The Desir brings us to a scene outside the sacred cave, a poignant interlude between Merlin and Arthur … a scene etched in our memory … as is the face of Merlin struggling with the words he feels he must say to Arthur, so contrary to what his heart earnestly desires. (A selfless act, done with loving intent, that even so could not alter Arthur’s fate.) This beautiful piece of artwork wordlessly tells the story of Merlin’s heart-break … lovingly designed to capture the sadness, the loneliness, the resolve to do the difficult thing even knowing the personal cost.
With Arthur and Merlin encamped outside the cave, and dawn a few hours away, the conversation between these men becomes critical. We see Merlin’s connection to the sacred elements of the earth. We see the distance between them : the spiritual and the mortal … the seer and the warrior … two sides of the same coin. The seer embodies wisdom and sacrifice… the warrior has the elements of loyalty, and strength. Can any man have both? The earth is alive for Merlin. (“Everything here, so full of life, every tree, every leaf, every insect. It’s as if the world is vibrating … as if everything is much more than itself.”) For Arthur, the earth is merely the ground upon which man’s wishes for building and conquering can be accomplished.
What follows is Merlin’s terrible struggle … the anguish of a man whose advice may sway the king, yet take away the chance he has hoped for all his life. And we can see every inflection, every nuance of these tormented moments on Merlin’s face, in his distress, in the tears welling up in his eyes. Yet, even so, he does what he believes is the right thing … he sacrifices his desires for the perceived good of all … to continue to protect Arthur … to hope that Albion’s future will still bring about freedom for him and for his kin.
Colin’s mastery of this kind of internal dilemma is more evident here than in any other episode during the entire Merlin series. It leaves us with an aching heart, for Merlin, for the heavy burden he alone must carry.