Merlin Series 5 Review “Another’s Sorrow” — Magic, Magic Everywhere

‘Another’s Sorrow’ was an important episode of Merlin. While the first three episodes of the series were fantastic, some of the strongest in the show’s run so far, they only showed that Arthur had become a king the people of Camelot could believe in. This week, one of Arthur’s biggest enemies got to see just how great he has the potential to be. We even got a bit of progress with Merlin, though that was a little less awesome.

This episode saw Morgana and her man of the week — King Odin, this time — take over King Rodor’s lands and set a plan in motion which would lead to Arthur’s demise. It was quite simple; Rodor’s daughter Princess Mithian would go to Camelot and convince Arthur to save her father, thereby leading him into a trap. Morgana, disguised as ‘Hilde’, an old servant, would accompany her.

Both Mithian (who else is shipping her with Leon now? I vote for future Queen Mithian and King Leon) and Morgana were convincing in their roles (even if ‘old’ Morgana was a bit too recognisable), and it took a while — and a clue from Mithian — for Merlin to figure out exactly what was wrong with the situation. By then it was too late. Arthur walked straight into the trap, Morgana revealed herself, Odin told Arthur he was going to kill him, and that, it seemed, was that.

Then Merlin arrived just in time to save Arthur’s life with a bit of sneaky badass magic. So ‘just in time’ that even Arthur seemed incredibly surprised to see him. Progress towards the magic reveal? Hopefully. After escaping, Arthur and Merlin found themselves trapped with Odin and his men closing in. A one-on-one fight ensued, Arthur gained the upper hand, and he was ready to kill Odin…

This was when Merlin finally got to be the advisor we’ve been waiting for him to become. It wasn’t whispered suggestions this time, rather a bold statement about peace that could have been seen as insolence (and really, Arthur a series or two ago would have thought just that) but instead came across as the voice of reason. Instead of killing Odin, Arthur called a truce with the caveat that Rodor’s lands should be returned to him. Odin agreed.

It was fantastic seeing Arthur starting to become this great king of legend, especially since that scene didn’t feel like it only belonged in a family series. Sometimes Merlin can seem like an epic show that’s had all the greatness washed out of it to make it kid-friendly, but parts of this episode really felt like grown up fare. (Sidenote: When exactly did Bradley James become the strongest actor on this show? He was on form tonight.)

But of course, I’m going to whine about Merlin and his magic. Aside from that badass display in the tomb (which also showed his magic gaining strength, so that was a bonus), Merlin just seems to make the world’s worst decisions. Morgana’s trying to render you unconscious is she, Merlin? Why not, oh, I don’t know, use your magic to do something?

These sorcerers can throw each other around all the damned time, but apparently not when it counts. Which leads me to another point — has letting Morgana live done any good so far? I get Merlin rooting for peace with Odin, but can someone give me a genuinely good reason for him not breaking Morgana’s neck at the end of the episode, instead of just sorcerer-tossing her across the tomb? She’s just going to come back, Merlin. It’s inevitable.

Other good things this week:

– Arthur/Gwen. It’s sometimes easy to forget why they got together, but they had some sweet scenes this week. I still don’t completely buy their chemistry, but at least the relationship is being shown off.
– Gaius using magic. This was just amazing. I was sort of hoping Gwaine would notice, so we could get his views on magic.
– Merlin and Gwaine running around like the good ol’ days. It seemed Gwaine had forgotten that Merlin was his bestie, so it was nice to see them working together again for a few minutes there.
– This:

“Camelot is nothing without its king.”
“Then you do not know my knights. They will hunt you, and they will find you. And they will not rest until they’re done.”

What did you think of ‘Another’s Sorrow’, dear reader? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

  • Ha Da

    I think that Colin Morgan did an amazing work in this episode again and that he is the strongest actor of this show. His Merlin should be given the opportunity to use his powerful magic much more often! 

    I also don’t think that Bradley James become the strongest actor of this show: he always has the same expression on his face while Colin Morgan showcases different emotions in one look.

