Saturday, October 24, 2015

Once Upon A Time Recap: “The Broken Kingdom” [5x04]

     Happy Saturday, Dear Readers, and welcome back to another recap of ABC's Sunday-night fantasy drama, Once Upon A Time. What happened last week, and what can we expect tomorrow? What bizarre plot twists sent us squealing over the television, and what major problems with their story did the writers possibly overlook? The GIFS will tell you all.

     Ages ago in the Enchanted Forest, a young Arthur and Guinevere run around the village of Camelot until they come to the Magic Merlin tree. Arthur explains to her that the magician inside gave him a prophesy that he would be king one day — and when he becomes king, he will give her flowers for her every birthday. However, when the two of them come around the corner, they find a small sword waiting for him in a pile of stones… along with a posse of bullies to go with it. They’re led by Kay, who mocks Arthur the stable boy for thinking he can be a king.

     However, as we know, those dreams come true… until Arthur finds out that the tip of Excalibur is missing. When he rides back to his village as a grown man and shows his people the sword (but doesn’t draw it all the way from its sheath; smart fellow), they prepare to build the kingdom at last! However, in secret, he tells Guinevere the truth and worries that his quest has only just begun.

     Meanwhile in modern-day Camelot, Arthur calls Charming to a secret midnight meeting at the round table. Now that David is trustworthy, Arthur can confide in him the truth about Excalibur’s missing tip. He wants to complete the sword so they won’t even need Merlin to defeat all darkness; they can use Excalibur to do that. And he wants Charming’s help to find the dagger.

     Up in her room, Emma has been biding her ‘sleep’ time by making dreamcatchers… but still she’s kept company by the demon in her head: Rumpelstiltskin. But she looks up when she hears other whispers, which draw her through the castle to a box where the dagger of the Dark One is being kept. It’s calling to her, but when she tries to reach it she finds that it’s guarded by magic. Rumpelstiltskin tries to goad her into using magic to counter the protective forcefield, but she loses her temper and tries to make him go away with a fireball — which goes through the figment of her imagination and nearly hits Hook in the doorway!

     Hook comforts her, but she soon goes catatonic and won’t respond. When he takes her to the rest of the Heroes, Charming shows up late from his meeting and suggests that Charming might be able to help Emma if they give him the dagger to complete Excalibur. However, Snow warns him that Art can’t be trusted. 

     Henry suggests a private place for his mother to rest, and Hook leaves with him to take Emma there. Regina suspects that Emma’s sickness was brought on by the dagger and plans to move it. Snow and Charming begin arguing about Lancelot’s strange return and potential secrets. David suspects that Lancelot could just be back for Guinevere. But Snow doesn’t think they should tell Arthur anything until they know they can trust him for certain.

     Five years earlier, in Camelot, Arthur is pouring through old manuscripts and trying to translate a scroll. He hears a noise behind him and tries to hide Excalibur’s broken tip in case it’s one of his subjects, but it’s just Guinevere. He shows her how close he is to deciphering directions to the Dark One’s dagger: the only mysteries that he still can’t fathom are the symbols of a star, an eye, and a sun.

     However, Guinevere isn’t interested in that; she just wants him to join her at the party. She needs him; this clearly isn’t the first time he’s shut himself in here and snubbed the goings-on in Camelot.

     Arthur concedes and promises to be out in five minutes to dance with her… but out in the village, Lancelot finds Guinevere sitting alone while the dancers twirl on without her. And this isn’t just any old celebration: this is her birthday party.

     Since Arthur isn’t coming out, Lancelot asks Guinevere to a dance instead. As she joins him, she confides in him that Arthur isn’t building the kingdom like he should be; he’s too busy studying the dagger. Even the flower petals thrown by her subjects as a birthday gift don’t help because she knows that Arthur didn’t arrange for them. Lancelot did. Then to their surprise, Arthur does emerge from his study — but only to tell them that he’s finished the translation of the scroll and the dagger is only a day’s ride away!

     Like a true workaholic, he orders Lancelot to stay with Guinevere and protect the kingdom while he goes on his quest alone.

     Wait. This is happening “Five Years Earlier” than present-day? That doesn’t make any sense. This flashback to Camelot’s early days doesn’t fit because Lancelot met Charming and Snow after he was exiled, and before they were married. Then they got pregnant with Emma, went through the curse cast by Regina, and lived in a time bubble for over twenty years while Emma grew up! But the Enchanted Forest wasn’t frozen in time like them; things still happened and people who got left behind still had to function. That’s a full twenty years between Lancelot’s exile and the Heroes’ present visit. I swear, if the timelines in this show get any more convoluted then I may quit in favor of writing recaps for something simpler… like Doctor Who.

     Anyhow, “Five Years Later,” Charming comes to Arthur at the round table and admits that, against Snow’s judgement, he can’t keep in the fact that they’ve been lying all this time. He explains that Emma is the dark one, and he’ll do anything to save her and destroy the darkness… so they’ll restore Excalibur tonight. Arthur thanks him for his trust but asks why Snow was so suspicious. Charming drops the news that Lancelot is back.

