New thread for a new season - Merlin, the BBC's notoriously slashy / homoerotic re-imagining of Arthurian legend, premieres its fifth series tonight (Saturday Oct. 6, 2012) in the UK (SyFy will carry the show in the US in January, but resourceful US viewers can find streaming and download links when each UK episode airs).
Merlin (Colin Morgan) is still a young, closeted all-powerful wizard who has to hide his abilities from his friend and ruler King Arthur (Bradley James). Castle servant Gwen (Angel Coulby) is now the queen, and Arthur's half-sister Morgana (Katie McGrath) is still off somewhere plotting to take down the kingdom. Apparently this season marks the return of Mordred as a young man, and lays the groundwork for a battle between Morgana and Merlin and the eventual fall of Camelot.
Watch it for the married couple banter between Merlin and Arthur, watch it for Colin Morgan's acting, or watch it for the loads of buff, pretty men (including Knights of the Round Gwaine and Percival) baring their arms and chests, inducing fits by the Bradley James Anti-Shirtless Troll.
Season 5 Trailer at link.
Caught the first episode online (searching for "Merlin S05E01" or similar leads to a lot of links). They're sticking to the tried and true, which isn't a bad thing, though I hope they get to a magic reveal - isn't Arthur's reign supposed to lead to the renewal of magic in Camelot before he kicks the bucket at Mordred's hands?
Gwaine and Percival were shirtless within the first 5 minutes and spent the entire episode that way, not that I'm complaining about Tom Hopper's massive pecs and arms. The producers know what the audience wants. The CGI fairy was a little weird though (like something out of Aliens).
Even though Gwen is Queen, her marriage to Arthur seemed a little bit on the sexless side - a formality of state. But it's good they're trying to show Gwen's leadership qualities.
They continue to put Arthur and Merlin in as many slash-laden situations as possible - intimate conversations by fires with declarations of loyalty, sleeping together for warmth, and rutting around and making grunting sounds in that net when they were trapped together.
Good to have the show back (this and Teen Wolf are my favorite homo-tastic supernatural-themed TV shows... that is to say, my favorite TV shows).
This season Gwen will be interviewed, and referring to Merlin, will state forlornly, "There were always three people in this marriage."
Audio and GIF of the "trapped in a net" scene at link - the producers had to know what it sounded like.
Also - Gwaine and Percival, shirtless and sweaty and lying side by side trying to catch some shut-eye, and Gwaine being woken up by a noise totally made me think of medieval husbands in bed: "what's the matter, honey?"
About the reveal :
In the traditional legends Merlin is long gone before Arthur starts the "golden age" of Camelot In the traditional legends Merlin is Uther's advisor and confident and the only connection he actually has with Arthur is pretty much over once he is rightfully recognised as Uther's heir. Merlin is absent from pretty much all of the Arthurian legends once Arthur becomes king. He ends up trapped in a cave or stuck in a tree because of the manipulations of Nimue and Merlin takes no further part in Arthur's story.
What we're missing in this version of the stories is Merlin as an openly powerful sorcerer but the show's creators have said they're not telling that story. What they've chosen to tell is a version of the tales where Arthur and Merlin are contemporaries and Merlin isn't an openly powerful sorcerer.
People want the show to tell a story which isn't theirs to tell and that's simply because of what people are aware of outside the canon of Merlin the TV show
Having said the above, I'm fairly sure we're going to get a magic reveal and the fall out from that during S5 because I really don't think there will be any more after it. They're leading to a wrap up of the story in this series from everything that's been set up and leaked spoiler wise and part of that will be Arthur finding out about Merlin's magic. But it will probably only be by Ep512-513 right before the end.
R6, in legends Merlin (and Morgana) are the ones who help carry Arthur's body away to Avalon after his defeat by Mordred, correct?
And I guess the reason I've been confused by the timejump and foreshadowing of Arthur's defeat is that the Dragon hinted way back in Series 1 that Merlin and Arthur help bring about the Golden Age of Camelot where magic flourishes once more, and the assumption is that Merlin's reveal would be a key part of Arthur learning to accept magic. But since the show hasn't tried to hew closely to legend at all (besides the show's premise of Merlin as a young man, Gwen / Lancelot presumably won't have any role in Camelot's fall), maybe Arthur won't really "die" at the end of this series - the seer's vision was kind of vague, and also had a reference to a "neverending circle", etc. But I do remember talk by the producers of this being a 5-series show, so maybe this will be the last series regardless of whether he dies.
One thing I thought was interesting about the timejump is that it's been three years since Gwen was crowned queen, and there's no mention / indication that Arthur and Gwen have any children or attempted to have any - pragmatically that should be a high priority since Arthur is the last of the Pendragons, and there are no other heirs besides Morgana, but that might be something the show will gloss over. Also interesting was the role reversal for Gwen as queen - she sentences a maidservant to death for helping her sorcerer father commit treason, which has some parallel to Uther sentencing Gwen to death and her resentment of his role in her father's death for alleged sorcery.
GIF of shirtless Percival.
I love how in the beginning of the episode Percival still wore the same impractical sleeveless chainmail to show off his biceps, even though there was a blizzard.
