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Opinion

‘Merlin’ – To Kill the King/Le Morte d’Arthur

The first season ends with more of a sizzle than a bang


This story may contain spoilers.

We were treated to two episodes of “Merlin” on Sunday, one about the assassination of Uther (Anthony Stewart Head), and one about the death of Arthur (Bradley James). Apparently, someone wants those pesky royals dead!

In To Kill The King, Uther orders the death of Guinevere’s (Angel Coulby) father for aiding a known sorcerer. In a show that doesnt usually make any bold moves, the guards actually do kill him. This reminds Morgana (Katie McGrath) of the death of her own father, whom she still blames Uther for, and she plots to have Uther killed by the sorcerer.

At the last moment she changes her mind when Uther admits to feeling remorse for the death of her dad. For once Merlin wasnt the one to save the day; it was Morgana. This was a good twist on a tired pattern in the show.

It would seem as though an episode about the death of Guineveres father would have been more about Guinevere herself, but in fact it was much more of a Morgana-heavy story. We found out why she became Uthers ward, and we got to see her fiery temper, which we have surely not seen the end of.

Poor Guinevere didnt get much in the way of screen time, even though her father was murdered. Since recent literature and movies focus more on Gwen than Morgana, it is refreshing that a series continues to put Guinevere on the back burner for now. After all, there is so much more to the story than the Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot triangle.

In the season finale, Le Morte dArthur, Merlin went out with a bang. He managed to save Arthur, Gaius, and his mother from death all in the finale of the show, and as an extra bonus, he defeated Nimeuh. Phew!

For a second, it seemed that the show was going to follow a pattern weve seen before. Giaus almost gave his life to save Merlin, which would have made Merlin to take over as the head physician in the castle. Just like Obi-Wan had to die to give Luke a chance to rise up, it would appear as though Merlin and Gaius were going to go the same route. In the end, Gaius didnt die, which suggests that there will have to be another way for the young warlock to rise above his teacher in the future of the show.

The show was renewed for a second season, so well have to see where next season takes us.

What Worked

The show got better towards the end of the season, with more of an emphasis on the major characters, and less on cheesy monsters and effects. Even Arthur seemed to rise above the spoiled role of prince, and into someone worthy enough to wear the crown of Camelot.

Thankfully, they didnt kill Uther off just yet and make Arthur become king so soon. It would be a shame to lose Anthony Head so quickly in the series.

Merlin seems to be in control of his powers, even enough to defeat Nimeuh. Where is left for him to go? Perhaps next season we will see him reveal his powers to the kingdom, for better or for worse.

What Didnt Work
The season finale wasnt quite as cataclysmic as most season finales are on most shows, but it was pretty good nonetheless. We didnt lose any major characters, we didnt see the destruction of Camelot, and there wont be much that needs to be resolved in the premiere of next season.

Arthur is better, Gaius is better, and Merlins mother is presumably better. No one knows about Merlins powers yet, and Arthur still isnt king. He doesnt even appear to like Guinevere yet, and Nimeuh is dead. Not even Uther knows that Morgana tried to have him killed. With no exciting cliffhanger or development in the end, theres nothing to keep us in suspense for next season.

It would be nice to add the next season of Merlin to my list of shows I cant miss for next year:but sadly, its not up there just yet.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“Merlin” stars Colin Morgan, Bradley James (II), Richard Wilson, Katie McGrath, Angel Coulby and Anthony Stewart Head. “To Kill The King” was written by Jake Michie and directed by Stuart Orme. “Le Morte d’Arthur ” was written by Julian Jones and directed by Dave Moore.

Season two of “Merlin” is currently in production and will air in the UK in September.

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