"The Bear and the Bow" is the 94th episode of Once Upon a Time.
In flashbacks to Camelot, a chance encounter with our heroes gives Merida new hope in her quest to save her brothers from the usurping clans of DunBroch. Unwilling to leave anything up to fate, she brings Belle along on a dangerous journey that culminates in an invaluable lesson in bravery. Meanwhile, in Storybrooke, Regina and the Charmings discover a spell that allows one of Merlin's chosen few to communicate with him; they grow suspicious, however, when Arthur fails to reach the missing Sorcerer. As this goes on, Emma commands Merida to kill Belle in hopes of forcing Mr. Gold's heroic transformation, and with Merida unable to disobey the Dark Swan's orders, Gold must find the courage to fight for his true love's life or risk losing her forever.
Previously on Once Upon a Time...
Using both her dark and light magic combined, Emma works to transform Merlin from a tree and back into the man he once was. ("Dreamcatcher") Queen Guinevere orders that Lancelot be thrown in the dungeons where he belongs. ("The Broken Kingdom") Regina comes across a page in one of Merlin's spellbooks, detailing about the Crimson Crown, and how it can be used to speak through magical barriers. ("Siege Perilous") Hook asks Merlin if he can free Emma of the darkness, which the Sorcerer confirms he can. ("Dreamcatcher") Tied to Emma's car, Merida's heart is ripped from her chest by the Dark Swan. ("The Broken Kingdom") Merida questions how long Emma thinks she can hold her heart while threatening her, to which the Dark One states that for as long as it takes to get what she wants. ("Dreamcatcher") Emma tells Rumple that he is the only one who can get her Excalibur, but he believes himself unable to be the hero she needs. ("Dreamcatcher") Holding Rumple captive in the woods, Merida reveals the chipped cup, using it as a reminder of what he has to fight for. ("Dreamcatcher")
Merlin and company break into the Camelot dungeons.
Nighttime in Camelot of six weeks prior, down in the dungeons of the castle, guards stand, watching over the prisoners. Their silence is soon disturbed, however, by the little light lit going out, but suddenly being blasted by more than they can handle. Blinded, the guards are put at a disadvantage when the dungeon door swings open, and in comes Captain Hook and Prince Charming, fighting off the guards who try to hold them off. Getting them out of the way, Merlin makes his way in, followed by Belle; the Sorcerer passes the Prince and the Pirate, and using his magic to knock out one last guard who heads their way. Hook comments that it's not bad for someone who spent the last thousand years in a tree, to which Merlin replies that it's just like riding a bike, proceeding to light a fire in the meantime. As they creep through the dungeons, David states that it won't be long till Arthur realizes they're there, and he proceeds to ask how the Sorcerer knows what a bike is. "Do you really think all my prophecies came true because of luck?" and with that, Merlin continues to guide them, motioning them to put their backs against the wall so they're not seen by several other guards who march through. "Bloody Hell, you really can see the future," Hook exclaims, amazed, to which Merlin states that it's only bits and pieces. Continuing to make their way down the hall, they finally come to one cell in particular: Lancelot's. The disgraced Knight turns, facing the group; "Charming?" he questions, uneasy since their last encounter. (See "The Broken Kingdom)
Belle proves to be quite the clever one.
David assures that everything's alright though, for he and Mary Margaret are no longer under Arthur's control. Lancelot questions how they broke Arthur's thrall over them, but Hook reveals they didn't, allowing Merlin to step forward and introduce himself. "What about me now?" a voice calls out, "You here to free me too?" The group turn around to find Merida in the cell across from Lancelot; David questions how she ended up in there, but the Princess states that it's a long story, but after what Emma did to her, it's the least they could do by letting her out. Hook realizes Emma would want them to free her, something Merlin agrees with, but he states much has changed in the past millennia, for the bars are enchanted with magic he's never encountered before. Belle is on it though, for she flips through a book she carries with her, finding a spell for the Sorcerer to try. Impressed, Merlin comments, "Well, aren't you the clever one?" to which Belle replies with, "Glad someone's noticed." Giving the brunette a sincere smile, he raises both of his hands, resulting in Merida stepping back farther into her cell, and thus the Sorcerer poofs the bars away, allowing both Lancelot and Merida to exit, freely. Hearing more of Arthur's men though, Hook suggests it's best they get going; however, Merida is hesitant, for Arthur took her wisp, and it's the only way she can find her brothers. "Right now those wisps will only lead you to one thing: your death," Merlin exclaims, "I assure you we will find another way to rescue your brothers."
