This episode is rather irritating, as there are so many good moments in it but the overall effect is spoiled by what feels like first draft writing in some of the early scenes. There are a number of lines of dialogue that are clichéd, and sound clumsy, almost as if the writer’s stuck something down as a placeholder and there’s not been enough time to go back and sharpen it up.
Last week’s throw-forward gave away a large number of the action plot points of the episode, but luckily doesn’t hint at a couple of the big reveals that drive the latter part of the story. Those who have been concerned that the series has become more about Camelot than the titular magician can rest assured that the focus is much more on Merlin this week (even if he is given some truly appalling dialogue both with Arthur and Gaius).
The effects owe much to Doctor Who‘s The Waters of Mars and are as effective here as they were there, while the ending sees a visual nod of the head to a recent BBC Three series.
Verdict: Another script pass, and this could have been up there with the recent strong episodes – but the ending will have repercussions for Arthur and Merlin, so don’t miss it. 6/10