Review #22 - Merlin (2008-2012)
Last Update : 18-02-14
Since the autumn of 2008, Merlin has transported viewers to a comforting Camelot of myth, magic and moral absolutes. This fast paced thriller is sure to please countless people of all ages and backgrounds. Its simple but effective structure sees Merlin as the unsung hero often struggling to keep his magical talents secret, Arthur as the kings' son who often appears unfriendly and arrogant but shines and shifts when called to make tough decisions, and a slightly evil king whose path of unfortunate events has ultimately led to his dislikeable personality. Add to the mix some romantic plot lines that never quite seem to materialize, and the constant fret of fiends and enemies to the kingdom, occasionally intertwined with some harsh prophecy, and the result is a 5 star exciting, fun adventure...
This amazing show is absolutely incomparable to any other one in the fantasy genre. Being spared of all the brutality which is common on TV nowadays, it begins as a light fantasy show, filled with humour, and turns into a rather powerful drama nearing to its end. I watched this series initially with scepticism and in fact, after a few episodes, I was totally hooked +++
Merlin & Arthur
Merlin and Arthur’s relationship is the driving force of the show and its evolution from mutual dislike to a true friendship based on respect is a joy to watch^^
Morgan and James have great on-screen chemistry – moving seamlessly from comic rapport to affecting emotionally charged scenes. Morgan in particular is excellent – crafting the development of his character believably over five series. He is totally self-effacing but conveys so much with just a look ! He is the central figure of the show. His transformation from a clumsy lad with magical abilities into a mighty yet humble wizard with pure and noble heart, who never abuses his power. I admire the idea of Merlin as a young man, approximately of the same age as Prince Arthur, who shows great courage, loyalty, devotion, compassion and wisdom beyond his years, always staying in the shadow but selflessly following his destiny and protecting Arthur in every possible way...
Arthur : Thank you, Merlin.
Merlin enthusiastically steps forward while opening his arms.
Arthur [with a funny grimace] : What are you doing ?
Merlin : I thought we were going for a hug...
Arthur : Meeerlin !
Richard Wilson as Gaius is also splendid to have around : his scenes with Merlin are a particular pleasure. As a matter of fact, his scenes with Arthur are a gem as well, like the one where he tries to help the Prince with his shirt :
Arthur : What are you waiting for?
Gaius : I'm afraid it's stuck my Lord.
Arthur [getting his head and one hand out of the collar] : It's Guinvere's night gown !
He is absolutely great. One of my favourite characters on the show +++
The Women of Camelot
ceAmong other great female characters, Lady Morgana in particular is excellent – especially in the season 1, 2 and 3, when the whole of Camelot, part from Merlin of course, is unaware of her being the fifth column everyone is looking for, unconsciously at first, then with her entire will, combining both despair and hatred. After all, it is all a kind of a misunderstanding : a wall of lies and fear has risen between her and the king and the wicked Morgause, her step-sister, is playing on it all with machiavellic skill. Katie Mc Grath sometimes lacks subtlety in her wickedness, but her dark beauty, enhanced by gorgeous clothing and talented photography, compensate her momentary lack of talent with genuine charm and at times even evil seduction. On the other hand, she perfectly succeeds in making people both hate and pity her – rather pity, with some place for hope and love still dwelling at the bottom of our heart, like Merlin : how heart-breakingly he sees her change into the very thing he swore to destroy ! Does sound a bit like the dark side here, right ?
In her solitude Lady Morgana seeks the comfort and help of her young protegee, Mordred, he whom the prophecy said that he would kill Arthur...
Asa Butterfield is creepy as the young priest of the Old Religion, something that he unfortunately looses when he grows older into Alexander Vlahos. At first, he enters the Fellowship of the Round Table to serve Arthur as a Knight but the past swiftly catches him back and Morgana's twisted influence combined with bad coincidences and a broken heart lead to his ultimately betraying the one he swore to love and protect till death.
The Merlin finale has all of the ingredients of a great ending : an epic battle, a leader making the ultimate sacrifice for his people and the triumph of good over evil. But as all good things, it has to end...