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‘Once Upon a Time’ Recap: The Bear King

Picking up right after their defeat in the woods in the previous episode, Zelena and King Arthur return to Camelot. Down but not out, Arthur suggests they head to DunBroch.

After returning from saving her brothers, Merida puts flowers on her father’s grave before her coronation.

Several years earlier, King Fergus arrives at the hut of the Old Witch looking for magic. He needs help leading the clans against the invaders from the South.

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Drafting up a contract faster than Rumpelstiltskin, the Old Witch brews a potion which produces a helm able to command any army into battle.

At Merida’s coronation, just before the ceremony is completed, the Old Witch storms in and tells her her father owes a debt with interest of 10,000 gold sceats. Merida’s options are to pay, which would bankrupt the clans, or find and return the helm. Fail, and the Old Witch threatens to turn the whole kingdom into bears.

In an astounding moment of character building advice, the Old Witch tells her she’s got to learn to lead, then disappears into a cloud of smoke, which is the standard exit for villains.

After a search of her husband’s belongings, Merida tells Elinor that the helm isn’t in the castle, that it fell where Fergus did. Against her mother’s wishes, Merida insists on going after the knight who killed her father.

Two years earlier, Merida and her father walk through camp where the clans are preparing for battle.

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Fergus gives Merida his war bow to carry it into her first battle. He tells her he’s hired her a soldier to tutor her in the art of war. She pulls her sword on the soldier and they spar for a moment before the masked warrior flips Merida and knocks the wind out of her in front of the troops.

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The warrior pulls off her mask as she helps Merida up, and introduces herself as Mulan.

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In present day, Merida finds Mulan working as a grunt enforcer collecting debts. She is devoid of her former sense of honor and only goes with Merida after being handed a purse of gold and the agreement that Merida asks her no more questions.

Arthur and Zelena arrive at the Old Witch’s hut and are greeted with a snarling wolf, which Zelena knocks out with sleeping powder.

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The Old Witch says she doesn’t know where the helm Arthur wants is, and is forced to tell them who she sent to fetch it. Arthur recognizes Merida as a former prisoner in his dungeons, and they go after her.

Merida and Mulan arrive at the battlefield where Fergus fell. Merida recognizes an arrow she shot which tore a piece of the cloak from her father’s killer. Merida questions Mulan about her detachment from Fergus’s death, saying she’s acting like she never knew the man.

In a flashback to before the battle which killed Fergus, Mulan teaches Merida the difference between being strong and smart, and that people won’t just follow her out of fear. She suggests asking Fergus what will motivate the clans to accept her leadership.

Back on the empty battlefield, Merida says she won’t rest until her father has justice. Mulan senses someone is coming, and Zelena and Arthur appear. Arthur tells Merida he needs the helm to save his kingdom. Merida is ignorant of the helm’s power, and Arthur says the helm makes people fight your battles, no matter how dangerous they may be.

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Not wanting to believe her father wasn’t the leader she thought he was, Merida raises her bow, but Zelena magics it away from her. She plans to use a locator spell to find the helm. Mulan keeps Merida from clawing Zelena’s eyes out, and Zelena and Arthur abscond with the bow.

Merida, convinced she can’t lead without magic like her father used, gets ready to return home and give up the crown. Fired up, Mulan insists that Merida can’t give up like this, but Merida says Mulan has, so why not? Merida rides off leaving Mulan stricken.

In a flashback to before the battle which killed Fergus, Merida asks her dad how he inspires so many people despite certain death.

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He looks down at the helm but doesn’t answer. After a long pause, he replies that showing them that you’re the first one ready to lay down your life shows them what an important battle it really is. He sends her off, saying he’s got to keep an eye on the sea for the invaders, but looks back at his helm once more.

In the present, Mulan approaches the Old Witch’s hut, hoping to have her reveal who the cloak belongs to. She’s greeted by the wolf which attacks her. But Mulan recognizes that the creature isn’t really a wolf. She knocks over a cauldron and the wolf turns back into the long-absent Ruby.

