Merlin is back on BBC One for its fifth series, which opens with impressive two-parter Arthur’s Bane. Here’s Dave’s review…

This review contains spoilers. The spoiler-free episode review can be found here.

Three years have passed, the Round Table is fully established and peace has descended upon the kingdom of Camelot under the rule of Arthur and Guinevere. Peace cannot reign eternal however, as a darkness may be approaching.

A retinue of knights haven’t returned from their mission to Ismere, a frozen tundra in the north of Albion. It wouldn’t be so bad, except that the dashing Sir Gwaine and improbably garbed and ridiculously tall Sir Percival are amongst the missing.  It’s therefore up to Arthur to rescue his knights from the clutches of the Saxons and whatever other perils they may have encountered.

Of course, there’s only one real peril in Merlin and, before we know what’s happening, Morgana is revealed as the true reason for the disappearances. She seeks the key to knowledge and, thankfully, has stumbled across it, with the assistance of Ruadan (Liam Cunningham). The knights, she has decided, should be put to work in the mines, giving us many scenes of Gwaine and Percival stripped to the waist and hacking away mightily at the rocks.

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