Although the fighting scenes in the Tournament are well-choreographed, even if the music did get rather repetitive, they aren’t the central focus of this multi-stranded episode. Arthur has to decide if he should show his future subjects just how good he is in combat, but in the process humiliate his father, while Merlin must choose whether to protect Uther – the arch-enemy of theOld Ways – from a gifted young magician.
All the signs have been pointing to Uther’s departure from the series sooner rather than later, and there’s at least one moment in this episode where you wonder if the time has come. Harry Melling’s Gilli, at whose sword Uther almost dies, comes across as a spiritual cousin of Iwan Rheon’s Simon in Misfits, with very little self-belief except when he’s using his powers. He shows Merlin in a new light: this season we’ve seen the young wizard as the aged magician he’ll become, and here he takes on the role of mentor, finding a way to keep Gilli alive, despite the dragon’s advice.
With the attention firmly on Uther, Arthur, Gilli and Merlin, the other characters don’t get much of a look-in: Gwen is totally absent, while Morgana happily goads Uther into combat but doesn’t get much else to do. However with the quest for the Holy Grail forming the final two-parter, it seems this season is set to go out on top. 7/10