Thus ends the marathon and seasons one and two of Merlin are most joyously received.
It was refreshing to see the ‘early years’ again. So many good memories. So many sad moments. Arguably my three favourite episodes from the first two seasons are (in no particular order):
- Season 2: Episode 9 – The Lady of Lake. Merlin meets and falls in love with the Druid girl Freya. This one ranked about a 9 out of 10 on the weep-o-meter sobbing factor surpassed only by...
- Season 2: Episode 13 – The Last Dragonlord. With the great dragon on the loose and terrorizing Camelot, Merlin and Arthur search out the last Dragonlord ,the one man who can tame the dragon…and who just happens to be, unbeknownst till this time, Merlin’s father. This one was a full 10 on 10 on the weep-o-meter rating.
- Season 1: Episode 1 - The Dragon’s Call. The series premiere had such a fairy tale dreamlike quality that really was never captured to such an effect in any other episode. No weeping involved.
A few things I realized while rewatching the series. First off, although I love all the cheesy campy humour…and there is tons of it…it is truly the heart wrenching episodes that are where this series hits its high note (In particular the first two episodes listed above). Season two was overall better than season one…everyone seems to have truly embraced their roles and captured their interrelationship dynamics in season two. Although I know the series is heavily criticized in Britain for not sticking to canonical Arthurian legend, I enjoy seeing the new twists this series takes on the epic story. Never a problem reworking a legend…the ancient Greeks did it all the time and no one bitched about it then, wel,l not really….ah, who cares, just so long as the story remains viable and meaningful for its perspective audience.
As for the cast, watching the series this time round I really came to appreciate Uther (Anthony Head). He is such a rotten king…but so very good at it, the perfect tyrant with attitude. By the end of the second season you are practically begging for Arthur to take over or at least someone to knock some sense into Uther’s head. Katie McGrath is enjoyable as Morgana but the writers don’t seem to do much with her character IMO. Nonetheless I love her accent. Didn’t notice it so much at first but now I can’t help but LOL whenever she says “Marr-lynn” with her Irish drawl. So cute. Sadly, I still loathe Gwen…never liked her from day one and I really wish they would have made her character more credible. Poor Angel Coulby…she has zero chemistry with the main characters but, to be fair, does a decent job in the few times she is onscreen with Santiago Cabrera/Lancelot. And speaking of Lance…he is pretty much the only knight of note in the series so far since we haven’t reached season three yet when all hell breaks loose. Well at least Santiago Cabrera is good to look at. There are times when I love his character and times when I am left scratching my head wondering how the heck he can be considered the greatest of the knights. Meh. In this Camelot, clearly Lancelot isn't anything special. I’d rather Ser Leon who, coincidentally also makes his first appearance in season two as what I can only assume was originally intended to be a sporadically recurring role as the token no-name knight. Fortunately his part escalates in future seasons when he is promoted to become a full fledged member of the Round Table. YAY!
There have been some great guest stars/cameos on this series. I had a jaw drop moment when a young Holliday Grainger (aka Lucrezia Borgia from The Borgias Showtime series) showed up in season one as am evil sidhe Sophia sent to court Arthur in a desperate attempt to win her way back into Avalon. (ahhh…visions of a Merlin/Borgia crossover dance before my eyes….
can I pawn Gwen off on Juan so I could kill two birds with one stone…LOL) Also enjoyable was Charles Dance (aka Tywin Lannister) as the oh-so-scary Witchfinder hired to rid the court of its sorcerers. Of course the darling little Asa Butterfield (the lead actor in the current feature film Hugo) pretty much stole the scenes in his numerous appearances as the young Druid Mordred. I would be remiss to leave out the recurring character of Morgause, played by Emilia Fox. She does a fantastic job with the part, turning the Lady Morgause into a true warrior in her own right.
I guess ultimately the success of this show truly rides on the wave of the two lead actors. There are those auspicious moments on screen when two actors are able to combine forces, playing off each other's charisma and talents, to make a completely winning combination...a perfect bromance, so to speak. Of recent I can name Rome’s Kevin McKidd/Vorenus and Ray Stevenson/Pullo, Hawaii Five O’s Alex O’Loughlin/McGarrett and Scott Caan/Dano, both original and new Star Trek’s Captian Kirk (William Shatner/Chris Pine) and Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy/Zachary Quinto) and, of course, Xmen First Class’ McAvoy/Dr. Xavier and Fassbender/Magneto. The leads in this series, Colin Morgan/Merlin and Bradley James/Arthur, definitely bring out the best in each other and it is more often than not that their scenes together, whether dramatic or comedic, provide some of the most memorable, most enjoyable, most successful and most satisfying moments of the series.
In honour, and to end this Merlin homage post (which I truly didn’t expect to be as long as it turned out), I give you a montage of some of the funniest moments from season two…enjoy…
Stay tuned for the season three marathon on Saturday, January 7 which leads up to the season four premiere at 8 PM on SPACE (Canada).