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‘Once Upon a Time’ Recap: Birth

After what seemed like an eternity of a summer without Once Upon a Time, the first half of Season 5 has blown by! And while I haven’t been this season’s biggest fan, I still remain committed to seeing my friends in Storybrooke through, no matter how ridiculous their adventures may be.

We had a double episode this week, so let’s just get right to it! Here are some things we learned in the first episode, “Birth.” A recap of the second episode of the evening, “BAERS!” “The Bear King” can be found here. (No, seriously, every other word in that episode was “bear.”)

Things we learned in this week’s episode:

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David gets one “Give no effs” moment this whole season and this is it.
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Have you ever been so mad you flipped a ping pong table?
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Hook and Hood are terrible at covering the exits.
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Emma saves Hook and they have awkward “I still love you” moment.
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Hook demands answer about why Emma needs Excalibur.

And Emma and she tells him it’s all for him. 

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Cue the creepy title card with the Dark One rising.
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Behold! The contact lens of Sauron!
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Emma, Henry, and Granny share a moment of good news about completing her quest, but are interrupted by Merlin. Minus 1 for cliche timing.
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Merlin is under orders to get the Flame of Prometheus from Emma in exchange for Emma’s family members’ lives.
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Despite threatening Arthur, nothing worthwhile is learned.
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Regina thinks Emma will wipe out Light magic, and Mary Margaret thinks there may not be any of Emma left to get back.

Hook comes to Gold’s for advice, and Belle is on point.

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If this show ends with a boy with autism staring into this thing, I am writing an angry note.
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“Uh… This? This is…. a promotional item.” *achem*

Hook learns Emma has stolen some squid ink.

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“Probably should have locked this.”

Gold says Emma has the face of regret.

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Hook leaves holding the same snow globe Gold was contemplating, but we never find out why.

Emma is told that she can’t light Prometheus until she’s ready to give up the Darkness.

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Something, something, lesson about irony.
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“Wow… Hook has really girly handwriting.”

Henry gives Emma some motivation to give up the Darkness by channeling a fanfic I wrote about how he and Hook have been conspiring to buy Emma a house.

Motivated by the promise of real estate, Emma confronts Arthur and Merlin in the forest where her parents, Hook, and Regina are being held hostage.

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“How many times have I been tied to this exact same tree in the last five years? *pft* I bet someone on the internet knows.”

Zelena seems stupidly susceptible to Emma’s party tricks.

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When you show up at the club late and that one friend is already turnt.

Emma ties Zelena to a tree, then gets into it with Merlin.

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If Cedric Diggory shows up, I will quit watching this show.
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Regina looks so proud of her young padawan learner.
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When in doubt, Disney, always take out the mom.
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“This better be important. You interrupted our all-night Skyrim session.”

Back in Storybrooke, Zelena has massive gas labor pains, and Regina and Robin arrive to find Zelena pulling a Bella Cullen.

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“You look like that goo that won’t melt in the bottom of a lava lamp!”

Out in the middle of town, Hook throws himself from the highest parapet to force Emma to appear, then forgives her for whatever she’s trying to atone for.

He tells Emma his life history via his trophy-rings-turned-reminders of people he’s killed. He declares his undying-until-the-next-betrayal love for her.

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“This used to be my pimp hand, but it was more effective to use the other one.”

Emma brings Killin back to her house for some Netflix and Chill  Youtube and spooning  Call of Duty and Chestbumps  revelations and poison lipstick.

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“mmmmm tastes like eeeevillll.”
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Don’t trust Dark Ones who bring you onion rings.

Dr. Whale is going through a mid wife life crisis.

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“We’re not mandated to wear gloves, but I hate washing my hands.”

Belle and Mary Margaret bust into Zelena’s room to warn Regina that Emma needs the cries of a newborn to complete her spell.

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SUDDENLY HAMFISTED PLOT DEVICE!

Back in Camelot, Merlin feels really awkward about trying to kill everyone.

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*Three Stooges noises*
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How did it take him 2 hours to figure this out?

Hook manages to slip out of his shackles

And then Hook slap Arthur so hard he got blurry for a minute.

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*pah-kow!*
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And apparently Arthur can physically untie the magical bonds Emma used.

Everyone returns to Granny’s and Emma tries to get the Prometheus flame to spark. Regina tries to get Emma to let her guard down by gently and lovingly using the Dagger to force her to confront her fears.

