ONCE UPON A TIME Mid-Season Finale Recap: The Kind Of Man He Chose To Be

once upon a time

Let me preface this by saying that last night’s ONCE UPON A TIME completely destroyed my heart. It took it out of my chest and shattered it into a million tiny little pieces.

“Swan Song” revealed a little more about Killian Jones’ past and we discovered that he and Liam were abandoned by their father as little boys. And not only that – his father was a criminal and was on the run. He traded his children into a life of servitude in order to get his freedom. No wonder Killian is so messed up and has a mountain of trust issues.

The theme that permeated the entire episode was the thought of “what kind of man do they want to be” and it wasn’t strictly related to Hook, but to Rumplestiltskin as well. I thought it was kind of in our face too much, but sure, it served its purpose.

Killian was abandoned and, over a hundred years later, he is recruited by the Evil Queen to kill her mother. But before he can do that, Regina tells him he needs to pass a test, and that is to kill his own father – who happens to still be alive due to a sleeping curse. The man has found true love, has another family and has seen the error of his ways. Killian doesn’t have it in him to kill him at first, but when he finds out that his father named his child Liam and hears him telling his little brother the exact same words he used to say to him as a boy, he completely loses it and kills him, saying that this is the man he has chose to become.

Back in Storybrooke, Killian has brought back all the Dark Ones and that’s a really scary sight. Emma is determined to stop him, even if it means killing him again. She tells Snow that he is not the Killian she loves anymore; that man died back in Camelot. The Dark Ones mark them all to be taken to the Underworld, except Emma. It seems that they are all in our world temporarily and, in order to make their stay permanent, they need to trade places with a few souls – thus the mark that would take our heroes to the Underworld in their place.

The Charmings kind of give up and decide to spend their last few hours together at Granny’s, which was a huge whaaaat moment for me. This is the family that doesn’t give up. Their middle name is hope and that’s their motto, so why are they giving up this easily? Were they just tired of fighting? Emma doesn’t give up, obviously, and she goes to Regina and tells her now is the time to make good on that promise they agreed upon back in Camelot. Emma’s plan is to tether all darkness to herself and have Regina kill her with Excalibur, so all darkness will be destroyed.

They go to Gold to get Excalibur and he hands it to them, just like that. I thought that was kind of fishy, but Gold had just been dumped by Belle and told her to get out of Storybrooke, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Turns out I was wrong, because he double crossed everyone. Again.

They get to the lake just in time to stop everyone from going into the Underworld. When Nimue attacks Emma, in order to stop her from stopping them, Killian has a change of heart. When he understands what Emma’s plan is and sees that she is going to sacrifice herself, he offers to do it in her place, instead. And then-

Emma runs him through with Excalibur and I swear my heart was destroyed in the process. Colin O’Donoghue and Jennifer Morrison completely obliterated my emotions in that moment, because their performance was so powerful and so raw and I really didn’t have enough tears to get through this scene. When it’s all over and Killian is dead, the darkness seeps out of them and they revert to their normal selves, but it’s too late. He is gone.

When I thought I couldn’t possibly take it anymore, Emma starts hearing the dagger calling her again. And it turns out Rumplestiltskin found a loophole and turned Excalibur into a conduit. So when Emma killed Killian, the darkness went straight to Rumple, who is once again the Dark One – this time, more powerful than ever – and he is fooling Belle yet again. I feel so bad for this girl, I swear to God.

Emma tells him she knows what he’s done and, if he wants to keep Belle in the dark, he is going to help her go to the Underworld to get Killian back. Her plan is to use the same method her parents did and she’s going to share her heart with Killian. Sigh. Theirs is really are a true love story.

And now we suffer through the hiatus.

ONCE UPON A TIME returns in March, but at least they left us with a promo to tide us over the long couple of months ahead.

ONCE UPON A TIME Mid-Season Finale Sneak Peeks: Light Versus Dark

once upon a time

Emma’s attempt to save Hook by turning him into a Dark One on ONCE UPON A TIME is going to continue to backfire in the upcoming winter finale.

