Happy Saturday, dear readers, and welcome to another recap of ABC’s Sunday-night fantasy drama, Once Upon A Time. What happened last week, and what can we expect tomorrow? Well, read on. And remember…
The episode begins with the six dwarves mining for fairy dust beneath Storybrooke… and with fangirls all over the country squealing because they’re whistling “Hi Ho.” With Dopey doing time as a tree, their workload has only increased… but everything stops when Emma shows up.
Grumpy warns Emma that she won’t get any of their fairy dust, but she doesn’t want any: she wants Happy’s axe. Before she leaves, she warns him of something she learned as the Dark One: “If something has your name on it, hold onto it.”
Back in the Enchanted Forest Flashback, Regina and the rest of the women (in royal gowns as stunning as ever) are going through every inch of Merlin’s tower for a clue of how to free Merlin. Poor David is spending most of his time lingering on the margins and keeping baby Neal calm, but on the whole he feels rather useless.
That is, until Regina finds a book that mentions a mushroom, called the “Crimson Crown,” which can be used to communicate across magical barriers. If they find one such mushroom, they may be able to speak with Merlin and find out how to free him. However, it’s located deep in the Dark Forest where the sun never shines.
That’s all the incentive David needs: he hands his son over to Snow and leaves to go on this noble quest. Arthur catches up with him in the hallway, but not to stop him: rather, to join him. The two of them prepare to leave at once, both excited and optimistic about what’s to come… which obviously means something horrible is about to happen.
Meanwhile in the Storybrooke Sheriff’s office, Regina finds a page with a question mark of her handwriting in the book with the Crimson Crown, and she tells the other Heroes that they must have been trying to communicate with Merlin. But their conversation is swiftly interrupted when Grumpy and the rest of the dwarves storm in with an announcement: “We’ve been violated!”
Grumpy goes full drama-queen on the Charmings about keeping their daughter in check, all because she stole one pick-axe. David assures him that they’re doing everything they can, but after the dwarves leave he himself nearly storms out on Snow in frustraton. He’s eaten up with guilt for failing as a father to protect Emma from the Dark Magic, but Snow assures him that he hasn’t failed and that they will save her.
They’re then joined by Arthur, who has some distressing news. Back in Camelot, he and his knights possessed a reliquary. It contained all the relics they obtained on their quests.
Now the reliquary has appeared in Storybrooke, but it’s mostly empty. And Arty is particularly worked up because one item in particular is gone: a magic bean that could have transported him and his subjects back to Camelot. Charming assures him that if the bean is in Storybrooke, they’ll find it — together.
Down in the cavern beneath her house, Emma is trying to ignore Rumpelstiltskin’s teasing and break Excalibur out of the stone with Happy’s axe… but the handle snaps off on impact. Dwarf axes may be indestructible, but not against magic. The only way they can get the sword free is by finding a hero to pull it from the stone… and they both know who that is.
Back in Merlin’s tower, Robin urges Regina to take a break from her research and offers her a “spot of tea.”
Once he’s gone, Regina can tell that Zelena wants to speak and so she temporarily restores her voice (though Zelena warbles on so much about being able to speak that Regina nearly shuts her up again).
Zelena pleads with Regina to let her keep the baby; after all, Regina has everything and is loved, but Zelena has (once again) ended up with nothing. Regina reminds Zelena that she did have a second chance. And a third chance. And a fourth. Now no amount of trickery will earn her a thing.
Regina isn’t going to let Zelena steal Robin’s child, but she does promise that it will be safe, loved, and cared for. But for Zelena, she promises the exact opposite.
Down in the throne room, David and Arthur arm themselves for their quest to find the magical mushroom.
David seems to take no notice of the fact that Arthur is selecting a different sword to take instead of Excalibur. Instead David spots Percival’s shield missing from the round table and tries to apologize again for killing the knight… but Arthur assures him that he’ll find another, more worthy brother to fill the seat. (Ten bucks says it’s gonna be Charming.)
