Merlin: 505 “The Disir” Review
Note: This review may contain some spoilers.
Bad times loom for Camelot in the fifth episode of Merlin’s fifth series, The Disir.
When a Knight of Camelot is killed by a sorcerer, Arthur is determined to bring the perpetrator to justice. The mission ends badly though with Arthur angering the Disir, the highest court of the Old Religion. When Mordred is mortally wounded after a later confrontation, Arthur is given a choice to restore sorcery to the land, or let him die. However, Merlin is naturally conflicted himself; should he help save the man he believes will kill Arthur?
Mordred, who has surprisingly been almost entirely absent from the story since Arthur recruited him as a Knight in the opener, is at the centre of events here. Although, ironically, he spends half of the episode bedbound. Unlike the first few episodes the ambiguity of the character is played down a notch with Mordred portrayed as one of the good guys. The only one who really doubts his true intentions is Merlin and a meeting with the Great Dragon only furthers his fears.
This leads to some interesting moral dilemmas for the characters as both Merlin and Arthur are forced to make some very tough decisions. Arthur wants the Disir to save Mordred, but it will come at the cost of allowing sorcery, going against everything Camelot has stood for. While Merlin still has the vision of Arthur’s demise at Mordred’s hands heavy on his mind and ponders if it’s for the greater good to let him perish.
Naturally Merlin and Arthur spend a healthy amount of time together allowing nice character development as things play out. Arthur is now relying more on Merlin’s judgement than ever and Colin Morgan and Bradley James continue to impress with their performances. This all builds to a pivotal scene that is bound to divide fans.
Some will undoubtedly be frustrated by the late events that transpire. On the one hand this could have served to renew the show and progress things into new territory. On the other, there is some truly great acting particularly from Colin Morgan who sells the scene so well. It also allows for a final twist in the episode that is pulled off nicely and seems to promise that bad times are ahead.
Overall then, it’s a powerful, dark episode that challenges the show to move forwards in many ways, but not quite enough, especially if this is the final series.