Welcome to another week in Camelot, Oncers! Tonight’s episode has been brought to you by the word “heroes,” the food “mushrooms,” and the No. 3, as the third episode of Once Upon A Time continued to bridge the gap between the missing six weeks in Camelot and Emma becoming the Dark Swan.
We’ll start off our recap with a chemistry lesson, a.k.a. the Storybrooke crew continuing their quest to try to get Merlin out of the tree. They’re trying to find witchbane so that they can finish their potion, when Arthur shows up. In Merlin’s book o’ spells and magic, Regina finds information about a toadstool (don’t call it a mushroom; Regina’s very particular about that) called the Crimson Crown. It can communicate across barriers, which means if they can find it, they can use it to talk to Merlin in the tree. But getting the object isn’t so easy. It exists in the Forest of Eternal Night, a place so enchanted, it makes it almost impossible to retrieve. Charming decides he’s going to be the hero who goes after it, and Arthur, being the good king of Camelot, invites himself along to help. Back in Storybrooke, the group is finding the drawing of the Crimson Crown for the first time. Of course, thanks to the curse and the memory loss, none of them remember it, but Regina recognizes her handwriting when she marked the book originally. They’re interrupted by the dwarves, who are downright pissed that Dark Swan Emma stole Happy’s ax. I feel like the dwarves’ frustration this season is basically five years of pent-up annoyance at being shoved into the background of everything. But also, in the past three episodes, they’ve now had more screen time than usual, so maybe the frustration is worth it.
WANT MORE? Keep up with all the latest from last night’s television by subscribing to our newsletter. Head here for more details.
Snow and Charming take a moment to themselves to, well, be parents, as Charming is upset that he’s failing Emma as a father. A gentle Snow talks him down from his self-loathing, reminding him that there’s still time to be a hero — and that not all is lost for their daughter. I still love how the Charmings theme music is used whenever the two have a quiet moment together; it’s those small scenes that remind me of the magic that the show really captured in their first few seasons. Arthur arrives to tell them that the reliquary (a box of magical relics collected by the Knights of the Round Table) has been robbed. Why is this such a big deal? There’s a magic bean inside that can take them home to Camelot. No worries, Arthur! Sheriff Charming will help you find your magic beans, no matter the price, because that’s what bro-friends do.
See, in Camelot, Charming and Arthur became super close, bonding over their unexpected rise to royalty. But we’ll get to all of that in a little bit. Right now, we’re heading back to Camelot, where we find a sweet Robin calming down an annoyed Regina, while a silent Zelena lurks in the background. Regina gives her sister her voice back just long enough to tell her she can’t take the child away from Robin, and Zelena tries to reason with her by saying she deserves a second chance at love. Regina got one, so why can’t she? Sorry, sis — you’ve had one too many black marks on your record to be believable. Regina’s not having it, but I personally am having all the chemistry between Lana Parrilla and Rebecca Mader, who play off each other so well I constantly wish we could just watch a spin-off show of The Evil Queen and her Wicked Sister. Regina assures her that she’ll will make sure Robin’s baby is loved and cared for…though the same can’t be said for how Zelena will fare. Yes, there’s still some Evil Queen vibe left in Regina, and maybe it comes out a little more in Camelot given the atmosphere, but it’s nice to see it appear every once in awhile.
NEXT: Did you ever know that you’re my hero? You’re everything I would like to be
Preparing to set off on their mission, Arthur shows off the Round Table to Charming, who has the unfortunate task of telling him the fate of noble Lancelot. Arthur shows Charming the Siege Perilous, the tallest chair at the table, and the one that is so sacred, no knight has been deemed honorable enough to sit in it — not even Arthur himself. It originally belonged to Lancelot, and it’s reserved for the knight with the purest of hearts. As Arthur and Charming later make their way through the forest in search of the Crimson Crown, (led by the reliquary box’s Unquenchable Flame) they talk about their pasts. Turns out Arthur wasn’t born noble, either. In fact, he was penniless. They talk about loyalty and their wives, and basically, Arthur is becoming Charming’s new BFF. They do find rhe Crimson Crown, but it’s being kept on a protected hill in a bog, and you have to walk along a perilous selection of planks to get there — kind of like the way Aladdin had travel to retrieve the Genie’s lamp. Charming immediately surmises that the plank can’t take both of them, so he’ll make the journey.
Surprisingly, Charming gets the mushroom with little issue. But when he’s walking back, ghosts of knights past rise up from the water like Tolkien’s Dead Marshes. Unfortunately for Charming, these ghosts don’t say under the water, and Charming fights them until he goes over. Arthur eventually saves him, and hey, if these two weren’t bros before, they definitely are now. The good news is that Charming’s alive with minimal injury! The bad news is, he’s lost the Crimson Crown. Charming is dejected, believing he failed the mission, but Arthur becomes the Snow White of the situation and talks sense into him. Sure, the King of Camelot may be a larger-than-life legend, but even legends are real people. And Arthur understands that Charming just wants to be remembered for doing something good and being heroic. “I have a place for a man like you,” he tells his new bestie, and then we’re treated to Charming being knighted as one of the Knights of the Round Table. Man, Camelot is turning out to be the best time ever for some of these people. (Also, apparently a lot happened in Camelot over those six weeks. People turned dark, people died, people got knighted…and as usual, baby Neal didn’t grow at all.)
