Once Upon A Time Lets Merida Grin And Bear It
As Emma's plan inches forward, Merida and Belle's fates intertwine in Storybrooke and Camelot.
Emma and Regina got Merlin out of the tree, Lancelot got thrown in the dungeon, and an enslaved Merida tried to teach Gold how to become a hero/fight/be brave/whatever.
...Like A Wizard Needs A Bicycle
In Camelot, Hook and David beat up some prison guards while Merlin uses magic on the rest, and they free Lancelot and Merida.Not bad for a bloke who spent the last thousand years in a tree.Just like riding a bike.How do you know what a bike is?Do you really think all my prophecies came true because of luck?
Who called the meeting? Regina.
What's it about? She wants to use the Crimson Crown mushroom to summon Merlin in Storybrooke.
How'd it go? Mixed. Merlin will only appear to someone who's been chosen to him, which means Arthur, since that's whom he's delivered prophecies to before. How Regina knows any of this is unclear. Belle wants to rescue Rumple and get his help instead, but the others aren't so keen on enlisting the help of even a former Dark One, so she sets out on her own to find him.
Plot Lightning Round
I Wanna See You Be Brave
Left alone but bound at Merida's camp, Rumple gets a hold of the chipped cup, kisses it, says "Forgive me, Belle," then smashes the cup and uses a shard to cut his ropes. Finding him gone, Emma orders Merida to kill Belle to motivate him. To do what is still not exactly clear. (Yes, yes to become a hero, but that's really very vague.)
As they walk back from the prison in Camelot, Merida gets Belle alone and knocks her out. Belle wakes the next morning in a rowboat; having seen her use magic during the jailbreak, Merida's kidnapped her to make help her find her brothers. She takes her to a witch's cottage (the witch's cottage, if you've seen Brave), where they use a magic cauldron to find out where her brothers are. They see a vision of the three guys she didn't want to marry. "Now you understand why I want to rule on my own," says Merida. Belle says nothing, perhaps checking out the abs on the lead clansman, wondering what's under his kilt, and not understanding why at all. Unfortunately, he speaks, announcing to the crowd that if Merida doesn't come forward and give up her crown by day's end, they'll execute her brothers. Merida grabs a scroll and asks Belle to help her "change their fate."
Emma, finding Rumple gone, orders Merida to kill Belle -- or try to anyway, to get Rumple to heroize himself by saving her.
Gold arrives in the library via the elevator from the mines, fearful as ever. Belle is there looking over a map of the town to try to find him, and he breaks down, thanking her for not letting him let go when he was in his coma. He quickly figures out that Emma must have let him escape or she'd be there by now, and then takes a massive leap to say that she's coming after Belle to force him to act heroic. He tells Belle to run to the shop, but he won't follow because his leg hurts too much, and he's still ashamed of how he got that injury. (Rumple still has all his memories of being The Dark One, so why has his personality reverted to full simper?) Belle reminds him that he went AWOL so his son would have a father, and that he's a hero to her.
Who called the meeting? Emma.
What's it about? She teleports Zelena to her house and bribes her with pregnancy craving onion rings, which Regina has denied her. Since Zelena is the only one around who's wielded Merlin's magic and lived (when she used the Apprentice's wand to open the portal), Emma's going to need her. In return, she offers Zelena her freedom, and protection.
How'd it go? You know you've taken a turn somewhere when the actual Wicked Witch of the West thinks you've crossed a line. "I've got my own family problems, I don't need yours," Zelena tells Emma. Emma's confident that Zelena will come around, since she'll need an ally eventually. "I don't think so. You see, the difference between you and me is I don't mind being alone."
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Arrow vs. Rug
Belle and Rumple make it to the shop, shortly followed by Merida. She fires a bunch of arrows at them, but begs Rumple to stop her: "Be the hero we all need." He can't, and when Merida takes aim at Belle, Belle grabs the rug Merida's standing on and pulls it out from under her. Merida hits her head when she falls, getting knocked out, and giving Rumple and Belle enough time to grab something from the safe.
Giant Whiny Loser: Rumple.
Plot Lightning Round
These Are All Terrible Road Trips
Regina's got a potion started, waiting for Arthur to add the Crimson Crown. He's only too happy to help, of course, but suggests that he do it alone, since in Camelot Merlin only delivered his prophecies to him when he was alone. "This is too important to risk," David agrees, because David is an idiot. Once everyone leaves, Arthur throws the mushroom into the fire instead of the cauldron, then tells everyone the spell "fizzled out."
