Last time on “Once:” In Camelot, Emma used a dreamcatcher to figure out how to get Merlin out of the tree. Regina had to relive Daniel’s death to help the process but her lost love was not strong enough. Instead, Henry’s tear after Violet told him she just wanted to be friends worked and Merlin was freed. Arthur tried to stop them but Merlin gave him a smack down once freed. He undid the spell on Snowing before offering to get the darkness out of Emma.
In Storybrooke, everyone kept trusting Arthur and Guinevere because they don’t know about how shady the king is and the spell his poor queen is under. They had a fair to cheer everyone up while some of the heroes snuck into Emma’s house while she was out helping Henry rescue Violet’s horse. They discovered that Emma has Excalibur, that it was related to the dagger and that Gold had been tied up in the secret lair. Regina also discovered a dreamcatcher and brought it home with her. She and Robin watched the memory, learning that Emma took Violet’s heart in Camelot and ordered her to break Henry’s so they could get a tear. Henry overheard and was shattered. Regina let Emma have it.
Meanwhile, Merida was under Emma’s control and began trying to turn Gold into a hero.
Good luck with that.
We open in Camelot, where we have a jailbreak! Merlin, Charming, Hook and Belle go down to the dungeons to rescue Lancelot. Hook is impressed by Merlin’s skills as he keeps them from being discovered by the guards. They find Lancelot and Merida demands to be freed as well. Merlin notes that the cells are reinforced by magic he’s not familiar with but Belle has a book that can help. He calls her clever and then frees the prisoners. Merida hesitates, saying Arthur took her wisps and she needs to find them. Merlin tells her that all she’ll find is death. They flee Arthur’s castle.
Everyone meets in Regina’s office in Storybrooke. Regina reveals that the toadstool David found can help them communicate with Merlin. They just need someone who Merlin chose in order to it. So David suggests Arthur because they still don’t know he’s almost as shady as Blue. Everyone agrees to it and they set out to prepare to contact Merlin.
Well, everyone but Belle. She says that they need to save another one of Emma’s victims—Gold. He’s out there after all. But everyone ranks Emma a bit higher. She says that right now Emma is no different than what Gold was. Hook agrees but it’s clear that makes her more of a threat than Gold. So Belle is determined to rescue her estranged husband on her own.
Gold is still tied up in the forest. Merida has left him alone and he holds Chip. He kisses it as he asks Belle to forgive him. AND THEN HE BREAKS CHIP! I’m adding that to the death toll for this season. RIP Chip. Anyway, he uses one of the pieces to cut his rope loose and make his escape.
After escaping Arthur’s palace, the heroes wander over hill and dale. Merida is intrigued by Belle’s knowledge of marriage. She asks if Belle could figure out other spells and Belle thinks she can. Merida then pulls the old “Look over there” trick and Belle falls for it. Oh, Belle. Once the others are out of sight, Merida knocks the brunette out.
Merida and Emma return to camp and Merida is surprised to find that Gold has made a run for it. She surrenders to her fate and tells Emma to just kill her. Gold will never be a hero and Merida is tired of being the Dark Swan’s puppet. But Emma says Merida has succeeded in revealing Gold’s weakness—it’s still Belle. So she orders Merida to kill her.
Poor Belle. She can’t catch a break.
Back in the Enchanted Forest/Camelot, Belle wakes up in a boat. Merida is rowing across the lake and apologizes for knocking her out. She didn’t think Belle would come with her willingly and she needs Belle’s help. Merida explains that her brothers were kidnapped by the other clansmen because she refused to marry one of them. And so they are refusing to acknowledge her as their rightful queen. She says she’s not going to do something to please a man. Belle’s all for helping her.
Back in Storybrooke, Belle returns to her library. She hopes there’s something there than can help her but is spooked when the elevator starts working. Belle stares at it as it opens (though she does arm herself with a fire extinguisher), Gold hiding inside as he begs to be spared. She rushes forward, assuring him that he’s safe.
Gold is reunited with his wife and explains what’s been happening. He says he can’t be the hero Emma needs. He also can’t get too far and Belle realizes his limp is back because his magic is gone. She tells him she doesn’t care about it and she knows how he got the limp. That he crippled himself so he could be sent home from the war so Baelfire wouldn’t have to grow up without a father. She offers to help him back to his store.
Merida and Belle spy the witch’s cottage. It appears to be abandoned, so they don’t have to be so stealthy. Or the witch is off searching for the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold. Oh, wait, wrong movie. Anyway, they head inside so Belle can figure out some magic.