I love how Morgana basically keeps her own personal secret underground cave of sweaty bare-chested men.
I love how the previews indicate that in the next episode Percival will be doing swordfighting still without the benefit of his shirt.
The whole Merlin in the magic closet is so Bewitched before the wedding.
It's a pity that they couldn't have been 69/face-to-crotch in the net.
I have forgotten a piece of the plot; what happened to Arthur's evil uncle who was in cahoots with Morgana?
R12, Merlin faced off against him in the season 4 finale, where the uncle learned that Merlin was a sorcerer. The uncle (Agravaine) then tried to run Merlin through with a sword, and Merlin killed him in self-defense.
Thank you r13, ah yes I now remember it well.
Is that the only magic reveal Merlin has had with a non sorcerer?
Just watched the S5 premiere (US here). Thanks for continuing the discussion. I wonder if anyone has saved and could link back to earlier threads--there's been a small but loyal following of "Merlin" fans on DL for years.
About "Arthur's Bane (part 1)"--very nicely done. I loved the irony of Gwen as executioner; loved the new Mordred; and (it might go without saying) loved Gwaine and Percival trapped half naked and sweating in Morgana's fiery slave-pit.
I still don't get why either BBCA or SyFy can't arrange for a same day (or at least same month) broadcast in the US. This is 2012, not 1990, right?
Caught the second episode online - it was okay, but they're really messing around with Arthurian lore now with Mordred's character - although I guess Merlin's vision could still come to pass with a betrayal down the line. It's funny how Arthur basically runs after Merlin all the time to save him (and gets knocked out yet again).
I thought Gwen's arc was interesting for once, and they were really making the parallels with her own father pretty explicit - good to see that she could be clever and show some mercy, instead of being a complete hard-ass.
I really don't know where they're headed this season - even though they've passed through something like 10 years in the show's timeline, and five years in real time, in many ways things still seem stuck in the same place - here's hoping they go out with a bang and shake things up.
I love the ability of Merlin slash fangirls to capture almost any random moment in an episode where Merlin and Arthur touch even for the briefest of moments and give naughty innuendo to it... not that the producers of the show don't give them material to work with.
I didn't even notice Merlin's brief hip thrust on top of Arthur.
I really liked tonight's episode, mainly for the Arthur / Merlin interactions, which were very reminiscent of Season 1 (also nice that they finally addressed their "horseplay" / hitting one another, since I know some slash fans debate that aspect of their relationship). I was surprised at their handling of Uther and his legacy - when he died, he left on such a loving / uplifting note, and you think with some time in the spirit world he'd have mellowed and wisened up a bit.
There were a bit too many sections with creaking doors and windows and going for the "horror" feel. I thought it was interesting how willing Arthur was to turn to a magical item to see his father (similar to him turning to magic to see his mother). And I guess it's somewhat satisfying that Uther finally "found out" about Merlin, but really, let's get to some reveals soon.
I also loved the awkward moment with Leon in the hallway, with Arthur and Merlin trying to explain what they're doing together - at this point, the knights must just think, "those two are always off fucking and coming up with a lame excuse when they get caught."
My favorite moment in this episode was Arthur saving Merlin's life for once, in a reversal of the usual order of things. And both of them moved to tears in the moment.
And the last scene ends by defining "horseplay" as a leather-gloved fist? Ouch.
The story itself was really stupid (c'mon, what did Arthur expect? His dad being all happy about his son doing the complete opposite of him???), but I loved the excuse of Anthony Head being back again on the show. Loved the Arthur/Merlin interactions and the overall spooky mood of the episode (perfect episode for the Halloween holiday season).
[quote]at this point, the knights must just think, "those two are always off fucking and coming up with a lame excuse when they get caught."
It's funny, 'cuz it's true!
GIF of the last scene with the glove and the fist(ing) - by this point the show just sticks these in to wink at the audience and bait the fangirls with innuendo:
Hmmm, the horn was supposed to bring back ancestorS. Why no Igrane? Merlin's apologia for Arthur was the best part of this episode.
And what a premise based on the usually maudlin need for closure as to what would you say to a loved one if you had one last chance.
Never thought about being bitch slapped from the beyond on the rebound.
Still wondering about the white dragon...
Episode 4 Another's Sorrow
Liked that Gaius is more comfortable doing magis again.
Jake Michie is not a strong writer.
The Arthur/Odin peacemaker speech was an old chestnut.
Not one fucking nipple in the show.
Yeah, I liked that Gaius used magic briefly again (though his line about his heart not being able to stand much more, even in jest, got me worried that they might eventually kill his character), but again, it's season 5 already - stop treading the same ground and move things along already.
Merlin has probably the most glacial overall plot movement of any series - like, it's been almost 10 years within the show's timeline, and yet the basic premise is still unchanged, and the exact same number of people know Merlin has magic as they did when the show started.
There's so much narrative possibility and potential within the show, and the relationships and characters they've set up, but the writers are usually content to go with episodes and problems of the week and recycling dynamics - until the season premieres and finales, which is when the major action happens.
I mean, it wasn't a bad episode - there were some nice moments of tension (even if it was unrealistic for 2 people to take down 20 warriors or so), but things need to start moving along.
