It’s been a while since Merlin ended, but I feel like a throwback. I used to love Merlin. I caught up with all four seasons last summer and then watched the 5th and last season as it came out. I wished it had been longer honestly, it was such a good show. True, it had its faults, but what show doesn’t? In the end the characters and the acting make-up for whatever awkward writing or camera work there was.
So what was Merlin about? Well, the title makes it pretty obvious, doesn’t it? It’s the King Arthur story, but more centered around Merlin’s part. It takes them back to their younger years when Arthur was just a Prince and learning the ropes, growing form the pretentious prat he was to the great king he will be. It also shows the relationship between the two and how Merlin goes from a lowly manservant to Arthur’s most trusted and beloved companion (and when I say beloved, boy is there a lot of love and tension going on.
I personally loved the show. It was light and funny, with some serious moments. Until the last series because that just hurt…a lot. The supporting character are great. They each had their own personalities and purposes. I loved the Knights of the Round Table. I wished they had longer stories because I would have greatly enjoyed more of them. I feel like I never really got to know Elyan or Percy, really. I think my only real issue with the show is that it should have been longer. Maybe one or two series longer. The first 4 series was about Arthur becoming the man that would be king. He ends up becoming king at the end of series 4. They could have done so much with Arthur as king and Merlin by his side. The entirety of the King Arthur lore was at the writer’s disposal! Not to mention, they could have done Merlin’s magic reveal and gone through an entire arc of Arthur dealing with the betrayal and coming to terms with the fact that not all magic is bad and the one he trusts most is magic. But no. They had to kill him off much too early.
Merlin, I adore Merlin. He’s awkward, quirky, and does not know what he’s doing. He’s skilled, but half the time it’s really pure, dumb luck. I also love his interactions with Arthur. He’s probably the only person in the kingdom not afraid of Arthur. He’s sarcastic and biting at times, but he cares about his king and will do anything to help him. It’s actually kind of amazing how devoted they are to each other from the very beginning. But I suppose it’s one of those meant to be relationships. What I really loved was old!Merlin aka Emerys. He was hilarious! Just this crochety old man with endless snark. Absolute comedic gold. He was such a great character and Colin Morgan is such a great actor. I hope to see him on tv again in the future.
Arthur, on the other hand, is an utter prat in the beginning. He still kind of is throughout the series, but he gets better. He starts understanding what it means to be king and what responsibilities it entails. When all us fails, Merlin is always there to put him back in his place, though he does resist using threats. He makes bad decisions, but everyone does. It was nice to see him developing his own ideas separate from his father. He realized that not all magic was bad. It’s too bad that didn’t get to play it out fully.
Arthur and Merlin together are the gayest of gays and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I just mean they are really gay. I mean, I know they are meant to be, but every other line at each other is an innuendo. Not to mention the great dragon totally ships them together. “You are two sides of the same coin.” I swear, all those long looks into each other’s eyes and the unnecessary touching. It’s kind of impossible not to ship it even if you don’t usually ship pairings. They just make it so blatantly obvious. If you watch the show, you know what I mean.
Gwen’s story was interesting. They put a new twist to him, turning her into a lady’s maid. I thought that was a great change to the story. After all, she and Arthur are supposed to get married so it added an extra dimension of conflict revolving around class. It also emphasized the fact that Arthur did indeed love Gwen and didn’t just marry her for his kingdom. Gwen is such a sweetheart. She started out as a kind, slightly naive girl that had a crush on Merlin. What she eventually became was a wise regal queen fit to rule Camelot. She was fair and even headed. I do wish her and Lancelot’s story played out a little more. That would have been an epic romance.
Morgana is the villain in the tale. You love her and you hate her, but one thing you can always agree on is that her dresses are gorgeous. She’s a bit delusional, but I mean…it’s understanding to a point. Uther did treat magical people poorly. But I feel like she forgets that he loved her and that both he and Arthur saw her as family. At a certain point it was just like why have you not figured out Merlin is Emerys yet. Like really. Being a little slow there.
As for the rest of the characters, as I said before, I love the Knights of the Round table. They were great comedic relief and so loyal to Arthur. They were also a vital part to the lore. Gaius, Merlin’s uncle is the anchoring voice in the show, but he’s also the one who is most afraid of Merlin’s exposure and goes out of his way to make sure that he keeps his secret. The Dragon is the most frustrating character in the show mostly because he is the wisest, but the most cryptic. Everything he says is a riddle that can hardly be solved. Like really “You must seek the answer yourself” is so absolutely useful when you’re trying to get some advice. The only upside is that the Dragon is the one who got Merlin to stay by Arthur’s side until he couldn’t imagine not being there.