Once Upon A Time: “Birth” (S5Ep08) and “The Bear King” (S5Ep09)

In a rare accomplishment for Once Upon A Time, I liked its two hour event. Both of the episodes were good and only had a bit of all the things I hate about this show. But, this wasn’t really an OUAT two hour event. These episodes could not have been more different and after the ending of “Birth” I was really expecting another hour of dealing with the reveal at the end of it. But instead it was followed by the Merida and Mulan Adventure Hour, which I loved by the way. I’m just confused why these episodes were paired together.

Birth 

This episode starts with Emma (Jennifer Morrison) bringing the Prometheus flame, which she needs to bind the Dark One dagger and Excalibur, so she can snuff out the darkness and leave only light magic, to Granny’s in Camelot, three weeks ago. This episode actually had a timeline! Emma can’t get the flame to work. The words of encouragement from Henry (Jared Gilmore) and Granny (Beverly Elliot) fall flat, Merlin (Elliot King) freezes them and walks in tell her that he is under Arthur’s (Liam Garrigan) control and he is going to murder her family, which includes Regina (Lana Parrilla, yay!) and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue, ugh).

Emma is quickly able to save them after she ties up Zelena (Rebecca Mader), who is working with Arthur. Hook is able to get free and punch him in the face and he runs away like he isn’t the greatest king in all of British literature.

Back in Storybrooke, all the useless men are chasing Arthur through the woods because they know he lied about the mushroom. They fumble around and suck, until Dark Emma comes and saves them. Hook is kinda a jerk about Emma saving him and then flip flops saying he still loves Emma and doesn’t think she is a monster, despite the fact he said exactly that about three episodes ago. Regina, on the other hand, has been accepting and understanding since the beginning. Emma says she did everything and took everyone’s memories for Hook.

He holds onto the bit of info in the next scene, despite Regina saying Emma has to be manipulating him.

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Hook goes out to track her down so he can ask her about her intentions. He literally tries to commit suicide to get her attention. Again with the self-harm and suicide for attention thing, OUAT? WTF? Anyway, Emma says she can’t tell him everything because her plan is almost complete.

Back in Camelot, Emma is told by Hallucination-Rumple (Robert Carlyle) that the flame isn’t working for her because she isn’t ready to give up the darkness. Henry tells her that Hook what planning to buy her new house in Storybrooke with her when they get back. This culminates into the greatest scene of the episode. Emma is outside Granny’s trying to get the flame to light and Regina finds her. She tells her she understands being drawn to darkness. Regina takes the dagger and demands Emma tell her why she is so afraid to give it up. Emma says she will not be able to protect everyone without it. Regina tells Emma she can lie to everyone else but not to her, which Emma said to her last season.

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But of course, Princess Cockblock, idiot man and the beard come out and stop Regina. Emma runs off. Hook goes to find her. Emma says she isn’t mad at Regina and she made her realize she is afraid of her possible future with Hook and giving up her darkness means it will start. That lights the flame.

Everyone goes into Granny’s and Emma tries to bind the dagger and the sword but halfway through she stops when Hook starts bleeding from the neck. She healed at cut he got, from Excalibur, during the earlier fight. I’m not really sure why but the wound can’t be healed with magic and binding the blades will kill him. Hook tells Emma to still do it to save herself from the Darkness and seriously Regina and the Idiot Duo agree. But, Emma decides a bit too late (and after having a super romantic scene with Regina a lot like in the season four finale) that she wants to have a future with Hook. So, she poofs herself, Hook and the sword out of the diner to tie him to the sword, like how she is tied to the dagger. Merlin says it will make it impossible to get ride of the darkness forever, through it will save his life.

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We only see up until the neck bleeding in the Camelot flashback. Back in Storybrooke, Emma sped up Zelena’s pregnancy to get the Rape Baby out of the way so she could tie the darkness to Zelena and then kill her. She also kidnapped Hook. They decide to work together to stop Emma because Hook thinks she has gone way, way to far for considering killing a psychopathic, murder, rapist. Emma’s parents voice them same concern to Regina as they go to Emma house to stop her. Regina says this is why Emma gave her the dagger because she is the only one willing to cross a line to save her.

Emma freezes them outside and then goes inside to get trapped by some squid ink Hook found. Zelena is still hanging around and shows Hook, via a dream catcher, that he is really dead and Emma made him the dark one too. She reveals that his name is also on the dagger/sword. Hook is super mad and vengeful about this. And J-MO is killed it with facial expressions this week.

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Then that episodes ends and we get an episode of what felt like an entirely different show.

