Merlin. A five season show following a loose adaption of the legendary characters King Arthur, the Lady Guinevere, and the great magician Merlin… only before Arthur was king, before Gwen was a lady and when Merlin was just Prince Arthur’s man servant. Well, Merlin was already a magician, he just had to hid it so he wouldn’t be killed. While being Prince Arthur’s manservant. Tricky, tricky. How he lasted five seasons without being detected is worth a round of applause.
I recently finished the fifth and final season of BBC’s Merlin and I gotta tell you; wow. What a good show. The finale was a punch in the gut, I even teared up near the end (didn’t actually cry, just teared up). And it’s left me a lot to appreciate.
The two character I liked the most were both Merlin and Arthur. Not just because they’re hilarious together but because they were realistic characters. The two start off disliking each other very much but over time they build a solid friendship with plenty of banter between them that made me laugh. But the two of them individuality go through excellent character growth that I greatly appreciated.
We’ll start with Merlin, because he’s my ultimate favorite.
Merlin is an extremely likable character; he’s funny, he’s way smarter then everyone thinks he is, he’s quick to learn, yet he can be clumsy and is not a good liar. He learns to accept his destiny as the the protector of Arthur and uses the magic within him to preserve his master and the kingdom he loves; Camelot. But he’s not perfect, and that’s what makes him a fully rounded, balanced, realistic character.
You know how in most movies, there’s always the cliched young protagonist who ends up going against what some figure of authority or elder has said, to do things his own way and it ends up alright in the end? Well, Merlin is imperfect in that against warnings from his mentor, the court physician Gaius, and the great imprisoned Dragon, he often does things his own way. The awesome thing about this, though, is that writers of this show make Merlin suffer the consequences of his choices.
Merlin, especially through out the first few seasons, does things his way but then later on, whether in a different episode or different season, the consequences of his bad choices come to threaten everything that he’s worked for or holds dear and he regrets going against the wise counsel given him. You don’t see this in most films, do you?
Merlin makes mistakes but he’s also wise and discerning, this baffling Arthur and the other knights who view him as just a clumsy friend to tease. Merlin has a soft heart, he’s kind to all. He becomes very loyal to Arthur and puts his life on the line for him an awful lot, saving his life, or the lives of the noble family many times; often without anyone’s knowledge except Gaius’. He does great things and learns to love doing those things without any self gain or reward. He’s a great title character and we could stand to learn a lot from him.
And Arthur, too; shall we talk about Arthur, now? Lets, because Arthur almost has more character growth then Merlin does.
We meet Arthur as a spoiled, very prideful prince. That’s a long ways off from even being similar to the legendary character who’s goodness and nobleness of heart made him one of the greatest kings ever. But that’s part of the beauty of this show, in meeting Arthur before he was a great king. We get to see him grow from being selfish and prideful into an extremely self-sacrificing and noble man who puts his kingdom before his pride. He learns to live out excellent skills in leadership and humility. And that was how I learned to love Arthur.
It’s also why I think most men today could stand to watch this show and learn from his example; that the greatest of men are the most humble and self-sacrificing. It was amazing to watch throughout the five seasons as Arthur learned to stand up for what was right, even against his own father the King; to see him humble himself before those he had wronged, including those who were enemies, and literally say, “It was wrong of me.” He made things right, often saving the spilling of blood.
One of the things I like most about Arthur was that when he knew something was wrong but his father, King Uther, was going to do them anyway simply out of pride, he would often stand up and say, “No, this is wrong and I can not do what you ask.” It takes a lot of guts to stand up like that, even to your own father who happens to be the king of Camelot. But Arthur learned to stand up and do the right thing. And I raise my hat to that.
The other thing that I really, really appreciated was that Arthur always kept his word. If he promised someone he would do something, he would do it, even if it was extremely dangerous. This was a great breath of fresh air for me to see someone follow through with his commitments.
By the end of Season Five, Arthur really was the noblest King Camelot would ever see.
There are a lot of other things that I could try to cover but there really is too much to discuss, so I’ll keep this shorter then longer. A few of these will quickly sum up a few things that I just love about the show; besides, I need my moment to share some fangirly stuff, I haven’t really talked about this show on here like I have Sherlock or even Dr Who, and I’ve only seen the first season of the latter.
I need this…
…. I laughed a lot watching this show, it really did help relieve some stress even though it wasn’t supposed to be a comedy.
So, what did I learn from Merlin? You don’t need recognition to do the right thing. The best men are the humblest men. Great leaders are those who put their people ahead of themselves. Give ear to those around you, especially great Dragons who can see the future, they might have some good counsel for you. Always stand up for what is right. You never know what the future holds. Your friends will tease you a lot because they are just that comfortable around you to do so; that’s how you know you are good friends. Never judge a person by their cover, your man servant could be the most powerful sorcerer in existence. True love always prevails. And embrace your destiny, it was given to you for a reason….
Thank you, Merlin, for finding me when you did. Thanks for being there for me and for setting some noble examples. I greatly appreciated it.