Exploring Merlin

losing arthur.3

We have been asked to supply a place for discussion of Merlin’s path after Arthur’s passing.  We will start this Thread as a Host Post to see how it will work and give other commenters an opportunity to join in the discussion using the Comment Bar below.  The Host Post will be accessible on the sidebar, Topics menu,  for those who want to contribute.  As we prepare to go forward, we add this caveat from the author of bbcdiscovery:

Let’s begin with this understanding: Suntse is not a fan of fanfiction. She does not welcome prurient interest in Colin’s relationships or the privacy of his body. She finds merthur crude and denigrating and disrespectful.  She is very much a fan of articulate language, the beauty and nuance of descriptive words, and the gentle admiration of a man who has brought such delight and wonder into our lives.

As we begin these travels into what might have been for Merlin after losing Arthur, we might want to treat it as a rather academic, imaginative enterprise, more about exploring a possible path for our hero than writing a new dialogue.

Sincerely, Suntse


32 comments on “Exploring Merlin

  1. We are beginning this section with AwenFound’s impressions. These words are hers alone. and what she submitted follows:

    By request, I am posting this here to be added to the new section. Hope I got that right. 🙂

    To restate: “There are three elements I would like to address: Merlin’s almost certain path stemming from my take on the character of Merlin and how Colin portrayed him; A response to those Merlin fans who felt let down because the outcome wasn’t in line with what they felt the whole series was leading up to, but forgot to take into account the big picture of the Arthurian mythology and the meaning of last scene of the show; and, on a more personal note, a desire to give one plot line a little more closure and magic.”

    I’m only going to post one at a time because I don’t want to overwhelm. And, the second is more thought-provoking (at least for me) and going to take some time for me to compose. I also want to add that my intention is not to throw up a bunch of futures to see what sticks. The three ideas about Merlin’s path do not contradict one another.

    First, did Merlin stay in Camelot? The last episode suggests that he might not have. The fact that we did not see him in the great hall with the others, in the second to last scene, was a clue. However, one of Merlin’s strongest virtues is his loyalty to his friends. I believe that he would never abandon those who Arthur loved most…he would never have caused them to have to deal with yet another loss. Until those who Arthur and Merlin loved passed on, he would have stayed by their side. And wouldn’t he have wanted to be close to his last connections to Arthur? In some ways it may have been difficult for him to remain, but we have seen in the past that even great emotional pain does not get in the way of his sense of duty. When you watch scenes where Merlin struggles with his own sadness, Colin has this wonderful ability to show Merlin as staying present in each moment for those around him. He does not try and escape emotionally. He juggles his own pain with his care for others. I’ve especially noticed this when he is with those who are dying, which I think could be a whole other conversation.

    I see Merlin’s absence in the great hall scene as a metaphor for him not really being a part of that world because of who he is and his destiny. He is truly alone in that sense. And I believe that even though peace was restored to Camelot, magic was not…and that will be part of the second post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I believe he returned to Camelot to be among friends, to be there for Gwen (who now knows his true nature) and for Gaius. Merlin has come to know this is as it should be. He mourns the loss of his friend and his other losses as well. Merlin is the personification of Hope in this version. Hope lives on. And throughout his long life he will find causes to champion, still as the unsung hero, perhaps without public recognition, but knowing unto himself that his life has meaning and value.

      How can one not find meaning, and love, in that?

      Liked by 2 people

      • AwenFound says:

        Yes, I like your comment that “he will find causes to champion.” I think that must be true. Merlin carries a heavy burden of loss and it must be balanced with hope and action to make the world of Camelot better or he couldn’t continue on. When there is no Camelot left, it is then that the whole world become’s Merlin’s to protect. That is how the mythology can be applied to so many times and places.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Twosocks says:

    My feeling on this point is just that ‘I don’t know.’ And I’ve come to accept that. That last glimpse of Merlin shows that Merlin, and magic, are still here among us. Like Queen Annis says to Arthur, it gives me hope for us all. If we can still imagine a world the poets speak of, maybe someday it will happen. But I also think we need to make it happen. Which is why these stories can be so wonderful. They remind us of our best selves but also our darkest. For that I am grateful to all the people who worked so hard to bring this Merlin to us.