All of the resurrected Dark Ones have come to Storybrooke and they’re targeting a living soul for a sacrifice so they can officially return to the realm of the living. Gold believes that the end is nigh and he tells Mary Margaret, David and the other heroes to enjoy their final moments with their loved ones. But Emma is determined not to give up. Knowing she’s responsible for what’s happening with the resurrected Dark Ones, she’s determined to make it right, but Dark Hook won’t be making it easy for her.

Meanwhile, we’ll also be seeing Fairy Tale Land flashbacks where the Evil Queen hires Hook to do away with her mother. But before she sends him on his mission she tests him by forcing him to confront a demon from his past: his father.

Don’t miss the mid-season finale of ONCE UPON A TIME on December 6 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

ONCE UPON A TIME Recap: The One With All The Dark Ones

once upon a time

Before we dive into this recap, it is important that you are very well aware that there will be major spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own risk.

I don’t know about you guys, ONCE UPON A TIME fans, but I did not see that coming.

First, they left us hanging two weeks ago with the fact that Emma had turned Killian into a Dark One in order to save his life. That was already a punch to the stomach, but she did it out of love, because she couldn’t bear the thought of living without him.

And then this week’s episode happened.

Now that was a mean one-two punch to the face. I am not even getting into the Captain Swan angst yet, but just the fact that the darkness took over Killian so completely that he not only played Emma, but he was the one who cast the curse in the first place were mind-boggling. As if that wasn’t enough, he was the one to summon every single Dark One that has ever existed in order to destroy all light magic. I mean… what the hell just happened?

We start “Broken Heart” right where “Birth” left off. Killian has just found out that he is a Dark One and he is extremely pissed off, especially when Zelena returns his memories. In retaliation, he wipes Emma’s memory and disappears, taking all the dreamcatchers with him. And because that isn’t enough, Zelena puts that magic binding bracelet on Emma, so now, not only she can’t remember what her plan was going forward, but she is completely powerless to do anything. It doesn’t help that pretty much everyone is very wary of her – with good reason, in their mind – so she is basically isolated from everything and everyone. The last nail on her proverbial coffin is when Henry refuses to trust her and leaves. Of course, Killian is the one to put a knife through her heart when he throws all her issues in her face, and, holy mother of God, the look in her eyes when he tells her he wants to hurt her as much as she hurt him was heartbreaking.

Dark!Hook is equal parts cruel, terrifying and sexy and I have to say that Colin O’Donoghue really surprised me. I knew he was talented, but he took a character that had been a lovesick puppy dog – as he said so himself – and turned him around, transforming him into a completely different character. He is not that Captain Hook we met all the way back in Season 2 and he is not the good man Killian had become. No, this version of Hook as the Dark One is something completely new and Colin did an amazing job. His mannerisms, the way he talks, the way he carries himself are all completely different. At the same time that my heart was breaking for Emma and Killian – for her because she loved him so much and only did this to him to save his life; and for him, because he became the one thing he completely loathed and had spent centuries trying to get rid of his own darkness – I was overjoyed to watch such a powerful performance from both Jennifer Morrison and Colin O’Donoghue. It was so good. So, so good. “Broken Heart” was probably the best episode of the season so far and I am so curious as to where they are taking this storyline.

Hook was immediately consumed by the darkness, both in Camelot and in Storybrooke and it was just so completely heartbreaking to see him killing Merlin and playing Emma in order to get what he wanted. His interaction with both the darkness in Rumple’s form and Rumplestiltskin in Storybrooke was hilarious and so refreshing. Robert Carlyle and Colin work so well together and I had missed seeing them really get into it. In other news, Henry ended up forgiving Emma and helped her get the dreamcatchers back, so everyone’s memories were restored just in time for them to figure out what Hook’s plan actually is, but not fast enough for them to stop him. Also, Regina and Robin let Zelena finally meet her daughter and it was actually a very, very touching moment. There may be hope yet for the Wicked Witch.

Everything about this season made so much sense in this episode and it all came full circle. Excalibur, Merlin’s absense in Storybrooke, Emma’s determination to leave everyone in the dark. I seriously can’t get over how all the pieces fell into all the right places and just how absolutely devastated I am for our Swan.

