Swirling in Camelot: The Once and Future Queen
For all you lovely and blerdie sci-fi fans, I have found a gem among the Netflix archives: Merlin. I previously heard from friends that the show was amazing, but there is an extra special treat for us. Now I grew up with the Sword and the Stone, First Knight, and Quest for Camelot as my only exposure to the Arthurian legend. In my opinion, no one could beat Sean Connery as King Arthur. However, the BBC has presented a beautiful retelling of the story of the Once and Future King of Albion, which features a black Guinevere. The series, however takes an interesting twist and focuses on the Sorceror behind the King and his perseverance in helping Arthur create a free, equal, and united kingdom Albion (which is the earliest recorded name for England).
The series stars Colin Morgan as the young Merlin:
The devastatingly gorgeous Bradley James as Arthur Pendragon:
and Angel Coulby as Guinevere:
For all you Buffy fans, Anthony Head, aka “Giles”, was cast as Uther Pendragon, Arthur’s father. The series is set in ye old Camelot, where King Uther has banned magic from the realm and has gone to extreme lengths to see to its extinction. Merlin comes to Camelot as a physician’s assistant and upon first stepping into Camelot gets on Arthur’s bad side. However, upon saving Arthur’s life, therefore gaining Uther’s trust, he is “elevated” to the position of Arthur’s manservant. Throughout the series it is maintained that Merlin’s destiny is to keep Arthur alive and safe so that he can establish an Albion, where magic is free and all people are equal. Seeing Merlin stand up to Arthur, Guinevere, herself a maidservant to Uther’s ward, Morgana, (whom we later find out is his biological daughter) befriends Merlin. She is often described her as “the most kind and loyal person you would ever meet.” Although she and Arthur do not originally get along, there growing attraction is evident and sparked by their mutual dream to see a free and equal Camelot. Now I don’t want to spoil it all for you, but their love story is nothing short of EPIC.
Enduring his father’s refusal of their marriage because of her status and sending her into exile, not to mention his sister’s neverending drive to see the both of them dead, the two make it to the altar and Arthur crowns her Queen of Camelot. Their marriage too faces several fiery trials, but they continue to remain fiercely loyal to one another. Upon entering the final battle in the war over Camelot with his sister, Morgana, Arthur sends the court physician with the royal seal naming Guinevere as his heir to the throne. After his death, she is shortly coronated. Its a tragic, yet beautiful ending of the story coming full circle and embodying everything about King Arthur: Equality. Although race is never brought up in the series, class and social status is. From the beginning, you will see Guinevere speaking and standing up to Arthur, not because she felt she had the right, but because she humbled herself enough to share with him the plight of his people, therefore gaining his respect. She was always counted on to tell him the truth and provide sound judgment and counsel. Their love grew from utter dislike to respect to friendship to enduring love. Because of that love, he elevated her from a common woman to the Queen of the Realm. Isn’t that what love is supposed to do?
Although, the series can be corny at times, (in truth we all need a little corny), it touches on the Arthurian legend in some amazing ways and depicts some very important life lessons. For me, the most interesting was the creation of the Round Table and Arthur’s knights. Arthur chose his knights not on the basis of noble birth, but because they were common men, including Guinevere’s brother, who each risked their lives to save his own. Not to mention they are all hot (especially Percival)
AND could totally kick some a**. King Arthur understood that to be King is to be a servant to the people, something many of today’s rulers and politicians have forgotten. I highly suggest taking a look if you have Netflix. Its 5 seasons long and although slow at first, once you get into it, you can’t help but keep watching.