This slightly longer than usual season ender has everything that has characterised this season of Merlin – plot development, character moments, humour, growing friendships, and strong battle sequences. Everyone has their moment (except Morgana, who’s still off with Morgause, and merits a brief mention), even the Great Dragon.
Colin Morgan has noticeably grown as an actor during the run of Merlin, and the script can safely leave him to show the young wizard’s emotions without having to hammer the point home. It could perhaps have been made clearer that Merlin really was hearing his father during the climactic encounter with the Dragon – it feels like a flashback to a scene we didn’t see, rather than an Obi-Wan Kenobi-like “Feel the force, Luke” moment, which is what later dialogue reveals it to have been.
The Great Dragon’s departure at the end of the episode hopefully heralds a third year in which Merlin has to sort things out far more for himself, rather than traipsing down the stairs to the Dragon’s lair to get given the answers – a problem, one suspects, more for the scriptwriters than the character. The show has come a long way from its Smallville-in-Camelot roots, and deserves its continued lease of life. 7/10