From first to last all the quality of Colin’s silent ability is very evident. But I had never seen any comments about it on the IMDb threads. These were the ones that stood out for me:
His reaction when he apologizes to Arthur for having to fight the Dragon, and Arthur says, “Why, it’s not your fault.” Merlin does feel responsible … and the distress shows on his face.
His reaction to Gaius’ telling him that Balinor is his real father. There is shock, dis-belief, anger, and sadness all in those few moments. I found myself recoiling for him … he seemed trying to protect himself from all the thoughts that overwhelmed him.
His reaction(s) to meeting with Balinor. First: he can’t avert his gaze, even when Balinor tells him to bring Arthur inside. He continues to take in all that he can see in these precious few moments, which are to be his first memory of this man, his father; and, therefore, he does not react immediately, until Balinor says forcefully, “fetch him!”.
His rapt interest as Balinor heals Arthur.
After, when he and Balinor are sharing the meal and Balinor says, “who are you” … it really seems to me that when Colin says, “I’m ….. Merlin”, (with that small hesitation) he has this hope in his face and voice that perhaps the name will mean something to Balinor … that perhaps Balinor and Hunith had discussed the naming of a son and Balinor might make a connection.
But the most beautiful moments of this episode, to me, were when Merlin reveals to Balinor that he is his son … and these two wonderful actors approach each other without words to acknowledge their approval, each to the other … in a silent acceptance of their relationship.
There are the wonderful interactions with Balinor about what could have been.
“We could have come with you … We’d have been … happy.”
“I see her in you … you have her kindness.” “Good night, son” “Sleep well Father …”
What follows is the heartbreaking reaction to his father’s dying moments …on his face unbearable pain at losing him after so short a time. And later, being unable to share his grief, certainly not with Arthur … having to contain all that sorrow until he could be with Gaius, who would be the one to understand.
At the end, after his tearful ultimatum to Kilgharrah … and Kilgharrah’s response:
We see the humility in our young hero when he assures Arthur that he, Arthur, has been victorious in defeating the Great Dragon. “You did it!”, he proclaims. And, yet, the second, “You did it” said quietly and without fanfare was intended for himself, as he acknowledged receipt of his father’s gift.
This episode carries with it strong confirmation of this young actor’s skill and talent, which promises to continue to grow through the years, and which we will follow every step of the way.