's back for a second series. Last year we had to wait all 13 episodes for Arthur (Bradley James) to take his top off. This year we had to wait for Scene Two. I'm taking a wild guess the producers know their fanbase by now.
Not only that, but Arthur went topless thrice. THRICE! In the course of a single episode! I mean, it was just a coincidence that the series started with a story where Arthur's bedtime routine was part of the plot.
Apart from "start with nipples" we got the traditional opening Doctor Who
also employs of "start with lots of action." As I prefer a bit more intrigue with my magic this means it wasn't going to be one of my favourite episodes ever, but the episode was nicely structured in two halves - first, Mackenzie Crook as Cedric, a petty thief trying to angle his way into Merlin's job so he can access a newly-discovered treasure; and then a switch of pace as he does get the jewel, only for it to posess him with the soul of a long-dead wizard. Actually this changeover was rather clunkily done - straight after the body-takeover we had Sigan pretending to still be Cedric and getting into a bitch-fight with Merlin, then in the next scene it's night, Sigan's dressed as a goth chicken and bringing gargoyles to life. I don't blame Crook who clearly differentiated the two characters he was playing, but something in either the writing or the editing seems to have fudged this changeover a bit.
The other scene that didn't work for me was when Merlin defeated Sigan - although it was better on a second viewing when I knew that's what was happening. The first time it looked like Merlin had definitely lost, especially with the raven cawing when his eyes snapped open, and as happened a lot in Series One, it looked like there was a surprise two-parter in store. I know they only did this so we could have the following scene of Gaius thinking Merlin's been possessed only for him to prove his identity through The Power of Goofy Grin, but frankly I was quite liking the idea of starting the series with Merlin posessed by an evil wizard for an episode or two.
Still, apart from those two sections it wasn't a bad opener; the CGI continued to be not-amazing-but-not-awful-either, the characters were very well re-established, especially the fact that the Great Dragon was brought back into proceedings after his true motivations were revealed last year - hopefully we'll get more of this even-more-sinister-than-before relationship between him and Merlin this series. And I guess we're definitely getting the beginnings of the Arthur/Gwen relationship this year, as well as some Merlin/Morgana judging from the trailer at the end. But fear not -
GAYWATCH! Yep, the slash is still definitely present and correct. Most notably when Merlin tells Gaius everything he does is for Arthur, why doesn't he
notice me etc; and when he tells Sigan he'd rather serve a good man than rule with an evil one. He is such