1. The Dark Swan ordered Merida to train Gold in the art of bravery. Do you think she will succeed?
Zach: I think a person can find their bravery in the right circumstances, but I don't think you can "train" someone to be brave. I do hope that Gold finds his courage because it would be a major development for his character, and I want to see him become a hero on his own.
Joanne: It will be interesting to see the bravest of the Brave train the most cowardly coward. I hope she does succeed in giving Gold some backbone. I do think he has one buried under all his insecurities. Now that he doesn't have magic, he needs to find his inner strength.
Ashley: I think the Dark Swan has some ulterior motives. The idea of being "brave" is very abstract. I wonder if she is using Merida as a way of coaxing something else out of Rumple. It can't be as simple as learning sword play. Perhaps it's a test to see what he will do when Merida pushes him to the limit..
Laurie: I think the interaction between Gold and Merida is going to be amazing. I love the fact that we will see “Coward Rumple” in the persona of Mr. Gold. Yet another aspect of this complex character! I believe Merida will succeed only up to a point because Gold/Rumple’s cowardice was born out of childhood trauma and I’m not sure that can be fixed by “training.” Hopefully Merida can rewire his brain to a certain extent, and cause him to put aside the cowardly behaviors. I am very eager for Belle to see Rumple in his true character (faults and all).
Sam: I'm not sure you can train someone to be brave. I think that is part of a person's nature and you either are or aren't brave. That's not to say that even a coward may do something brave now and then. So, I'm not sure how Merida will be able to do what Emma has asked her to do to Rumple.
2. Arthur proved himself to be a cowardly king by using the sands of Avalon on Guinevere. Thoughts on this dusty chain of events?
Joanne: Appearance is everything, I guess! Instead of working on his marriage and his kingdom, he took the easy way out. I do like the metaphor of Camelot only being an illusion. A dream to be chased and never fully realized. All my students at school think Arthur is a big jerk.
Ashley: Arthur is officially a villain and not just an antagonist here. I don't even know if I could call him a well-intentioned extremist. He is a false king and I wonder if he was even meant to pull the sword from the stone. Perhaps he was supposed to find the true king and was blinded by his own desires. We need Merlin to clear all this up. This really makes his goal of turning Storybrooke into a "new" Camelot make a lot of sense since now, in his eyes, he can truly build a kingdom. It's also interesting to get the reasoning behind why Camelot seemed so squeaky clean and perfect.
Laurie: Shady king is shady. I disliked Arthur in this episode and I disliked even more the very convenient plot device of the sands of Avalon. We have just been introduced to it and already it has been overused. This episode contained way too much Camelot (which we know from experience contains characters we will never see again, but the show feels obligated to give their moment) and not enough scenes/interactions with our core cast. Clearly we need a certain amount of back story, but I dislike the reliance on things we have never heard of (sands) in order to make things easier on the writers.
Sam: The sad thing is that Arthur totally misread Guinevere's comment that she would follow her heart. She meant that she would stay with Arthur, and he used the magic on her anyway. To me it seems like Arthur is addicted to magic. He collects magic objects and he's obsessed with fixing Excalibur for the magic power that will give him.
Zach: I knew Arthur was shady, but I didn't think he would go so far as to use magic to control his wife. That's unbalanced and really makes him crazy IMO. I like that the writers have turned Camelot, this legendary ideal world, into an illusion. Adam and Eddy were right when they said that nothing is as it seems this season. I wish there was more of a focus on our core characters, especially Belle searching for Gold, even though I understand the need for backstory. I don't expect we'll see Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, et al after this season, and I would rather have spent more time with the people we've been watching since the show premiered. I hope this gets resolved soon..
3. Hook drove away Emma's Darknesstiltskin by showing her love and compassion. What does the future hold for CaptainSwan?
Ashley: I'm not sure. We saw in the premiere that whenever Emma felt strong love for her friends and family, Darknesstilskin disappeared and when she felt frustrated of fearful he returned. Hook instinctively tapped into that. I suspect the darkness will get wise and turn Emma against her pirate.