So what did you think? Hit the comments below or come talk to me on Twitter.

Don’t miss the next new episode of ONCE UPON A TIME on December 6 on ABC.

ONCE UPON A TIME Sneak Peek: A Second Dark One

once upon a time

On the special two-hour episode of ONCE UPON A TIME fans finally learned the truth of what happened in Camelot: Hook had died and, in order to save him, Emma made him a Dark One like herself. Now she’s on a mission to save them both and eliminate magic. But now that Hook knows the truth, the situation is going to become even more dangerous.

We’ll be getting more flashbacks to Camelot and we’ll see Hook’s rebirth as the Dark One. Much like with Emma, Rumplestiltskin will appear in his head as his “Dark One Guide” and he’ll be reigniting Hook’s desire for revenge against Rumple/Mr. Gold. Hook and Emma will be disagreeing about how to proceed with this unexpected turn of events, revealing the final pieces of the puzzle about what happened in Camelot and finally catching up to the present. We’ll also witness a confrontation between the forces of light and dark.

Meanwhile, in Storybrooke, Hook goes after Gold to settle their old feud, while Emma’s love for Hook is put to the ultimate test as she tries to convince him to turn away from Darkness. And she, Regina, Mary Margaret and David will go on a new mission when an unexpected evil is released.

Don’t miss an all new episode of ONCE UPON A TIME on November 29 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

ONCE UPON A TIME Recap: Emma Did What Now?

once upon a time

Before we dive into this recap, it is important that you are very well aware that there will be major spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own risk.

Last night’s ONCE UPON A TIME was promoted as a huge two-hour event and I swear I thought it was going to be something like parts one and two, and that they would work as one huge episode, like we have seen in past seasons. But to my surprise “Birth” and “The Bear King” served as two completely standalone episodes and – let’s be honest – the one that really mattered was “Birth”. As much as I love Merida and it was great to see Ruby and Mulan again, the only thing we really took from this episode was that Crazy!Arthur was the one who killed Merida’s father in his endless quest to make Excalibur whole. So, let’s focus on “Birth”, shall we?

The first episode of the night revealed what the Dark Swan is really after and what prompted her to fully embrace the darkness back in Camelot. I have to say that I did not see that coming. At all. As much as I had suspected it was something big and it had to do with Killian – and I really suspected that she had done it out of love, just like Rumple had, to save Baelfire – I had no idea it was going to be this big. That was very bold move on the writers’ part and I am so curious as to how they are going to resolve this.

Emma’s master plan is not to destroy all light magic, as the heroes had previously thought. What she really wants is to get rid of all dark magic, including hers. So after she makes Excalibur whole, she saves Killian’s life when Arthur tries to kill him – or so we thought – and he tells her that he still loves her and he wants to know the truth about what really happened in Camelot, no matter how bad it is. He insists on it and tries to get her attention in every way possible, until she relents and takes him back to her house, telling him she will tell him, but only after she has completed her plan. So she puts him under a spell and in shackles, so he won’t try and stop her, and proceeds with her schedule. Speeding up Zelena’s pregnancy is the first item on the agenda and the Wicked Witch quickly gives birth to a baby girl. Regina and the others think that it’s the baby that Emma is after, but they couldn’t be more wrong. The Dark Swan is actually after Zelena, but she is not that heartless, so she saved the baby and then kidnapped Zelena, putting her in her creepy basement with Killian. Once there, she reveals that what she really plans on doing is to tether all dark magic to Zelena and then to kill the witch to get rid of it once and for all.

What she didn’t foresee, however, was the fact that, as much as Killian really, really loves her, he really wants to stop her plan. Remember, he still thinks that she maybe wants to destroy all light magic; so he teams up with Zelena, uses his enchanted hook to get her magic binding cuff off and she frees them both. Except Killian stays behind, hell bent on finding something that could help him help Emma, and she catches him on the act. He confronts her and uses a potion that immobilizes her, so she won’t go through with her plan. And that’s when Zelena decides to return because – guess what – she found one on Emma’s dreamcatchers and she knows exactly what happened back in Camelot. But of course, she is the Wicked Witch and she has a flare for drama, so she stabs Killian just to prove a point. When nothing happens to him, she reveals what really happened and why Emma is so determined to get rid of all dark magic. But before we dive into that, let’s talk about Camelot.

