There’s a level of nastiness in this episode – more in terms of the flashbacks to the period between series four and five than the “contemporary” material – that may surprise some; and there’s a level of incompetence as well.
Not in terms of the production of the show, but the actions of some of the characters: I can fully understand why Guinevere doesn’t want to show her hand, and therefore seeks to act by proxy (as shown in the throwforward last week). But why Morgana doesn’t simply kill when she has someone in her power, rather than inflict a horrible and agonising death on them doesn’t really make sense – although it’s another indication perhaps of her increasing psychosis.
John Shrapnel’s vivid descriptions of the Sarrum’s past deeds are bloodcurdling enough that we might almost have done without the visualisation of them – and in fact, some of them are left purely vocal. Angel Coulby is enjoying a chance to show some other sides to Gwen: there’s a great scene between her and Shrapnel with a very appropriate sting in its tail towards the end of the episode.
For the plot to proceed, Merlin has to be sent away from Camelot; Colin Morgan fans, don’t despair though – he’s still in the episode in a major way.
Verdict: The clouds of darkness continue to swirl round Merlin’s fifth season – despite a short slapstick scene between Bradley James and Richard Wilson. We need to start moving forward again. 7/10