This was a strange episode. I appreciated some of its ideas—especially Merlin (Colin Morgan) replacing Gaius (Richard Wilson) as a doctor on a "house call"—and there was a wonderfully dark and insidious tone throughout, together with a fantastic Rastafarian squid monster and a moment of heroism from a sword-wielding Gwen (Angel Coulby), whose role's been reduced for no good reason this year. But despite all that, "Lamia" failed to capitalize on these positives (e.g. the Knights may have been more prominent for a change, but most were playing brainwashed versions of themselves, so there was no relevant character development).
It was a real shame, because there was potential here for something much stronger. I really liked the idea of Merlin in a position of true authority (notice how he spoke to the villagers with a commanding tone of voice), and the eponymous Lamia (Charlene McKenna) oozed quiet malevolence as every man fell under her spell, but there just wasn't enough going on in-between its highlights. I began to lose patience with the story halfway through and found nothing very interesting in Arthur's (Bradley James) and Agravaine's (Nathaniel Parker) attempt to find the missing Knights. There was a serious lack of humour to this episode, too, and the drama wasn't special enough to make you forget that fact.
Overall, "Lamia" just felt like filler of no lasting significance. I can't imagine anyone being excited by anything presented here... more disappointed writer Jake Michie didn't do more with the idea of Merlin as the official leader of a group. I was quite looking forward to an episode where the boy-wizard could be a hero more openly, by saving a village from disease, but it didn't come to pass. Instead we got yet another mysterious woman who's a "creature of magic", poisoning the minds of Camelot's finest, with Gwen just tagging along for the ride. I guess it made a change that Arthur was the one rushing to save Merlin's life for once, but I wanted a lot more.
- A bugbear of mine, but I hate it when official sites suddenly stop making promotional photos available. (This commonly affects Chuck.) Merlin's a successful show that's already been renewed for a fifth series, so where's the photos, BBC?