One thing I did think was notable, was that there was finally evidence that Gwen and Arthur are married - Gwen was in her nightgown!
Beyond that, though, it's a remarkably chaste relationship - Arthur kisses her on the forehead, and holds hands with her, but not much more. It's almost... innocent, like a friendship. Maybe that's why there are no children after 3 years of marriage... (and it's got to be awkward when Gwen brings up that if Arthur dies, there is no one to take his place as king - good backup plan there, Arthur).
Arthur and Guinevere didn't usually have children in the myths and stories, so here at least they're being accurate.
I would think that it would be nice if the series ended with the restoration of magic and the birth of ANOTHER once and future King/Queen!
Fuck the original cheesy hokum!
We need 21st Century cheesy hokum!!!
Are you kidding me with this latest episode? How stupid can Merlin be? There was definitely a face-palm moment when he told Arthur magic had no place in Camelot, all out of some misguided convoluted reasoning that not appeasing the Disir would lead to Mordred's death and therefore somehow save Arthur's life.
Like, the episode was otherwise good for the acting and setting up Merlin's internal conflict, but really it was the dumbest excuse ever for keeping the status quo for yet more episodes.
It's like, the Dragon tells Merlin that Arthur is responsible for bringing magic back to Camelot, and Arthur himself is obviously open to the idea, but Merlin out of some misguided sense of destiny keeps on stopping him even though he hates lying to him all the time. He's like the closeted gay guy who spouts homophobic nonsense in order to throw his straight friends "off the scent".
I read some takes from people who really enjoyed last night's episode (and found it painfully romantic) because it was more evidence of how much Merlin loves Arthur - that he'd be willing to sacrifice his dream of living openly as a warlock, and openly lie about his heart's desire, for any chance that Arthur might live.
I mean, I get the tragic self-sacrifice involved there, but it's just not as compelling when you want to smack Merlin on the head for being an idiot - has he seriously not learned anything over the past few years about trying to outsmart fate and destiny?
Also, interesting that Gaius talks about Merlin arriving only a "few years" ago, when by the show's timeline I'm pretty sure a significant amount of time has passed (enough for Mordred to be a young man).
I'll give this to the show - it does know how to mix things up occasionally and take the legend in unexpected directions.
This week's episode (The Dark Tower) was a bit too psychological-horror heavy for my tastes - too many cuts of Gwen playing crazy and Morgana trying to induce Stockholm Syndrome, not enough plot - but the ending was definitely unexpected. So will they have Gwen help bring about the downfall of Camelot because she's under Morgana's influence (the same way she had an affair with Lancelot because she was cursed? What a cheap way out, rather than having her be a conflicted and imperfect character).
Were there really black people in England back then ? Just asking .....
There have been black guys as knights since the 1400's. Morte D'arthur by Thomas Malory features Babylon-born Sir Palomedes, who is bound to follow the questing beast.
Episode 6 was at least better than 5, which I would agree was the weakest of the season so far (although I do like what they're doing with Mordred, and the guy playing him is cute).
I really wish there was another character in Camelot than Gaius to whom Merlin's magic was known. Why not Gwaine--the two of them had a great bond back around season 3 or so that could be developed more, and something has to happen to advance the plot. For those few episodes when Lancelot knew Merlin had magic (before Lance's ultimate demise) it made for some great scenes when they worked together without Arthur or the other knights knowing what was going on.
Glad to see "old man" Merlin apparently making a return next week. That character is usually good for some humor. If the old man does well by the king, will Merlin continue to hide in the closet or finally come out?
[quote] I mean, I get the tragic self-sacrifice involved there, but it's just not as compelling when you want to smack Merlin on the head for being an idiot - has he seriously not learned anything over the past few years about trying to outsmart fate and destiny?
To be fair to Merlin the dying druid seer really set him up for this. He said Merlin must act quickly or even he will not be able to change Arthur's fate, then he showed him an image of doom featuring Mordred. The implication was definitely there that Merlin must intercede in events, Merlin will be capable of changing fate in the recent future, and Merlin should focus on Mordred.
Also, saving Arthur is not just about Arthur for Merlin, is it? He was saving Arthur before he even liked the guy. He's been told repeatedly by wise authorities that if Arthur survives he will over time bring a golden age of united happy Albion and it is his, Merlin's, role to keep Arthur alive and on that path of destiny.
Yeah, it would be good if a knight Merlin trusts knew about Merlin's powers. Things went more smoothly with Lancelot around because he knew - they could suggest to the group that they'll break off handle some activity as a team when Merlin's magic would be useful. It gave Merlin some cover with his story and some physical protection.
Is Gwaine the best knight for that though? They are friends and I don't see Gwaine turning him in, but Gwaine seems like a big mouth and a drinker. Lancelot was really serious and discreet.
I liked tonight's episode - evil Gwen is pretty fun (a lot more fun than loyal, simpering nice Gwen), although she seems to be following the Katie McGrath "turn your head to the side and give a completely obvious evil smirk" school of acting. And now Colin Morgan gets to give his "evil bitch glares of doom" to Gwen, just like he used to give them to Morgana when she was in the court (and this same plot was played out).
