Merlin: Review: Series 5 Episode 6: The Dark Tower (spoiler-free)

Morgana kidnaps Gwen and takes her to the Dark Tower…

We are very definitely getting into Stephen King territory with this episode with some real horrors, both physical and psychological – I’ll be very interested to see what certification this gets from the BBFC for the DVD release. This certainly isn’t an episode for younger children! The Dark Tower isn’t part of established Arthurian lore – its origins appear to be in Shakespeare’s King Lear – but it fits in well with the BBC variant, which hasn’t hesitated in the past to adopt elements from every version of the myth, and is now doffing its hat to Stephen King’s epic saga, in which Arthur-Eld is a key part of the backstory of the Dark Tower.

This is one of the first times that we see Merlin in his proper role to Arthur: he’s not just a guide in this episode, he is the one who has a lot of the solutions, and we’re seeing a gradual realisation by Arthur that this is the case. Arthur, Merlin and the knights’ quest is counterpointed with some nasty scenes for Gwen, and a more subtle play by Morgana than she’s sometimes used. We also learn more about what happened to Arthur’s nemesis during the three-year gap between series four and five, which do help to explain the changes we’ve seen in Morgana this year. Both Angel Coulby and Katie McGrath excel, making up, particularly in the former’s case, for what has seemed like a reduction in role for the character in recent weeks.

Don’t let anyone spoil the developments of the final act: it remains to be seen whether what they set up will be retreading old ground, or whether the show is willing to go even darker…

Verdict: Those who wanted a more proactive Merlin will be pleased by this.  7/10

Paul Simpson

Discussion

7 thoughts on “Merlin: Review: Series 5 Episode 6: The Dark Tower (spoiler-free)

  1. Thank you for the review! It’s brief enough to not spoil the plot, but teases just the right amount to get excited for the episode – which now I am. I don’t like how several websites spoil complete, significant dialogue segments before the episode, and the other supposedly “spoiler free” reviews I found went into way too much detail to be considered spoiler-free. From now I’ll be looking forward to the pre-episode reviews on this site only. 🙂

    Regarding the content, it’s great to hear that the two main actresses and also the titular character will have significant roles in the episode. I’ve also been wondering whether we will ever learn anything about Morgana’s imprisonment – it has been very intriguing for me WHO could possibly imprison her AND Aithusa both for several years.

    Posted by Zane | November 8, 2012, 12:17 pm
  2. I must say I love the way this sounds. You made the first mention of Merlin finding his real destiny, by advising Arthur and getting credit for it. I can’t wait for that!!
    It seems funny that they are showing this episode at an earlier time although it is darker in content. Really looking forward to the gwen and Morgana confrontation.

    Posted by Nimueh123 | November 9, 2012, 5:46 pm
  3. “This is one of the first times that we see Merlin in his proper role to Arthur: he’s not just a guide in this episode, he is the one who has a lot of the solutions” I’m looking forward to this. Usually, only the viewer sees Merlin doing all the helping and the saving and watch him getting no credit for all his efforts. I want to see Merlin getting real rewards from the other characters.

    Posted by Merlin Fan | November 9, 2012, 6:16 pm
  4. Colin Morgan’s eponymous character and acting are really what makes me love this show. His loveable and sympathetic but also stronger Merlin is what makes this story interesting to me as it’s his own evolution towards the powerful sorcerer that we’re witnessing and Colin Morgan plays that excellently. Everything else is deja vu. That’s why the show should refocus more on Merlin’s own story arcs (Merlin the last Dragonlord, being also the fearsome Emrys, the real nemesis to Morgana, Merlin and his own destiny…) to show how the young warlock is becoming the powerful sorcerer of the Merlinian legend. Colin Morgan is the lead actor here and his Merlin is the main character. So let’s concentrate on him since it’s pretty obvious this show is coming to an end.

    Posted by Mun | November 11, 2012, 11:41 am

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