Tiffany Vogt

Posts Tagged ‘James Callis’

Review of MERLIN – ‘Aithusa’

In * By Tiffany Vogt, Merlin on January 30, 2012 at 1:18 am

A new king, a new era and a new dragon

In honor of Arthur’s reign as the new king of Camelot, a new era has begun and, due to Merlin’s persistence in saving the last dragon egg, a new dragon is born as well.  Aithusa is a white dragon, which the Great Dragon Kilgharrah proclaims is a symbol of how blessed Albion will be under Arthur’s reign.  That Merlin was able to give such a gift to the Great Dragon, it speaks of a time that perhaps dragons and men shall be able to live in peace — for Merlin not only freed Kilgharrah, he found a way to ensure that the Great Dragon was not the last of his kind.

This episode was a grand adventure for Merlin as he found a way to honor his dragon friend and save one of the last dragons.  But it also served to remind Merlin that the motives of man are rarely as good intentioned as he would like to believe.  Merlin is still very young at heart and needs to start seeing that others are not as altruistic as he is.

It was also a reminder that while Merlin is a dragonlord and a sorcerer, he is still only a servant in the eyes of Arthur and the knights.  Merlin was still the one who had to feed the horses, fetch the firewood, and cook the food — eating last and only if they saved him some food.  Merlin chafes under the position that his birth placed him, especially when he knows that his destiny is to be so much greater, and that he is already saving Camelot, Arthur and everyone else time and time again.  It is hard to be the hero and yet no one knows.  Merlin may be allowed to risk his life for everyone else, but it goes largely unnoticed and unrewarded.  It is expected that as a servant that, of course, he would happily do so.

So it is interesting that much of this episode was about Merlin venturing off on his own to complete his quest to find and save the last dragon egg.  The knights did not come to his rescue, in fact, they were only in Merlin’s way.  It was only because Julius Borden (James Callis) spiked the food and caused Arthur and the knights to sleep that Merlin was able to complete his quest unencumbered.  They only arrived at the end to bear witness to the destruction of the tomb.

Merlin’s journey, like Arthur’s, is taking a new path.  Each must find a way to achieve their respective destinies, even if it means they do so separately.  Arthur cannot help Merlin become the world’s greatest sorcerer, only Merlin will discover that as he is tested time and time again; and Arthur must discover his inner strength and wisdom to rule on his own.  Merlin is not yet trusted to be his advisor, only his unknowing bodyguard.  These are the uncertain times when each must pursue their destinies and become the great men that the prophecies have foretold.

Merlin’s instincts to preserve the last dragon egg and set it free was noble.  Very few men would have granted the dragon its freedom, and as a result, Merlin perhaps gained an ally for life.  It also won the respect and gratitude of the Great Dragon, who only remembered the misery he suffered under Uther’s brutal regime.  Merlin’s rise to power has begun — all through the simply love of wanting such a creature to live free.

What Worked

It is always a delight to see James Callis on screen.  He equally embodies the duality necessary to disarm even someone was wary as Colin Morgan’s Merlin.  As Julius Borden, Callis was charming and engaging, but  with a cunning heart just hidden from view.  It made it easier to believe that Merlin would want to believe that Borden only wanted to rescue the dragon egg.  It was also cool that Borden did not truly suspect that Merlin was anything more than he appeared.   Even at the very end, as Merlin declared himself to be the last dragonlord, we sensed that Borden had not suspected a thing.  He seemed genuinely surprised and worried at that moment.  Borden had tried to tempt Merlin with more riches than he could imagine, so that he could finally escape his miserable life, but Merlin only looked back at Borden with sadness and said he did not think his life was miserable. When that did not work, Borden then tried to threaten him, Merlin calmly said, “I am the last Dragonlord and I am warning you, leave this egg alone.”  That was a magnificent moment!

