The End of an (Arthurian) Era: Preview the Merlin Series Finale

Welp, the end is indeed nigh. For many fans of fantasy drama Merlin, the holiday season will be a bit bittersweet this year, as the popular series wraps up its five year run this Christmas with a two-part special called The Diamond of the Day.

It was a somewhat unexpected cancellation, from what I’ve been given to understand – and it seems fans are still processing it a bit (or at least it does from my quick glance around the internet at any rate). However, this just-released trailer for the series finale looks pretty fantastic, so it’s a bit comforting that it appears as though the series will at least go out on a high note. Not a lot, but, you know, some.

The clip features Morgana preparing for war on Camelot - again, apparently? – bolstered by a vengeful looking Mordred and some sort of magical-looking sword. We’ve also got Gaius sounding dire, Arthur riding with the knights whilst looking exceptionally somber and kingly, a Merlin who may have lost his magic and the Great Dragon swooping in to light something or other (that may or may not actually be the aforementioned pack of knights) on fire.

The finale will air over two days in the UK – with Part 1 premiering tomorrow night and Part 2 set to screen on Christmas Eve. For those of us here in America, Series 5 will begin airing on the Syfy channel starting Friday, January 4. (So, we’ve still got a bit before we have to face reality, I suppose!)

It looks like a really good episode – and Katie McGrath’s hair looks like it should be up for awards on its own. (Simultaneously it manages to look both crazy and stunning!) It’s just a shame that these are going to be the last ones.  Personally – and bear in mind I’ve not seen any of Series 5 at all yet – it would seem that there’s at least a one series left of stories in the Merlin  universe generally and the Arthur/Merlin friendship specifically, if only someone somewhere would just tell Arthur about the magic. The reason the show feels stagnant in later seasons – much as I love it – is that it’s become too pretzel-twisted around itself in service of “keeping the magic secret”. There’s a great story still to be told about Arthur and the magic and the choices he makes for himself and his kingdom once he finds out Merlin’s secret and, as a viewer, it’s frustrating that we won’t get to see that play out in any sort of in-depth way.  

Star Colin Morgan however insists that this is the best way for the show to bow out, claiming that “From the beginning this was always going to be a five year journey that we embarked on and I think the show has run its natural course.” The show has grown and grown each year,” he says, “and now we’ve arrived at its strongest point and we’ve achieved what we set out to do.”

Here’s hoping he’s right!

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Twitter at @LacyMB