Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Adventures of Merlin: Season 2

"The Adventures of Merlin: Season 2" (2009)
     When I wrote the review for season 1 a year ago, I was the only one in my family that had actually seen Merlin. Now as I write the review for season 2, my family absolutely loves the show! Especially my mom who really wrote it off as a 'children's show' after seeing only one episode. We're finally on season 5 (I bought the first 3 seasons and got seasons 4 and 5 for Christmas) and I really, really, don't want the show to end!

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Merlin
Duty and Destiny
Colin Morgan as Merlin in
"The Adventures of Merlin: Season 2" (2009)
     A year or so after season 1 left off, Merlin is slowly getting use to life in Camelot. Although he loves living with Gaius and maintains a good friendship with Guinevere (Gwen), he still has to attend every waking moment attending to the endless needs of Prince Arthur. Although his "Destiny" is to ensure that Arthur makes it to the throne, it doesn't make it any easier when he is always saving the prince's life with magic and getting no credit in return or watching less worthier people receive it instead.

     In this season, Merlin has the opportunity of meeting other secret sorcerers who themselves are escaping persecution and are longing (and sometimes plotting) for a better life. It is comforting for Merlin to know that he is not alone, but at the same time, he cannot let his personal beliefs stand in the way and fulfilling his destiny to Prince Arthur...no matter how many times Arthur yells at him, humiliates him, puts him down and overlooks his courageous qualities. Every person that Merlin meets has an impact on his life that helps him to grow as a sorcerer. 

Merlin (Colin Morgan) and Freya (Laura Donnelly) in
"Lady of The Lake" - S2xE9
     One of these people that Merlin finds himself in contact with is the beautiful druid girl Freya who Merlin saves from a slave trader. He hides her in one of passageways of the palace and cares for her when he gets the opportunity to do so. Overtime, Merlin finds himself in love with the lonely girl, but love is cut short when she is found to be a mythical beast and is wounded. As she is dying, Merlin takes her to Avalon Lake to bury her, but not before she tells him that she will repay him one day for his kindness. 

     The best thing about Merlin is that you don't see an immediate change in him. He's still goofy and lovable, but his banter with Arthur gets better and he still manages to get himself into trouble (be it his fault or not). Merlin's duty to his destiny is constantly being challenged whether by evil forces or even by Arthur himself.

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Prince Arthur
His Father's Son
Bradley James as Prince Arthur in
"The Adventures of Merlin: Season 2"
      Prince Arthur is constantly aware of who is and who he is meant to become, and is always being reminded of it, if not from his subjects than from his own demanding father. Sadly it comes to a point where he becomes so angry and frustrated at his place as future king that he takes it out on his manservant Merlin. In spite of his burdening role as future king, Arthur begins to grow and mature from a arrogant brat to a wise leader. When living in the shadow of a great king such as his father, Arthur breaks free whenever he can to find the freedom of being himself.

     Much of this series deals with family most especially the Pendragon family. In one episode Arthur discovers the truth behind his mysterious birth and finally meets his kind and beautiful mother, Queen Ygraine who died in childbirth. Arthur is told by his own mother that by Uther's decision, he was conceived and born by magic and therefore to keep within the balance of nature, with every life there must be a death.

Prince Arthur (Bradley James) and Queen Ygraine (Alice Patten) in
"The Sins of the Father" - S2xE8
      Arthur's birth brought his mother's death all due magic and his father's arrogance and therefore the doom of all those who practice magic. Arthur, enraged by this information goes home and challenges his father. Merlin intervenes by lying and saying that Arthur was being used and therefore, stops what could have been a bloody end to Uther. One of my favorite and most tear-jerking episodes in the whole season!

     Between learning about his heartbreaking past, Arthur also must deal with his conflicting feelings for Morgana's noble lady-in-waiting Guinevere. He sees her as generous and honest, but also knows that as a servant she would never be considered suitable as a queen. All the more reason for Arthur to break away from his father's rules, his family's traditions and create a future for himself as the next king of a free and powerful Camelot. 

