In the back-to-back episodes "Birth" and "The Bear King" Emma reveals her plans and old faces return.

Once Upon A Time started on a high note and ended on a low one.

Because of the American Music Awards airing next week, ABC decided to air back-to-back episodes of Once Upon A Time. The episodes were on both ends of the spectrum: One was fantastic and the other lacked enough substance to keep me from dozing off. The first episode “Birth” answered several burning questions Oncers have been asking all season long.

In present day Storybrooke David (Josh Dallas), Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) and Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) confront Arthur (Liam Garrigan) for trying to burn the Crimson Crown — the only thing that would help them communicate with Merlin (Elliot Knight). David thinks Arthur knows who Nimue (Caroline Ford) is and when he asks him, he runs away. Hook goes after him and trips over a log. Arthur points a sword at Hook ready to kill, but before he can, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) uses the Excalibur to save him. The Excalibur no longer controls anyone. Emma still won’t tell Hook why she needs the Excalibur.

In Camelot, three weeks before the group lost their memories, Merlin, who is still under Arthur’s control, tells Emma that Arthur has her friends and family tied up in the woods. Emma will get them back if she hands over the dagger and the spark that will forge the Excalibur and the dagger together. Emma has to light the flame by using the darkness within her before she can save them.

In Storybrooke, Zelena (Rebecca Mader) is confined in her cell when she starts to have problems with her baby. When Robin and Regina (Lana Parrilla) show up, her small baby bump has grown into the stomach of a woman who is nine months pregnant. This can only mean one thing: dark magic. Zelena’s pregnancy has progressed so fast that she’s going into labor. Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) rush in to tell them that Emma only needs one key item to use the Excalibur, which is the cry of a newborn baby.

Seriously? How can the cries of a newborn baby be an ingredient in a potion?  


Meanwhile, Emma promises Hook she will tell him everything. Emma reveals that Hook picked out the house she is living in. He planned to start a future with her. He doesn’t remember this because he picked out the house in the six weeks he can’t remember. Convenient, right? She kisses him, and he collapses! Obviously she still loves Hook. She doesn’t want Hook to stop her from carrying out her plan. Emma is planning to use the Excalibur within the next day, but for what?

Three weeks earlier, Merlin begs Emma to hand over the spark. When she doesn’t, Arthur orders Merlin to kill Mary Margaret. Merlin is able to resist the power of Arthur’s control in time for Hook to escape and knock the sword controlling Merlin out of Arthur’s hands. Zelena, who is working with Arthur now, gets them both out of there before Emma can attack them.

In the present day, Zelena gives birth to a baby girl. Not too long after the delivery, Emma shows up. Regina tells her that she’s not getting the baby. “That would be a problem if that was the baby I was after,” Emma responds while she and Zelena disappear. What?! Is Zelena having twins? This doesn’t make any sense.



In Emma’s basement, Hook wakes up disoriented. Peering down upon him is Zelena. Zelena believes that Emma wants her magic, but Emma shows up to disprove her theory. Emma says she wants to get rid of the darkness within her and put it in Zelena. This is predictable. It isn’t surprising that Emma wanted to get rid of the darkness all along. The real Emma has always been hiding in the dark one. Zelena and Hook hatch a plan to get out using magic. They escape, thus destroying Emma’s plans.

Hook searches Emma’s house for squid ink she stole from Rumplestiltskin’s shop. He throws the squid ink on Emma and she is frozen in place, but can still talk. Zelena comes into the room demanding answers. She approaches Hook and stabs him in the heart! But he doesn’t die! He must not have his heart! Emma probably stole it! Zelena holds up a dreamcatcher and we are transported back to Camelot.

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In Camelot, Emma is about to make the Excalibur whole again when Hook falls to the floor. In the woods, Hook was scratched by the Excalibur, and he can’t be healed by magic. The only way to save him is to bind Hook to the sword. This will kill Merlin and make Hook the Dark One. Emma and Hook would both be Dark Ones together. She performs the spell and Hook becomes dark!



This was unpredictable. The dynamic between Hook and Emma has completely changed. He resents Emma now and with good reason. Hook has spent the better part of his life trying to change his ways only to become completely dark by the woman he loves most. Hook still has the capabilities of being good. He spent three weeks in Storybrooke working with the heroes with no signs of darkness living inside of him.