    • Hhenshall25

      I’m afraid I disagree. Bradley is a fantastic actor. He really shows wonderful expression. But your entitled to your opinion 🙂

  • I really disagree with you, Miss Candice. Colin Morgan has strong chemistry with everyone in the show. His work with Gaius, Arthur, the great dragon, every guest of the show and everyone is always the best. Always showing the same moody face isn’t being a strong actor. Always showing a whole palette of expressions and making the best of a close up in which the eyes show multiple layers of emotions and feelings, making voice, posture, facial expressions adapt to the situations in which you portray your character is being a strong actor. The latter is what Colin Morgan does.

  • Medievilways

    I liked the episode and in particular, the ending that made the whole thing make sense. As for Merlin not showing enough of his power. Well, contrary to Morgana, he’s not at liberty to throw around spells and hexes in the open. He works undercover and as such cannot be seen using magic. I daresay Morgana knowing about his true identity would spell catastrophe (pun intended). So, yes – he goes out of his way to protect his secret. Even to the point when he’s surprised and stunned by being choked by her magic. And obviously this troubles him as much as it troubles the viewers. That much was evident from his end remark about her growing powers. And it should! After all, according to one version of the legend, Merlin was tricked and overcome by Morgana (in other versions, Vivian or Niniane). Add to that the fact that Merlin has a conscience and Morgana does not; in other words, Merlin is not prepared to go all the way and use his magic for random killing and maiming whereas Morgana has no such scruples. So, greatest wizard ever to have lived or not – Morgana is still his nemesis, and therefore it makes sense for the writers to make them equals. That being said, the writers are also desperately trying to balance verisimilitude and *not* disclosing Merlin’s secret. It is, after all, what this series is based upon. Outing Merlin would pretty much mean the end of the series, leaving merely a couple of eps to wrap up the whole thing. Their efforts come out a bit awkward now and then, but hey, it’s an adventure where the silliest things can be explained if you look hard enough. 😉
    All in all a good episode that brought us just a small step closer to Albion.

    • Kjh

      “That being said, the writers are also desperately trying to balance verisimilitude and *not* disclosing Merlin’s secret. It is, after all, what this series is based upon. Outing Merlin would pretty much mean the end of the series, leaving merely a couple of eps to wrap up the whole thing.”

      I could not disagree more. To me the main point of the series is uniting Albion and restoring magic not “keeping the magic a secret”. That has been a major part of the show, obviously, but not the driving force behind the stories. Just because Merlin’s secret was out doesn’t mean everything will be sugar and cream.
      Think of all the prejudice the both nobles and the common people have against those with magic. And that’s just one problem. Also if Merlin’s magic was public knowledge, HE would be the one targeted, under constant threat instead of Arthur. (or in addition to Arthur) If Merlin’s magic was revealed, the world wouldn’t suddenly become a place of peace.

      Anyway, I love the show and think this is the best season yet.

  • Scaramouche_8

    I do think Bradley deserves to be recognized for how great his acting has been this year, but I also think Colin is being very under utilized.  He has been largely relegated to reaction shots again, as the story lines are still all.about.Arthur.  Unlike the poster above, I do not for one minute believe that the story would be over once a magic reveal happened.  I think that’s ridiculous in fact.  I could have watched a long juicy arc dealing with the fallout and reconciliation after a reveal.  I could have watched Merlin struggling with his role as magical savior, and immortality, and what his power was like when he wasn’t having to hide all the time.  With dealing with that power without being corrupted by it, and just getting to see Arthur and Merlin seeing each other as equals. Fighting side by side, in the open, to create “The Golden Age of Albion”.  I’m not stupid.  I know we’re not going to get any of that.  But it’s not because it wouldn’t have been every bit as interesting as “Morgana plots with yet another king to overthrow Camelot” plot line, or “is Mordred a good guy or a bad guy?”.  For crying out loud, Colin does more with a look than most other actors could dream of.  These days I’m only comforted by the fact that both he and Bradley will soon be able to hone their skills doing something new.  Not that it offsets my disappointment that the writers (and a chunk of the fandom apparently) couldn’t understand the opportunities they had within the context of the show, and the amazing friendship between Merlin and Arthur that seems doomed to remain largely static right through to the last shot of the last episode.  

    • Kjh

      I agree with you completely that a magic reveal definitely WOULD NOT mean the end to the series. It would open up the show to so many more opportunities and possible plot lines. The producers have said they want to freshen up the show; they have this season since the show does have a different feel to me this season. But think how Merlin’s magic being revealed would refresh the whole series!