Gwen's line at the very beginning about there being "three of us" on the anniversary trip reminded me a bit of "there were three of us in the marriage, so it was a bit crowded".
Loved the cross-dressing scene (a throwback to season 2) and Merlin's tears of despair as he tried to revive Arthur. Also the parallel between Arthur thinking the stable boy betrayed him, even though he'd known him since he was a boy, and immediately coming to Merlin's defense when Merlin was accused of the same.
Even though many aspects of evil Gwen and the plot this episode were repeats, I'm glad to have another villain taking screen time away from the annoyance that is evil Morgana. I'm not digging Katie's performance as a baddie, which probably isn't helped by the fact she has no acting background. I know the villains don't always get the best lines on this show, but I haven't found any of them annoying like evil Morgana.
Colin Morgan looks good this season with the bit of extra meat and muscle he's put on. I think he did that and let his voice go lower to age himself a little since some years are supposed to have passed between season 4 and 5.
The running cross dressing thing in the series is fun, as is the couplish thing that arises every so often with Merlin lightly teasing an outraged Arthur about Arthur putting on a few pounds.
Tonight's episode was only okay for me, though the young outcast guy was pretty cute in a boyish way, and there was serious slash vibes between him and Merlin. His character was kind of a combo of Will (from the first season) and Gilly (that lone wizard played by the Harry Potter actor).
Evil! Gwen is getting tiresome for me, the same way evil smirking Morgana got tiresome very quickly - just one-note and extreme, always making faces to show how dastardly she is, with no shades of gray or nuance to her character or motivations. I don't blame the actress (Angel Coulby), whom I think is usually fine; she only has crappy material and storylines to work with.
I did think it was funny that Arthur's dressing routine with Merlin, as revealed to Gaius, consists of him getting shirtless and bending over and presenting himself - perhaps Merlin has been taking advantage of him by suggesting that the easiest way to get dressed is if Arthur bends over and sticks out his ass...
Rumor is that this season will be the last, with the series finale in a 2-part special this Christmas, according to Twitter (apparently there'll be an announcement from the producers tonight).
Wouldn't be surprised, since the producers made comments all the back in season 1 about this being a 5-series show, but it's unfortunate - mainly because the main plot point has not advanced AT ALL over 5 seasons, and there was so much potential to mine from Arthur finally discovering Merlin's secret and the fallout from it.
So instead of building to a grand crescendo with finely written scripts that culminate in the great magic reveal we have rehashed a recycled plot devices leading to, what, Merlin moving a glass across a cocktail table like Samantha Stevens?
Well, at least yesterday's was the best episode in a few weeks.
So this tumblr post was pretty funny (not mine, for sure)
[italic]merlin fans: merthur please i beg u some merthur..just let us have some merthur!!!!omfg i hate u merlin writers u dont give us any merthur!
merlin writers: FINE HAVE SOME MERTHUR!! HAVE SOME ARTHUR WITHOUT PANTS WITH MERLIN HELPING HIM! HAVE SOME NAKED ARTHUR SAYING "YOU'RE NOT MERLIN"
merlin writers: HAVE SOME MERLIN ON TOP OF ARTHUR IN BED LOOKING FOR WOODWORMS!
merlin writers: HAVE SOME EYEFUCK FOR FUCK'S SAKE,OF COURSE UNNECESSARY TOUCHING! AND SOME ARTHUR SAYING "THEN SEARCH AGAIN" ABOUT MERLIN!
merlin writers: MORE EYEFUCK! THE FUCKING NET SCENE!!! ARTHUR TELLING MERLIN THAT HE HASNT SEEN HIM SMILE IN 3 DAYS! HAVE SOME POETRY OF COURSE! OH HOW ABOUT WHERES MERLIN I WANT MERLIN BACK!!
merlin writer: HOW ABOUT THE FUCKING DRAG QUEEN!!!IS THIS WHAT U WANT??? FINE! HERE YOU HAVE DOLMA!! IS THIS WHAT U WANTED???? LEAVE US ALONE!!!!!
merlin fans: we fucking hate y'all for finishing the tv show....[/italic]
It's been a fun ride of ups and downs over five (short) seasons, and I hope they can end on a good note.
[quote] It's been a fun ride of ups and downs over five (short) seasons, and I hope they can end on a good note.
Me too. At least the evil Gwen thing is resolved so that is one less major story arc to tie up in these last few episodes. I think the show runners didn't start tying things up earlier because they were still unsure about a sixth season, which seems to leave something of a crush here at the end.
It's probably impossible to come up with an end that would make everyone happy, but hopefully it will at least be quite satisfying.
This episode was good. The old sorceress performance was hilarious.
I thought Gwen was supposed to be pretty. There's no way Arthur or Lancelot would bang that.
Angel is cute, but it is crazy that so many guys were depicted as being grabbed by her at first sight when Katie's Morgana was still around Camelot.
Straight guy viewers just seem to see Gwen's new long fake hair and bursting out boobs. Of course she didn't have those back when she was capturing Arthur, Lancelot and Gawaine's eyes originally, but she is one of the very few women in Camelot. In her less glammed up old version many of the guys were way prettier and more striking than her in my opinion, though.
