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06 January 2012 @ 03:45 pm
Merlin: Series 4 Best Of  
I completely fell behind writing up reviews of this season's Merlin. Mainly because I also completely fell behind watching the episodes in a timely fashion. But now that I finally caught up with the season's finale, I thought I'd do a Best Of moments for the season as a whole.

1. Prince Arthur Is Now King Arthur - it actually really shocked me how early on in the season the writers made Arthur king. But it ended up being a good decision as we got the bulk of the season to see Arthur develop at a natural pace as ruler of Camelot and face new challenges. Nothing about it felt too terribly hurried which is often a surprise for this show which often pushes characterizations and plots in leaps and bounds that make little sense. The actual episode which featured Arthur's ascension also had one of the most beautifully shot sequences of Merlin waiting for Arthur after the latter holds a vigil for the late Uther. The camera work, the lighting and especially the non-verbal acting by Colin Morgan gave me chills the first time I watched it.

2. Merlin Makes a Lousy Brainwashed Assassin - the show often had some problems this season with blending comedy with drama. But this particular plot point was nicely weaved in with the more serious storyline of Morgana trying to kill Arthur. The sequences of a brainwashed!Merlin trying to kill Arthur were definitely silly, but the acting and just the tone of each attempt worked really well and were genuinely funny.

3. Arthur Is No Longer an Emotional Cripple - remember the days when Arthur couldn't talk about his feelings without basically having a stroke? Well, one can't say those days are completely behind him but this season did a LOT to develop Arthur's maturity with respect to being more emotionally self-aware. We saw most of this with his doomed love affair with Gwen and also surprisingly in moments when he showed genuine affection for Merlin that wasn't hidden underneath layers of verbal abuse. I mean, yes, he still has problems telling Merlin he cares but we got glimpses when situations were more dire. I'm hoping the writers keep this up next season because I fear that will be the only way Merlin won't lose his head when the magic reveal finally happens.

4. Gaius Speaks & Arthur Actually Listens - the circumstances by which Arthur became king made me fear that the entire season would be filled with Arthur hating magic with the same vigor as his father. But interestingly, while this did happen in parts, the 7th episode ended with Gaius telling Arthur in rather plain, elegant language that like every community, the magical community is made up of very different people with different ideals and that having magic does not immediately consign one to evil doings. He also followed that up with hinting to Arthur that one day he'll learn just how much those with magic care for and protect Arthur (obviously Merlin). The episode ended with a close up of Arthur's face, clearly taking in Gaius' words in a way Uther never did which was lovely.

5. Someone Else Finally Learns About Merlin - with the demise of Lancelot, Merlin lost the only other person who knew about his magic. And somehow this gutted me more than the actual death of Lancelot which was a bit anti-climactic. So it was nice when episode 7 ended with Alator learning of Merlin's true destiny and actually switching sides from Morgana to protect Merlin's secret. Alator's mini speech to Merlin about what his existence meant for those with magic living on the run was also quite wonderful.

6. The Sword in the Stone - as the title of the last two episodes suggested, Arthur pulls Excalibur from the stone where Merlin had initially put it. I was a bit skeptical at the slapdash way Merlin told Arthur about the legend of the stone. But Arthur's own skepticism was a nice touch and I liked that as much as Arthur didn't seem to believe the story, he believed in Merlin. Again, Arthur still had some issues verbally acknowledging the amount of trust and closeness he felt toward his manservant, but it was moments like this that demonstrated what Arthur couldn't verbalize, he showed in his actions.

(Deleted comment)
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on January 9th, 2012 04:26 am (UTC)
Lovely review of some of the best aspects of this season. Thanks for sharing! (Also - sorry about randomly commenting on this. I stumbled on it while searching for something else, and then I discovered that I really liked what you had to say.)

Thank you! And never be sorry for random commenting! They're always welcome.