Merlin: Arthur’s Bane – Part 2 – Dork Review

Merlin: Series 5!Merlin is back for the second half of its series premiere, and you know their tricks by now. I’m not going to list them in this intro though, as they are kinda spoilers. So, is “Arthur’s Bane” a hulking Batman villain with a sideways goatse on his face? Or something more insidious? And what’s up with that crazy Mordred cat?

All this and more! Spoilers included, so watch the episode on iPlayer first.

The Ballad Of Gwen & Sefa’s Beef

Last time, I theorised they might knock off a supporting character here, similar to the early death of Lancelot last series, and I was somewhat right, but they looked way down the roster for this year’s victim: Liam Cunningham’s character, introduced only last week, gets the chop, presumably to motivate his daughter Sefa to seek revenge.

His death is a decent scene, but it’s a shame he went so early, as Cunningham is a strong actor and his intro last week was impressive. Nonetheless, Sefa could go interesting places, especially since her beef is arguably with Gwen, rather than the usual Arthur or Merlin.

Otherwise, this is fairly standard series-opener stuff: a dramatic but inconsequential confrontation with Morgana, lots of setting up for the rest of the run, including the return of mini-dragon Aithusa and some ropey special effects, and following on from last week, shirtlessness. So very much shirtlessness.

Arthurian Homeland Vs Arthurian Dexter

The main development here is the intro of older Mordred, now played by Alexander Vlahos, who may or may not be Arthur’s doom, and is now installed in Camelot as a Knight of the Round Table. So the fifth series of Merlin has taken its cue from Homeland, basically. Fair play – people do love that show, and “Arthurian Homeland” is a progression from “Arthurian Smallville”.

I look forward to “Arthurian Dexter”, wherein Gaius finally snaps and starts chopping people up on his workbench. At least he’d finally get a storyline, instead of hanging around waiting to be killed off to motivate Merlin.

Anyway. It’s all pretty competent again, the revelation of “Arthur’s Bane” being Arthur himself is a bit twee but let’s see what they do with it, the usual nice bromance moments with Merlin/Arthur, fans should like this well enough. Now it just remains to be seen how dull and/or silly the mid-series episodes will be. It looks like we’re getting the return of Anthony Head as Uther next week, which is a good start.

More Merlin on Dork Adore | Merlin: The Sword In The Stone – Part One – Dork Review

Nick Bryan

Nick learned to read and write at an early age. This has developed into an unhealthy need to either write stories or consume them for later dissection. He reviews film and TV on Dork Adore and The Digital Fix, lives in London and enjoys a nice white beer.

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  1. angst4colin says

    TPTB is so smug is their notion that MERLIN CAN’T CHANGE, as a character by definition he is LIMITED. He is just spectacularly being WISE but forever klutz. The producers deliberately don’t let Colin be good in sword so he’ll still be an awkward Merlin when wielding a sword. Merlin’s been a constant companion to Arthur and for the storyline’s 10- year running, logic dictates that ain’t he supposed to even develop some competency to be able to defend himself without the use of magic and not an outright liability (in all appearances) in the field? Ahh he’s just supposed to be around to be the butt of joke and ridicule and leave the brawn to Arthur and the knights.

    All of the other characters are being glorified and grandified to high heavens except Merlin. It’s a big horror and would be dent to the award-winning creed of the producers for Merlin to lose his scarf and actually develop. That’s the spectular plot: Merlin can’t change – can’t change his servant-rags for clothes, can’t change/develop his non-magic fighting skills, can’t change his stature in Camelot, can’t get away from being taken for a fool. Yeh, same-old, same-old… and how about as an old!Merlin or as old!hag for a change? Marvelous plot for a titular character indeed.

    Now where are WISEy stuff Merlin supposed to have spectacularly contributed to Camelot? Oow, it’s with the Queenb**bs of Camelot. So what’s left for Merlin, just let him mope around lapdoggity for Arthur. Really sad and disappointed for Colin, as an actor, the chances of him showing and expanding his mettle were just actually being sadistically muted by the producers. He deserves better that.

    • says

      I think at this point we have to accept that the status quo will stay broadly similar until they know the series is ending. I think Merlin has grown as a character though, even within his relatively static circumstances. And having him become a brawny character who leapt into the fights would take away from his charm.

      • angst4colin says

        Noted and thanks. I’m way past taking the show to be that ‘sensible’ at all. I had already taken it as an Ed-TV-like “Colin Morgan” show. Hence, a hint of brawn is now the ‘must-see’ for me as the charming ineptness-in-fighting/demeanor has already gone past it’s sell-by date. As a character, the (non)reveal should not define nor limit the graduation and improvements of both his magic and non-magic skills worthy of the recognition of actually being legendary. Legendary as being shown, not implied, and resolved irregardless of the reveal.

        • says

          My assumption is that the reason they added the Emrys old man secret identity last year was so that Merlin had a chance to cut loose a bit more. Although of course then you can only see Colin Morgan beneath a thick layer of make-up.

          • angst4colin says

            I like the old!Merlin in “Servants of Two Masters” for the comic relief. But as a fan, I’m disappointed for the fact that Colin’s covered up. Why can’t they use the ‘middle’ prime!Merlin as well? – like the Lady-Magazine-photoshoot look as a disguise. There could have been more of the hooded-look post-old!Merlin in the last season’s finale, engaged in a fight. What a missed opportunity. Oh wells… -sigh-..

          • angst4colin says

            hahaha… of course not the attire, but more so on the stubbly, non-boyish look… heck he even look like Prince Caspian in there (especially on the one where he’s by the green wall)..

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