Once Upon a Time continues to confuse its fans with its nearly impossible to follow timeline.
*spoilers, of course*
Despite the timeline being a complete mess, this episode was one for the books. I’m just going to assume time works differently everywhere. The episode starts 1,000 years prior to the age of Arthur. Merlin and a traveling companion are running through the desert when they come across a gauntlet AKA The Holy Grail. His companion drinks from it but turns to dust. Before Merlin drinks he asks for permission and because the Gods or whoever he talked to is being nice today, doesn’t kill him and gives him magical powers.
For 200 years Merlin lives with his magic, healing people and helping those who need it. This is when he meets Nimue, whose village was just destroyed by the Dark One, Vortigen. To get revenge she wants to plant some flowers that survived the fire and…yeah that’s some great revenge. That’ll spite him.
But over time Merlin and Nimue fall in love (did anyone else think she kind of looks like Jennifer Lawrence with brown hair?) Merlin wants to propose but knows that his immortality will make things complicated. Nimue is more than willing to also drink from the Holy Grail to become immortal, but Merlin sees is it more as a burden and decides to take away his. He comes up with a plan to use the Flame of Prometheus to wield the cup into Excalibur.
Back in Camelot, Merlin wants to take Emma to the where the Flame of Prometheus once stood in the hopes of getting it back after the Dark One took it. They also kind of need it to forge the dagger and the rest of Excalibur back together. Hook gives Emma his ring, which we all know will be used to bring Emma back to the light, and they go off while the rest of the crew tries to get Excalibur off of Arthur.
Zelena, who no one should ever trust, tells them of a passage way that leads out of the castle that she tried escaping through many times. They take her word for it but leave Snow in charge to watch her, while Regina, Charming, Hook, and Robin go get Excalibur.
Hmm, what could possibly go wrong here? Guess what! Zelena has her own plan. She fakes crying to Snow and knocks her out. Good job Snow. Did you not say you’ve come close to embracing darkness but are able to let Zelena fake you out? Wow.
The four amigos find Arthur, but of course Zelena comes in with Snow. Regina wants to have a battle with her but Robin reminds Regina of the baby and therefore they can’t fight. Arthur’s an annoying dick who I really hate and uses Excalibur to bring and control Merlin to him.
Arthur’s a whiny cry baby and makes Merlin send them all away.
Back to the better part of the episode.
Merlin tells Emma to go back and find the first dark one (okay this is technically the first dark one that was under control of the dagger.) Emma is scared to go back and find him, being that this Dark One killed Nimue. Merlin then tells us the twist that I kind of saw coming…
The Dark One is a her.
Before Merlin forged the Holy Grail into Excalibur, Nimue drank from it. When they were at the flames the Dark One came and killed Nimue, but turns out, she didn’t die! She takes his heart and crushes it (now THAT’s revenge) and becomes the Dark One. She breaks Excalibur in half and because of this, Merlin uses a spell to make the dagger control her while making the other half of Excalibur control him. However, Nimue was able to get the dagger and that’s the basic history behind it all.
Emma summons Nimue who tries to get Emma to kill Merlin. But what Nimue didn’t see coming is that Emma is still in there, the good Emma. Nimue tells her she was nothing, but Emma refuses to believe that. She gets the flame from Nimue before sending her away. And Merlin is impressed.
…In the end it doesn’t matter because back in Storybrooke Dark One Emma uses the flame to put Excalibur back together and now she has ultimate power. For a brief second she remembers what Merlin tells her, to leave the sword alone, but all of the Dark Ones come out of the shadows to congratulate Emma, even Nimue.
Despite the obvious Zelena is going to betray them scene, I liked this episode. It was great. I loved the backstory with Merlin and Nimue, even though she gave off a few clues that she would become the Dark One and I saw it right away. Next week seems to be the reveal of Emma’s big plan to use Excalibur which I am beyond curious to know.