Once Upon a Time Recap: “The Bear and the Bow”

So far this season, our heroes and villains have been to Camelot and back. Emma remains the Dark One, while her friends and family try desperately to regain their memories and help her turn away from the path of Darkness. In a twist of fate, Regina and Rumple are the heroes they never thought they would be, while the former savior and the famed King of Camelot have both fallen to evil and conniving thoughts. Merida is kicking ass and taking names, while the fate of the town may yet rest again on Henry’s young shoulders.

Spoilers ahead, dearies.


via The Examiner
via The Examiner

With the aid of Merlin, our favorite Scooby gang overpowers Arthur’s guards and frees both Lancelot and Merida from the cells beneath the castle. Merida is still determined to complete her quest to rescue her brothers, and enlists the help of Belle, albeit by hitting her on the head with a rock and kidnapping her. What’s a queen in need to do? They separate from the group, and travel to where the United Clans are keeping the triplets hostage. Merida’s plan involves using the spell of Mor’du in order to turn into a bear, and thence vanquish her enemies. Belle is not convinced that this is the way to regain their (questionable) loyalty, and subtly sabotages the spell by changing it out with water. Forced to act on bravery alone, Merida saves her brothers using only her bow. (Who needs Robin Hood when we have her? HONESTLY.) The clans acknowledge her as the Queen of DunBroch, and Merida allows Belle to rejoin the others in Camelot.

Meanwhile, Emma realizes that Merlin is the same man who approached her during a screening of The Sword in the Stone when she was a child. Merlin admits that it was him in disguise, and warns her that his omen still rings true—she must leave Excalibur alone, or the fate of all whom she loves will hang in the balance.


(ABC/Jack Rowand)
(ABC/Jack Rowand)

Six weeks later, Regina-and-fam have found the lost Crimson Crown (aka Mr. Magical Mushroom) and plan to use it to communicate with Merlin. (They now know, thanks to Emma’s slip of the tongue, that Merlin was freed in Camelot, even though they don’t remember it.) Unfortunately, the Crimson Crown’s spell requires someone who has been chosen by Merlin. They ask Arthur to speak with him, and Arthur agrees—on the condition that they let him do it in private. Once alone, he throws the mushroom into the fire, and then claims that the spell didn’t work. They find the indestructible toadstool after he departs, and realize that he doesn’t want them to communicate with the sorcerer. Luckily, they have another person in their midst whose job was chosen by Merlin: the author, Henry. Henry performs the spell, only to find that Merlin has left a virtual “voicemail.” In his message, Merlin tells them that he is in danger from Emma, who is looking for him. He urges them to search for Nimue, who is the only one who can help. Just before the message cuts out, he says that the Dark One has found him already.

In a different part of Storybrooke, Rumple uses the shards of the precious teacup to free himself from Merida’s ropes. Using the tunnels beneath the town, he escapes to the library, where Belle finds him. They make their way to his shop, only to be discovered by Merida, who is still under the control of Emma. The pair are able to get to a car and make a beeline for the edge of town. Rumple has an anti-transformation potion that he thinks will help prevent them from changing if they cross the infamous town line; but when Belle realizes his plan, she demands to be let out of the car. As she makes her way back to town, she encounters Merida in the woods. On Emma’s orders, Merida takes the potion of Mor’du, and turns into a fearsome, enormous bear. The bear is about to kill Belle when Rumple appears, and uses the anti-transformation potion to turn the creature back into the young queen. The trio return to Emma’s basement, where Rumple agrees to pull the sword from the stone in exchange for Merida’s heart. Emma acquiesces, and he pulls the blade free, throwing it to the ground at Emma’s feet.

Wait, what?

1.) An alliance with Zelena? I’m intrigued. Emma attempted to create a bond with Regina’s wicked sister in exchange for assistance using the Apprentice’s wand. While I still do not find Zelena to be a compelling character, her continued presence on the show could be used in interesting ways if she and Emma join forces.

2.) Does this episode make Rumple worthy of being king of Camelot? Can there be a subsequent episode in which he overthrows Arthur? Petition, please.

3.) NIMUE. This was the most compelling moment of this installment for me, because in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a sucker for Arthurian mythology. Nimue is a mystical figure associated with both Merlin and Arthur. While she has various backstories, there is one big consensus—Nimue is the Lady of the Lake, the woman who presented Arthur with Excalibur. She is also the creature who enchanted Merlin and trapped him in the tree. In other stories, she learned her magic from Merlin. Often referred to as Vivianne, she is featured in various poems and novels, including Tennyson’s Idylls of the King and Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur. To make a long story short, she’s pretty fucking important. I predict one of two things: either that Nimue is the figure who Merlin called the Dark One, or that Nimue is the woman whom Merlin loved. Cue BBC Merlin feels.

Until next Sunday, dearies.

-The Collected Mutineer