Last week’s episode might not have necessarily needed the 8.25 transmission time, in terms of its content, but this week’s tale, courtesy of Misfits writer Howard Overman, most definitely justifies it. There are some really spooky sequences and an air of dread permeates the whole thing.
Overman has often been given the comedy episode to write, but this time around he’s in full dramatic mode, leavened with some well-placed humour which would fall flat on its face if Colin Morgan and Bradley James hadn’t developed such a good sense of timing. James also gets plaudits for his performance throughout the episode: there are a number of scenes without dialogue (to the extent that I did wonder at times whether there had been a conscious decision to remove the dialogue from a scene during filming) which rely, and succeed, purely on James’ ability to tell the story with his body language.
There are also some strong scenes for Colin Morgan: although there are appearances by most of the rest of the cast, this is pretty much a three-hander between James, Morgan and guest star Anthony Head, which gives plenty of opportunities for Morgan to shine.
Tony Head is chilling as Uther, incorporating tough love, anger, revulsion and desperation into his performance. After the restrained Uther seen last season as a result of Morgana’s betrayal, we’re back with a vengeance to the King of Camelot, and I suspect that this will be remembered as one of his very best appearances on the show.
Verdict: As a demonstration of just how far Merlin has come since it began, in terms of acting, production and storyline, this will be hard to beat. 9/10