In wherever this flashback is supposed to take place (it can't be Scotland anymore if it's Enchanted Forest-adjacent, is it?), Belle and Merida arrive at the place where the brothers are being held. Belle refuses to hand over the potion unless Merida explains why she needs magic to save them, given that she seems awfully capable on her own. Merida tells how her father died in battle because she missed when she fired on an enemy who was attacking him. She blames herself, and the clans lost faith in her.
Rumple wants to leave Storybrooke with Belle, and the anti-transformation powder he took from the safe will allow them to do it without turning into trees. Belle doesn't want to run away and leave people they care about behind, so she threatens to open the door of the still-moving car to get Rumple to stop. He admits to her that he didn't cripple himself to get back to Bae, he did it because he was scared. Duh. He insists that leaving town is the only way he knows how to protect Belle. "Protect yourself, you mean," Belle says, as she walks back to town. Rumple drives off.
Merida meets Belle on the road and tells her she should have left town, because Emma's "making me drink this." She drinks a potion and turns into a very large bear. Whoops!
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Merida vs. Scots
Merida blusters into the camp and takes the potion, only to discover Belle's switched it with water. "You defeat the clans with magic, the people still won't follow you. You need to defeat them as a queen." She's right, but it's still a dick move. Belle says she's forcing Merida to face her fear. To be brave, you might say.
Merida gives a rousing (but short! I like her) speech about how great her father was and how she is the rightful queen. Her former suitors are unimpressed, and fire arrows at the brothers, who have been blindfolded and tied to stakes. Merida shoots all three arrows out of the air with a single shot before they reach them. "You saw what I can do with an arrow, do you really want to see what I can do with a sword?"
The clansmen bow to her and untie her brothers. Belle looks REAL smug.
Winner: Merida, bravery, girls, Belle's smug satisfaction.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Bear vs. People
In Storybrooke, the Merida who drank the actual potion is chasing Belle through the woods. She's about to strike when Rumple appears, and declares that he's not running this time. Bearida gets in a good swipe, knocking Rumple down. He manages to throw his bag of anti-transofrmation powder into the bear's open mouth, breaking the spell. "I knew you had it in you," Belle tells him. "You saved me. "Actually, I think you saved me," he replies. That's sweet of him, but we all thought Belle was going to be the hero in the end, right?
Wrap It Up
Belle and Merida say a heartfelt goodbye as Belle takes Merida's boat back to Camelot.
In the diner in Camelot, Merlin looks at some chocolate bars. "I've always wanted to try one of these," he tells Emma. "Last time I had the chance, it was in the hands of a little girl with sticky fingers." She remembers the usher from the movie theater. He reminds her of his warning not to mess with Excalibur.
Merida brings Rumple and Belle to Emma's cave in Storybrooke and reports that Rumple beat her. Rumple, acting more or less like his old self, and says he'll pull Excalibur (phrasing) in exchange for Merida's heart. Emma reluctantly agrees. Before Rumple tries, "just in case this doesn't work," he apologizes to Belle "for everything," and tells her that if he had it all to do over again "I would make sure I was the man you deserved right from the start." (Uh, you were The Dark One when you met her, but it's a nice thought.)
Rumple pulls the sword from the stone and doesn't turn to dust! He tells Emma that she's made a terrible mistake: turning him into a hero. "There are heroes all over this town and none of them have been able to stop me."
"That's because none of them are me." Heroes use better grammar, Rumple.
In Regina's lair, David finds the Crimson Crown in the ashes. "I guess he didn't realize magical toadstools don't burn." Regina suddenly remembers that The Author was also chosen by Merlin, and The Author is now Henry, who has thus far been mercifully absent from this entire episode. Henry places the mushroom in the cauldron, and Merlin appears. But it's a recording. "If you're receiving this message, then things are worse than I feared." He tells them that the only one who can help them now is Nimue, before he hears a noise and says The Dark One has found him and vanishes.
"Who's Nimue?" asks David. Three episodes ago you were reciting Arthur's whole story back to him; I barely know it but I've heard of Nimue. Get Googling, heroes!