Remembering Merlin … S02E13

We return often to these wonderful episodes where we first encountered Colin’s emerging talent. Such promise and sensitivity to the deeper side of his gift. They will linger with us always.


The Last Dragonlord, Ep13

The Last Dragonlord    Best Performances … The Last Dragonlord

From first to last all the quality of Colin’s silent ability is very evident.  These were the ones that stood out for me:

His reaction when he apologizes to Arthur for having to fight the Dragon, and Arthur says, “Why, it’s not your fault.”  Merlin does feel responsible … and the distress shows on his face.

His reaction to Gaius’ telling him that Balinor is his real father. There is shock, dis-belief, anger, and sadness all in those few moments. I found myself recoiling for him … he seemed trying to protect himself from all the thoughts that overwhelmed him.


His reaction(s) to meeting with Balinor. First: he can’t avert his gaze, even when Balinor tells him to bring Arthur inside. He continues to take in all that he can see in these precious few moments, which are to be his first memory of this man, his father; and, therefore, he does not react immediately, until Balinor says forcefully, “fetch him!”.


His rapt interest as Balinor heals Arthur.

After, when he and Balinor are sharing the meal and Balinor says, “who are you” … it really seems to me that when Colin says, “I’m ….. Merlin”, (with that small hesitation) he has this hope in his face and voice that perhaps the name will mean something to Balinor … that perhaps Balinor and Hunith had discussed the naming of a son and Balinor might make a connection.

But the most beautiful moments of this episode, to me, were when Merlin reveals to Balinor that he is his son … and these two wonderful actors approach each other without words to acknowledge their approval, each to the other … in a silent acceptance of their relationship.


There are the wonderful interactions with Balinor about what could have been.
“We could have come with you … We’d have been … happy.”
“I see her in you … you have her kindness.” “Good night, son” “Sleep well Father …”

What follows is the heartbreaking reaction to his father’s dying moments …on his face unbearable pain at losing him after so short a time.  And later, being unable to share his grief, certainly not with Arthur … having to contain all that sorrow until he could be with Gaius, who would be the one to understand.

Balinor's loss

At the end, after his tearful ultimatum to Kilgharrah … and Kilgharrah’s response:

Merlin.Kilgharra's words

We see the humility in our young hero when he assures Arthur that he, Arthur, has been victorious in defeating the Great Dragon.  “You did it!”, he proclaims.  And, yet, the second, “You did it” said quietly and without fanfare was intended for himself, as he acknowledged receipt of his father’s gift.

This episode carries with it strong confirmation of this young actor’s skill and talent, which promises to continue to grow through the years, and which we will follow every step of the way.


Early signs of Tenderness and Anger

Nathan is a man filled with both Tenderness and Anger.

Colin is an actor willing to immerse himself in emotions deep and powerful.


We see Tenderness very early in Colin’s career. As Merlin, his relationship with his mother, Hunith, is set tenderly before us. Every scene between them affirms her son’s precious high regard. His behavior toward Gaius clearly reveals the love in his heart for this man. His reaction to Freya as the Bastet is particularly poignant, in no way recognizing any difference between herself and the beast she was cursed to become. In Island, even though some found it disturbing, Calum’s initial approach to Nikki was very tender, slowly hesitant, unsure, but with a gentle touch as his thumb gently caressed her lower lip. So, Nathan arrives in Colin’s repertoire with the fullness of emotion he has been developing, building on past encounters … working with his co-star to create this warm, generous, spirited relationship with Charlotte.

So it was that Anger surfaced in Island. There may have been hints of it in Merlin, but Island showed us full-on fury as Calum bursts through the door to strike his mother. Leo’s anger with Maxie pierced our hearts, and we felt heartbroken to see Maxie’s bewildered face as his well-loved companion abandoned him so harshly. But, we must say, nothing to date has been so devastating as Nathan’s cruelty to Charlotte, an unrelenting invective that left her feeling shattered and bereaved. The strength and intensity of Nathan’s voice, coming from somewhere deep inside and spilling forth like a poison, spoke not only to venom but also to the depths of his grief and his inability to forgive himself.

As viewers we remain in that suspended space of wonder in which raw emotion has been placed before us and asks our understanding.


Remembering Gwaine

Merlin really does need a buddy now that Lancelot is off pursuing his goal of becoming a “loyal knight of Camelot”. Traveling with Arthur is borne with good humor and an occasional jibe. The first meeting with Gwaine points to adventure ahead, as this man tends to invite trouble along the way.



Being a bit of a rascal, still Gwaine has a good and generous heart. He’s just not one to live quietly, but he is a great friend and he and Merlin develop a fondness for each other. Gwaine undoubtedly challenges Merlin’s serious side.

During this episode, Gwaine saves Arthur from harm, not once, but twice. The second time being in the Melee. Uther’s unreasonable treatment of Gwaine causes Arthur to challenge his father … and so Gwaine’s ability to upset the status quo leaves its mark on Arthur. That same questioning of the ‘status’ or caste system becomes evident again when Gwaine attempts to charm Guinevere.

Gwaine.3 Gwaine.4

Certainly, Merlin takes the opportunity to drive the point home with Arthur.


(photo credits: farfaraway site)

Merlin (why I love it) *.

There are a lot of things about the series Merlin that I love.  I loved them then; I love them now.  Ideals of integrity, devotion, and friendship done against wonderful backgrounds of forests and castles … studies on relationships, parent/child, brother/sister, good vs evil, difficult choices … etc.   So much is hidden  in the anticipated story-line resolutions.

The cast of Merlin

All of these themes contribute to the maturing of our hero, who starts the story as a naive country boy newly arrived in the city; a city that is dangerous for anyone with his special abilities.  Through 5 seasons we watch this young actor display humor, sorrow, joy, anguish, loyalty and devastation.  Merlin does not acquire his maturity easily … he takes us on his journey filled with hope and arrives at the end with acceptance that not all things are within his power.

losing arthur.2.1

There are interesting philosophical questions presented to us. …  I love that Merlin is placed in so many moral dilemmas. I love that his magic does not come easily … that he has to practice … that he often doesn’t get it right the first time or two. I love that Gaius does not have unlimited knowledge … that he very often has to find an answer in one of his many books. I love that Merlin is given different advice by different people, both of whom he respects, and is left on his own trying to evaluate the “right” thing to do. I love that frequently the “right” thing leads to the opposite of the desired result. There is so much irony … so much that cannot be traced to only one good choice. (Like life …)  Did Merlin make the right decision?  Did he make the wrong decision?  Which decision would have led to the preferred outcome?  Does the preferred outcome end up being the best outcome?  Can we know that answer … even if we are writing the script ourselves?

There are so many of these kinds of questions raised. This is a story of the heart, and for that I am grateful. It is also a story ripe with ethical examinations … and Colin helps us understand these … helps us experience the anguish of heavy decisions that can affect all he holds dear. We are not standing aloof as an observer only, we suffer with him.


(archives Oct 2014 )