The Merlin showrunners plan for the wizard’s power to finally start shining in the new season.
The fun BBC fantasy drama will be entering its fifth season (series) later this year, and when it does, we’ll be seeing a new version of Merlin, one who has come into his powers more fully and isn’t quite as afraid to use them.
In a recent interview with SciFiNow, showrunner and co-creator Julian Murphy said Merlin will be "a much... stronger, focused and powerful character [this season]. I think it's interesting because you saw a glimpse at the end of the last series, particularly when he killed Agravaine. We're really interested in taking him on that journey with all its dangers and the temptations it will bring, so that will be a big part of the fifth series."
I hope this means the writers are going to pull back a bit on the plot restrictions against Merlin’s use of power. Let a few more characters in on the secret, so he can practice slightly more openly. Keeping his power secret has been a sub-plot for all four seasons so far, and it would be nice to see the tale move away from that just a bit, even if it can’t be removed entirely - too much about the formula of the show would have to change if Arthur was in on the secret.
Murphy also commented on the potential for romance for the Merlin character in the future, stating that it’s unlikely because of the lack of sexuality and romance in most of the source material. "I think in our consciousness he's a curiously non-romantic figure," he explained. "In our mind, he's never associated with women, and I guess we stay true to that, but we'd never rule it out, and there are some interesting stories about Merlin being seduced away from the path."
Murphy did talk about the relationship between Arthur and Gwen, however, which reached a dramatic high-point at the end of last season, when they married. "I don’t think it will change the relationship between [Arthur and Merlin] because Gwen and Merlin have always been close, and there’s been a bond there," he said. "I hope it will make it a greater dynamic; three often shakes it up and makes it richer, and without it trying to, I think the writing will do that."
Merlin returns to BBC One later this year.