After three years of peace and harmony, the future of the Camelot couldn't be brighter. But as King Arthur and his new Queen look to bring the kingdom into a bright future, the seeds of Camelot's destruction are drawing together. The evil Morgana is hiding in the darkness. As an old face returns to the castle and gains a position amongst Arthur's inner circle, Merlin must protect the king more than ever... For the new arrival is Mordred, the druid boy whose destiny is to end the king's life and bring chaos down on Camelot. But as the death song of King Uther haunts the castle and Guinevere crosses over to the dark side, both Merlin and Arthur find that their destiny is approaching... the battle of Camelot is about to reach a deadly conclusion... and nothing will ever be the same again.
The fifth season of The Adventures of Merlin brings this spin on the Arthurian mythos to a richly satisfying conclusion. Previous seasons have sometimes veered toward portentousness or camp, but these 13 episodes hit the right note of gravitas without too much pomp, and the final episode is genuinely moving--with particular kudos to Bradley James as Arthur, whose portrait of an arrogant snob becoming a gracious and just king culminates in this last season. Merlin (Colin Morgan, still gawkily handsome) continues to keep his magic powers hidden while using them to bring Arthur's vision of Camelot to fruition; Morgana (Katie McGrath, still lusciously imperious) burns more furiously with hatred and lust for revenge after having been imprisoned and tormented; Guinevere (Angel Coulby, striking a nice balance of regal and down-to-earth) is now the queen but undergoes her own dark trials. The fifth season achieves an epic sweep thanks to the dense storylines and the CGI-enhanced landscape, packed with gorgeously designed castles and ominous forests. (Alas, the assorted monsters and magical beings don't fare quite as well; there's always something a little cheesy about them.) Fortunately, the writers and directors have taken care to balance these big-picture elements with human details and intimacy (as well as a lot of cleavage and naked brawny torsos). Human relationships--and particularly the mix of banter and compassion between Merlin and Arthur--remain at the core. Kingdoms rise and battles rage, but fate hinges on a kiss on the lips or a knife in the gut. Merlin may be a hodgepodge of Celtic mythology, but the bits and pieces have been sewn together more coherently and compellingly than anyone might expect. --Bret Fetzer