*deep breath* Ok. This episode has officially made up for what I consider a very anticlimactic Season 5 opening. I was so engrossed in the story that when it ended I said to my husband, “I thought we were at the halfway mark! It’s over already?” For me this was the least plodding episode of this season. While it was definitely a challenge to keep the heroes and villains straight this week, the effort was worth it! I felt engaged and rewarded for my time. But there was so much information in this episode that I would pretty much have to reprint the entire script here to give you a classic recap! So this week we’re going to listicle it with Five Things You Need to Know About “The Broken Kingdom.”
5. King Arthur and Guinevere, while not exactly the caliber of villains we’re used to on OUAT, are definitely the bad guys
The most important thing to know in this episode is demoted to fifth place in our list because it was just so obvious.
We discover that Arthur’s backstory (ranging from childhood to very recently) centers around his primary motivation to unite Excalibur with its missing piece, fulfilling Merlin’s prophecy of his kingship by restoring Camelot, the titular Broken Kingdom. Ok, solid. What may surprise some folks is that he used magic to deceive his subjects, control his wife, and ultimately possess the Dagger.
After being teased as a child for spouting on and on about how someday he would become king, Arthur quests for Excalibur, only to find that it’s incomplete. He returns to the village with it, and claims his prophesied birthright by only showing the intact portion of the sword.
He reveals to his queen (childhood BFF Guinevere) that the sword is incomplete. He becomes Ahab-and-the-whale obsessed about hunting down the missing piece in order to restore Camelot. Over time his obsession eats away at what threads of a relationship he has left with his wife.
Guin is comforted by the friendship and devotion of Arthur’s numero uno knight, Lancelot.
The two go on a hunt for the Dagger using Merlin’s gauntlet to guide them. This gauntlet leads them to Arthur’s weakness: the Dagger.
The duo find the Dagger’s hiding place.
They find the Dagger….
…but Rumpelstiltskin appears and convinces Guin to take a vial of the Sands of Avalon instead of the real Dagger. The sand will make a broken thing appear whole.
Guin returns to Camelot, planning to use the sand on Excalibur to stop Arthur’s mad quest, but instead she confesses her plot to him. Arthur, who is already worried Guin and Lancelot have feelings for each other, uses the sand on Guinevere to make her broken love for him appear whole again.
With Guin’s love “whole” again, he then uses the magic on his kingdom, turning the last standing tower of Camelot into a whole castle and grounds.
This all leads up to the Storybrooke rescue party’s time there, where David is knighted, Regina is the supposed Savior, and Emma is slowly but surely going bonkersocks and seeing Rumple everywhere. Everything Arthur has told them (especially to David) is a half-truth. His deception is revealed by the end of this episode as he tries to steal the Dagger from Snow and an alive-and-well Lancelot.
Later, assisted by Guinevere and his knights, Arthur throws Lancelot in the dungeons and uses some of the last powder on Charming and Snow. To what final end, we don’t see. But I speculate it’s to enforce the illusion of their loyalty and trust to him.
4. Henry is in love, and it looks like Violet likes him back
Usually I can’t stand the overplayed and predictable “the youngest character falls in love for the first time” story line, but I do think it’s the perfect way to acknowledge the undeniable fact that Henry went from 11 to 17 years old over the summer break.
His relationship with the lovely Violet seems to be progressing normally in Camelot, and I’m interested to see if such a complicated show can handle writing a relatively “boring” romance where a boy and a girl like each other and just enjoy their time together without having to deal with ghouls and curses and whatnot.
Oh, no, wait, they’ve already gone through a memory curse when they returned to Storybrooke. Ok, fine, we can’t have it all. It’s interesting to note that, much to Emma’s chagrin, Henry does lie about the seriousness of his relationship with Violet, making it seem like they’re just acquaintances when really they’ve been spending an awful lot of alone time together.
Needless to say Hook is not only amused but proud of Henry for getting out there with the womenfolk.