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Regina is Emma’s AA sponsor. She takes it really seriously.

Mary Margaret’s enduring optimism has no chill.

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“This is why we don’t invite you to more interventions.”

In Storybrooke, Zelena’s baby is coming, ready or not.

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“Wait… THAT’S where babies come from? I thought they came from baskets on the side of the road!”
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Regina: I don’t know if I can handle another baby in my life. I mean, having it with you all the time, never having a moment to yourself, always holding it, never letting it out of your sight… Mary Margaret: Yeah, about that…
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“There are more swords drawn in delivery rooms in Storybrooke than in any other hospital in Maine.” – Actually printed on the hospital brochure
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Dr. Whale is obviously a cyborg because he’s never broken his spine in 5 years.
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The old “wake up shackled in your crazy girlfriend’s basement” routine.
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Apparently she didn’t want the baby!

Shoving all the dark magic into Zelena and then cutting her down with Excalibur is the simplest way the Dark One can think of to fix what’s wrong.

In yet ANOTHER flashback…

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Emma admits she’s only capable of expressing her love to people when she knows they’re about to die, and thus she doesn’t have to commit to them for any longer than their final scene.
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#symbolism

Outside of Emma’s house, a discussion Regina and Mary Margaret should have had weeks ago is happening.

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“I’mma kill my BFF.”
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“You have literally one friend! You can’t kill her!”

Not having many options, Hook agrees to remove Zelena’s power-sucking bracelet so they can magic themselves out of Fort Nutzy-Kookoo.

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“I’m so sweaty under here! It smells funny!”
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Because heart-ripping-out magic is totally the same as bracelet-removing magic.
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“These hips don’t lie. I am certifiable.”

Zelena and Hook escape the basement, but Hook stays behind to search for the squid ink to use against Emma to make her tell him the truth about her plan.

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Why does the Dark One have bills?
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This painting was just covering another painting of the same painting.
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That old gag.

Hook splashes Emma with the squid ink and begs her to tell him what she’s up to. But before they get anywhere, Zelena comes in and —

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STABBY STAB!
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Hook is somehow faster than the Dark One, but not faster than Zelena stabbing him.

Zelena asks a not-dead Hook if he’d like to see what Emma’s been hiding all this time.

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Emma leaves her most important memory laying around in the yard.
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Dream catchers have fast forward.

Back in Camelot, Emma is set to reunite Excalibur and the Dagger.

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But when she does, Hook keels over.

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Merlin doesn’t bother to tell Emma the wound Killian received by Excalibur earlier will kill him once Excalibur is made whole. Because… Why would that even happen?

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But apparently she can reunite the blades to also save him?

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“Please don’t die! You’re the only one who knows where I left my keys back in Storybrooke!”

So she magics him out of the diner to do the dirty work.

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Or, according to this picture, a giant tarantula breaks out of the back of Emma’s head.

Out in a field of Meadow Mist(™) Roses, Killian sports a dollar store Halloween make up kit gash on the side of his neck. Hook begs Emma to let him die rather let the Darkness save him.

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Replace “darkness” with “heroin” and this is basically Jesse and Jane from ‘Breaking Bad.’

Emma does not listen.

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Mr. and Mrs. Dark One, your table is ready.
u8xav
This week on “Damn You, Irony!!”

At least Arthur is ok.

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Lady Gaga ain’t got nuthin’ on me! *snap*

So… there are two Dark Ones?

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DOCTORDONNA!

How do you not know the Darkness is in you? Even if you lose your memory, how do you not feel it?

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Disney needs to market a “Dark One Robe.” I would wear one every time I needed an ego boost. …So, like…. Always.
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Props is over budget this season. Turns out that Things Remembered charges per name.

PHEW! What a ride! I didn’t understand half of it, and I took notes! But there you have it, the big reveal about what Emma’s motives have been.

I’m sick of hearing my own voice, so now it’s your turn. Tell us in the comments what you thought of the show.

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‘Once Upon a Time’ Recap: Nimue

After some sword fondling in Emma’s basement, Rumple’s image tells her that the blades represent history, and that Excalibur’s promise was born “eons ago,” and that its promise is about to be fulfilled.

1000 years before the time of Arthur, in what looks like biblical wear that even a leper would sneer at, Merlin and a companion struggle through the desert, apparently fleeing from some soldiers.

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What are thooooooose??

