Emma did a bad, bad thing.
Probably several of them considering the fate of present day Storybrooke, but in terms of the latest Once Upon A Time episode, I’m talking about her decision to piece together Excalibur as the former Dark Ones cheered from the sidelines of her lair. The Dark Swan now has the power to stomp out light magic for good, but will she go through with it or does she have an actual good guy planned hidden beneath her Dark Swan leather?
We didn’t get the answer this week since most of “Nimue” took place in the past; partially during the period our heroes spent in Camelot, and the rest of the episode journeyed much further back to when Merlin drank from the Holy Grail and received the ability to do magic as well as immortality. It might seem like a sweet deal, but we all know by now that magic comes with a price and Merlin’s powers were no exception.
Back in the day, he did his thing and used his magic for good. Along the way, he met a woman named Nimue, who was a lone survivor after an attack on her village. Nimue wanted revenge on the culprit, which should have been a red flag right there for our favorite
hot wizard. But Merlin fell deeply in love and wanted to give up his immortality so they could be together. Nimue suggested that he let her drink from the Holy Grail too, but Merlin rejected that idea and insisted the deal wasn’t as sweet as it seemed. So they set out to forge Excalibur and remove the magic.
In sort-of-present day Camelot, Merlin requested Emma join him on a mission to find the spark that would help them reunite Excalibur and the dagger to destroy the darkness once and for all. In order to do that, she needed to summon the first Dark One and Merlin warned there were two outcomes: one, she succeeded and two, she went dark and Merlin ended up dead. This felt like a real possibility since we know Emma’s embraced the darkness in the current timeline. Or at least it seems like she has. I still think she’s only pretending to be super bad because she’s got a plan to fix things.
Anyway, back to the original recipe Dark One. We all knew who it was going to be, right? I don’t know if I’ve watched this show too long or if the writing is that predictable or if it’s some combination of the two, but to the surprise of Emma, the Dark One removed its mask to reveal Nimue. Seriously, I could not have been less shocked. The episode dropped anvils all over the place with her desire for revenge and Merlin’s warning about using magic for dark purposes. Nimue drank from the Grail behind his back and then seized the opportunity to rip out the heart of the guy who destroyed her village. Then she turned scaly green and Merlin’s heart broke (which is tragic because he is way too pretty to be heartbroken).
Nimue attempted to get Emma to kill Merlin while he tried to talk sense into her. Nimue pushed the wrong buttons though because she kept telling Emma she was nothing before the darkness and the Savior was not here for that nonsense. I really loved this moment because Emma Swan has always been a strong, BAMF, with or without magic. She stood up to Nimue and forced her to give up the spark they needed to fix the sword. Things were looking up for Team Hero, but we haven’t reached the end of the episode yet so something major had to go wrong.
And that something was Zelena screwing everyone over. I can’t even pretend I’m mad about it because she’s the Wicked Witch and she’s always going to do what’s best for Zelena above everyone else. Basically, she told our team of heroes she could help them break into the castle because she’d been planning to escape except the pesky anti-magic cuff was in her way. Regina agreed to take it off if her plan worked. But Zelena decided to align herself with Arthur and help him do a spell that allowed him to use the piece of Excalibur he had to control Merlin. The wizard tried to talk some sense into Arthur, but he’s the worst so he refused to listen, and made Merlin send everyone away.
Next week, we get two episodes and the promo promised we’d find out Emma’s plan. I hope so because even though this season is much more enjoyable than last year, we’re hitting a point where the story is starting to drag. There are too many hanging threads and not enough answers. We still need to find out how/why Emma cast the dark curse and what happened to Merlin since he doesn’t appear to be in Storybrooke. Did Arthur do something to him? Or did Nimue succeed in getting Emma to enact her revenge? Emma thought about Merlin’s warning before she took hold of the sword, but she grabbed it anyway so clearly his opinion no longer holds weight with her. Here’s hoping we get a lot of details next week.
Oh, there’s one more piece of the episode we need to talk about:
CAPTAIN SWAN FINALLY EXCHANGED FACE TO FACE I LOVE YOUs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(Did you really think I wasn’t going to fangirl over this? Go ahead and stop reading if you’re not a shipper).
Before Emma and Merlin set off, Hook came over to say goodbye and remind Emma to be careful. She teased him with a quote she knew he wouldn’t know the origin of and they shared a kiss. Then, he pulled off a ring he wore on a chain around his neck. Emma, being Emma, started to panic and he told her to calm down because he wasn’t proposing (and how cute was the look on her face? She knows he knows her too well). He reminded her that he was a survivor and the ring was the reason or it could be (all right, Captain, what is the story of that ring?!?). Emma pointed out she was immortal and he corrected her and said the Dark One was immortal, but Emma is not and to please bring her back to him (everyone’s swooning now, right?).
Then the pirate swagger kicked in and he said the ring could serve as a reminder to come back to the pirate who loves her (RIP, me) and after another long kiss, Emma thanked him and then said, “I love you too.” Emma-I-keep-my-emotions-buried-Swan didn’t hesitate to say the words back. Putting aside my shipper feelings for a moment, this is huge for Emma. She’s come so far and opened her heart and found a man she loves, who not only loves her back, but who she can be herself with and speak her feelings without worrying it’s all going to come crashing down on her head. That is a beautiful thing, people.
(And the show will probably rip our hearts out next week so let’s bask in this until then).