While I fully understand, respect, and even LIKE (it would get boring if we ALL liked ONLY the same ones the same exactly amount and in the same order!) that everyone is entitled to their own opinon on which characters they like best in any given show, and that Merlin is no expection to the rule, it's come to my attention that quite a few wonderful characters which were very loveable and truly among the very best in my opinon were ignored in favor of others. In part, some of these were ignored by the writers at times, but that is not what this blog post is meant to be about. It's about the FAN'S reactions to characters they may have overlooked.
First up, as I'm sure this will be NO surprise to anyone who's ever read any of my blog posts, Freya!
FreyaFreya is, in my opinon, the single most often overlooked character by the fans and writers of the show alike. As far as the writer(s) go, which I won't get too far into, it seemed that there were plenty of moments in the show where her character deserved a mention but never got one, even when it would have fit in perfectly. The fact that she appears (face-wise) in only two episodes (ditto, arm-wise!) is besides the point; it is what it is.
I think the problem most fans had early-on with the character was they felt liking her would make them disloyal in some way to Morgana or Nimueh. Why? Because several Mergana shippers were really hoping for Morgana/Merlin in series 2 as the ArMor bits from season 1 had vastly waned in favor of Arwen. Then the writers brought in Freya as a new love-interest for Merlin and it seemed Mergana fans were determined, at large, to dislike her character.
Then there were the Nimueh fans. I'm sure, early-on, several fans expected Nimueh to be the Lady of the Lake and, possibly, to do this by coming back from the dead or by proving not to have been dead after all. A new Lady of the Lake did not sit well with them, it would seem. Don't get me wrong, I liked Nimueh's character, even when she tried to kill Merlin (sure she hit him with a fireball when he refused to team up with her, but come on that's nothing to what Morgana would do to him in later seasons!), but I thought introducing Freya's character was a stroke of genius. In the Legends, there is often more than one character that makes up The Lady of the Lake character(s), though they do not, surprisingly, always share that title. Although Nimueh is traditonally Merlin's lover, other sources tie her to the knights and give Merlin another lover called Niniane that may not even be the same person! I think, in fact, though I'm not sure, Freya may be the show's version of Niniane. Their sort of spin on her character. Which in this version makes a lot of sense. It would have been a little weird for Merlin to end up in a relationship with someone who was there BEFORE ARTHUR WAS EVEN CONCEIVED; a younger lady of the lake was somewhat preferable.
Another thing I love about Freya's character, which I felt the show was in need of, was she was one of the few examples of a female character who could be strong without going over the top into pure stubbornness or even evilness. Morgana, Nimueh, and even Morgause were wonderful characters, but they were all out to kill Merlin and/or Arthur at one point or another, and that could get old fast. Which was one reason Kara did not sit well with me. We already had women who were falling over themselves to refuse to bend to Camelot's rules and kill the king. I expected something a little deeper from Julian Jones. Then we had characters like Gwen, who while amazing in her own way, was the polar opossite of this trend. She was the good girl (save for when she was under a spell) but she was also very passive, sometimes painfully so to a woe-is-me point (almost TELLING Arthur to marry someone else in The Changeling for example). With Freya, though, we had a breath of fresh air we would not have the likes of again until the amazing swordswoman Isolde at the end of season four. Freya was "helpless" enough that we got to see Merlin take care of her without a stubborn resistance on her part when she realized he wasn't going to hurt her, but at the same time, she was a very strong, makes up her mind and gets with it, sort of character. When she made up her mind to leave Camelot on her own to spare Merlin, she just DID IT. It doesn't matter that she didn't suceed, it matters that she was brave and decisive enough to attempt it. Also, we know, from her backstory, she fought off an attacker, single-handedly, and had to of survived on her own for quite some time without help.
