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