Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Our Own Worst Enemies

I should have known better than to get emotionally involved with these two.
Call me late to the party, but I recently started watching the BBC series Merlin on Netflix. While the first four seasons were quite light hearted, I have noticed the fifth season has taken a decidedly darker tone. Spoiler: Arthurian legends do not end well, not even those made as family friendly TV.

There is no denying the writers of Merlin did an excellent job developing their characters. Even if you plan a happy ending, you can do as they did and add an element of classic Greek tragedy to improve your story.

For example, in Merlin, Merlin's greatest virtue is his loyalty and unswerving devotion to Arthur. Unfortunately, as season five unfolds, it becomes clear that Merlin's determination to remain faithful to his destiny as Arthur's protector, at any cost, ends up being Arthur's undoing.

What is your character's greatest virtue? How could this virtue end up destroying them, or one they love?


Patricia Freeman Nesberg said...

I fell in love with this series as well. The character development was wonderful. It was as real as if I was a mouse in the halls of the castle. Throughout the series, Merlin makes seemingly "right" and "good" choices from his loving heart, only to find that the "hard" choices may have been the better ones. Other characters were cast as evil or mean or heartless at times but the lead characters typically, eventually, had historical stories that were crafted into episodes. It wasn't difficult for me to love each of them in their life struggles and desperate decisions that vibrated through the lives and deaths of so many innocent bystanders.

The series lead me to reflect upon my own experiences, certainly. I too have made the seemingly loving choices and created damage in that wake. I too have been the wielder of power, steering the ship with determination and have taken on the unpopular decisions, knowing that the popularity is not nearly as important as the course. And I too have been the hidden ward, stirring the pot of despise and hiding my true identity for fear of the death of my soul.

I'd hoped to see Merlin reemerge in his own right, having built chapters of his imperfect humanity and paragraphs of higher power with true moral compass. While we ached for the loss in the end, I think we rejoiced for the final freedom of Merlin. I will hold onto hope that Merlin will somehow return to my screen again.

Rondi Olson said...

I totally agree, Pat. Loving decisions often, as in Merlin's case, turn out badly for us and those around us. For me, the last scene of the series is the most heartbreaking. Hundreds of year later Merlin continues to wait for a world of justice and peace.

The original Arthur tale, was, of course, in part a Christian allegory. Arthur was the Christ-like figure who was betrayed, died, and was to come again. Unlike in most hero-journey tales, however, Arthur, like Jesus in the original Christian story, never does come back. His followers are left to wait, and decide how to act while waiting.

For me, that is the point, and the reason why we will probably never see Merlin again, or, at least, shouldn't. The assumption is Merlin continues to be Merlin, doing good behind the scenes and making loving choices, even though the future he hoped for never arrives.

And yes, they did a very good job of creating sympathy for characters, even the "villians", who often had the moral high ground. I can see parts of myself in all the characters, too.