Well it’s a brand new day and we’re back once again with our friends from Storybrooke, the Enchanted Forest, I mean Camelot. Arthur is in the running to take over the position of obsessive Mad Hatter level crazy, Emma nearly wipes out hook with a yellow bolt of magic, and Snow and Charming go head-to-head Season 1 level argument. What we aren’t seeing is very much of Regina part in saving Emma nor are we seeing much of Emma’s transition into the Dark One, you know the most evil being known to man. At most we’re starting to get a little naughty but still nothing on Rumple’s level of Dark One and I for one am a little disappointed.
Maybe in the coming episodes we’ll start to see Emma take the reigns of how a person with unspeakable power and anger rules with an iron fist but at this point by not seeing Emma making much noise as the Dark One it makes it hard for me to worry about her family and friends being able to bring her back to the Emma they know and love. I need to see another level of Emma like we did last season during the road trip with Regina when Emma pulled a gun on Lily. We were taken to the edge of will she or won’t she pull that trigger until Regina pulled Emma back reminding her of who she is and that had the audience on the edge of our seats.
I’m still waiting for that to happen and though yes we are 4 episodes in and yes we have almost 20 more to go, I really thought we would have seen something a little more sinister than Emma trying to seduce Hook and tying Merida to the front bumper of the bug.
We start the episode back in Camelot when Arthur and Guinevere were kids. Arthur tells Guinevere of Merlin’s prophecy that one day he will be King of Camelot when a group of older kids start to pick on him assuring Arthur that an orphan like himself will never be King of a broken kingdom. This is the fire that sets Arthur on his life-long quest to Excalibur though once he discovers the sword and realizes the tip is missing he’s pulled into a new quest to find the Dark One’s dagger in order to reforge Excalibur making it whole once again allowing Arthur to truly rule Camelot as its rightful King. This new quest though becomes more of an obsession pushing a now grown up and newly married Arthur to focus solely on the task at hand leaving little time for his love of Guinevere. Waiting in the wings to pick up the slack is none other than Arthur’s right hand man Lancelot. Lancelot steps up and tries to cover for Arthur by throwing Guinevere a birthday party as if it was Arthur’s doing but Guinevere knows her husband too well and knows that his obsession with the Dark One’s dagger is his only focus.
Current day Camelot Arthur summon’s David to the round table to share with him the secret of Excalibur’s missing tip (insert tip jokes here) and how they must find the Dark One’s dagger to make it whole again allowing Arthur to destroy the darkness and essentially the Dark One without the help of Merlin. Gee Arthur, no longer a fan of Merlin?
In a room within the castle we find Emma has taken up a new hobby of building dream catchers. her room is filled with them and she’s in the middle of carving up a new one when Rumple pays her another visit. He convinces Emma to find the dagger hidden by Regina and so she does. In a trance like state Emma wanders the halls of the castle and is led by the dagger itself to find it. Emma reaches for the dagger but is stopped by a protection spell placed on it by Regina.
Rumple taunts Emma assuring her she can break through it because she’s you know the Dark One but Emma resists knowing it will only put her family and friends in danger and push the darkness further into power within her. Rumple persists in his taunts and in an effort shut him up Emma throws a yellow bolt of magic towards him narrowing missing Hook as he enters the room. Seeing Emma is in an altered state, Hook tries to comfort her.
Emma’s family join Hook and a now worn out Emma resting when David returns from his chat with Arthur. He tries to explain to Snow that Arthur might have a way to help Emma but they need to give him the dagger. Snow tries to explain to David that Arthur is a shady mother…because their once thought dead friend Lancelot isn’t actually dead but alive and well and warned her of Arthur’s shady doing. This sets David off and begins a season 1 level argument between David and Snow about weather or not they should give the dagger to Arthur and what’s in Emma’s best interest.
I have to say it was nice to see Snow and David back in the forefront with a little of their once regular viggor. But their fighting is in front of a distraught Emma so once again thinking of the welfare of Emma, Regina has to reign them in reminding them of Emma’s current state suggesting that maybe they should move her to a more remote location to rest. Henry knows just the spot and with Hook’s help take Emma to recuperate. The fighting Snowings continue their disagreement of should they or shouldn’t they trust Arthur when it escalates to the point of Snow asking Regina to take a hike while she sets her man straight. Snow thinks David is a little star struck by Arthur and being asked to join the round table but David is convinced Arthur can be trusted and doesn’t trust Snow’s blind faith in Lancelot. Snow lays down the law and makes it clear they aren’t sharing anything with Arthur until they know for sure he can be trusted.
