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J.K. Rowling’s Latest Work is a Controversial Splendor


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be released later this year on November 18, and in preparation for the big event, J.K. Rowling has released little stories over the past few days about magic in the Americas.

New information about the American wizarding world is undeniably exciting for Potter fans, but not everyone is jumping on board with these magical facts. In fact, many people are in uproar over some of the content, and some have went so far as to call Rowling racist. To garner more insight into why this is, I’ve summarized each of these new stories and their corresponding controversies.

Fourteenth Century-Seventeenth Century

The first installment of these stories is considered one of the most controversial pieces that Rowling has ever written.

It gave us a brief overview of magical life from the fourteenth century to the seventeenth century, zeroing in on Native Americans and their powers, specifically that of skin-walkers (a person who is able to transform into the animal of their choosing). But because skin-walkers are exclusive only to Navajo Indian folklore, many Native Americans accused Rowling of generalizing Indian culture.

Okay, I guess I can understand that.

But the backlash doesn’t end there. Some Native Americans are in uproar because they believe that Rowling is painting Native American culture in a bad light, and they are publicly defending their culture as spiritual, not evil.

While I do understand the concerns of Native Americans, I respectfully disagree with their sentiments. Rowling is in no way saying that Native Americans aren’t spiritual and beautiful. Instead, she is praising their race and culture in this story while trying to respectfully incorporate it into her fantasy world. If anything, this piece could act as a resurgence for Native American culture, as people who have read her work are now going to be Googling Native Americans to learn more. I grew up in the American southwest, where I learned and saw first hand what this amazing civilization and race did before modern times. I’m already fascinated with Native American culture, and Rowling’s piece made me want to research it even more.

I understand where the social justice warriors are coming from with their criticism, but the way I see it you can do one of two things here: call Rowling a racist who has no right to write about a culture that she hasn’t lived around or grew up in, or use her story as a platform to educate the masses about the deeply diverse and fascinating Native American culture.

It’s not fair to say that Rowling, who, like many of us, probably got most of her information about Native Americans online, is a racist.  She used the basic information available to her about skin-walkers and decided to incorporate that into her story, which is perfectly fine. Perhaps another one of the reasons why she received backlash is because she’s essentially calling Medicine Men wizards in this piece, but honestly, if I went to one and they somehow take away the migraines I’ve been dealing with forever, then I’d certainly think that magic was at play.

Seventeenth Century and Beyond

This section details the trials and hardships that were faced during the move from Europe to America, specifically highlighting the tensions between the Natives and Europeans, as well as focusing on the Puritans and their religious beliefs.

Native American history is taken into account once again with the mentioning of human trafficking and slaughter – events that happened because some of the settlers were dicks who thought that they were better than others. She doesn’t distort or lighten these historical facts, but people are upset at her mentioning of it because Rowling, again, took facts and melded it with her fictional world.

Scourers are introduced for first time in this piece. A Scourer is an individual or a group of people who have decided to take justice into their own hands. Unfortunately, as time went on Scourers became increasingly corrupt in their search to seek reward. As a result, the MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America) was formed to help weed out the Scourers and help protect the wizarding community (especially after the Salem Witch Trials).

Here’s my main issue with this section: MACUSA was formed in 1693. America was not known as the United States of America until our Declaration of Independence in 1776 – that’s nearly a century off. Damn you, damn you Rowling for further screwing up! Now my life is a lie, and I can no longer read your stories! (Read: I will continue to read everything and anything you put in front of me because no one is perfect and mistakes happen. I wouldn’t have even thought twice about this if the date wasn’t mentioned).