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Ruby and Mulan leave together, and Ruby realizes that she’s with Mulan, who her friends in Storybrooke spoke of. She mentions that Aurora was about to have a baby when she last saw them. Mulan changes the subject by asking how Ruby got back to their realm.

We flashback to the night of Prince Neal’s naming ceremony at Granny’s. Though pleased for Snow and Charming, Ruby is melancholy and antisocial. She reveals to Mary Margaret that she’s been feeling lonely lately as she’s the only one of her kind in Storybrooke. With the help of a magic bean from the fields Tiny was working on, she plans to return to the Enchanted Forest to find her pack.

When Mulan asks her if she found them, Red says sadly no. She went to the Old Witch for help, but was turned into a guard dog instead. Mulan shares her reasons for visiting the Old Witch, then shows the cloak to Red. Red says she can help her friend.

Back at the DunBroch castle, Elinor tries to convince Merida handing the crown over is not the right thing to do, but Merida tells Lord MacIntosh the crown will go to him if he finds the helm before the deadline. Mulan and Red arrive, and Mulan says they were both wrong for giving up, and that Red can sniff the knight out.

Flashback to the morning of the battle against the Southern Invaders, Merida realizes Mulan has taken her out to train to keep her from the fight. Merida ditches Mulan to join the battle.

With a helm on his head, Fergus the Bear King leads the four clans into battle against the Southern Invaders.

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While the fight seems to be going in the clans’ favor, Fergus is taken from behind by a masked knight. Merida, arriving too late, tries to shoot the killer with an arrow, but only catches a bit of cloak. Mulan strongarms Merida away to keep her safe as the knight takes Fergus’s helm from his body. The knight reveals himself to be King Arthur.

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Presently, Arthur and Zelena stand at the edge of the same shore on which Merida last spoke to her dad. The locator spell points them to the helm underwater, and Zelena magically retrieves it. But Merida shoots it out of Arthur’s hand. Red says Arthur’s scent is all over the cloak, and an incredulous Merida draws her sword. Arthur admits to seeking the helm to aide him in finding Excalibur.

Mulan reminds Merida that her goal is to find the helm and save her people, not pursue revenge. But when Merida asks why Arthur doesn’t have the helm already, he admits that the one Fergus wore didn’t work, and the clans defeated his men in battle that day. Merida realizes that her father led them without magic.

Edified, Merida redoubles her bravery and fights Arthur for the helm. Mulan confronts Zelena, but before Zelena can throw her fireball, Red hits her with sleeping powder. Arthur and Merida continue to fight, and when Merida eyes the helm, Arthur promises to cut her down just like Fergus.

The Lords of the other three clans arrive, arrows drawn on Arthur and, finding himself with only a drowsy Zelena for backup, lowers his sword and allows her to return them to Camelot.

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Merida thanks the other clans wholeheartedly, and MacIntosh leads the others in a respectful bow, telling her they recognize her as their queen now because she was willing to give up the crown for the good of the kingdom, something her father would have done.

At the coronation ceremony, Elinor introduces her daughter as queen just as the Old Witch bursts in again.

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Merida says she’ll find a way to reverse whatever curse is set upon them, but she won’t be bullied into giving the helm back. The Old Witch reveals that the whole thing was a test, and Merida practically groans as she realizes that getting the helm back made her realize what it takes to rule. As a gift, the Old Witch gives Merida a flask with magical ale of the legend of Seonaidh, a cup of which will summon the spirit of anyone who’s passed to the underworld.

Later, at the grave of her father, Merida says thank you and goodbye to Mulan and Red. Mulan admits she was trying to get over a broken heart. Red offers Mulan a chance to come with her searching for more werewolves, and Mulan accepts.

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Merida splashes her father’s grave site with the magical ale. When he appears, Fergus confesses that it was Merida who convinced him to fight without the magic of the helm, and that he is proud of her.

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He disappears and Merida vows aloud to go after Arthur.

Honestly, ABC should have totally aired this episode BEFORE ‘Birth’, but whatever. Let us know your thoughts on the episode below!

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Once Upon a Time Sneak Peak – Merida and Emma Fisticuffs!

