Review: Once Upon a Time 5.03

Summary: In Camelot, Charming and Arthur search for a magic toadstool that may help them communicate with Merlin, while in Storybrooke they look for a magic bean that will return the folks from Camelot home. Also in Storybrooke, Emma tries to convince Hook that he can trust her, and Rumple awakes from his coma, though probably not in the place he had hoped.

Best Scene: Hook and Emma take a trip to the past, reliving their first date and reflecting on key moments in each of their histories, with Emma’s darkness significantly coloring her version of events.

Best Line: “I liked your walls. I liked being the one to break them down.”

My Review: This episode was completely different from what I expected, but I ended up liking it quite a bit. It had my favorite Hook/Emma scene of the season so far, and also confirmed my suspicions about Arthur’s true intentions. However, the real star of the hour was Prince Charming, and I was happy to see him get a well-deserved focus episode, one that took him on an interesting version of a hero’s journey. Or rather, two journeys.

His experience this hour was unique in that he learned the same thing in both Camelot and Storybrooke, that his story isn’t over yet, and even when he fails he can still call himself a hero, largely because of his compassion, bravery, and ability to lead. He didn’t retrieve either the toadstool or the bean, but he did succeed in doing all that he could to help his daughter, King Arthur, and the citizens of Camelot.

Before David got to that point however, his doubt in himself was shown well in two different scenes: one in Camelot after failing to get the toadstool, and one in Storybrooke before embarking on his quest for the magic bean. I want to talk about the Storybrooke scene in particular, because it provided a lovely, but heartbreaking moment of both Snow and Charming feeling powerless to help Emma. These are two characters who always have a plan, a next step, an idea to rid their world of whatever’s plaguing it. In this case, that won’t work because the villain is their daughter, which has been their biggest struggle of the season so far. All they can do is wait for Emma to come back and show her that they still love her in the meantime. Doing nothing has to be extremely difficult for them (as this scene showed), but their confidence that the daughter they know and love will return shows that relentless optimism they have, even when things aren’t going their way. And a little optimism is just what their town needs right now.

Charming’s other moment of doubt was helped by his knighting, though I imagine that moment will be soured a bit when he learns that Arthur isn’t the good guy he proclaims to be. I think Charming is going to take that betrayal pretty hard, but I hope he doesn’t beat himself up about trusting the King in the first place, because, along with his optimism, that near immediate trust in people is one of my favorite of his qualities. It’s also a bummer that that reveal will mean the end of the bromance and moments like the car/horse joust (the perfect example of how well this show melds the modern and the mythological) and Charming’s obvious awe at Arthur’s sword collection.

It doesn’t seem like it will be long before Charming learns the truth about his new friend, considering the information Lancelot gave Snow at the end of the hour. I was happy to see Lancelot again; I always enjoyed his relationship with the Charmings, and I’m excited to hear more about his history with Arthur and Guinevere. I’ve always been a fan of their story (basically a precursor to modern soap operas), and I’m eager to see what OUAT‘s version of that triangle looks like.

Aside from Charming’s search for the toadstool, the only other scene of note in Camelot was Regina’s with Zelena, though even that one seemed largely unnecessary. It didn’t reveal anything new about either of their intentions with the baby, other than confirming what most of us probably knew: that Regina intends on raising the baby with Robin and doing her best to get rid of Zelena once it’s born. The moment where she explained that was Regina in a nutshell, completely honest when she said how much she’ll love the baby and protect it, but not realizing that one way to show that would be by letting its mother be a part of its life. And despite her feelings for Zelena, I think morally she’ll have a hard time separating the baby from its mother when the time comes, especially knowing how much Henry values his relationship with Emma.

We also saw how Robin Hood is feeling about the baby: unhappy about its conception, but pleased that it exists, which is perfectly understandable, considering the circumstances. However, the real gem of that scene was Robin attempting to explain to Hook how a sonogram works. I didn’t know how badly I needed those two bonding over their confusion about modern technology until I had it. I’m actually surprised that they haven’t talked more in the past, because in addition to being thoroughly old-fashioned, they’re also both in love with complicated women, something they did talk about a bit in this episode, with Hook confiding in Robin about the door in Emma’s house. They’ll likely fail at breaking in (the door has to be protected by magic, right?), but their attempts will definitely lead to some bro-tastic moments. Hey, with Charming so enamored with Arthur, Hook’s got to get his fix somewhere!

Behind said door is, of course, the sword in the stone, which Emma tried to retrieve the easy way (with Happy’s ax), but soon learned requires a more extensive plan. That brought us to her only scene with Hook in the episode (but man, what a scene) with her intentions a little fuzzy, but clearly not entirely pure. It was fascinating to see the effect Emma’s darkness has on how she views their respective pasts. She now believes that she’s the best version of herself as the Dark One, that she has let her walls down and is open to anything. However, we know that it wasn’t becoming the Dark One that made it that way, it was years of Hook, her family, and Emma herself working together to break them down (and, as Hook said, he liked being the one to do that). Emma reached the place where she could trust, where she was the best version of herself, sometime after arriving in Storybrooke, but long before becoming the Dark One. The fact that she doesn’t realize that shows that she’s not seeing clearly as the Dark One, despite what she says.

Hook’s reflection, in turn, showed that he is seeing clearly now. He knows that he was the villain in that moment with Rumple so many years ago, and he’s accepted that about himself, which is why he’s uniquely qualified to help Emma now. However, that doesn’t mean he’s willing to lie about his feelings for dark Emma to do so. When he said “I loved you”, the sadness in his eyes was clear, but more importantly, so was the sadness in hers. This was a big moment for dark Emma, because it showed that in her own twisted way she does want Hook to trust her, not just to use him to get what she wants, but also because she really does crave the relationship they used to have. It shows that she’s not immune to her own feelings, as much as her dark urges are telling her to be. And I think that’s what’s going to make all the difference in her return to her true self. It’s also interesting that last week we saw that she doesn’t blame Henry for what happened in Camelot, and this week that she doesn’t seem to blame Hook, so the question remains, who does she blame and why?

Her plan at the end showed that she definitely does blame someone, because she’s still intent on getting the sword out of the stone to remove the light. I’m excited about her idea to use Rumple to do this for a couple reasons. One, if this show has taught us anything it’s that you can’t force someone into being a hero, and there’s a good chance that Emma will realize in the process that you can’t force someone into being dark either, and that there is a way out for her. Two, the juxtaposition of blank slate Rumple and evil, sparkly Rumple in that last scene was magnificent, and I’m eager to see more of it. I’m also curious to see how long it takes Belle to reunite with Rumple; now that she knows he’s awake she’s going to do everything possible to find him, and it’ll be interesting to see her reaction to this new incarnation of the man that she loves.

What are your thoughts on this episode? Hit the comments and share away!

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