Rappaport’s Law

In an already secretive America, witches and wizards seldom mingle outside of their own kind. The president of MACUSA, Emily Rappaport, created a law segregating No-Majs from magic users to help protect their way of life. However, a massive breach was made by the Keeper of Treasure (and Dragot’s daughter), Dorcus Twelvetree. A poor performer of magic, Dorcus was more or less a socialite who became infatuated with a young man named Bartholomew Barebone. Unknown to Dorcus, this young man came from a family of Scourers, and as such had a deep disdain for magic. Bartholomew wooed young Dorcus into telling him the secrets of the MACUSA and Ilvermorny, which led to a sort of new-age witch hunt that harmed the already shaky American wizarding community. Because of all this, Rappaport’s Law was passed, which banned all mingling between wizards and No-Majs; no friendships, marriages, etc.

I found this part to be pretty harmless, but there are some people that are upset because they believe that the fictional magical segregation mirrors the very real racial segregation of America. I understand their concerns – this story takes place in a very tough time for civil rights, afterall. We thankfully have moved on from this era (for the most part), and today we are a country that strives for equality and happiness. But we need to remember that this story is a work of fiction by an author, and fiction will ALWAYS have similarities to reality.

1920s Wizarding America

Rappaport’s Law is still firmly in place in the 1920s, even though many witches and wizards stood with both sides during the Great War of 1914-1918, aiding in the prevention of some loss of life.

MACUSA has relocated from Washington, D.C. to New York City, and it’s been brought to my attention that some folks are displeased with this. What is the problem with it being in New York? Wizards and Witches live in secrecy, but that doesn’t mean they don’t live among us, especially in New York, which is a major world hub. Rowling’s historical timeline ends in the 1920s, but maybe she eventually said fuck it and moved the MACUSA to Las Vegas in the 1990s when the Excalibur opened. It would be a hilarious little tongue in cheek, “hahaha we’re literally right under your nose.” Who knows?

As far as education goes, American wizards have the opportunity to attend Ilvermorny, one of the top wizarding schools in the world. The wizarding world practices the magical equivalent of common core education, but because there were initially no wand makers in the new world, American wizards were falling behind their international peers.

So, in came wand makers and legislation for them.

Wand permits were introduced in the last half of the nineteenth century. Anyone carrying a wand needed a permit so that any mischief that may occur could be controlled. In total there were four wand makers, each coming from different locations and each with their own special abilities. It doesn’t seem that the wand chooses the wizard here in America, though, but rather magic users could buy their wands according to the type of magic they favored ( in order to maximize spells).

We also learned that wizards gave no care for prohibition. They were already on the down low about existing, so why not keep that ‘Gigglewater’ flowing?

This section has one parallel that really stands out here. If you replaced wand permits with gun permits, then you basically have the second amendment. If you own a wand (gun), then you have a permit as to identify ownership in case of death and craziness. Hey, everyone needs accountability.

In conclusion…

To close, these stories are short, and some of them come off as insensitive even. There is no doubt about that.

I can understand the detractor’s points of view on these, but there also seems to be a bit of nit-picking coming through, and for what reason? Because it’s something new, and some people think that Harry Potter was done after book seven? There are so many people, including fans, who are turning their noses up to this new world that J.K. Rowling is taking time to create for us, even though it’s something that a lot of people have been asking for. I remember being one of those people who wondered if she’d do a story set in America, wanting to know if there were wizarding schools outside of Europe.

She’s finally creating these worlds for us, and it’s wonderful and amazing.

I am one of those people who will sit here and defend ANY author I read and admire, primarily because it’s THEIR world, THEIR story, THEIR way. Yes, she is taking some liberties, intertwining history with her wizarding worlds, but that’s what writing is. If you don’t borrow a little from here, a little from there, and put your own twist on things, then there would be no great literature there would be nothing new.

Sit down and read these stories for what they are: a work of fiction.

These stories are something that another person is taking time out of their day and families to create for other people, to give folks a way to escape reality just for a short time and imagine a world that is awesome and fun. No one is telling you to read it or watch the subsequent movies, but it’s wrong to sit here and criticize everything that is written in a piece of fiction. There are far more abhorrent things going on in the world, and frankly it’s a waste of time to sit here and get your knickers in a twist over someone’s writing.

