A little too close in theme and resolution to the recent two-parter Beauty and the Beast, with Arthur rather than Uther the subject of the enchantment, Lucy Watkins’ script initially pitches Merlin as French farce, rather than serious drama. David Schofield and Kevin Eldon’s overacting can therefore be seen as appropriate in context, rather than the OTT performance that is threatened by their appearance in the teaser.
Director Alice Troughton reunites with her Doctor Who guest star Georgia Moffet, eliciting a performance as Lady Vivian that’s the diametric opposite of the feisty Doctor’s Daughter. Amid the humour of Arthur as the Great Romantic, we also see the effect on Gwen, who, thanks to Merlin’s error, believes that Arthur is finally going to admit his love. Angel Coulby deserves plaudits for a dialogue-less scene as she realises she’s been mistaken about him.
The duel between Arthur and King Olaf is one of the highlights of the episode, particularly if you contrast Bradley James’ cocky performance while still enchanted, with the desperation he displays when that has been lifted.
Hopefully this coincidence of storyline with an episode from a mere three weeks ago doesn’t mean the writers are running out of plotlines. 7/10