Allotting this tale the show’s first two-part slot was a wise move, as it allows the romance between Uther and the false Lady Catrina a chance to breathe, and gives Tony Head some much needed extra dimension to his character. Another wise decision was to reveal Catrina in all her trolldom up front, which allows Sarah Parish free rein to enjoy herself. A simple move of her jaw gives away the moment she lets her pretence drop – a useful tell for scenes later in the episode.
It also makes a very pleasant change for it not to be Merlin who instantly realises that something is wrong. The episode belongs to the older cast members – the bond between Uther and Gaius is severely tested by the latter’s absolute conviction that this isn’t the Lady Catrina that he knew when she was young, and both Head and Richard Wilson make the most of the drama.
For perhaps the first time we also see an aerial view of the town outside Camelot’s walls: there have been numerous scenes set there, but this gives a sense of scale that’s previously been missing.
A very good opener – let’s hope the conclusion maintains the pace. 8/10