Now we shift to the second episode “The Bear King.”


Three weeks before the memory loss, Zelena and Arthur turn up in Camelot. Arthur wants Zelena to transport them to DunBroch — where Merida (Amy Manson) was last seen.

In DunBroch, seven years earlier, Merida’s father, King Fergus (Glenn Keogh), goes to a witch’s cottage to get magic to prevent an invasion. The witch brews a potion that creates a helmet. When he wears the helmet in battle, everything he wants to come true will come true.

Three weeks earlier, before the memory loss, when Merida is about to be crowned queen, the same witch barges in on the ceremony. She says her father never paid her back and that Merida needs to return the helmet the witch made. If she doesn’t do it, the entire clan will be turned into bears. Merida concludes that the knight who killed her father is the one who has the helmet. Being “brave,” she sets off to find him.

Seven years earlier, King Fergus takes Merida to the battlefield. In order to appease Merida’s mother, he enlists the help of a soldier to teach her the ways of battle. Merida doesn’t want the help of a man so she lunges after the masked soldier who is supposed to aid her. The soldier knocks Merida on the ground. When she takes off her helmet, it is Mulan (Jamie Chung)! Mulan has been in previous seasons of Once Upon A Time. In past seasons, she was always found protecting Princess Aurora.

Three weeks before the memory loss, Zelena and Arthur go to the witch’s cottage in the woods to look for the magic helmet.

Merida doesn’t believe she can find the helmet on her own so she goes to Mulan. Mulan has grown bitter. She no longer believes in fighting for honor. When searching the woods they find the arrow that Merida shot in attempt to kill her father’s killer. Zelena and Arthur show up. They reveal that the helmet forces other men to fight your battles. Arthur needs it so his knights will stand and fight with him. Zelena takes Merida’s bow which once belonged to her father. Zelena plans on using the bow for a locator spell to find the helmet. Merida is ready to give up and heads back to her kingdom.

Mulan, who is without Merida, goes to the witch’s cottage to find a wolf. The wolf is about to kill Mulan. Instead of being frightened, she says, “You’re not a wolf.” I don’t know what she’s looking at, but that’s definitely a wolf.



Mulan kicks over a cauldron full of potion. It spills all over the wolf and it transforms into Red (Meghan Ory) from Little Red Riding Hood. Red was an important character in the first two seasons of Once Upon A Time. She has not made an appearance since her full story was told. Red left after the birth of David and Mary Margaret’s baby. She didn’t feel at home because there weren’t any other werewolves in Storybrooke. To her dismay, she was unable to find the wolf pack in the Enchanted Forest, so the witch made her the guard dog. Mulan and Red go back to DunBroch to find Merida. Red says they don’t need magic because she’s going to “sniff him out.” Really? We already know she’s part dog. You don’t need to allude to it.



Seven years earlier, the kingdom from the south is invading DunBroch. King Fergus had Mulan distract Merida so she wouldn’t be on the battlefield. When Merida finds out, she rushes to the battle just in time to see her father killed. The knight that killed Fergus removes his helmet. It’s Arthur!

Red’s “sniffing” leads them to Zelena and Arthur. Arthur tells Merida when he put the helmet on, it didn’t do anything. King Fergus took the helmet off and threw it in the lake before he went into battle. He didn’t use magic to rally his knights; they stood beside him on their own accord. Merida and Arthur battle it out for the helmet. When things aren’t looking up for Zelena and Arthur, Zelena transports them back to Camelot. Merida gets the helmet back and earns even more respect from the clans.

During her coronation, the witch comes in to get the helmet. Instead of giving it back, Merida wants to destroy it. The witch commends her on this and reveals that it was all a test. The witch gives her a way to speak to her father’s spirit. They have a touching father-daughter moment, and then he disappears. The episode ends with a bit of foreshadowing from Merida, “Arthur, you have no idea what’s coming for you.”

The first hour answered a lot of questions. It was jam-packed with action and provided plot twists that would shock even the best guesser. The second hour of this episode was a major let down. It was flat, dull and didn’t add much to the overall plot line of the season. It would have been better to flip-flop the hours — leave the audience on a cliffhanger — or just save the second episode for a later date. The writers caught interest in the first episode only to lose it in the second.

Once Upon A Time will return on November 29th on ABC at 8 p.m.



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