Set in the all-accepting past, Merlin is a show about: Merlin.
For those of you who don't know: Merlin is set in arthurian legend, A time when king Arthur ruled over Albion.
Which is a nerdy way of saying England.
There's a lot of stories about king Arthur like: The round table, the holy grail and Monty Python! Merlin is an interesting show because it makes everyone young and .
good looking? Well the writers also project their 2009 hipster fashion sense on Merlin.
Even though the year is like "negative seven or something" But as BBC does with taking well established brands and making them GAYER.
The relationship between Merlin and Arthur has been debated over being perharps.
not as straight as some would like to think.
"I'll have you for breakfast!" Merlin, the titular character, is the new guy in town.
And as Merlin enters this new kingdom he becomes apprentice to the court positions/gay mentor/exposition man Gayus.
He also has magic, which, acording to King Uther of Camelot is a bad thing.
So bad, in fact, that he thinks people should be executed for it.
Along with Uther, there's his arrogant son, Arthur.
And his kind of daughter Morgana who also secretly has magic.
And also turns evil When Merlin and Prince Arthur meet, they don't like each other.
It's like the beginning of one of those high school animes.
That I (uh) definitley don't watch and definitely wouldn't know ANYTHING about.
never watched one.
*WEEB MUSIC* To Merlin, Arthur was first introduced as some petty bully for a prince that likes to taunt people lower than him.
Not a very good impression.
To Arthur, Merlin was this random dude that challenged him Needless to say, they didn't really like each other.
Even though according to Arthur: "There's something about you, man" And so our story kind of begins now with Merlin attending a kingdom event with his friend Gayus.
And he happens to save Arthur's life.
As thanks, Uther decides to give Merlin the previlege of being Arthur's manservant.
It really is like a romantic comedy.
Meet Merlin! He is a lowly servant with big and magical dreams! Meet Arthur! He's a stuck up prince! But now, after saving the prince, Merlin becomes his servant.
FOR LIFE?! Watch as these two rivals start to become friends! And maybe.
FALL IN LOVE? This summer.
Merlin isn't happy about being this dude's servant.
He doesn't like Arthur at all.
So imagine his thoughts, when he meets a dragon that tells him something outrageous.
A dragon named Kilgharrah.
That tells him that Arthur is his .
"Arthur is the once and future king, who will unite the land of Elbion.
" "Right?" "But he faces many threats.
From friend and foe alike.
" "I don't see what this has to do with me.
" "Everything!" "Without you, Arthur will never succeed.
" "Without you, there will be no Elbion.
" Merlin can't take it.
He doesn't believe that Arthur is somehow his destiny.
And the dragon is giving him really vague answers to his questions.
"How can it be my destiny to protect someone who hates me?" "The half cannot truly hate that which makes it whole.
" "Ah, great.
Just what I needed, another riddle.
" "That your and Arthur's path lies together is but the truth.
" "JUST GIVE ME A STRAIGHT ANSWER!" I guess Kilgharrahs answers are just a bit too gay for Merlin.
//quality joke right there So, the question is: How is it, that these two that hate each other become friends or – dare I say? – Lovers? It's complicated.
At first, they don't like each other.
But DO have a few things in common.
First and foremost they're both courageous and strong willed people.
They both have destinies that they feel are over-bearing.
Arthur's to be a great king and Merlin's to have some role in that.
All these things help them see eye to eye.
In fact, in episode 4, they're already risking their lives for each other.
When the weekly life-or-death situation is happening and Merlin was dying from poison the only thing that could save him is that special flower that's guarded by this venemous beast.
Arthur wanted to take that risk of his own life to save Merlin.
For a servant.
Towards the end of the first season Arthur and Merlin are faced with two Goblet/challice/fancy cup things It's like.
It's like a princess bride situation Except.
both of them are willing to die for each other.
Willing to poison themselves, so the other could live.
Even though they're self-sacrificial for each other there's still a disconnect between them.
There's the issue that Merlin is a servant and Arthur is a prince.
And that they could never be friends.
"Alright, I'm a prince, so we can't be friends.
