‘Merlin’: Should Merlin reveal his magic?

During a recent interview here on CultBox, Merlin’s producer Julian Murphy expressed surprise that fans were waiting for Merlin to reveal his powers: “Generically the fact that Merlin’s identity is hidden is so classic, I’m not sure that in most genres you wonder around going ‘when are we going to reveal the identity of the hero?’”

Likening the boy wizard to Superman‘s Clark Kent, he suggested that the writers feel no pressure and might in fact not feel the need to make this reveal at any point in the series.

In story terms, it is fair to say that, as with Arthur and Gwen’s romantic relationship, Merlin’s true nature has remained clandestine due to the position of Uther who outlawed magic in Camelot. In the light of his death and Arthur’s ascension to the throne, there has been plenty of movement on the former and none on the latter.

With some of the key elements of mythology now coming into place, how many times can the patient viewer be tricked into thinking Merlin’s secret is about to come out, only to have it dashed by a piece of luck, a death or a convenient betrayal?

More importantly, what might be the implications for the show his magic is revealed? Let’s look at the arguments both for and against:

For:

» Merlin could act freely to protect Camelot from harm. As court appointed Sorcerer, he could openly advise Arthur in matters magical and be on hand to stop the wave of attacks that seem to engulf the Kingdom.

» With his big secret out of the way, the show could focus on Merlin’s efforts to guide Arthur in the creation of Albion and bring about this much hoped for golden age.

» Without a reveal to Arthur, Merlin seems doomed to remain in a servile relationship with him. While there has been plenty of comedy derived from the situation, surely its continuation can only serve to push Arthur further down the path of comedy buffoon. As he grows into his new role, destined to be the ‘Once and Future King’, can the show really sustain the idea that he fails to comprehend what is going on under his nose?

» How many more guest characters such as Lancelot and Alator of the Cathar can be awakened to the truth without it becoming an open secret? One can imagine them all getting together on occasion to snigger and point at Camelot, with its citizens being the only ones in the land not in on the secret.

Against:

» Can Arthur really move his society from ‘all magic is banned’ to ‘meet my court Sorcerer Merlin’ so easily? In truth, there’d probably be some sort of revolt after Uther’s bloodthirsty pursuit of magic. So are we expecting a reveal to Arthur but the secret still to remain intact generally? If so, is that really any better or does that just make the secret a liability shared?

» Arthur is still young has a lot to learn about the way the world works. Perhaps he needs an appreciation of the positives of magic to soften him up a little before any reveal. If it happens immediately, isn’t Arthur going to feel horribly manipulated, as well as torn between his father’s ideals and his friendship with Merlin? While it’s true that Lancelot handled the secret well, he was cut from a very different cloth than Arthur. He had lived out in the real world, rather than growing up within the protection of Camelot’s walls.

» Doubtless the reveal would also hasten a direct confrontation with Morgana. If so, would that not bring about the show’s end, as she appears to occupy the role of chief adversary to the kingdom?

This show has always been about Merlin as a young man, with a great destiny before him. Wouldn’t seeing him at the height of his powers seem to signify a natural end to that story?

There have been plenty of takes on this myth with a Merlin capable of great feats of magic. I’m not sure I know where the show has to go when he is recognised as the mightiest wizard who ever lived, other than headlong into the death of Arthur and destruction of all they’ve worked for?

Isn’t the joy of this series, and indeed the unique selling point, the fact that Merlin is still learning what he is capable of? Without it, I fear the show might just slowly morph into another straightforward take on the tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table?

Do you think Merlin’s secret should be revealed? Let us know below…

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