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Merlin: Arthur's Bane, Part 2

“I feel that the die is cast, and for good or ill Albion’s great trial has begun!”

Another fantastic episode. I will admit that I did have my doubts that this would live up to the trailers. Last season the two-parters tended to start out strong, but then disappoint in the second half. Not so in this case, I'm happy to say.

It looks like they are setting up Mordred to be some dark version of Merlin. Even his costume is like a reflection of Merlin's signature look. Unlike the king's loyal boyfriend servant, who has a loving father figure and lives in a nice castle filled with people who wouldn't know a wizard if he flew into the courtyard on his broomstick and said “Hello, I'm Harry Potter”, Mordred has been forced to fend for himself for the last few years. And now he's in Camelot, serving King Arthur as a Knight of the Round Table, something that fits right in with the legends.

This is going to be a reworking on the same traitor in the castle storyline we saw in season 3 and 4. The difference is that this time we have no idea whose side Mordred is really on. Morgana and Agravaine were obvious traitors from the start, smirking away as they plotted behind everyone's backs while Merlin did bugger all to stop them. Mordred's motivations are being kept ambiguous for now. Can Mordred really be trusted? He was quick to turn on Morgana, someone he had a very close bond with. I feel sorry for Morgana. She was so happy to see Mordred again. We haven't see her smile like that in a very long time. And yet he literally stabbed her in the back. She isn't going to forgive that in a hurry. At least she still has her loyal dragon.

I liked how Mordred's betrayal paralleled Merlin poisoning her way back in ' The Fires of Idirsholas', which was the turning point for her character. It looks like she wasn't being metaphorical when she said she knew nothing but darkness for two years. Just what the hell happened to her and Aithura? How did they end up in that pit? How did they get out? And who put them there in the first place? Must've been someone very powerful to trap a powerful sorceress and a dragon. No wonder Morgana seems a lot more unhinged then she was last season (Katie McGrath seriously gave those crazy eyes a work out in this episode). I sense a flashback episode in the show's future.

Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice Camelot, it turns out Queen Gwen isn't quite as merciless as we thought she was. But she is a lot craftier. Seems she only sentenced Sefa to death to lure out her father, badass magic warrior man Ruadan. You clever girl, Gwen. I'd love to know who taught her to be such a kickass monarch, because it clearly wasn't Arthur. Shame her plan was undermined by the utter uselessness of Camelot's knights. It was a shame to see Ruadan go. He was a nice change from Merlin's usual line up of one-note panto villains. But what will because of Sefa? Is this the last we've seen of her, or will she be back later in the season to avenge her father?

The Diamair turned out to be a complete waste of everyone's time. It looked awful and out of place with the tone of rest of the episode. I could maybe forgive that if it had at least made some sort of significant contribution to the story, yet it did nothing before dropping a revelation that wasn't so much earth shattering as a slight wobble of dirt. I can't help but wonder how Morgana would've reacted if she'd actually found it...

Merthur Moments

Last episode they got tangled in a net. This time they hid in a very small mine cart. Those two will find any old excuse to huddle close to each other.

Familiar Faces

The Diamair was played by Josette Simon (OBE), best known for playing Dayna Mellanby on Blake's 7. She has also appeared on Lewis, Skins, and Poirot.

Notes and Quotes

--The security at Morgana's fortress is almost as bad as Camelot security. I say almost because nothing is as bad as Camelot security.

--No one seemed interesting in checking that Morgana was well and truly dead. And no one asked Mordred where Merlin was, nor did they go and look for him. Some friends they are.

--They did a great job casting the older Mordred. Alexander Vlahos might not have the same piercing blue eyes, but I can easily see him as an older Asa Butterfield.

--I feel sorry for the actors playing Morgana slave army. It looked colder in those caves than it did in the snowy lands exteriors.

--Just when I thought this two-parter couldn't get any more Game of Thrones, Ruadan sends a message to Morgana via raven.