    If I could choose my own ending, Merlin would return to Ealdor, where Gueneviere and the court could easily find him if they needed, to care for his mother. Tend to the surrounding country with his medical, and sometimes magical skills, and afterwards go wherever he is needed. Perhaps he would also find a way to assist Gaius as he aged.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. AwenFound says:

    Part II The Return of the King and Magic Revealed:

    Had Merlin ended with the scene in the great hall, I would probably have come to the conclusion that peace and magic returned to Camelot and all would be well under Gwen’s rule. But that is not where it ended. The writers took it one more step showing the Merlin of present day. They ensured that there is no doubt that he is now in our world.

    I have read some comments where people write it was cruel of the writers to show us this future…That now all we remember is a lonely man waiting, perhaps forever, for his friend to return. Some wish Merlin had died right along side Arthur because his whole destiny was to serve his friend. But they are missing the big picture because Arthur is not really dead and Merlin’s wait should not be one of sorrow, but of hope.

    I probably know enough Arthurian Legend to be dangerous, but there is one aspect of it that has stayed with me after doing some reading on the subject years ago. And, that is the story of the wounded king and the wasteland which Arthur represents. It is telling that Merlin did not set Arthur’s funerary boat on fire because in the mythology Arthur is not dead but wounded and awaits the time when he will return.

    For me, the wasteland signifies war caused by hate, intolerance and injustice; and environmental devastation caused by selfishness and the loss of our connection to nature. If the story were to continue, it seems to me that Arthur’s return would be right around the corner, as Arthur will return when most needed, to heal the land.

    As for magic, if magic had been allowed after Arthur’s death then I think we might have seen some evidence of it in the present day scene. (I know that isn’t necessarily what the writer’s were thinking, but I am running with it). I believe that Gwen allowed Merlin’s magic and that those with magic were no longer persecuted. But I think the complete acceptance of magic in Camelot would have taken a very long time and the time of Camelot did come to an end. For Merlin, he is not just waiting for Arthur, but for the world to accept magic again (that was always an important theme in the series). For in the time of Camelot magic may have been illegal, but in the present it is even worse because it has been forgotten. It will take Merlin and Arthur to bring magic back to the world.

    In the end, there are still prophesies to be fulfilled. Arthur is to return one day (in some form or another) and it is Merlin’s magic that can make that happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Twosocks says:

      YES!!! AwenFound, you have expressed so beautifully many of my own thoughts. I am probably in the same boat as far as having just enough Arthurian legend to be dangerous. I just looked back to that last passage in Idylls–and the new sun rose bringing the new year. I hate to think just how long ago I read that, but the image has stayed with me. This is a story of hope.

      Some of the other renderings have Merlin locked in the Crystal Cave. But ‘our’ Merlin is still here, hoping and waiting along with us. I have seen comments where people have said if WWII wasn’t bad enough for us to need Arthur, what is. But maybe ‘need’ means something different. Perhaps WE need to be able to accept magic, as you brought up, before that can happen. Gaius makes a statement in The Secret Sharer about Merlin uniting the old world and the new. We’ve made a beginning in understanding that nature is not here for us to use any way we want, but is something to protect and cherish. We have a long way to go, but perhaps when that day comes, magic will be recognized. And as Merlin hopes, we will be free.

      Liked by 1 person

      • AwenFound says:

        Wow, TwoSocks…I got goosebumps reading your reply. Thank you so much for that. Your thoughts made me realize that when I wrote “It will take Merlin and Arthur to bring magic back to the world…” I should have added “and It will it will take a belief in magic to bring back Merlin and Arthur.” And yes, our Merlin is not locked in a the Crystal Cave.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. AwenFound says:

    Part III – Merlin is Still a Dragon Lord.

    Finally, I want to address one storyline that was left without closure in the series. This is the story of Aithusa. Merlin’s identity as Dragon Lord played such a significant part that I felt this should be mentioned.

    I loved TwoSocks comment, “If I could choose my own ending, Merlin would return to Ealdor…” Because if I could choose my own ending, it would be this:

    Whether Merlin returned to Ealdor or stayed at Camelot, I believe that he searched for (or maybe called out to) and found the tortured young dragon. (I can’t imagine that this hasn’t been written about extensively on other sites). Merlin’s desire to care for the dragons is only outweighed by his duty to protect Arthur. So, with Arthur’s death it only makes sense that he turn his attention to the other part of himself that was so important.

    After watching Colin when he meets Aithusa in Arthur’s Bane, Part 2 and the range of emotions that came through in his performance, how could anyone believe that Merlin wouldn’t later reach out to this dragon who he called into the world. How devastating for Merlin to realize that this creature of magic that was meant to be the hope for the future is now a wretched being of pain, anger, and fear who cannot speak. This is a heartbreaking scene.