I know I am not the only person who likes Freya, but it still kind of makes me sad how many times I've seen comments like, "Ugh, she's not a good enough Lady of the Lake to be matched up with Heather Dale's song" or "I hated Freya" or "Meh. Should've been Nimueh." Or "I like the idea of a Lady of the Lake, but not HER." or even, after someone mentions Freya, "Freya who? Oh yeah, Merlin's lost love. Forgot all about her." -From various sources. That's great that they have their own opinon, and I respect that, but I feel kinda concerned that most fans of the females on this show think you have to be "feisty" or "I'm gonna kill everyone who done me wrong..." to be a strongly protrayed female and for that reason tend to overlook Freya.
In my opinon, there is NO BETTER, well-rounded character than Kilgharrah in the show. (This isn't just my love for my favorite talking.)
Let me explain. He has been EVERYTHING in the course of the series. A mentor, a possible double-agent, even an outright villian, AND one of the good guys. Best of all, he's done so all in a believable, and largely on-screen way. Unlike Morgana (or even Uther's ghost, who was suddenly pretty dang mean to Arthur, in spite of how much he was supposed to have loved him, even enough to die for him in The Wicked Day if I'm remembering this right...), whose full progression from hero to anti-hero we never really saw so much as were TOLD of in context (it took place inbetween series); we were with Kilgharrah almost every step of the way from Merlin's first meeting with the chained Great Dragon, to Balinor revealing his name was Kilgharrah, straight till his last scene when he, now old and weak, declared Arthur would come back someday as the Once and Future King.
Kilgharrah started off ambiguous to say the least. We weren't sure whose side he was on. All we really knew was he SEEMED to want to help Merlin and wanted, understandably, to be freed. He seemed to be concerned about Arthur, even warning Merlin against Mordred being the one to kill him someday, and telling Merlin not to give up on the spoiled prince, that they were two sides of the same coin. Then the show threw in a big curveball. Kilgharrah's advice almost gets Merlin's beloved mother, Hunith, killed. And apparently, he knew perfectly well that was what would probably happen. Oopsie. We knew early on that Merlin, while not usually violent or vindictive in nature, was ready to kick some butt if anyone hurt his mother (The Moment of Truth). So their 'friendship' was greatly strained. Things got more intense when Merlin swore he would never let Kilgharrah be free and Kilgharrah, in return, tried to roast himself a warlock.
Their friendship picks up possibly as late as a year (though this is uncertain) later when Merlin is forced to return to him for help when the spirit of a sorcerer is attacking Camelot.
What I loved about this was that while their friendship could be strained over what happened before, and Kilgharrah not trusting Merlin to ever free him, whatever he might promise willy-nilly, they still had time for truly moving/funny moments. For example, we got to see Kilgharrah sadly tell Merlin he wanted to help him, when Gaius was in danger, but did not know how. This was particularly sweet, in my opinon, because Gaius as Kilgharrah put it, "meant nothing" to him, but he wanted to be sympathetic to Merlin for his own sake. Then, of course, how can we forget Kilgharrah's laughter when Uther married a troll! I am dumbfounded how anyone cannot like Kilgharrah at least a little bit after seeing his sense of humour manifest itself in such a way.
Then Merlin finally does free Kilgharrah, after swearing on his mother's life, and we get to see a villianous Kilgharrah for almost an entire episode! He won't listen even to Merlin and attacks people in Camelot in revenege for being chained up.
Then, when Merlin becomes the Last Dragonlord, and spares Kilgharrah's life, the Great Dragon repents and is a good/helpful character for the remainer of the series. Interestingly, in a very well-rounded manner, they still have their differences early-on. In series 3, we see a Kilgharrah less than pleased with being forced to help heal Morgana, who even brings it up as a snide remark sometime (several episodes, actually!) later, clearly not over it.
What saddens me though is how many people are ready to say Kilgharrah is a terrible character because it's 'his fault Morgana turned bad; him and his bad advice to Merlin'. Um, no, I would like to point out, Merlin usually tried to scoot AROUND Kilgharrah's advice, which he found brutal, and often there-in lied the real problem. Not that he should have gone around kill anyone the Great Dragon 'didn't like' or thought 'would one day hurt Arthur', but still. A little more of a listening ear wouldn't have been amiss from time to time.