Using the witch’s cauldron, Belle is able to spy on the other clans. And once again, A+ to the casting department. Anyway, they declare that since Merida has refused to accept their demands that she marry one of them, they will put her brothers to death. And my the triplets have certainly grown up. Don’t kill them, clansmen. Merida realizes it’s time for drastic measures and gives Belle a potion to make.
Zelena reads What to Expect When You’re Expecting while she chills in her cell. She gasps and presses a hand to her stomach, asking her “munchkin” if he or she is kicking. I’m still not sure how far along Zelena is so I’m still not sure if that’s possible at this point. Anyway, Nurse Ratchet comes in to bring Zelena her meal. Zelena requests onion rings but Nurse Ratchet says that Regina has her on a strict diet of locally grown, organic greens. Zelena scrunches her nose and declares she’s not hungry.
Once Nurse Ratchet leaves the cell, the Dark Swan appears. She says she knows how difficult it is to be pregnant while locked up. Emma says she has an offer for Zelena and uses her magic to get Zelena out of the cell. They land in Emma’s kitchen where she entices the pregnant witch with onion rings.
Emma makes Zelena an offer. She’ll remove the cuff and get Zelena back to Oz if she helps Emma in return. Zelena though makes the right decision for once and says her best bet is to play nice. She thanks Emma for the onion rings and change of scenery but requests to go back to her cell. Emma grants it.
Belle comes out of the cottage to find Merida shooting arrow after arrow, never missing. Instead of trying to set up a competition between Merida, Robin and Snow, Belle makes sure Merida gave her the right potion. Merida says she did—she wants to change her fate. Belle’s like “It turns you into a bear.” Merida wants the strength to defeat the clansmen and Belle’s like “You just split an arrow with another arrow. I think you’re good.”
Merida tells Belle about when she was learning how to shoot. She says her father told her that if she had something worth fighting for, her aim would always be true. Belle thinks that’s nice. But Merida keeps going. She explains that their lands were invaded by knights from another country. The clans all rode out together and Merida rode with her father. The fighting was fierce and at one point, King Fergus was taken prisoner. Merida had the shot but she missed. Her father was killed and that’s when she thinks she lost the respect of the clans.
So Belle gives her the potion and Merida goes off to save her brothers.
Belle and Gold make it to his store. She hands him a cane and he feels a bit better. He says he needs to retrieve something from the back but that’s when Merida bursts in. She says that all he had to do was be a hero and do what the Dark One wanted. Now she has to kill Belle. Gold and Belle run for their lives as Merida fires arrows at them.
In the vault, there is a distinct lack of sexytimes going on. In fact, I’ll reveal now that Robin Hood doesn’t appear at all in this episode. I mean, of course Sean deserves an episode off. He does have a newborn at home and needs time to bond/sleep. But I’m hoping this means that we’re going to get an episode heavy with him, so they’re just resting him ahead of that.
Also, More Vault Sex 2k15!
Anyway, Regina has brewed the potion Arthur will need to put the toadstool into so he can summon Merlin. Arthur comes in and asks everyone to clear the room since Merlin always spoke to him alone. SHADY. The heroes give him space. Once they are gone, Arthur puts the toadstool in the fire.
Everyone wanders around outside, nervous. Arthur comes out and says he got “Answer fuzzy try again later.” Regina and Hook are exasperated while the Charmings are downhearted. Everyone thanks Arthur, not knowing that he’s SHADY.
Back in Gold’s, Merida pleads with Gold to not force her to hurt Belle. He just has to be a hero. He just has to stand up to Emma and Belle won’t get hurt. Gold pulls the rug out from her, literally, and Merida ends up unconscious on the floor. Gold grabs something and runs with Belle, the two getting in his car.
Merida and Belle make it to where the clans are keeping the triplets. They really have grown up, guys. And the dark-haired clansman got cute. Anyway, they have the triplets tied to posts and blindfolded. The clans are ready to kill the boys to punish Merida. Wow, guys. Merida asks for the potion and is ready to destroy them. Belle pleads with her to change her mind but Merida’s like “Nope, still going to do this.”
Gold and Belle drive down the road and she asks him what he needed from his shop. He reveals that he took a pouch with dust that will allow them to pass through the barrier unharmed. Yep, he’s taking them out of Storybrooke. Belle is not pleased by that and says they can’t just leave everybody.
Gold argues that he’s not brave and he’ll never be a hero. He says he didn’t cripple himself so he could live to see his son. No, he crippled himself because he was scared and he didn’t want to go to the front lines. Uh, I thought he did cripple himself to raise his son. Am I remembering that episode wrong?