However, Arthur admits that one chair will sit empty forever: a larger, higher chair above the others… but it’s not Arthur’s seat. It’s called the “Siege Perilous,” and it’s reserved for a knight of purest heart who is destined to carry out the most sacred quests. It sits empty now, but it used to belong to Lancelot… until Lancelot betrayed the king. Charming admits that he knows the myth of the love affair well.
In fact, David and Snow actually met Lancelot along time ago, before he died a hero's death.
This show’s timelines are so complicated, I can’t keep up! I admit it, I completely forgot that Lancelot was in any earlier episodes! Or that he, you know, died. Let’s take a quick refresher course: thank goodness for the Disney Wiki.
After being banished from Camelot for his affair with Guinevere, Lancelot came to work as general for Charming’s unsavory father, King George. Lancelot was tricked into giving Snow White a potion that would keep her from bearing children, but then redeemed himself by helping Charming in a quest for healing water, which he eventually slipped to Snow on her wedding.
Years later, when Regina enacted the original curse, it appears that Lancelot started to help form a refugee camp for all those left behind in the Enchanted Forest… but Regina’s evil mother, Cora, took his form. When her plot was discovered years later by Emma and Snow, she admitted to killing Lancelot in order to take control of the camp.
Now, back to the present!
Now, back to the present!
Before Arthur and Charming prepare to leave, a bumbling squire first brings them the full reliquary. After snapping at the squire to be more careful, Arthur opens the chest and removes an already-flaming torch.
It’s the Unquenchable Flame, rumored to have come from the burning bush itself, and it will guide them through the Dark Forest. (This threw me off for a minute; I wasn’t sure if this meant that Disney was going to start throwing Bible stories into this show, which would just make it weird. Fortunately, my sister reminded me that the knights of Camelot were known to have quested for items like the Holy Grail and so forth, so I’m less concerned now. Moving on.)
Meanwhile in present-day Storybrooke, there’s hardly anything left in the chest except for a few bottles, scrolls, and a golden apple. I’ll show you the exact image so that you can ponder their potential meanings or story references for yourself.
Charming asks the bumbling squire if he knows what happened, but the poor fellow has no idea. Arthur suspects that Emma was the one to steal the relics, but Charming suspects otherwise, given that the lock appears to have been scratched and pried open. If somebody did steal the relics, however, he knows exactly where they would go first.
Down the road at Granny’s, Hook finds Robin contemplating a picture. It turns out to be a sonogram of Zelena’s baby, and the two of them are awkwardly and adorably grossed out by it… but Robin is also surprisingly happy. When he asks Hook about his current standing with Emma, Hook admits that he suspects she’s hiding something in that cupboard under her stairs.
However, on their whole their relationship is nothing but complicated. Especially when Granny brings Hook a bag of food that he didn’t order, with a note from Emma to meet at his ship.
When Hook arrives onboard the Jolly Roger, he finds it eerily empty until Emma appears right behind him (as we all knew she would). She apologizes for overreacting earlier and asks for another chance at their relationship. To make him feel more at home, she even sets the table via magic and changes into an adorable pink dress. After all, since Belle and Gold were able to work things out, surely the two of them can as well.
Back in the Dark Forest of Flashbacks, Charming and Arthur make their way along in search of the magic mushroom. David tells Arthur that he shouldn’t be so rough on his squire. Arty knows this all too well, since he himself was a peasant before he pulled the sword from the stone. David admits that he himself used to be a shepherd, and the two laugh and bond over their common origins.
Then at long last they reach a deep bog, where a long water-logged bridge leads to a CGI island where grows a single Crimson Crown. (And what do you know, it’s bathing in the only patch of light in the entire Dark Forest: a place infamous for its inherent lack of light.)
David tests the bridge, but his and Arthur’s combined weight sink the boards and they suspect that only one person can stand on it at a time (of course). David volunteers himself and begins to inch tentatively across, as if he doesn’t know how to walk on rickety bridges.
Back in Storybrooke, the Charmings visit Belle in Gold’s shop and ask if anyone has brought in some items to pawn, including a magic bean. Unfortunately, nobody has come in today. Belle admits that she’s more concerned about Gold’s health, He’s almost down to one petal, and she has almost everything she needs to enact a spell for him… except one thing: something that touched him back when he was just a man. (You mean to tell me that almost nothing of Baelfire’s childhood is sitting in that shop?)
