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  • Ingrid Nilsson

Mixed Emotions: Review of Merlin

At left: advertisement for Merlin by the BBC.

A creative spin on the traditional Arthurian Legend, David Moore’s television series Merlin walks through the life of the famous sorcerer Merlin as a teenager, not the old and wise man he is often depicted as. Starring Colin Morgan, Eoin Macken, Bradley James, Angel Coulby, and Katie McGarth, Merlin aired on the BBC from 2008-2012 and is now available on Netflix and as well as Amazon Prime.

In the first episode, Merlin arrives at the city of Camelot and soon gets a job as the personal servant of the crown prince, Arthur Pendragon. Working in the royal court, Merlin struggles to hide his outlawed magic from friends and enemies alike, and is nearly killed for his abilities on numerous occasions.

While I enjoyed the many seasons of Merlin, I found the special effects in seasons one and two slightly disappointing. I found the plot repetitive and almost gave up on the show. However, later seasons gripped my attention more as the narrative became more dramatic and effects improved. I loved the creative depictions of the traditional characters, and the addition of less known characters playing crucial roles. Being a fan of fantasy, I soon fell in love with the theme of magic and the historical representation of medieval culture. I would highly recommend Merlin to anyone who enjoys medieval traditions, fantasy, and/or action.

However, I completely despised the ending of Merlin. At the end, Merlin fails to save the mortally wounded Arthur and must wait for eternity until Arthur returns from the dead to save the Kingdom of Albion. This ending was inconclusive and did not resolve either of the two conflicts driving the narrative: Albion was not united at the end, nor was magic restored to Camelot. A more conclusive ending, such as with Merlin himself dying to resolve these two conflicts, would have better served the narrative and the audience.