--Richard Wilson's new wig is very distracting.

--Arthur knows that Mordred is a Druid, and therefore has magic. Or do only some Druids have magic?

--Because I feel like it, here are some of adorable pictures of Katie McGrath and Hugo:

Morgana: “I am the high priestess, I have the heavens in my hands – and yet still he defies me!”

Gaius: “There are those that believe Arthur is destined to die by a druid’s hand. Perhaps Ruadan thought he was that man.”
Gwen: “Then he was mistaken.”

Merlin: "Why are you doing this?"
Mordred: "He once saved my life. I owe him a debt. Don't be so quick to judge me. You fear me, Emrys, don't you? I know the hatred and suspicion with which men treat those with magic. You and I are not so different. I too have learned to hide my gifts. I promise... your secret is safe with me."

Arthur: "We escaped, didn't we?"
Merlin: "Next time, we might not be so lucky."
Arthur: "I love your optimism."

Morgana: "I want his annihilation, Mordred. I want to put his head on a spike and then I want to watch as crows feast on his eyes."

Arthur: "I'm sorry for what our father did to you."
Morgana: "Uther was never my father!"
Arthur: "But we are brother and sister."
Morgana: "Funny how you choose to remember that with my dagger at your back."

Four out of four very small mine carts.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.


  1. The question has to be asked: why didn't Ruadan use magic first, instead of trying to fight everyone off using conventional means, and then use magic only after he'd been stabbed?

    And those scenes of Merlin and Arthur walking up that clearly not sloping tunnel was like something out of the Batman TV series.

    But despite the slightly dodgy effects, and the frankly laughable alien, another strong episode.

  2. Thanks for another great Merlin review :)

    I'm not sure if being a Druid automatically indicates you have magic. When the show has visited Druid camps in the past only a few had magic. I think Uther's persacution of the Druid's was because they respected magic users and hailed them as their leaders. It wasn't only magic users but those who harboured them who were hounded during the Great Purge.

    I like to think that Arthur appointing Mordred as knight of the Round Table was a gesture of friendship toward the Druids as well as a reward for saving his life.

    Also, anyone else thinks Morgana is somehow linked to Aithusa a la Dragonheart?


  3. Great review! You got quite a few good laughs from me, particularly with your captioned shots of Morgana! lol!

    I don't think it has been established that all Druids have magic, just that they are more connected to nature and the spirit world. I'm guessing magic is something some are born with, others are able to learn and others well not at all. My bet is that Mordred was born with it.

    I don't think Arthur's naming of Mordred as a Knight of Camelot was a gesture to the druids so much as a thank you for saving his life. I'm really worried by his presence there because in my opinion it's too early to take us to the classical Arthur-Mordred confrontation at Camlann! That's supposed to be at the end of Arthur's reign. He's much too young, just got on the throne!!! Plus before that we have to have a confrontation resulting in Arthur's discovery of Merlin's secret. How will he react? Probably feel betrayed to some extent, grateful when he realises how many times Merlin has saved his life with magic? It will be the true test of their friendship. I'm hope season 5 is more about that than Mordred!!!

    PS: damn pity we only got Davos for 2 episodes! :o(

  4. Oh, and I just wanted to see if anyone was interested in my new Blog... I'm starting to delve a bit into my obsession with Arthurian legends (and Robin Hood) by examining their presence in books, TV shows, movies etc. And of course I'm writing about Merlin! But for a complete summary I'm sending readers your way. No need to replicate a job well done!

    Anyhow, here's my take on the first two episodes if anyone is interested:

    The blog is still a slow work in progress.

  5. Thanks for the shout out, Cris. I promise to return the favour in my next review :)

  6. I don't think Gwen's plan was that great actually. I mean, luring Davos to his daughter's side was smart, but leaving only one guard? She knows too well how incompetent they are. She should've been better prepared.

    I can't remember the last thing I've seen that I've pitied more than that poor dragon. Poor thing.


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