" "Now if I wasn't a prince-""What?" "Well then .
we'd probably get on.
" *Gay ass music* This is the source of their troubles.
But over time, this will change.
For example: Eye sex becomes a big thing between them Now that we've established .
Let's take a look at the facts.
*Elevator music* Combined from a mix of destiny and Arthur's overall good looks Merlin eventually becomes attracted to Arthur.
Romantically? Platonically? Let's keep that question up for our viewers.
"You could say .
there's a bond between us.
" But we can't ignore the obvious here.
Merlin has magic and Camelot is strictly anti-magic which brings us to our sub point.
*Elevator music pt2* Throughout the series it's pretty obvious that magic is a metaphor for being LGBT+.
From just the overall exclusion to the death penalty.
It gets in your face at times.
magic isn't something you choose?" "Face it, man, we're really alike.
" "I've always been taught.
magic is evil.
" "That it corrupts yourself.
" "You don't know what it's like to be an outsider!" "To be ashamed of how you were born, to have to hide who you are!" "Until then .
we go unmarked in death as in life.
" It's not even "I practice magic" it's "I have magic".
Merlin has to deal with that shame while at the same time using magic to save Arthur's life and never getting recognition.
He speaks out about his frustrations; "Do you think I sit around doing nothing?" "I haven't had a chance to sit around and do nothing since the day I arrived in Camelot! I'm too busy running around after Arthur.
'Do this Merlin!' and 'Do that Merlin!' and when I'm not running around after Arthur I'm doing chores for you and if I'm not doing that I'm fulfilling my destiny.
Do you know how many times I've saved Arthur's life?! I've lost count.
Do I get any thanks? No I have four Griffin's which is uh, bandits i have been punched, poisoned, pelted with fruit and all the while I have to hide who I really am because if anyone finds out, they'll have me executed.
Sometimes I feel like I'm being pulled in so many directions I don't know which way to turn!" however something about Arthur and the so-called destiny that surrounds him is so compelling that he is willing to put up with the persecution in order to serve Arthur, he becomes close to him even with the servant and master divide.
"I willingly give my life for Arthur's.
" "How brave you are, Merlin!" "If only it were that simple.
" "What do you mean?" "Once you enter into this bargain, that cannot be undone.
" "Whatever I have to do I will do!" "His life is worth a hundred of mine.
" Even though Merlin is just a servant, he feels comforted by Arthur.
When Merlin's one-time romantic interest dies Arthur is there to comfort him "Something's been upsetting you, hasn't it?" "Maybe.
" "Was it when I threw water over you?" "Wasn't very nice.
" "It was a bit unfair.
like when you called me fat.
" "Why was that, Arthur?" "Because I am NOT f-" "Oww!" "Still think I need to get in shape?" "Oww! Ow! No! Nonono!" "That's better.
" Even if Arthur can be an idiot, he at least cares about Merlin.
And Merlin doesn't feel so lonely anymore.
But then .
something great happens.
*Elevator music, The Wrath of The Sith* Yes, it is great.
Arthur and gwen fall in love.
If you don't know Gwen is this other servant girl who works in Camelot and is the son (daughter*) of a blacksmith, is also a badass and is local friend to Merlin and Arthur and she's great.
And although that may seem like a bad thing for a love-struck Merlin it helps him believe that maybe Arthur can learn to love a servant.
His relationship with Gwen gives him hope.
Hope that Arthur can look beyond class and love somebody for who they are.
The risks that Merlin takes for Arthur are questionable to other people.
Morgause, the town lesbian asks why Merlin does all this stuff for Arthur.
"You intrigue me, Merlin.
"Why does a lowly servant continue to risk everything for Arthur and for Camelot?" "You know the answer but you're not telling me, why?" "Come on, time and again you put your life on the line!" "There must be a reason.
" "I believe in a fair and injust land.
" "And do you think Arthur will give you that?" "I know it.
" "And then what?" "You think you'll be recognized, Merlin, is that it? All this so one day you can be a serving boy to the king?" "No.
" "There's something more.
" Even Morgause, the town lesbian can see that this isn't about recognition for Merlin.
