Sunday 14 October 2012

Review: Merlin 5.02 Arthur's Bane Pt 2

To say that the writers of Merlin have stepped up their game is no understatement because the second part of the season premiere elevates the series to a whole new level. It feels like Merlin has really hit its pinnacle of storytelling, which bodes well for the rest of the season.

Once again, Arthur and Merlin are on their way to free the knights who have been made prisoners in Morgana's mines. However, they hit a snag at the end of the last episode when they were captured by a party of Morgana's Saxons, including Arthur's own portent of doom: Mordred. The two heroes manage to escape, resulting in a heart-pounding chase and some adept crossbow work from the king. They continue towards Ismere in order to free the knights, having to break in through a not-so-pleasant way. This is one of the three sub-plots happening in this episode, which is evidence of how far the show has come in its storytelling.

Meanwhile, Sefa, the serving girl who was caught handing over strategic maneuvers to her father Ruadan, pleads with Guinevere for her life. The queen manages to subvert expectations, showing her intelligence and adding more depth to Gwen's character.

In the mines of Ismere, Morgana continues her search for the Eudach or 'the key to all knowledge'. Gwaine has been rescued by a strange blue creature that looks like a Smurf by the way of H.R. Giger. The story flits back and forth between these scenes of Gwaine with the creature and sometimes these scenes feel pointless, especially when one lasts for about six seconds. It's a surprise to learn what the creature really is and what part it might play in the future of the show.

Speaking of surprises, this episode is littered with them and there are some great shock moments, one of which I actually let out a gasp at. The acting continues to be brilliant and Richard Wilson actually gets some screentime, which is always a bonus. We also finally see Aithusa, the white dragon from season 4, who is looking thin and sickly, presumably from the time spent imprisoned with Morgana of which we see a brief flashback.

Arthur's Bane Part 2 is another stunning episode that will be difficult to top. With such strong performances and character-driven plots, Merlin has really hit its stride. Let's hope it keeps chugging along like this.


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