Dear Emma Swan, your darkness is showing.
In last night’s ONCE UPON A TIME, a few loose threads from the premiere finally made sense, as Merlin was finally freed from his tree prison and we got the first glimpse of how the Darkness is starting to cloud Emma’s judgement back in Camelot.
The first thing we see is how Merlin ended up in a tree and that is because the Dark One at the time – does anyone know who that one was? – trapped him in there. Poor, young Merlin had just lost the only woman he ever loved and was grieving the loss of his first love, so the Dark One caught one of his tears with his dagger and cast a spell that effectively trapped the wizard inside a tree.
Cut to Camelot in somewhat present time and we see that Emma has been watching the scene of Merlin getting trapped in the tree through a dreamcatcher. Apparently, an enchanted dreamcatcher can show someone’s memories and Emma got a hold of this one and figured out how the wizard got trapped and how they can free him. She enlists Regina’s help, after stopping her from giving her dagger to spellbound Charming and Snow.
Regina comes up with the idea that the missing ingredient for this spell to work is the same that trapped Merlin in the first place: a tear shed because of a broken heart. So she volunteers to shed said tear and Emma gives her one of the dreamcatchers so she can relive the memory of her mother killing Daniel – her first love. Everything seems to go great, but her broken heart is not so broken anymore because of Robin, and the tear she shed was not powerful enough to make the spell work.
That’s when Henry makes an appearance to save the day and become a hero. He set up an elaborate date at Granny’s and invited Violet over. He was so adorable and nervous and I wanted to pinch his cheeks because he was so cute. But then Violet completely shatters his hopes and dreams when she tells him that she only likes him as a friend. Ouch.
When he finds his moms trying to cast the spell to free Merlin, he is completely heartbroken and cries the loss of his Violet in their arms. Turns out, the timing was perfect because his tear is exactly what they need. Even when Arthur shows up trying to stop them, they still manage to complete the spell and finally free Merlin, who promptly tells Arthur what a huge disappointment he is. Good for you, dude.
With Merlin free, they immediately undo the spell on Charming and Snow and it’s time for the wizard to get the Darkness out of Emma. He asks her if she is ready, because it won’t work unless her heart is ready to let go of the Darkness, and I guess we all know the answer to that, since Dark Swan cast a curse on everyone and is now in Storybrooke trying to get Excalibur out of the stone.
That leads us to present day Storybrooke. Emma has a room full of dreamcatchers – where I am assuming everyone’s memories are – and orders Merida to make a hero out of Rumple, who has reverted back to his old self before his Dark One days and is a total coward. Their sessions in the woods were so completely entertaining and I am absolutely in love with Merida. Can we keep her? Please? The girl sure has spunk. That final scene, where she gets the chipped cup and taunts him with it, was absolutely brilliant!
Elsewhere, they find out the dude from Camelot, that had supposedly stolen a magical bean, vanished from his prison cell and Snow decides that they should do something so people won’t lose hope and yadda yadda yadda. So they decide a party is in order and Snow is super excited to organize it.
Henry is super into Violet – and doesn’t remember having his heart broken back in Camelot – so he invites her to the party. Except the girl is super sad because her horse, Nicodemus, escaped from the stables. Henry makes it his mission to bring the horse back and enlists Emma’s help, to try and help her do something good and give back Violet’s happy ending, just like old times. And it does feel like old times and everything goes according to plan: they find the horse and Henry arrives at the party like a knight in shining armor, riding the horse and earning the seal of approval from Violet’s father.
And everything goes to hell when he goes home because, while he was out with Emma, Regina, Hook and everyone went to the Dark Swan’s house to find out what she is up to. They find Excalibur – thus figuring out what her plan is - and the dummies are working with Arthur in order to get the sword back.
Regina takes one of the dreamcatchers, thinking it could be one of their memories, so they would finally find out what prompted Emma to cast the curse in the first place. Except the memory is Violet’s and we find out that Emma took her heart out and commanded her to break Henry’s heart, so she could get his tear and free Merlin. Henry sees everything and is heartbroken all over again, the poor kid.
Regina confronts Emma and tells her she knows she was the one responsible for Henry’s heartbreak back in Camelot and the boy already knows and doesn’t want to see her.
Way to go, Emma. Pushing away everyone you love. You have successfully completed the Being the Dark One 101 course.
Don’t miss a new episode of ONCE UPON A TIME on November 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.