning in week after week. They promised a ‘different’ view of the stories and characters, and kept peoples interest in spite of poor pacing (storyline), sporadic OOC delivery, and a frankly alarming amount of forgetting previous stories/outcomes, because people wanted a pay off that’s also canon – to see some form of Golden Age, to see the magic-reveal, to see Merlin recognised. And having turned a good proportion of the legends on their heads in order to serve a ‘new re-telling’ of the storylines, they then ran for the cover of the canon to finish the storyline, without giving the audience the Golden Age in any real form on screen.

    Like many others, I would have swallowed what they just dished up to us, if we’d had that Golden Age in any real shape or form on screen. Skipping over it in the s4-5 haitus and refusing the reveal to the last possible moment (and without Merlin recognised in this canon timeline) does not do service to this in any shape or form.

    As an aside, Arthur/Merlin as a legend is generally seen as based around 6-7th century (depending on your source / historical & academic investigation) early British history and is generally post-Roman but pre-Christian in grounding. The Old Religion is the primary overriding context for these stories. Whilst the later re-evaluations of the stories bring a Christian lens to everything that happens, that’s not where they started. And most major religions have an element of ‘self-sacrifice’ for the greater good in them, whether it’s the monotheistic religions, the pantheistic religions, or the earlier pagan inculcations based on grounding in the seasons / earth etc. Which is where Merlin & Arthur started.

    And in response to the comment that ‘I have every faith that, whatever the outcome of the storyline, viewers will go away satisfied with their experience.’ No, sorry. It’s plain from the comments I’ve read online already that this is just not the case. And this is not just the vociferous minority who are commenting. There are people who have never raised their heads on LJ or Tumblr before, who have taken the time to make their comments known – and they’re not happy.

    Posted by Khaireddin | December 24, 2012, 10:32 pm
    • Interesting – I’ve seen a lot of very positive comments as well. Let’s not let this descend into a “they’re lousy”/”they’re brilliant” sort of debate, because that’s pointless. Check out our spoiler-filled review for our take on what you say – you may find that we’re more in agreement than you expect…

      Posted by PS | December 24, 2012, 10:34 pm
  14. Just as an added quick note… I mean, with regards to the integration of Christian symbolism, S5E12 parting shot…Emyrs emerging from the cave he was encrypted in a “glorious” light having been virtually “born again!”. Ahhh, Well done! Does the word… “resurrection”… ring a bell!

    Posted by Kathryn | December 24, 2012, 10:37 pm
  15. I was quite pleased with this final episode, although not with the Merlin series as a whole. series 4 and 5 have continued to frustrate me as each week I was pleading with the T.V that Merlin just friking tell Arthur about his magic. but that frustration aside in this final episode I was satisfied with Arthur’s discovery of Merlins magic, despite only knowing for one episode, Arthur went on a journey of acceptance. But I’m still massiiveeelyyy disappointed that Merlin was never recognized as the great sorcerer he was (except by Arthur). and im so disapointed that we dont know what happens to Merlin after Arthur dies. we know Gwens queen, and Morganas dead (her anticlimatic death was pretty bad), all the other characters you can imagine probably continue their lives in camelot, but merlin? what happens to him now?: will Gwen recognise him as Queen for his achievements? gooshh I wish we knew. I cant imagine how Merlin will go on with his life to be honest. he’ll probably cope the worst with arthurs death of anyone. its sad because Arthurs death should be this hugeee momumental thing but in a way the only person who it will really effect forever is Merlin.

    Posted by Becks | December 24, 2012, 11:21 pm
  16. This is not about Christanity, let’s not make it such. This is about a television program; it’s scope and progress, as well as its ending. Do not mistake my disappointment in the quality of this particular episode, but rather in the scope and progress of the series. I criticize because it could have been so much more. As it was, Merlin was very good, I’m glad that I experienced it. I’m also saddened that it had ended. But it was the actors that made the program, not the scripts.

    I’m disappointed that Arthur died after realizing Merlin’s true worth. The final battle of the series could have been at Mount Badon instead of Camlann allowing Arthur to continue on. Camlann could have been in the future. That is a personal preference because people need happy endings in a world full of the exact opposite. I think of the many children that watch this show and are now shocked for no good reason. If there are morals to teach; most have already been taught in the course of the program.

    Posted by ivyteainn | December 24, 2012, 11:31 pm
  17. end of merlin is horrible

    Posted by ays | January 1, 2013, 11:03 pm

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