The Bear King 

So over in the Merida and Mulan Adventure Hour, Merida is about to be crowned queen of the united clans when the Witch from Brave comes in to tell her her father owes her a shit load of money for her making a magical helm for him. She is going to make everyone into a bear unless she finds the helm within 24 hours. Merida tells her mother, who looks about 10 years older than her, that he father was wearing the helm during the war and the solider who killed him took it. She is going to find him and take it back.

Flashback to Merida’s kingdom two year ago, she and her father are walking through the troops preparing to fight off the invades from the south. Fergis tells Merida she needs to learn about war before she follows him in. He hired a solider to train her. She is annoyed and says she doesn’t need a man to babysit her but then quiet the opposite defeats her and tells her she is her teacher.

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Mulan (Jamie Chung) and this episode’s other throwback cameo are the reasons I wasn’t even annoyed that Emma and Regina were both not in this episode. So, Mulan starts training Merida and teaching her about honor.

In present day Merdia’s kingdom, Mulan is kicking the shit out of a group of thugs and taking their money because she is working as a bounty hunter it seems. Merida finds her because she needs her help to find the man who killed her father. Mulan is mean and much snarkier than usual. Merida also notices and asks what happened to her. Mulan says she will help, after Merida pays her, but she can’t ask anymore questions. I love that this change in Mulan was included. This was two years ago, so shortly after “Quite a Common Fairy” when Mulan didn’t get a chance to confess her love to Aurora and then disappeared from the show.

Because this episode had to be tied to OUAT with more than a current bit character and two we haven’t since season three, Arthur knows about the magically helm, which makes men follow anyone into battle, and tries to go after it with Zelena. They go to the witch’s cabin and torture out of her that Merida is looking for it. There is also a rather large wolf there that Zelena knocks out with sleeping powder.

Merida and Mulan make it to the field where he father was killed. They find one of Merida’s arrows with the killer cloak still on it. But, Arthur and Zelena find them. They steal Merida’s bow, which used to be her fathers and say they will just use it for a tracking spell and poof away. Merida is pissed that Mulan didn’t want to fight them with her and that she seems like she doesn’t care about her father anymore. She tells her she didn’t used to be so heartless and that she is not being very honorable. Merida goes home defeated, thinking she can’t lead the clans because her father only did because of magic.

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Mulan is too honorable to give up through and goes to the witches cabin to try to find another way. Instead she finds that wolf. Mulan can tell it is really a person and uses magic to make her human and hey Ruby is back!

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She knows who Mulan is because of Emma and Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) telling her and she knows Aurora and Phillip, who are doing well and just had a baby. That hits a nerve for Mulan and Ruby notices. To distract from her heartbreak, Mulan asks the show to explain what the hell Ruby is doing in Merida’s kingdom/Camelot/The Enchanted Forest two years ago.

And it actually does. During the half season party at Granny’s at the end of season three, Ruby tells Snow back by the restrooms that she isn’t feeling like she fits in because she is the only wolf there. She and Tiny were able to save some of the magic beans and she wants to use one to go back. Snow tells her she supports her and wishes her luck. For a show with no continuity that was a pretty good way to retroactive write out a character two seasons later.

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Ruby and Mulan realize they can track down the man who killed Fergis because the show’s greatest tracker is back. They go pick up Merida and head out. Zelena and Arthur and Merida, Mulan and Ruby all met up at the lake by the battlefield. Zelena and Arthur tracked the helm to there and the cloak was Arthur’s. He invaded Merida’s kingdom because he needed the helm to force his men to follow him. It was in the lake because Fergis decides not to use it.

Ruby and Mulan knock out Zelena, with a sleeping curse, and Merida is able to take the helm. Zelena and Arthur poof back to Camelot and Merida realizes she can lead her people because he father never used magic. After she is crowned, she is saying goodbye to Mulan and Ruby and asks Mulan what happened. Mulan tells her she was trying to get over a broken heart, which was caused her by waiting to long to confess her love. And again, the show avoided using pronouns. I really thought Mulan was going to say “she” at the end of her dialogue but nope.

Ruby asks her if she wants to travel with her to try to find other werewolves. She might not have good dating advice or be good at dating, what are we trying to say here, OUAT? But, Ruby still thinks it would be better if Mulan wasn’t alone. That was kinda cute OUAT, but that better not fucking be the LGBT story line you promised us this season.

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And to connect this back to the actual story line of OUAT, Merida promises to make Arthur pay for killing her father.

So, overall both these episodes were pretty good. The first was actually interesting. It had more Hook than I like but it was still interesting and J-Mo and Lana were great. The second was slightly messy and not as queer as I hoped it would be but still enjoyable and fun. I hope Mulan and Ruby return at some point.

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