Another fun aspect of this episode was Gaius knowing full well that Merlin could not resist the temptation to save the last dragon egg and forgiving him for it.  Gaius could have been more harsh with Merlin, but he knows that Merlin’s giving heart is one of the things that makes Merlin, Merlin.  Without his trusting and generous heart, Merlin would be a different person entirely, so Gaius allows him to be exactly as he is.  Gaius and Merlin’s strong bond of friendship remains another delight of the series, especially after Lancelot’s death, and Merlin is now more alone than ever.

The moments of levity as the knight pulled jokes on Merlin were also a bright spot as it is always great to see more of Elyan, Percival, Gwaine and Sir Leon.  So many times, it seems that they only notice Merlin when they need him, so it is good to see that Merlin is allowed to be “one of the boys” even when their are not amidst a great battle.  Plus, it serves to remind Arthur that it is okay to be friends with Merlin now that he is king.  One of the better lines of the episode was when Merlin told Arthur, “Ever heard of the word ‘sorry’?” and Arthur good-humoredly retorted, “No, is that another word you made up?”  Arthur may feel that now he is king, he must distance himself from a friendship with Merlin, his servant.  But this exchange was reminiscent of the good ole days. We can only hope that Arthur does not forget his friendship with Merlin in the shadow of his kingship.

What Didn’t Work

It was not clear if the gas that Borden released in the tomb was supped to be lethal or not, but it seemed out of place that he was able to shake it off so easily after being immersed in it after opening the tomb door.  Surely Borden would have been knocked out a lot longer.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

‘Aithusa’ was written by Julian Jones and directed by Alex Pillai.  “Merlin” stars Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Katie McGrath, Angel Coulby, Richard Wilson and John Hurt. “Merlin” airs Fridays at 10 pm on Syfy.

Previewing the next episode of MERLIN – ‘Aithusa’

In * By Tiffany Vogt, * Press Announcements, Merlin on January 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Here There Be Dragons as MERLIN Races to Find the Last Dragon Egg

  James Callis Guest Stars in ‘Aithusa,’
(Airing Friday at 10 p.m. ET/PT Only on Syfy)

For six seasons, he played the traitorous Gaius Baltar on Battlestar Galactica.  This Friday, James Callis brings his acting talents to the international hit series MERLIN, playing the equally unscrupulous Julius Borden.

James Callis as Borden

And in his first scene in this Friday’s episode, titled “Aithusa,” Callis comes face to face with the man who was once his mentor – fittingly, court physician Gaius.

Once the pupil of MERLIN’s Gaius, Borden left Camelot during the Great Purge, but in the darkness returns to Camelot looking for the third part of the Triskelion – an ancient object that promises to reveal the location of the last dragon egg.

Despite a stern warning from Gaius, Merlin offers to help Borden if it means he can fulfill his obligation as the Last Dragonlord to ensure the survival of the species.  But the task turns deadly when Merlin realizes exactly why Borden wants the egg.

Although the Great Dragon, Kilgharrah (voiced by John Hurt), figured prominently in the first season of MERLIN, in the last two seasons his primary function has been to give advice to Merlin and help him in times of greatest threat.  It was Kilgharrah, for instance, who cautioned Merlin that “your determination to see goodness in people will be your undoing.”

Merlin and Arthur

In “Aithusa,” however, the Great Dragon assumes a much more prominent role in the story.  In the last two seasons, MERLIN “has shown his separation, his independence from the Dragon,” says actor Colin Morgan, who plays Merlin. “At the beginning of Season One, the Dragon was a confidante, someone Merlin needed help from.  Slowly and slowly, they grew apart, and the Dragon’s motives became slightly unclear, so there has been a question of trust between them.”

And yet, Kilgharrah and Merlin are inextricably linked, Morgan says. “As Dragonlord, Merlin can always command the Dragon, which is a great quality.  What’s going to be interesting to see is if Arthur ever meets the Dragon – what his reaction would be.”

While the Dragon doesn’t meet Arthur in “Aithusa,” he does meet a new character … though just who (or what) that is remains to be seen.  Viewers will discover the identity – and his or her role in Camelot – in “Aithusa,” the next episode of MERLIN, which airs Friday at 10 p.m. ET/PT (9 p.m. Central), only on Syfy.