ONCE UPON A TIME
Regina furthers the plot.
"We found Merlin back in Camelot?!" Mary Margaret questions, shocked as she stands before Regina in the mayoral office, to which the formerly Evil Queen confirms, stating that Emma let it slip the night before when trying to visit Henry. (See "Dreamcatcher") Hook is confused though, seeing as how if they did find the Sorcerer, then why wouldn't he destroy the darkness in Emma. Regina replies that he's asking the wrong person, but the Pirate points out that they can't ask Merlin. The formerly Evil Queen proves him wrong though, stating that that's exactly what they're going to do; she pulls out the Crimson Crown, which David immediately recognizes, realizing that Regina finally figured out how to make the communication spell work. As Hook takes the magic toadstool, Regina states that having seen Emma rip Violet's heart from her chest (See "Dreamcatcher"), it gave her all the motivation she needed. "How does this thing work? Do we simply speak to it?" the Pirate inquires, but taking the Crimson Crown back, Regina replies that it's not that easy, for not anyone can summon Merlin - he'll only appear to someone who's been chosen by him.
Belle tells everyone off.
David realizes this to be Arthur, who Merlin use to deliver all the prophecies to, and so Regina sends him on his way to find the King of Camelot. Before he can leave though, Belle speaks up, questioning why they're wasting all their time with Merlin when there's someone there who can help them. "Who?" Mary Margaret wonders, to which Belle obviously points out that it's Rumple. Regina argues this though, claiming that had he not brought the darkness back to Storybrooke then they wouldn't even be standing there right now. Belle defends her husband, however, stating that though he may be to blame for the situation they're in, so is Emma, for she was seduced by the darkness just like he was; she questions how that makes Rumple any different. Hook apologizes, but believes Rumple had more chances than anyone, to which David adds on that right now they need to give Emma her best chance, which means contacting Merlin. "And if something bad happens to Rumple?" "It's a risk we'll have to take," Regina regretfully informs. Belle is appalled by the way the situation is currently being handled; "Hm, well, maybe you're willing to, but I'm not," and with that, she storms off, leaving the rest alone.
Rumple's grand escape.
Meanwhile, still Merida's prisoner, kept tied up in a small camp set up in the Storybrooke woods, Rumple pitifully sits on his knees, looking up at the chipped cup which remains sitting on a small fold-out table. Seeing that Merida isn't around, the former Dark One crawls over to his most prized possession and picks it up, staring at it for a few moments, taking in all that it means to him. He knows what he most do though; "Forgive me, Belle..." he says, giving the cup one long kiss, before smashing it against a rock on the ground. Rumple tries resisting the tears that wish to fall as he stares at the broken remains of his and Belle's beloved chipped cup, but he picks up one of the shards, wishing to act fast before his captor returns, and he begins using the shard to cut the ropes that he's bound to loose, hoping to break free in time before Merida returns.
Six Weeks Ago
Er ner. =O
Back in Camelot of six weeks prior, marching through the night, the main group trek through the woods and away from the Camelot castle. Standing towards the back, Merida comments that she saw Belle helping out with magic, stating that she wasn't all that bad, and if the Princess was even half as good as the brunette then she wouldn't have ended up back in that dungeon in the first place. This leads Belle to question Merida was arrested to begin with, and so she reveals that after parting ways with everyone, she followed the Will O' the Wisps to find where the clans were keeping her brothers, but when the wisps lead her to the Ivory Sea she stole a boat to make the crossing, which unfortunately belong to the "wrong fella". Belle realizes this to be Arthur, and Merida finishes that he captured her and threw her into the prison. As the group continue walking, Merida slows down a bit, with Belle by her side, allowing everyone else to get further ahead. She stops in her tracks, however, shushing the brunette, asking if she heard a certain sound. Belle looks around a bit, not knowing what Merida is talking about, but she finally admits she just needed Belle's friends to get out of site. The brunette is confused, questioning why, but before she has the chance to act any further, Merida states that it's so they don't see what happens next, that being the Princess knocking Belle out.
