Jul 7, 2018

[TV] Merlin: Season 4 (BBC) Review

For the show Merlin it's been sort of like the will they or won't they dynamic of many shows. In this case it has been will they or won't they show Arthur as a proper king of Camelot and how long will we deal with young Merlin? But hey, the third season tired to address that and this fourth one marks the beginning of Arthur's reign!

Well, maybe not quite the official start. He's sort of an acting king while the nearly undying Uther Pendragon remains just barely alive. But it's only a matter of time, right? And in the meantime things can only get better with Arthur running the kingdom, right?

This oddly light view of the Arthurian myths is a strange creation and one that I can't say that I actually love as a series but I felt like I was too deep down the rabbit hole to turn back. I just had to finish things to see how it all ends.

Synopsis: Merlin is a BBC fantasy television series created by Julian Jones, Jack Michie, Johnny Capps, and Julian Murphy.  The show is very loosely based on the myths related to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

The series begins one year since Morgana's (Katie McGrath) last plan against Camelot. But now it's all out in the open and she's a known enemy of the kingdom and has escaped with a dyning Morgause (Emilia Fox). The incident has broken the spirit of King Uther (Anthony Head) and thus his son Arthur (Bradley James). He still hopes that the King will recover but things aren't looking too good in that department.

Merlin (Colin Morgan) continues to serve as Arthur's servant and continues to hide his magic from the world. Also in his retinue are Gaius (Richard Wilson) and Guinevere (Angel Coulby). Arthur's feelings for Gwen are stronger than ever but he remains conflicted over his duties to the crown. And things really comes to a head when Uther finally dies and Arthur finally has to step up as king.

What I Liked: Arthur finally becomes king of Camelot in this season. After waiting for so long Uther is gone and Arthur is now king and we didn't even have to go through a period of anarchy. He may not behave all that differently as king but at least he's on the throne. And he even has a growing set of knights following him and supporting the ideals of Camelot as they come together.

Merlin is also a lot more confident in his magic and we have him playing the odd trope of disguising himself as an old man in order to hide his magical activities. Gwen and Arthur finally get together. So many good things seem to be happening and they could have ended things right there.

What Could Have Been Better: So we have a lot less dragon in this season and I suppose that's for the best. His involvement in things has diminished over the course of the show but I always felt like it was supposed to become something much bigger. And yet it didn't. So what was up with that and the build up it had in the beginning? Minor thing to rant about, I know.

Morgana as a free agent did make for a strange villain since the tone of the show limited how far her plans could go. She constantly seemed burdened with different cohorts to help in her schemes and plans and not quite able to get to the finish line. You can feel the show wanting to go on longer and so she can't initiate true end game and but she still needs to be the antagonist and thus she has only moderately evil plans? It's frustrating.

TL;DR: Merlin feels like a show that went on a little too long for its own good but this fourth season tried to change the status quo and really move things forward. It's still awkward a lot of times and the stories can go back to a freak of the week format despite this being the fourth season of the show. Thus it gets 3.5 not very kingly decisions by Arthur out of a possible 5.

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