    That moment when Aithusa refuses to leave shows that she has made a connection with Merlin and understands the compassion that he is showing her. This makes me think that even if Merlin didn’t search her out she would have found him. But I think it was the other way around.

    And in that last scene of the series, Aithusa may very well have been there with Merlin, flying somewhere nearby. But in the present day we don’t believe in magic, so we would not have seen her.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Twosocks says:

    Thank you! Yes, Aithusa’s plight has been addressed in various fanfic stories. The ones I’ve seen have always treated her kindly. I think all the fans have a special feeling for this wounded soul and feel that Merlin would have found her and cared for her.

    I am trying to think of any other Camelot tale that features dragons and have come up short. Yet it is in their very name–Pendragon (son or child of a dragon?) and is still on the Welsh flag. I am glad this Camelot has them.

    So if some day we come upon an old man wandering about with a strange white creature—

    Come on, haven’t all of us imagined walking down that rain covered road and accidentally bumping into that mysterious and intriguing man who looks to be on a journey? Maybe Aithusa is right behind him!

    PS. My iPad is trying to learn to spell Aithusa, and just got it! About fanfic, you do have to wade through a lot of stuff you don’t want to find the stories you would like to read. One reason I don’t do a lot of it.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Twosocks says:

    After our discussion, I decided to give Bernard Cornwell’s Arthur books another try. So far better than I remembered (Jack Whyte’s not as good as I remembered). Anyway, the first of the trilogy is called The Winter King and I kept thinking somewhere there is a poem–

    Pulled out the Mary Stewart books. Several Merlin episode titles come from her including somewhat The Diamond of the Day, though she didn’t write that. I like the poem and thought I would share.

    There was a boy born,
    A winter King.
    He shall come
    With the spring
    In the green month
    And the golden month
    And bright
    Shall be the burning
    Of his star.

    I especially like the last few lines. The name Arthur seems to mean bear and he is sometimes associated with Ursa Major (the Big Dipper or the great bear) and also with comets or shooting stars which might have been seen as dragons.

    In the episode Excalibur, where Arthur comes of age, there is no indication of the time of year although not sure how cold it looks during the sword fight scenes. There is definitely an association between Arthur and the turning cycle of the year. In Idylls he is crowned in May–the green or golden month? I am wondering if this is in part due to the Celtic emphasis on feasts that have to do with the sun cycle or the agricultural year.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. AwenFound says:

    I like that poem, also. Have you heard the song “Merlin Am I?” I love the last line of that song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mP6lXrCPgj0

    I have not read any of the Arthurian fiction. I know there is a ton of it.


  8. Twosocks says:

    I like it, too. Looks like there are more songs by this artist. Haven’t gotten to iTunes yet, but will definitely check him out. I would like to download this one. I think the above link is to a Merlin fanvid made using this song. I’m new to doing this, so no promises.

    Yes, there is a ton of fiction out there. Like fanfic, you need to pick and choose. If there is a shirtless dude on the cover, best skip it. The writers of Merlin definitely remarked on Mary Stewart’s books. The trilogy–The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment–are all from Merlin’s point of view. It is not the Merlin of the series. There is another book, The Wicked Day, that tells Mordred’s story. I liked it a lot, too. They are mainstream books by a good author who has done a lot of research and are classics.

    Of course, there is T. H. White’s The Once and Future King. The Disney Sword in the Stone is based on the first part of the book and I think the Broadway musical may have used it too. I tried rereading it a bit back, but had trouble with an Arthur nicknamed ‘Wart.’ I guess it has been quite a while since I had read it. I know there are some twists to the Lancelot story.

    Marion Zimmerman’s Mists of Avalon is told by Morgan le Fey. There is a series of them, I think all of them are from female character’s viewpoint. I also remember one called Queen of the Summer Country from Gwenievere’s perspective.

    You’ve said you have done some reading about the Arthurian legend. Any books you would like to suggest? There are a lot of spiritual quest types of things out there, which I don’t have a special problem with, but I would like to find some that are more based on literary history or origins of myths. More along the lines of Tolkien’s Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics.

    Liked by 1 person

    • AwenFound says:

      Here’s one called the Winter King. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9InO1r_LVM&list=PLVCp7eSsYMucTNL804RZmuTYtAJIMwLtS&index=17

      About 10 years ago a friend introduced me to Damh’s music. I hadn’t really paid much attention to it, at that time. Recently I had came across his music again and noticed that some of his songs are reminiscent of John Denver’s style (I’m a big fan of John Denver’s music). Damh is quite folksy and obviously he gears his music to the pagan community. I had never heard Winter King before this morning. There is another song that mentions Merlin. I will have to find it.