"Put an arrow through her heart."
Marching through the Storybrooke woods, Emma follows Merida back to the campsite, the latter of which states she pushed Rumple as hard as she can, and that he's at the end of his tether. Having arrived at the tent though, Merida's shocked to see Rumple is gone, and notices the remains of the chipped cup lying on the ground. Though she quickly looks around a bit, Emma makes her way around the corner; "You were saying?" she rhetorically asks, now clutching the Princess' heart. Though frightened at first, Merida simply gives up, insisting that Emma go ahead and crush it, for it's better than doing the Dark Swan's dirty work for her. "Why would I do that when your job isn't finished yet?" Emma questions, but an annoyed and tired Merida wonders how she's suppose to train Rumple when he's not even there. The Dark Swan states that Merida gave her the one thing she needed to know: Belle is still the one he's willing to fight for; however, Merida points out that it didn't make him a hero. Emma believes it will though, if he wants to stop Merida, which at first confuses the Princess, but Emma makes it clear that she intends to have Merida kill Belle. Tossing her a bow, the Dark Swan demands, "Now go find her, and put an arrow through her heart."
Shores of DunBroch
Six Weeks Ago
Belle is in no way, at all, any possible manner of happy.
Now daytime, rowing down the shores of DunBroch in a rowboat, Belle starts to wake up, immediately feeling pain on her head. "Oh, I was beginning to worry you might not wake up," Merida comments, terrorizing the brunette as she comes to realize what has happened. Immediately grabbing a wooden stick, Belle holds it up ready to hit the Princess; "Where are you taking me?!" she demands to know, but Merida jokingly replies that Belle "has fire", something she likes, but she states she didn't mean to hurt her. Belle isn't happy though, telling Merida to tell that to the bump on her head; however Merida argues that without the wisps she needs another way to find her brothers, and that way is Belle. Seeing the Princess pull out a spellbook, Belle exclaims that if Merida needed magic then she could have just asked. "What, and risk getting a 'no'? Sorry, I'm more of a hit first, ask questions later kind of lass'."
But alas, a new adventure is set out on.
Belle wonders if this is why the clans kidnapped her brothers, but Merida defends herself, stating that they just don't believe she can rule the Highlands without marrying one of them; "I'm not going to marry someone I don't fancy just to hold onto my own crown." She goes on that after her father's death, they exiled her mother, and kidnapped her brothers as ransom, only willing to free them if Merida relinquishes the throne. Belle questions if she's not going to do that, and Merida asks if return if the brunette would give up everything she's worked and dreamed for just because a man said she didn't deserve it. Belle is unable to deny that, and so Merida asks if the brunette is in, if she's willing to help show the clans they messed with the wrong queen.
"Now where is she keeping you?" Belle asks, in the present day, alone in the library. Her train of thought is interrupted, however, by the sound of the gears turning on the elevator. Not knowing what this could mean, Belle grabs the fire extinguisher off the wall as a weapon of self-defense, holding it up to use for when the elevator opens. She watches, in position, as the gears begin to turn; she fears for what all it could be, but still maintains control of the extinguisher and a firm position. Soon enough though, the doors open, but it's nothing to fear at all... "Don't hurt me, don't hurt me, don't hurt me," a voice pleads, mercifully. Belle is shocked to see it be none other than Rumplestiltskin, hitting on the floor, cowering in fear. She quickly puts the extinguisher down, and warns him that it's okay, that it's only her. "Belle..." Rumple realizes, as his estranged wife assures him that it's only her. Doing his best to stand to his feet, he asks if it's really her, to which the beauty confirms, completely heartbroken by Rumple's current state. Terrified, the former Dark One states that Emma's after him, and though stumbling, he manages to pull over a chair to sit down on. Belle continues to assure he's safe now; she takes a seat across from him, and the heartbroken ex-Dark One, nearly in tears, thanks his beloved.
Belle learns she is in danger.
"What?" she asks confused, to which Rumple states that it's for when he was in the coma. (See "Operation Mongoose, Part 2" through "Siege Perilous") All he wanted to do was let go, and after all he had done he felt he didn't deserve to live, but then he heard something: her voice. "After all the things I've done to you," he continues, "you've stood by me." Trying to hold back tears more than ever, Rumple states that if not for Belle then he wouldn't even be alive; he thanks her. Belle doesn't quite know how to respond, but she quickly stands to her feet, telling him to come on, for it won't take Emma long to find out where he's gone. However, Rumple realizes if Emma wanted to find him then she would have already - she wanted him to escape. Belle doesn't think it makes sense though, seeing as how she kidnapped him, but Rumple states that it was to turn him into a hero so he can pull Excalibur from the stone. Belle still doesn't realize how letting him escape will help with that, but after piecing it all together, Rumple realizes Emma is going after her in order to force him to protect her - she thinks it'll force him to be the hero he needs; "Belle, you're in danger." Letting this sink in, Belle questions what it is they do now, and so Rumple reveals that there's magic back at the shop that can help them.
Flash to the past, Belle and Merida are now on land, crept behind some bushes. They look out and see a stone home, which the Princess reveals has magic inside, magic that can be used to help find her brothers. Belle questions if she's sure the Witch isn't home, which Merida admits she's not, but that it doesn't matter since they're only going to be there long enough to use her cauldron. The two girls proceed to make their way out from around and to the home.
The cauldron is seen brewing, and Belle pours in a potion that makes the smoke steaming from it turn a more blue color. She and Merida take a step back as the smoke forms takes the form of a scenery; it shows the three rivaling clans of Merida, surrounding her imprisoned brothers. "Do you know where that is?" Belle asks, to which the Princess confirms that she does, stating that it's the Southern Moor. The smoke then reveals the three leaders of the clans: Macintosh, MacGuffin, and Dingwall. "The ones who wanted to marry you?" "Now you understand why I wanted to rule on my own," Merida replies, with distaste.
Merida's brothers, set to be executed.
The two gals continue watching as Merida's three brothers are marched, sacks being removed from each of their heads. Lord Macintosh speaks to the crowd gathered around, stating that they have waited long enough, and since Merida has failed to relinquish the crown, they have no choice but to take it from her. To add insult to the injury, Macintosh continues that to punish the Princess for her treachery, at day's end her dear brothers will be executed. The smoke fades away, and Merida is now panicking out of fear her brothers will die because of her. Belle tries to reassure that it's not true and they can still rescue them, but Merida fears they have no time to plan a proper escape. "I promise we'll find a way to save them from this fate," Belle assures, but this gives the Princess an idea. She begins looking around the Witch's home and finally comes across a scroll; she states that there's only one way to save her brothers now: she has to change their fate, and she needs Belle to do it for her. She hands the scroll over to the brunette, who upon reading it, appears unsure.
At the Storybrooke General Hospital, down in her cell, six weeks later, Zelena reads the pregnancy guide, What to Expect When You're Expecting, when all of a sudden she goes to feel her stomach. "Was that a kick, my little munchkin?" the Wicked Witch asks, with glee. Meanwhile, looking through the peep-hole of the cell is Nurse Ratched, who proceeds to open the door, bringing with her a meal for Zelena. The Wicked Witch is relieved, for she is absolutely famished, stating that the only thing her unborn child seems to want at the moment is a plate of onion rings. Ratched removes the cover of the tray to reveal, however, not a plate of onion rings, but broccoli and carrots. She goes on to say that she's under strict orders from the Mayor to only feed her local, organically grown produce. "Well isn't my sister sweet?" Zelena asks rhetorically, demanding that the Nurse go, taking the food with her.
As Ratched closes the door behind her, Zelena is left annoyed, but she isn't left alone for long, for Emma Swan appears; "Trust me, if anyone knows what it's like to be pregnant behind bars, it's me." "The Dark Swan, to what do I owe this honor?" Zelena sarcastically asks, to which Emma replies that she just wanted to have a little chat. Though Zelena's not in the mood, Emma poofs herself and the Wicked Witch out of the hospital cell and into the Dark One's home. Zelena looks to see Emma now holding two take-out bags from Granny's Diner, and upon putting them on the table, she pulls out a bag of onion rings, holding them out to the Wicked Witch. Having been bribed, Zelena supposes she could be willing to listen, and so she asks Emma what kind of trouble she wishes to get into, then having a bite of an onion ring.
