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We begin with Merlin running around Camelot and shouting hello, in quite a panic. It seems Gwen has gone missing, and Arthur, despite being surrounded by knights in red capes, has sent his most trusted (ish) servant to find her. Naturally he has failed.
Luckily Gwen turns up right behind the bickering pair, and Arthur gets to go and talk to his knights at the round table. It’s been three years of peace since we last saw everyone, nothing to report really, but now Sir Gwaine and 60 soldiers have disappeared on their way to Ismere – cut to Gwaine and the boys, running away from snarling wolves, and then being found by… OH NO! It’s MORGANA! On a WOLF-POWERED SLEDGE!
She takes the injured Gwaine to the Fortress of Ismere, where Ruadan mentions a curious thing called Arthur’s Bane, a thing they’ve been searching for for three months of fairly intensive mining under the castle. Neither of them are entirely sure what it is, or where it is, but they want it, and they want it bad.
Back in Camelot, they’re considering paying a visit to the Fortress of Ismere, even though Gaius thinks it’s probably a trap. Gwen suggests going around the back, so it’ll be a surprise for Morgana if she’s there. Then Merlin bashes into Gwen’s new servant Sefa, says hello, and heads off off on an exciting quest.
In the Bane-mines under the fortress, Gwaine and Percival are talking. It seems they’re looking for a key of some sort. Although they really don’t want to find it, if Morgana is so keen.
Arthur, meanwhile, has found the remains of a community, all recently killed. Merlin can hear someone whispering “Emrys,” so he looks in a nearby cave, and finds a dying man with a druidic tattoo, who knew he was coming. He has a prophecy, and Merlin sees a vision: Arthur’s Bane is coming, there will be war, and a grumpy-looking knight with dark hair will kill the king, unless Merlin can save him.
That night, Merlin calls the Great Dragon to have a word. That tattoo is the mark of a vates, a seer, and the vision is a very possible future, one that only Merlin can prevent. He does not look impressed at this news.
Next day, Arthur arrives at the court of Queen Annis, who tells Arthur that his men may be alive, carted off to Ismere to dig for something. In reward for this information, Merlin is forced to juggle four eggs, which he can actually do, much to Arthur’s bewilderment.
Oh remember Sefa? She has snuck off to meet a stranger. OH MY WORD IT’S RUADAN! And he’s her DAD! She tells him Arthur is approaching from the west, through Queen Annis’s kingdom. And he tells Morgana, who sets off to intercept them.
The next morning, after a nice heart-to-heart between Merlin and Arthur, Morgana attacks. Arthur’s men are forced to scatter, Arthur gets a clonk on the head, and Merlin has to get him off to safety. When Arthur wakes, the two are alone. They set off for Ismere, no matter how stoutly Merlin protests.
Some of the knights have made it back to Camelot, and Arthur’s disappearance is revealed. Gaius and Gwen realise their plans are being relayed back to Morgana, and look appropriately worried.
Down in the Banemine, Gwaine is being haunted by a dancing blue light. It’s the police! No, hang on! It’s a rave! Oh wait, it’s some orcish men in metal hats, and they duff him up.
Things aren’t going any better for Arthur and Merlin, as they’ve been caught in a big net (for HOURS), after trying to pinch some dead rabbits from the floor. There’s a lesson for everyone there about food hygeine. And Sefa’s not having a good day, as Gwen has realised she’s the snitch and sentenced her to death.
The next morning, Arthur and Merlin are captured by Ragnor and his men, who set the trap for him, and Gwaine is healed by an odd blue ghost. Then a man approaches, dressed in black. OH MY CRIKEY, IT’S THE GUY FROM MERLIN’S VISION!
AND OH MY DOUBLE CRIKEY! IT’S ONLY FLIPPING MORDRED! MORDRED THOUGH!
End of part one…
See more posts by Fraser McAlpine
Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.
He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.
Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic