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Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season(TV) (2012)
No synopsis for Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season.
For more about Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season and the Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray release, see Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on April 7, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Colin Morgan (II), Bradley James, Richard Wilson, Angel Coulby, Katie McGrath, Anthony Head
» See full cast & crew
Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Review
"One small slip and Camelot could find itself without a King..."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, April 7, 2013
Part Arthurian Smallville, part... Arthurian Smallville, Merlin is the sort of high-concept, low-budget, action-packed, melodramatic, comicbook reimagining that would kill, just kill on a network like The CW. I'm still shocked The House that Smallville Built hasn't rolled out an Americanized spin on the five-season BBC One series, replete with pouty, smoldering twentysomethings, pithy dialogue and classic-legend twists aplenty. Perhaps it's just a testament to how much Merlin gets right, on this side of the pond or the other. With enough imagination to fuel a sixty-five episode adaptation of the Arthur saga, an exceedingly likable young cast, and a smart, modern-sensibility take on familiar literature, it's successfully kept its fans hooked, frothing at the mouth and begging for more. Fortunately for them, the series' fifth and final season is one of its strongest (ever-cheesy visual effects notwithstanding), side-stepping many of the episodic pitfalls and filler that litters other seasons to deliver a focused, largely satisfying conclusion to Merlin's rise as the Once and Future King's wizard supreme.
Rather than attack the whole of The Complete Fifth Season head on, an episode by episode breakdown (with quick impressions) seemed the best way to proceed. Beware, though. A small army of mild spoilers lurk ahead:
Arthur's Bane Part 1: Camelot basks in the halcyon days of a new golden age. But even as she flowers, so the dark seeds of her destruction are being sown. For in the frozen wastelands of the north, men are disappearing without trace. In search of answers, King Arthur and his knights must undertake a dangerous mission to the unknown. As the sun sets on the icy plains, Merlin finds himself locked in a battle unlike any he has fought before; a battle with fate itself. My Take: With most of the pieces in place and most of the players on the board, Merlin makes its first move with cunning and confidence. The series is suddenly much darker. Death is in the air. The stakes are higher. The consequences greater. The circumstances more dire, the heroes more strained, and the villains more dangerous. Yes, it's clear the creators' DVRs are packed with episodes of Game of Thrones, but I'm not complaining. This is more in line with the show I've wanted from the outset, and the final season is off to a breakneck start. Score: 4/5
Arthur's Bane Part 2: As dawn breaks across the icy tundra, Merlin and Arthur are close to exhaustion. With each tortured step, the fortress of Ismere looms ever nearer, and Merlin's fear intensifies. What game is Mordred playing? And what powerful secrets are Morgana and the druid Ruadan searching for amongst its twisted catacombs? It seems like this time, not even Merlin can stop Arthur from walking right into the lion's den. For in this bleak and transient wilderness, only one thing is certain: the great trial for Albion has finally begun. My Take: No deviation. "Arthur's Bane Part 2" is just that: the second half of a harrowing, swords-and-sorcery culmination of everything the series has been stabbing at for years. Gone are the silly hijinks and diversions of youth. Merlin is a whole new warrior; still the Merlin fans have come to love and know, yet somehow something else entirely. Older and more world-weary. In the past, I've inched my way through each season. Not so this time around. I'm already itching to move on to the next episode. Score: 4/5
The Death Song of Uther Pendragon: When a stranger gives Arthur the power to summon the dead, the king finds himself torn between head and heart. Unable to resist temptation, he seizes the chance to speak to the person he misses most - his father, Uther. But the spirit world is a dark and dangerous place. Little does Arthur realize that his decision comes at a terrible price. Against all odds, Merlin must put right Arthur's mistake before Camelot and everything they have built is destroyed forever. My Take: The series' takes a breath without sacrificing the season's momentum whatsoever. With exacting precision, "Death Song" moves from character to character, fraying nerves and developing a real sense of tension. Again, Game of Thrones (and even BSG) seem to be the informing influences. Merlin seems to have moved beyond its Smallville inspirations and aspirations to greater, grander things. Only one question remains: why hasn't this been the series' M.O. all along? Score: 4/5
Another's Sorrow: With Princess Mithian as the perfect bait, Morgana conjures a deception so powerful that the whole of Camelot is taken in, even Merlin himself. But as the storm clouds gather, will the young warlock see through the lies? Or will Morgana at long last fulfill her dreams of revenge? My Take: All hail Morgana, and more specifically Katie McGrath, who continues to rip scenes out of her castmates' hands. There's some story stagnation to contend with, but all is forgiven by episode's end, as reminder after reminder of the fate that awaits Arthur suggests the showrunners are preparing viewers for a bloody endgame free of pulled punches. Will Merlin deviate from the well-known tragedies of Arthurian legend? Not if Season Five's first four episodes are any indication. Score: 3.5/5
