Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 7 – TV Review
It only took seven gruelling episodes (including the unspeakable arduousness of a Belle episode), but Excalibur is finally back in one piece.
But join us for a dull tale of love lost first, won’t you?
TL;DR Merlin recalls his lost love Nimue, who totally was the first Dark One (called it); Camelot flashback Emma has to face her, and manages to overcome her; but Zelena betrays everyone to Arthur and Merlin gets fucked up; in present day Storybrooke, Emma successfully reforges Excalibur.
Because nobody would want to stop that, right?
The bulk of the episode focuses on flashbacks to pre-Camelot, where we see Merlin take a sip from the Holy Grail and receive magic powers and immortality. Several hundred years later he meets and falls in love with Nimue, a sweet girl whose village was razed to the ground by a masked man. She schemes to squeeze a sip of the Holy Grail out of a distracted Merlin, and then chooses the dark path of killing the masked man, which causes her magic to become dark. And thus, the Dark One was born. Nimue smashes Excalibur, earlier morphed from the Holy Grail by Merlin (he wanted to use a sword to cut away his immortality so he could live a mortal life with Nimue), and Merlin uses the broken-off tip in an attempt to seal her power. Back in the current Camelot flashbacks, Emma struggles against the selfish encouragement of Nimue’s visage and proves herself worthy of saving. But the rest of the gang makes a fatal error in trusting Zelena to help them infiltrate the castle to retrieve the main part of Excalibur for the reforging, and Zelena betrays them to Arthur, who then has Zelena do what Arthur did to Nimue and tethers Arthur to Excalibur. And then we’re back in Storybrooke, where Emma, watched and celebrated by visages of Nimue, Humple, and all the Dark Ones before her, reforges Excalibur. She seems to hesitate, but ultimately takes it in her dark little hand.
I’d like to believe Regina and the gang were banging on the door or something to stop her. Unless there’s some other arbitrary requirement before Emma can use Excalibur to snuff out the light forever.
After the dullery of recent Belle, David, and Snow plus David episodes, it was refreshing to get the OUaT crew back on track.
And Merlin and Nimue were more compelling as a couple than Arthur and Guinevere. Or Lancelot and Guinevere.
Guinevere’s just a bit of a bore, really.
Why I hate this episode:
Merlin plays Literal Genie regarding his relationship with Nimue and the identity of the first Dark One. Emma calls him out on this, but he is resolute that, because Nimue’s personality changed, that his lady love and his dark nemesis aren’t the same person. Shut up.
Regina and the B-Team really deserve every consequence of trusting Zelena. It’s laughable at this point.
I can’t remember why Arthur is evil. He has a whinge at Merlin about how he’s frustrated by Merlin’s vague prophecies. And that he is yet to achieve the glory those prophecies promised. Is that it? Lame.
I kind of admire Once Upon a Time’s audacity in explaining away Merlin’s acquisition of magic powers as “he found a cup of water in the desert that liked him.” It’s efficient. But still a total cop out. I’m not up to speed with my Arthurian lore, so if that’s in there, then shame on me, I guess.
Merlin’s little attempt at mortality so he could live one lifetime with Nimue is straight out of the Arwen playbook, and I’m sure she wasn’t the first, either. OUaT’s version has some extra sauce, though, as Merlin denies Nimue the chance of living immortally alongside him because immortality, regardless of your companion, is apparently not worth living. Bitch, didn’t you watch Twilight? Immortality alongside the one you love is the ideal. Duh.
The Masked Man attacks Merlin and Nimue just after the Holy Grail has been morphed into Excalibur. He takes hold of Excalibur and goes after Merlin, who whines that it’s not meant to be a weapon. Masked Man rightly points out that he shouldn’t have made it a sword, then. Yeah. Smooth move, Merlin.
Arthur concocts some super acid potion thing to use against Regina and the B-Team, but we don’t get to see him use it on anyone. Boo.
How was Arthur able to remove Zelena’s anti-magic bracelet?
Oh, and after Zelena’s betrayal, Regina gleefully readies a fireball to throw at her, but Robin stops her because of the baby Zelena’s carrying. Yeah, the baby she raped out of you, Robin.
But it’s not all bad:
Zelena is back to her dastardly ways. It’s obvious, but it’s fun. Like Once Upon a Time itself on its good days.
Merlin’s tragic love with Nimue was predictable as hell, but the actors bring a requisite amount of sympathy to the roles (something else Arthur and Guinevere had problems with). Merlin’s dedication to pacifism is a nice change of pace in a world where heroes usually get a free pass to do questionable things because it’s right for a situation.
Nimue is a treacherous little snake. Watching her sneak a sip of water from the Holy Grail reminded me of sculling water bottles filled with goon while out clubbing.
Merlin didn’t even seek to destroy Nimue. He merely tethered her to the tip of Excalibur in an attempt to at least control her. He mentions how she eventually got hold of the dagger, and thus started off a string of Dark Ones to befoul the land. Girl power!
Much like Nimue, Emma gets shit done in Storybrooke. Excalibur is back in one piece, and despite a moment of pause, Emma snatches it up. Would it be too much to ask that she does something irreversible with it before she is obligatorily defeated/comes to her senses? We need a status quo change. Badly.
Zelena feigns pregnancy problems to trick Snow into letting her guard down so she can knock a bitch out. I condone it.
Oh, and Regina may be a gullible fool as the story requires it, but she still looks great doing it.