Merlin Series 5 Review “With All My Heart” — Can Gwen Be Saved?

Merlin Season 5 Episode 9 With All My Heart

After the news that series 5 of Merlin is to be the last, I think we were all justified in expecting ‘With All My Heart’ to blow us away and remind us just why we love this show. For some fans it may have done just that, but I find myself continually amazed at how close Merlin comes to excellence before suddenly veering away.

This episode saw the evil!Gwen storyline get wrapped up after her being Morgana’s puppet for most of four episodes. ‘With All My Heart’ actually opened on an amazing premise — Gwen snuck out to rendezvous with Morgana, but the audience saw that Arthur and Merlin were watching. After being disappointed by Merlin’s silence on the matter last week, I was glad to see that he’d finally broached the subject with Arthur.

The only way to break Morgana’s hold on Gwen was to take her to the Cauldron of Arianrhod and do a spell. Merlin found this out after talking to the only female as powerful as Morgana, The Drochraid. (Merlin has a habit of randomly throwing in characters we should have heard of before and The Drochraid is one of them. There have been many instances — some of them dire situations — in the past where a character like her should probably have been mentioned.) Of course, the only person powerful enough to do the spell was Merlin.

If there was ever a time for Merlin to reveal his magic to Arthur, it was this week. How could Arthur possibly shun Merlin after the reveal? He would have been forced to keep Merlin close in order for the spell to be cast to bring back Gwen’s free will. Instead what followed was a ridiculous drag act, one in which Merlin was clearly recognisable. (Although major kudos has to be given to Colin for his voice work this week. He’s incredibly versatile.)

I must confess to being a bit confused by the whole setup at the lake. In order for Merlin to do the spell, Gwen had to enter the water of her own free will. The ensuing spell would release Gwen from Morgana’s will and give her back her own free will. So she had to demonstrate her own free will in order to gain her own free will? I get what they were trying to achieve, but this doesn’t make much sense.

Perhaps it would have made slightly more sense if Gwen had been more resistant; Arthur’s speech was incredibly romantic and it’s lovely that Gwen remembering her feelings for him was what broke Morgana’s hold on her, but it happened too quickly. (I actually checked this on the iPlayer — from Gwen waking up to her embracing Arthur in the lake was three minutes out of a 43 minute episode.)

And let us not forget that it’s all been for nothing. There is no leftover detail from this that will come back to bite Arthur and Merlin, no secret Gwen told that will be used in future, no trap already in place that she will forget about, not unless we were not shown it, and if not then why not? Evil!Gwen was fantastic, but all she achieved was a few half-baked murder attempts. This storyline was little more than a showcase for Morgana’s ineptitude. She’s no longer a villain to fear, which is a strange way to approach someone who is supposed to be one of the most powerful sorcerers in existence.

Away from the Gwen plot, we got confirmation this week that Mordred isn’t secretly working with Morgana. The verbal exchanges between Mordred-Merlin and Mordred-Morgana were all fantastic and showed how the three sorcerers are so different in their ways of thinking. Alas, the scenes were marred somewhat by that stupid magic throw that all sorcerers apparently have to use. I was also wondering why Merlin didn’t just tell Mordred that he’s a dragon lord. It’s not really something that Mordred could use against him if he was evil, is it?

I’ve already praised Colin Morgan, but the entire cast did a great job on this episode. (It’s a shame Alexander Vlahos (Mordred) couldn’t have joined the show before series five because he’s been woefully underused so far, this episode excepted.) I just wish that the writing was as good as all of their performances. Here’s hoping the next four episodes really pull out all the stops and aim Merlin towards a fantastic series finale in three weeks time.

What did you think of ‘With All My Heart’, dear reader? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!