Do you think she had a boob job or is that just one hell of a push up bra?
It's a push up bra. She has nice titties but one of them is noticeably bigger than the other. I find it interesting that there's now this sexual vibe (hugging and eye fucking)between Gwen and Morgana.
What wast this last episode titled, I haven't found it updated.
I find the show repetitious as some of the comments mention in R43's link. Either way as someone who enjoys science fiction/fantasy I'm going to miss it when it ends.
The decision to end the show appears to be coming from the producers not BBC1.
r50, E08 was titled The Hollow Queen. The most recent show was E09, entitled With All My Heart.
Yeah, it can be repetitious, r51. I think that's the biggest reason why they've avoided the magic reveal so long. Nearly all stories they've told would be over in minutes if Merlin could openly do magic and could explain directly what he knows and how he knows it. I figure the folks running the show either didn't want to switch to different kinds of stories to adapt to a post-reveal situation, they didn't feel up to it, or they didn't trust their audience to stick with them. I still find it enjoyable, in no small part because the material is elevated by the talent and likeability of the cast.
OK, watched 8 and 9 last night.
This doesn't seem like a series that is going out with a bang, more like a whimper.
I hope the white dragon kills Morgana.
Finally caught Saturday's episode - I liked it (Merlin in drag was hilarious), but got confused by some of the continuity.
Like, I could have sworn Mordred already knew Merlin had magic, and that he was Emrys - maybe from the first season, since most Druids already knew who Merlin was? - but here he acted like he didn't know who Emrys was, and talked about Merlin having magic like it was a surprise. His first interaction with Merlin as a boy was a telepathic call for help - why would he be surprised by Merlin's magic?
And yeah, the show has always been repetitive / monster of the week in format, and my biggest frustration as a fan is how it's doggedly stuck to its safe, mediocre format for five years despite the potential for something more epic and entertaining, given the talent and likeability of the cast and rich mythos the show draws upon. They really struck gold with the chemistry between Bradley James and Colin Morgan, but they've never really let the central relationship of the show progress past "idiot king who thinks his servant is a bumbling but loyal fool".
And they keep on making references to the great future that awaits Camelot, when magic is free, and at this point it just seems like a tease - "the great future you'll never get to see as a viewer, or even see hints of because there's only a few episodes left."
Prediction: Merlin finally exposes his magic to Arthur to save the kingdom, expects Arthur to react as badly as Uther would have to sorcery.
Despite the great outcome, anxiety and trepidation ensue as Merlin fears reprisals for giving the game away.
Long pregnant stares. Arthur eventually says something like "Thank you for that, Merlin." More stares. "It's alright. I've known for some time, Merlin. Do you think I'm an idiot?"
Comedy ensues. (Well, I kind of did wonder how many times I'd have to save save you before you figured it out, Sire. / And how about all the times I saved your sorry ass Merlin! etc.)
Then something like "I figured you'd (show me/ tell me/ come out) when you were ready, Merlin."
Then a long embrace, flashbacks, and a vision of the Avalon to come.
[quote] and at this point it just seems like a tease - "the great future you'll never get to see as a viewer, or even see hints of because there's only a few episodes left."
The great future they speak of is a golden age of peace and prosperity in a united realm. That golden age doesn't sound like interesting viewing, so I never considered it a tease. Struggle, division, enemy attacks, and opposing injustice make for drama, peace and unification and goodwill towards all men doesn't. They skipped three happy years in Camelot years of Arthur ruling peacefully between season 4 and 5 for that reason. The movie Excalibur skipped nearly all of the golden age years too - all the time is spent on the development of Arthur's court and the downfall of Camelot.
It definitely could have been interesting to see more of the building towards the golden age, though, assuming Arthur survives and the golden age will still happen. But I think they'd need better and more creative writers to manage that. If Merlin becomes court sorcerer he won't be around Arthur all the time and Arthur won't be free to abuse him and take him for granted and order him to do menial tasks, which has been reliable comedy material for the writers. As court sorcerer freely performing magic and giving advice Merlin would also too easily defeat the sort of threats the writers come up with.
It's too bad the there isn't better writing. There's always been a lot of promising elements with the show, including a likeable committed cast with talent.
Caught last week's episode - so finally, after five years, somebody in the main cast knows Merlin's secret, and it seems a little anticlimactic (though they did a great job with the music and cinematography this episode, I thought).
I don't know if I really "bought" the romance between Mordred and the Druid girl as his motivation for betrayal - they tried to show how both Arthur's and the Druid's positions were reasonable - nothing quite so drastic or evil as to turn Mordred against Arthur. Though I did think it was interesting how they brought up the background hypocrisy - Merlin has certainly flouted the laws to break out people (including Freya? the Lady of the Lake), and Arthur himself was willing to defy his father and the laws of Camelot for Gwen.
It did seem like there was an undercurrent, though, of "wily women who trick and seduce men into evil" - Morgana, and the Druid girl (who was shown as not being quite so innocent). There have never really any great women characters on the show; it's definitely a male-focused world (so male-focused that you get moments like Arthur forcing Merlin to his knees in the mud).
A preview for the final episodes - looks pretty good. Some interesting elements:
- Merlin losing his magic - will he have to help Arthur without it?
