“Once Upon a Time” fans are closer than ever to finding out how Emma (Jennifer Morrison) turned dark and what happened with Merlin (Elliot Knight). Although the wizard was finally freed in episode 5 of the ABC series, fans still don’t know what happened between Camelot and the return to Storybrooke. The story continues in episode 6, titled “The Bear and the Bow.”
In Camelot Six Weeks Ago
Merlin, Hook (Colin O’Donoghue), David (Josh Dallas) and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) break into King Arthur’s (Liam Garrigan) castle to free Lancelot (Sinqua Walls) from the dungeons. However, when they get there, they find Lancelot is not alone -- Merida (Amy Manson) is locked in the cell next to him!
Although the bars are bound with a magic that Merlin has never before encountered, Belle is able to help him with a spell book she has. Merlin uses it to free Lancelot and Merida, but Merida’s not ready to leave the castle with them. Arthur confiscated the whisp she caught and she needs to use it to rescue her brothers. Merlin warns her going back for the whisp will not end well and promises they’ll help her find another way to rescue her family.
Merida’s not the one to take a chance on a wizard with whom she is unfamiliar. She follows the group into the woods where she explains to Belle she followed the whisp to the Ivory Sea. She tried to board a boat, but the vessel belonged to Arthur.
Knowing Belle is skilled with magic, Merida knocks Belle out when the others aren’t looking and takes her to the Shores of DunBroche. Needless to say, Belle is not happy about being knocked out. However, when Merida explains the clans want her to marry one of them or relinquish the throne, Belle agrees to help her.
The two break into a witch’s cottage to use her cauldron to find Merida’s brothers. The cauldron works, but Merida doesn’t like what she sees. It shows the clans have grown tired of waiting for Merida and are ready to take the crown and punish her for her treachery by executing her three brothers. Merida thinks the only way to save her brothers is to change fate -- and Belle is just the person who could do that.
Merida gives Belle a spell that could change her fate. The catch is the spell will turn Merida into a bear. Merida argues it will give her enough strength to rescue her brothers. Belle begs her to reconsider and encourages her to prove her strength to the clans through her bow. But Merida’s says she’s wrong. She explains her father is dead because one of her arrows failed to miss a knight that was headed towards him. Belle understands her situation and hands over the potion.
With the potion in her hand, Merida gathers the courage to confront the clans. They don’t see her as a threat though and she pounds the potion to fight them. However, the potion doesn’t work. Belle confesses she switched it with water because the people will never follow her after defeating them with magic. She needs to beat them as a queen.
Since Merida has no plans to relinquish the throne, she decides to fight. Three leaders of the clans shoot their arrows at her brothers. Desperate to save them, Merida uses her own bow. The arrow slices through each of the arrows meant for her brothers, saving them from execution.
Despite the other leaders breaking out their swords, others kneel to their queen. They untie her brothers, and Merida parts ways with Belle after thanking her for her help.
Back at Granny’s in the woods, Emma meets up with Merlin. Seeing him with an Apollo chocolate bar triggers a memory from her childhood. She remembers that Merlin was the usher that visited her at the movie theater.
“Do you remember what I said?” he asks her.
Merlin told her that one day she would have the opportunity remove Excalibur from the stone. Although Arthur has it right now, he tells her it will return to the stone eventually, and she must leave it alone.
“The fate of everyone you love rests upon it,” he warns her.
Storybrooke Present Day
Meanwhile in Storybrooke, Regina (Lana Parrilla) has finally figured out how to use the magic mushroom to contact Merlin. Unfortunately the only way the spell will work is if the person using it is connected to Merlin. The group of heroes figures out that the only person in town connected to Merlin is Arthur -- but they don’t know that Arthur is actually evil. Belle tries to get them to shift their focus to Gold (Robert Carlyle), but they disagree. Instead the group parts ways. Belle goes after Gold while the others enlist the help of Arthur.
Arthur agrees to help and he cons them into leaving the room to do the spell. Once they exit, he tosses the mushroom into the fire and tells them that the spell didn’t work.
Elsewhere, Gold manages to untie the rope binding him by breaking Belle’s teacup. He escapes through the woods to the library and reunites with Belle. However, the two aren’t safe. Emma uses Merida’s heart to command her to put an arrow through his one true love's heart.
Gold knows they have magic at the pawnshop that can help them, but Gold is scared to move the 100 feet from the library. With the help of Belle they make it over. Merida is close behind though. She warns Gold Belle’s fate rests in his hands. But Belle’s not one to be a damsel in distress. She pulls the rug out from Merida, knocking her unconscious and giving them the opportunity to escape.
As Merida does Emma’s dirty work, the Dark Swan visits Zelena (Rebecca Mader), who is reading “What To Expect When You’re Expecting.” The mom-to-be is craving onion rings, but the nurses are on strict orders from Regina to only feed her organically grown produce. To entice Zelena to assist her, Emma transports Zelena back to her house with a bag of onion rings.
“What kind of trouble do you want to get into?” Zelena asks, willing to listen.
Emma shows her the Apprentice’s wand and confesses Zelena is the only one who has wielded Merlin’s magic and lived to tell about it. She wants to make a deal that will involve Zelena assisting her in exchange for her freedom and protection.
It sounds like it would be a tempting deal for the witch but she shocks Emma by revealing she’s trying to turn over a new leaf. She doesn’t want her baby to be surrounded by a bad influence like Emma. The Dark Swan isn’t worried though.
“You will need an ally,” she warns Zelena before returning her to her cell. “You’ll be back to take my deal.”
Things aren’t going as Emma planned. Zelena doesn’t seem willing to play along, and Gold may have found a way to beat the Dark One. He gets Belle in the car with magic from the shop and drives toward the Storybrooke border. The magic will block the spell that Emma put on the border; however, Belle doesn’t even see leaving as an option. She demands that Gold pull over and exits the car. Gold begs her to get back in as it’s the only way he can protect her. Belle doesn’t see it that way. She continues to walk down the road as Gold drives off.
Gold may have been right though. Belle walks into Merida, who is holding the fate potion from Camelot. Emma is forcing her to drink it and this time it works. The potion turns her into a large bear that chases after Belle. The situation looks grim for Belle, but Gold arrives just in time to save her. The bear smacks Gold to the floor; however, Gold has magic on his side. He tosses the magic he was going to use to cross the border into the mouth of the bear and it turns back into Merida. Gold manages to save Belle, but Gold insists that she saved him.
The duo brings Merida to Emma, who confesses Gold bested her fair and square. But before Gold attempts to pull the sword from the stone, he makes a deal with Emma -- she needs to return Merida’s heart. Emma accepts the deal -- although she insists she was done with Merida’s heart anyway -- and Gold prepares to pull Excalibur from the stone. Before he attempts the potentially deadly deed he apologizes to Belle for not being the brave man she needs. She tells him that it’s not too late and he successfully pulls Excalibur from the stone.
As promised, Gold throws it on the ground for Emma. That doesn’t mean she beat Gold, though. He warns her she’s made a “terrible mistake” by turning him into a hero. Emma argues the town is full of heroes who haven’t been able to stop her; however, Gold warns her none of them is he.
Episode 6 of “Once Upon a Time” Season 5 concludes with David, Regina and the others figuring out that Arthur sabotaged the spell. They discover that they have one other person who could help them though -- Henry (Jared S. Gilmore)!
The spell works because Henry is the “Author.” However, the group is disappointed to find the spell doesn’t let them talk directly to the real Merlin. Instead they reach a message he left. The message says someone named Nimue is the only way they can destroy the Dark One. But the Dark One finds him before he can finish explaining what they need to do.