The Great Dragon is finally free. Full of rage, he attacks Camelot with pitiless intensity. The castle is crumbling and Arthur's men cannot hold out much longer but only a Dragonlord can command a dragon and Uther wiped them all out years ago. Or did he? Gaius admits one such man could still be alive and in hiding.
With the Great Dragon liberated, Camelot falls victim to vengeful attacks. Arthur and his men patrol the city while Gaius and Gwen attend to the injured. Gwen worries that the attacks are too powerful even for Arthur to overcome, but Gaius asks her to have faith in him. As Arthur and his men take their posts armed with flaming crossbows, Merlin apologises. Arthur rejects it, saying it's not his fault the Dragon is free. As the Dragon flies over the city, he gives the order to fire. As they do, the Dragon showers them with flames.
Realising that there is no clean water remaining in the treatment zone, against Gaius's wishes, Gwen ventures outside to fetch more. As she does so, Gwen puts herself directly in the Dragon's firing line. Arthur, sees her, then rushes to save her but as they both run for cover, Arthur is struck down by the Dragon. Merlin ignites a spear and hurls it at the Dragon, only to see it simply bounce off. The Dragon taunts Merlin and flies away without giving him a reason for the attacks. Tending to Arthur's wound back within the wall of the castle, Gwen tells him that he shouldn't have risked his life. Arthur replies that he wasn't going to let anything happen to her and holds her hand to his heart, with Gaius smiling on. Merlin returns unharmed but quite defeated.
The following morning, Arthur relays the level of destruction caused to Uther. Gaius says that only a Dragonlord can end the attacks, and one named Balinor may still be alive. Arthur offers to find Balinor on his own despite Uther's protests and departs with Merlin. According to Gaius, the Dragonlords were men who could tame the Dragons. Uther believed their art was too close to magic and therefore had them slaughtered. Gaius reveals to Merlin that Balinor is in fact his father, and that Gaius had helped him escape death all those years before. Overcome, Merlin sets off with Arthur after receiving advice from Gaius to keep the secret.
Reaching the last known whereabouts of Balinor, Arthur, and Merlin discover that Balinor lives in isolation. As they set out to find the cave, Arthur succumbs to his injury and passes out, leaving Merlin to lead the way. Eventually, he finds Balinor and asks for his help to heal Arthur. At first Merlin lies to Balinor that Arthur's name is Lancelot, but Balinor saw through it. He knew he was the prince of Camelot, Arthur Pendragon. While Arthur sleeps, Merlin tries to learn more about his father and get him to join them in Camelot. Balinor, still unaware he has a son, refuses to help Camelot because of what he and the Dragon (whom he knows as Kilgharrah) suffered at the hands of Uther. When he awakes the next morning, Arthur is amazed at his recovery and also learns of Balinor's refusal of help. As Camelot continues to crumble, Gaius comforts Gwen. He assures her Morgana is alright wherever she is and reveals that he has noticed the mutual feelings between herself and Arthur. Gaius tells Gwen to never underestimate the power of love, re-instilling hope that the two can be together.
With Arthur's last-ditch effort to gain Balinor's help failed, the two prepare to leave. Merlin mentions Gaius' name, whom Balinor states is a good man. Arthur's constant calls for Merlin prevents him from telling Balinor the truth, and so Merlin leaves. In the forest, Arthur and Merlin trade playful insults until they are alerted to a noise. It turns out to be Balinor, who has decided to join them in the fight. Alone, Merlin is finally able to reveal the truth. As they prepare to return to Camelot, Balinor dies protecting his son when attacked by Cenred's soldiers. He imparts words of wisdom to Merlin and says that his son will make him proud. Devastated, Merlin continues with Arthur on their journey and eventually return to Camelot safe. Resigned to the fact that the last Dragonlord is dead, Arthur tells his father that he and his knights will fight the Dragon on their own. Alone, Merlin mourns the death of Balinor. He tells Gaius what had happened in the forest and of what his father had told him. Gaius reveals that Merlin has inherited the power of the Dragonlord, and time will tell if he is strong enough to harness it.
As he prepares Arthur for war, Merlin asks Arthur to be careful in battle. After being told by Merlin that he is joining Arthur in the fight, Arthur tries to dissuade Merlin. Merlin playfully asks Arthur if he knew how many times he's had to save his life, only to prompt Arthur to believe Merlin's regained his sense of humour. Arthur and Merlin lead the knights out of the castle towards the final battle. The Dragon swiftly dispatches the knights, leaving Arthur and Merlin to face him on their own. Armed with a spear, Arthur survives a fireball and stabs the Dragon. Enraged, the Dragon recoils and sends Arthur to the ground, unconscious. Merlin, hearing the words of his father, harnesses enough power to communicate with the Dragon; sparing his life, but warning him to never return. The Dragon flies away, promising to never forget Merlin's clemency. When Arthur comes to, Merlin tells him that he, Arthur, killed the Dragon, causing Arthur to laugh out of relief.
The fight over, Arthur and Merlin return to the castle. Gwen runs into Arthur's arms, relieved to not have lost him and as they hug, Gaius expresses to Merlin his pride. As Arthur and Gwen leave, a triumphant Gaius and Merlin walk back inside.
- Colin Morgan as Merlin
- Bradley James as Arthur
- Angel Coulby as Gwen
- Richard Wilson as Gaius
- Anthony Head as Uther Pendragon
Behind the Scenes
- At the May 2010 London Expo Press Conference, Johnny Capps revealed the episode's original ending had Merlin and Arthur finding Morgana in the council chambers.
- The battle scene against the Great Dragon was shot in the football field near the castle of Pierrefonds.
- A translation of the words Merlin uses againsts the Great Dragon at the end of the episode:
"I order you to put an end to this reign of terror, you have caused enough pain and suffering to this people, you must obey me and follow my will, for I have you under my power. You will no longer bring death and destruction to this land. ""
- Sir Leon survives the battle with the Dragon but he is not shown returning to Camelot with Arthur and Merlin.
- Whilst in the fight with the Dragon, it's pouring rain in the close-ups of Merlin, but not raining in other shots.
- The episode marks Merlin inheriting Balinor's gift of being a dragonlord.
- This is the second episode to date that does not feature Morgana, after The Lady of the Lake.
- This is the first episode in which Gaius has knowledge of Gwen's feelings for Arthur. It is unclear if Merlin had told him about the relationship after the events of The Once and Future Queen.
- This episode is the first to feature Merlin's father, Balinor. He is mentioned in two episodes after this one and makes a reappearance as a spirit in The Diamond of the Day Part 1.
- This is Colin Morgan's favorite episode.
- This episode is 5 minutes longer than the others, marking it the longest episode in the series.
- This episode marks a third person dying in Merlin's arms, after William and his lover Freya.
- Colin Morgan would have liked to keep the wooden dragon that Balinor sculpts for Merlin.
- Characters: Balinor, Dragonlord
- Locations: Balinor's Cave (Essetir)
- Magic: Dragonlords magic
- Creatures: The Great Dragon
- Events: The Great Purge
|The Curse of Cornelius Sigan • The Once and Future Queen • The Nightmare Begins • Lancelot and Guinevere • Beauty and the Beast • The Witchfinder • The Sins of the Father • The Lady of the Lake • Sweet Dreams • The Witch's Quickening • The Fires of Idirsholas • The Last Dragonlord
Mini-episode: Children in Need special