Arthur’s Bane – Part 1
One of the many things I like about Merlin, is that it throws its audience into immediately thinking there is a threat, as we begin this episode with Merlin frantically looking for something or someone. It’s a testament to the writers of this show that within seconds of the announcer leading us into the new series that we are filled with this fear that something has already happened to King Arthur. It is through this that we are able to fear along with Merlin and understand his closeness to Arthur, something I believe that even King Arthur himself doesn’t fully see. Arthur’s Bane – Part 1 is an interesting story that follows the ending of last series two-parter very well. The story begins when we discover a number of knights including Sir Gwaine and Sir Percival are missing, and then join them amongst the snow bound landscape of Ismere and before we can think, they begin to flee from the sounds of a snarling beast. Following Sir Gwaine we watch as he runs, and then comes face to face with his wolf nemesis to which we believe has left him for dead and even worse left him in the hands of Morgana … the best bit is we get all of this before the titles.
We knew Morgana would be back at some point in this series when Aithusa healed are at the end of the last one and find out quickly she is looking for something, no doubt to help her defeat Arthur and claim the throne, we also discover through a seer that Mordred will play an important part in this series.. While all this is going on in Ismere we also see some great developments in the relationship between Arthur and Merlin. Arthur’s constant questioning of “what can you do” is critical as much as it is telling, as viewers we all know what Merlin can do and has done, and probably a few of us without Merlin’s restraint just want to shout out “He’s a sorcerer and saved you more than once” but Merlin isn’t able to do that. The comical use of his sorcery to juggle and astound Arthur is one aspect of this relationship and the other is the stalwart loyalty of Merlin as his friend, and shows signs of the Merlin/Arthur relationship that has been read about in books since we were of an early age. In this particular episode Merlin’s loyalty and bravery also shows of his ability to do without sorcery, a man who has no ability with a sword manages to run in between fights of Knights and Morgana’s soldiers to drag Arthur to safety.
So, while Merlin on does what he’s been doing for us for the previous four series Arthur remains oblivious as to how he saves him and back home in Camelot Guinevere is also showing her presence as Queen by sentencing the spy to death, which while a bit of a ruthless side shows us she has moved on from being the doting servant to someone who lives by the laws of Camelot.
On Mordred apart from in the vision (but unknown to us to when watching) he appears at the end of this episode, stopping Morgana’s men from killing Merlin and Arthur by informing them “Morgana will decide their fate” and from this meeting we learn he is the one who will kill Arthur, as prophesised in The Beginning of the end. While Morgana’s re-introduction and what happened to her in the last three years between series is bound to be part of the main arc for this series I can’t help hoping that the arc for this series brings a climactic battle between the shows two most powerful sorcerers.