We finally learn why Emma embraced the darkness and stole the Heroes’ memories! Get a sneak peek of the two-hour Once Upon a Time (episodes “Birth” and “The Bear King”), airing at 8:00pm ET|PT on ABC.
In last week’s Once Upon a Time we the truth about Merlin’s connection to the Dark One and the origins of Excalibur/the dagger were revealed.
“Nimue” began several thousand years ago with Merlin and a fellow soldier were fleeing an attack. They were lost in the desert and dying of thirst. Miraculously, they came across a chalice filled with water. When the one soldier went to drink, he was cursed and burst into a cloud of dust. Merlin decided he would either die from thirst or from the chalice’s curse, so he went ahead and tried to drink. Unlike his friend, Merlin asked for permission from the gods, and it was granted. Merlin drank and was gifted enormous magic…enough to turn that desert into a lush forest.
Many years later (200 years before the present), Merlin and his Young Apprentice were in a village helping to heal those in need. Merlin was approached by a refugee named Nimue, who was fleeing a warlord named Vortigan. He destroyed her village and killed everyone, and now she wanted revenge. Nimue planned to replant seeds from the Middlemist flower that was native to her village so the flowers would live on, despite Vortigan’s attempts. Merlin encouraged Nimue to plant the flowers there and settle down in his village.
Over time, Merlin and Nimue fell in love, so much so, that he confessed the truth about his magic. That chalice he drank from was the Holy Grail, which gave him magic and eternal life. But now that Merlin was in love, he wanted to settle down, marry Nimue, and grow old with her. Interestingly, Nimue was more interested in drinking from the Holy Grail herself so they could both live forever together. However, Merlin, knowing the cost of immortality, wanted to savor the special moments of mortal life. Instead they would reforge the Holy Grail into a sword and use it to cut away Merlin’s magic.
As Merlin and Nimue made their journey, they passed through her old village and Nimue became angry again; she wanted vengeance. They quickly realized that Vortigan was also questing for the Grail and was hot on their heels. Merlin and Nimue found Prometheus’ fire and used it to melt the Holy Grail into the beautiful Excalibur (COOLEST SCENE EVER). Vortigan came upon them and killed Nimue and took Excalibur. However (SURPRISE!), Nimue wasn’t dead! She had drank from the Holy Grail when Merlin wasn’t looking and now had magic and immortality too. Nimue snatched Vortigan’s heart from his chest and crushed it, despite Merlin’s appeals. Nimue had used her magic to kill, which solidified her as the first Dark One. She took Excalibur and broke it so Merlin couldn’t use it to cut away their magic. He was devastated, but went about trying to mitigate the new evil. He placed Excalibur in the stone, then created the dagger and tether Nimue’s spirit to it so he could control her. However, we know she got the dagger away from Merlin and turned him into a tree. The rest is history…
In Camelot, Merlin and the Heroes set about reforging Excalibur and the dagger. While the Heroes would sneak into the palace and take Excalibur from Arthur, Merlin and Emma would obtain the magical means to unite them—a spark from Prometheus’ fire. However, this meant Merlin and Emma would have to confront the original Dark One, who killed the woman he loved. There were two possible outcomes: either Emma would resist the darkness and they succeed in their quest or Merlin would die at the hands of the first Dark One (via Emma).
When they arrived at the site of Prometheus’ fire, Merlin revealed that the first Dark One had put the first out, but kept one ember, which is what they needed. Using the dagger, Emma reached all the way back to the origin of dark magic and called forth the original Dark One, NIMUE. All Dark Ones were united in Emma and they needed to kill their biggest threat, Merlin. But Emma was able to resist: (“I’m not nothing! I was never nothing! The power you have I don’t need!” *SHIVERS*). Emma took the Promethean ember and she and Merlin returned to Camelot.
Back with the Heroes, Zelena suggested they sneak into Camelot through an abandoned tunnel that led straight to the castle courtyard. Snow stayed outside with Zelena, while Regina, Robin, Charming, and Killian went to get Excalibur. However, things quickly went awry: once they found Arthur in the throne room, we realized Zelena had been working with Arthur the whole time. He restored Zelena’s magic and, in exchange, she tethered Merlin to the broken Excalibur. Arthur called Merlin and compelled him to make the Heroes leave.
And then in present-day Storybrooke, Nimue and all the Dark Ones watched as Emma successfully reunited Excalibur and the dagger and took the power.
Tonight we’ll be treated to TWO hours of Once Upon a Time goodness in two separate (but related) episodes! Check out the official synopses (via ABC) below:
THE HEROES’ CAMELOT QUEST CULMINATES WITH AN IMPOSSIBLE DECISION EMMA MUST MAKE WITH CONSEQUENCES SHE MAY NEVER BE ABLE TO COME BACK FROM, AND IN DUNBROCH, MERIDA TEAMS UP WITH MULAN AND RUBY ON A VERY PERSONAL MISSION—
In the first hour–”Birth” (written by David H. Goodman and Jerome Schwartz and directed by Eagle Egilsson)–tensions in Camelot come to a head when Merlin, now under Arthur’s control, delivers an ultimatum to Emma: hand over the Dark One dagger and the Promethean spark or he will kill her entire family. Refusing to give in, Emma and our heroes face off against Arthur, Merlin and Zelena in an epic battle of magic and will. Just when the end is in sight, Emma is forced to make a gut-wrenching choice that no one saw coming. Back in Storybrooke, Zelena’s pregnancy mysteriously accelerates and Hook goes to new and desperate lengths to get answers from the Dark Swan.
In the second hour–”The Bear King” (written by Andrew Chambliss and directed by Geofrey Hildrew)–Zelena and Arthur journey to DunBroch on a mission to retrieve an enchanted relic that will provide the advantage they need to vanquish Emma and our heroes. Their path will cross with Merida’s, who is on a journey of her own to pay a debt that her father, King Fergus, owed to the Witch when he died. Merida enlists the help of two friends, Mulan and Ruby, but, in order to satisfy the Witch and save DunBroch, she first must discover the identity of the knight who killed her father. In flashbacks, Merida learns about bravery and honor as she trains for combat and rides alongside Fergus into the infamous battle that claims his life.
This upcoming special is going to completely change the game, and several questions we’ve had all season long will likely be answered. I CANNOT WAIT.
Thanks to ABC, we have two sneak peeks to share, one from each episode. In the first clip, Killian finds himself cornered by Arthur, but Emma (with the now whole Excalibur) comes to his rescue. In the second video, we meet King Fergus in a flashback, as he and Merida are about to lead the clans into battle:
— Once Upon A Time (@OnceABC) November 13, 2015
*SCREAMING* There’s so much to say!
Arthur chastising Killian for bringing a hook to a sword fight; Emma wielding Excalibur like a badass and knocking Arthur out; Emma yelling that she’s doing all this for Killian… what does that mean?!
I also love that King Fergus knows his daughter so well that he’d hire fellow female warrior Mulan to be her tutor. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Merida’s relationship with her parents, as well as the development of her friendship with Mulan.
What are you most excited to see tonight?
Take a look at 20+ images from “Birth” and “The Bear King” (below) that show us we can expect more CaptainSwan moments in the present and Emma trying to save her family from the Arthur/Zelena duo back in Camelot.
Once Upon a Time starts at 8:00pm ET|PT on ABC and I’ll be live tweeting the whole thing (@WeSoNerdy), so tune in and come watch with us!