In its first three seasons, "Merlin" mixed in a great deal of camp comedy while telling its version of the Arthurian legend. Recently, though, "Merlin" star Colin Morgan warned viewers that Season 4 would have a much darker don't.
"Stories have come a lot darker. They've become al to more complex," Morgan recently told a telephone conference with news outlets that included Airlock Alpha. "Big shifts, big steps, big changes. The darkest hour is just before the dawn."
And Morgan wasn't just going to tease. He shared a little bit about what fans can expect when the series returns to Syfy on Friday. One aspect include a rift that forms between his character of Merlin and Bradley James' Arthur, as well as the possible death of Merlin's mentor Gaius (played by Richard Wilson), and the lack of redemption for Katie McGrath's Morgana.
The relationship between Merlin and Arthur is central not only to the series, but to the legend itself. Yet this relationship will be tested in Season 4.
"We see them grow a little bit apart actually," Morgan said. "There's a new character called Agravaine who is Arthur's uncle ... he is Arthur's right-hand man. He's exactly where Merlin should be."
Merlin will spend much of the season trying to reclaim that spot taken by Agravaine, who will be played by Nathanial Parker.
There also is an upcoming episode that separates Merlin and Gaius for a while. "It's really interesting to see how Merlin reacts when Gaius isn't around," Morgan said. "I guess at some point, Merlin is going to lose Gaius, and he's not going to be around forever. If Gaius wasn't around, life becomes even more lonely."
While this might not specifically portend the demise of Gaius during Season 4, it does seem to indicate that Merlin's training wheels are slowly being removed.
For those looking for Morgana to depart from the legend and resume her past friendship with Merlin, don't hold your breath.
"No, she is beyond redemption," Morgan said. "I think Merlin has definitely come to that conclusion. He's given her chances. He's tried to show her the good path. She is his ultimate nemesis in the series."
There is a lot of history yet to be told in "Merlin," something that could be told in flashback episodes, including what originally happened between Gaius and Anthony Stewart Head's Uther. Could something like that be in the future for the series?
"I think a flashback episode would be fantastic, just to get a glimpse of what it was like back then, what exactly were the details, the circumstances, over which Camelot became that really paranoid state, paranoid of magic," Morgan said. "I also think it would be really interesting to even see a glimpse of Merlin's circumstances, because when he first came to Camelot, his past was a little bit shrouded in mystery. I think it would be interesting to explore those aspects a little bit more."
With a darker tone to the series, don't expect Merlin to have much time for romance.
"Sorry to disappoint, but there aren't going to be any love interests for Merlin this season," Morgan said.
Yet, despite this change in tone, viewers can expect Merlin to still possess the charm that has been loved by fans in previous seasons.
Comedy will always be a part of "Merlin," Morgan said, and the new tone won't remove all the fun from the series.
"What's great this season is that it struck a really, really good balance," he said. "As dark as the stories go, they never go into the realm of complete darkness. There's always an element of fun to them."
"Merlin" returns Jan. 6 on Syfy.
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