But then again, we are also a world (and country) that bans books because they’re too depressing or include nudity…because READING about someone losing their pants is apparently scandalous.

You’ve heard my thoughts on the controversy, now share yours in the comments!

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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.

Screenshot 2015-11-09 at 8.46.47 PM
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.

Screenshot 2015-11-09 at 8.49.00 PM
“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.

Screenshot 2015-11-09 at 9.02.50 PM
“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.

Screenshot 2015-11-09 at 9.17.04 PM
“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.

Screenshot 2015-11-09 at 9.17.02 PM
*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.

Screenshot 2015-11-09 at 9.21.30 PM
“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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‘Once Upon a Time’ Recap: Dreamcatcher

I went from hating this episode to appreciating it, but I can’t say I loved it. Let’s just get to it. If I think about it too much, I start writing fanfic to make myself feel better.

Merlin’s has been de-treed! And we meet the first Dark One

In what starts as a showdown between Merlin and the first Dark One turns into a horticulture nightmare.

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The First Dark One was obviously inspired by the Death Eaters.

Merlin, the Dagger in hand, is all set to destroy evil incarnate.

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Fun fact: There’s no name on that Dagger.

Apparently the Dark One is responsible for destruction of the only woman Arthur has ever loved. Whether this is Nimue of Merlin mythology or another character, is not made clear. But in his grief, Arthur fails to kill the Dark One and makes the rookie mistake of dropping the Dagger. The Dark One collects a tear of heartbroken grief from the wizard and then roots Merlin to where he stands, creating the tree we find to still be in the courtyard of Camelot.

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Straight razor shaves are making a comeback, but this is just terrifying.

It’s important to know that we learn all this from Emma, who is viewing it from tree-Merlin’s memories. Last episode we saw her amassing a small (but growing) collection of dreamcatchers in her quarters in Camelot. While this may be her version of Rumpelstiltskin spinning straw into gold to combat his insomnia, this hobby seems to have a more practical use. As we learned in The Cricket Game back in Season 2, dream catchers are powerful in memory magic, even working on Pongo the dog. So waving one over a sentient tree doesn’t seem out of the realm of believability. This won’t be the last time we see Emma using a dream catcher, as the title suggests.

Cue the misleading title card with a pumpkin.
Cue the misleading title card with a pumpkin.

Oh, and no big deal or anything, but the mightiest wizard outside of the Harry Potter ‘Verse is back in human form and offering Emma a chance to un-Dark One herself.

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Who knew he was such a dork?

By the end of the episode, Merlin confirms that he can save Emma from being the Dark One. But, he adds, she must be completely honest and be sure her heart is truly ready to be free. This unanswered question on Emma’s part leads us to believe that either her dishonesty or the repercussions of such somehow put her on the path that sets her up as Storybrooke’s latest villain.

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This is the face of commitment to the side of good.  …It’s not going to end well.

Emma and Regina team up

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I’m a platonic QueenSwan shipper, so I always enjoy seeing Regina and Emma doing anything that isn’t them glaring at each other on Regina’s porch. (More on that later)

Regina reluctantly leads Snow and Charming to the Dagger’s hiding place in the woods. She questions their judgement in handing the Dagger over to King Arthur, and that gets Snow into a snotty mode. As Regina recoils, Snow and Charming are magically immobilized by Emma’s dark magic.

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Snow White is the epitome of grace and kindness.

Emma explains to Regina Arthur’s plan to reunite the Dagger with Excalibur and how the king plans on killing Merlin with the blade. Though initially disbelieving, Regina hears Emma out. Regina’s on board until Emma says it’s time to get down to business and use her dark magic to bust Merlin out. Regina is worried Emma will end up like her.

In Merlin’s study, Emma explains that she used a dream catcher to see Merlin’s memories and found out that David and Mary Margaret were put under a spell to serve Arthur. Emma reveals she doesn’t need to wave it over people to use it. When viewing Merlin’s memories, she saw that Merlin wept, and his tear was used to transfigure him. Regina suggests that if a tear of lost love trapped Merlin, then perhaps another tear could free him.

