Merlin get’s his heart broken, get’s turned into a tree then get’s released. Henry plans a date, get’s his heart broken, saves the day two more times then get’s his heart broken again. Merida tries to find proper motivation to whip Rumple into shape, Regina witnesses more than one heartbreak and has a heart-to-heart with Miss Swan. It’s a rollercoaster of a ride and even though the episode is named “Dreamcatcher” i think a more appropriate title is “Heartbreaker” because there are plenty to go around.
Back in Camelot many years ago we find a desperate Merlin welding the Dark One’s dagger trying to summon him to appear. This is a pre Rumple Dark One who’s sporting a gold mask and dark cloak to shield his appearance which I’m hoping will come into play later in the season. Merlin is furious with the Dark One for killing the only woman he ever loved and vows to destroy the Dark One then and there but just as Merlin raises the dagger to strike down the Dark One he stops saying he can’t and falls to his knees dropping the dagger in his despair. Merlin weeps to the Dark One that he misses his love so the Dark One swiftly grabs the dagger as it lays abandoned by Merlin’s side then with the tip of the dagger steals a single tear from Merlin’s face and subsequently turns Merlin into a tree.
I have a sneaking suspicion that maybe this Dark One could possibly be Merlin’s one time love but that’s just speculation at this point. We’ll have to wait and see. As Merlin’s transformation into a tree is complete we are pulled back to find Emma is witnessing this display through the strands of a dreamcatcher found in Merlin’s chamber.
Further into the forest Regina is accompanied by a freshly dosed Snow and David on the way to the hidden dagger. Regina has serious misgivings about handing over the dagger to Arthur and presses Snow and David about their willingness to turn over the one thing that can control their daughter. With a great deal of reluctance Regina agrees to trust Snow and David’s decision and just as Regina is about to go against her better judgment Emma appears and puts the freeze to Snow and David stopping them from taking the dagger.
Emma explains to Regina what she saw through the dreamcatcher and that Arthur is shady and shouldn’t be trusted. Regina is pissed that Emma is using dark magic for any reason but Emma quickly throws back into Regina’s facet that she’s not Regina. Ouch Emma, that was kinda bitchy and mean but you are the Dark One so ok fine. Anyway, Regina realizes what they need to do to free Merlin and they set off to find tear of the broken hearted. Wait isn’t that an Aaron Neville song?
Back in Storybrooke while trying to figure out how Arthur’s squire disappeared from his cell Mary Margaret and David decide to help raise the spirits of the town and their new visitors. Henry suggests they have a dance. David notices Henry on his phone texting Violet and wonders if this dance idea is a way for Henry to ask out his new girlfriend. Regina wants to know exactly who this girlfriend is which is a sweet and hilarious true mom and son moment we rarely get to see between Henry and Regina but Henry insists that Violet isn’t his girlfriend. It’s ok Henry, she’s cute and at this point your only option for a girl anywhere near your age.
As Regina continues to interrogate Henry about his new love interest Hook steps up to offer his services in wooing a woman when in true Regina sass she declares “Over your dead body” and all is right with the world.
As the gang exits the Sheriff’s station Regina continues to hit snow up for information about Henry’s new girlfriend when Belle comes barreling by nearly running into a parked Cruellamobile with a giant for sale sign etched across it. She informs Regina and Mary Margaret that Rumple is awake and has been taken.
Across town in the dungeon of Emma’s new fat pad is a weary Rumple tied up in front of Excalibur still stuck in that stone. She frees him from his restraints and he tries to plea with Emma to let him go so he can find Belle. Emma is insistent that Rumple get started with his training to become a hero but it falls on deaf ears. Rumple tries to explain to Emma that no matter what her plan happens to be even if she thinks she has good intentions she will always hurt the ones she loves the most. Tired of Rumples ramblings, Emma calls her new pitbull Merida to take Rumple out into the woods to teach him how to be brave and train him to be the hero she needs him to be. Once she’s alone Emma goes out to her garage which is full of dreamcatcher’s (someone’s found a hobby) and pulls one down that’s hanging. She stares at it longlingly and begins to weep.
In Merlin’s chambers Emma is trying to formulate the potion she and Regina need to set Merlin free when Regina insists on knowing how Emma found out about Mary Margaret and David before she will help Emma with the spell. Emma initally resists but then shares the dreamcatcher with Regina. Regina is pissed explaining it’s dark magic which Emma knows and they hold more than just dreams also something Emma is well aware of. Emma explains that this dreamcatcher not only showed her Mary Margaret and David being dooped but also Merlin being turned into a tree.