- Morgana forging a sword in the flame of Aithusa's breath - I guess as a counter to Excalibur?
Even though there are many frustrating elements about the show, I'll be sad to see it go - it's been a great comfort every fall and winter for the past five years.
[quote] It did seem like there was an undercurrent, though, of "wily women who trick and seduce men into evil" - Morgana, and the Druid girl (who was shown as not being quite so innocent).
There have been plenty of evil male characters, a number of them of them very manipulative and wily. Mackenzie Crook's character weaselled his way into Arthur's favor and also tried to sweet talk Merlin over to the dark side, for instance. A druid fighter guy kept his real girlfriend secret while carrying on a flirtation with Good!Morgana and trying to draw her into a plot to assassinate the king. Arthur's uncle spent a season as a charming snake coiled around him and persuading him into taking wrong actions.
And there have been good female characters who strive to do what's right like Gwen (she was only evil while bewitched which has happened to most of the major male good guy characters including Merlin, Gaius, and the knights), Isolde, Mithian, and Queen Anne.
[quote] There have never really any great women characters on the show; it's definitely a male-focused world (so male-focused that you get moments like Arthur forcing Merlin to his knees in the mud).
The legends and the historical times they reflect were very male focused in regards to public life and direct official power.
The show actually made female characters more liberated and (in some cases) badass than they would have been historically (and than the actresses realistically could be with those weapons given their size, upper body strength capacity compared to to the large athletic males, and shitty muscle tone). They also made Morgana more sympathetic than usual. They actually made her so great a person at the beginning of the series that it harmed story logic later on when she had to be evil to fit the legends.
The male actors have been more sexualized than the female ones too and made to strip off clothes all the time on the flimsiest of excuses, which is a change of pace from the usual in mainstream TV and movies.
So any thoughts on the younger actors career prospects post-Merlin?
Bradley James seems like he's at risk of ending up type cast as a jerky jock (which Arthur kind of is). He's an athletic goodlooking guy with a sarcastic sense of humor and his face sort of looks like it belongs to a sarcastic guy.
Katie is very goodlooking and seems like a fun person, but she had no acting background and her skill level hasn't shown much development over the five years. She was pretty good as plucky jokey good Morgana, though, who had better lines than evil Morgana and was less of a stretch from her real self. Good looks/limited talent and no training would seem to fly better for getting jobs in Hollywood than the UK but she's much better known outside of America.
It was Nimueh that got me hooked on the series and Morgause was infinitely more interesting than haggard, Morgana.
The best of the bad women.
Just caught the latest episode (second to last) - wow, everything's really coming to a head, and things are taking on a very epic feel. I don't know how I feel about the last revelation (of Merlin turning into his older form, but I guess having eternal life?) since I'll be sad if he'll never get to spend time as a "young man" with Arthur again.
There were some moments which really had a bittersweet feel to them - especially Merlin and Gwaine saying goodbye to each other outside of the cave. It really hit home that the show (which I've watched religiously for the last five years) is coming to an end. Also the scene with Arthur going into battle against Morgana - if you contrast it with their characters from season 1, it drives home how far the show and the characters have come along (even if Merlin's magic reveal is at the last second, and he never did get a good bitch fight with Morgana in the cave).
Thankfully don't have to wait long for the finale - it airs on MONDAY, DECEMBER 24th (Christmas Eve) - not next Saturday - so only two days for the conclusion!
What do you think will happen to the guy with the yellow skin after the show? Does he have a career ahead of him?
Previews of the series finale. Alex Vlahos (Mordred) calls it an "epic love story" (platonic) between Merlin and Arthur:
[quote] What do you think will happen to the guy with the yellow skin after the show?
Yellow skin? I'm not sure who you are talking about.
[quote] Just caught the latest episode (second to last) - wow, everything's really coming to a head, and things are taking on a very epic feel.
Yeah, I like how they've incorporated aspects of the end in the legends (like Morgana trapping Merlin in a cave and Mordred and Arthur having a final battle to the death) while still switching things up a bit and providing suspence.
[quote] I don't know how I feel about the last revelation (of Merlin turning into his older form, but I guess having eternal life?) since I'll be sad if he'll never get to spend time as a "young man" with Arthur again.
The cast mentioned something sad about the end in a recent video interview (linked). I was wondering if that indicated they were actually going to follow the legends by having Merlin permanently trapped and Arthur dead, but was hoping they wouldn't finish the show in such a bleak fashion (especially on Christmas). Now I suspect that Merlin has aged in the cave so he is now the wise old Merlin we think of from legend, so it will be sad since it will alter the relationship between Merlin and Arthur (not as sad as one or both of them dying, but I'll be sad none the less).
R68, apparently we get to see Merlin young again in the finale, so either the transformation isn't permanent or there's a flashback or similar. Also there are apparently a few deaths - I'd say likeliest candidate is Morgana and Mordred, and maybe Arthur though it doesn't make sense given the prophecies of a new Albion he's supposed to rule over. I hope the knights make it out okay also - they've survived so many improbable sword fights already.
It seems that Morgana knows that Merlin is Emrys.
It seems nobody knows he is the last Dragon Master as well...