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Lady Morgana
Noble Lady and Secret Sorceress
Katie McGrath as Lady Morgana in
"The Adventures of Merlin: Season 2" (2009)
     Beautiful and feisty Lady Morgana seems to have the life of a princess. With a loyal lady-in-waiting, a handsome prince who gives her what she wants and a king who never says no, Morgana truly seems to have a perfect life. Her generous nature is still what makes her loved by the people of Camelot and her sense of duty and justice does not go unnoticed; even when it may cause severe disagreements between her and her foster father, King Uther Pendragon.

     Although Morgana has a genuinely happy life during the day, at night she is haunted be horrific dreams that have waking up and screaming. Eventually these dreams have her waking up to something else, magic and sorcery. Morgana wakes up to find that she, not by her own admission, that she has broken a vase, a window or even set the room on fire. Scared by this secret knowledge, Morgana feels she has no one to turn to. That is until a mysterious stranger rides into Camelot and reveals to Morgana the most unexpected of secrets. She is Morgause, the last high priestess of Camelot and Morgana's older half-sister. 

Morgause (Emilia Fox) and Lady Morgana (Katie McGrath) in
"The Adventures of Merlin: Season 2" (2009)
     With this new information, Morgana's life takes a drastic turn as she realizes who she really is. Not a lady of Camelot, but a high priestess. Born to rule, born to dominate and born to practice magic freely. Eventually Morgana begins to resent her former life and joins Morgause to plot to destroy Camelot. Morgana has always harbored resentment toward Uther for his treatment of those who practice magic, but now she has the ability to pay back the man who has made these people suffer.

     Overtime, the once kind and selfless girl becomes vindictive and conniving. It's a dreadful and almost heartbreaking transition to watch. Anyone who is familiar with Authurian legends knows full well that Morgana and Morgause were Arthur and Merlin's greatest adversaries and the beginning of their alliance is the beginning of their war against Uther, his throne and his kingdom.

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Guinevere "Gwen"
Love is Patient, Love is Kind
Angel Coulby as Guinevere "Gwen" in
"The Adventures of Merlin: Season 2" (2009)
     Courageous and darling Guinevere is truly loved wherever she goes and by whoever she meets. It's simply in her nature to understand and help people, be they wanderers or princes. Her friendship is valued by many in Camelot and her wisdom is becoming more and more valued. Her willingness to help Merlin in the tightest if situations makes her a worthy companion and her loyalty to her mistress Lady Morgana is unmatched by any other servant in Camelot. 

     In spite of all of these good qualities that are found in Gwen her greatest is in the unlikely love she has found in the eyes of handsome prince Arthur, future king of Camelot. Gwen, aware of her social status as a lowly servant, tries to avoid what could be a very dangerous and detrimental situation, but even she cannot deny her feelings for the man she believes will be a great king. Her conflicting feeling for Arthur only become worse when she runs into an old friend (who we met in season 1) that could also be a potential love interest. The worth and honorable commoner, Lancelot Du Lac. 

Prince Arthur (Bradley James, Guinevere (Angel Coulby)
and Lancelot (Santiago Cabrera) in
"The Adventures of Merlin: Season 2" (2009)
     In one episode Gwen is taken hostage by a cruel tyrant under the guise that she is her mistress, Lady Morgana and there she comes face to face with the handsome Lancelot. In season 1, Lancelot came to Camelot to become a knight and he is instantly smitten with Gwen, but she in her own practical nature tries to ignore what she may feel for him. When he leaves (due to the fact that he is found to be a commoner instead of a nobleman), Gwen contemplates on the life she may have had with Lancelot and wonders of she has missed a good opportunity. 

     Now fate throws them back together and Gwen finds herself believing that she has a chance of a more ordinary life with Lancelot instead of a tortuous relationship with the prince. Only Arthur risks life and limb to rescue her and now Gwen is caught between two men and two lives. Two roads lay before her; one is straight and forward and familiar, but the other is mysterious and confusing, and not without sacrifice and pain. In the end, it ends up being Arthur...for now at least.

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"The Adventures of Merlin: Season 2" (2009)
    Just as funny, endearing and as exciting as season 1, this is probably my favorite of all five seasons. There was serious depth and emotion in many of the episodes that was balanced out with charm and humor from other episodes. From the beginnings of Arthur and Gwen's love story, the mystery of Morgana's future and Merlin's continuing pursuit to fulfill his destiny, season 2 transitions effortlessly from season 1 and leaves you excited for the continuing story of Merlin's adventures in Camelot.  

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