      We still don’t know if this is the last season or not. But the producers have said they are in talks about season 6 but weren’t going to finalize anything until after they finished filming this season. Well, filming finished a couple weeks ago I believe, so maybe we will hear something coming up.
      I haven’t yet given up hope for a reveal this season; they seem to definitely be teasing us about it these last few episodes. The magic in the open would be a great thing to have in their arsenal for next season if there is one.

    • Hhenshall25

      I agree. Bradley has been fantastic this year. But Colin has also been just as good. I also think Katie is wonderful. My favourite!

  • Anyusa0030

    am such a cold blanket,do i expect too much from this show?. i thought this episodes would have worked two ways either go with Arthur night in shining armor riding to go rescue the damsel in distress,in which case we will have to acknowledge that they were engaged to be married while Gwen was exiled but of cause the writers did not want to bring that memory back so it was not even mentioned or hinted at the whole ep because god forbid Gwen should show any  negative human feelings such jealousy,i mean she is righteous one of the show things like jealousy is so beneath her ,so they went with the revenge theme that allowed them to ignore what happened the last time we saw mithian,the revenge plot would have worked if this ep came before last week ep,because i find it hard to believe that after finally rising from uther shadow putting his fathers to rest, and the fact that his father almost killed him Arthur would be so set on revenge,the Arthur of last week still missing his dad wondering if he would be proud of him that Arthur would have been set on revenge not this one but then again we are supposed to forget that last week  happened.the other thing i hate was Arthur telling mithian at the end that if it was him he would have done the same thing,hell NO ,i know he as to forgive her because of the uniting the land theme but the Arthur we know the Arthur who is noble kind and always does the right thing, will not lead an innocent person to possibly their death to save his own skin or that of his father he would found a different way,i hate when they make Arthur say things that are not consistent with his character ,there were other reason to forgive him ,she did warn Merlin which ended up saving them .why was Merlin not fighting back when mogana was trying to kill him?,this is what keeping the magic secret does make characters act in ways that make no sense, Merlin had no way of knowing mogana would let him live and she almost killed him but yet to keep his magic secret from her ,he was willing to let this happened,someone need to tell Merlin that to continue to save Arthur life he must stay alive.
    do you think they are going to address the fact that its been 3 years and the queen is not pregnant yet.
    the only good thing about Merlin right now is merthur,they should thank their lucky star for Colin and Bradley,they are  riding on their back.

  • Anonymous

    Great review.  I so agree with you on Merlin underusing his magic, especially against Morgana.  Gaius says at the end that Morgana is not as powerful as Merlin – you could have fooled me!  Merlin surely could have killed Morgana off easily. 
    But maybe magic users are a bit slow in reacting in Merlinland – Morgana also seemed to take ages to react to Merlin’s earthquake (nice! – but still causing the usual stone falling event!) . She had enough time to blast most of the people in the tomb – including Arthur – into smitherens! But didn’t.  Sigh.

  • qwerty

    I Gaius leaving at the end of this season? The unbelievably unsubtle hint “Don’t make me do that again Merlin, I don’t think my heart can take it” has led me to believe that that is where this series is heading. Instead of a Merlin magic reveal to Arthur, which most fans including myself were hoping for, I believe the season might end with a, hopefully impressive, Merlin vs. Morgana duel which will result in both duellists being unconscious leading Gaius to have to sacrifice himself to use magic to heal Merlin

    • Hhenshall25

      Aaaw. I love Gius 🙁 fantastic theory though!!

  • Gail T

    Thank you for giving Bradley James the recognition he deserves.  His scene with Odin (where he spared Odin’s life) was absolutely magnificent, and it was easy to forget that he was simply an actor playing a part. For all intents and purposes he WAS king Arthur, brokering an alliance with another king for the benefit of his kingdom.  As for his reaction when he realised that old Hilde was in fact Morgana – that was rather heartbreaking. So many emotions passed over his face in such a short amount of time – fantastic work. I’m really lookin forward to seeing what other roles he tackles once Merlin finishes.

    • Hhenshall25

      I agree. Wonderful scene. Hope Bradley goes on to bigger and better things 🙂

  • Hhenshall25

    I really want Gwaine to find the Merlin is magic. The best friends of Camelot. They need to know eachothers secrets! As for the most recent episode. It wad fantastic. Bringing back the princess was a fantastic twist!