ByJordan Conner, writer at

In Camelot, many years ago, Merlin existed beautifully. I thought about spending this entire review talking about my newfound crush on a character that’s had at most 12 lines since his introduction, but I’ll spare you. You’re welcome.

Merlin really does exist beautifully, though, as he faces off against a masked Dark One who Merlin claims destroyed the only woman he ever loved. When given the opportunity to strike the Dark One down with the dagger, he can’t bring himself to do it and collapses in grief. The masked Dark One gathers one of Merlin’s tears and uses it to turn Merlin into a tree.

All of this is being viewed by Emma in Camelot of 6 weeks ago. She uses a dreamcatcher to look into the memories of tree-Merlin, who is apparently still an active conscious and not just pretty greenery.

Regina is reluctantly leading Snow and Charming, who are fawning over their new BFF Arthur, to where she hid the dagger. Snowing try to convince her that giving the dagger to Arthur is Emma’s best chance at being free from the darkness. Before they can get their hands on it, Emma shows up and freezes them. Regina is upset that Emma is using dark magic but is totally cool with it after Emma tells her that her parents are under a spell and Arthur is a conniving back-stabber.

Emma shows Regina one of her creations from her extensive collection of state of the art dreamcatchers. She also explains that she used it to watch Merlin get turned into a tree. The two realize that the way to free Merlin is to use the same spell that got him in his predicament in the first place. Tears of lost love. Sounds super dramatic.

Henry is experiencing the joys of first love as he hangs with Violet in the stables. They bond over the fact that they have both had parents that died. Already getting to deep topics at fourteen. When Violet leaves, Henry pretends to be a knight and tries to wield a sword. He misjudges it’s heaviness and ends up breaking part of the barn. Violet’s father, Sir Morgan, walks in and rudely tells Henry that he will never be good enough for his daughter considering he is merely a writer from another realm. Violet apparently needs a knight. Violet also gets no say in her own life. Camelot needs a feminist movement, pronto.

Sir Morgan’s unkind words motivate Henry to practice his knight skills out in the forest. Emma and Regina find him attempting to learn the ways of Camelot. Henry believes that he has to become something he is inherently not in order to gain favor with Violet (but really her father).

His mothers tell him that changing who you are so someone likes you never works. Emma says that is why she liked Henry’s father, Neal. He was always himself. Except, he was never upfront with her about who he was considering he was a from an entirely different realm altogether? And he still didn’t tell her after he knew that she was from that same realm? So, he wasnt really himself with her? Really Emma, Neal isn’t your best example.

Anyway, Henry sets up a cute date for Violet in Granny’s diner. He plays her the first song they ever listened to together and heats up some lasagna that somehow made it through the portal jump. Henry tries to define the relationship but Violet tenses up and immediately friend-zones him. Poor Henry.

Emma uses the dreamcatcher on Regina and recalls Regina’s memories of her first love, Daniel. Regina re-watches her mother, Cora, rip Daniel’s heart out because Cora believed that was what was best for her daughter. Regina cries as she watches and Emma bottles it up for their spell.

Emma and Regina make the potion to free Merlin but when they add Regina’s tear for her lost love, it doesn’t work. Turns out, Regina has healed and moved on enough that the emotion was not powerful enough for what they need. Conveniently, Henry walks up after his terrible date with Violet. He’s very upset and basically decides that his life is over because Violet just wants to be friends. Teenagers.

Regina tells him that he may not be a knight or hero to the people of Camelot but he can be a hero to them. They gather his tears. I guess we’ll call what he felt for Violet love. It seems like a stretch but I’m too anxious to get Merlin back to care.

Arthur decides to break up the potion party and lashes out at Regina for lying and bringing the Dark One to Camelot. Emma couldnt care less and quickly finishes the potion with Henry’s tears. She proceeds to use A LOT of dark magic as she frees Merlin from his tree prison. Oh hey, boo.

Arthur flips out and yells at Merlin for sending him on an impossible quest and giving him a shoddy prophecy. He tries to pull Excalibur on Merlin, but Merlin gets sassy and *tisk tisks* Arthur for having the audacity to think that a broken sword could harm the great wizard.

Merlin releases Snow and Charming from their spell and Charming is instantly besotted with the beautiful wizard. Really, he just tells him that he thought Merlin would be older but I know he probably meant was, “OH SNAP, I DIDNT KNOW YOU WOULD BE THIS BEAUTIFUL.” I agree, Charming. Some day I'll stop talking about how attractive I find Merlin. But that is not this day!

Now that Merlin is free, the Storybrooke gang asks him to free Emma from the Dark One’s curse. He acknowledges that he can do it, but asks Emma if it is what she wants. He wants to be sure that her heart is truly ready to be free. He says that it is as much her decision as it is his. Good guy, Merlin. This proposition puts Emma in a pickle, however, because clearly Emma is beginning to embrace her new darkside. Who knows what she will do?

Well, we know what she will do. Embrace the dark side! Just in time for the new Star Wars movie.

In present day Storybrooke, Dark Emma is still holding Gold prisoner. She is certain that he is her ticket to pulling Excalibur from the stone and makes Merida take him out to the woods to begin his hero training. I’m going to need a Mulan-inspired “I’ll make a man out of you” montage at some point.

Gold is rather pathetic during “training” and it angers Merida. She knows that he won’t fight back unless he is pushed. She manages to break into both Regina’s office and Gold’s shop, because she is awesome, and takes Belle’s teacup. Gold is frazzled when he sees the teacup and implores that she not drop the item that has become a symbol of he and Belle’s love.

Merida’s constant taunting spurs Gold to fight back. She notes that he is thinking of Belle instead of himself and this is what will make him a true hero. The qualifications of true hero seem pretty thin these days.

The Storybrooke gang is huddled in the police station trying to figure out what happened to King Arthur’s squire. Why do they never think to look at the security tapes? WHY? Instead they allow Arthur to continue his manipulation and decide that they need to vet out the person who helped the squire “escape.”

Apparently the way to do this is to throw a party. Henry’s idea. He really just wants to invite his little lady love so he can spend time with her. He obviously does not remember being friend zoned back in Camelot. Violet is in too much distress to attend a party though. Her horse, Nicodemus, is missing! Henry vows to find him and prove his ability to be her knight in shining armor.

Henry goes to Dark Emma for help because he still believes that his mother is in there somewhere. Dark Emma is offended because of course she is still the same just slightly improved. Also, she’s a little crazy now but hey, it happens to the best of us. They follow a trail of Nicodemus’ favorite treat, pumpkin, and end up finding him at Peter Peter’s pumpkin patch. Ha. Clever.

Regina, Robin, Hook and Belle decide to break into Dark Emma’s house while she’s off with Henry. Dark Emma placed a protective spell on the house, however, and none of them can get past it. Emma does not like visitors. Except for Henry. They use Henry’s scarf to open the door because apparently the doorknob responds to clothing items now and not just human touch. Dark Emma was pretty lazy with that spell.

They end up in her cave and find Excalibur in it’s stone. So, the door to her secret lair isn’t protected? Or she is willing to also let Henry into her secret cave? C’mon, Dark Emma. You’re doing the least with this new darkness.

Belle recognizes that the dagger has the same pattern as Excalibur. Hook goes to grab it but Regina stops him because it could be boobytrapped. He didn’t realize she cared. Ha.

I kind of wanted Hook to pull the sword from the stone while they all just stand there shocked that he is worthy enough to do that.

The group is alerted, by Henry, that Emma is on her way back so they skedaddle on out of her house. But not before they find a dreamcatcher laying out on a table. It’s like Dark Emma is TRYING to get them to figure out all of this mess. They take the dreamcatcher because nobody cares about the law anymore in this town. Just steal whatever. From the Dark One. Im sure this will end well.

The town is holding a small carnival to weed out the person responsible for the squires disappearance. I think. Nobody seems to care about that plot line anymore. Hook and crew instead question Arthur about Excalibur and he comes clean about knowing of the two pieces. Arthur is playing the long con here. Dark Emma needs to take notes.

Henry rides into the carnival on Nicodemus and earns a kiss on the cheek from Violet. He also earns a pat on the back from Violet’s father. Storybrooke Sir Morgan is way nicer than Camelot Sir Morgan.

Regina and Robin take a look into the memories captured in this particular dreamcatcher stolen from Dark Emma’s home. They belong to Violet and they show Emma taking her heart while back in Camelot. She tells Violet that it’s only for a sort while and it’s only so Violet will break Henry’s heart. So, Emma manipulated Violet into friend-zoning Henry which led to him crying and Emma obtaining the tear of lost love. This is how you do evil, Emma!

Henry, unfortunately sees all of this and is super mad at Dark Emma. Dark Emma saunters up to Regina’s house and asks to see Henry but Regina refuses. Henry refuses too. Dark Emma is alienating everyone she loves and Regina tells her that there is nothing she can’t come back from if she just comes clean to all of them. Dark Emma refuses but insists that she is doing all of this for a reason. The reason doesn’t seem like it can be too terrible but only time will tell.


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