Though they know it will be difficult, Regina pulls up the memory of Cora ripping out Daniel’s heart.

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“This cross stitch sampler is amazing, but I have no idea where I’d hang it.”

This easily induces a tear from Regina, which Emma bottles. Emma admits she never realized how terrible Regina had it when she was younger and understands better why Regina was driven to darkness.

It’s no mystery why we see and hear Cora tell Daniel about sacrifice and doing what’s best for your children. There’s some heavy foreshadowing coming up, and given that Emma has the power of foresight, she probably knows all too well what she’s going ot have to do.

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“It’s my As Seen On TV minibar on the go!”

That night, out in Merlin’s courtyard, Emma breaks out the mini bar and they add Regina’s tear to the potion. But the potion fizzles.

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“I… don’t actually know how to make Jungle Juice.”

Emma realizes that Regina’s heartbreak has healed because she’s moved on and is with Robin now. Henry comes up, late as usual to midnight potion making parties, and his moms see he’s visibly upset. Henry admits that despite his best efforts, Violet wanted nothing to do with him, then sheds a tear born of love’s first heartbreak. Regina quickly grabs it with a cloth and tells Henry that he’s going to be a hero.

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“We’re very concerned about your feelings, but you’re also a magical tear dispenser, so stand still, Sparklets.”

They are interrupted by Arthur and his knights, who threaten death if they proceed. Regina hands the tear stained cloth off to Emma and holds the knights off with a fireball or seven.

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When the sorceress and the bard roll a 4 and the mage rolls a natural 20.

The potion turns into a frightening spaghetti monster of light and dark magic, which Emma channels towards the tree, enveloping it.

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Gypsy moths… Gypsy months everywhere.

When the smoke clears, Merlin rises from his roots. He recognizes Emma at once. Merlin tells Arthur he’s disappointed him, and Arthur accuses Merlin of sending him on an impossible quest full of false prophecies. Arthur pulls his sword, but Merlin scoffs, saying that broken thing can’t harm him.

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“I did not think this through.”

Emma is terrible and Henry is ruined for life

Okay, maybe not ruined for life… But definitely heartbroken for a while. And his mom caused it. Not, not the one that usually does it! This time Regina isn’t the cause of Henry’s woes. In a flip-upside-down from the first season, Emma is now the one using Henry for self-serving reasons, and Regina is standing up to the Dark One for him.

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*poignant look* So… Have you ever read a John Green novel?

In her stable, Violet and Henry bond over dead parents and horses. We see Henry make a total ass out of himself in front of Violet’s father, Sir Morgan.

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“Why ya gotta be so rude? Don’t you know I’m human too?”

Their initial meeting doesn’t go well at all, and Henry leaves thinking he must change and better himself to win the affection of Violet and the approval of her father. Regina and Emma find Henry practicing his sword skills out in the woods and remind him that who he is is just as exciting, interesting, and worthy as who he thinks he needs to be.

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This week on “My Two Moms” Henry realizes he might not want to take love advice from two women who can’t seem keep their boyfriends alive for more than a season.

Though Henry still feels he ought to change some things to grow and be a better person, he embraces what he does has going for him, his mysterious-visitor-from-a-strange-landness, and sets up a dinner date at Granny’s.

Henry plays “their song,” Only You by Yazoo, and woos Violet with the old soda-in-a-wine-glass routine.

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Someone in props totally got fired because they forgot Disney is sponsored by Coke.

Then he wins any sane girl’s heart over with the promise of lasagna. And when a dude offers me lasagna, I assume he’s trying to court me too. Unfortunately Violet veers off course and defines friendzoning to Henry without the aide of urbandictionary. I mean, OUCH.