All three seasons of MERLIN are now available on DVD and on iTunes.  Be sure to follow the latest news on MERLIN at the Official Merlin page on Facebook.

(Information provided courtesy of J2 Comm and Fremantle Media Enterprises.)

Review of ‘Eureka’ – I’ll Be Seeing You

In * By Tiffany Vogt, Eureka on September 11, 2010 at 7:39 pm
Monkeying around with wormholes has serious repercussions

Violation of the time-travel protocols is the least of our heroes’ problems. From what we have seen, Dr. Charles Grant (formerly Dr. Trevor Grant) (James Callis) has been tinkering with time itself in order to get the result he wants. He may have hitch-hiked back to the future initially out of curiosity, but then, he went back to stop Adam Barlowe (Elias Toufexis) from stealing the Bridge Device blueprints and to save Allison’s (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) life. However, if the baseball he gave Jack (Colin Ferguson) and the opening scene where he was holding a clandestine meeting to prevent the atomic bomb from ever being built are any indication, Dr. Grant has returned to 1947 more than just once. Just exactly how is he doing that and to what end? Is he still working with Beverly (Debrah Farentino) or has he gone rogue? Will he finally learn his lesson and stop toying with the possible Butterfly Effects each time he jumps between the past and the future?

It may look like all fun and games, but each jump causes a tiny ripple which can have large and unintended consequences. Who decided that Dr. Grant gets to play God and manipulate everyone’s lives?

What Worked

It was highly entertaining watching the episode unfold. Jack’s opportune time-jump with Dr. Grant after Allison died was immediately reassuring that she was not gone forever; particularly as killing off Allison at this point in the series would have been too heart-breaking. Thus, like Jack, we were invested to make sure that this 2nd return trip to 1947 worked out so that Allison would be alive and well when he returned.

In addition to the emotional investment, the episode also had us curious whether or not any of their actions would have further repercussions — would the future change again simply because of their return trip? And what is Dr. Grant really up to? Is he indeed just a pawn of Beverly Barlowe?

When Dr. Grant asked Beverly, “You assume I want to go back. Why would I want to leave all this behind?” She told him what she thought he wanted to hear, “I know about your passion. How you formed this consortium of scientists who wanted to protect us from ourselves. This is a chance to restore your legacy.” Interestingly, he responded, “Impossible. Whatever I do will change things.” Charles knew from the start that returning to 1947 at this point could be incredibly dangerous. But Beverly’s persistence in plying him ego-flattering lines, like “Einstein was a visionary — you’ll be a god” and “together you’ll be unstoppable,” seemed to persuade him. It was surprising when Charles said, “Okay, let’s make history” and agreed to go back. Beverly seemed to be preying on Charles’ vanity and fears, a double-weakness, which compelled him to agree to something that he knew was wrong. Playing the time-keeper of fate does not really seem like a role that he would agree to. So why did he?

Did he go back to ensure that Adam Barlowe never stole the Bridge Device blueprints, thereby preventing Beverly from ever having a reason to re-create the device to begin with? Was it his altruistic motive to shut-down this dangerous project once and for all?

But altruism or greed was quickly superseded by the need to save Allison. The 2nd trip to 1947 was not about becoming a god or preventing the Bridge Device from being re-created, it was all about saving the woman both Jack and Charles loved. It was interesting watching to what lengths both would employ to make sure that Allison was alive when they returned. Charles was willing to let Adam Barlowe die, whereas Jack could not simply stand by and let that happen. Yet fate seemed to have something else in mind and made sure that Adam Barlowe lived.

Thus, when Henry (Joe Morton) curiously asked Charles at the end, “Charles, what did you do?” Jack quickly came to his defense and said, “Nothing. He screwed up, but he made it right.” With a hint of regret and insight, Charles added, “I thought I could make things right, but there are certain things in the universe that clearly cannot be changed.” Saving a life is permissible, but perhaps taking a life is not.

