TV Review: Merlin – “The Drawing of the Dark”
The end of the the hit BBC series is certainly nigh but “The Drawing of the Dark” is a confounding episode. On the one hand, it was really good and ended with the ultimate betrayal but before all that, there was the small matter of a couple of minor inconsistencies. And by minor, I mean massive.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
Gratuitous spoilers for “The Drawing of the Dark”
It Just Doesn’t Add Up
I have always doubted Mordred and didn’t for one minute buy his loyal act. I honestly thought that he had returned to Camelot for nefarious reasons and that he was constantly plotting against Arthur. That is why I was so frustrated by the lack of storyline around Mordred and the fact that he was such a non-character. Of course, my assumption was perfectly reasonable given the realisation that Merlin reaches in the very first season:
“You're saying that this little boy will kill Arthur?” - Merlin to Kilgharrah, “The Beginning of the End” (season 1, episode 8)
Indeed, it would have been foolish to reach any other conclusion. And who could forget Mordred's threat to Merlin towards the end of season 2?
“I shall never forgive this Emrys, and I shall never forget” - Mordred to Merlin, "The Witches Quickening" (season 2, episode 11)
Well, apparently Merlin’s writers can.
In this version of Merlin, the writers have forgotten all of that and Mordred is loyal to Arthur, is truly blind to Arthur’s oppression of the Druids and even regards him as a friend. Rather than tackle the difficult subject of tyranny and oppression, the writers reduce Mordred’s ultimate betrayal to his love for a girl.
It is frustrating and inconsistent and the writers have destroyed one of the strongest themes of the entire series. It is lazy writing and I realise that they had to make some difficult choices given the show’s imminent demise but they should never have even tried to make Mordred an ally. Why didn’t they build up his anger and fury rather than indulging in the truly crappy storyline involving Guinevere turning evil?
If I judge it on its own though and not against these inconsistencies, there were good and bad parts to the episode.
There were so many characters in Merlin who begged for mercy and deferred to Arthur that it was refreshing to see Kara (Alexandra Dowling) absolutely defiant to the end.
I enjoyed her first conversation with Arthur where she justified her actions but where Arthur admitted that he would not have been so hard on users of magic if they hadn’t used their magic for evil means.
I loved that Merlin begged Arthur throughout the episode to reconsider his decision and show mercy and that he warned Arthur that this would turn Mordred against him. I also loved that Arthur did try to give Kara a chance and I even kind of loved that she was still defiant and refused to confess.
I really couldn’t stand the fact that Merlin is still portrayed as a bumbling idiot and that Merlin has not matured one little bit. I did read that the writers had refused the magic reveal earlier in the show but couldn’t they have still managed to show Merlin a bit of respect? Evidently not.
I was disappointed that to the end, Arthur’s ignorance runs so deep that everything could be lost because of it. We know that all will be lost anyway but a modicum of character development in the final season would have been nice. And I hate the idea that the series could end while this ignorance still prevails. There is just no time for any great reveal to matter – where is the lesson in that?
The Final Scene
I’d always dreamed of that moment when Morgana would finally realise that Emrys was none other than Merlin. I’d imagined trumpets and fanfare as Merlin rose victorious and I’d certainly imagined that he would do reveal himself, showing himself to be the far greater sorcerer and Morgana’s ultimate doom. Mordred’s final reveal was a tiny bit underwhelming but I still took the opportunity to yell “noooooooooooooooooo” at the television.
Mordred: “Why are you doing this? Everything I do, you think the worst”
Kara: “It is not I, Arthur Pendragon, who needs to answer for my crimes. It is you”
Kara: “I cannot repent a crime I have not committed”
Kara: "It is not a crime to fight for your freedom. It is not a crime to fight for the right to be who you are. You deserve everything that is coming to you, Arthur Pendragon"