After a number of weeks spent focusing on various different members of the cast, this episode restores the ensemble feel to the show, with each of the central characters having a clear part to play. Merlin’s unthinking stupidity leads to the Witchfinder’s arrival, but it’s the loyalty and friendship between him, Arthur, Gaius, Gwen and Morgana that leads to victory against what looks, even to the Great Dragon, like unbeatable odds.
It’s a dark story with little humour to alleviate the tension, but that’s appropriate to the subject matter. One actual death and one near-death are graphically portrayed in a way that’s quite strong for teatime viewing.
Charles Dance is perfectly cast as the Witchfinder, his back story with both Gaius and Uther delivered almost as subtext rather than through any pretentious dialogue, and it’s good to see a situation where Tony Head’s Uther is wrong footed. Richard Wilson also has a chance to shine in the interrogation scenes and later, with the final discussion between him and Uther hopefully marking the start of a redefinition of their relationship.
A tense and well-written instalment. 8/10