Merlin has managed to grow with the times over the past few years as we saw an end to the ‘fart and belch’ episodes that tended to plague the first couple of seasons and a move towards more adult storytelling. Season five is only going to get darker, if recent interviews with the writers are to be believed, with multiple plot strands and more mature themes. With part one of Arthur’s Bane, the season five opener, it’s certainly looking that way, making it the strongest start to a new season yet.
Three years have passed since Arthur took the throne of Camelot, and under his and Lady Guinevere’s rule the kingdom has flourished. But, this being Merlin, this prosperity can’t last for long as a new plot to usurp the throne is brewing deep in the icy northern wastes by none other than Morgana herself, along with her newly acquainted Saxon pals. While last time we saw her, the evil sorceress seemed more like a crazy lady who lived in a tree, this time she means business, sitting on her own throne and everything.
Meanwhile, a handful of knights, including Gwain and perpetually-sleeveless Percival, have left on a mission to the northern wastes where they are confronted by wolves, forcing them to flee in Monty Python-esque ‘run away, run away!” terror. These guys can hold their own against decked out warriors but wolves send them reeling somehow? This feels like a lazy way to get some of our main heroes into the icy clutches of Morgana before being sent deep underground to mine for something called ‘Arthur’s Bane’, a powerful key to do something-or-other.