Merlin is back! Already! It seemed like only yesterday that I was posting my wishlist for the new series, and now I’ve seen the new episode. And this wasn’t one of those debuts which gives us a gentle reintroduction to the series, nope. All action, all angst, all Arthurian.
But was it good? Or just a haze of manic fighting and moping? Who would be this week’s celebrity guest star? These answers and more to follow in this week’s review!
Morgana: Acting Good Acting Bad
In all honesty, this felt more like a finale to the previous series than a start for the new one, since it picked right up on the search for Morgana, along with the immediate return of last year’s big villain. Arthur claims that “it’s been a year” since last we saw our heroes, but it really doesn’t feel like it.
And, of course, Morgana might have turned evil. This is in accordance with the Arthurian myths, to which Merlin is connected by a tiny piece of string, but could still be a brainwashing fake-out. I hope not, as Katie McGrath is much more entertaining playing Evil Morgana than Troubled Pouting Morgana.
Oh, and kudos to the writers for not having the now-standard section where Merlin mistrusts the undercover baddie (Morgana, in this case) and no-one believes him. I was waiting for it all episode, but they resisted.
Revising: It’s Not Just For OWLs
The continuation of last year’s plots was so seamless that I felt a bit left behind. I’ve seen every previous episode, yet was lost until I paused it and read the Wikipedia entry. I know those “Previously on…” montages are a bit awkward, but assuming your entire audience to be fanatic-obsessives is a dangerous game; good TV shows can go horribly wrong that way.
But that was the only big thing that niggled me. The cast are on enthusiastic form, although I do wish they’d stop including scenes that exist only for Prince Arthur to take his top off. Colin Morgan’s Merlin remains one of the best awkward heroes this side of Matt Smith, and there are some pleasingly brutal uses of lethal force considering this is a family show.
So, I’m very happy to have it back. Hopefully the whole series won’t be as serious and earnest as this, as I’d miss the fun eventually, but there’s a lot of energy here and a great cliffhanger.