    • AwenFound says:

      Now you have gone and done it. In my search to find that other song, I came across this (another I have not heard). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGmKUzpxNpE

      A song for ToY. These lines, in particular, remind me of Roland

      I’ve been walking all day, and I’m nearly done.
      And I see by your gravestone you were only 19
      When you joined the great fallen in 1916,
      Well, I hope you died well and I hope you died clean
      Or young Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?

      Okay, back to Exploring Merlin.


      • Twosocks says:

        Okay, not sure how weird this is. I love John Denver’s music, too! Got the chance, obviously quite a while ago, to attend one of his concerts. Favorite song, strangely, The Song of Wyoming. I’ve never even been there, but I like cowboy songs, too. And yes, this artist reminds me a lot of his music. I will definitely look into it further. And this song mentions several things about the Arthur legends. Really nice.

        The Willie McBride song I had heard before. It’s been recorded fairly often. If you like traditional Irish music, I really like The High Kings. One of the group is a son of one of the Clancy Brothers. There is a group called Emerald Rose whose music is somewhat similar to Damh’s, maybe a bit edgier. Related to The Rising, of course, The Foggy Dew, and I like The Wind That Shakes the Barley (also a great movie).

        Actually, I feel this is exploring Merlin. So many things I have read, watched and listened to because, for a bit of a different reason, I ordered the Merlin DVDs. Life has never been quite the same since. (Thank you, Colin, and Santi, too). And I want to look into a couple of things mentioned in The Winter King song. Always wonderful new things to learn.


    • AwenFound says:

      You may want to check out John Matthews. He is definitely into the spiritual quest and new age aspects of the legends. However, John is also an historian and has published over 90 books on myth, the Arthurian Legends and Grail studies, including “His book Arthur of Albion (2009) which won multiple awards, including a Gold Medal from NAPPA, a gold Moonbeams award [13] and a BIB Golden Apple Award.” “He acted as advisor for a number of media projects including the Jerry Bruckheimer film “King Arthur” (2004).He has appeared on History Channel and Discovery Channel programmes on Arthur and the Holy Grail, and shared a BAFTA award for his work on the educational DVD made to accompany ‘King Arthur.'”

      I have skimmed through some of his stuff, but can’t recommend anything specific.


    • AwenFound says:

      Found it!!!! This is the song that I was thinking of, that mentions Merlin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMAu1eDWsAo I quite like it.

      Yes, John Denver always accompanies me on long road trips. One of my favorites is “Looking for Space.”


      • Twosocks says:

        That’s a good one, too. And I found myself singing Windsong to myself this morning! It looks like this Spirit of Albion has several good songs on it.

        Yesterday I was doing some digging in Kindle and downloaded a book called Merlin and the Grail Tradition. I started reading it and felt like it was different than the usual Avalon spiritual quest type books. A lot of them seem to think the reader has some deep emotional trauma that needs fixing somehow. I want to see what else this author has to say. He actually brought up Lord of the Rings, which I’ve read so I could understand the references. He also mentioned John Mathews as a good author! I will be sure to check him out.

        I had almost forgotten, I have the King Arthur DVD. There were things in that movie that I wish they had covered more thoroughly. Especially the idea that the Knights came from a certain place in Central Europe. Was it Dalmatia? I have read that the story of throwing Excaliber into the lake came from the Samaritans whom I only knew of from the bible story. And I know from watching Time Team videos that the practice of throwing these kinds of things into watery places was not unusual. Apparently the Thames is full of them.

        In the Merlin audio commentaries there are references to the writers using so many different references to help build the story. Thinking on the King Arthur movie, I have always wondered why they used the name Gaius–a very Roman name but Rome isn’t even touched on in the series. Perhaps one more example of the writers giving us so many interesting sides to Merlin.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Twosocks says:

    Oh, wow, it worked! I thought it would just send you to YouTube. Suntse, if this is a problem, feel free to remove it somehow. I think it’s a nice video, but I don’t want to intrude, either.


    • That’s not a problem, Joan. No worries. It is beautifully done, and very touching. I like having it here. Thank you. Suntse


    • AwenFound says:

      Just did a little more digging on John Matthews and came across his wife’s FB page. Are you ready for this? They named their son Emrys and he has his own page.

      I’m having a little trouble negotiating posts. Some have “reply” on them and some don’t.


      • Twosocks says:

        Usually if you just go down to the box on the bottom, even if there isn’t a reply button, it’s okay.

