TV REVIEW: Merlin Series 5, Episode 2 – Arthur’s Bane (Pt 2)

Many interesting twists and turns are in store for Arthur, Merlin & Co as Arthur’s Bane is finally revealed in the second half of last week’s series premiere. Ancient prophecies of Mordred weigh heavily on Merlin and powerful secrets are hidden amongst Ismere’s twisted catacombs. Arthur won’t be swayed from Arthur walking right into the lion’s den. The great trial for Albion has finally begun.

Even though series 5 has finished filming, the audience still has a lot to look forward to in the coming months.

The show opens with Morgana having a nightmare – a flashback to what happened to her and Aithusa in the past 3 years. We see they’ve been imprisoned and shackled down in an oubliette. She wakes and comforts the bedraggled dragon – who’s now a teenager promising that Camelot will be theirs.

Arthur and Merlin, still captive, are being dragged through the snow. When Merlin stares a bit too long at Ragnor, the latter teases him and throws bread at him but it’s just out of his reach. Mordred tries to get Merlin food but Ragnor decides to withhold. Later on, Mordred brings them the bread they couldn’t get before. When Merlin questions him about why he’s helping them, he states that Arthur saved his life once and he owes him.

It is unspoken but they both know what happened the last time they met – Merlin tried to kill him. Mordred tells Merlin that he shouldn’t be so quick to judge and that his secret is safe as he’s had to hide his own skills as well. Continuing to get dragged along, Arthur, looking a bit worse for wear collapses – or does he? When their captor makes him get up by kicking him, Merlin helps him up and we see that he’s stolen his dagger and the two are able to make an escape. An odd thing is that Arthur shoots down every enemy that tries to cross the gorge they jumped except Mordred. Merlin fumes at that decision as he has the weight of a vision on him.

In Ismere, Morgana’s frustration in not finding the key has her yelling at Ruadan – who informs her that their spy, his daughter, has been arrested and sentenced to die. WIth slight regret, Morgana says that’s cruel indeed. Why? She’s a spy – it’s cruel because Sefa is a pawn used by her father and Morgana and got caught. She tries to remind him that letting yourself die for a worthy cause is an honor – doesn’t look like Ruadan believes her. She makes it clear that they have other things to worry about to ensure that Sefa’s sacrifice is not made in vain. We all know that he’s not just going to leave it alone. Gwen’s plan to lure Ruadan out is working.

Back in Camelot, Sefa looks at the noose in the courtyard when Gaius brings a potion to ease the pain of her hanging. She begs him to get her an audience with Gwen. Gwen and Gaius are in the council chambers when Sefa is brought in. The girl begs the Queen to reconsider and Gwen looks thoughtful for a minute but holds strong in her sentence. Gaius tells Gwen that she doesn’t deserve to die and we find out that its a ploy to catch Ruadan – wars cannot be won without taking risks. If Ruadan doesn’t come – Gwen doesn’t state that she’ll kill Sefa but she doesn’t deny it either.

A patrol leaves Camelot and Ruadan goes in the direction they came to find Sefa. Eventually they are cornered and he fights Elyan – who lands a mortal blow. They make it into the forest but Ruadan collapses. With Sefa’s help, he writes a final note to send to Morgana. He tells her that he loves her and to be strong – then dies. Gaius inspects Ruadan’s body and finds a scroll in a locket around his neck. He says its a prayer – Gaius denies knowing how to read the druidic runes but Gwen calls him out on it – says she knows him better than that. He explains that even though Uther is dead – the druids believe Arthur is just more of the same since magic is still outlawed. Legend says that he will die by a druid’s hand. Little do they know that it’s probably Mordred.

Reaching Ismere, Arthur and Merlin watch Mordred bring the prisioners and Merlin reiterates that they should have killed him when they had the chance. Arthur looks at him like he’s never seen Merlin be so cold-blooded (little does he know!). The warlock doesn’t think they’ll get inside and Arthur makes them crawl up the garbage disposal. Yuck. The place is crawling with Saxons so Arthur says they have to blend in. Does this mean more shirtlessness!?

In the courtyard, Morgana reunites with Mordred and they talk about what he’s experienced. She reassures him that the Old Religion will reign soon and that Arthur and “his kind” will be cleansed. When Mordred states that they had Arthur and he escaped – Morgana flips out. This is a fantastic performance by Katie McGrath. She gets a fanatical look in her eye, ranting that she wants Arthur’s head on a spike so she can watch the crows eat his eyes. Mordred realizes this is not the Morgana he once knew and we realize that she’s truly much more mad than we had imagined.

Gwaine and the Euchdag hear the warning bells and she hides when Arthur and Merlin find him. Percy & Co attack the Saxons and steal their weapons. While in the tunnels trying to escape, Merlin senses something – and it’s Aithusa attacking them. When Arthur wonders where the heck Morgana got a dragon – Merlin (of course) says he has no idea. He tells Arthur he’s going to distract the dragon while he gets Gwaine to safety and ducks out of Arthur’s grasp to run in the other direction. Arthur goes after him. The bromance is still strong with these two!

Getting Aithusa alone – Merlin tries to figure out what happened to her. When she tries to attack him – her fire cannot reach him. He orders her not to attack and is distraught at has seemingly happened to her. She tries to tell him but he realizes that she cannot speak. When he hears Arthur call for him, he tries to get her to go to safety but she doesn’t want to leave – he has to order her to run. This was a sad scene and I hope we’ll see more interaction between these two and also Merlin confronting Kilgarrah about why Aithusa isn’t with him.

