Merlin: Arthur's Bane Part 2 -Spoiler Free Preview!

Didn't manage to preview Merlin last week because I was moving house and my computer was in bits, but I'm back now, watching the new series before it airs and dropping unusable hints. Most of us have now seen part one of Arthur's Bane, what could possibly happen next? Who is the “Bane”? Is it the big dude from Dark Knight Rises? Is it Mordred?

Well, I can't tell you, but I can give vague opinions without really saying anything. Let's go!

After last week's drifting debut, reminding us who everyone is, plus introducing Liam Cunningham's mysterious druid character, this is the big action sequence, as Merlin and Arthur infiltrate Morgana's castle-fortress-mine alone to rescue Gwaine, Percival and a crowd of shirtless nobodies from an awful life as Morgana's sex-and-tunnelling slaves.

Yes, this is the series opener, so the chances of Morgana dying are small, but they did kill Lancelot off at this stage last year, so oddly the danger to minor characters holds more meaning than the peril of major ones. And there are some unexpected twists here, which set up the year to come.

Much like last week, in fact, this is a strong, competent episode which feels like it advances plotlines and adds complications to the arc. Those hoping for major developments may be disappointed, but by Merlin standards, stuff definitely happens here. There's decent characterisation/bromance moments with Merlin and Arthur as they assault the castle too.

Merlin enthusiasts should enjoy it, non-fans probably will not care. The big question now: how dull and/or silly will the mid-series episodes be?

Catch the first part of Arthur's Bane on iPlayer. More Merlin info on the BBC official Merlin site.

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