Laurie: I don’t care. Hook has become a one-dimensional character and the only thing remotely interesting about their relationship is Emma. We can see that CaptainSwan is endgame, so eventually they will triumph. So yay, CaptainSwan has won. Wasting precious minutes on the protracted love scene shows the priorities of the writers. I wish we had more time with more interesting characters like Regina, Rumple and Henry.
Sam: I expect trouble and heartbreak. Until Emma is 'fixed' there is no way that they can have a real relationship. I believe Hook is willing to fight for her. She was his "Savior" and he won't let her go.
Zach: Well, we know that his plan to save her failed, so there's nothing but heartbreak ahead for Hook. I think that Emma will hold everyone except Hook and Henry responsible for whatever happens to make her turn into the Dark Swan.
Joanne: Obviously, it is only temporary. He doesn't succeed for long because Emma comes back from Camelot embracing her Dark One status. It was a good effort though, keeping her idle thoughts away. I guess idle thoughts give Darknesstiltskin a way into her mind.
4. Henry revealed his feelings for Violet to Emma and Hook, but Emma was less than pleased. A sign of things to come for the truest believer?
Laurie: I loved this scene - but more for Hook's overjoyed reaction. At last we get to see Hook as more of a pirate than we have in recent memory! I love that Henry is getting to do more this season, and that he is getting a girlfriend. It didn’t seem to me that Emma wasn’t pleased, other than the fact that Henry “lied” to her. Most 14-year old boys would tend to hide this type of thing from their moms. I would love to see more of Emma’s love for Henry, but right now that is getting crowded out by the darkness, just as we saw with early DO Rumple. Emma seems most conflicted about Henry than about anything else, and I think she may interfere with his relationship with Violet if it suits her purposes.
Sam: I worry about the young love birds. It's too soon for Henry to find his True Love. I don't think that Violet will be around for long, and I'm not sure that Regina will be that happy about this new development either.
Zach: I think the root of Emma's issue with Violet is the fact that Henry lied to her about it. We know that Emma hates being lied to and I think she'll do something to break them up before she returns them to Storybrooke. I also think she'll assume that Henry and Violet won't get together in Storybrooke since she erased their memories, and once she sees that her plan failed, she will step it up and do something absolutely horrible. (Side note: what happened to her lie-detector super power?)
Joanne: Emma is not ready for her little boy to grow up! I think that she was more mad that he didn't confess his feelings to her and that she was the last one to know. I'm not to sure about Henry's romance with Violet. We don't know too much about her yet, and she may not be pleased that her boyfriend's mom is the Dark One.
Ashley: Emma has known nothing but heartbreak from her former loves and is only now getting used to the idea that Hook won't hurt her or leave her. Perhaps she is projecting that onto Henry, not wishing her son to go through everything she has.
5. Snowing cemented themselves as the ultimate power couple with their plan to trap Arthur, but Guinevere thwarted them with the sands of Avalon. How will this affect their efforts to save Emma?
Sam: Aaaggg! Just when it looked like they had won the day, they were foiled by magic. I'm curious to see how the sands of Avalon will effect their behavior overall. I expect Regina will figure it out soon enough. But, this also makes me wonder if they are still under its spell in the present? Did Emma's new curse that returned them to Storybrooke remove the spell? What about Guinevere? Is she still under its spell?
Zach: I think that the sands of Avalon will lead them to unknowingly help Arthur. Something about mending Excalibur will involve the destruction of the Darkness, and once Emma becomes aware that her parents are helping him, she will see it as an act of betrayal and it will push her over the edge.
Joanne: Major setback. I'm hoping that Regina will step in and stop them from giving the dagger to Arthur. I hope that she will see through their abnormal sappiness and realize that something smells fishy in Camelot.