In the distance, something shiny catches Merlin’s eye and he limps towards it. The supposed Holy Grail sits atop a rock, and, upon drinking from it, Merlin discovers he now has magic. The desert transforms into the lush woods of Camelot.

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Oh and no big deal, but Merlin’s bro tries to drink from it without asking nicely, and he bursts into smoke.

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Cue the title card with poppies a totally innocent looking field of flowers.

In Camelot, Mary Margaret, David, Hook, Regina, Robin, and a silenced Zelena confer with Arthur as they hammer out a plan to save Emma, who is outside fashioning dream catchers with childlike innocence.

Merlin says it’s his and Emma’s job to procure the magic to reunite the Dagger and Excalibur. Hook is super annoyed with how “fuzzy” the plan to get the blades back from Arthur is.

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No caption. I just happened to get this screen shot and it made me laugh too much to not use. Please enjoy.

He confirms that Emma doesn’t sleep anymore and instead fashions dream catchers meant to steal people’s memories all night. Arthur assures Hook that he knows what it’s like to lose a loved one to the Dark One.

500 years after drinking from the Grail, and 200 years previous to the age of Arthur, Merlin is out by a well healing people a la Jesus.

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“No allegory here. Nope. None. Zero. Now find me a place to eat the Passover.”

His apprentice, then a young boy, is with him. Merlin speaks to the last woman in the queue who tells him she escaped her town, which was being ransacked by a masked man named Vordigan. Though the town was destroyed, she saved Middlemist flower seeds, which she then presents to Merlin. She asks for revenge in the form of allowing the flowers to live on, a reminder that Vordigan did not destroy everything. Merlin lets her plant them, then magics them to bloom immediately, much to her joy and at the expense of some terrible CGI. He suggests that she come to visit them whenever she likes, but is unable to read her future to tell if she will. The woman introduces herself as Nimue.

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“Keep looking at these tennis balls on sticks. They’ll fix it in post.”

Merlin approaches Emma (who is still fashioning dream catchers) about collecting a spark from Prometheus to forge the blades back together. The first Dark One is still around, and they’ll have to face him. Merlin foresees two outcomes: 1) Emma chooses to resist the Darkness, and they return, or, 2) Emma succumbs to the Darkness, and Merlin dies, confirming that “a” Dark One does have the power to kill him. Emma is obviously not excited about that, nor is she happy about the idea of facing Darkness Prime when she’s just gotten Rumple out of her head. To add insult to injury, Emma realizes that if “a Dark One” kills Merlin, it would be her that does it.

As Emma prepares to leave with Merlin, Hook says goodbye to her with a kiss, then hands her a ring that he says is the reason he’s still alive… well, probably – he was kind of vague. He reminds her that the Dark One is immortal, but Emma isn’t, so to bring her back to him. They share some cuteness and Emma looks and acts more human in this brief scene than she has all season.

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*hyuck* I’m the Dark One!

She slips the ring necklace over her head as Merlin tells her it’s time to leave.

Back in the day, Merlin and Niume, who have obviously been in a relationship for a while, discuss what is standing between them and a life together. On one hand, Merlin’s immortality means he will live on after Niume dies, which he can’t bear to think about. On the other, if he fashions the Grail into a sword, it will cut away his magic, leaving him mortal again. They could live their lives out normally until a natural end. Niume, moved that Merlin would give us so much for her, happily accepts the ring he fashions out of a stem-turned-to-gold.

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Am I the only one who remembers the last Mac Guyvered engagement ring fiasco?

OH BTW SKETCHY CREEPY DARK ONE PRIME IS LIKE RIGHT THERE WATCHING THEM.

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“Wait… This isn’t the Little Hangelton graveyard…”

As Mary Margaret, David, Regina, Robin, and Hook work out how to infiltrate Camelot, Zelena silently scoffs and mimes derision at each of their suggestions.

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“Amateurs! You might as well draw a map on one of Granny’s place mats!”
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Literally.

Entering head on, using a diversion, and magicking in will all get them killed, explains Zelena once Regina removes her silencing hex. Zelena informs them that while she was in the castle she formulated a way to excape, and if she knows a way out, she knows a way in. She’ll help them, in exchange for her magic back of course.

Outside a super convenient back door to the bowels of the castle, B Squad gathers. Mary Margaret stands guard with Zelena as Regina magics away the grate, and the boys draw their swords.

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“Why does this door say ‘Cast Members Only’?”

