In its third season, Merlin
really hits its stride. This reimagining
of the Arthurian legends builds upon the earlier seasons while fleshing
characters and introducing some of the iconic symbols that are
Camelot. The season starts off with a
bang, and while there are some filler episodes, it builds to a great
that will leave viewers counting the days until the next season is
The show centers around a young lad named Merlin (Colin
Morgan), the person who would grow to be King Arthur's most trusted
advisor. The teen travels to Camelot to
be trained by the royal physician, Gaius (Richard Wilson) a man who
knows something about magic. Gaius soon
discovers that Merlin's a very special person indeed.
While all magicians have to spend years
studying and must chant spells to perform the most basic incantations,
can do amazing things silently, and without any training.
He can slow down time with just a gesture and
move objects with but a thought.
The only problem is magic is outlawed in Camelot. The King,
Uther Pendragon (wonderfully portrayed by Anthony Head, best known as
Giles on Buffy), fought long and hard in his
youth to rid the land of black magic, as well as dragons, and now has
any use of magic on pain of death. So Merlin has to hide his abilities.
Added into the mix is the King's son, the arrogant Prince
Arthur (Bradley James), Uther's ward who also has secret magical
Morgana (Katie McGrath), and Morgana's serving girl Guinevere (Angel
Coulby). After saving Arthur's life,
Merlin is awarded the position of being the Prince's manservant and the
slowly start to become friends.
Though magic is outlawed, that doesn't mean that it isn't
practiced, and Uther has made many enemies when he cleansed the land of
evil. These foes turn up on a regular
basis to take their revenge on either the king or his heir, and it's up
Merlin, added by Gaius and with the cryptic advice of an ancient
keep them, and the kingdom, safe.
As the season opens, Morgana has been missing for a year,
but Arthur has not given up looking for her.
He continues to send out patrols and after one of the defeats a
bandits, they discover the king's long missing ward.
Not all is as it seems however. Though
Morgana claims she was the prisoner of
bandits, that's not the case. She has
spent the past year with her sister, Morgause, learning the ways of
magic. She's now returning to Camelot to
and sieze the throne.
Merlin soon realizes that Morgana is wicked, but dares not
say anything. There is no way that Uther
would listen to a mere servant, especially when it comes to his ward. So he's left to thwart her plans without the
help of Arthur, or just about anyone else for that matter.
Any Morgana is very devious and has some wily
tricks up her sleeve. Morgana hates
Uther because of his persecution of magic users, but she also learns a
early in the season that makes her despise him even more.
This season saw the love between Arthur and Guinevere grown
and blossom. They had to keep their
feelings for each other a secret, she's only a severing wench after all
he's a prince, and Mogana used that fact to her advantage quite well in
the better episodes in this season. She
subtly convinced Arthur to spend some time in the forest alone with
and then innocently took King Uther out for a ride so that he would see
kissing. And Morgana wasn't willing to
just cause a fight between the Uther and Arthur. She
takes things a step or two further and
really makes the situation dire.
The final two-part episode, where Morgause obtains the Cup
of Life and uses it to create an army of immortal soldiers, is the best
this show has created. It's stirring,
exciting, and touching, and it see the return of several people that
introduced in earlier episodes. The main
reason that it's so thrilling is that the plot finally moves forward
and we see
some of the parts of the legend of Arthur start to be revealed. It's a great ending to the season and sets
things up well for the next year.
I really enjoyed this set of shows, though they all aren't perfect. There were a too few many filler episodes...
magician-of-the-week programs that didn't advance the overall plot and
entertaining were largely forgettable.
The main gripe I have it that Morgana turned into a stereotype. In earlier seasons she was conflicted. She loved Uther who raised her after her
parents died, but she was also afraid of him since she had magical
powers. That internal conflict was much
interesting than any evil knight that showed up. Unfortunately
in this season they drop all
that. Morgana is evil, and willing to
kill innocent people to get what she wants.
There's little resemblance to the woman from earlier seasons,
The show arrives on five discs that are housed in a fold out
folder with two overlapping discs per page.
This show comes with a stereo soundtrack that's pretty
dynamic. While a 5.1 track would have
been preferred, the show makes good use of the front soundstage and is
during some of the more intense battle sequences. I
just wish there was a LFE channel when the
dragon is around.
Like the first two seasons, the 1.78:1 image looks pretty
good, but it could be better. The
picture is a soft throughout and there's some aliasing in the
noticeable. The colors are solid and the
contrast is fine.
This set has a good amount of bonus features, most of which
are found on the fifth disc. In addition
to several commentary tracks on various episodes by members of the cast
crew, there are a couple of nice featurettes.
First is an Making of Merlin Season
Three, a nice behind the scenes look at the creation of the show
for nearly a half an hour. Next up is
the Merlin panel from the 2010 SD Comic Con.
This last nearly 40 minutes and features co-creators Johnny
Julian Murphy along with actors Anthony Head (Uther) and Colin Morgan
about the show and answering (mostly lame) questions from the audience. The bonuses are rounded off with a series of
deleted scenes, outages, a photo gallery and a selection of eight
My main complaint with the first seasons of the show was
that the characters, with the exception of Morgana, were two
dimensional. This season they fleshed out
many of the
people populating the show, but turned Morgana into a typical evil
villainess. That's fine.
The rest of the show is so entertaining that
I'm willing to overlook that one misstep.