So Arthur makes Charming SIR David, and not only that, he gets the Super Best Friends Club perk of getting the Siege Perilous chair that Arthur claims he’s never found anyone worthy enough to fill since Lancelot. Snow wanders away from the ceremony and runs into — surprise! — a wandering Lancelot. Since the last time we saw Lancelot, in season 2, it was via Cora’s spell; so I’m not sure if this is the REAL Lancelot or not (or, for that matter, if Cora really did kill him, since we never saw the body and only heard the story), but I don’t think Snow cares. Lancelot warns Snow about Arthur: He’s a villain, and Camelot is not what it seems.
And apparently, it isn’t. We see that Arthur stole the Crimson Crown off David and hid it because he wanted to protect his kingdom. I suppose we should believe he was doing the same in present day when he paid his squire a visit in lockup, telling him that there’s no way they can get back to their own realm without the bean. It’s a lost cause. They need to build a new Camelot here in Storybrooke. The too-eager squire tells his king he’ll do anything, and what do you know, Arthur has a handy vial of poison that he’s ready to offer! The squire promises he won’t tell anyone’s secrets, but Arthur is wary of the fact that Storybrooke has the Dark One, and also, everyone has magic here. But if he kills himself, not only will the secrets be safe, but he’ll die for his king — for Camelot. For Camelot, I guess…R.I.P., poor squire. (Any more doubt Arthur isn’t what he seems?)
NEXT: Hook and Emma sitting in a tree…but there’s no K-I-S-S-I-N-G
Turns out, Emma needed Happy’s ax to try to get Excalibur out of the stone. Rumple merely laughs at her because that won’t work: if they want to snuff out the light, a hero needs to pull Excalibur. And Emma knows who it is, but we don’t…at least, not right now.
A dejected Robin is hanging out in Granny’s, nursing the wounds of his own miserable love life and looking at a sonogram when Hook arrives. The two have their own dude bonding over their unfortunate lady situations, and Hook receives a bag of take-out from Granny that includes a note from Emma telling him to go to meet her on his ship. When Hook arrives, he finds Emma, who apologizes for overreacting. She just wants to talk and have lunch, like old times! Dark One magic is pretty cool because not only can it transform a paper bag into an entire meal (complete with a tablecloth), but also it can change a person. Emma turns herself back into “Good” Emma Swan so that Hook might be more willing to open up and talk. But we all know this is a little fishy, and Hook’s not buying it, bluntly asking Emma about what she’s got locked up. Emma ignores the question. She wants Hook to trust her, and she wants a real relationship. She was changed by the Dark One and tries to compare herself to the old, cowardly pre-Dark One Rumple. Hook shoots her down, saying that he’s responsible for what happened, and having Hook essentially own up to being a villain in Rumple’s story is not only a big step for the character, but it’s also nice to see Hook’s character evolving in a way that doesn’t directly involve Emma. He may be trying to get her back, but he’s got no interest in being with her if she’s still dark. “Did you love me?” Emma asks, a final nail in the coffin. Hook hesitates. “I loved you.” Ouch. I have to give props to Jennifer Morrison, who is getting decently good at playing two different personalities. Seeing her go from the Dark Swan to what she was before is a nice reminder that there’s more depth to her character than just being “the savior.”
Belle, for the record, is not doing well. She found something that might help Rumple, but it involves finding something that touched him when he was still a man — before he became the Dark One. While she continues to search, Charming takes an old cup that he dubs the “chalice of vengeance” and tries to con the townspeople into saying which of them stole the beans. They don’t get very far, because the squire makes a break for it with the box, galloping away on a horse. How do you stop a runaway horse? With a truck. And a wooden plank. Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Once Upon A Time: the only place you can see a jousting tournament between a squire on a horse and a truck driven by the king of Camelot, while another king shoves a wooden plank at his competitor.
Charming and Arthur interrogate the squire, who claims he only took the box because he was sick of how he was being treated. I suppose that’s somewhat valid. Arthur grants him forgiveness, for the most part, and when they leave, Charming finds the Crimson Crown hiding under one of the tents. He recognizes it and brings it to Regina, who matches it to the page in the book. They realize that they must have wanted the mushroom to communicate across barriers, which means Charming succeeded in being a hero. Hooray!
Hook meets Robin again and enlists his help — he needs to find out what Emma’s hiding, and a former thief just might do the trick. Meanwhile, Belle notices suddenly that her precious rose is falling apart but also putting itself back together. When she rushes back to the shop, she finds Rumple is gone… Where did he disappear to? Turns out crafty Dark One Emma found the one thing that touched him when he was a man: Hook’s cutlass, which he’d used on Rumple during his pirate days, before Rumple turned. She crushes it, and Rumple wakes up, entirely confused as to where he is and what’s happening, though at least he knows about Emma. “You’re nothing,” Emma tells him. “You’re a blank slate.” In other words, being a blank slate means that he’s useful and that Emma can make him a hero…the purest one that ever lived.
If he pulls Excalibur, that is.
Stray Odds & Ends:
- Okay, look. I had Arthur pegged as sketchy the moment he seemed to be okay with Charming going over the water by himself, but I should’ve started side-eyeing him when he gleefully suggested that Guinevere and Snow should be pitted against each other. Charming would never!
- I want to stay in Camelot forever, if nothing else than for the outfits. Seriously. Regina’s Camelot outfit may be my favorite thing.
- Alright, Once fans. You know what I’m going to ask: ship names for Hook/Robin and Charming/Arthur…GO!