Upstairs, Arthur is rummaging around Merlin’s lab like a meth head looking for quarters.

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*twitch* C’mon, c’mon, just another dollar and I can get some medicine… *twitch*

Guinevere warns him about the strong magic he is working with, but Arthur is adamant that they need protection from the people “from the sky.” So, you know, totally not paranoid. Arthur calls the guards to reinforce the castle and grounds, and then gives them the potion he’s concocted. He demonstrates the acidic like powers of the brew, and instructs them to throw it on any stranger they meet. A creepily intense Arthur tells Guin that it’s war now.

Emma tells Merlin that she’s worried that not seeing Rumple means she has embraced the Darkness. She confesses that she hurt Henry, and she’s worried that the Darkness may be winning. Merlin says that there is hope, and they head up the steep hill before them.

200 years previous, Niume and Arthur walk the ruins of Niume’s village. There is rubble and bone all around, and Niume is overcome with the want for revenge. Merlin steadies her and they note that there are cups in the street.

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Those guys from Kappa Gamma Tau throw the best parties.

Merlin realizes Vortigan demanded to see their cups because he was questing for the Grail. Merlin performs a detection spell and sees Vortigan not far.

"Leave Potter for the Dark Lord!"
“Leave Potter for the Dark Lord!”

He hastens Nimue to leave, but she reminds him that he could strike down the Dark One with one magic word. Merlin, though, insists he cannot, as then the darkness will take root in him, and he is not willing to risk that.

B Squad stands in a really obvious doorway while the guards carry their bubble bubble through the courtyard. They engage in some very cliche talk about waiting for the other shoe to drop and how Zelena hasn’t betrayed them…YET.

Outside, Zelena is in tears about how unfair it is that she’s just trying to help and no one believes her. She doubles over in pain as she cries about Regina taking her baby. Mary Margaret, who has been aloof to her whining, approaches Zelena and is double gut kicked and knocked out. Zelena ties her up.

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“Oh my goodness, are you ok?”
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“HRRRUUNNNGGH! Right in the bread basket!”

Merlin and Nimue approach the Altar of Prometheus. Merlin takes the grail and places the cup near the fire. He magics the cup into the sword we know as Excalibur, whole, with the Dagger piece fully intact. Nimue turns to find Vordigan behind them. Merlin clutches Excalibur, and Vortigan grabs Nimue. Merlin warns Vortigan that the sword will bring him no joy. Nimue fights back against Vortigan, ripping his mask away, exposing Anakin Skywalker his pale, scarred face.

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Totally not derivative.

Vortigan slices open Nimue’s stomach, and she dies in Merlin’s arms.

Merlin and Emma arrive at a dilapidated and overgrown Altar of Prometheus. The flame is extinguished now, and Merlin tells Emma the first Dark One possesses it as a single ember. This is the spark they will need to forge the blades back together. Emma is ready to kick some ass, so Merlin hands her the Dagger. He confesses pragmatically that he didn’t ask permission to take it. He tells her to call on the spirit of all the previous Dark Ones, to reach back to the origin of dark magic, and Emma clutches the ring that Hook gave her. “Take the right path,” she reminds herself.

A slot machine of names appear on the inscription of the Dagger as the Dark One appears before them. Merlin warns that it’s not a “him,” and Emma sees the name “Nimue” on the Dagger as the figure removes its mask revealing a sparkly, scary-as-whoa Nimue.

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“Will you still love me… When I’m no longer… Young and beautiful?”

Flasssssshbaaaaaack to Merlin about to avenge Nimue’s death at the altar. In a poof of purple smoke, Merlin cuts off Vortigan as he walks away with Excalibur. But before they can fight, Nimue rises and pulls Vortigan’s heart from his chest. She reveals that she drank from the Grail and revels in the power of immortality. She says that she had to play dead to remind Merlin what death looks like. He tells her that she holds a man’s heart in her hand, and that if she kills Vortigan, she will go down a dark path that she can’t return from.

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Katniss, have a Snickers. You know how you get when you get hungry.

Nimue chooses to crush the heart of Vortigan and becomes the first Dark One. She grabs Excalibur and strikes the altar, extinguishing the flame and severing the blade, dooming Merlin to immortality.