Crazy!Arthur tethered Merlin’s magic to Excalibur, so now he has command over the sorcerer. So he kidnaps Emma’s loved ones and threatens to unleash Merlin on them and kill them all, if Emma doesn’t give him the dagger and the Promethean spark, so he can finally make Excalibur whole. Merlin and Emma duke it out and he wins, but she still refuses to give them to Arthur. She tells the sorcerer that he is stronger than the sword’s command and Merlin is able to fight the power long enough to save Mary Margaret, and for Killian to free himself and attack Arthur. The crazy bastard manages to hurt our favorite pirate, but once he realizes his out numbered, he tells Zelena to poof them out of there. So Emma quickly heals the cut on Killian’s neck and it seems that they are all going to live happily ever after. They have the dagger, Excalibur and the Prolethean spark – all that is left to do is for Emma to light that spark and turn into it fire, so she can make the sword whole again.

In order to do that, however, she needs to be ready to let go of the darkness. Regina confronts her and even commands her to face her fears head on. Killian stops her, of course, but Emma soon confesses to him that what she is really afraid of is that future he has envisioned for them, with the house and white picket fence and she thinks she is going to lose him, just like she has lost everyone. He reassures her that he won’t ever leave her and they profess their undying love for each other and that is what turns the Promethean spark into fire. So great – they have everything, Emma is ready to let go of the darkness and they are going to live happily ever after, right?

Wrong. Because the moment Emma starts the process of making Excalibur whole, the cut on Killian’s neck reopens and it’s so much worse than before. He is suddenly bleeding out and there is nothing they can do to save him. Emma begs with him not to leave her and tells Merlin she can take his magic and transfer it to Killian, tethering him to Excalibur. Merlin warns her she shouldn’t do it because this will be the last step for her to embrace the darkness and it would turn Killian, but she doesn’t listen and takes Merlin’s magic away and tethers it to her pirate in order to save him.

And Killian Jones becomes a Dark One.

Holy. Mother. Of God.

I don’t know about you, but I never saw this coming and I admit my jaw hit the floor when that was revealed. Killian was obviously not amused by that fact and is downright furious with Emma. She turned him into the one thing he has spent centuries trying to kill and I can’t even begin to tell you how heartbreaking that is. She did it out of love, because she loves him so much that the only way to save him was to turn him into the creature he hates the most and my god, my heart cannot take all these feels.

Let it please be acknowledged that Jennifer Morrison is bringing her A game this season. It is easily her best season yet, but these past couple of episodes she has been breathtaking and my heart is in pieces for Emma Swan. And that is all due to Morrison’s talent. I have no idea where they are supposed to go from here, but I am so in. Is there any way we can give a grade higher than A+? Because that’s what “Birth” deserves.

So what did you think? Hit the comments below or come talk to me on Twitter.

Don’t miss the next new episode of ONCE UPON A TIME on November 29 on ABC.

ONCE UPON A TIME Sneak Peeks: Battles and Truths

once upon a time

ONCE UPON A TIME is serving up an extended two-hour episode this weekend full of returns, missions and showdowns.

Merlin — under Arthur’s control — delivers an ultimatum to Emma in the first hour, telling her to hand over the Dark One dagger and the Promethean spark or he’ll kill her family. But Emma isn’t one to give in so easy and this leads to a face-off between the heroes and Arthur, Merlin and Zelena. Back in Storybrooke, Zelena’s pregnancy mysteriously accelerates and Hook is desperate to get answers from Dark Emma.

Meanwhile, Zelena and Arthur travel to DunBroch in the second hour to retrieve a relic that could help them vanquish Emma. They cross paths with Merida, who is on a mission of her own to pay a debt that her father owed to the Witch when he died. Merida enlists the help of two friends — Ruby and Mulan — but first she must discover the identity of the knight who killed her father. And in flashbacks, we’ll learn more about Merida as she trains for war and fights alongside her father in the battle that claimed his life.