While it took a bit of maneuvering to fix the broken timeline and ensure that they did not venture down that same dark path again, it was spine-tingling when at the end Beverly reported to whoever she was colluding with, saying, “I’m afraid things did not work out the way we hoped. But I do have a new target in mind.” She was starring right at Jack and Allison as these ominous words rang out. What in the world is she up to now? That is what we are now dying to find out. Is she truly done with Charles Grant? Or has she found another way to manipulate time to her own ends?

If Beverly is referring to Allison, maybe she has figured out that Kevin (Trevor Jackson) is the one she needs to focus on. After all, the first trip to 1947 successfully cured him of autism and the second trip saved Allison’s life. Maybe Allison and Kevin are the key to controlling time.

Even Henry alluded to that significance when he told Allison, “I’ve known for a while now that you two [she and Jack] were meant to be together.” This was a cool nod to the first timeline that Henry manipulated to make sure that his beloved Kim (Tamlyn Tomita) would not die, but was forced to correct — robbing Jack of the future life he had with Allison. (This was the end of the first season, for those wondering.) Henry has already seen how manipulating time does not work out, but, unlike Jack whose memory he erased of that first timeline, Henry remembers that ultimately Jack and Allison ended up together. Some things destiny will make sure happen. Jack and Allison are destined to be together, no matter what the timeline.

Finally, the time had come for Zane (Niall Matter) to figure out what was really going on. Being a genius himself, it did not take him long. Jo’s (Erica Cerra) inadvertent slip when she threw his grandmother’s engagement ring at him helped put the pieces together: this was not the same Jo that he had known; this was a different Jo from a time when they had meant something to each other. So when Zane said, “When this is all over, we’re going to talk about that ring,” we knew that he had figured it out. Jo tried to dodge him, but in the end he cornered her saying, “You’re not getting off that easy. . . I’m not stupid. I know something’s happened with the five of you and part of it had to do with us.” When Jo stood silently not denying or acknowledging anything, he prodded her further saying, “You had my grandmother’s engagement ring, Jo. Come on. Tell me what we were to each other.” When she finally reluctantly said, “Nothing,” Zane decided to push the matter and kissed her. He then flatly said, “Then why didn’t that feel like the first kiss?” Zane knows that time has been changed, but how and why; and Jo does not want to jeopardize him by telling him and including him in a possible government prosecution of a time-travel cover-up. At this point entirely too many people know about the time-travel breach of protocol: Charles, Beverly, Andy (Kavan Smith) and now Zane. That’s too many people to keep a lid on our heroes’ time-travel excursions. Will it matter that only Charles and Beverly are actually guilty of deliberately participating in such an egregious violation of protocol? Or will those who were inadvertently caught up in it be charged with treason as well? All these questions guarantee that we will be holding our breath to find out until “Eureka” returns for the second half of the 4th season.

What Didn’t Work

After teasing us at the beginning of the episode with the scene of Dr. Grant meeting with a woman and man plotting to prevent the atomic bomb from ever being built, that particular timeline — story strand was left hanging. While not an obvious cliff-hanger, it still leaves us feeling unsatisfied about what that was all about. Let’s not have hanging-chads tickling our brains. For as the other man said, “Traversing a wormhole into the past, not much work.” To say it like that, he must have done it before. So since when has time-travel become such an every day occurrence? When Grant said, “Let’s make history,” perhaps he was referring to more than just going back to 1947. Maybe he has perfected that art of traveling into the future and then back into that past? It is mind-boggling to conceive.

While Zoe’s (Jordan Hinson) presence served to heighten the moment between Zane and Jo after he kissed her, it was unnecessary. It is enough that the audience resents Zoe for ditching her high school boyfriend to pursue Zane. But to now make her down right despised for getting in between Jo and Zane is uncalled for. It was funny when Zane was clueless that he and Jo were involved before. Now it just feels painful.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“I’ll Be Seeing You” was written by Jaime Paglia and directed by Michael Robison. “Eureka” stars Colin Ferguson, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Joe Morton, Jordan Hinson, Erica Cerra, Neil Grayston, Chris Gauthier, Niall Matter, and Trevor Jackson. “Eureka” airs Fridays at 9:00 pm on Syfy.

Related article:

%d bloggers like this: