Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 5 – TV Review
Well, it’s not a Regina solo episode. So, the second best kind of Once Upon a Time episode, then.
A Regina and Emma episode.
TL;DR Regina and Emma manage to free Merlin from his tree in Camelot; Emma uses dastardly means to do it, which irks our present day heroes; Merida teaches Gold how to be brave; Henry gets his heart broken.
Better than having your heart ripped, no?
With the Snow/David filler shaken off, it’s time to get back to that whole “we need Merlin, right?” thing. Emma stops Snow and David’s brainwashed advice to give Arthur the dagger, and she and Regina get to work on the spell to free Merlin. They need a tear of lost love, so they use a dreamcatcher to magically view the moment Regina watched Cora murder Daniel. Regina’s heartbreak isn’t strong enough, though. Luckily, Henry has been spending his episode getting fucking rejected by Violet, so his tears work just fine. Arthur tries to stop them, but our lady leads use the spell to free Merlin from his arbor prison. Merlin bitches at Arthur for disappointing him, cures Snow and David of their brainwashing, and says he can only eliminate the darkness from Emma if she truly wants it gone. Meanwhile in Storybrooke, Regina leads Hook, Robin, and Belle on a recon mission inside Emma’s house, while Henry keeps Emma busy searching for Violet’s lost horse (spoilers: Emma let the horse go in the first place so she could have happy times with Henry). They find Excalibur, which, as Arthur later concedes, has the power to either destroy all dark magic or all light magic once it’s whole with the dagger. They also find a dreamcatcher which shows that Emma orchestrated Henry’s heartbreak in Camelot by ripping out Violet’s heart and making her hurt Henry. Bitch knows how to get shit done. And Emma also sends Merida off to train with Gold. He is feeble and whiney, so she steals that teacup he likes and uses his love for Belle to motivate him.
That fucking teacup, man.
God, it feels so good to get back to Regina and Emma. I know Snow and David need their obligatory episodes per season, but things are so much better with Regina (particularly) and Emma at the helm.
And now that Emma is an evil drag queen, things are better still.
So no more Snow and David episodes at least until the mid-season break, please?
Why I hate this episode:
Snow and David’s sand-induced mind control gets literally hand-waved away by Merlin this episode. Aren’t you so glad that we wasted all of last episode with that?
While Henry’s pain replenishes my electrolytes, I think it’s a really big fucking insult that Regina’s heartbreak over Daniel’s murder is apparently not as strong as Henry’s lukewarm friend-zoning from “I’ve known her five minutes” Violet. Get the fuck out, Once Upon a Time. What an absolute joke. The show tries to pass this off as Regina having had her heart partly mended by her new love for Robin, so she’s not as hurt anymore. I’m pretty sure watching your mother murder your first love in front of your eyes is more powerful than that girl you met at a party one time telling you “No, thanks,” no matter what has come after.
I still hate Merida.
Another subplot on the Storybrooke side this episode is a street carnival/dance that Henry suggests holding to improve spirits amongst the townsfolk and the Camelotians. I think the only person who really cares about it is Henry. I know I don’t.
Violet’s dad is stereotypically disapproving of Henry in Camelot. Because he would make a poor knight. Yeah, he’s a traveller from another land who is connected to the Saviour, but whatever. Can’t hold a sword? Dealbreaker.
Oh, and to close the episode, Regina has a kind of inconsistent conversation with Emma. First, she’s begging Emma to tell her what’s really going on; then she shifts to self-righteous fury over Emma manipulating Henry by ripping Violet’s heart out; then she shifts back to intrigue once Emma spills that the manipulation was for Merlin’s freedom, which was successful. Regina poses the pertinent question: if Merlin was released, then why is Emma still the Dark One? This would have been a powerful note to end on, but Emma instead bats back that she wants to see Henry, so Regina bizarrely drops that train of thought and is like “He don’t want you, no.” Then we see Henry turning his back on Emma, and nobody stays worried about Merlin having been released in Camelot, yet Emma’s cure still having failed.
But it’s not all bad:
Our leading ladies got Merlin out, baby. The fact that it took Henry’s heartbreak to get there is an undeniable plus.
The dreamcatcher system is a cool little way to compartmentalise memories. It appears that they can capture memories, and Regina’s interest in them suggests that they can also be used to steal memories. They’re dark magical items, which is why Regina is hesitant to use one to view her memories of Daniel. And I suppose it’s no surprise that present day Emma has an entire shed filled with them. Put that dark magic to werq, gurl.
The scene of Regina viewing her Daniel memory is textbook Regina perfection. Despite Once Upon a Time’s best efforts with Emma, Henry, Snow, and David, Regina is and always will be the emotional centre of this show. Regina makes sure not to go into blubbering mess territory while watching Cora crush Daniel’s heart in the dreamcatcher window, and even Emma is horrified at seeing what Regina went through. As she should be.
Merlin turns out to be that guy who posed as an usher and spoke to child Emma back in the season premiere, if you’re interested in keeping up with that kind of thing. We get a little bit of a flashback to earlier in Camelot, where Merlin is facing off against a masked Dark One and bemoaning the loss of the woman he loved. His tear is what the Dark One used to seal him in the tree. I suspect the Dark One will turn out to have been Merlin’s love, herself. Right?
Merida’s one redeeming quality is that she’s training Gold to not be merely the hero Emma wants, but to be strong enough to actually defeat Emma. That clever girl. She’s come a long way since Brave.
Oh, and Belle didn’t feel like an obstructive tag-along this episode. She just felt like a regular, tolerable tag-along. Getting Gold out of her hair has done wonders for her.