Back for another magical year, Merlin dons his shabby servant costume to fight alongside the King in the series premiere. Is it time for the Final Battle, or will our armoured heroes continue to run in circles? And does the “Bane” of the title have anything to do with the Batman villain?
All this, and barechested men too. Let’s get started. As ever, spoilers ahead, episode is on iPlayer if you haven’t seen it.
Camelot Prospers, Morgana Is An Idiot
It seems time has passed since we last saw our heroes. Camelot has entered a golden age of prosperity, servant girl Gwen has been accepted as Queen (despite three series of stress, although maybe this will change now she’s dishing out death sentences), the Knights have bought a bigger Round Table, and Merlin still hasn’t found a new outfit.
So, of course, trouble is on the horizon. Evil Morgana (aided by the Onion Knight from Game of Thrones) starts digging for a “key”. Poor Gwaine is the first to stumble upon her excavation, and then he and his men are put to work. I’m not sure having one’s enemies look for one’s secret weapon is a clever plan, but Morgana is an idiot.
And the mining scenes provide ample topless shots of Gwaine and Percival, to appease anyone disappointed that Arthur stays fully clothed. I wonder whether one of those two might be for the chop next week, in a similar vein to Lancelot’s death last year. Let’s wait and see.
Mordred & Morgana’s Combined Doom-Vision
Elsewhere, Merlin gets a prophecy of Arthur’s doom, in the form of a grown-up (yet equally round-faced) Mordred. He does kill Arthur in the legends, so fair play. The look of their battle also resembles Morgana’s vision last year, in which Emrys kills her. Hopefully they’ll follow through both those teases in this finale.
Because rumour has it, this will be the final series. Or rather, rumour had it, we’ve now been told negotiations are underway for both a sixth series and some kind of movie trilogy. To be fair, I don’t view Merlin as an artistic show needing an amazing ending, but they should try and avoid slumping to undignified death.
Oh, and yet another traitor in Camelot plot, although this one is thankfully resolved in a single episode rather than taking the usual entire series. Maybe this is meant to show us how the characters have grown.
In short, another well-made episode of Merlin. Nothing brilliant, but good enough to show us that they’re back, everything is as it used to be, and after sitting through a whole series of cruddy Merlin-impersonator Sinbad, even that is a relief. Welcome back, wizard-boy.