SNEAK PEEK: Merlin – His Father’s Son

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King Arthur makes his first bold decision with the questionable guidance of Agravaine, leading to the threat of all-out war in “His Father’s Son,” a new episode of MERLIN that airs Friday at 10 p.m. ET/PT (9 p.m. Central), only on Syfy.

Last week, MERLIN attracted its biggest audience ever on Syfy, with more than 2 million viewers.  This week’s episode begins as Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table look on while Arthur’s judgment not only calls into question his leadership, but incurs the wrath of Queen Annis, ruler of the Castle of Fyrien.  In her anger, she succumbs to the promises of Morgana that together they can defeat Arthur and claim Camelot.

It’s a fast and furious return to MERLIN for Morgana, whose lack of physical presence in last week’s episode didn’t diminish her threat.

Katie McGrath has spent four years growing with her role as Morgana, evolving from young ward of the king to the personification of evil in Camelot. Executive producer and series co-creator Johnny Capps has enjoyed watching McGrath spread her wicked wings since she was first cast in the role.

“Katie has really blossomed as an actress,” Capps says of McGrath, who currently can also be seen in U.S. movie theaters in the Madonna-directed biopic W.E. “Playing the conflicted Morgana was really tough on Katie, but now that Morgana has become a more complex and evil character, it really plays to Katie’s strengths as an actress. And she’s really enjoying it. It’s always good to play a villain, and I think Katie’s really stepped up to the mark. We keep giving her more and more to do, because she’s just playing so brilliantly.”

Several of McGrath’s scenes in “His Father’s Son” are opposite Lindsay Duncan, one of Britain’s most acclaimed stage actresses, who plays Queen Annis in the episode. Duncan earned a Tony Award and a Drama Desk award from her performance in the revival of Private Lives, and has twice been recognized with Lawrence Olivier Theatre Awards – in 1987 for Les Liaisons Dangereuses and in 2002 for Private Lives.  In 2009. Duncan was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire).

In “His Father’s Son,” Morgana’s unfettered hatred proves alluring to Queen Annis, who, as the episode begins, suffers at the hands of King Arthur.  And yet, the decision Arthur makes, deadly as it is, proves to be an important step on his path to being an even greater ruler than his father.

“Lindsay Duncan is such an extraordinary English actress – her stage work speaks for itself – and we were lucky to get her,” Capps explains. “We wanted an actress who could give the character a real heady weight of authority, and her performance is absolutely brilliant. This is a character that will definitely be returning.

“Lindsay brings this real gravitas to the episode, so the world has more at stake and feels more real and allows (the viewers) to realize that there are others kings and queens in this fantasy world – and that there are repercussions for people’s actions.”

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It also leads to one of the most stunning one-on-one combat scenes yet seen in MERLIN – one that viewers can thrill to themselves when “His Father’s Son” airs Friday, Feb. 3, at 10 p.m. ET/PT (9 p.m. Central), only on Syfy.

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via SyFy