It may have started out rather uneven, but the longer it’s gone on, the more Merlin has found its footing. The old adage of, ‘This is the biggest and best series yet’ may be rolled out a lot in the television world, but with this series, that really is the case.
And despite cosmetic changes to this fifth series – Gwen (Angel Coulby) has become Camelot’s new Queen, the Knights of the Round Table are now firmly established in Camelot – Merlin quickly re-asserts what it does best early on in ‘Arthur’s Bane (Part One)’. There’s epic adventure, scenes of derring-do and, naturally, some bromantic bickering between Merlin (Colin Morgan) and Arthur (Bradley James) before the opening titles even roll.
Five years in, this show is now a well-oiled machine. The action scenes are expertly crafted and the show has also struck the right balance with character.
The fan-favourite friendship between Merlin and Arthur, for example, now incorporates both humour and human drama on an equal basis and both sides of the relationship are handled with equal skill by both the writers and actors. At the episode’s mid-point, the fun of Merlin impressing the court with his tricks cuts straight to an emotional moment between the pair and it’s done with such skill that the transition doesn’t feel jarring.