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Henry was legit trying to implement Operation: Netflix and Chill

But back in Storybrooke, Violet is disheartened by the loss of her beloved horse. Henry promises to help her find Nicodemus and approaches Emma to help find him. In a throwback to their buddy cop Operation Cobra days, Emma and Henry set off in the yellow bug to start their search. After questioning Henry about Violet, she learns that Henry played the girl a song that Neal used to play for her.

Knowing that Nic has a liking for pumpkin, Emma drives to Peter Peter’s, a side-of-the-road fruit and veggie stand that specializes in pumpkins.

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Or if could be a used carriage lot. Who knows in Storybrooke?

Nicodemus appears and starts freaking out around the Dark One.

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But Henry lures him to him by using a hunk of pumpkin and the high falsetto of his youth.

Henry later finds his moms at the Merlin-tree. Their previous attempts at potion making have failed and they need a new tear. Oh, how convenient, teenager Henry has experienced his first heartbreak, and he’s crying! Blah, blah, blah, tear goes in the potion, potion works, Merlin is de-treed.

Back in Storybrooke, Henry rides Nicodemus through the fair and up to Violet who is walking with her father.

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What is this, “The Cowboy Way”?

Sir Morgan is impressed with Henry’s accomplishment and humility, compliments him thusly, then takes Nic so the two can have fun together. Violet kisses Henry’s cheek in thanks, and the two head off to enjoy the fair.

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“Hail Hydra.”

Back in Regina’s house, she and Robin ponder the dream catcher. Regina hesitates to uncover what memories it holds, but Robin says the only way to find out what happened is to look. Regina magics the thing and they realize they are watching Violet’s memories from back in the stable. Emma appears in the stable and says Henry can never know about this, then pulls out the girl’s heart. She needs the fresh tear of a lost first love, and she needs her to break Henry’s heart. Unbeknownst to them, Henry has come in and is standing behind Regina and Robin.

Emma comes to Regina’s house to see Henry, but Regina is pissed, knowing full well that Emma has broken their son’s heart on purpose, took their memories, and Gold. She insists that there’s nothing Emma couldn’t come back from, thought Emma would be different. Regina shows Emma the stolen dream catcher and tells her Henry is devastated.

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“I found this. Just lying around. In your locked house. In a box. Just out in the open!”

She guesses that Emma set Nicodemus free just so Henry could reunite him with Violet to make up for breaking up the two in Camelot. Regina knows how Dark Ones think, after all. Emma says she had good reason, and Regina realizes that Cora said the same things to her before doing dastardly things. Emma slips up and says it was the only way to free Merlin. Regina wonders why Emma is still the Dark One. In a balls-in-a-wheel-barrow move, Regina denies the Dark One a visit with Henry and slams the door in her face.

From his window, Henry looks down at his mom, then closes the curtains on her.

This is like a scene from a really bizarre Taylor Swift video.”

It doesn’t matter the reasons. Henry knows Emma purposefully hurt him to further an agenda. And at Henry’s (dubious) age, that’s gonna leave a mark.

Rumple just might get to be brave afterall

It only took him 300 years, but, hey.

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“Hey, guys, Rumple is missing! Like he was in the last episode. Remember? When I couldn’t find him and I told David and Arthur I was working on a spell to find him? Well, I’m telling you again, like it just happened. Something, something, reasonable cause to break into Emma’s house.”

Rumple is still captive in Emma’s basement, which is not a sentence I ever thought I was going to type. Emma tells him he’s going to get her the sword. He tries to explain that the more dark magic Emma uses, no matter what the reason, will just push away the ones she loves the most.

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I feel like Rumple and Severus Snape both subscribe to “Stingy Hair Monthly” magazine.

This seems to resonate with Emma, but she ignores him and calls Merida out of the shadows, telling her to take Rumple to the woods to begin his training. Considering he can barely stand without falling over, this should be interesting. Merida tries to defy Emma, but Emma still holds the Scot’s heart. She magics Merida and Rumple to the woods.

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“Bye, Felicias.”