There's an underlying reason.
"Don't pretend you don't want to" 😉 Through all these sacrifices that Merlin makes for Arthur he begins to see him and Arthur as a special team like he could do anything with Arthur.
[Except get a different haircut.
] "I know you don't mean that, you're just worried.
You don't need to be.
" "Look what we've got.
" "What?" "You and.
me" "Merlin, what exactly are YOU going to do?" "I'm gonna be by your side, like I always am.
" "Protecting you.
" "God help me.
" Merlin knows that Arthur doesn't see this and yet decides that he wants to fulfill his destiny of loving Arthur and being by his side as we're introduced to new characters like Lancelot and Mordred.
and Gwen and Arthur's relationship develops.
This further influences Merlin to show all these guys how it's done.
"You don't have to sacrifice yourself.
" "To save my people.
" "I will take your place.
" "You know, there's one thing I don't understand, Merlin.
" "You're Arthur's servant, nothing more, yet time and again you proved yourself willing to lay down your life for him.
" Particularily damning is how Merlin is willing to give up his principles for Arthur.
For context there's this dude called Mordred, that is destined to kill Arthur.
He's also one of Arthur's knights and friends at the time One day Mordred is dying and these folks called the Fate say either legalized magic or Mordred will die.
And Arthur who at this point is actually considering legalizing magic to save his bro Mordred asks Merlin for advice.
"If I do save Mordred, all my father's work will be for nothing.
Sorcery will reign once more in Camelot.
Is that what you'd want?" "Perhaps my father was wrong, perhaps the old ways aren't as evil as we thought.
" "So what should we do?" "Accept magic?" "Or let Mordred die?" "There can be no place for magic in Camelot.
" Merlin, the most powerful sorcerer in the world had to choose between his identity and his friend.
He chose Arthur above a world where he could live freely, something that would help himself and countless others.
When one values a relationship that much there's something else going on besides simple friendship.
With Uther's eventual death and Arthur's ascension the Kingship and the changes to their characters, whatever the hell is happening in Arthur's head is a question worth answering.
Let's look at the facts! *Elevator music, A new Hope* When Arthur meets his future lover he sees him as a peasant and then when that peasant becomes his servant that's all he is to him.
As seen before the classes divides them as one of the reasons that Merlin and Arthur have stated that they aren't exactly friends but that soon changes.
The first time that he starts being able to see servants as equals is when we get a beautiful human being called Gwen.
When Arthur fell in love with Gwen it showed Arthur and Merlin that Arthur was capable of loving a servant.
"Is there something you want to say to me?" "Don't let me stop you.
" "You don't have any idea, do you?" "No.
" "About how rude and arrogant you can be!" "This is my home and you are my guest in it!" "I know you are used to more luxurious quarters but that is not an excuse to be so rude!" "You claim titles don't matter to you but you behave like a prince and expect me to wait on you like a servant, saying it means nothing if your actions betray you! What, can't you say please and thank you once in awhile?!" "Thank you" Even when there is a class divide that doesn't stop Arthur from willingly sacrificing his life for Merlin.
Even if he's reluctant to it but that he cares for him jeez I mean even when Arthur's talking about Gwen it sounds like he's talking about Merlin.
"Just say it!" "I can't!" "How can i admit that.
" "I think about it all the time?" "Merlin" "Or that I care about her more than anyone?" "How can I admit that.
" "I don't know what I'd do if any harm comes to her.
" "To admit my feelings knowing that.
" "Hurts too much" And the comparisons to Gwen don't end there.
When Gwen's bro Elliot is gossiping with her about Arthur he uses the fact that Arthur would rescue her, a servant, as evidence that Arthur loves her.
"Maybe Arthur can think of something.
" "Arthur?" "Prince Arthur.
" "I came with him.
" "Prince Arthur of Camelot?" "Yes, Ellion, Prince Arthur of Camelot.
" "Why would he want to help you?" "Why shouldn't he?" "Ha.
Cause he's a prince and you're a servant?" "He doesn't care about that sorta thing, he's.
" "You know.
" "So he's like that with all the maids in Camelot?" "No.