3. David and Mary Margaret are awesome again! But also terrible at being awesome…
After a fight about whether or not to give Arthur the Dagger to reunite it with Excalibur…
…the pair conspire and Snow teams up with Lancelot to lure Arthur away from Camelot to expose his true motives: to procure the Dagger by any means necessary and to use it to empower himself, fix his sword, summon Merlin, run him through, and also destroy the Dark One. Of course this doesn’t mesh with the mom and dad of the Dark One, so #conflict. After Arthur tries (and fails) to summon Emma, Charming arrives and they take Arthur into custody so they can figure out what to do with Excalibur.
It’s a combination of inconsistent writing and forcing complexity on to otherwise straightforward characters that has had me grumbling about David and Mary Margaret since the second half of Season 4. But in this episode I felt like Charming and Snow were back again, as husband and wife, as partners, and as heroes.
Err, spoiler alert, they totally fail at keeping the Dagger away from King Arthur. But they had a really great plan going for them up until a brainwashed Guin showed up with the royal posse and made the fight 12 against 3.
After Guinevere uses the sand on them, David and Mary Margaret return to Regina and Robin to tell them Arthur is totally cool, Lancelot is a traitor, and making Excalibur whole it their best chance at helping Emma.
Well, ya can’t win ’em all, Mr. and Mrs. Charming. At least you tried.
Oh, and PS, Snow realizes the Dark One’s hiding spot for the Dagger is also the place she saw in the dream where a young Emma rips out her heart.
2. Merida’s heart is literally in Emma’s hands
Emma is still holding Rumple in the caves , as he’s the only one who can get the sword out of the stone. But he’s useless to her right now because he’s not a real hero…yet.
Emma has a plan to use Merida (who we find strapped to the front bumper of Emma’s yellow bug! Like… WHAT?), and she rips Merida’s heart out and tells her that she’s going to help make a coward brave (just like her).
Fun fact! When Lancelot is thrown into the dungeons, Merida is in the cell across from him. She tells him that any enemy of Arthur’s is a friend of hers. Hopefully soon we learn how Merida went from setting out to free her brothers to imprisoned in Camelot. Sorry there’s not more I can tell you about Merida this week; she was onscreen for about 60 seconds.
1. Hook was unwavering in his devotion to Emma in Camelot
I chose this as my number one event in the episode, and you should know it’s not just because I’m a CaptainSwan shipper. This episode highlights just how bad it must have gotten for Hook to have told Emma he loved-past-tense-with-a-d her in episode 3.
Last week we saw Hook turn Emma’s offer of a relationship down despite the potential of great personal peril and wrath. This week we look back in time and see him come to Emma’s aid, thinking nothing of a magic bolt being shot at him by her (by accident), keep her secret of her visions of Rumple tormenting her, and hide her away with Henry’s help so that no one in Camelot realizes she’s going Dark.
Moreover, he basically tells her to GTFO her visions and trust that he can free her mind and heart by going hot-pirate horseback riding. I’m not even close to exaggerating that one.
He tells Emma he really believes that they can get back to normal in Storybrooke one day, if only she’d trust him.
Through all of Emma’s downward spirals in this episode, Hook looks unblinkingly into the abyss and roguishly grins as the abyss stares back. This to me solidifies Hook more and more as a hero deserving of a happy ending. It also makes Hook’s decision to fight the Dark One in episode 3 (when he asks Robin Hood for help discovering what’s in the basement of Emma’s house) all the more personal and serious. Who better to fight the Dark One than a man who has spend over 200 years hunting, calculating, and surviving the same? And spurned on by his love for the woman the Darkness inhabits? Well, let’s just say this came to mind.
Also, they might have consummated their relationship in a field of pink roses. Not sure. It may or may not be implied. ….Ok, it’s kind of implied.
Did you like Arthur’s back story? What do you think about his use of the sand? To what end will Arthur use Charming and Snow? What do you think Emma has in store for Rumple and Merida? Let us know in the comments!