Merlin: A rant
I am here today to complain about how the quality of Merlin has decreased over the last two seasons. Actually, it was rather abrupt: it has decreased over the course of the first episodes of season four, then it never got up to par again. Granted, Merlin has never been a show without faults, but I feel like the ones it had were easy to overlook during the first three seasons. Then, the show was more than enjoyable, in spite of its simplistic plot. The characters were all very likable and it was interesting to see how they developed and how the relationships between them evolved.
I should probably mention what Merlin is, at this point. It’s a British TV show that premiered in 2008 and retells the well-known Arthurian legend. Wikipedia says it differs from the actual legend on many points, but I don’t really know the legend that well, so I can’t say what’s different. Anyway, the show consists of five seasons, the fifth one also being its last and ending later this year. It stars Colin Morgan as Merlin, Bradley James as Prince/King Arthur and Katie McGrath as Morgana (who, may I say, is awesome).
Now, as I was saying the first three seasons were light, enjoyable and occasionally funny not because they were flawless, but because they had enough good things to make overlooking the bad easy. However, starting with the fourth season, the bad just kept multiplying and the good all but disappeared. In terms of plot advancement, all season four did was kill Uther and marry Arthur and Gwen in the end. So basically, two episodes out of thirteen. The rest of them? Useless. The same old stories that have been told and retold during the first three seasons, the same boring talk and empty promises.
Also, what have we gained from the addition of The Knights of the Round Table? Absolutely nothing. All the knights are one dimensional characters. There have been attempts, sure, to make them more interesting… but when you only have 13 episodes to tell the story of the season and you waste quite a few of them with boring and predictable plots, then when you do try to develop your secondary characters, it just doesn’t work out. I know they’re part of the legend, but in all honesty that screen time could have devoted to Morgana. She’s been given all this power and yet she’s been continuously made look like an imbecile. Why couldn’t the writers come up with a decent evil plan for her?
By the way, I’d like to point out that the Knights of Camelot are the most useless form of organized army(?) I have ever seen. They’re a complete waste of space; the whole of Camelot could go unguarded and it would make no difference whatsoever. The amounts of time people have sneaked out and into the castle, out and into the city, out of the prison… it’s really embarrassing. I also have a strong dislike for the way Merlin calls for the dragon: why does it have to be so ‘RAAAAAARRRWW!!!1!!’? Honestly, every time he calls for it he screams as if his life depended on it.
I’ve said that during the first three seasons, one of the best thing about the show was watching different relationships evolve and change. Sadly, that went out the window with the premiere of season four. One that was particularly hard to watch was Merlin and Arthur’s. There was a scene at the end of season three where they sit on the stairs of the palace and talk about stuff. That, to me, was the point where their relationship was blossomed to its fullest. To this day I feel like nothing short of Merlin revealing he has magic could add to what they had then. Yet, for the entirety of season four, that relationship was shoved in our faces at every opportunity. They would often take it a step back so they could throw some sort of ‘big moment’ that would move it along to the same point. So frustrating to watch. And then of course, the two-part finale of the season was a carbon copy of the previous season’s – which was highly disappointing and underwhelming.
Now, with season five… it’s been the same, maybe worse. We started with an underwhelming two-part premiere where nothing happened. Actually, nothing at all happened this entire season – nothing that affected the plot, at least. Gwen’s brother died, but I don’t care. Gwen was brainwashed, but I don’t care because she’s been cured. Morgana has been plotting to kill Merlin and Arthur and I just don’t care because she’s still being portrayed as an imbecile and we’ve seen this before. (Sidenote: this is something that always bothered me about the series – the amount of times Arthur or Merlin nearly died) Then there was just so much filler, Gaius has all but disappeared, Gwen has been more annoying than ever, Mordred was useless and with only two episodes left, I’m disappointed.
The ONLY redeeming quality of the season was the ninth episode, ‘With All My Heart‘. This is the episode where they cure Gwen and I have to say I was on the edge of my seat. I really thought she was going to die… partly because I thought I had read a spoiler. In spite of that, I felt it was suspenseful, that demon-lady looked cool & creepy and Merlin and Gaius provided some good-old comic relief in quite a few scene. For once, Merlin and Arthur’s relationship was not shoved in our faces and instead they focused on Arthur and Gwen; I felt the moment they shared near the end was genuine and sweet. Overall it was an enjoyable episode and it reminded me of the early ones. So I give the show major credit for it.
We have two episodes left and I’m not sure what can they do with them, but I’m still hoping against hope that they can pull it off and go out with a bang. Maybe I’ll write a post about them; I tend to get melancholic.