" "I mean.
" Hmm, so by those standards Arthur is in love with Merlin as well or at least cares for him more than usual and I think slowly that care turns into.
A small amount like say, hey good job but you're still dumb so shut up and make me a sandwich, Merlin.
I don't normally say things like this but, you did a good job back there.
"Ya hear what I just said?" "Alright, maybe I should give you some kind of reward?" "What do you want?" "Some peace and quiet.
" Soon Arthur's disdain for servants and people he thinks lesser diminishes.
He breaks the code of his father and starts knighting people that aren't of noble blood.
*Gasps* Calm down scandalous gasps of the Middle Ages.
Arthur start giving Merlin credit he realizes that they're both brave, strong, they're living in a destiny that they can escape together.
"We will defeat the Draka.
" "We will, Arthur, together.
" "I appreciate that.
" "You're a brave man, Merlin.
" And then, the turning point: Ah yes, the turning point.
It's those things like the Battle of Saratoga and that point in 11th grade when you stop being emo that makes life interesting and for Arthur that is Uther dying.
Uther his father is the one that imposed all these ideals on Arthur the idea that magic is bad a king must be strong and unforgiving the kingdom is more important than the heart and that wearing the same haircut for ten years is a good idea.
But after there's no one else to impose these ideals onto Arthur he starts to think for himself.
That is not without his friend's help.
" "Don't let anyone tell you what to do.
" "You said you are your own man.
" "You have a good heart.
" He starts to realize that he doesn't need those old age ideas.
He realizes that class isn't everything and at that point where he feels the most alone there's a moment when the camera makes this sneaky but powerful move.
He looks at merlin and realizes that he isn't alone.
It's that first shot that smile of reassurance that Merlin gives him.
An onward Arthur starts actually giving him compliments and more importantly fully reciprocating the eye sex.
"You have a very good servant!" "You're right.
" "A servant who is extremely brave.
" "And incredibly loyal, to be honest, not at all a coward.
" When merlin is presumed to be dead in "A Servant of two masters" Arthur cannot accept that Merlin is dead and the freakin king of Camelot goes by himself to look for a servant! Guys this isn't a one-time thing! It keeps happening.
" "He knows the tunnels, he will find his way-""I'm going back" "For a servant.
" "Were you worried about me?" "No.
" "I was making sure we weren't being followed.
" "You came back to look for me.
" "Alright it's true.
" "I came back for a friend and I was not going to leave you.
" "Really?" "That'd be stupid.
" And now we're getting to another development in the Gwen and Arthur relationship.
Gwen is put under a spell by Morgana and cheats on Arthur and Arthur is definitely not having it he basically banishes her and gets more angsty than bringing the life and in the end mashup playing a hot topic.
"How can I love someone who's betrayed me?" *Wake me up on Marijuana* Eventually Arthur gets out of his rut.
With the dark and sweaty help of Merlin of course.
😉 Merlin just actually makes up some elaborate lie about a stupid sword.
It's not like that sword becomes important or anything.
And it's important to note that out of all the people in the world Merlin was the only one who can help Arthur spirit again.
Even with Gwen beck something is changing in Arthur when he was feeling lonely without Gwen the only thing reassuring him was his men and that includes Merlin.
He says something interesting about his relationship to his men and the fact that he says it to Merlin is telling.
"You don't care.
" "Only about my men.
" "More than friends.
" "More than brothers.
" "No matter what lies ahead of me, I won't abandon them as I know they would not abandon me.
" "I understand.
" "I wish I didn't .
but I do.
" To say his men, specifically Merlin, is more than a friend or brother is leaving a lot of interesting different options.
If it's not romantic at least we know that the bond that Arthur believes he has with Merlin is more complex than just a friendship.
The fact that maybe they aren't just friends is becoming apparent to Arthur.
After this there's an episode where Arthur revisits his dad in the vague and non referential afterlife and it's important to note that Uther is VERY ANGRY with Arthur.
"I don't want my people to respect me because they fear me.
Then they will not respect you at all.
" "Your marriage should have served to form an alliance with another Kingdom, you choose to marry a serving girl.
" "I'm married for love.
" "I love Guinevere .
more than I can .
" "There are some things that are more important that love.
" Now, this will stick with Arthur.
Even when he was most willing to accept magic when Mordred was dying.
This kind of solidifies the fact that Arthur shouldn't like magic.
This probably influences when Arthur decides to execute mortars GF and accidentally cause a war.
So Mordred is pissed that his love is dead and goes and tells evil Morgana that Merlin is actually a spooky wizard.
So now that they know that fact they go and plan for a spooky war and so that Merlin doesn't interfere with Morgana's plans for victory they take away his magic.
Now naturally when you're the king of Camelot going to war with hot topic Wizards you want to have your 2009 hipster friends at your side but since Merlin doesn't have magic and Merlin needs to go to the heart of magic to get his magic back Merlin can't go with Arthur until he has his powers.
"I have an urgent errand to run for vital supplies that I can't obtain here.
" "Vital supplies?" "Yes.
" "It's not that I'm-""Nah" "Arthur-""You know, Merlin.
" "All those jokes about you being a coward.
" "I never really meant any of them.
" "I always thought you're the bravest man I ever met.
" "I guess I was wrong.
" OUHHHH Now, to get his magic back, Merlin goes to the crystal cave when he gets there he goes through the usual motivational and spiritual realization as the cave tells him big things like: YA JUST GOTTA BELIEVE Meanwhile everyone back at Arthur's camp knows that Merlin is way too in love with Arthur to chicken out last minute "I'm not sure he believes you guys.
" "I'm not sure I do either.
" "I know how devoted Merlin is to Arthur, he would never leave him at a time like this.
Not for a mere errand.
" So Merlin communicates Charles Xavier style in gayness and medium and tells Arthur what he needs to know about the incoming attack and that he is totally not a coward and Arthur after hearing Merlin's voice leave his concerned wife without really saying goodbye, just to listen and go see Merlin.
And um with the power of love and magic Merlin returns to his man in saves the day.
Until: Arthur gets stabbed but this ain't no regular sword as it was forged in a dragon's breath and will kill Arthur in a few days unless Arthur can get to the Washington monument in three days.
Thank you exposition man Gayus.
And Merlin is the one who has to take Arthur but as this may be the last time they're together Merlin decides that this is the moment to tell Arthur "I'm so sorry" I have magic *sobbing* "I'm gonna use it all for you, Arthur.
" "Only for you.
" "So, how does he react?" *hrm* Well I'm guessing, in acting terms that's supposed to express Arthur's internal struggle to a man who *hrm* To a man who has been betrayed by his sister, being called a failure by his father and betrayed by Mordred and his wife, what does he do in the face of another betrayal? But Arthur realizes nothing has really changed.
He's quick to forgive Merlin and when he sees that even with his magic it's just the side of his devotion, of his love.
"Why are you .
still behaving like a servant?" "It's my destiny.
" "As it has been since the day we met.
" "I also do this.
" "Because you're my friend and I don't wanna lose you.
" Arthur isn't even concerned that Merlin practices magic but rather that he lied.
He doesn't really care about sorcery, he's seen the potential and good it has he's just hurt because his friend lied "Why did you never tell me?" "I wanted to but.
" "What?" "You'd have chopped my head off.
" "Not sure what I'd have done.
" "And I didn't want to put you in that position.
" And hearing that Merlin had actually feared him hurts in more than being lied to.
"Some men are born to .
be servants, some happen to be in great positions, others to be great Kings.
"Me, " "I was born to serve you, Arthur.
" "And proud of that.
" "And I wouldn't change a thing.
" Merlin, the person who has felt conflict over being subservient to Arthur is now expecting that it's his destiny to be with Arthur to support him in his time of need and be at his side during death.
Arthur latches onto the same idea.
"All these years, Merlin.
" "You never once sought any credit.
" "That's not why I did it.
" And Arthur begins to realize, with his abuse to magic people and the fact that Merlin should have received recognition he starts to see Merlin in a new light.
He sees them as hope with love and the reflection on everything he should have done.