Don’t miss a two-hour episode of ONCE UPON A TIME on November 15 beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

ONCE UPON A TIME Teasers: Mulan, Dr. Whale & Ruby Return, Merlin Delivers an Ultimatum in A Special Two-Hour Episode

once upon a time

ABC is airing a special two-hour episode of ONCE UPON A TIME this weekend and it’s full of the return of three familiar faces (Mulan, Dr. Whale and Ruby), ultimatums and battles. Thanks to the network, we now have some spoilers for the episodes:

“In the first hour – “Birth” – tensions in Camelot come to a head when Merlin, now under Arthur’s control, delivers an ultimatum to Emma: hand over the Dark One dagger and the Promethean spark or he will kill her entire family. Refusing to give in, Emma and our heroes face off against Arthur, Merlin and Zelena in an epic battle of magic and will. Just when the end is in sight, Emma is forced to make a gut-wrenching choice that no one saw coming. Back in Storybrooke, Zelena’s pregnancy mysteriously accelerates and Hook goes to new and desperate lengths to get answers from the Dark Swan.” Guest cast includes Beverley Elliott as Granny, David-Paul Grove as Doc, Micahel Coleman as Happy, David Anders as Dr. Whale, Ingrid Torrance as Nurse Ratched, Elliot Knight as Merlin, Liam Garrigan as King Arthur and Joana Metrass as Guinivere.

“In the second hour – “The Bear King” – Zelena and Arthur journey to DunBroch on a mission to retrieve an enchanted relic that will provide the advantage they need to vanquish Emma and our heroes. Their path will cross with Merida’s, who is on a journey of her own to pay a debt that her father, King Fergus, owed to the Witch when he died. Merida enlists the help of two friends, Mulan and Ruby, but, in order to satisfy the Witch and save DunBroch, she first must discover the identity of the knight who killed her father. In flashbacks, Merida learns about bravery and honor as she trains for combat and rides alongside Fergus into the infamous battle that claims his life.” Guest cast includes Meghan Ory as Red/Ruby, Beverley Elliott as Granny, Jamie Chung as Mulan, Amy Manson as Merida, Glenn Keogh as King Fergus, Caroline Morahan as Queen Elinor, Lily Knight as Witch, Richard Stroh as Edgar, Paul Telfer as Lord Macintosh, Marco D’Angelo as Lord MacGuffin, and Josh Hallem as Lord Dingwall.

Don’t miss the two hour ONCE UPON A TIME on November 15 beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

ONCE UPON A TIME Recap: The Original Dark One

once upon a time

Well, that was a surprise.

Who would have thought that Merlin’s long lost love was actually the original Dark One? I definitely did not see that coming. Or maybe I did. In hindsight, when Nimue was mentioned in last week’s ONCE UPON A TIME, I had taken that as the original Dark One’s name; but then last night, when Nimue was introduced as the woman Merlin loved, I just figured that I had misunderstood and just went with it. And to my utter surprise, it turns out that Merlin’s love story was even more tragic than I had previously thought.

“Nimue” told the story of how Merlin became a sorcerer. It was actually pretty great that we got to spend a lot more in Camelot than we did in previous weeks, and got to witness out how the darkness is affecting Emma in the early stages of her becoming the Dark Swan.

Merlin is actually thousands of years old and he found the Holy Grail in the desert, when he was nearly dying of thirst. The guy he was with tried to drink the water from the Grail, but just like what happens to those unworthy of Excalibur, he turned to dust. Merlin was scared, but he figured he had two options: die of thirst or try to drink the water from the Grail and risk dying anyway. The Holy Grail deems him worthy, however, and after drinking its water he suddenly finds himself with magical powers and turns the desert into a forest.

