BBC One has released a trailer for the upcoming fifth season of its hit fantasy drama, Merlin.
This season presents a major turning point in the story. The first few seasons were mostly a hodgepodge of adventures with young Merlin and his friend Arthur, but the fourth season was a sort-of end-of-innocence tale, as the characters dealt with the death of Uther, the betrayal of Morgana, and Arthur’s ascent to the throne. The season ended with Arthur’s first act of true rebelion against the status quo of the kingdom, when he married his love, Gwen, despite her lower class status.
Now, he’s king in spirit as well as name. It’s been three in-story years since the end of season four, and he’s become the Arthur we know from the old stories, with Gwen and Merlin at his side – though Merlin still must keep his magical powers a secret, even from Arthur. Arthur will be building his team of valiant knights, and ruling Camelot with wisdom he will only now be finally tuning into.
I expect Gwen to get kidnapped or otherwise find herself in need of rescue several times this season, and Arthur to almost figure out Merlin’s secret nearly every episode, which might get a bit old, but I also expect continued great characterizations from all corners, especially from Colin Morgan, in the title role, and Katie McGrath, in the demanding role of Morgana.
What I find most interesting is that there isn’t much to draw from the old legends any longer. Most of the well-known plot-lines, Guinevere’s affair, Morgana’s seduction, the mysterious challenger, the slaying of the giant, etc. have all either been played-out or subverted in the first four seasons.
All that’s really left is the battle with Mordred out on the frozen lake, but I’m sure that plotline is being left for later, since Arthur dies at the end of that one – though a new actor has been found to play an older Mordred, so I’m sure some conflict will build on that front.
This means that the show runners have to write original stories and draw from other mythologies for their monsters and supporting characters. It already began mid-way through last season, when we started to see some characters from other Western European legends enter the plot. I’m looking forward to seeing where they go with it next.
The fifth season of Merlin kicks off on September 29th, 2012 on BBC One, and will run soon after on Syfy in the US.