The Disir: In the inky depths of an ancient pool, three soothsayers cast a dark judgment upon the king of Camelot. But despite Merlin's warnings, headstrong Arthur refuses to take the words of the Disir seriously, and their fury rains down on Camelot. Only the greatest sacrifice can appease them, and with the kingdom in jeopardy, is it one that Arthur is prepared to make? Faced with the king's uncertainty, Merlin has just one chance to save him from his destiny, but this decision comes at the highest price. My Take: Under duress, Merlin and Arthur are put to the test. The conflict that ensues could have permeated an entire season, though, making its presence and the use of the Disir feel a touch rushed. Still, the dread and darkness hanging heavy over the series' head only thickens, as does the plot, and the liklihood of the king and his wizard rising above it all is weakening. Loving the fifth season's boldness, loving its edge, even though "The Disir" is too reminiscent of the episodic interludes of old. Score: 3.5/5
The Dark Tower: When Gwen is snatched from Camelot without warning, Merlin knows there can be only one person responsible: Morgana. Arthur is determined to rescue his queen, but it will not be easy; she is locked in the Dark Tower, a place that haunts the dreams of men. Arthur and his knights must embark on a quest like no other, battling through a landscape riddled with hidden dangers, perilous obstacles and magical beings. As they near their goal, Merlin's sense of dread reaches breaking point. What twisted game is Morgana playing? And more importantly, just what is the final test that awaits them in the tower? My Take: The tower's a bit campy, particularly since it's nothing of the metaphysical nightmare it should have been, but no worries. Crucial moves are made, souls are put to the test and heavy, so heavy is the head that wears the crown. The middle of the fifth season represents a relative lull, but big things are happening and irreversible prices are paid. Score: 3.5/5
A Lesson in Vengeance: Darkness steals into the very heart of Camelot as Morgana and her puppet queen hatch a sinister plan to murder the king. But when stable hand Tyr Seward becomes caught in the crossfire, he threatens to ruin everything. As the plot thickens and reaches its deadly climax, can a suspicious Merlin unravel the truth before it is too late? My Take: More dead bodies? Merlin isn't playing around anymore. Add to that betrayal, growing suspicion, sinister plots, lies and a poisoning that forces Merlin to reconsider recent vows. "Vengeance" is a slowburn episode that, scrape by scrape, sharpens its sword oh so menacingly until, after near unbearable suspense, lunges forward and makes its strike. Score: 4/5
The Hollow Queen: When Merlin agrees to help a young Druid boy, Daegal, he has no choice but to leave Camelot on a dangerous mission. With the citadel distracted by the visit of the fearsome Sarrum of Amata, it seems that no one will notice his absence. But as the sky darkens, so do Merlin's suspicions. Is there more to Daegal than meets the eye? And can a man as ruthless as the Sarrum ever really be trusted? Before long, the young warlock realizes he has made a terrible mistake. My Take: Did Merlin just graduate to full-fledged fantasy drama? Indeed, and the character drama is intense and compelling. Camelot's fall seems all but inevitable, as yet another plot to kill the king comes much too close to fruition. Can Arthur make it out of all this in one piece? Can Merlin come out on top? Or is the series about to take a turn into Shakespearean territory from which no one will emerge? Score: 4/5
With All My Heart: Merlin knows he must act fast before Morgana's twisted control over Gwen gets further out of hand. But only the most powerful magic can save the queen and this will not be easy, even for Merlin. As the high priestess tightens her grip on Camelot, one thing is clear: she will not give up her puppet without a fight. My Take: And here it is. The moment Merlin and its fifth season won me over. Too late? Never. "With All My Heart" is one of the single best episodes of the series to date, and the show's evolution from an Excalibur-brandishing Smallville to its own vicious beastie is complete. This is the beginning of the end, and it's a beginning so engrossing that I wish Merlin had another season waiting in the wings. Score: 4.5/5
The Kindness of Strangers: Morgana leads a terrifying manhunt in pursuit of her old foe Alator of the Catha, for she knows without doubt that he can tell her exactly where to find Emrys. Merlin's life has never been in more danger, so when the mysterious Finna offers to help him, is he right to trust her? Or will he find himself cornered with nowhere to run? My Take: Splintering allies, ascending baddies and kingdom fractures paint a decidedly ill-fated portrait of Camelot and its king, even if there's too much here for one episode to contain. I get the sense Season Five could have easily been expanded and split into two full seasons, making "Kindness" feel somewhat overcrowded and a wee bit underdeveloped. Even so, you have to admire the strides made and the shots taken, not to mention the cages in which Merlin and Arthur now appear to be trapped. Can they escape? I'd write more but my only motivation is to plow through to the end to find out. Score: 4/5
