Plot progression rant


New Member
Mar 20, 2011
I made an account just to say this. I've been a fan of medieval-type shows and books for as long as I can remember, and I watched Merlin right through, almost at the season 3 finale. I realize this is sort of a playful show, but there are serious moments and I got kind of hooked.

A few things that bother me about Merlin; first off, there's no progression at ALL. I mean, the most significant thing that happened over the entire three seasons was Morgana turning evil, and even this was done terribly. Before her transformation, she was kind of getting interesting, and she had multiple facets, a dynamic character: she had interesting relationships with Arthur, Gwen, and even a romance of some sort with Merlin (Arthur going "you realize nothing can come of this" and Merlin "But I can dream..."). Then, in one year, of which we were shown nothing and was a total cop-out, she suddenly turns completely evil. Okay, this is where it really gets ridiculous: she turns completely static and one-dimensional, and does that awful, infamous "evil smirk" all the time. What the hell happened to all her love and friendship? Her relationship with Arthur, her love for Gwen, even her relationship with Merlin blossoming. Suddenly and abruptly she loses all her feelings for everyone, who she was willing to sacrifice so much for before her metamorphosis?

Anyways, the plot progression: you could just randomly jump into some episode mid-season and you would barely need any explanation. This is a TV series, guys, come on: there's supposed to be character development, plot development, key word DEVELOPMENT. The characters never seem to grow and learn: they stay exactly the same. It's like after every episode, someone presses a reset button and they revert back to the mold they were set in.

And oh god, the awful plot development: I had high hopes at first, but gradually my hopes just sunk. For example, the whole "Merlin must keep his magic secret" thing: after an entire two seasons, it just became irritating. The writers did it so heavy-handedly, too. If you just keep repeating the episodes on the same lines, nothing ever changing, it just takes out all the suspense, because you KNOW he's not going to find out, and you just get irritated. Also, what happens in one episode rarely if ever affects what happens in another: the Freya thing was well-done and tragic, but after that episode, she's never even referred to or thought of again, although she had an incredibly powerful impact on Merlin's life. Merlin's father dying is referred to once and never again: his mother, appeared in two episodes and he never speaks of her, either. Also, the relationships that randomly sprout up and are just as randomly severed: what happened to the Merlin/Gwen relationship in Season 1? Then suddenly, he moves on to Morgana and Arthur courts Gwen. It's like they're playing ring-around-the-rosie with relationships.

And finally, Merlin's powers. Since most know that he's going to be an incredibly powerful wizard in the future, where the hell is there any indication of that? The only reason he has any advantage is because he practices magic in the society of those who do not practice magic. Among sorcerers themselves, he doesn't seem to be particularly powerful and awe-inspiring: in fact, he only uses his magic for trivial, petty things like knocking over lamps and all that ********. And the majority of the time, he seems to be too weak to do anything: the manticore episode, he can't do anything because "his magic isn't strong enough: he'll have to hold back a ravening figure of legend with his hands instead." In all the situations when other magic comes into play, his seems far inferior. A few times, someone went "blah blah powerful wizard" but very rarely, and he never demonstrates his power. It seems to me he's just a below-par sorcerer who barely has any power. The only thing I can think of, in fact, is the dragonlord business, which is just a "kill everything" card he pulls rarely and not enough.
I get that it's a lighthearted show, which is why I didn't rant about the gaping plot holes (episode where Morgana summons an army of the dead while Cenrid attacks: Why didn't Merlin use magic to stop her instead of playing swordfight with an infinitely more talented swordswoman?) or the sometimes overly cheesy "happily ever after" endings (episode with Freya dying: so much more class to just end with the burning boat) but even lighthearted shows should have progression and growth.

For the tl;dr people: nothing ever happens, stays the same, and Merlin doesn't seem powerful enough.

One thing: doesn't Morgeuse know Merlin has magic? And if so, why didn't she tell Morgana?
I understand your frustration with the series. I enjoy Merlin very much but I've pretty much given up on it exploring the darker side or taking the show in unexpected directions.

Uther remains merely obtuse. I can accept his hatred at and fear of magic but what I find hard to swallow is his sheer stupidity. The man is portrayed as a posturing tyrant who runs his kingdom via temper tantrums. Anthony Stewart Head is capable of so much more yet is given so little to work with. Uther has not changed one little bit from the very first episode until the end of season 3.

Arthur has matured as the series progressed and now I can see the king that will be. I think he's the most well-rounded character in the show, including Merlin. I would love to see Merlin's darker side, a flexing of the great power he supposedly has. So far there have been too many cheap parlour tricks. I know the show portrays him as a young person still growing up, but I'd argue that in the time he lived in he would be considered a man.

As for Morgana, I agree completely. I'm tired of the constant evil smirking and slavish devotion to Morgause. Like you, I don't get why she suddenly has absolutely no good feelings left for Arthur, Merlin and especially, Gwen. Could it be that her devotion to Morgause is akin to being in a cult?

I'll still watch the show, and enjoy it too but it will always niggle me that it could be so much more than it is.
I think we have discussed this at length in the individual episode threads. While I agree with you, but I can't see it changing now because that has become the formula for the series. Anthony Head is too good at what he does to kill off. Morgana was more interesting when she was more complicated. Without a father or her Lady, Gwen would be destitute now and living on charity. I'll also still keep watching it as it is light-hearted family entertainment.

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