by Samantha Lee - @samsjag
This week Once Upon a Time was an hour of action that ended with a couple of surprising twists. The story focused on Charming and his need to feel useful when his loved ones are in danger. I thought it was a nicely written episode with a script that was tighter than a pair of David's Storybrooke jeans.
The story opens in Present Day Storybrooke where we find six of our favorite dwarves whistling a familiar tune as they mine for Fairy Dust. Suddenly, the Dark Swan shows up and steals Happy's pick axe. Then we flashback to Camelot where Regina, still pretending to be the Savior, is frantically studying Merlin's spell books and trying to concoct a potion to free him from the tree. Belle, Mary Margaret and Emma are all searching Merlin's tower for clues and ideas. A stray comment from Belle and a suggestion from Mary Margaret gives Regina a flash of inspiration. If she can't transform Merlin back from a tree, maybe they can still find a magical means of communicating with him. She finds just the spell she needs, but it requires a special ingredient: Crimson Crown, a very rare form of toadstool. Charming has been tending Baby Neal throughout this exchange. Arthur walks in and says that Crimson Crown can be found in the Forest of Eternal Night. Fired up by the additional testosterone in the room, Charming tosses the baby to Mary Margaret, gets suited up for battle and with Arthur by his side sets off on the Quest to find the Crimson Crown.
In Present Day Storybrooke, where everyone is still trying to recover their lost memories, Regina has found the same spell book she was studying in Camelot and recognizes her own notation on the Crimson Crown page, but she doesn't know what it means. The dwarves report the theft of Happy's axe. David is frustrated that he can't really protect the town from Emma and he doesn't know how to save her. Mary Margaret talks him down by reminding him that he is always her hero in any world. Arthur shows up to report that some of his magical relics have been stolen including a magic bean that could take his people back to Camelot. David joins up with Arthur to find the thief and recover the missing magic items. In her dungeon basement Emma tries to smash Excalibur from the stone using Happy's axe and fails. Apparition Rumple teases her about kissing it out and then tells her that only a true hero can pull the sword from the stone and she knows who that is.
In the Forest of Eternal Night, Charming and Arthur are getting to know each other. Earlier as they prepared for their quest Arthur explained the relationship between himself and the Knights of the Round Table at which the most special seat is the "Siege Perilous". This seat is reserved for the knight with the purest heart. It was Lancelot's seat before he betrayed Arthur by falling in love with Guinevere. Charming breaks the news that Lancelot is dead. They discover that they both come from humble roots and married strong women who love archery. Charming observes that Arthur's competitive nature doesn't fit the story of equality represented by the Round Table. Arthur says that's why he needs a two ton table to remind him to be humble. They arrive at a bog. A single file footbridge spans a swampy pond. It leads to a small island where the elusive toadstool is growing. Charming makes his way across the wobbly bridge and retrieves the Crimson Crown. His actions have awakened the guardians of the lake, two phantom knights who are really empty suits of armor. This leads to an amusing sword fight that had me shouting, "It's just a flesh wound!" Then things turn serious when Charming is pulled under water. Just when it's almost too late, Arthur rescues him.
After escaping from the bog Charming finds the Crimson Crown is missing from his bag. Charming is frustrated with failing. He tells Arthur that he doesn't want to be remembered as the man who kissed a sleeping princess 30 years ago. Arthur encourages him to keep questing and not give up even after a loss. They return to the castle where Arthur makes Charming a Knight of the Round Table and assigns him the Siege Perilous, the most trusted place at the table. Snow takes fussy Neal out into the hall and there is Lancelot. He's not dead and has come to warn her that the real villain in Camelot is Arthur. Later we see Arthur show Guinevere the Crimson Crown as he locks it in a chest. He has it after all and lied to Charming. It is the job of the king to protect the kingdom above all else he reminds her.
In Storybrooke Forest Tent City, David and Arthur examine the very same chest that's been compromised. Since the thief had to break the lock, they deduce that it was not Emma who broke in. They visit Belle in the Pawn Shop to see if anyone tried to sell her a magic bean that day, but it was business as usual there, meaning no business at all. Belle gives them an update on Gold's condition. He's still unconscious and fading fast. She says she found a healing spell that might work, but she needs an object that touched him when he was just a man and was still looking for such an object. David spies a fancy cup on the counter and asks if he can borrow it. Belle says it's just a leftover from Doc's Birthday celebration and points out the inscription "Doctoberfest". David takes the Doctoberfest chalice back to Tent City and tells the residents from Camelot that it's The Chalice of Vengeance. He will ask each of them to drink from it so he can find the thief. His ploy works as Arthur's squire jumps on the nearest horse and tries to runaway. What follows is some pretty nifty horse vs. pick-up truck jousting. Pick-up truck wins, and no horses were harmed. David interrogates Squire Grif who insists he never saw or stole a magic bean. Then David and Arthur find the Crimson Crown toadstool right there next to a tent. They don't know what it is because of their lost memories, but David thinks its familiar. He brings it to Regina who recognizes it from Merlin's spell book. This prompts her to investigate the very communication spell she had been trying to create back in Camelot. Maybe they will finally get to Merlin!
