Merlin: Review: Series 5 Episode 1: Arthur’s Bane pt 1 (Spoiler-free)

When a scouting expedition vanishes, Arthur and the Knights of Camelot must travel to the north…

If the producers can maintain the standard of this opening episode, then it looks as if we’re in for the best season of Merlin by far. Although it never loses touch with its roots – and the relationship between Merlin and Arthur that lies at its centre – this is a much more consistently adult and assured drama than we’ve seen before. The dreaded reset button, which has afflicted even this show from time to time, seems to have been banished: actions have consequences, and our heroes now seem fully aware of this.

As well as setting up elements which will no doubt be resolved in the concluding half of this story, the arcs for this season are started. It’s no surprise that Mordred is back, but his introduction is not exactly what you might expect, and Alexander Vlahos puts his stamp on the character right from that first moment.

There’s plenty for everyone to enjoy in this episode; the ever-increasing regular cast are all given a moment in the sun (or out of it, in most cases). There are strong guest parts which feel an organic part of the story, rather than being “guest appearance of the week”. The location filming is gorgeously shot, matching pretty seamlessly with the computer generated additions.

Verdict: On first impressions, Merlin has finally reached the Golden Age of Camelot. 8/10

Paul Simpson



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