I don’t know what to say.

I know that isn’t the most promising way to start off an article considering that an article is usually comprised of words, but it’s the most accurate statement that I’ve got after watching the latest Once Upon a Time sneak peak from ABC.

I’m not even trying to be funny when I tell you I just sat and stared at the screen of my laptop after this clip of Emma encountering Merida in what appears to be the Enchanted Forest. #jawhasbeendropped

Ok, we’ve got some Will-o’-the-Wisp action, which is a great inclusion of the life-changing magic from Brave, and a reference to that whole awkward bear curse thing. Merida looks and sounds pretty prefect, considering my (and most fans’) standards are astronomically high.

But what I was really stoked to see was that Emma seems to still be in charge of herself, that she hasn’t been taken over completely by the Darkness. More importantly we can infer that she’s on a bit of a quest to procure the Will-o’-the-Wisp in order to potentially end her curse. Who has sent her on this quest or given her this lead has been left to our Oncer fandom speculation, but, hey, isn’t that what fandoms do best?

I’ve missed Jennifer Morrison’s acting. I love that she looks like a junkie trying to go straight and procure a ticket to the last spot at rehab or else the court is going to take her kid away. Seriously, she’s got the shakes, the fear, the desperation down. I almost feel bad for saying this, but I hope she isn’t too successful too soon. I want to see more of what the Darkness does to her!

Once Upon a Time returns to ABC this Sunday, September 27. Join us here every Monday for a recap and commentary on each episode!

Tell us what you thought of the sneak peak below.

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Surviving the Summer Break for ‘Once Upon a Time’ Fans – 4 Things You Might Have Missed About Season 5

Property of ABC

Oncers are counting down the days ’til we’re finally reunited with our friends in Storybrooke and the Enchanted Forest! But in the meantime, here are four things we can look forward to this season with absolute certainty…though some details may be open to creative interpretation as the season goes on!

4. The 100th episode is coming up and it’s gonna be CRAZY MAGIC

The 100th episode was teased at San Diego Comic-Con and at D23, but not much is known about it. There’s talk of it being a musical episode, and several cast members brightened up when the idea was mentioned.

Adam Horowitz, series co-creator, alluded to it very vaguely:

 We want to make it very special, and we want the 100th episode to be our spring premiere. We’re hard at work trying to not to tell you anything.

What’s a Disney movie or show without some music? We’ve had so little of it these past four seasons that it seems like it’s time for a number or two already! Ursula’s singing and Snow White’s whistling are nice little nods, but I’m looking for a full-on community sing!

Property of ABC
“A ha’penny? C’mon, guys, I’m literally singing for my supper!”


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“This is the last time I answer a Craigslist ad for housekeeping.”

3. Emma isn’t going to fight the Darkness as much as she’d like to think she is

Jennifer Morrison, who plays the main hero and Savior Emma Swan, tells fans:

Emma went through a lot in her life. She had a tough childhood. She’s had to overcome a lot of things. She’s tried to be the bigger person. Now that she’s going to face the darkness, she’s free of that… She’s going to face the darkness in herself and figure out how to overcome it.

GOOD, I say! I don’t like static characters. Not that Emma hasn’t grown a lot since we first met her (and since her days in foster care), but we’ve never really seen her let go before. Sure, she’s thrown some punches, extracted her revenge via Regina’s apple tree, and shot Cruella in the chest when the villainess kidnapped Henr, but we’ve never seen Emma’s powers go truly dark before. Emma is a good person, and she’s a hero, but that doesn’t mean she’s perfect. I want to see her push the limits and explore the side that she didn’t really know she had. I want to see who she becomes after she finally gets to know all herself.

Property of ABC
Remember kids, apples are a gateway drug to Evil!

2. Merida isn’t going to be a solo act

Horowitz made sure to entice fans with this teaser:

 We’ve always wondered what would happen if Belle and Merida went on an adventure together. We hope you do, too, because it’s coming!