We then find Henry and Violet in the stables tending to her horse and bonding over the loss of a parent agreeing how nice it is to have someone to talk to who truly understands. Violet steps out and a waiting Henry decides to practice his sword welding skills or lack thereof ending up face first in a pile of hay and a heavy sword by his side. Enter the disapproving dad. Violet’s father Sir Morgan enters the stables questioning Henry’s intentions with his daughter and making it crystal clear that Henry doesn’t have what it takes to be a Knight nor will he ever be good enough for his daughter.
Back in Storybrooke Henry finds a forlorn Violet alone on a bench. He wants to know is she got his text about the dance but Violet isn’t really in the mood for a party. Her horse has disappeared and she fears will be lost forever. Henry promises Violet he will find her horse and knows just the right person for the job. So of course Henry runs to Emma…wait what? Yes, Henry runs to Emma for help. He asks her if she remembers why he brought her to Storybrooke in the first place, to bring back happy endings. Well he wants her help in giving his friend, not girlfriend most definitely not his girlfriend, her happy ended by finding her missing horse.
Deep in the woods of Storybrooke a fed up Merida is trying to coerce Rumple into picking up his sword to train. With his damaged leg he can barely walk so she finds large branch and breaks it for Rumple to use as a staff. She informs Rumple that all a man needs is a sword and one good hand which now he’s got so he should pick up the sword and stop wasting her time. Merida is determined to train Rumple into a fighting hero and doesn’t care what she has to do to motivate him. She wants to save her family and get the hell of dodge so she knocks out Rumple and heads out to find something to motivate him.
The quest to find Violet’s horse begins with Henry explaining to Emma the horses favorite treat is pumpkin. As they make their way to Emma’s bug Henry shares with his mom that he misses them working together as a unit and Emma agrees. Emma pumps Henry for information about his new girl and Henry explains they share a love of music so Emma wants to know which song Henry played and Henry tells his mom that went with Yes “Only You”, a song that seem to always work for his dad a song that Emma shared worked for her when she was his Neal. They take off to find Violet’s missing horse.
Once again a sloppily sword welding Henry is trying to building his skills in hopes of impressing both Violet and her father by one day becoming a Knight when a concerned Regina and Emma stumble upon his efforts. He tries to play off his actions as getting into the spirit of being in a new place with different traditions from his own. His moms don’t quit believe him and Henry explains that it was a suggestion from Sir Morgan but he’s not so sure he’ll ever be a very good Knight. Emma and Regina assure Henry that it doesn’t matter if he’s a Knight or not that he should stay true to himself. Henry tries to argue that if Regina hadn’t changed she wouldn’t be with Robin but Regina explains that while that is true that maybe Violet isn’t looking for someone just like all the other boys in Camelot and that Henry is different and unique and that he should show Violet the real Henry. With renewed determination Henry takes off to plan to win Violet’s heart.
Meanwhile Regina is struck with an idea of how they can retrieve a tear for their spell. They head back to Merlin’s chamber’s. Emma gives Regina a chance to back out because what they need to do will be intense and painful but Regina is resolute that they continue. Emma hands Regina a dreamcatcher with the scene in the stables many years ago with a young Regina and Daniel attempting to run away. Regina once again relives her mother Cora ripping out and crushing Daniels heart right before her eyes. Emma is shocked by the scene and had no idea what a devastating ordeal Regina experienced losing Daniel. For me as a viewer this is probably one of the saddest moment to watch in the entire series.
As Henry has Emma occupied with operation save my girlfriend not girlfriends horse, Regina leads Hook, Robin and Belle to Emma’s house in search of what she has hidden behind that mysterious door. Unfortunately for the gang Emma has a protection spell that zaps Regina and will prove to do the same for anyone who tries to enter…well almost anyone. Regina realizes that Henry is the only who could possibly open the door but since he’s got Emma out looking for the horse she conjures up one of Henry’s scarves to wrap around her hand giving the group access to Emma’s house.
