Merlin Series 5 Review “The Kindness of Strangers” — Emrys, beware!

After nine episodes of being an incredibly weak Merlin villain, Morgana finally came into her own in ‘The Kindness of Strangers’. Determined to find out the identity of the mysterious Emrys, Morgana kidnapped and tortured Alator (last seen in the fourth series episode ‘The Secret Sharer’). When this failed, she turned her attentions to his ‘faithful servant’ Finna, who took her own life in order to protect Merlin’s secret.

Unbeknownst to Morgana, she came incredibly close to finding out Merlin’s true identity this week. This was perhaps the first episode of the fifth series that was genuinely tense. It seemed as though Morgana really would uncover Merlin’s secret. I wish she had. There are only three episodes left of the fifth series and the show overall. Morgana knowing that Merlin is Emrys would have given the episodes that extra jolt.

Even so, ‘The Kindness of Strangers’ was fantastic. The episode focused in on Merlin, and while it didn’t really tell us anything new about Emrys, it did give us two important bits of information for the final episodes. Firstly, Merlin is right not to trust Mordred. Secondly, Arthur will meet his doom in a battle at Camlann. For viewers who know a little about the legends, this will seem like confirmation of Arthur’s eventual death. But will Merlin subvert expectations and find a way to save Arthur’s life? Only time will tell.

We can perhaps be sure, though, that we will see the end of Kilgarragh. Our favourite dragon was looking worse for wear this week, and he told Merlin that his time is coming. Hopefully when he does die it’ll be in a blaze of glory. It’s the least he deserves.

We can also be sure that the badass Morgana we were treated to this week (finally, a sorcerer broke someone’s neck instead of faffing about — hurrah!) will be here until the very end. This episode closed with a warning shot to Arthur — a dead knight who had been subjected to a form of torture called ‘ragaid’, in which skin grows over the face, suffocating the victim. It was brutal and creepy, and perhaps the best form we’ve ever seen Morgana in.

Spoilers for next week’s episode in the paragraph below.

One of my main concerns with this series is that it hadn’t given Mordred a solid reason to want Arthur dead. The preview for next week’s episode seems to remedy that with Mordred’s sorcerer/druid(?) lover falling victim to Camelot’s intolerance against those with magic. While it will potentially give Mordred a good reason to turn against Arthur, I can’t help feeling that it would have been more meaningful had Mordred’s upset over the treatment of all magic users built up over the course of the series and come to a head in the finale, instead of it being concentrated around one person that hasn’t even been mentioned before. What do you think, dear reader? (Please put a spoiler warning on any comments on this topic!)

What did you think of ‘The Kindness of Strangers’, dear reader? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!