Maybe he thinks that Merlin should have been the one and Merlin with the idea of entangled destiny's already knows that.
"I don't want you to change.
" "I want you to always be you.
" But Arthur realizes that it's over.
Though Merlin, despite Arthur's complaints, does not want to do anything but proceed.
Merlin, his devoted servant, can't let go He doesn't want to see a world without Arthur as if he had unfinished business with Arthur and he's just realizing that he could have a world with magic.
After an encounter with Morgana, Merlin finally kills her and his hope for the future is further solidified.
But Arthur's giving up with Arthur dying Merlin's hope for himself and the future dies as well Arthur starts to say his last words and therefore no one else but Merlin.
*panting* "All your magic, Merlin.
" "can't save my life.
" "I can! I'm not going to leave you!" "Just.
"Just hold me.
" *heavy panting* "Please.
" I think that the speaks for itself.
Wanting to be held by your lover as you die.
"You're not going to say goodbye!" "No" "Merlin.
" "Everything you've done.
" "I know now.
" "For me.
" "For Camelot.
" "For the kingdom you helped me build.
" "You'd have done it without me.
" "I wanted to say something that I've never said to you before.
" "Thank you.
" Isn't it telling, that Arthur's last words on this planet are 'thank you' to Merlin? After an entire life the last thing he wants to do is thank Merlin.
As Merlin holds the man he loves in his arms he calls for Kilgharrah just as a final desperation.
Even the dragon that dude that advocated Merlin to kill a kid so that Arthur would stay alive is now admitting defeat.
But as Merlin is mourning over the fact that Arthur is dead, Kilgharrah gives words that Merlin will always hold on to, more than disney on Star Wars.
"Arthur is not just a king.
" "He is the once and future king.
Take heart for when Elbion's need is greatest, Arthur will rise again.
" And Merlin never forgets that.
He sends him to the river, says goodbye and Merlin never forgets even after Gwen has become queen, after hundreds of years, after the Beatles became the last significant British Invasion Merlin, lived to wait for the day that Arthur would return.
Now I don't know about you but considering the fact that people have died from playing pokemon go it's pretty hard to not die in hundreds of years.
just imagine the struggle, the arduous task of staying alive all in the hope that the love of your life might one day rise again.
While Merlin as a show wasn't interesting watching and at times made the romance between merlin and arthur seem like a compelling and possible future it makes me wonder that the creator's purposefully make a romance and never show it through? Did they accidentally create a romance? Let's take a look while the creators have given half answers on whether this was truly gay it's hard to declare whether the creators have malicious intent.
Now for our viewers who don't know queer-baiting is a phenomenon where he show will bait that characters are LGBT but never follow through on their bait causing no representation for queer viewers, disappointment and the larger scale of people calling queer interpretations of shows and media delusional.
While I think a queer interpretation of Merlin is sound especially considering the whole magic is a metaphor for being LGBT thing the creator's haven't exactly said that magic is a metaphor.
They're not quick to deny it either an article by hyperbole comments on the creator's thoughts on the metaphor but also the reluctance of the actors to agree with them.
The article also points out the tendency for the creators to joke around with the idea and it's the small things like this amazon ad for the show that makes us question it a little more but however way you look at it this show is driven by one thing: the relationship between Merlin and Arthur.
Their emotions devotion and support to each other in life and death but getting to end the show is about the devotion between these two men to deny that the queer reading isn't a possible reading is to deny the interpretations of thousands of viewers.
Maybe they were great friends but it is just as valid to say that they were in love.
In a world where the media says that it only takes a glimpse for a man and the woman to fall in love, why is it so hard to accept that queer readings are more than expected? Even the size of the mutual relationship the dynamic of the show, it's allegorical depictions of magic to an almost obvious degree, just calls for a queer reading from Morgana self-hatred to Morgan's declaration, this show speaks to queer people on a romantic and even a personal level and to deny them that well that's the real tragedy here.
In the end Merlin and Arthur are they gay? Bisexual? Pansexual? In love? Or something else? You decide.
Complete subtitles by: Virida AliceDon't hate for the credit here, this took me 4+ hours lol.