TV Review: Merlin - “With All My Heart”
It’s been just five days since we received the nuntius horrendus that the current season of Merlin will be the last and it feels rather strange to continue with weekly reviews. I’ve loved this show from the very first episode and while I worry that they won’t wrap the story up in four more episodes, I have to trust the producers’ assertion that it was always meant to be this way.
Co-creators and executive producers, Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy, confirm the current series will be the last: “This is the series where the storylines truly reach their apex. We always felt the story of the legend was best told across five series, leading to a spectacular finale that draws on the best known elements of this much-loved story and brings to a conclusion the battle for Camelot.
Let the Official End of Merlin Mourning Period commence.
The ninth episode of the final season of Merlin begins with a typical scene of Guinevere weaving her manipulation, this time on Sir Percival. But prepare for a great surprise as this is the episode where everything changes.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
Gratuitous spoilers for “With All My Heart”
It seems that “With All My Heart” takes place some time after the events of the previous episode for Arthur is aware that Guinevere is a sock puppet for Morgana. Arthur and Merlin have followed Guinevere out of the castle and witness an exchange between Morgana and the queen in which Guinevere divulges the route of an upcoming levy collection.
Arthur is quite eager to break Morgana’s control over Guinevere and even more so when Gaius explains the nature of the sorcery to which she has been subjected. Gaius explains that the spell Teine Diaga is an Old Religion ritual meaning The Sacred Fire. It works by delivering unimaginable terror to the victim until their will is no longer their own and they become slaves to the high priestess. Gaius knows of only one other sorceror beyond Morgana who might know how to break this spell and that is the Dochraid.
What I Loved
I was really impressed with the concept of the Teine Diaga and the notion that the spell could so break Guinevere’s spirit that Morgana was able to control her. And I love the idea that after everything she went through, it was Arthur’s love and her promise of “with all my heart” that saved her.
I liked the idea of the Cauldron of Arianrhod, that the white goddess could be reached there and the notion that Guinevere must enter the Cauldron willingly without trickery or beguilement. Expecting something of a witches cauldron, I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful the Cauldron was.
I loved Merlin’s face when Gaius announces that the sorcerer who would help them at the Cauldron was a woman. I got bored with Dragoon the Great, the crotchety old man that Merlin has disguised himself as throughout the seasons, and although I was a little wary of more not-so-hilarious antics, I was not disappointed in the end.
Merlin more than stole the show in this episode (well, it is his show) and I loved how brave he was in the face of Aithusa and how he was able to command her. Is this an omen of what is to come?
Even thought I had my doubts, my favourite part of the episode was the entire scene at the Cauldron with the sorcerer Dolma (better known as Merlin in drag). Colin Morgan was spectacular in this scene and I loved that the comedy was finely balanced with a wise and powerful alter ego.
I adored the theme “with all my heart” and was cheering when Guinevere finally walked into the Cauldron of Arianrhod and was freed. Yes, she still killed a man which means that her soul is tainted (because this is a show of myths and legends and that is what myths and legends proclaim). Regardless, it was a very satisfying resolution of the arc and I am glad that we get to move on with the story now.
And finally, I think I love that Mordred knows about Merlin. Please, please, please let Merlin get the recognition he finally deserves by the end of the show.
The Dochraid: "If she is tricked, forced or beguiled, she will fall into the abyss."
Arthur: “Why would a recluse be interested in clothes?”
Merlin: “I don’t know Arthur. She’s a sorcerer. She’s not going to be normal, is she?”
Dolma: “You must reach her Arthur. Reach that part of your queen which has remained untouched by the evil of Morgana”
Arthur: “Is there such a part?”
Dolma: “You must believe there is”
Dolma: “Remember what saved your queen, magic and sorcery”
Arthur: “It was sorcery that bewitched her”
Dolma: “There is no evil in sorcery, only in the hearts of men. My request is that you remember this”.
Merlin returns on Saturday, 8 December at 7.55pm with “The Kindness of Strangers ”.
All images © BBC / Shine