I was looking forward to this episode. Of all the bad guys, monsters and general ne’er-do-wells we have encountered in the series, none have really played out as well as the show’s creepy version of Mordred, a miniature wide-eyed evil counterpart to Merlin, whose destiny (as with the original myths) is to kill off Arthur and destroy Camelot.
The show has successfully touched on the mysterious druids on numerous occasions. The interplay between Mordred, Morganna and the druid mage Alvarr have been some of the strongest stories the series has told, with the idea that wild magic will eventually break Uther’s hold on the repression of magic in the land.
Relationships have been teased at and Morganna’s real allegiances have been tested up until this week, but with this episode we eventually see her take a stance and side as she helps provide the druids with a weapon that can bring down Uther, in the shape of the Crystal of Neahtid.
Hidden away in the catacombs of Camelot, the Crystal is an artefact which we are told is of great power and that many wizards in the past have tried to use it to no avail. With it stolen, Merlin makes the weekly trip to see the Dragon for a bit of plot resolution and info-dumping as we find the crystal’s power is to look into the past, present and future.
With Morganna helping Alvarr to capture it, the Dragon states that Morganna will have little success using it. However, when Merlin explains that it is Mordred that the druids intend to use to control the crystal, the Dragon becomes more concerned.
Importantly, for all this information, the Dragon also reminds Merlin that he still has the wizard’s promise to release him and that time may be soon (with two episodes to go, I guess very soon).
With a chase on, Merlin, Arthur and his knights track down the druids and a race to find the crystal ensues. Not knowing really whose side Morganna is on, Merlin keeps a firm eye on Uther’s ward and when she helps Alvarr escape, Merlin finally decides that Morganna is, finally, in league with Mordred and the druids, who are all are being controlled by Alvarr, using a combination of magic, psychology, guile and charisma to keep these two unstable magic users in his trawl as a malevolent cult leader. A sort of child-friendly, Saturday evening equivalent of Charlie Manson, if you will.
Eventually getting the crystal back after a secret magical battle between Merlin and Mordred, Merlin looks into it, seeing a potential future, a future that has the last Dragon escaping and laying waste to Camelot. This future, it seems, is caused by Merlin and his promise, and while Gaius states that this is only a potential future, it seems that the culmination of all the help and promises made to the Dragon will make this terrible future for Camelot come true.
With Merlin having these worries, on the other side of Camelot the royal family is also about to fall apart as the relationship between Uther and Morganna finally comes to an end with the young sorceress spurning her adopted father and wishing he would burn in hell.
As we finally see Morganna leave and Uther ‘cursed’, the episode finishes in the strongest fashion it has all series long, as the Dragon telepathically contacts Merlin, shouting at him that it is the time the magician has to keep his promise and that he is to free him now.
Impressive, fun and exciting, this week’s show actually provides all the elements needed to make a cracking episode and makes a far better show than the treading water and re-hashed plots we have been provided with over the past few weeks.
With the show’s finale coming up, the culmination of all the exciting plots and positives of the show are coming to fruition. Now, as long as they don’t finish the series with somebody using a love spell to win the day, then we should be in for a treat and a two part finale that will pull the series out of the lull it’s been in recently.
Read our review of episode 10 here.