I do enjoy this show, but I have watched enough television to know how these sorts of episodes often turn out. Merlin as TV shows go is nothing if not fairly predictable.
Yeah, surprise surprise, the Great Cartoon Dragon keeps coming back and attacking Camelot every night, and none of the weapons Arthur or the knights can bring to bear seem capable of even hurting it. Heck, Merlin even magics a spear directly at the Dragon only to see it bounce harmlessly off the monster’s chest.
Can anyone stop a dragon?
Yes! A Dragonlord!
Guess what happened to those guys.
Go on. Guess.
That’s right. Uther killed most of them because Uther is incredibly dumb.
But one got away! His name is Balinor! Gaius knows some rumors about where he went. That’s what he tells Uther.
What he tells Merlin is he himself helped Balinor sneak out of Camelot, that he hid Balinor with Merlin’s mother, and, uh, he’s Merlin’s father.
So, bad news: Balinor was last seen hiding in a hostile neighboring kingdom. Arthur is determined to go looking for him, and Merlin tags along. And yes, they do find Balinor, but Arthur was wounded protecting Gwen at one point, so when he passes out and Merlin finds Balinor…
Look, Balinor was not going to survive to the end of the episode. He at first refused to go because Uther tricked him into capturing the Dragon and then tried to kill him, but Merlin mentions Gauis and then more or less tells Balinor the whole “you’re my daddy” thing, and Balinor softens…only to be killed in an ambush from local soldiers.
So, Camelot is doomed, right? Nah. See, Dragonlord power goes from father to son when the father dies, so now Merlin is the last Dragonlord. And when Arthur rides out with Merlin and some more canon-fodder knights, the Dragon barbecues the knights, knocks out Arthur, and Merlin…uses his voice to tell the Dragon to get the hell out of there, showing mercy and earning it from the Dragon because you aren’t going to kick a Dragon off the show when its voiced by the late John Hurt.
Anyway, the Dragon says it’ll be in touch, and…that’s that. Merlin is a powerful wizard.
But we knew that would happen already. No way was the Dragon dying or Balinor living.