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Once Upon a Time recap: Birth / The Bear King

The double hour revealed some shocking revelations about Emma’s time in Camelot, while Arthur played a pivotal role in Merida’s story.

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Jack Rowand/ABC

Once Upon a Time

TV Show
Fantasy, Drama
run date:
Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla
Current Status:
In Season

Once Upon a Time super-sized itself tonight (you can thank next week’s American Music Awards for that one), and so did the Dark One — yes, we have spent most of the season so far focused on the fact that Emma was the Dark One, but what we didn’t know until tonight was that there are apparently two Dark Ones. And that other Dark One? None other than Hook.

While the two back-to-back episodes didn’t make too much sense meshed together, we still learned a lot of important things. Namely, we got a lot more intel on the missing Camelot weeks (and it seems we’re getting closer and closer to the present day) and also some more background on why no one should trust King Arthur. Ever. And that’s where we start at the beginning of the night, when Charming arrives at Arthur’s tent, interrupting his wine date with Guinevere to confront him about destroying the Crimson Crown. He asks about Nimue because, if you remember, Merlin showed up saying her name but no one in present day Storybrooke knows who she is. Arthur attempts to get away but is stopped by Hook, and both of them are stopped by Emma, who still appears to show some sort of genuine compassion for Hook. When Hook tries to press her about why she needs Excalibur (which is now whole again), Emma refuses to answer, only telling him that “I’m doing this all for you.”

Three weeks earlier, outside Camelot, Emma holds the Flame of Prometheus that will help her put Excalibur back together. She meets Henry at Granny’s, confused at what happened to Merlin, who disappeared randomly on their trek last week when he was summoned by Arthur, who used Zelena’s magic to put his name on half of the sword. As if on cue, Merlin shows up asking for the flame, wanting to make a trade on behalf of Arthur. If Emma doesn’t give him what he wants, her whole family (including Regina) will die. Merlin implores her not to seek the same vengeance that destroyed Nimue, but somehow I don’t think Emma’s going to listen.

But Emma is actually quite cunning. She goes to where Arthur and Zelena (who has changed into super classy Wicked Witch garb, naturally) are holding her friends and family and offers up the box with the flame, which release magical vines that capture Zelena against a tree. Merlin again tells her this is a battle she can’t win, and the two go at it with their powers like Harry Potter and Voldemort, and look, I know I make a lot of references to Harry Potter in these recaps sometimes, but it’s the only thing I can think of when I’m watching. Arthur gets pissed off enough that he attempts to have Merlin kill Snow, but Emma forces him to fight the darkness while Hook gets free and attacks Arthur, who eventually disappears with Zelena. Hook gets mildly hurt in the scuffle, but Emma quickly hand waves the injury away with her new dark magic skills. Huzzah? Anyway, the good news is Emma now has the other half of the sword and realizes they can use the flame to put the sword together, destroy the darkness, and go home! Except…that’s obviously not what happened.

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But the Scooby Gang does make it safely back to Granny’s, with Merlin in tow, and Emma still is having trouble figuring out why she doesn’t want to give up the darkness. Regina meets her outside because “I thought you could use a friend,” and the two share a quiet, genuine moment in what is actually one of my favorite moments in the whole season so far. Regina appeals to her about the darkness. She tries to (gently) force Emma into admitting why she’s so hesitant to give up the darkness because she rightfully realizes it’s not because she wants to protect her family. Regina is, for the first time, actually doing something good (albeit the slightly aggressive Regina way), but she’s interrupted by the rest of her friends who immediately chastise her for making Emma uncomfortable. And, well, sorry, guys. I gotta agree with the former Dark Queen here: “I was getting to the truth; it’s not my fault that it’s painful.” (I have a feeling if Emma ever tried therapy, it wouldn’t be a good fit for her.) When Hook finds her, Emma shows him the paper because Henry is pretty much the worst secret keeper ever. She admits she wants a future with him, but she’s also afraid. Oh, Emma.

NEXT: How to become a Dark One in three easy steps (or more)