While David and Arthur have been hunting for a bean thief, Hook has been hanging trying to figure out how to break into the mysterious locked room in Emma's new house. Emma sends him a message asking him to meet her on the Jolly Roger. Hook goes, somewhat reluctantly. Emma wants to apologize for getting mad when he tried to break her Dark Curse with a kiss. She recreates their first date table, poofs into the same dress and lets down her hair for him. Despite her changed appearance, Hook is disturbed by Emma's Darkness. Hook presses Emma about the locked door and accuses her of not being the same person anymore. Emma insists that she is "better" as the Dark One. She feels like she sees the world more clearly now. She wants Hook to trust her and to love her. Hook does not believe that they can have real love while she is the Dark One, but Emma points out that Rumple and Belle fell in love. Hook does not like the comparison. He reminds Emma that he was originally the villain who taunted Rumple on this very ship with a sword in this very room. Emma asks Hook to tell her does he love her? Hook tells Emma that he loved her once, but he does not love the person she is now. Emma poofs away taking the old sword with her.
Arthur visits Squire Grif in the Storybrooke jail. It turns out that the story of Grif stealing a magic bean was all fake. Arthur asked Grif to help him trick David so he could win his trust. Arthur is mad that David and the others from Storybrooke lied to him in Camelot and brought the Dark One to his kingdom. Since they are stuck in this new land, Arthur plans to take over Storybrooke and make it his new Camelot. First Arthur needs to cover-up his own lies and the only sure way to do that is to get rid of Grif because Arthur knows that someone could use magic to make him tell the truth. So Arthur asks Grif to make the ultimate sacrifice for king and country and offers him a vial of poison. Grif drinks the poison.
Meanwhile, Belle stops by Granny's for a quick bite. The rose in the jar is losing petals fast! Then just as suddenly it begins to grow new petals! Rumple is awakening! Belle runs for the door (thankfully she is only wearing four-inch heels today). She rushes to the pawn shop, but Gold is gone!
Emma has brought Gold to her basement. The sword she took from Hook's ship is the item needed to wake Gold, an item that he touched when he was a man. Emma wakes Gold while Apparition Rumple eggs her on. Gold wakes and recognizes that Emma is the new Dark One. Emma tells him that because his heart is a blank slate she can make him the purest hero that ever lived and then she'll have a job for him...the camera pans to Excalibur stuck in the stone.
I really enjoyed "Siege Perilous". I like Charming when he has something interesting to do, like go on a quest and fight monsters. It's too bad the friendship between Charming and Arthur is based on so many lies. I'm not sure if they will ever be able to stay friends when the truth comes out, but stranger things have happened on Once. I'm interested to see what the Once version of the Arthur-Guinevere-Lancelot love triangle turns out to be.
I think that Emma and Hook's relationship is taking an interesting turn. Emma's new-found confidence is exactly how Rumple felt when he was newly turned to the Dark One. The relationship between Hook and Emma is much like what happened to Baelfire and Rumple. For both Hook and Bae it's hard to watch the person they love lose their humanity. For Emma and Rumple they became so consumed by the power that they didn't realize how much they have changed and not for the better as they believe. Belle managed to love Rumple even as the Dark One, but I think that's because she only knew him that way. I think what hurt her the most in their relationship was that Rumple could never really love her back in the same way while he still had the Darkness inside him. Now that he is free from the burden of the Dark One, Rumple should be able to love her properly. We will have to wait and see how it works out for all of them.
I'm glad that Regina and Robin made appearances this week and each had a chance to express how they feel about Zelena's baby. Regina proved that she is still the Evil Queen when she promised to love and protect Robin's child, but makes no such promise for Zelena herself. In a very amusing scene where Robin showed Hook a picture from "up inside Zelena" aka a sonogram, Robin air the very mixed emotions he's feeling between the joy of being a father and the horror of Zelena being the mother.
Most intriguing is this race to fix Excalibur. Both Arthur and Apparition Rumple want to reunite the broken sword and dagger. Arthur says he can use it to defeat Darkness and Apparition Rumple says Emma can use it to defeat the Light within herself. Can it do both? What about our fresh-hearted Rumple/Gold? If Emma can make him the ultimate Hero, couldn't he also become the ultimate Villain again? As Regina once said, "We shall see."