A thousand years later, he is a well-known sorcerer in the village he lives in, and he meets a woman named Nimue. Surprisingly, he can’t see the future when it comes to her, but she tells him that a man named Vortigen burned her village to the ground and she was the only survivor. She wants revenge on him and she thinks that the best revenge would be to plant the seeds she has saved from a flower that only blossomed around her village. That way, Vortigen would know that he hadn’t killed everything and that her village lived on somewhere else.

Merlin is completely enchanted by her and they soon fall in love. He wants to propose and confesses to her that he is thousands of years old and immortal. So he doesn’t want to marry her and only have her for a brief period of time and then be left behind when she dies. Nimue suggests that maybe she could drink from the Grail and become immortal too, but Merlin doesn’t want that. He would rather lose his powers, so he can live a normal, human life by her side. In order to do that, he needs to transform the Holy Grail into a sword and that will take away his immortality. And that’s how Excalibur came to be.

All seems to go well, but Vortigen shows up and tries to take the sword. When Merlin doesn’t give it to him, he threatens Nimue and then proceeds to kill her when she struggles. Merlin is overcome with grief as he watches Nimue die and my heart totally broke for him. It turns out, however, that the sneaky woman had drunk from the Holy Grail and gained powers as well. So she surprises Merlin by ripping Vortigen’s heart out and crushing it. When she used her powers to kill someone the darkness took over and, thus, the mighty Dark One was born. She breaks Excalibur, so Merlin wouldn’t be able to take away her powers, and flees. Merlin puts Excalibur in the stone with his Apprentice’s help and performs a spell on the broken piece of the sword, forging the dagger that commands the Dark One.

How tragic is it that the original Dark One was the love of Merlin’s life, who became his mortal enemy, and trapped him inside a tree for thousands of years?

We fast forward to six weeks ago and what the heroes were up to in Camelot. Merlin enlists Emma’s help to make Excalibur whole again, but in order to do that they need to get the first spark of mankind and, lucky for them, the one who has it is the very first Dark One. So what Merlin needs her to do is to summon the original Dark One, which is not risk-free because the darkness might consume Emma and she could end up killing Merlin.

I have to say that I really, really enjoyed the Camelot part of this episode – especially Emma and Merlin. She confesses to him that she has done some dark things already and that she can feel the darkness taking over. When it’s revealed that the original Dark One is actually Nimue, Merlin’s long lost love, Emma is just as surprised as we are. Nimue is a force to be reckoned with and she nearly wins Emma over. But our Swan fights back and Jennifer Morrison was simply brilliant in that scene. It seriously looked like she was possessed; that’s how powerful her performance was. It was breathtaking. She takes the spark from Nimue and they start their journey back to Camelot with renewed hope.

But it was all for naught, because the Charmings, Hook and Regina devised a plan to rescue Excalibur, trusting Zelena’s intel. Obviously, the Wicked Witch had an ace up her sleeve and was actually working with Arthur, who has taken a trip to Looneyville and never returned. The guy is seriously bonkers and completely obsessed. Zelena performs a spell that tethers Merlin to Excalibur and now Crazy!Arthur has control over the sorcerer.

Flashforward to present day Storybrooke and Emma makes Excalibur whole again. My bet is that all hell is about to break loose.

So what did you think? Hit the comments below or come talk to me on Twitter.

ONCE UPON A TIME will air a special two-hour episode on November 15 beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

ONCE UPON A TIME Sneak Peeks: A New Quest

once upon a time

Our heroes will be covering a lot of ground in this week’s ONCE UPON A TIME and embarking on several different quests.

In Camelot flashbacks, Merlin organizes a mission to reunite the dagger with Excalibur so that he can use the weapon to save Emma from being completely overcome by the darkness. Two groups head out: Hook, Mary Margaret, David, Regina, Robin and Zelena are tasked with breaking into Arthur’s castle to take Excalibur, while Merlin and Emma go on a journey to confront his ancient nemesis and retrieve the spark he’ll need to reforge Excalibur.

Meanwhile, we’ll be going even further back in time to see flashbacks to a young Merlin when he discovered that he was blessed with magic and immortality, giving him a new purpose. But when he falls in love with a woman named Nimue, everything changes for him and their story impacts the lives of our present-day heroes as well.

