Oct 16, 2012

Merlin 501-2: Arthur's Bane

Merlin's back, YAY!!! They're starting with another bloody two-parter that leaves you hanging at the end of the first episode and you know all the good stuff was saved for the second part so boo! So I'm just going to group them as one for the blog! ;o)

still angry!
As a general impression, I'd say that wasn't a bad season opener... and yet I felt something was lacking. Can't quite put my finger on it. Three peaceful years have passed since Arthur's coronation and wedding to Guinevere, and suddenly Morgana's back (she spent 2 mysterious years "in darkness" with the young dragon... future flashbacks?) and causing trouble in the icy north! Several of Arthur's men have gone missing and of course he heads north to rescue them, only to get into trouble himself with the Saxon troupes guarding Morgana's new lair. She has all these captured men digging away beneath the castle searching for the "Diamair, the key to all knowledge" which will tell her what "Arthur's Bane" is. Merlin in the meantime is the recipient of a vision in which a grown Mordred pierces Arthur with a sword. Battle of Camlann anyone? And then kind of freaks out when he discovers Mordred among the Saxon captors!!!

Mordred killing Arthur?!

One thing that's got me worried about them introducing "Arthur's Bane", and showing images of a battle with young Mordred: it's too soon!!! Please don't tell me they're ending the series with the death of a YOUNG King Arthur?! Sure he's already been on the throne for 3 golden years which we skipped between seasons, but Arthur didn't die in his prime, just past it! We still haven't gotten all the glorious fights against the Saxons (well, we did get Hengist(?) back in season 2. And Morgana's "men" guarding the mine were Saxons) and the battle of Badon! They can't skip to Camlann without showing us Badon, can they? It's possible they can since this series has always been about Arthur and Merlin against Morgana fighting over Camelot as one of several kingdoms in Britain, not about Arthur High King of Britain and defender against the Saxon invaders. *sigh* I just don't like the idea of seeing an end on the horizon... Anyhow before that they really need to deal with Arthur discovering Merlin's secret. Just saying.

If you want more details about these episodes be sure to check out the (very!) fun recaps over at Billie Doux: episodes 501 and 502.

Elements from Arthurian Legend:

  • "Arthur's Bane"
    • -> This refers to the one who will kill Arthur, in all the legends: Mordred! And we are introduced to him here first via a vision which a dying druid seer shares with Merlin in which he sees Mordred killing (possibly) Arthur on a very bloody battlefield (Camlann?), and then we meet Mordred himself (now all grown up, no longer the little "Druid boy" from earlier seasons) who takes them to Morgana (they've just been captured.)
    • -> But Arthur's Bane is also something Morgana is looking for, with the help of a Druid. He tells her of the prophecy of "Arthur's Bane" and all they need to discover what that is is to find the "Diamair" said to be "the key to all knowledge" which is somewhere beneath the castle of Ismia (in a frozen northern wasteland) in which they are holed up. Ha! Little does she know that "Arthur's Bane" could be her dear friend Mordred who has just joined her, then betrayed her to stop her from killing Arthut!
    • -> Finally the Diamair tells Merlin that Arthur is his own Bane. Which in a way makes perfect sense. We are each our own worst enemy after all. The decisions Arthur makes as King (probably concerning magic), the way he treats his subjects (particularly those with magic i.e. Mordred) will lead him down one path or another...
  • The Round Table! -> Arthur actually has a "Meeting of the Round Table" with his Knights of Camelot. I wonder, who gets to sit at the table? 'Cause when it's time for fighting you always see more guys than could fit around that table!
Meeting at the Round Table in the gorgeous new throne room!
  • QUEEN Guenevere -> after four seasons as Morgana's serving girl, then just a castle servant with whom Arthur was secretly in love... she finally takes her place as Camelot's Queen, and boy does she do a good job! 
Queen Gwen confronting a traitor.
  • Knights of the Round Table present (from the Legends): Gwaine and Percival 
  • Arthur's Enemies (from the Legends): Morgana (a.k.a. Morgan le fey), Mordred?
  • Mordred -> the young Druid boy is now all grown up (although according to my math he should be a teen, right?) and is welcomed by Arthur as a Knight of Camelot as thanks for saving his life (by stabbing Morgana who was about to kill Arthur). This is in line with some of the legends which include Mordred as a member of Arthur's court (he is supposed to be his nephew/son originally) until he turns against him in the end... which always happens. How will it go here? Is Mordred truly willing to give Arthur a chance? He tells Merlin: "Arthur is right. The love that binds us is more important than the power we wield." Or is this a seriously good job of infiltration??? 


  1. So I realize this post is old, but I'm just watching Merlin for the first time, and finished with this episode tonight. Obviously, I'm trying to make sense of the Mordred/Morgana twist near the end, which was completely unexpected and just plain WILD!

    In retrospect, do you think this was all a show by Mordred to "prove" alliances to Arthur so he could work his way into the kingdom to pave the way for Morgana to be queen, or was he sincere in his change of heart and intentions? I'm fishing for anything here. Wow, Mordred, wow!

  2. Hi Jen! The post may be old, but Merlin is always fresh in my memory, big fan of the show! One of these days (years) I'll do a re-watch and write posts about the other 4 seasons as well...

    I never thought that about Mordred. I truly thought he was Merlin's friend and believed in Arthur and in a sense was "pushed" into becoming Arthur's enemy by Arthur's own actions (following in Uther's anti-magic lines) and thus fulfilling his fate. I like that he has thus shades of grey. Have you read Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy (starts with The Crystal Cave)? She paints Mordred in a similar light, a man who ends up fulfilling his fate against his original wishes.

    Please feel free to come back and comment on the other episodes when you've watched them! :)


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