The return of Merlin! More smirking Morgana (but at least other characters aren’t pretending not to notice anymore)! Another chance to use my “Arthurian Smallville” non-joke! A new deluge of homoerotic Arthur/Merlin moments! Yet more gratuitous toplessness from Bradley James!
Yes, they’re back, and it’s as if they’ve never been away. But, oddly, not as much as usual. Let’s take a look at this brave new world.
A Reshuffle In Government
During my review of last year’s finale, I moaned that it lacked an ending. Well, it did, but this series premiere could mark the biggest shift since they started. Don’t get me wrong, the biggest constant remains in place: Arthur is still despairingly oblivious to Merlin’s magical powers.
But elsewhere, we’ve zipped forward a year, and Uther, Arthur, Morgana and Gwen are all in very different ruts to the ones they were stuck in before. Not to mention, the Knights of the Round Table are now hanging around, making the cast ridiculously massive. God knows how they’ll service all of them. Did any Knight except Lancelot even speak?
Still, for now, this was a good, meaty episode. A bit of drama, sense of life going on around us, and exciting changes finally happening in Merlin-land. They’ve done a good job of keeping Colin Morgan as Merlin front and centre during all this, too.
Kill The Old, In With The New
They also kill off long-term guest star Emilia Fox, and although it’s a shame, I was amazed they hung on to her as long as they did. Her demise kicks Morgana a little further along that supervillainess path we’ve been wanting to see for years, so I’ll live. You can tell she’s a villain now, as she wears a phenomenal amount of eye makeup.
Meanwhile, new character Agravaine, played by Nathaniel Parker, has a secret. I guessed it the moment he appeared on screen, I’m not sure if that was the desired effect or not?
Finally, prediction for next week: I’m a little concerned that Lancelot, a character I’m very fond of, is being set up for a heroic sacrifice, as he’s started talking in martyr’s tones. I suppose Santiago Cabrera and Emilia Fox are both big names, so getting rid of both would trim their guest star budget. But I do hope I’m wrong.
But for now, Merlin is back, stuff is happening for once and I admit, they’ve got my attention. Join us next week to see if they can keep it going, preferably without killing Lancelot. Check the episode out on iPlayer, and let us know where you see all of this going.