After following his mother’s advice while in forest of Camelot, Henry sets up a date with Violet at Granny’s diner. He’s got the music play, candle’s lit and some of Granny’s leftover lasagna fresh from the…(stove, microwave, fire?) oh well he’s got it all set up ready to impress his girl. Hey the kids got pretty good game. Well done Henry! Violet arrives to a flustered Henry who pulls out her chair to be seated. Henry cracks open a can of soda to a surprised Violet who asks if it’s magic to which Henry explains that it’s soda and pours them each a glass.
Violet is excited by this new experience and tells Henry the soda is like a carnival in a can. Henry explains their location and explains to Violet what a movie is and how he would like to show her one after dinner. Violet realizes that Henry is trying to court her but explains that while she thinks Henry is sweet she doesn’t share the same feels for him that he has for her thus crushing poor Henry’s heart. BOOM! First love, first heartbreak. It was fun while it lasted kid.
Needing a way to motivate Rumple into learning to fight, Merida makes her way into town to the empty Mayor’s office where she finds Henry’s book. You know the book…THE BOOK. She flips page by page until she finds Rumples story and all the ammunition she needs to light a fire under his ass. I have to ask, how exactly does Merida know about the book and how the hell does she know where to find it? She proceeds to break into Rumples place and steals exactly what it is she needs. Really? Where is everyone? Does nobody see a woman with fire red hair using a bow to break the locks of someone store? It’s Storybrooke so the answer to that question is hell no. Moving on…
Along a country road on the outskirts of Storybrooke Emma and Henry happen upon a roadside pumpkin patch stand full of pumpkins sold by Peter Peter…ok that made me laugh. Peter, Peter pumpkin eater had a wife and couldn’t feed her…ah fables and childhood memories. Anyway, Henry grabbed a piece of pumpkin and lures Violet’s nervous horse back into town.
In the depths of Emma’s cave basement, Regina and the gang discover Excalibur. Hook notices that the sword bares a striking resemblance to the Dark One’s dagger which would explain why Emma didn’t want anyone to know what she had hidden down there. Before they can search the house further Regina receives a text from Henry alerting them to get out because he and Emma are on their way back. As they make their way out of the house Hook notices a box set out on one of Emma’s end tables. Inside the box is a dreamcatcher so Regina grabs it in the hopes of finding out what Emma knows.
Back in Camelot Emma prepares the potion with Regina to set Merlin free. Emma drops the final ingredient into the potion, Regina’s tear, but it doesn’t work. Regina doesn’t understand why it didn’t work but Emma explains that Regina’s heartbreak wasn’t big enough. A confused and insulted Regina questions Emma’s nerve to quantify her grief when Emma explains that Regina has healed, has moved on and now loves Robin.
Before Regina can respond a heartbroken Henry approaches with a tear stained face not really wanting to rehash how Violet just crushed his heart. After some encouragement Henry tells them what happened at Granny’s and that he will never be a hero in Camelot. Regina reassures Henry that while he may not be a hero in Violet’s world he most definitely is a hero in their world and wipes a tear from his face. Regina realizes Henry’s sorrow is just the heartbreak tear they need to complete the spell to free Merlin.
The Swan-Mills family are pulled from their touching moment by an irate Arthur and his men demanding the move away from Merlin’s tree. He berates Regina for lying about being the Savior and bringing the Dark One into his Kingdom. Arthur is determined to keep them from freeing Merlin and will stop at nothing to prevent them from doing so. Arthur demands Regina give him the dagger. Regina refuses slips the tear soaked handkerchief to Emma instructing her to start the spell. Emma drops it into the chalice and streamers of darkness and light emerge surrounding Emma.
Arthur orders his men to charge after the Swan-Mills clan but Regina has other ideas. She ignites her fury through fireballs to protect her family. Emma is encompassed by the power of the light directing it to Merlin’s tree with the full force of her being. In a cross between the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and a Harry Potter/Voldemort standoff whirlwind of magic Emma’s combined pulse of light and dark magic frees Merlin from the tree. Merlin stands tall greeting Emma telling her he’s been waiting for her.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Arthur. Merlin is pissed by what has been going on in Camelot and expresses his disappointment with the boy who would be King…Arthur. Arthur is enraged by Merlin’s claims and stating he was tricked by Merlin into taking on a broken kingdom. Arthur tries to intimidate Merlin by partially pulling out Excalibur but Merlin tells Arthur to put away his broken sword because they both know it can’t hurt him. Arthur storms off vowing this fight is far from over.
