I didn't call it. I was sure they would do the magic reveal at the end of the first part of the two parter - so that the cliffhanger would be "oh god, how does Arthur react" and then we'd have one full episode of him knowing. Apparently though, they're doing the magic reveal for the finale of the finale...so, I predict a lot of outraged Merlin fans who wanted to see Albion being ruled by a King and his sorcerer.
That being said, I think they really did have the magic reveal in this episode, they just didn't point a finger to it. There's the way that neither Arthur nor Gwen believe Merlin's excuse about leaving to gather supplies... Arthur, I think is worried that his sorcerer has abandoned him in his hour of need, while meanwhile Gwen just trusts that Merlin is up to something on their behalf. There's also the fact that after hearing Merlin talking to him IN HIS HEAD, there's no way that Arthur didn't just have Merlin's sorcery confirmed. Especially since he immediately acted the instructions, even though Gwen was just like "no sweetheart, you're just dreaming about your manservant, you do it all the time, remember?" (what? Gwen totally ships Merthur). Not to mention the fact that Merlin started the episode by blatantly doing magic in front of Arthur - WHILE ARTHUR WAS STARING AT HIS EYES.
So, maybe I did call it after all.
Good job trapping Merlin exactly where he needed to be Morgana!
I REALLY like the way that they resolved the "Merlin has lost his magic" problem - when I saw that plot-point in the trailer, I was really worried. Because the distinction with Merlin has always been that Merlin doesn't HAVE magic, he IS magic. From the very beginning, Merlin was something different - and the way Gauis talked about him was as though Merlin was a supernatural being that happened to be born in the shape of a man. I liked the fact that the crystal caves didn't need to restore anything, they just needed to point out that Merlin is and always will be Merlin and nothing can ever change that. I also like the fact that they implied the immortality of Merlin. (Though, I admit, that effect was slightly ruined by his father saying the same thing about himself - even though he's dead...but, in my mind, his father was probably just a construct used by magic of the earth itself in order to speak to Merlin with a friendly face...rather than the weird alien creature or something from 5x01/5x02.)
I also like the fact that they gave us one last Merlin/Gwaine scene...and they treated it like the last one, without making it over-the-top mushy.
I really hope that Merlin's "true self" isn't OldMan-Merlin...I mean, I like old man Merlin or "Emrys" or "Dragoon" as much as the next person. But I also love seeing Colin Morgan's actual face...and I really don't want any pivotal Arthur/Merlin scenes to happen between Arthur and "Emrys" because Colin Morgan has a great face for emotion and you can't see it as well underneath all that make-up.
Though, I know that eons ago, Morgana had a premonition about this battle that had Emrys leaning over her prone body and saying "Is this what you wanted Morgana?" (Oh man...that sounds horribly dirty when I write it out like that...gross.... but you know what I mean!). So, I guess they're trying to put that scene in?
I do wonder if they're going to kill Arthur. I suppose they are. It kind of sucks, because the whole Albion thing happened kind of in the background and we didn't really get to see any sort of Arthurian Pax.
Jumping back to how brilliant Colin Morgan is though - I really loved how as soon as Merlin lost his magic, Colin completely changed the way Merlin stood and acted. It made you realize just how incongruous Merlin's behaviour was with what was supposed to be the truth about him. If he really were an unarmed servant, following the king into all those dangerous places...well, you suddenly realize how absolutely CRAZY that was. Suddenly when Merlin knows he's unarmed and WE know he's unarmed, he becomes truly terrified of everything...small and shrunk in on himself...in the scene where the knights return from the lost garrison, he's very nearly swaying on the spot, as though a stiff breeze would knock him over. Anyway, I just thought it was brilliant... it really turns perspective on it's head.
[Preview for finale]Preview for next week: So, yeah, looks like Merlin definitely says the words for the reveal. Morgana is defeated. Gwen takes the throne of Camelot...and therefore Arthur truly does die? Sad times. I really want a reincarnation ending if we get a death. It's supposed to be a kid's show, they should leave us with hope!
I'll definitely be posting something on Monday after I watch the finale. And then at some point in the new year, I'll add another chapter to my gigantic Merlin (Merlin/Arthur) Meta.
Also, I've got 15,000 words written of a Merlin/Supernatural crossover (emphasis on Merlin), so that will also be going up at some point in the new year.