I would love to have heard that Merida and Mulan were going to partner up, but Merida and Belle sound just as amazing! Belle’s life is going to change so much this season. Rumple may or may not have magic, so he’s going to need to recover and readjust to no longer being the Dark One. And Belle may or may not stay with him romantically. Belle’s sense of adventure will most likely be sparked by this new, non-flouncy princess who would rather have a ball than dance at one. I’d really like to see Belle re-energized. She’s one of my favorite characters in both Disney and OUaT, and I think she deserves more credit and opportunities to shine without Rumple around.

Property of ABC
“Hey, wait a minute, this master script says Belle is supposed to have her own house, her own bank account, and her own car by season 3! CARLYLE! GET OVER HERE!!”

1. Merida will not be Zelena and Robin’s daughter

I can’t even begin to express my joy over this news. Honestly, it was my least favorite fan theory ever. Horowitz gives it to us in no uncertain terms.

It’s just a fun theory, but the reality is we are sticking to the canon of the movie Brave in terms of who her parents are and where she came from, but post-movie is where our Once Upon a Time spin comes into play.

Which sea goddess do I bow before? Which Fairy do I bring gifts to? Is there a Rock Troll that needs more moss? I cannot begin to express my gratitude. Zelena is the embodiment of insecurity and selfishness. Merida is, in a word, BRAVE. And I refuse to believe that Zelena could ever be worthy of a daughter like Merida.

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“Spoiler alert, I’m actually Merida. Watch out for bears, or something.”

How have you been coping with the countdown? Send us a comment below to tell us what you think of the news!

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Surviving the Summer Break for Once Upon a Time Fans – Camelot Cast Revealed!

I’m swimming in Once Upon a Time news from Comic Con like Prince Charming water dancing with the Lady in the Lake-turned Snow White: it’s sexy as hell, but it isn’t real.

“Nah, nah, honey, I’m good.”

I wanted to title this article “Comic-Con Is the Cure for the Summertime Once Upon a Time Blues,” but while I’ve reveled in every little scrap of news coming out of San Diego this weekend, I’m feeling ever the more desperate for September 27. Every funny, exciting, thrilling quote, picture, or revelation that’s proffered up, just reminds me more and more that that which we yearn for is still 76 days away.

By the way, I made this. Consider it a gift. Christmas in July, etc., etc. You’re super welcome. Please send cookies.

But several weeks ago I did say we have to stay optimistic if we want to make it out of Summer break alive. And while I loathe eating my words (they get in the way of the delicious cookies I’m trying to shovel in there), I have to admit, it really is the best course of action. So let’s focus on the positive!

We have FOUR new confirmed actors for Season 5 according to the news out of Saturday’s OUaT panel. We’ve already focused on Amy Mason who was cast as Merida, the arrow-shooting red-head who doesn’t take any MacGuff from anyone. It’s possible she may make an early appearance and play a part in the Dark Swan storyline, but my doubloons are on her making her debut Zelena-style and kicking off the second half of the season post hiatus and after the Dark Swan chapter closes.

Since Episode 1 of Season 5 is definitely titled “Dark Swan,” and it is confirmed by show creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis that the episode will pick up just moments after the events of the Season 4 finale, we can easily assume that the Apprentice’s dying admonition to “find Merlin” will be on the top of everyone’s to do list. Merlin, of Authurian legend fame, is to be played by Elliot Knight.

© DAVID MCNEW/Reuters/Corbis

Most famous for his portrayal of the pirate Sinbad in the 2013 UK television show of the same name, Knight is an unexpected yet intriguing choice for the wizard to end all Dark Ones.

Knight is twenty-five years old, which is a sharp contrast to the traditional depiction of Merlin as an aged warlock. Anything written about Merlin’s younger years dealt much with his love life, which is always a topic OUaT is masterful at making into motive. Considering the Lady in the Lake has already been well-established, she would be an excellent introduction to Merlin in an episode; recounting her possible backstory as Viviane the huntress, and Merlin’s legendary obsession with her. Of course, Knight is just playing the part. They may very well age him, or explain away his age to magic. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time on this show for that!

Lisbon born Joana Metrass joins the cast as Camelot’s Guinevere.

