Comfort Entertainment: Merlin Rewatch

Promotional image of (left) Angel Coulby and (right) Eoin Macken for ‘Merlin’. Copyright goes to BBC.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I did a post on ‘Merlin’ not that long ago, mainly because I am currently rewatching it for the first time in years. In my last post on this show I did a quick introduction and review of some of my favorite characters. But I have to say, some of my opinions actually have changed since I’ve gotten further into the series. Or at least, I’ve gotten a clearer view that I didn’t necessarily have before. I started watching this series when I was pretty young, so I feel as though my opinions on the series change every single time I watch it. There’s always a new character nuance that I discover or a different way that I view a specific situation. So I guess this will be more of a review of the characters than the show itself. And I know some of these are going to be unpopular opinions so just bear with me. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!

Merlin:

Still one of my favorite characters through the rewatch. But this time I feel like his actions are more understandable. Throughout the series Merlin has to make a series of difficult decisions; mainly on whether or not he should help Morgana, Uther, and Mordred after knowing what they each mean to his destiny. There were several moments the first time I watched this when Merlin going against the advice of Kilhgarrah frustrated me. But Merlin’s compassion is always what prevented him from going against this advice, and he never went against it when it mattered most. With some of the situations I even wondered if things would have been made even worse if Merlin had a lack of compassion in that situation. So, if anything, this rewatch has only made me like Merlin even more than before. And nothing beats Dragoon the Great.

Arthur:

I feel like this is the character who my opinion of has changed the most. In the first season of Merlin, Arthur is a bit of a bully. But more importantly he has a pure heart and treats most of the people around him as equals. This treatment of others doesn’t seem to continue into the following seasons of Merlin. Arthur acts more arrogantly towards Merlin than he does in the first season and often makes selfish decisions. Such as continuously letting Merlin take the fall for things that Arthur does. He often doesn’t listen to Merlin and becomes angry at Merlin’s advice instead, despite how much Merlin has been there for him. This is even more prevalent when Agravaine becomes an advisor to Arthur. What sticks out to me here, is that Arthur never seems to lose his sense of arrogance. Even after he learns not to be so prideful in the unicorn situation. And his continuance of his attack on magic as his rule begins after the death of his father is both not understandable and wholly against what Arthur had promised so many people before in the series. Arthur has his good points, but not as many as I remember. I honestly didn’t like this character all that much while watching this through the second time. And sometimes it’s difficult to see his friendship with Merlin through his dismissal of him and him not knowing who Merlin is. Which is more of a writing issue and a season five issue than an Arthur issue.

Morgana:

I don’t think I have ever really thought that Morgana’s writing was consistent. But her turn to villainy feels even more rushed this time around. Morgana immediately trusts Morgause for some unknown reason, and even reverts back to hating Uther without a real catalyst for it. But when Morgana is good…I still didn’t like her. I remembered liking Morgana at first when I first watched this series. But this time around she never seems to understand the plight of other characters, even when she is good. Her compassion certainly stretches to those in need, but she becomes angry at anyone who can’t immediately do something about any issue. And often times it is Morgana requesting that Arthur do something rather than doing it herself. Morgana’s compassion seems to be choosy even before she is evil.

Gwen:

Another character that I like even more the second time around! I always loved Gwen, but I don’t think I listed Gwen among my very favorite characters before and after this time watching it I have no idea why. I honestly think it’s because her character wasn’t involved in many action scenes, which I still think that she should have been included as a fighter in more than one episode. But Gwen is definitely the heart of the series. She’s not only compassionate but she’s also fiercely intelligent. Some of my favorite episodes of Merlin ended up being episodes where Gwen and Merlin are in league with each other to solve some sort of issue. Unfortunately her amazing personality isn’t focused on as much when she becomes Queen. Part of that is how many times she has to be imprisoned or enchanted by Morgana. But that doesn’t demean Gwen’s character in the rest of the series. Gwen is one of the delights of the show and definitely one of the best characters.

Leon:

Leon gets better and better every time I watch Merlin. From the moment he was introduced, he became one of my favorite characters. Even though Leon was only supposed to be a one-time character in that episode. He shows that he’s one of the only knights that will stick up for himself in front of Arthur. And later he becomes the most trusted knight of Arthur’s and definitely the most loyal. I completely forgot how many badass fight scenes that Leon got to himself. Not to mention the fact that he sticks up for himself in front of more royals than Arthur; like Morgana for example. I’ve always liked Leon, but this rewatch bumped him up to my favorite characters list. Leon is responsible, noble, and an immediate comfort every time he’s on screen. He’s also damn good at sword fighting.

Gwaine:

One of the best parts of Merlin hands down. Not many people in this show serve it to Arthur without caring that he’s a royal. Gwaine treats Arthur like just another guy. But more than that; that is not how he treats Merlin. Gwaine is one of the dearest friends of Merlin. When Arthur shows his friendship to Merlin by tapping him on the shoulder, Gwaine shows his friendship by pulling Merlin into a giant hug. When Arthur won’t believe Merlin, Gwaine will lay down his life to help Merlin instead. Gwaine is a great knight, not only because he’s comedic and fun to watch. He’s great because he never wanted to be a knight and only uses his power for a sense of goodness and compassion. Gwaine never shows too much pride because he never wanted the power to begin with (though he does have a temper). And his continual trust of Merlin at least ensures that Merlin will always have a peer who will trust him and be there for him no matter what. Even on those occasions where Arthur won’t. He also dreamed he was eating a cheese that tasted of apple pie. We’re all missing out.

Lancelot:

This is a character that I like, but he confuses me. He’s not one of my favorites and part of that might be because of lack of frequency of his appearances. But another part of that might be because he isn’t really fleshed out until the episodes right before his death and the episode of his death. Before that he is kind and noble but not much else. But those few episodes that flesh him out show just how good of a friend he is to Merlin. And it also gives him an amazing sense of humor. It’s just a shame that he had to die right as his character was given development. But I like him nonetheless and he deserved so much better.

Elyan and Percival:

Also definitely deserved better. Elyan and Leon are definitely the smartest of the knights and Elyan should have been given more time. He also speaks on behalf of the knights more than I remembered. I love Elyan every time he’s on screen. I just wish we would have gotten more of him. Percival is similar, though at least he isn’t killed off brutally. And can we talk about that scene with the kids? Percival is such a teddy bear. Also, his friendship with Gwaine is one of the best in the series.

There are plenty of other characters in Merlin, but these are the ones that I had the most opinions about when rewatching this. Obviously, Gaius and Kilgharrah are just as great as they always are. But I was surprised at how much I loved some of the characters more than I had, and also how much I disliked Arthur. And while I don’t hate him, I almost wish he would have been a character more like Leon. Leon is a great example for me of what I wish Arthur could have been. And maybe he would have been more like that if the series had been given more time. But even so, there are plenty of other characters to love and I always love my rewatches of this amazing show.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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