The Dark One heads to a garage out back. Inside, it’s filled with hundreds of dream catchers handing from the rafters. She takes one down and begins to cry in earnest.

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Of all the things previous Dark Ones have had hanging from their rafters, dream catchers are really quite tame.

Out in the woods Merida is all business despite Rumple’s mangled foot. Rumple, though, keeps insisting he’s not a hero and that he can never be brave.

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“C’mon, you’ve got one leg and no spine! Man up!”

In massive frustration, Merida knocks Rumple unconscious, promising to find his motivation.

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“Oy, Hydra!”

Merida breaks into Gold’s shop and hunts for some kind of insight to his motivations. She returns to the woods and tells Rumple that if he won’t fight, she’ll give him something to fight for. She dangles his beloved chipped cup above him, then throws him a sword.

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“You English and your weakness for tea!”

He fails at sparring with her, but she goads him with memories of Belle, and he swings. She is much pleased and encourages him, saying that swing was an act of bravery because it was for Belle. She goads him further and he doesn’t back down. Merida says they have a long way to go before they can take on Emma.

The Scooby Gang finally breaches Emma’s basement

After investigating the disappearance of Gryf from the holding cell in Storybrooke, the conversation totally naturally leads to discussing the morale of Camelot’s citizens. Mary Margaret, with the suggestion from Henry, decides to put on a dance/bike safety street fair because she and David are the town’s leaders and ambassadors of fun! Because in a crisis the only logical course of action and use of time and resources is to put on a damn party.

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If you listen closely you can hear the band playing on as the Titanic sinks.

Also, Henry and Violet are texting, because apparently Storybrooke has a cellphones for curse victims program. These people have been here for about a week, and already the teenagers have mastered technology.

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I’d like to point out the girl from medieval times is typing with with modern slang and Henry the author is using emojis.

Regina, Robin, Hook, and Belle go searching for Rumple, or some kind of clues, in Emma’s home while Henry has Emma distracted. Despite protection spells, the gang breach the home and head straight for the basement. Sidenote, I kinda feel like Hook’s asking Robin to help him get into the house last episode was kinda cast aside. Robin doesn’t even come up with a suggestion as to how to get into the place, leaving that to Belle.

Down in the basement, they discover Excalibur in the rock, and immediately note that it bears a striking resemblance to the Dagger.

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“This looks vaguely familiar. I can’t place it. Steak knife at Granny’s?”

Robin finally utters a throwaway line, and Hook makes a move to pull the sword from the stone. Regina stops him before he can be turned into dust. Belle finds ropes that she assumes once held Rumple, and they decide to search the rest of the house. But Regina receives a text from Henry that Emma is headed back.

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L to R: Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy.

As they make their escape, Hook’s attention is caught by the only decoration in the room, a fancy box on the table. Inside Hook finds a the dream catcher Emma was crying over in her creepy shed of memories. Regina recognizes it as a magical object that most likely was used to take their memories.

At the street fair, Hook, Regina, Robin, Belle, tell Arthur and Guinevere, joined by Mary Margaret and David, that they found Excalibur in the Dark One’s basement.

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“The service is terrible, but the funnel cake is to die for!”

Hook presses Arthur on why the blade resembles the Dagger, and Arthur admits he wanted to make sure he could trust them before telling them the pieces are one in the same. The restored sword can eradicate all dark magic forever, but in the wrong hands, the sword can wipe out all light magic too.

I didn’t want to end on that terrifying note, so let’s just go back and ask ourselves how and why Storybrooke has a large and varied supply of carnie games, ticket booths, prizes, and decorations.

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Also, is that a cotton candy booth? Or a Dippin’ Dots? How did they get a Dippin’ Dots?!

What did you think of Emma’s betrayal of Henry? Tell us in the comments below!

