I don’t know what kind of carnage I have inflicted in my previous life to have watched something so tragic and depressing. Pierce me in the heart with the Excalibur, why don’t you? I’ve only seen season 1-2 in the past and this is the first time I’m watching til season 5. I may be riddled with spoilers but nothing hurts quite as much as binge watching it in silence. This was worse than Dobby’s death or all the deaths of Game of Thrones’ characters combined. Sleep was elusive and sometimes, so was oxygen, my ribcage hurts and my tear ducts are overworked. In Ariana Grande’s words, I’ve “no tears left to cry”. I’ve even resigned myself to a life of a recluse for a few days, involuntarily because I caught COVID for the first time. (I dodged it for years, I was starting to think I was immune to it.) I know that in my previous blog post I mentioned I already picked my own season 6 but that was damn too much of a slow burn. It was fifteen hundred years and over 200k words of a sleepless slow burn, I wanted to burn somebody. AO3 writers are wild. Plus, ever since season 3 onwards, I was rooting for an evil Merlin because I know Arthur’s gonna die. Not only that, it was a struggle to watch mid-season 4 onwards because the story felt dragged. Yet, there were some issues left unresolved because people and/or entities do not talk to each other. Ok this is clearly not a review but a rant.
I’m also questioning my health decisions such as drinking coffee, corn tea and coconut water simultaneously while binge watching this show. I don’t even fuel myself with than two cups of coffee for work. My eyes hurt SO MUCH and I don’t know if it’s from crying, staring at screen too much, sunscreen, the lack of sleep or all of the above. Relentless caterwauling of Taylor Swift songs and watching TikTok in between episodes were the equivalent of commercials in my life for days.
Look, season 1 Merlin was a twink warlock, sassy, hopeful, goofy with a secret dragon homie and a prince for a boyfriend. He even announced that he was a sorcerer at season 1 but he got away with it. Why? Arthur rescued him because, well, he was the Camelot’s babygirl. Like… why would you start the show with Merlin innocently alone and end it with Merlin devastated and still alone? How cruel. Season 5 Merlin was a de-twinkified, powerful warlock, still sassy but kinda sorta buff dragonlord, a widower (Yes, they’re married. Merthur is my headcanon. Talk to the wall!), an orphan with lots of dead friends. After sacrificing his loved ones, his father and himself so many times, after denying his kind basic rights to exist and after reducing himself from warlock and dragonlord to a servant just to protect his “destiny”, only for his “destiny” to end up dead in his arms? That bitch Arthur who was destined to be “the greatest king who has ever lived”, get this, DID NOT LIVE for very long. How does that make any sense? No wonder he was the greatest. He didn’t have enough time to do other things. That clotpole just died there and left his people, his husband, so-called “wife” and most important of all, ME, crying. The fuck were the writers smoking?! My ship sank at the bottom of the Lake of Avalon.
What I didn’t like on the latter seasons:
- Arthur could’ve lived longer. I will die on that hill. After defeating the Saxons, Merlin told Arthur he has magic. Arthur was sulky for a bit but Merlin didn’t have to wait for Arthur to die to ask Kilgharrah to bring them to the Lake of Avalon. They could’ve even avoided Morgana.
- Mordred should’ve been sentenced to death together with Kara. This was quite obvious. Plus, it’s impossible that Arthur didn’t know Mordred has magic. It was why Arthur himself hunted Mordred all over Camelot in season 1 to begin with and why Morgana hid him.
- Merlin’s main challenge = Morgana. Morgana being the main antagonist is still questionable to me because her arc was so under developed and unexplored. I know in the legends she is a villain but I wish they gave her more screen time. I want to be able to root for her somehow but I can’t.
You know what? Evil Merlin would make much more sense post 5:13. Merlin should’ve summoned Kilgharrah and burn the world as we know it. Why? He sacrificed so much and for what? For his “destiny” to die at his arms? Who would NOT have gone batshit crazy over that? How is this not a villain origin story? And don’t give me that “Arthur will be back” nonsense. Well, it’s been fifteen hundred years! EVERYBODY’S DEAD. Get on with it then! Get back and rule your Albion! It’s not like the world has an endless supply of dollophead princes from Camelot who’s destined to be with Merlin or however you wanna phrase that.
Despite all that rant, I really enjoyed the show and it would make a great rewatch but probably not during festive season. Here’s what really worked for me and kept me watching the show:
- The Camelot core gang had a great chemistry except, of course, when magic and/or plot was involved. Especially Merlin, he was such a likeable character.
- Merlin and his realistic character development. He could’ve been braver and confessed being a sorcerer but he still didn’t want to put Arthur on the spot. He’s gone more confident over the years. His powers grew but I still wish he had someone who trained him to be better other than Gaius because let’s face it Gaius was his walking encyclopedia but the old man discouraged the use of magic unless necessary (which was every episode. Lol).
- Arthur’s character arc was huge. Despite dying, comparing season 1 and season 5 Arthur was a huge leap. While he did have his fair share of being a brash young prince and young king where bad decisions were made, he was able to correct some them. Sometimes, he was too kind or rather, blinded by trust he bore for the friend/family in front of him. Yes, I’m talking about Mordred/Kara situation.
- Merthur’s relationship development. From the progress of their communication style to the level of unspoken trust. Quite frankly, Arthur was seen to confide more in Merlin and is more attentive to Merlin than Gwen. Gwen was under Morgana’s spell for days on end and he never noticed. Merlin hasn’t smiled for three days and he’s out there low-key panicking.