It’s party time in Storybrooke as our team is seated around a picnic bench discussing with Arthur how they found Excalibur in Emma’s cave basement. Foaming at the mouth to get his hands on it Arthur insists they get it back asap because it would be dire consequences if the Dark One gained control over it.
A suspicious Hook asked if this has anything to do with the fact the sword resembles the dagger and Arthur is taken back by how much Hook knows about the dagger. Hook explains he’s been trying to kill the Dark One for a long time and knows a thing or two about a thing or two. What Hook wants to know now is what the story is behind Excalibur. Arthur sort of spills the beans about the sword and apologizes for not being straight with the group sooner but he had to be sure he could trust them…right, he needs to trust THEM. Arthur explains once the sword and dagger are joined they can eliminate the darkness but it also means it can eliminate the light. They realize Emma’s plan is to do just that, eliminate the light.
Meanwhile, Sir Morgan is trying to cheer up a sadden Violet who’s worried about her missing horse when suddenly we hear the sounds of horse making it way down Main Street with a proud Henry on it’s back. Henry dismounts the horse and brings it back to a grateful Violet and Sir Morgan who is impressed by Henry’s virtue and humility. He states that Henry will one day make a fine Knight. In a gesture of gratitude for finding her horse, Violet kisses Henry on the cheek and young love gets a second chance.
Back at Regina’s she pulls out the dreamcatcher to examine it and explains to Robin that it may hold memories of Emma that she’s been hiding from the group. Robin wants to know what Regina is waiting for wondering if Regina is afraid of what she might see. Regina explains that Emma clearly thought she had a good reason for doing what she did but moves forward activating the dreamcatcher. The vision of what they see isn’t Emma’s memories but Violet’s. They find Violet back in stables in Camelot in the moments just after receiving a dinner invitation from Henry for their first date. Emma approaches Violet and in a shocking turn of events rips Violet’s heart from her chest. She tries to convince Violet that she’s not trying to hurt her but she needs the girls help. She needs the girl to break Henry’s heart. Regina and Robin are shocked by the vision of Emma’s actions and are unaware of the fact that Henry was behind them the entire time seeing his beloved mother betray him.
In Granny’s Diner in the middle of Camelot, Merlin undoes the spell placed on David and Mary Margaret while the others watch with bated breath. The duo awake from their frozen state to apologize to Emma for what almost took place. Hook asks if Merlin can free Emma from the darkness and Merlin simply responds…sure. But there’s a catch as there always is a catch with magic. Merlin explains that he needs to know if Emma’s heart is ready to be free because it’s up to Emma as much as it is up to Merlin to make this happen.
Fresh off of catching the dreamcatcher show an angry Regina still clutching the dreamcatcher opens her door to find an apathetic Emma wanting to see her son. Regina demands to know what the hell is going on. She pleads with Emma to tell her that there’s nothing that’s happened that Emma can’t come back from. Emma has no intention to share telling Regina that what Emma’s doing is her own business, is for the best and Regina should trust her. Regina says that she was starting to before she took a peek into the dreamcatcher witnessing Emma’s betrayal of Henry, a betrayal that Henry also witnessed. Regina reminds Emma that she’s a master of manipulation and calls her out about trying to smoothing things over with Henry by orchestrating the missing horse and rescue.
Emma tries to turn the situation around on Regina telling her it would have been fine if Regina had stayed out of it and maybe Regina is the one causing all the pain. Regina once again calls Emma out for justifying her manipulations to fit her agenda. Regina reminds Emma that her actions were very much like those taken by Cora when she murdered Daniel. Emma tries to explain she didn’t have a choice but Regina reminds her that there’s always a choice, that’s something Emma would repeat to Regina often.
Again Emma tries to explain to Regina that they were running out of time and the only way to free Merlin was to break Henry’s heart. Regina is blown away by the fact that they freed Merlin while in Camelot. Regina’s confused as to what really happened because if they freed Merlin then why was Emma still the Dark One but Emma scoffs at Regina calling this a waste of time and demands to see her son. Regina makes it clear that Henry doesn’t want to have anything to do with Emma. A tear filled Regina says goodbye Miss Swan and slams the door in Emma’s face. Emma turns to walk away when she notices Henry in his bedroom window looking down at her heartbroken by her betrayal. He closes the drapes without saying a word. A devastated Emma leaves.
Once Upon a Time airs Sunday 8/7 on ABC.