Before Arthur can find Merlin, he stumbles upon Morgana. She taunts him with short stabs of her blade while Mordred watches. Merlin tries to come to his aid but is slammed into the stone wall. Trying to stay conscious enough to use magic, he finds he can’t. As Morgana is about to kill Arthur, Mordred stabs her in the back – and she turns shocked at what’s happened. The young druid drags Arthur away to safety leaving Merlin to die but the Euchdag heals him.

She calls him Emrys he tells her that her knowledge is both a blessing and a curse, something Merlin knows all too well. She asks him if there’s anything he wants to know. He doesn’t think it would be a good idea and she tells him he’s wise. “The love that binds us is more powerful that the power we wield.”

Arthur’s Bane is himself as he makes Mordred a Knight of Camelot – sealing his own fate. Gaius then tells Merlin he should give Mordred the benefit of the doubt. Maybe I should give this episode the same consideration as I was so throughly confused by it in the sense of “That was it?”

This wasn’t as action-packed nor as thrilling an episode to watch unlike previous series premieres. It felt like this was just the set-up for the rest of the series. Granted, that’s what a season opener is supposed to do – but it fell a little flat there at the end and the Euchdag was a useless addition – Merlin could’ve found this information out from the Crystal Cave or via some ancient book. No need for the martian to deliver the goods!

What did you think of the episode? Here’s next week’s trailer:

Rating: 2.5/5
Reporter: Sharlene

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8 comments

  1. Mai /

    Well I think that Colin Morgan’s performances in this episode; like in the previous ones, were outstanding…. Nothing else.

  2. Once again I agree with your review. I was hoping for “more”. And the Merlin Martian was just …weird. But, I’m still anxious to see what happens next week.

    What I want to know:
    – Am I the only one who shouted at the screen “Why don’t you ever make Merlin a knight???” Arthur has plenty of examples of Merlin saving his life. It’s not like Mordred is noble family born. GRRRRR. I just want it said on screen (that Arthur won’t make him a knight because he wants him by his side). Perhaps the excuse is the clumsyness that Merlin demonstrates. And Merlin is specifically NOT good with a sword. But how much has Mordred proven himself with a sword?

    Just me then? Ok.

    • TShaw /

      Nope – its definitely not just you.

    • Nimueh123 /

      Also agree with you. Mordred saves Arthur once and before you can count till two he is knight. Merlin, however,….

      I also think that it is becoming utterly unbearable not to see Merlin use magic where it would be really logical: cutting the ropes of the net would have been easily done, fighting the bandits when they were caught by Ragnor, but above all – instead of yelling Arthur and running right towards Morgana to get thrown about in theusual way, one flick of the head and it would have been the other at the receiving end. Merlin could have saved multiple lives using magic. I cannot believe Arthur would have minded.

    • adrienne5413 /

      I, too, am quite tired of Merlin’s magic seeming useless. Merlin is stagnant. The show itself is stagnant because the M/A relationship, while a bit more mature, cannot move forward. I’m infuriated by it. Also, has Arthur forgotten when he saved Mordred, it was because he was to be hanged because he HAS MAGIC????? Sheesh. TPTB on this show *shakes head*, they must really think the audience is completely clueless and don’t actually pay attention to storylines from past seasons (sorry, series), or character development. My eleven year old nephew remembered Mordred having magic and was surprised Arthur didn’t. What does that say?

  3. Of this episode – “that was it?” – that was me too.
    Question: If Aithuza can’t speak, how does Morgana know her name? She could speak earlier?

    I am hoping sooo hard that after 5 years of following this series and 10 years of Camelot we don’t end Series 5 with “Arthur is still an idiot” tho now we have a name to it – his Bane, and ours! (@SnazzyO – not just you). I have hope that the writers, who have made it their life’s work to mislead us with glimpses of the future, will have an interpretation of the Arthur’s doom scene that’s completely out of left field.

    Looking forward to next week and the teased heart-to-heart talks Arthur and Merlin are supposed to have with Uther.

  4. geljean /

    TPTB is so smug is their notion that MERLIN CAN’T CHANGE, as a character by definition he is LIMITED. He is just spectacularly being WISE but forever klutz. The producers deliberately don’t let Colin be good in sword so he’ll still be an awkward Merlin when wielding a sword. Merlin’s been a constant companion to Arthur and for the storyline’s 10- year running, logic dictates that ain’t he supposed to even develop some competency to be able to defend himself without the use of magic and not an outright liability (in all appearances) in the field? Ahh he’s just supposed to be around to be the butt of joke and ridicule and leave the brawn to Arthur and the knights.

    All of the other characters are being glorified and grandified to high heavens except Merlin. It’s a big horror and would be dent to the award-winning creed of the producers for Merlin to lose his scarf and actually develop. That’s the spectular plot: Merlin can’t change – can’t change his servant-rags for clothes, can’t change/develop his non-magic fighting skills, can’t change his stature in Camelot, can’t get away from being taken for a fool. Yeh, same-old, same-old… and how about as an old!Merlin or as old!hag for a change? Marvelous plot for a titular character indeed.

    Now where are WISEy stuff Merlin supposed to have spectacularly contributed to Camelot? Oow, it’s with the Queenb**bs of Camelot. So what’s left for Merlin, just let him mope around lapdoggity for Arthur. Really sad and disappointed for Colin, as an actor, the chances of him showing and expanding his mettle were just actually being sadistically muted by the producers. He deserves better that.

  5. Good point about the dragon though regarding the whole Mordred thing, as we’ve previously established Arthur isn’t too bright and Mordred does look almost completely different from when Arthur last saw him. Maybe Arthur just thinks there are two Mordreds?

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