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Review: The Shadow Cabinet

I am pleased to find myself reviewing a book by one of my favorite, if not much-read authors, Maureen Johnson. I read her Suite Scarlett when it first came out and found myself picking it up even when I only had a few moments to spare to read a quarter of a page; it was really that good. And The Shadow Cabinet, book three of The Shades of London series, follows in the same wonderful way.

The Shadow Cabinet opens with a scene that sets the tone for rest of the story. Everything that our heroes have faced thus far has been daunting, but now it’s gotten serious — so serious that even one of our main villains is having a few second thoughts. By mid-book I found myself reading double-quick trying to scoop in and process all the information that pours forth onto our characters. By the end I was audibly groaning quietly with the stain of claustrophobia and foreboding that final battles often bring.

One thing that roped me into The Shadow Cabinet was Johnson’s gorgeous attention to detail, the ability to make interesting the mundane. Hair dye never seemed so harrowing, yogurt never seemed so frantic. If you’ve ever been in shock after a life-altering event you might remember how lights are more glaring and everything is poignant yet distant. Johnson magically captures these sublime emotions and draws you into the room where the strain is absolutely palpable.

The_Shadow_Cabinet_Cover

What I think I like best about Rory, Johnson’s lead heroine and newly-made terminus, is that her life is just one damned thing after another with some occult thrown in to make it extra spicy. Yes, in a book called The Shadow Cabinet, the occult is a major theme. But Johnson doesn’t forget that her main character is a young woman who is experiencing love, loss, and adventure. And for all the excitement magic can bring, the stress of just getting through a day in the life of a teenager can be challenging enough! Rory is very real to me, with all her awkwardness and worries, as she musters strength from the dregs of her reserves.

In the end I just want to sit down with Rory and give her a cup of tea and a biscuit and put the poor kid to bed. I think that’s one of the issues I have with YA fiction: everyone is living a life that is improbably too interesting for their age group. But then again, that’s the fun of it, to imagine ruby chalices and silver knives, to drive off in speeding cars to avoid the villain, and to face down evil and survive.

The Shadow Cabinet is good adventure, laced with ghosts and magic, and trimmed with cloaks and daggers. Although the series is rated for ages 12 and over, the “and over” crowd will definitely find it a fun read as well.

The Shadow Cabinet
by Maureen Johnson
Penguin Young Readers
Hardcover: $17.99

Available at Amazon.

MJB_01-about-photoMaureen Johnson is the New York Times bestselling author of more than ten young-adult novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, The Last Little Blue Envelope, Devilish, The Bermudez Triangle, Let It Snow, and Suite Scarlett. Her work is published in twenty-one languages. Maureen spends a great deal of time online, earning her some dubious and some not-as-dubious commendations, such as being named one of Time Magazine’s top 140 people to follow on Twitter. Outside of YA, she worked with Electronic Arts as the screenwriter for the handheld versions of the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince video game. She holds an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and divides her time between her home in New York City and a mysterious dwelling outside of London. You can find her online at www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com or on Twitter as @maureenjohnson.

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Rowling Announces New Film

J.K. Rowling recently announced that she’s bringing back the magical world of goblins, witches, trolls, and spells in her screenwriting debut with “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”.

The film will be produced by Warner Bros., the company responsible for all eight Harry Potter films, and will tell the story of Newt Scamander: author of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and famed magizoologist (a zoologist specializing in magical creatures).

And Potter fans: If the title of the film sounds familiar to you, it should! “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” was on Harry’s required reading list as a first year student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

But don’t expect to see the boy who lived in the upcoming saga.

“Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world,” said Rowling in her official statement on her website. “Newt’s story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry’s gets underway.”

Daniel Radcliffe confirmed his iconic character’s absence in the film during a press event for the new Sky Arts series “A Young Doctor’s Notebook & Other Stories”, stating “I, needless to say, won’t be involved. I don’t know if any of us [the original cast] will be. I know nothing about it.”

A release date for the film has yet to be officially announced.

How do you feel about this rekindling of magic? Let us know in the comments below!

 
Image credit: examiner.com
 
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