Yet, people are ready to defend Morgana, Alvarr, Morgause, you name the character, saying they see where they're coming from. Great. But how can you not see where Kilgharrah is coming from TOO? He has a much more visible transtion from villian to hero and is much deeper and less black-and-white than the average plot's monster-of-the-week and yet we have very little fan credit going to him at all! Even more so when Aithusa came into the picture. Yes, she was freaking ADORABLE as a baby, we GET it! But why blame Kilgharrah for "not taking good care" of her? In what world is Kilgharrah cut out to be a guardian for anyone? Much as he apparently liked Merlin in season 1, he still got fed up with him and tried to kill him with fire. Also, Kilgharrah couldn't even tell Aithusa was a SHE (he called Aithusa a "he" to Merlin) and you really think he could have RAISED her? I don't think even Merlin himself expected Kilgharrah to be a full-time baby sitter. And he was getting old, cut the dragon a break. Let him enjoy his freedom. It's not his fault Aithusa wants to heal random dying priestesses in the middle of the forest and then get imprisoned with them for years.
I'm tired of the Great Dragon getting all the flack. Not everything that went wrong is his fault. And he is neither always right nor wrong, good nor bad. As Kilgharrah once said himself, I believe, "There is... What is and what is not." Kilgharrah was, consistantly, always what he was and was not.
Wait, you are probably thinking, isn't that a picture of MERLIN? Why the heck is Adelina about to say the TITLE CHARACTER of the show is overlooked?
Because, let's face it, by the fans, he kind of IS. All the more so in season 5.
Well, let me count the ways...
First off, he tends to get overlooked by many fans for Morgana. (You can't tell me there weren't any number of fans who wouldn't have been disappointed if "team evil" won the last battle and the show ended with NO HOPE for him or Arthur).
Arthur, in part because he is the King, is ignorant enough not to be 'blamed' by fans for anything other than the sheer problem that he's "blind" or "not paying enough attention to what's happening around him'. Merlin on the other hand has been blamed for everything from Morgana's becoming evil to Mordred's ditching Arthur's butt in the third to last episode.
In Merlin's defense though, consistantly throughout the show he has TRIED to do the right thing and always come up short, not always because of his own blunders, but because what he could offer wasn't ENOUGH for those he was trying to help. For years, Arthur thought he was an idiot. He took the blame for a lot of things, and carried a lot of guilt around with him.
And for all his supposed 'brutality' in season five, all I saw was a young man who was still trying to do the right thing. His biggest change was a new-found gruffness that mirrored his mentor, Gaius', from earlier seasons. And if you think about it, is it so surprising? He and Gaius have a lot in comon. Gaius cannot be with his love, Alice, knowing he had to stay behind in Camelot. Merlin, for all we know, never sees Freya's face again (though he sees her arm) after The Coming of Arthur. They both have served Kings who won't listen to them (Uther for Gaius; Arthur for Merlin). They both secretly use magic, though Merlin uses it more often...
Fans hating on him is a bit shocking. He's made no more/worse mistakes than anyone else (less than some, even) in the series. The sudden decline in his fans was a bit saddening. I was starting to wonder if I was the only one who even still watched the show to see what happened to HIM more than Aithusa and Morgana and Mordred, though they were interesting, too, of course.
Okay, to be fair, Gwen's not really an 'overlooked' character so much as one I just feel gets too much hate.
I really feel, though, that her character is much more impressive, in spite of her passiveness, than most fans (I mean, by this, most non-hardcore Arwen and/or Lancelot/Gwen shippers) give her credit for.
For me, I liked her character early on, but what was the real impressive moment for me was when she took care of Uther in the beginning of series four. We could still see she had resentment towards all he had done, yet she took care of him for Arthur's sake, and very gently at that. I felt those scenes proved that while she was the 'goody-goody' character so to speak, she still had her own mind and was as human as the rest of them, and yet still CHOSE to do the right thing, for the sake of somebody she loved.
Sadly, though, fans tend to overlook this in favor of the fact that she had a magical cop out in every bad thing she did (cheating with Lancelot, killing Tyr), and instantly dub her a 'mary-sue'. I wish they'd consider the lesser focused-on aspects of her character before labeling her so quickly.