Don’t miss an all new episode of ONCE UPON A TIME on November 8 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

ONCE UPON A TIME Recap: Rumplestiltskin Is Finally Brave

once upon a time

Last night’s ONCE UPON A TIME presented a tale of how to get one to overcome their fears. Both in Storybrooke and back in Camelot and Merida’s lands, we saw Rumplestiltskin and Merida face their deep fears head on and conquer them, but it took a long journey to get them both in a place where they could do that.

“The Bear and the Bow” kicks off with Hook, Charming, Merlin and Belle breaking into Arthur’s dungeons in a mission to free Lancelot. To their surprise, however, they find that Merida is a prisoner there as well, so they free her too. What intrigued me about this scene, though – besides Belle being able to quickly find whatever it was Merlin needed in a book so fast – was the fact that Lancelot and Merlin seemed to know each other. Correct me if I’m wrong, but unless I missed something, Merlin had been stuck inside a tree for over a thousand years and, as far as I know, he would only reveal himself in prophecy to Arthur. So how exactly do they know each other again?

Anyway, mission accomplished and they go on their merry way. Belle trails behind the group with Merida, who was pretty impressed with Belle’s skills with a book. Just imagine what she would be able to do if there was a magical Google kind of thing. Merida decides Belle is the key for her to free her brothers and, instead of asking for her help like a normal person, she promptly knocks her out with a rock to the head and kidnaps her. So when Belle comes to, she is already far away from her friends and in a boat, where Merida says she is “a hit first, ask questions later sort of lass”, but that she would greatly appreciate it if Belle could help her, after explaining the situation about how she needs to save her little brothers and reclaim her position as Queen.

During their journey, Merida reveals that she feels incredibly guilty for her father’s death. Despite being an excellent archer, when her father needed her the most, she missed the target and the enemy ran her father through with a sword. Belle tries to convince her that she has all the skills she needs to save her brothers and that magic is not at all necessary, but Merida is determined to take this potion that will make her turn into a bear, so she can get her brothers back and defeat the clansmen who want to take her throne. When they get there, she asks for the potion and Belle gives it to her, not saying she has just switched the real potion with water. So, Merida goes forward and confronts the clansmen, who are about to execute her brothers, and takes the potion. When nothing happens for obvious reasons, Belle confesses to having switched the vials and tells she can do this.

With Belle’s pep talk, Merida saves her brothers, by shooting an arrow that stops the three arrows that were going to kill the boys. Showing this act of bravery and that she is an excellent archer earns her the respect of the clansmen, who all bow down to their Queen.

Back in Storybrooke, Emma has Merida doing her dirty work. When Rumplestiltskin escapes – by breaking Belle’s beloved chipped cup (!!!) and cutting through the rope that was tied around his hands – the Dark Swan sees this as a perfect opportunity for him to show he is a hero, so she tasks Merida to go and try to kill Belle, so Rumple can save her. It takes a while for him to overcome his fear and let go of his cowardice, and it’s only when Belle really is in mortal danger – because Emma gave Merida the real potion that would turn her into a pissed off giant bear – that he steps up and offers himself up in Belle’s place. When he is about to become the bear’s dinner, he throws a pouch of magic dust into its mouth, effectively reversing the spell.

They tie Merida up and take her back to the Dark Swan’s dungeon, where Rumple cuts them a deal with Emma. He will pull Excalibur out of the stone, but she needs to return Merida’s heart. Emma takes it, Merida gets her heart back and Rumple pulls Excalibur out. Now, what really interests me in this scene was that it took Rumple only one act of bravery for him to be worthy of the sword. Really? That smells really fishy to me. This is supposed to be the ultimate hero’s sword and super mythical and all that. Was that really all it took to get it out of the stone? I don’t think so.

Bonus points for seeing Zelena being her delightful evil self when Emma tries to ask for her help, by bribing her with delicious food. That entire exchange was brilliant and I think Zelena is totally right. It will take a while for Henry to forgive Emma, when all of this is said and done.

So what did you think? Hit the comments below or come talk to me on Twitter.

ONCE UPON A TIME returns with an all new on November 8 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.