SPOILER ALERT!! - A new head wears the crown in Camelot when Morgana and Morgause overthrow King Uther – with the help of an immortal army – in the first half of the Merlin season finale entitled The Coming of Arthur, Part 1. In the episode, Merlin (Colin Morgan) and Arthur (Bradley James) are sent on a dangerous mission to capture the Cup of Life, a powerful magical artifact that carries the gift of immortality. But just as they’ve retrieved the Cup, they are captured by the unscrupulous slave trader, Jarl (Ralph Ineson). Gwaine (Eoin Macken) comes to the rescue and they escape, but with Jarl’s help the cup falls into Morgause's (Emilia Fox) hands. With an immortal army at their disposal, Morgause and Morgana (Katie McGrath) topple Uther (Anthony Head) – and Morgana is crowned queen. The battle lines are drawn, the obstacles are many, and it’ll take the world’s most powerful magic for Merlin and Arthur to prevail.
The Coming of Arthur, Part 1 is the culmination of a season-long progression of Morgana’s evil rebirth. According to her co-stars, Katie McGrath has relished every villainous moment as Morgana.
“She’s enjoyed it enormously,” says Anthony Head. “It’s lovely when you have a character that doesn’t undergo a sudden transition, but rather it’s been a long while brewing. I love all that backstory they’ve given Morgana, and Katie has really put a nice edge on it. There’s been several wonderful scenes done not just as evil for evil sake, but to really support the mythology. Ultimately, Morgana sees she’s got the only one avenue open to her, and that is down that dark side.”
“It’s always fun playing evil characters, and I think Katie’s truly loving it,” says Angel Coulby (Gwen). “Playing a villain, you get to be so far removed from yourself, from being the usual generous, kind ladies. Katie’s quite good at it, and she’s definitely got the evil smile down.”
McGrath says the ability to stretch her acting muscles has been one of the things she appreciates most about this role. Morgana’s character has shifted so dramatically, it’s as though the actress is playing a second role. “She’s been a completely different character this season – her whole view of herself, her view of the world, her relationships, it’s as though she’s an entirely different character,” relates McGrath. “But the best part of playing her is that there is still some of the old character there, so I get to keep my toes in both sides of the water. I think it’s much more engaging to watch that way – you haven’t lost the character you love, and you’re getting something new at the same time.”
McGrath particularly enjoys her scenes opposite Colin Morgan as Merlin, especially as the characters have gone from a near-sibling relationship to being opposing forces in the magical side of Camelot. “There’s an interesting line in season three where the Great Dragon [voice of John Hurt] says to Merlin that Morgana is the darkness to his light, and that really says it all about how things have changed and where the story has gone in this season,” McGrath explains. “Merlin is the hero, and every hero needs a great villain. What makes that dynamic even more interesting is that they cared about each other so much. There’s a war going on between them – they truly are each other’s foils – and that’s intriguing to watch.” The Coming of Arthur, Part I airs Friday, April 1st @ 10:00 p.m. EST/PST on Syfy. Part 2 will air next Friday, April 8th at the same time on Syfy.
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