Series 3 of Merlin, aka the one where it starts to get good
“This has just begun”
Ooh now this is more like it. Having followed something of a formula with its rather jolly and overtly family-friendly adventure-of-the-week format, series 3 of Merlin begins to shape a stronger identity for itself, as it delves deeper into Arthurian legend to retell some darker and deeper stories.
Key to this is the arrival of Morgana as the show’s key antagonist. With her magical self now fully awakened and the series opening a year after the events of the second season finale, Katie McGrath gets to chew the scenery wonderfully as Morgana embraces her dark side whilst still passing herself off as a friend to Camelot.
She’s aided immeasurably by the return of Emilia Fox’s Morgause, her half-sister, as the show thrives with a more solid base of established characters and finally releasing the dragon, so Merlin isn’t stuck with having to go down to that blasted cave every episode.
And even if there are scarcely tolerable instalments with naughty goblins and malevolent Sidhe, scenes with the Round Table, the lady in the lake, the sword in the stone and the arrival of Gwaine are well done, tapping into the folklore we know so well, even as it is interpreted differently here. Much more enjoyable than expected.