Fortunately, the Heroes may have another way to find the relic thief: all they need is a tarnished old cup. Belle’s not sure what good it’ll do them. “It’s just a souvenir from Doc’s birthday party, see? It says ‘Doctoberfest’ on it…”
Arthur and David return to Camp-Alot (see what I did there?) and present the cup as the “Chalice of Justice,” to the people. Everyone will have to drink from it in order to discover who stole the relics.
Then again, they won’t have to; deep in the back of the crowd, the not-so-bumbling squire pulls his hood up and flees for his life! Subtle.
The squire finds a horse and runs off at full speed, but David and Arthur hop into the sheriff’s truck and are after him in an instant! Yet, somehow, the horse is still managing to outrun them. Because of reasons.
David forms a plan as he goes, then hands over the steering to Arty: “Feet is speed, hands is steering!”
Then David climbs into the bed of the truck and picks up a plank of wood to knock the Squire off his horse! However, Arthur’s driving is less than stellar, and they accidentally make a turn too large to recover from. Fortunately, David knows these woods, and he guides Arthur the long way round until they head the squire off and knock him to the ground with the plank (because apparently their rattling truck made no noise to alert the squire of their ambush)!
Meanwhile in the Dark Forest of Flashbacks, Charming picks the mushroom from the island (thank goodness he’s wearing gloves) and puts it in a pouch on his belt. But as he makes his way back across the rickety bridge, an armored hand reaches up from the water and trips him! David goes sprawling and finds himself facing two undead suits of armor. He draws his sword and does battle, killing each one over and over, but they just keep rebuilding themselves!
Finally one of the cursed knights gets lucky and knocks David into the water, where they reach out to drag him from the bridge forever!
But then a shadow appears overhead: Arthur has come out onto the bridge! He clasps David’s hand and hauls him up, causing the undead knights to let go, because of reasons. Exhausted but alive, Arthur supports David across the bridge back to shore. Apparently the bridge could have held them both this entire time.
Outside of Storybrooke, Emma sails the Jolly Roger with her magic and tries to convince Hooke that her transformation has been a good thing. She was so closed off when she first came to Storybrooke, but now she’s not afraid anymore. He can finally trust her.
Hook’s surprised that she wants to move forward in their relationship. She points out how cowardly Rumpelstiltskin was, and how being the Dark One was how he found true love. But Hook reminds her that when Rumpelstiltskin was a man, he was still good. In that story, Hook was the villain who put his sword to Gold’s throat on the deck of the Jolly Roger, when all the poor man wanted was to reunite his family. Throwing the Dark One into the mix turned Gold into a killer and Hook into the hero.
Emma tries to flirt with Hook, reminding him of their times learning swordplay, but he’ll have none of it. He knows she wants something, so what is it?
Emma asks for his trust, and tries to convince him that the person he fell for is still inside her. If he doesn’t think things can work between them, then she’ll leave for good. All she wants to know, is, does he love her?
Hook replies… “I loved you.” He then asks if she’s going to kill him then and there, but she won’t: she just disappears.
In the Dark Forest Flashback, Arthur helps David back to shore… only to find that they’ve lost the magic mushroom!
The phantom knights must have grabbed it, and now it’s in the bottom of the bog forever. However, Arthur tries to console David that sometimes the seeking matters more than the finding. Charming just wishes that he would be remembered as more than just the man who kissed a maiden awake thirty years ago. Arthur feels the same; all he did to become king was pull a sword out of a rock. However, if David wants a mighty role, then Arthur may have just the thing.
Back in Camp-Alot, the artifacts of the reliquary have been uncovered in the bumbling squire’s tent… but he claims that he never found a bean. When asked why he stole the items in the first place, he admits that he was tired of being treated so roughly under Arthur’s rule and wanted to rebel.
David and Arthur leave the squire unguarded (because that’s a great idea) to speak in private. Arthur admits that the bean could have been taken out in the six weeks that no one can remember. David assures Arthur that they’ll find another way home… but just before he’s about to take the squire to jail, he spots something on the ground.