Back many years ago we find a newly crowned King Arthur frantically searching for clues to find the Dark One’s dagger. He has a scroll that he believes to hold the key if he could only decipher the markings. He’s spent days obsessing over the quest to find the dagger and has neglected his wife Guinevere pushing her further away and damaging their relationship. Arthur has a breakthrough believing he knows where to find the dagger and is intent to leave Guinevere under Lancelot’s protection while he chances down his theory. Guinevere realizes that Arthur misread the scrolls and is on a fools errand but she is able to correctly decipher the symbols and sets off with the help of Lancelot to find the dagger to once and for all end Arthur’s obsession.
Defy Snow’s wishes, David finds Arthur at the round table and spills his guts about dagger and pledges to help Arthur restore Excalibur immediately. Arthur agrees to help David save Emma and jokes that it’s probably his beard that’s causing Snow not to trust him when David drop a knowledge bomb on him alerting Arthur the fact that Lancelot is in fact alive and warning them not to trust Arthur.
Once again many years ago in Camelot Guinevere tries to sneak off in the dark of night to find the Dark One’s dagger when she’s caught by Lancelot. She explains to him that she found the gauntlet in Merlin’s chambers and that it will lead them to a person’s greatest weakness which for Arthur is the dagger. She wants to stop this obsession once and for all and won’t let Lancelot stop her. Instead of trying to stop her, Lancelot agrees to help Guinevere.
They arrive at familiar spot, the same circle manhole cover that spill out a newly Dark One Emma and entered the subterranean chamber. As they make their way through the tunnel the black ribbons of darkness show up and surround Lancelot just as they did Emma back in Storybrooke. Guinevere get’s pissed and pulls the darkness from him with a torch saving Lancelot’s life. Guinevere is overcome with emotion nearly losing Lancelot and kisses him and a love triangle is born.
Back in present day Camelot Arthur is shocked by the revelation of Lancelot’s presence and asks David to keep it between them not wanting Guinevere to find out but it’s too late because just as the words exit Arthur’s mouth Guinevere enters the room. She’s aware that Lancelot is alive and her anger to destroy him flows freely. Arthur tries to convince David that the dagger isn’t safe with Lancelot roaming free amongst his kingdom when David surprises both Arthur and Guinevere with the box holding the dagger. Just as David is to remove the dagger and hand it over to Arthur they discover it is in fact missing.
Just outside the castle we find Snow entering a Granny’s darkened abandoned diner calling for someone to come out from hiding. It’s Lancelot. She pulls out the dagger and tells Lancelot they have hide the dagger from Arthur.
Meanwhile, Henry leads a weary Emma and Hook to some stables in the woods. Turns out they belong to Henry’s new girlfriend Violet. Henry tries to assume them that Violet is just a friends when Violet shows up wondering what in the world Henry was doing hiding out in her parents stables. Henry thinks on his feet and asks Violet to take him riding. So of course she agrees to because Henry is adorable and the kid needs to live a little he’s been through a lot people!
Emma and Hook watch from behind the stall. Once Henry and Violet leave Hook is impressed with Henry and his first hints of young love but Emma is a little less enthusiastic, shocked that Henry lied to her face even though she’s the Dark One. Hook has to remind Emma that she’s also his mother any maybe being Henry’s mother is a scarier prospect.
Changing the subject Hook asks Emma to fill him in on what really happened back at the castle when she nearly fried him with a ball of magic. Emma proceeds to explain that she sees a figment of Rumple in her head ever since she arrived in Camelot and it’s causing her actions to go dark. Hook tells Emma that while chasing after darkness for hundreds of years the one thing that got his heart racing and his mind off of vengeance was the speed of his ship. He thinks that the same can hold true for Emma and since his ship isn’t an option they’ll ride a horse instead. If Emma’s mind is focused on the ride and the speed she won’t have room for thoughts of Rumple.
Walking through the woods we find Lancelot leading Snow to a place where they can hid the dagger from Arthur. Snow asks about what took place with Guinevere years ago but Lancelot suggests it’s complicated and leaves it at that. Snow pushes asking if Lancelot still loves Guinevere and Lancelot confesses he will always love her.
Camelot several years ago Lancelot and Guinevere are entering the door that leads to the Dark One’s dagger. The door opens to a wooded area with a case holding the dagger. Guinevere cautiously approaches only to have both she and Lancelot thrown back several feet. Rumple appears explaining that it’s cute that they want the dagger but that ain’t gonna happen. Instead he offers them a vile with special pink enchanted sand from the Isle of Avalon that will give the illusion of something being “fixed” when dusted with it.
Lancelot doesn’t trust Rumple rightfully so but Guinevere, realizing she’s out of options if she wants to save Arthur from madness, takes the sand. Guinevere exchanges the gauntlet for the sand so she and Lancelot can leave the Dark One’s chambers unharmed. I have to say I’m confused by the timeline here because the show references it as being five years ago but five years ago Rumple was in Storybrooke so I’m calling plot hole on this one unless it is explained at a later date.