Flashback over! Nimue approaches Emma, the first Dark One and the newest Dark One, together. Emma realizes that Merlin blames “the Dark One” for killing Nimue because she killed the woman she used to be, the woman he loved. As Nimue attacks, so does Emma, and Emma is mortified to see that she is working in synch with Niume. But Nimue insists that she’s got to be who she is, to claim what’s hers, to stand up for what she wants, and to kill anyone who tries to stop her.

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“She’s evil, but she makes some valid points.”

With her hands on Merlin’s neck, Emma tries to resist, but Nimue infiltrates her mind, telling her they are one, that Merlin is trying to make a sword to destroy them.

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*hrrunnggh!*

If Emma doesn’t kill him know, Nimue warns, then she’ll go back to being powerless, to being nothing.

In a move that actually surprised me, Emma resists and screams that she “was never nothing!”

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Man, this episode had way too many great faces in it. I wish there was room for them all, but Emma’s giant forehead vein is taking up too much bandwidth.

Her name appears on the Dagger again. She holds it towards Nimue and tells her she’s going to take the ember and leave. She magics the ember out of Nimue’s bra, I guess? and holds it in her hand.

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I’m sorry, ladies, Sweeny Todd auditions are one studio over.

Nimue says the sword has more than one use, and she’s not dead yet. When Emma wants her again, she’ll be *points to Emma’s head*

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“Ellliot….”

Alive and relieved, Merlin asks how Emma feels to have take the right path. Emma replies it feels “damn good.”

As they head home, Merlin explains how he and his apprentice kept Excalibur and the Dagger safe. Merlin encased the sword in the stone, and used a tethering spell to bind the Dark One to the Dagger to have some control over her, but Nimue got it away from him. She then imprisoned him in the tree. Nimue wore the mask of Vortigan, dressing up her darkness as vengeance. Emma tells Merlin that Nimue still loves him, and though she’s twisted and evil, that love is still real.

In a flashback, the Apprentice says it’s too bad that Merlin couldn’t see her future and just avoid her to begin with. But Merlin, echoing something David has said before, tells him that “life is made of moments,” and he had some of the best with Nimue.

#YOLO, amirite?

Emma wonders to Merlin if it’s possible to have the Darkness, but use it to protect people. (Hmm, foreshadoing? Or… or is it hindsight? Or… wait, where are we in the time line?) Merlin says there may be a person capable of such a thing, but if they reunite Excalibur and the Dagger, they can wipe out the Darkness forever.

In Arthur’s round table room, B Squad bursts in, and Regina petrificus totaluses incapacitates Arthur.

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“Wingardium levi OH NO YOU DIDN’T!”

Just as Regina is gloating about her upper hand, Zelena comes in with a tied up Mary Margaret and no magic-dampening brace, which Arthur removed apparently?? Yeah, I was a bit lost on that one, too.

Robin prevents Regina from blasting Zelena to hell because #baby, and Zelena takes 3 seconds to read, decipher, and use Merlin’s cookbook.

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“Yeah, see? Says right there. Robin only gets two lines per episode, and one of them has to be about the baby.”

 

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This show, I swear.

She tethers Excalibur to Merlin and puts Arthur in control of it. Once Arthur summons Merlin, he makes the wizard magic B Squad away, then gets all kinds of grumpy on him for treating him like a pawn. Merlin says Arthur was like a son to him, someone he put all his faith in to save him. But Arthur is too hardhearted to believe him. Merlin says Emma has passed her test and all Arthur has to do to fulfil the prophecy that he will banish darkness from the land if he would just give Merlin the sword. But Arthur feels slighted and wants for greatness.

Back where we began in Storybrooke, Emma stands over the broken pieces and Rumple goads her to reunite them. Nimue appears, saying now Emma can douse the light. Then about a hundred Jawas Dark Ones Previous appear, chanting chug chug  “take the power.”

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Emma practically rolls her eyes and gets on with pulling the ember from its storage and doing some kind of funky dance moves that even Drake would question as she forges the two halves back together.

As Emma is about to reach up for the sword, she remembers that Merlin told her not to touch the sword. But both Niume and Rumple encourage her to do it. Emma grabs the sword and looks fierce.

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Did I miss something? When did Arthur get a chance to remove Zelena’s brace? And why didn’t Emma use her power of foresight to anticipate the Nimue reveal? Also, why could Nimue drink from the Grail when we were very blatantly shown that one had to be worthy to drink from it? How could someone motivated by revenge be deemed worthy? What do you think? Tell us in the comments?  

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