Merlin, on SyFy Is The Best Re-telling of the ‘King Arthur Story’ Yet
Yes I’ve been following this show since it was first brought over from BBC in the UK to NBC. Like all great networks, NBC canned it and then shuffled it to SyFy, where it has found it’s home for the past two seasons. I have to say, I love this quirky little show about a young Merlin who pretends to be a bumbling fool to hide is magical powers.
Obvious Spoilers Ahead:
This season was a heavy focus on Morgana, Arthur’s half sister (though he doesn’t know it until it’s too late) Morgana is just royally pissed off in every episode, and will stop at nothing to slyly try to kill her father and king Uther Pendragon who has criminalized Magic in any form. Punishment is death for using magic in any way, that’s pretty hardcore. So obviously, Merlin has to try to find ways to use his powers without anybody finding out so that he can help Arthur become king, and bring magic back into the land as everyone keeps saying is Merlin’s destiny. Like I said though, season three was about the development of Morgana from a guest in Camelot under the watch of Uther to the powerful magical sorceress bent on destroying Camelot that her part in the old tale has told for centuries. We got to watch three major characters develop into more of the common story you all know, Morgana, Merlin and Arthur were the focal points this season and damn are they good.
The development of the character Morgana (Katie McGrath) was done in incremental steps throughout the season, and all came to a great head in the final episodes. We got to see the brooding and clearly, ‘I want to just kill you all’ Morgana finally pull aside the curtain and show her true colors, toss Uther into a prison, and scatter Arthur and Merlin into the woods. It was good to finally get that cat out of the bag, because I could only take so much more of her giving everyone evil eyes when they turned their backs, and Athur/Uther being mentally handicapped from noticing how she tried to kill them one hundred different times. Thankfully, Merlin was around to save them every time, though it was starting to get old. Now with the revelation of the finale, I think we’re going to get the purely evil Morgana just trying to wreck the living crap out of everything. I can’t wait.
Though, it wouldn’t be a show called Merlin ( Colin Morgan) without me talking about the main character, and really the reason why I find this show so great. Everyone knows Merlin as the old guy, with a beard (though the episode where he does an aging spell on himself was great). Merlin, wise in his knowledge and exceptional with his magical prowess, we don’t get that here. Since he has to hide is powers from everyone, including Arthur so that he can help install him onto the throne of Camelot a lot of what he does has to be unknown to everyone, making him more of a loner with a secret. It’s just fun to watch him develop as a character and increasingly become more sure of himself and his destiny. In the three seasons Merlin has gone from a bumbling idiot who didn’t know how to use his powers to becoming more of the Merlin that has been told in all the stories you’ve ever heard/read. I have to give a nod to Colin Morgan for that, he’s a great actor, and has really been able to pull off this role in a convincing way. I can’t wait to see how the character keeps developing into the next season.
Though, you can’t have Merlin without Arthur Pendragon, the man who unites the lands and brings a Age of Peace and Prosperity. With this season, we got to see that side of him coming out also. I like Bradley James as Arthur, he’s got the look of what you picture the character to be, and the guy does a great job playing him. I actually got the chills when he was delivering the speech about creating the Knights of the Roundtable in the final episode to take back Camelot from Morgana. James does a great job of straddling the line of being an honorable knight, sometimes ass/jokester to his personal servant (Merlin), and knowing when to get down to the dramatics. I’m hoping that as the series moves on, we’re going to see Arthur more in a leadership role, as opposed to having to take orders from his father. I want to see him take over the throne (and it seems likely with the finale of this season) and start trying to turn back the destruction and fear that his father installed upon the land.
The thing that bums me out about this show is that I have to wait for all the episodes to air in the UK on BBC One first. (which is actually starting season 4 soon) We know SyFy is trying to do away with you know, actual Scifi and Fantasy type shows for reality programming. So I’m just going to keep my fingers crossed that they take on the next season too, I’d hate for this show have to look to a new channel for an American audience. If there is one thing that the guys over at BBC are doing right, it’s that they’re not afraid to take time to develop characters and stories, like we got to see in incredible richness this past season. I can’t wait for more, and I hope that you give this show a chance too, you’ll be in for quite a fun ride if you dig this type of stuff.