When does a quest turn into an obsession? Probably around the time you’re locked in your study as your lonely wife celebrates her birthday with your best bro. Oh, Arthur, you should’ve seen this coming.
We open this episode of Once Upon a Time “many years ago,” with a wee bitty Arthur telling a wee bitty Guinevere that the magician trapped in the village tree told him he would be king of Camelot. But the village boys scoff that Camelot’s called “the broken kingdom” because they have no king and never will — and it certainly won’t be the orphan who cleans the stables.
Aaaand cut to grown Arthur pulling the broken sword from the stone. In your face, bullies! But of course, the sword is missing its tip, which sends the new king into an increasingly obsessed search for the Dark One’s dagger to complete the sword and fix his broken kingdom
Now, we’re back to six weeks ago, when Emma hears the dagger calling to her and tries to magic-blast Rumpelstiltskin. But she almost takes out Hook instead, prompting her to confess that Rumple’s always whispering in her head.
But Snow’s got bigger news: Lancelot’s back and warns them not to trust Arthur. Charming doesn’t believe this about his new best bro.
“He married us. He’s our friend,” an exasperated Snow says, and then she and Charming yell at each other. Like, really yell. It’s unpleasant, and they finally ask Regina to please vacate what seems to be her own room. She quirks an eyebrow and obliges.
Snow accuses Charming of wanting to feel like a hero again, and Charming can’t understand why his old lady is harshing his bro-vibe. Bros before ladies, amirite?
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Now we skip back five years, and Arthur seems to have spent every one of those 1,825 days translating scrolls to find the dagger. A heartsick Gwen begs him to come outside and dance with her, just this once. Naturally, she ends up as a wallflower until Lancelot shows up, and we learn that it’s her birthday. Oh, Arthur, you didn’t! Scrolls before bros and birthday wives, apparently.
Back to six weeks ago, Charming tells Arthur that he knows exactly where the dagger and the Dark One are because it’s his daughter. Oh, and also, Snow doesn’t trust him. Arthur wants to know why, and we flash back five years to Gwen sneaking out to find the dagger herself by using the magic gauntlet that leads you to a person’s true weakness. (You remember the gauntlet, right? Rumple traded it to the trio of villainesses to free Belle; then Belle used it to prove that her marriage was a sham. Good times.) Anyway, Lancelot joins her, and I’ve got to say, fancy ladies trading their elaborate court gowns for trousers and fur-trimmed leather vests may be my favorite thing about Once Upon a Time.
NEXT: Hide yo wife, Arthur