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.