I predict hilarity ensues.
Another "spoiler" is that from review sites who've seen the finale, the very last scene is a bit "unexpected" - there was some fan speculation (which will probably end up off base, but who knows) that the show will flash forward with reincarnated characters (since Arthur is also the "future king" after his death, and Balinor made reference to Merlin being himself "always", through eternity). That will basically guarantee more (slash) fan-fiction for years to come.
Balinor's appearance made me tear up.
OMG, Dragon Masters are HOT!
[quote] I hope the knights make it out okay also - they've survived so many improbable sword fights already.
I hope so too. The "red capes" used to have a TERRIBLE survival rate - about the same as the "red shirts" in Star Trek. After we started getting names and identities that cooled down. I remember being a bit shocked and traumatized in that season end where they went out to fight the great dragon and it looked like Sir Leon (at that point the only series regular knight who had a name) appeared to be dead and left behind casually without a second glance by Arthur who just put a little bandage on Merlin and went off with his manservant saying "I need to get some more knights". I figured the one guy with a name would be safe or at least get a moments grief. Of course Leon turned out to be fine next season so either the writers always intended Arthur to send back help or they responded to viewer upset.
So many tears, but a beautiful love story between Arthur and Merlin. Goodbye guys, I'm going to miss you something awfull.
That was... an amazing finale for me. So emotional, and such beautiful acting between Merlin and Arthur - they finally stopped dancing around the relationship and were willing to portray their love and devotion to one another, even if it wasn't the romantic / sexual one fans like to write about (though it certainly came close to it).
My only disappointment in the series is the wasted potential, but I'm glad at least with the finale they tried to fit in so many things that had been bubbling under the surface for 5 seasons. And I thought the ending shot was poetic and beautiful, a "surprise" that still stays true to the legend.
I'm so sorry to see the show end after five years, but I'm glad it went out on a high note, and I hope the ending shot leaves the door open for specials or follow-ups in the present day (how amazing would that be?)
By the way, during the episode I kept on thinking, "I'm sure I've read a fan-fiction that had this scene", and the ending was no exception - I can imagine all the stories written about a modern-day Arthur and Merlin that will be spawned by the finale.
Some thoughts after having time to reflect:
- there were more than a few moments where I thought the writers and actors were going to "go there" and have Merlin and Arthur kiss. I was almost certain Arthur was going to say "I love you" in the end (and his "thank you" was basically an "I love you" anyway).
- there was no explanation for how Merlin turned young again after emerging as an old man from the cave, so the assumption is that it was a disguise on his part. In that same vein, I choose to believe his old man form at the end is also a disguise, and he can turn nice and pretty again once Arthur returns - it's just something that's within his power (greatest sorcerer who ever lived).
- I really wish this season had been paced differently (or really, this show had been paced differently) and this had been spread over two episodes, because the farewell scenes for Gwaine, Gwen, Mordred and especially Morgana were too short. A gurgle, a cry, then it's good-bye...
- Also, Gwen and Gaius never saw Merlin again? Even though he was alive, he chose not to return to Camelot and instead stayed by Arthur's side, keeping watch? (which is both romantic and depressing).
- Arthur saying "hold me", and Merlin saying "stay with me" and touching his forehead to Arthur's was also incredibly romantic (and outright slashy) and depressing...
Another bit of beautiful dialogue (that was pretty much a declaration of love):
"I'm the King, Merlin. You can't tell me what to do."
"I always have. I'm not going to change now."
"I don't want you to change. I want you... to always... be you."
[quote] I really wish this season had been paced differently (or really, this show had been paced differently) and this had been spread over two episodes, because the farewell scenes for Gwaine, Gwen, Mordred and especially Morgana were too short. A gurgle, a cry, then it's good-bye...
Me too. They had a lot of episodes this season that didn't really advance anything in the major character and story arcs which left them cramming a ton of stuff in at the very end. They did manage to cover a lot of ground in the finale, though, and the Arthur/Merlin relationship and death material in the episode didn't feel rushed or disrespectful to fans. Some of the other characters and events were unfortunately dealt with briskly as you say, but for me like a lot of viewers the central Arthur/Merlin relationship and the magic revelation where my greatest focus has been and my major hopes and concerns lay for the finale.
To be honest, though, I was relieved to see the end of Morgana and it couldn't have happened quick enough for me at this point. I liked her as plucky good Morgana, but for me evil Morgana has been my least favourite of the show's villains and I was really tired of how that role was being written and acted. Gwen was so much more convincingly played, clever, effective and diabolical than Morgana in her brief turn as a villain and Gwen was just a bespelled stooge!
[quote] Also, Gwen and Gaius never saw Merlin again? Even though he was alive, he chose not to return to Camelot and instead stayed by Arthur's side, keeping watch? (which is both romantic and depressing).
Maybe he at least stopped by from time to time or made his help available on request? Merlin has eternity ahead of him and nothing else to do but wait around for Arthur to be reborn...
We never saw magic become legal, so it would be a good idea for Merlin to approach Gwen about that. I hope he tries to fix up Aithusa too. Those kinds of loose ends could have been tied up if the season's pacing had been better.
