BBC One has posted a trailer for the upcoming fifth series of its popular Arthurian drama.
Merlin returns this weekend, after leaving with an exceptional close to the previous series (season) last year. Arthur has finally come into his own, after a year of confidence sapping remembrance of his late father. He's made Gwen his queen, and is establishing his round table, which will be accompanying him on many forthcoming adventures.
There is a lot to take in in this trailer, but of note we managed to infer that we will see more of Merlin's 'old' persona, which is unfortunate. Then again, we'll likely also see a greater focus on sword-fighting and other action - unless the show runners just stuck all of them in the trailer.
'Arthur's Bane' is surely Mordred, the child who will one day be Arthur's killer, depicted in past series by the talented young Asa Butterfield.
This season the role is going to the older, but still talented British television actor Alexander Vlahos (photo at right) - as more years have passed in-story than the number of real years since we last saw the character in the show.
It'll be interesting to see if the showrunners have decided to keep Mordred as a sympathetic character. Last time we saw the character, still a small child at the time, he was on good term with Merlin, who had rescued him from Uther.
The writers did such an incredible job with Morgana's transformation over the first three seasons, that it would be a shame if Mordred appears and is suddenly villainous with no real journey to that point. It would be excellent if we would get Mordred in as a new regular ally, and then start foreshadowing his eventual turn, paralleling his transformation with Morgana's. We don't get to see any of Vlahos in the trailer, so no clues there.
Of course, as of the end of Series 4, sorcery was still forbidden in Camelot, so Merlin and Mordred still could not operate openly. This constant secrecy is a part of the show's formula that I would like to see change, but it looks like they plan on retaining it for the long haul. It begins to strain credulity, but no more than any other years-long secret identity story, I guess.
As silly as the show can sometimes be, I'm very much looking forward to more of it, and I little doubt that it will meet my expectations.
Merlin Series 5 premieres on BBC one October 11th, 2012. It will be on Syfy in the US in January, but enterprising US fans will find other ways to watch without waiting, which is likely why the ratings are much lower here - though still very good for a cable network. Perhaps series six will start showing simultaneously in the US. It did wonders for Doctor Who's ratings, after all.