The Drawing of the Dark: Mordred finds himself torn between loyalty and love, but little does he realize that the path he chooses will shape Camelot's destiny. As the drums of war beat ever louder, a desperate Merlin feels trapped by the cruel circle of fate. Is he powerless to stop his dreams of Albion from crumbling to dust? My Take: Tragedy it is. The showrunners declare their intentions, and those intentions are dark. Series-long relationships, friendships and conflicts come to a head and the arc of most every character is nearing completion. Love and betrayal, loyalty and betrayal, and Mordred finally becomes the Mordred he's destined to be. Arthur and Merlin come to their own crossroads and choose... the only paths set before them. The two-part series finale is primed to pierce even the most armored heart. Will the showrunners follow through? Or retreat into the arms of an unwanted happy ending? Score: 4/5
The Diamond of the Day, Parts 1 & 2: High in the mountains a great horde gathers; Morgana prepares for war, a vengeful Mordred at her side. Merlin feels the weight of his destiny like never before as the ancient prophecies play out with terrifying accuracy. Yet before he can save his beloved Camelot, he must save himself. For Morgana wishes to destroy not just the kingdom but also Emrys. As the great battle rages on Camlann's mighty plain, Merlin faces his moment of destiny. Can he find the strength to save the man he made a king, the Camelot they fought to build, and the brotherhood they shared? My Take: Yes, yes, yes. I'll say little more. Merlin and Arthur's friendship and reign, Morgana and Mordred's intertwined roles, and everything the fifth season promised in "Arthur's Bane." There are a few missteps (most of them revolving around the sheer amount of series and storyline closure that needs to occur), but nothing too serious. I doubt many fans will come away disappointed. Score: 4/5 and 4.5/5
Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
A spot of ringing and shimmering here, a hint of noise and crush there doesn't prevent Merlin's 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation from joining Doctor Who and other high-scoring British TV releases atop the BBC Blu-ray throne. Colors are bleak but lifelike, strong primaries pierce the otherwise dreary palette, fleshtones are accurately saturated, black levels are reasonably deep and satisfying (despite some muted but stylized blue-toned shadows), and contrast is pleasing, even when darkness descends and night falls. The series' source isn't without a telltale digital sheen, of course, but each episode looks exactly as intended. Detail is quite good (albeit less revealing than last season), with crisp edge definition and fairly rewarding fine textures, and the show's at-times meager visual effects rarely prove a technical detriment, even when their seams and shortcomings become more apparent when subjected to high definition scrutiny. Better still, macroblocking, banding and aliasing aren't factors, and there's nothing to report in the way of outright distractions. The only criticism to be leveled is at the original photography, and even that has grown up considerably along with the series itself. All told, The Complete Fifth Season looks great. Those who've been with Merlin since the beginning will be ecstatic.
Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Like its fourth season predecessor, The Complete Fifth Season only offers a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo mix. The fact that it's a lossless track is certainly a plus, but the series' action and adventure is notably flat as a result. A proper 5.1 experience could have been an immersive, altogether engaging sonic powerhouse worth of Season Five's war and heartache. Instead it's merely a solid two-channel presentation of the show's limited sound design. Fortunately, dialogue is clean, intelligible and nicely grounded, effects boast welcome weight (despite the lack of any LFE support), and the soundscape doesn't seem crowded or cramped, even when battles intensify and music surges. Could it all have a greater impact as a 5.1 lossless track? Undoubtedly. For what it is, though, you'd be hard pressed to expect much more.
Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Merlin is something of a rarity in that its final season begs watching regardless of whether you've seen its previous four seasons. It's the culmination of everything that's come before it, yet it stands well on its own as a clever adaptation of Arthurian legend. Naturally those who've been with the series from the beginning will reap the largest reward, but newcomers might finally find a reason to give the show a fighting chance. The Blu-ray release of The Complete Fifth Season is well-suited to the task at hand, with an excellent video presentation, decent DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix and worthwhile supplemental package. Fans will be most pleased.
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Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray - January 23, 2013
BBC Home Entertainment has officially announced the Blu-ray release of Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season, BBC One's latest 13-episode series of the Smallville-esque adaptation of the King Arthur legends. Merlin and Arthur bring their fifth season adventures to ...
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