It's the Crimson Crown! Arthur says that it wasn’t an original part of the reliquary and must have been added during the lost six weeks… and David recognizes it.
It's the Crimson Crown! Arthur says that it wasn’t an original part of the reliquary and must have been added during the lost six weeks… and David recognizes it.
David takes the mushroom to Regina, who remembers that it was in her book from Camelot. They must have wanted the Crimson Crown to communicate with Merlin… and now, at last, they can!
Back in Camelot, David is being knighted for his heroics — and in a suit of golden armor, no less. Nobody seems to notice when Arthur keeps the sheath on Excalibur for the ceremony, and then David turns to take his seat at the round table. But he doesn’t get just any seat!
They adorn the Siege Perilous with his coat of arms (a lion on a field of flowers), and he sits! However, baby Neal starts crying during the ceremony (which is the first sound he’s bothered to make in months). Snow tries to take him outside to calm him, but suddenly a shadow appears in the hallway. It’s Lancelot.
His story is a long one, but in the meantime he warns Snow that there is another villain in Camelot. Not Emma… but Arthur himself. Camelot is not what it seems!
That night, when Guinevere comes to Arthur at the round table, he shows her what he has stolen for the sake of his kingdom: the Crimson Crown.
Arthur visits his squire in prison in Storybrooke, and in private the squire asks why he hasn’t been released yet. He was only following Arthur’s orders this entire time!
He pretended that there might have been a bean, even though there never was one, but Arthur doesn’t want anyone to know that he lied. He considers all of Storybrooke a threat, because David and the others lied about Emma’s true nature. They are responsible for taking Arthur and his people away from Camelot, so now Arthur must build a new Camelot here.
The squire asks how he can help. “I would do anything for my kingdom.”
Arthur knows this, and so he gives the squire… a vial of poison from the reliquary.
The Heroes could make the squire talk with magic, and the only way to be sure this secret stays buried is to take it to the grave. The squire is hesitant, but Arthur knows that he is willing to die for his kingdom, and so he takes the poison and vanishes in an agonized cloud of smoke. “For Camelot.”
Over at Granny’s, Hook meets with Robin. Talking with Emma didn’t work, and Hook wants to find out what she’s hiding in her house — he just needs the help of a thief.
Up at the counter, Belle is picking up her lunch order in a hurry because Rumpelstiltskin’s enchanted rose only has one petal left. Or does it? Suddenly the rose begins to bloom! Belle races back to the shop to find… that Gold has vanished!
That’s because he’s down in Emma’s cellar. She has Hook’s sword, which touched him back when he was still a man. She casts the spell over Gold and dissolves the blade over him, and he wakes up — obviously not to a pleasant sight!
He asks what Emma wants from him. After all, she’s the Dark One now, and he has no magic. Emma agrees that he’s not dark… but he's not light, either. He’s a blank slate, and she can make him into the purest hero who’s ever lived. And then she has a job for him.
Tune in next week…
…to see Arthur searching for the Dagger in Camelot even though Snow doesn’t trust him, and Lancelot arriving in Storybrooke!
Quote of the Episode:
Grumpy almost won this round, but I think I'm going to have to give this week to “Doctoberfest.”
2. Obvious as it is, I would like to know how Lancelot didn’t die. Did he face Cora at all, or was he elsewhere during her charade all those seasons ago?
1. What if Dopey and Merlin are somehow connected? They’ve both been turned into trees: ABC might try some wild plot twist, like “Surprise! Dopey is Merlin!” (Highly doubtful, but I’m throwing it out there anyway for a lark.
2. If Lillith ever shows up again, she and Emma could make a pretty epic team and tear down the whole town. Seriously, why hasn’t Emma tried to join forces with her yet?
3. If, for the sake of argument, Emma did manage to turn Gold into a Hero... wouldn't he then, by virtue of being heroic, refuse to help her? Granted, she can blackmail him by threatening Belle, but still: the Heroes are all categorized by their courage and their willingness to stand up to her. Gold can't qualify as a Hero unless he does the same.