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Return To Camelot: ‘Merlin’ Prepares For Final Season

Katie McGrath, Bradley James share secrets of Syfy series

With Season 5 already confirmed as the final one for this BBC hit, excitement for the new and concluding episodes of “Merlin” have fans all a-twitter.

Quite literally, actually, as the “Merlin” hashtag on the social media site Twitter updates almost by the minute.

Clearly interest in the series hasn’t waned, and star Katie McGrath — who plays Morgana in the series — tells Airlock Alpha exclusively why.

“It represents all the best things about society that we no longer have,” she said. “The age of chivalry isn’t one that we live in now, and I think possibly that’s one of the reasons the show’s been so successful. You can look at this time and admire all the virtues that it has, and that Arthur personifies.”

In addressing some of the factors that helped shape Arthur and his destiny, the man behind the character, Bradley James, rejects the idea that Gaius (Richard Wilson) has failed as a friend and mentor in softening Arthur’s attitudes toward magic.

“His hand has been forced because he’s had to look after Merlin, and because of that, he hasn’t been able to be as risky in approaching the subject with Arthur,” James told Airlock Alpha. “If Merlin hadn’t been in the equation, Gaius would have played a much heavier role in Arthur’s life.”

By contrast, McGrath feels that Gaius (and King Uther, played by Anthony Stewart Head) bear much responsibility for Morgana’s chosen path, stating that the defining characteristic of Morgana is that she fears what will happen if people find out she has magic.

“Had Uther been more supportive, there would be no need for her to come into conflict,” James said.

Merlin and Morgana are both into magic, but that about’s where the similarities between the two end. And while McGrath and James concur that Merlin (Colin Morgan) could have “protected” Arthur by killing Morgana, Mordred or any other threats outright, those actions would be in opposition to the sense of honor that drives Merlin and his acceptance of “the heftiness of what it means to have magic,” James said.

James also agreed that delaying the reveal of Merlin’s magic, something that has long frustrated fans of the series, was necessary because “Arthur had to be in a place, personally, where he was ready to receive the information without reacting negatively to Merlin. It’s never been about lying to a friend. It’s been about the safety of Merlin.”

One of the other fun aspects of “Merlin” over the years have been the costumes, and McGrath revealed that the change in Morgana’s garments in Seasons 4 and 5 was deliberately geared toward allowing the character greater ease of movement as compared to her earlier Camelot clothing. This is reflective of the greater personal freedom she experienced as a character.

James added that, although visually appealing, the iconic red capes worn by Arthur and the knights were anything but convenient or comfortable.

Season 5 of “Merlin” is set to premiere Jan. 4 on Syfy, picking up on what McGrath already calls as the “darkest, most adult, most cinematic” story arc so far, and promises that “all the stories come to an end. All your questions will be answered.”

“Merlin” airs Fridays at 10 p.m. ET on Syfy.

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