[quote] Arthur saying "hold me", and Merlin saying "stay with me" and touching his forehead to Arthur's was also incredibly romantic (and outright slashy) and depressing...
It ended (as it started) being mainly a story of love between Arthur and Merlin, and the death scene did indeed have lots that should make slash fans happy despite the sadness of the death. Torturing Colin Morgan with a ton of crying and emotional pain scenes throughout the episode is a kind of twisted fan service too I suppose since the writers have probably picked up how well (and attractively) he does that and how strongly fans react to that.
Does anyone know yet about the cast's future projects?
I know Colin Morgan has said he already has something lined up the commences in January but I haven't heard anything about what nature of project it is. I haven't heard anything at all about the others.
The various plotholes (e.g., why didn't Merlin just call Kilgarrah at the beginning of the journey and save travel time) and rushed-over plot points will always be an annoyance, but yeah, in terms of the essentials - the relationship between Merlin and Arthur - I thought they did a great job.
They managed to convey the progression of Arthur's feelings - his initial shock and distrust, his anger, his curiosity, his realization of Merlin's sacrifices, and finally his gratitude - in very short but effective scenes, so even though it was within the span of an episode it was still believable.
I loved the scene where Arthur questions Merlin about why he never told him the truth, and Merlin says he didn't want to put Arthur in a position where he'd have to choose between Merlin and his principles / the law. And Arthur says, "THAT'S what worried you?" And it's conveyed with disbelief but also affection, that you can feel him start to crack.
I really do hope that whatever's in their futures, Colin Morgan and Bradley James can be convinced to do another project together at some point (even if it's just a short - like some sort of modern Merlin epilogue for charity), because their chemistry and dynamic with one another has been phenomenal.
[quote] why didn't Merlin just call Kilgarrah at the beginning of the journey and save travel time
The only possible explanation I can think of is that Merlin doesn't want to disturb Kilgarrah since last time Merlin saw him he found out the dragon was dying. Merlin's comment to the dragon about how he wouldn't have bothered him if it weren't such an emergency backs that up (he's never said that before as I recall). It's a weak story move, though, since getting a ride from the dragon is a little request that shouldn't strain the dragon significantly and Merlin wasn't given a time frame for the dragon's demise (if te dragon has lived for eons maybe dying of old age will be a very slow gradual process too).
Just a little thing I noticed on a rewatch (download and streaming links are easy to find by searching for merlin s05e13 or 5x13 or similar...) - when Merlin and Arthur have the conversation about why Merlin never revealed his magic to Arthur, and Merlin talks about being born to serve Arthur, they start softly playing the "romance" theme in the background (that violin music they always used to blast out whenever Arthur and Gwen kissed).
Thought it was a nice, subtle touch - because in many ways, that scene was Merlin's declaration of love and devotion to Arthur. And as much as the producers have sort of danced around the homo-erotic elements of the show in the press, it seemed like in this episode they used Merlin's "coming out" and finally telling the truth to Arthur to really acknowledge how strong the bond was between the two of them.
The words "I love you" never cross either's lips during the episode, but their interactions, their gazes, the music, and what they choose to say and not say all communicate it anyways.
The land of myth and a time of magic leaves us with a truck horn and Merlin in a land of horrid reality and a time tragically devoid of magic.
It's like the end of Planet of the Apes.
There was no golden age of Camelot.
There was no unified kingdom.
There was no acceptance of magic.
Damn them, damn them all to Hell.
Just watched the last two episodes back to back; snowed in here until the plows come out again.
Beautiful work by all in the finale. I started tearing up when Gwaine lay dying in Percival's arms (and what arms!) and was genuinely moved by the last few scenes of Merlin and Arthur together. Colin and Bradley played all of that so well--just close enough to over-the-top to be truly romantic/tragic/heroic as the end of the series deserved.
It was a good, fun, sometimes exasperating ride. I'll miss it.
Apparently the ratings went out with a bang - even though the overnight figure for the finale on Christmas Eve was something like 6.14M (which was lower than the 7.3M overnight they got for the second to last episode last Saturday), the final number (taking into account digital viewings, etc.) is 9.89M, which is by far the highest rating for the show ever.
The show premiered to something like 7.15M back in 2008, and then generally stayed in the 5-6M range for the first three seasons, then picked up a 7M average for seasons 4 and 5.
Taking that into account, it's weird for people to talk about it being "cancelled" prematurely, because the ratings were stronger than ever. Also, the producers talked about the show being a five-series show way back in season 1, and it's hard to imagine what they would have done with a season 6 given that they previewed beforehand that this season would be about Mordred and the battle of Camlann.
Even though the finale did seem rushed with plot points passed over, in the end I guess it has to be attributed to the producers' poor planning for the season and bad writing (which has been on display for a while), rather than having the show cut before they were ready.
I think there was some talk by the producers in interviews about a movie re-telling of the Merlin storyline, but none of the TV actors are attached, so I don't see that getting off the ground - the show definitely stayed on the air due to the actors' popularity and charm, not the quality of the writing or plot.
Season 5 makes its US premiere on SyFy tonight at 10, if anyone's interested.
The channel is running a marathon of season 4 today leading up to the new episode.