Mug Photography

Her credits include long-running Portuguese dramas Morangos com Açúcar (2012) and Sinais de Vida (2013).

Andrew Jenkins head shot

Fresh out of Wayward Pines (2015) is Andrew Jenkins who will portray Percival, one of King Arthur’s knights. As Lancelot appeared in Season 2, it’s reasonable to assume that he and several other knights may also play a part in the backstory of Merlin. No word yet if phrases like “Holy Grail” or “Quest” or “Shrubbery” will come up along the way, but knights and princesses in Camelot rarely have boring days, so I expect we can look forward to some of the traditional mythos weaving its way into the Dark Swan storyline.

I and other Oncers are also interested to see if fan speculation might become canon. You’ll remember that at the end of Operation Mongoose Part 2, Lily, who is dragonborn, asked Emma if she minded if she stayed in town to look for her real father.

“I’m trying to get me an mom on Maury, but they say I have to at least three suspected dads before they’ll even interview me.”

As Merlin is known for his demonic origins and his penchant for talking to dragons, there are definite rumblings about if Merlin will be revealed to be Maleficent’s dragondaddy. While likely it’s also rather obvious, so I’m calling fifty-fifty odds on that scenario.

Maybe I’ll change the name of the article to the “Once Upon a Time Summer Speculation 2015 Bonanza.” I feel like I’m sitting around, pre-Deathly Hallows, spitballing what I think is going to happen in book seven of Harry Potter based off of the color scheme of the dust jacket. But no matter what happens, good or bad, expected or blindsided, traditional or whole new story, I am confident that someone will send me cookies— I mean, that Season 5 will be the most magical season yet! Join me in the comments for more spitballing!

Do you like the choices for the our new Camelot cast?
What theories do you have about Merlin, Guinevere, and Percival?
Do you think Merlin and Lily will be related?

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‘Once Upon a Time’s Newest Princess Aims True at San Diego Comic Con

I was at Comic Con San Diego for the great 2013 Once Upon a Time panel in Ballroom 20, and it was quite a time to be alive. Once Upon a Time: Wonderland was in the works and we were treated to a 10 minute cut. Good Morning Storybrooke premiered and has since become a Youtube guilty pleasure for many Oncers. And Ariel stole Grumpy’s dinglehopper and our hearts with her brief, but thrilling, sneak peak!

And as much as I squeed, furiously clapped, jumped up and down in my seat, and made grabby hands at the stage and screens, I probably would have passed out if they had played this for me:

On a side note, I love that OUAT’s music can be so magical yet so stressful at the same time. *chills* Not only does Amy Manson walk with the comfortable stride of of her animated counterpart…
…but she also possesses all her sharpness of skill, too!
And even more importantly, our new Merida-in-the-flesh looks ready to take on the whole sorted forest!

Now here’s the thing about Merida: the movie was called Brave, not Free Spirit or Merida the Adventurer, but Brave.

Brave can be quiet. Brave can be small. Brave can be stalwart and steadfast. Brave can be graceful and clever. Brave is something anybody can be, but they have to choose to be it. And if you look at who the heroes are in OUAT, you see that those who earn the title “brave” chose to be bold, chose to put others ahead of themselves, chose to embrace who they really are and the strengths and sacrifices that go along with that acceptance. If there was ever a mascot for Season 5, Merida will be it!

There is speculation as to what other role she’ll play in the upcoming season.

With Emma becoming the Dark Swan and the Apprentice’s dying admonition to find Merlin, it’s quite possible that Merida may have her own hand to lend in the search for history and folklore’s greatest magician of all time. Or perhaps she runs afoul of the new Dark One when Emma makes her way to the Enchanted Forest, as teased in ABC’s other promo video here.

Some of Amy Mason’s more recent geeky roles include Alice Guppy from Torchwood (2008), Daisy from Being Human (2010), and Medea in Atlantis (2014). But devotees will remember her fondly as Jodie Hatfield from 2007’s Pumpkinhead 4: Blood Feud.

What do you think of our first look at Merida? Do you think Amy Mason is a good choice for our new princess? What do you think Merida’s role will be in Season 5? 

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