At one point in this episode, when Merlin seems on the point of making a decision that will condemn a man to die, Gaius asks what happened to the young lad who came into his chambers a few years earlier. He grew up, Merlin says bluntly. It sums up not just this episode, but this entire series of Merlin, which has a much stronger serial feel than any of its predecessors. The arrival of Mordred as a Knight of Camelot, combined with the vision Merlin had in the first episode, has changed the parameters by which Merlin judges everything, and with conflicting advice from various quarters, he doesn’t know which way to jump.
Things are much darker now: it’s almost as if we’ve bypassed Camelot’s Golden Age completely and are going straight to its downfall, with portents, judgements and deaths among the Knights. Once again, Arthur decides to be a king leading from the front, much to Guinevere’s displeasure, and his approach is beginning to infect those around him. We learned what Arthur’s Bane truly is, and we’re seeing it in operation. While there’s unlikely ever to be parity between Merlin and Arthur, the king is turning to him for advice far more than before – but the question this season is throwing up increasingly is, will he listen in time?
Verdict: A dark episode with some worrying portents for the future… 7/10