        Still working on some other things, but want to check out Mr Mathews. I find I walk a fine line with this kind of thing. The other girls kind of know I like history. So, I have left Bonnie Prince Charlie heading down to London (pretty sure he didn’t make it), to explore Merlin a bit more. I try to keep an open mind and find much about what our ancestors thought about the world around them and what we can learn from that interesting. But I also don’t want to spend extraordinary amounts of time worrying about my inner psyche. I like a little balance. I have really enjoyed this conversation. One thing we have found out is that Colin’s projects give room for lots of interesting thoughts.


      • AwenFound says:

        And there is a ridiculous amount of Arthurian literature and research. How do you know where to begin? I feel like we are standing in a room with Colin and his career and there are all these doors that we can open to learn even more. How do you decide which door to open? Right now, I can barely get through my first Terry Pratchett book (been busy). I don’t know how you do it, Joan. You go off-line and few hours later there is a message that you went and read a book or did some background work.

        I think right now, my interest is reading more about the history of The Rising. It is a fascinating and sad history. I visit the FB page every day or so, and can’t believe we have heard nothing and that people have stopped posting on that page. It is almost as if someone writes something they will jinx it. So, maybe I just did that, but I did send a private message to the FB admins to ask about donating. I will share the response, if you would like to know.


      • let me know which ones don’t … I’ll check it out. thanks.


      • AwenFound says:

        Suntse, There was no reply button after Joan’s comment: “Actually, I feel this is exploring Merlin. So many things I have read, watched and listened to because, for a bit of a different reason, I ordered the Merlin DVDs. Life has never been quite the same since. (Thank you, Colin, and Santi, too). And I want to look into a couple of things mentioned in The Winter King song. Always wonderful new things to learn.”

        And there was no reply button right after your comment asking me to let you know which ones.



  10. AwenFound says:

    That is a nice video. I had not seen it before.

    I have not read any books on the Arthurian Legends. Mainly, I have just read things here and there…articles, websites, etc… It has actually been awhile, so I don’t remember anything in particular. I did try to read the “Mists of Avalon” but did not get too far with it. I’ll have to do more research.


  11. Twosocks says:

    Drew, I love your little analogy about a room with Colin and so many doors. It fits perfectly. I have a little bit of an advantage in that I’m retired. I’m single now (Suntse and I both hate the term widow) with a small house. I do knit (often with Merlin playing at the same time), but that and reading are really most of my day.

    As far as where to begin–just make a stab. You’re right about the amount of stuff on Arthur out there. You could spend a lifetime. My earlier post was most of what I’ve read so far and I didn’t know about the Mary Stewart books before they were mentioned connected with Merlin. I would say they might be a good place. But, again, not the Merlin of the series. There is no other Merlin quite like ‘ours!’

    A little concerned about The Rising, too. But because of it, I’ve learned quite a bit about a country I only viewed through shamrocks and leprechauns. I think I may have mentioned several books over in the Books thread that I have found helpful. The Easter Rising is just the beginning of a very long chapter in Irish history that is still kind of going on. If you want, I can put up a new post over there with recommendations. I have also found I like Irish police procedurals. The background stuff gives you a pretty good feel for the country.

    Oh, and yes, I was reading books on AI in connection with Humans. And Terry Prachette during Good Omens. Definitely read Mort. Colin once said he would like to play the title character. Maybe that audiobook we would like? So just pick what strikes your fancy. Sometimes you just have to believe in serendipity!


    • AwenFound says:

      The other analogy, which I almost like better is that it is like standing in the center of a crossroads with Colin and his work. And, there are loads of paths to choose. I think that metaphor is better because once on a path, it can break into other paths. Seriously, you could get lost going down these paths. 🙂


      • Twosocks says:

        You’re right. And I have more than once thought to myself of this as a journey. And it ‘magically’ came at a time when I was ready for some new paths and am grateful to have the time to wander down them. Reading some of the Arthurian stuff about crossing fords and wandering in forests. Allowing yourself to be open to new things that just seem to pop up. Really, I am a very practical kind of person, but sometimes these things just bring you up short. If you get the chance, there is a video on Jen’s site of a gentleman who read Colin’s hand. All of us found ourselves nodding our heads yes.

        I forgot I had read Island, too, until it was mentioned over in mywhisperingmind. If you do watch this one, the book is a bit helpful in understanding the characters. I guess my biggest problem is I’m mot fond of stories that seem to depend on women who have ‘issues’ in order for them to be interesting.


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