     “Five Years Earlier,” Lancelot catches Guinevere trying to leave the village in disguise. She plans on finding the dagger so that she can finally have her husband back. To do so, she pilfered the magic Gauntlet from the reliquary — the Gauntlet that searches out a person’s personal weakness, as we learned in Heroes and Villains (the episode where I first realized that Camelot would be coming on the scene in the future). Arthur never thought to use the Gauntlet because he never realized that the dagger was his weakness, not his strength.

     Lancelot agrees to accompany Guinevere, and they journey to the vault of the dark one. Guinevere recognizes the symbols on the door and places her hand over three of them: the star, the eye, and the sun. It works, and the ominous dark-magic-filled door unlocks. But when they go down the steps and start wandering the corridors, magic cords shoot around the corner and dive onto Lancelot! Guinevere is frightened at first, but then grows angry that the magic will steal the one person who cares for her, so she stabs the magic with a torch! Apparently fire is enough to defeat dark magic because that’s all it takes for the magic to dart away with a squeal of pain!

     Guinevere hugs Lancelot, so grateful that she didn’t lose him… and then she kisses him suddenly. They’re both surprised, and she apologizes. It won’t happen again, and he agrees. They need to remember why they’re here: for Arthur and the kingdom. It’s tragic, and yet perfect.

     “Five Years Later’” at the round table, Arthur asks for Charming to keep Lancelot’s return a secret fro Guinevere’s sake… but it’s too late. She’s overheard the entire conversation and she’s surprisingly angry — not at Arthur, but at Lancelot. She wants revenge for “what he did to her” and wants to help hunt him down. If Lancelot is in the castle, then the dagger isn’t safe anywhere. Good thing Charming brought the dagger along, then.

     He draws out Regina’s box (let me guess: it’s going to blast them with magic) and opens it… but the dagger is gone.

     Who has it? Snow White, of course! She’s gone straight to Granny’s, where she meets Lancelot and asks him to help her hide it. Wait! I don’t understand! Who do we trust here!? I don’t trust Arthur but what did Lancelot do to Guinevere!? AAAGH!

     Meanwhile out in the woods, Henry leads Hook and Emma to an isolated stable. How did he know it was here? I bet I know why. Henry found the stable thanks to his special lady friend.

     Sure enough, Henry admits Violet introduced him to the stable as a great place to find peace and quiet; it belongs to her family.

     Arthur was a stable boy before he became king.


     True to form, Violet shows up to the stable and Emma and Hook have to hide. Henry asks Violet if she’ll go on a ride with him, and she agrees. Once the two lovebirds leave, Hook is exceedingly amused. Emma, however, is not. Her son had managed to keep this relationship a secret from her. She’s always been able to tell when people are lying, even before she was the Dark One.

     And speaking of her darkness, Hook asks her why she suddenly let loose with magic earlier that night. Emma explains to him that Rumpelstiltskin is in her head, egging her on as the voice of darkness. Hook assures her that he has fought his own demons before, and he got rid of them by riding the prow of the Jolly Roger. Maybe a swift adrenaline rush will free her… so it looks like they’re going on a horseback ride, too.

     “Five Years Earlier” in the vault of the Dark One, Guinevere and Lancelot reach a door to a portal. When they step through it they find themselves in a vibrant jungle, and right before them is a tree/table/altar/thing with the dagger on it. Guinevere eagerly reaches for the blade.

     Sure enough, magic blasts them both back. Then Rumpelstiltskin appears and inquires as to how they made their way this far. When he spies the Gauntlet and figures out who Guinevere is, he suggests they strike a deal. He can’t give them his dagger for the Gauntlet, but he’ll give them the next best thing: enchanted sand from the mystical isle of Avalon, which will make Excalibur appear whole. What’s one little secret if Guinevere gets her husband back (assuming she does want him)? After all, he knows what happens when a woman’s heart is torn between duty and desire, and it never ends well. 

     Lancelot doesn’t trust Rumpelstiltskin, but Guinevere accepts and trades the Gauntlet for the sand. As they leave, the Dark One calls out a final warning: love is the most dangerous weapon of all. She should worry not about pain from a sword but from a broken heart.

     Meanwhile in the present, Lancelot and Snow White reach the vault of the Dark One and descend. Lancelot admits that his past with Guinevere is complicated, but he will always love her. Snow tells him that the complications don’t matter if that’s the case.

     When they step through the portal, Snow stares at the jungle. It’s the same place where she first had her vision all those years ago when she touched the unicorn’s horn: the vision of Emma ripping her heart out. Perhaps that premonition had been a warning that Emma would become the Dark One.

     Before she can put the dagger on the altar, though, Lancelot stops her and explains the altar is protected by magic. She suspects that someone holding the dagger could be allowed to put their hand through. Lancelot asks to be the one do it, just in case. But can she trust him with the dagger!?