Anyway, Gold tells her that he’s a coward—always has been, always will be. But Belle isn’t. She tells him he can run and go live outside Storybrooke. Belle, though, is going to go back to town and help her friends. Even if she has to walk there herself.
Gold gets back in the car, staring at the “Leaving Storybrooke” sign as Belle makes her way down the road. Merida stops her and says that she didn’t want to do it. But Gold’s not being heroic and Emma’s running out of patience. So she’s ordered Merida to drink the potion that will transform her into a bear. And it looks painful. Belle watches in horror as a brown bear appears before her, roaring ferociously. She takes off running into the woods.
Merida storms into the camp and demands the clans to release the triplets or she’ll take them by force. And they answer with the classic “You and what army?” She drinks the potion and waits. And waits. When nothing happens, she asks Belle if she made it right. Belle assures her she did…but she switched the potion with water. She tells Merida she won’t get the clans’ respect if she uses magic. She has to beat them fair and square.
The clans are like “This is taking too long. Time for the triplets to die!” They let loose their arrows and Merida picks up her bow. She fires an arrow that cuts down each arrow, saving her brothers. I mean, look at this:
Impressive. So much so, everyone else kneels before Merida. The chief douche—Clan Mackenzie—isn’t so swayed but when he sees everyone else is kneeling, he realizes he’s outnumbered. So he kneels and seems willing to let Merida be queen. The triplets are free and reunited with their sister.
Belle runs through the woods outside Storybrooke, Bear!Merida on her trail. She trips and it seems she is a goner. But Gold appears, drawing Bear!Merida’s attention. He fights her, though she knocks him to the ground as well. But he won’t let her hurt Belle. He tosses some of his magical dust at her and Bear!Merida becomes Merida again. Belle is safe!
Gold and Belle embrace. She tells him she always knew he would save her because she always saw the hero inside of him. All together now:
Back in Dun Broch, Merida and Belle say their goodbyes. Merida says she still has some guilt over her father’s death. Belle understands, talking about her mother’s death. She says that (after a long journey where she met another Disney princess, Anna) once she realized she wasn’t to blame, she found peace again. Merida thanks her and then sends her back to Camelot in her boat.
Which makes me wonder: Did anyone notice Belle was gone? Or did they just think she was traipsing about Camelot? Someone? Anyone?
It appears no one misses Belle because we just see Merlin staring at an Apollo candy bar. Even immortal, all-powerful wizards have a weakness for chocolate. He says he always wanted to try one and the closest he came was sticky fingered little blonde girl at a movie theater. Emma’s confused until she realizes he was the usher at the movies. She wonders how he did that. All powerful wizard, duh.
He says that they need to go on a dangerous journey to get rid of the darkness. Is Emma ready?
Gold and Belle bring a bound Merida to Emma. She says he beat her, he’s a hero so Emma should give her her heart back. Emma’s not so quick. First, Gold has to pull the sword. He agrees to do it if she returns Merida’s heart and promises not to hurt Merida. Emma agrees.
Before he pulls the sword, Gold thanks Belle for believing in him and apologizes for being a shitty husband. Just in case he goes poof like Sir Kay, you know. He grabs the sword and pulls Excalibur out. Belle celebrates as he drops the sword, warning Emma she just made a powerful enemy. Especially now that she turned him into a hero.
Back at the vault, everyone tries to figure out what went wrong. David solves it when he picks up the charred but still intact toadstool. They realize Arthur tried to burn and that he is SHADY. So how are they going to talk to Merlin now? Regina remembers that there is one other person who has been chosen by the wizard—the Author.
Henry arrives at the vault and Regina flits about him, worrying if he’s up to this after his heartbreak. But he assures her he can do it and he wants to help his other mother because the person he saw in the dreamcatcher wasn’t her. So he drops the toadstool and asks to speak to Merlin as everyone holds their breath.
Merlin appears but it’s clear they’ve gotten a recording, not the wizard himself. Regina snaps that they got his voicemail and I keep waiting for Merlin to plead for Obi-Wan Kenobi’s help. Instead, he tells them that things must be dire and that they need to find Nimue. Then the message cuts out as he says the Dark One approaches. That leaves only one question:
Who the hell is Nimue?
At last everyone knows Arthur is SHADY like the Blue Fairy. Now they can stop trusting him like fools.
Also, congrats, Rumbelle fans! You deserved an episode all to your own.
Next time: More about Merlin!