Merlin‘s third year can be seen as the season in which the show grows up – a process that would be built on even further during the fourth series. There’s far more than just the evil monster-of-the-week to be overcome: there’s a series-long threat from Morgana, which informs nearly every episode, but especially the stunning opening and closing two-parters. Trust is the underpinning of Camelot, Arthur suggests mid-season, and it’s the betrayal of that trust which really underpins the whole season.
During the 13 episodes, we meet a number of characters who become key to the legend of the Knights of the Round Table, including Gwaine, and Gwen’s brother Elyan, and the relationship between Arthur and Merlin becomes stronger. The humor is used more sparingly, although there are still the occasional comic relief stories (Goblin’s Gold, episode three, can cheerfully be skipped unless you’re a fan of fart jokes).
The DVD extras will please all fans of the show, with commentaries, outtakes and deleted scenes as well as a look behind the scenes at the making of the third year.
Verdict: A year in which the BBC Merlin becomes more in tune with Arthurian legend, and much less the Camelot-Smallville hybrid that it first seemed to be. 8/10