Unusually the throw-forward at the end of last week’s episode was more revealing than perhaps it should have been, although little doubt is even cast on the nature of this week’s villain – who, for once, isn’t linked to any of the ongoing plots (or at least, isn’t as far as we know).
The script overall comes across as a filler – some of the banter between Arthur and Merlin isn’t quite right at the start, given what’s happened so far this season, and the relationship between Arthur and Agravaine is muted. There’s also very little humour; this is a tense, dramatic episode set for the large part at night.
That’s not to say it isn’t entertaining. The focus is more on the Knights than normal, with some good moments for all of the regulars, and while Charlene McKenna’s performance isn’t the strongest we’ve seen on the series, the character of Lamia is more of a catalyst for the most part, so attention is necessarily on her effects on the others.
It’s also good to get away from the confines of Camelot and see Arthur dealing with the concerns of the ordinary people. It’s something that marked him out from his father in earlier seasons – where Uther was more worried about affairs of state, Arthur would try to ensure his father’s decisions didn’t adversely affect the people, and it’s an aspect of his reign that hasn’t been seen previously.
Verdict: A perfectly enjoyable standalone adventure, but Merlin is far more a serial than a series this year, and the lack of arc plots jars. 6/10