Merlin: 513 “The Diamond of the Day – Part 2” Review
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS FULL SPOILERS.
So after five eventful years in Camelot we’ve reached the final ever episode and it’s a tearful goodbye not just for Merlin but for the fans (perhaps not the best idea to schedule this on Christmas Eve after all). Have you dried those eyes yet?
Events pick up immediately from where the first half left off with Arthur and the Camelot Knights battling Morgana’s army. Merlin, now transformed into Emrys, charges into the fight to help his friend. In a crowd-pleasing display of powerful magic, he easily defeats a large chunk of Morgana’s men and sends Morgana and dragon Aithusa packing. It’s an exciting way to open and hats off to Director Justin Molotniko for pulling this off on a modest TV budget.
The epic battle doesn’t last long though and what follows is the event that Merlin and the fans have feared since that fateful vision in the opener – Mordred mortally wounds Arthur by stabbing him. And then Arthur returns the favour, killing Mordred outright. Even though this moment had been prophesied throughout the run, it still comes as a shock to see it play out for real. We’re so used to the show playing it safe, but with nothing left to lose the writers chose to hit viewers with a gut punch early on. Sadly, there’s no lengthy duel and only one line of dialogue is shared between the pair – Mordred to Arthur: “You gave me no choice”. It’s a bit of a shame Alexander Vlahos didn’t get a little more to do in this two-parter. He didn’t appear to entirely approve of Morgana’s methods in the first half and a last minute crisis of conscience seemed on the cards. But, it wasn’t to be.
Emrys finds Arthur on death’s door and carries him to safety. Off-screen, he transforms back into his younger self. And then it happens. The moment fans have been waiting all these years for – Merlin finally tells Arthur his secret! How many of us wondered if the writers might not actually go through with it in the end? But thankfully, they did. Although wouldn’t it have been even more thrilling if it was young Merlin raining down lighting on Morgana’s men? Arthur was about to find out anyway, after all.
With the writers deciding to leave the magic reveal this late in the series, the rest of the episode wisely chose to focus on Merlin and Arthur’s relationship in the face of this major revelation. The pair go through an emotional rollercoaster and Colin Morgan and Bradley James are both superb. There’s a lovely nostalgic moment when Arthur realises that Merlin used magic during their fight in the first ever episode (“You cheated!”). Throughout the episode Arthur processes the news, before finally accepting his friend for who he really is: “I want you to always be you. I’m sorry about how I treated you.”
This leaves a few other loose ends to be wrapped up. After Eira’s deceit is exposed, Gwaine and Percival try to get the drop on Morgana but their plan goes disastrously wrong and Gwaine is tortured and subsequently dies. Despite a few nice scenes, Eoin Macken was criminally underused this series and this was a tragic end for the character.
With the location obtained from Gwaine, Morgana tracks Arthur down and the scene is set for a final confrontation. Sadly this fell a bit flat and it was all over very quickly. Who else was expecting a big magic battle? Or perhaps even a hint of remorse? Instead Morgana taunts her dying brother while Merlin creeps up and stabs her– “This is no mortal blade. Like yours it was forged in a dragon’s breath.” It’s been a long time coming! As Morgana’s character was so far beyond redemption; it was hard to feel anything. Still credit to Katie McGrath for making us hate her so much.
As for Gwen, she spends most of the episode back in Camelot wondering if Arthur will come home. Her best scene comes when she asks Gaius if he knows who helped during the battle and it’s clear Gwen understands that Arthur is in good hands. Still, it’s a huge shame that Gwen and Arthur didn’t get one last scene together.
And that brings us to the ending. With the help of the Great Dragon, Merlin makes it to the Lake of Avalon but despite his best efforts, Arthur’s fate is sealed. The Dragon tells Merlin nothing can be done (if only he called him earlier!) but promises that “Arthur will rise again.” Merlin returns Excalibur back into the lake and sends Arthur off in a heartbreaking goodbye. Colin Morgan once again does a fantastic job. The music has always been a strong part of the series, but it really excelled here. The vocal version of Merlin’s main theme during this moment was beautiful.
Some time after, Gwen is crowned the Queen of Camelot. The episode then returns to the Lake of Avalon for the final scene. Suddenly, a lorry alerts us to the fact it’s now present day. We then see Emyrs walking down the road and learn he truly is immortal.
Is this episode perfect? No. But ultimately, it delivers a largely satisfyingly finale that gives the fans the reveal they have been waiting for.
But what did you think of the Merlin finale? Let us know in the comments below!