Ashley: Guinevere and Arthur are like the anti-Snow and Charming. Everything about their relationship is now a lie. I want to know how Snow and Charming are no longer under the spell when they return to Storybrooke. Obviously, their being bewitched into aligning with Arthur will set back efforts to save Emma. I want to know if the others will sense something is off and how far Snow and Charming will go under the spell to further Arthur's agenda.
Laurie: Again with the unlimited sands of Avalon. Sigh… I loved that they worked together to trap Arthur, and that Charming believed Snow and trusted her instincts. It seems as if every time they get close to being the powerful couple we know they can be, somehow they are thwarted by “circumstances.” This will impact negatively their efforts to save Emma, so Regina is going to have to step up. This episode could have done with more Regina, so I am hoping that she will be featured more prominently in the future. It looked as if both Robin and Regina were skeptical about Snow and Charming’s support of Arthur, so I have some hope the truth will come to light. Merida and Lancelot will make a formidable team as well.
6. Favorite Moments
Zach: I have three favorites for this episode: the Snowing argument, Dark Swan's scene with Gold, and the dreamcatchers. The Snowing argument was very realistic and shows that even a strong, famous couple can have regular issues just like anyone else. It made them relatable and it was nice to see them have some conflict instead of standing around holding Neal.. Meanwhile, I could watch Jennifer Morrison and Robert Carlyle act against each other all day. I'm more invested in that storyline than any other, and I hope we get more of it in upcoming episodes. As for the dreamcatchers, well, Swanfire forever!
Joanne: I liked all the scenes with Emma and Rumple/Gold. I loved the interplay of their characters, especially when Dark Rumple is trying to tempt Emma into take the dagger, or Gold trying to persuade Emma that he could never be a hero.
Ashley: More Dark Swan and Gold! I loved their little scene at the end and want to see more of the two interacting now that their roles have been reversed. I also liked seeing Snow and Charming's argument. Just because they are a fairy tale couple full of unicorns and rainbow kisses doesn't mean they can't have a spat every now and then and, when they do, it reminds the audience that they are also Mary Margaret and David.
Laurie: The Dreamcatchers. Very pleased to see a glimpse of Emma’s past with Neal.
Sam: There were quite a few this week, but I'm going with "The fight was real!" from Snow and Charming. It's a great example of the pair's greatest strength which is to always come together in adversity and support each other, even if that means some compromise.
7. Favorite Quotes
Joanne: "You're the Savior. Save yourself." - Dark Rumple
Ashley: "You're the Savior...save yourself" has to be the line that stuck out to me this episode.
Laurie: “You tried to trick me with a catchy title and a comfy chair.”
Sam: Several great choices this week. I'll go with Rumple's "Even the pony is smarter than the pirate."
Zach: "You're the Savior. Save yourself," and "I guess the pony is smarter than the pirate," both from Darknesstiltskin.
8. Anything else?
Ashley: I'm dying to see Merlin and his reactions to everything going on. Is this part of his plan or is Emma's presence and present state a wrench in the works? Also, I want to see Snow and Charming confront the Dark Swan. And I thought everything with the dreamcatchers was especially unsettling, great addition to the episode!
Laurie: The darkness can be pushed away with fire? Only fire? Wow, too bad our heroes couldn’t think of that when Emma was battling the darkness.
Sam: I really want to see Merlin! I want to know how he ended up in the tree and why Arthur wants to kill him.
Zach: Someone needs to get Merlin out of the damned tree. I want him front and center. He's the freakin' Sorcerer, for crying out loud! And why hasn't Emma confronted her parents yet? More Charming family moments, please!
Joanne: I liked Emma making dreamcatchers. Dark Rumple told her to get a hobby because the Darkness never sleeps. I think by keeping occupied, she isn't seeing Darknesstiltskin, who, by the way, is a very nasty character. I also wonder if Rumple heard the Darkness in his head for the 300 years that he was the Dark One. No wonder he was crazy as a loon, spinning straw to gold all the time, and no wonder Belle was such a bright shining light in his mists of Darkness.