TV Review: Merlin Series 5

A show that really came into its own, Series 5 of Merlin manages to leave us wanting more 

“Merlin has meddled in my plans once too often”

On arrival, Merlin seemed quite content to be a family-friendly series in the adventure-of-the-week mold and a ton of fart jokes but over its five years, it really graduated into something much more interesting. Adopting more overarching series arcs and dropping just some of the silliness made the show much more engaging and at times, properly dramatic.

I wonder if knowing this would be the final series fed into that, focusing the storytelling even more. And though people may have clamored for more, there’s a real elegance to the way in which the show has Merlin’s true self revealed to Arthur as part of the last story, giving it room to be explored briefly but deeply just before the final curtain drops.

Before then, there’s some good stuff – ageing up Mordred allows Alexander Vlahos to brilliantly show the tortured soul of the young man fated to be so critical to Arthur’s fate, and the homoerotic fever dream of the opening episodes has to be seen to be believed. At the same time, the show doesn’t quite know what to do with Gwen once they’ve made her queen, her hypnosis by Morgana not quite convincing as a retread of such storylines.

And whilst it might have been interesting to see how Arthur and Merlin’s relationship progressed with the revelation of his magic, it feels like the right time to stop. There’s only so much more Morgana being evil but defeatable that the show could have coped with and you can’t quite see who would have become a new antagonist. So the choice to end here feels appropriate and the show as a whole feels highly satisfying.

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