Back to current day Camelot with Snow and Lancelot arriving at the vault of the Dark One. Once again they are led to the case that once held the dagger. Snow is overcome with dejavu realizing that she had seen this place before in a vision, a vision of a young Emma ripping out Snows heart and crushing it. Snow goes to take the dagger from her cloak to place it in the protective case when Lancelot stop her alerting her to the fact that there’s a protection spell surrounding the case and that he should be the one to place the dagger inside. Snow is suspicious of her friend but before she can choose either way Arthur shows up letting Snow know that she made a terrible mistake trusting Lancelot and it’s time to hand over the dagger or face the consequences.
Jump back to Camelot a few years ago to Arthur from inside his tower spying on Guinevere and Lancelot in what appears to be a loving embrace. Guinevere enters the tower only to be confronted by a furious Arthur. She comes clean about what she and Lancelot were up to on their own quest for the dagger but assures Arthur that nothing happened between them that Arthur saw was Lancelot leaving Camelot. Arthur doesn’t believe her and when she shows him the sand of Avalon Arthur uses it on Guinevere to “fix” her into being his Stepford wife falling into place by his side.
We’re back in present day Camelot with a seething Arthur holding his sword to Lancelot and Snow. At first Snow refuses to hand over the dagger but once Arthur threatens to kill Lancelot Snow’s hand is forced and she gives in to save her friend. Arthur foolishly tries to summon the Dark One but fails. In that instance David arrives assuring Arthur that the Dark One won’t show because the dagger is a fake used to test Arthur, a test which Arthur has just failed miserably. Turns out Snow and David’s fight didn’t last for very long. For the sake of keeping Emma’s best interests the focus they devised a plan to test Arthur to prove once and for all if he could be trusted. Their daughter’s safety and well being is finally shown to be their top priority.
Snow and the guys make their way back to Granny’s to chat about what just took place. David pulls out Excalibur and they decide that since Arthur planned to reunite the sword with the dagger for evil that maybe doing the same could be used instead for good by helping Emma. Before they can return to the castle and lock up Arthur, a ticked off Stepford Guinevre shows up to free Arthur, imprison a shocked and confused Lancelot and douse Snow and David with the enchanted sand turning them into allies of Arthur.
After being taken away by armed guards, Lancelot is thrown in the dungeon though he is not alone. In a cell just across the way is an old friend of ours the one and only Merida. She’s pissed and ready to break out of this hell hole and figures any enemy of Arthur is a friend worth having.
Upstairs in a large room of the castle is a restless Regina pacing the floors waiting for Snow and David’s return. Robin tries to calm her nerves assuring Regina that her friends will arrive shortly safe and sound. Regina corrects Robin letting him know she isn’t worried about the two idiots, she’s worried if the test was successful. She get’s antsy when she doesn’t know who she should hate. It’s a funny moment with Regina and one of the few scenes she’s in the entire episode which is a waste of Lana Parrilla’s talent and a waste of a character who we have been lead to believe plays a large part in saving Emma from succoming fully to the darkness.
Snow and David arrive telling Regina that they were wrong that Arthur can be trusted and they should turn over the dagger to him. Regina is surprised and annoyed given that she spent the better part of the day trying to hid it once again from Emma. I’m hoping Regina is suspicious enough to hold off sharing with Arthur but we won’t know that outcome before the next episode.
Cut to a lush green aerial shot of the sweeping hills of Vancouver I mean Camelot with Hook and Emma rushing through the forest on horseback. They come to a stop in a meadow filled with pink roses. Emma is Rumple free because of her distraction with Hook. He picks her a flower and as the camera raises up above they stand in a field of roses kissing. Wait, roses don’t grown in a field like wild flowers they grow on bushes. Oh well.
We’re brought back to current day Storybrooke with the Dark One Emma holding that same pink rose standing in front of Rumple bound to wall. He tries to break through to Emma explaining how he remembers what the dark feel likes which I’d hope he remembers since he was literally the Dark One like five minutes ago. It shouldn’t be that big a stretch. He tries to convince Emma doesn’t have to give in to the darkness that she can simply set Rumple free. Emma turns to face him dropping a little knowledge on her predecessor that he is the only one who can pull the sword from the stone and that Emma has a secret weapon that’s going to make sure he has what it takes to get the job done.
Now at first I thought for sure Emma was going to grab Belle and use her against Rumple but boy was I wrong. Emma heads out to what looks like the tunnel under the toll bridge where her yellow VW bug is parked. She makes her way to the front of her bug to reveal Merida sitting on the ground tied up to the front bumper of the car. Ok now this was funny and totally ridiculous! I get wanting to bring Merida back into the story and ok she’s going to train Rumple to fight cuz she’s badass and held her own going toe-to-toe with Emma but why the hell was she arms splayed out tied up to the bumper of Emma’s car? Maybe we’ll find out who knows but it was funny as hell to see none the less.
Once Upon a Time airs Sunday’s 8/7c on ABC.