Love is the most powerful and dangerous weapon of them all. On the latest episode of Once Upon A Time, Emma put that theory to the test and paid a big price. But she wasn’t the only one who used love to do her bidding this week. “Dreamcatcher” exposed more of the Dark Swan’s secrets as her loved ones banded together to find out exactly what she was trying to hide from prying eyes.
The episode opened many years ago in Camelot with Merlin confronting one of the past Dark Ones, who happened to be responsible for taking away Merlin’s great love. In the blink of an eye, the dagger changed hands and the Dark One used one of Merlin’s tears to create his tree prison. Fast forward to present day Camelot and we have an impatient Snow and Charming trying to bully Regina into giving them the dagger. That’s when Emma pops up and freezes her parents before explaining to Regina she watched the whole thing in the dreamcatcher.
(Did we know dreamcatchers had the ability to do this? Forgive me, but I’m getting my fantasy show mythology confused. On The Originals, a witch used one to spy on someone. I remember the one in Neal’s apartment and the purpose of it to catch the nightmares, but I’m not sure if this use is brand new information? I feel like it probably is since Emma and Regina discussed it with exposition dialogue. Anyway, it’s cool because dreamcatchers hold memories and magic reveals them. Since Emma’s the super powerful Dark Swan, she doesn’t even have to use magic. She can just see what’s happening).
Back in present day Storybrooke, our heroes have gathered at the jail with Arthur and Guinevere and assumed the squire lied and used the bean to escape (did anyone check the security cameras?). Henry’s looking for an excuse to hang out with Violet again so he suggests they throw a party to cheer everyone up. Hook offers to give advice on the ladies and Regina threatens to kill him (and I clap my hands with glee at the sass. I would watch an entire hour of these two trading barbs). Belle stops the group outside to let them know Rumple has been kidnapped.
In the Dark Swan lair, Rumple attempts to reason with her. He knows all about being dark and how it will cost her the people she loves the most. Emma doesn’t want to listen to his warnings so she orders Merida to take him to the forest and practice being brave. Then she runs outside to her shed filled with dreamcatchers and starts to cry. Okay so Emma’s not as dark as she’s pretending to be – I can’t say I’m shocked by that, but at the same time, I have no idea why she’s doing what she’s doing. And I love that! I know people might not love the curses and missing memories, but I’m enjoying this particular story a lot. The slow reveals are fun. But poor Emma having to suffer all alone – that hurts, show.
Switching to Camelot once more, Regina theorizes a tear of lost love could help them free Merlin from the tree. So Emma uses a dreamcatcher to flashback to Cora killing Daniel so Regina can cry. As much as I hate seeing Regina hurt, I enjoyed this scene because Emma got to see firsthand just how terrible Cora was to Regina. And of course that doesn’t excuse all the terrible things Regina did, but it’s a reminder she was innocent once too. Unfortunately, Regina’s heart is no longer broken since she’s got Robin so the tear didn’t work (which boo for the plan failing, but it still warmed my heart because all I’ve wanted is for Regina to find happiness).
While all of this was happening, Henry was trying super hard to impress Violet. Her father came and shattered Henry’s confidence, saying he’d never be a knight, and that’s when Henry’s moms chimed in and said he just needed to be himself, a mysterious hero from another land (again, what an awesome scene. I love how these two are always going to put Henry first and they gave him solid advice. Or so we thought, but let’s not jump ahead). Henry set up a sweet date for Violet at the diner, but once he explained what a date was, Violet shoved him into the friend zone fast enough to make the poor kid’s head spin (seriously, how much did that hurt, you guys? Poor Henry).
But it worked out in the long run because his fresh broken heart tear was exactly what his moms needed for their spell. And it was just in the nick of time too because Arthur and his minions showed up to stop them. Seriously, maybe it’s because my Arthur hate skyrocketed to new levels last week, but is he really arrogant enough to think he could take on two women with magic…one of whom he knows is the Dark One? Regina used her fireballs to distract him and Emma summoned the dark and light magic (cool visuals) and released Merlin from the tree. The first thing he did was express his disappointment in Arthur…and the king took his men and left (where are you going to hide from a sorcerer, your Majesty?). Merlin fixes Snow and Charming and confirms he can free Emma from the darkness…but only if her heart is 100 percent on board (even if we didn’t know the future, I think we could have guessed this would not work out well).
Let’s go back to the present. Henry knocks on Emma’s door to reminisce about Operation Cobra and asks if she’ll help him track down Violet’s missing horse. Little does she know, it’s a cover so Regina, Robin, Hook and Belle can break into her house. They get inside and head to the basement where they discover Excalibur. Hook points out its similarity to the dagger and attempts to free it from the stone (did anyone else die a little when he reached for it? Just me?). Regina stops him from touching it because Emma might have rigged it and she doesn’t want him to die (aw, you guys are totally frenemies heading toward eventual bestie status and I love it). They start to leave and Hook finds one of the dreamcatchers. He also remembers Neal’s, but Regina knows the deeper meaning and thinks she figured out how Emma took their memories (and now we know why the roomful of them made Emma cry. She’s so lonely).
So remember how we talked earlier about love being a weapon? Merida did not appreciate having to deal with Rumple’s coward self. She broke into the mayor’s office, found the storybook and then headed for the shop and returned with the chipped cup. She threatened to drop it unless Rumple picked up the sword and fought back (That’s a dirty trick, Merida, and I know Emma has your heart and you’re just trying to get back to your home, but if anything happens to that cup, some of my love for you is going to die). Rumple found some strength and forgot about his weaknesses so I suppose it paid off for now, but judging by the scenes for next week (see below), this was only the beginning.
At the town gathering, Henry returns the horse to Violet and her father calls him a hero (aw, how cute was this, seriously?). Hook questioned Arthur about the dagger and the shady king came clean and said he’d been trying to reunite them because together, they could end the darkness, but also light magic. The group realized that’s what Emma’s trying to do – stomp out the light. Once she’s home with Robin, Regina has second thoughts about finding their memories because Emma might have a good reason for taking them. As they look into the dreamcatcher, she realizes the memories belong to Violet and the two watch as Emma snatches Violet’s heart and orders her to break Henry’s because she’s needs the tear. Guess who else is watching from the hallway?
This scene hurt, guys. First because poor Henry. That’s beyond low, Emma, good reason or not. Second, because it once again fractured the trust Regina developed in Emma. Even after all her Dark Swan memory stealing, Regina believed there was good in her (and I’m so proud of how far she’s come and how much the Charming family motto of seeing the best in people has rubbed off on her). Emma showed up to see Henry and Regina read her the (much-deserved) riot act for what she did to Violet and Henry. Emma insisted it was the only way to free Merlin, but refused to elaborate once Regina questioned that slip of the tongue. Regina told her Henry didn’t want to see her and then sent her on her dark way. Emma spotted Henry in his window and then he turned out the light and closed the curtains (ouch).
I liked this episode a lot. It toyed with my emotions and left me with new questions, mainly, what the hell is Emma doing? She’s made herself the outsider on purpose, but it’s more than just the darkness. Our heroes have more pieces of the puzzle thanks to the dreamcatcher and the discovery of Excalibur. But they still don’t know just how shady King Arthur is. And now we know they freed Merlin back in Camelot so where is he?