     Suddenly Arthur shows up and holds them at sword-point! He followed Snow, but sent Charming off searching in the wrong place… and if they ever want to see him again, they need to hand over the dagger.

     However-many years earlier, Arthur has returned empty-handed from his hunt for the dagger. Up in his tower, he spots Lancelot and Guinevere returning to the village. Lancelot leaves… but not before giving the queen a parting kiss.

     When Guinevere comes to Arthur and he asks where she was, she admits that they went to go find the dagger. Arthur tears into her bag excitedly, and she turns to pour the sand on Excalibur… but she can’t bring herself to do it. Instead, she turns and tells him the truth: that they couldn’t get the real dagger and she intended to make the sword appear mended. But she doesn’t want any part of Camelot unless Arthur’s love is real, so he must choose between her and the sword because she won’t tell him where the vault is.

     Arthur asks what will happen if he can’t choose. Guinevere says she’ll follow her heart, and Arthur admits that he knows it will lead her to Lancelot since he saw them outside. Guin explains that Lancelot was saying goodbye forever, and that he was leaving Camelot. Having lost his right-hand man, Arthur snatches the sand. He can’t lose his wife, too, and this will help keep her by his side and finish his quest.

     He casts the sand on her and Guinevere is suddenly ‘fixed’. She apologizes for not being supportive enough, and he apologizes for not fixing Camelot into a proper kingdom. He casts a handful of the and out into the village, and it instantly creates the perfect kingdom!

     Meanwhile in the jungle, Arthur demands the dagger in exchange for Lancelot’s life, and Snow quickly hands it over. A little too quickly, if you ask me.

     Arthur is ecstatic. At last he can command Emma to restore Excalibur so that he can free Merlin… and then drive the sword into his heart as revenge for this agonizing quest, after which he will kill Emma, too!

     Arthur summons Emma… but nothing happens. The dagger’s fake, of course, and David is right behind Arthur with a sword to his throat! Arthur is livid that David tricked him and betrayed the trust of the round table, but Charming feels equally betrayed. Arthur insists he wanted to destroy the darkness all for the good of Camelot, but they remind him that the darkness is inside their daughter. However much they disagreed about who to trust, Emma’s well-being came first in the end.

     Elsewhere, Hook is teaching Emma how to get the horse to warm up to her… but it won’t cooperate. In Emma’s head, Rumpelstiltskin laughs and tells her that the horse knows what she is… but Hook mounts and tells her to stop talking to the demons in her head. He still believes that they can have a future together no matter what, and he’ll help her to do it.

     Back at Granny’s, Lancelot and the Charmings have Arthur chained up while they examine Excalibur. Perhaps they can restore it themselves and then use it for good instead of the evil that Arthur intended. First they just need to crown someone new, and Lancelot immediately suggests that they choose Guinevere; she’s the true leader of Camelot. Yet Arthur looks anything but worried.

     Suddenly the knights of Camelot ride up — Granny’s is surrounded! Guinevere walks in and frees Arthur, claiming to love him. But Lancelot realizes that it’s because Arthur used the Avalon sand on her. Arthur orders for Lancelot to be taken to the dungeon. As for the Charmings, if they were to go missing then the rest of the Heroes would get suspicious. But instead…

     …Arthur uses the last of the sand to brainwash them!

     Back at the castle, Lancelot is thrown in prison… but he meets Merida, who’s been living in a nearby cell. A few stories above them, Robin and Regina are waiting anxiously to hear from the Charmings about how their test of Arthur went. The Charmings arrive and admit that Arthur was trustworthy and Lancelot lied. Making Excalibur whole again is their best chance.

     Out on the plains, Hook and Emma ride through the countryside in true romantic-fairytale fashion! Emma’s dazzled as Hook takes her to a field of flowers, and she realizes that Rumpelstiltskin is finally gone from her head. Now that they’re alone, they can kiss…


     All the while in present-day Storybrooke, Emma has tied Gold to the wall near Excalibur. He begs to go free, because he can’t be the hero she wants… but she thinks she has just the thing to sharpen him like a blade.

     That thing, as it turns out, is Merida; Emma has been keeping her near one of the town borders, tied to her car. She takes Merida’s heart, then orders her to shut up and grab her bow. She needs Merida to make Gold brave.

Tune in next week…

     …when Henry tries to get through to Dark Emma…

     …the Heroes find Excalibur in Emma’s basement, and Merida takes Gold to the woods for boot camp!

Quote of the Episode:

     “You tried to trick me with a catchy title and a comfy chair.”

Current Questions:

1. After Arthur brainwashed Guinevere with the sand, why didn’t she just lead him straight back to the Dark One’s vault to get the real dagger? Um, seriously.

2. “Five Years”? I know that’s not exactly a question, but the timeline on this show is getting ridiculous. The writers need to get their act together (Although, to be fair, they are the creators of a multi-million-dollar television show, and I am not. So my words are only so valid).

Current Theories:

1. Violet is the princess of Camelot. And while I’m on that note, I demand to see more of Henry and Violet.


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