Merlin S05E01 review

By Josephine Sillars. Not me. I don’t watch Merlin.

Last night saw BBC’s “Merlin” bounce back for another series. It opened on an exciting two parter (similar to last year’s “The Darkest Hour”) which has set a darker tone for the rest of series five. It was a confident return, brimming with action and excitement which can only do it good after last year’s disappointing finale.

Arthur and Guinevere have been ruling Camelot for three years since we last saw them, and a lot has changed, especially in Gwen’s character and dress (at last). From the get go, she has had a sweet nature but as Queen she is strong and ruthless- a force to be reckoned with. She doesn’t fear ruling Camelot in Arthur’s absence and is able to find and sentence a traitor to death in ten minutes (unlike her husband who proved himself unable to find and sentence a traitor in ten episodes). As Queen, it was interesting to see her being waited on. It was refreshing to see that despite three years as a Royal she is still a little uneasy with her position towards the servants. Also, it was wonderful to see that Morgana now has a rival in the costume department.

The episode also saw Merlin in a different light. He has clearly become more confident since we last saw him and lines such as, “I have many hidden talents” could be hinting about the blessed magic reveal. The banter between Merlin and Arthur was as light and humours as ever (especially when to two were hilariously caught and suspended in a net).

Morgana however, seems pretty much unchanged since series four. Over the last three years, she seems to have acquired a castle, an ally and a cave full of topless men (including two of Arthur’s knights) but that’s about all that’s new. However, it is hinted that she will become a stronger and more committed enemy.

Despite the episode being action packed and thrilling (and having a beautifully shot fight sequence and gorgeous scenery) it felt like a slight disappointment. It had enough action and excitement to make the viewer forget about last year’s poor ending, but the three year jump almost seemed lazy. The character of Tristan (whose partner, Isolde was tragically killed off) will be sorely missed. The relationship between Morgana and Aithusa wasn’t mentioned (although it should hopefully be brought up later) and most importantly, Merlin failed to reveal his magic to Arthur again. Last year gave the show a perfect window for the magic reveal, a window which they missed. Having the magic reveal early on the series would break things up from the predictable rut the show has settled in and would make a brilliant dynamic between the characters- especially with the return of old foe Mordred.

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