Emma wishes to make a deal.
"Eat up, Dark Ones don't judge," Emma exclaims, as Zelena has made her way nearly through the entire bag of onion rings. Though originally intending to eat one of the last ones, Zelena drops it on the table, having had enough; despite these greasy treats, she knows this isn't a social call, and now wishes to know what it is the Dark One wants. "Direct, I like that," Emma replies, "Take a look at this," and with that, the Dark Swan poofs up the Apprentice's wand, stating that the Wicked Witch is the only one around to wield Merlin's magic and get to live to tell about it. Zelena sarcastically replies that it's nice to be appreciated, and is then told by Emma that if all goes according to plan then she will need the Wicked Witch's help. Zelena cuts to the chase though, wishing to know what Emma is offering in return, only to be told that of her freedom, as well as the Dark One's protection against Regina and anyone else who wishes to hurt her. "So the Dark One's here to make a deal? How dreadfully unoriginal." Zelena continues that whether Emma believes it or not, the hospital patient with a mop loves to gossip, and has overheard that the Dark One has been "very naughty", with ripping out Violet's heart in order to break Henry's. (See "Dreamcatcher") Zelena lets out a laugh, giving Emma a kudos, stating that that's next level darkness; however, Emma questions if Zelena thinks she's allowed to judge after all she's done.
Zelena makes some contradictory statements.
The Wicked Witch denies this, but states that as one who has been on the receiving end of a mother's betrayal, she knows those feelings of hurt do not go away, but instead fester; she then sarcastically wishes Emma to have fun with a lifetime of resentment. "He'll forgive me, he just needs time," Emma claims, but Zelena argues that even with all the time in the world some things can't be forgiven. The Dark One states she doesn't believe that, but the Wicked Witch leans in, wishing to test her, and reminds her that she killed Neal. ("Quiet Minds") "Ready to kiss and make up?" Emma does her best to look past this though, asking Zelena if they have a deal or not, to which the Wicked Witch states she has her own family problems, and doesn't need Emma's too. Zelena goes on that she's looking to turn over a new leaf, and with the baby on the way she doesn't need to involve herself with someone who may be a bad influence. She thanks Emma for the food though, proceeding that if that's all then she'd like to return to her cell. Emma assures Zelena that she'll need an ally in this town - maybe not now, but soon - and she'll be back to take the Dark Swan's deal. Zelena doesn't think so though; "The difference between you and me is I don't mind being alone." Emma doesn't answer, however, but instead follows the Wicked Witch's request and poofs her back to her cell.
Rumbellers, have hope.
Still at the Storybrooke Free Public Library, and looking through the blinds, Belle sees that there is no one out and about on the streets, and turns to Rumple, stating that the coast is clear, and they should go now. The brunette starts to head out, but Rumple stops her, apologizing, but fears he is unable to go. Belle argues that the pawn shop is only a hundred yards away, but the former Dark One is still hesitant. Belle states that he made it out of the woods and through the mines, quickly realizing this isn't about getting back to the shop, to which Rumple admits it's his leg. He states that it's a reminder of what he was when he fled the Ogre Wars (See "Manhattan"), what he continued to be when he became the Dark One (See "Desperate Souls"), and what he still is: a coward. Belle argues that her husband has told her why he has that limp before; he walked for days on a broken foot just so he could return to his son. "Do you know how the foot was broken in the first place," Rumple questions, but Belle answers positively, stating that it's because he broke it so Baelfire wouldn't grow up without a father; "Rumple, you may have made many mistakes in your life, but this isn't one of them." Belle gets down on her knees, taking the hands of her seated husband; she states that she's always seen the man behind the beast, but now she sees something else too: a hero, something she believes Rumple needs to learn to see too.
Flash to DunBroch of six weeks prior, Belle makes her way out of the Witch's cottage where she finds Merida practicing with a bow and arrow, firing at the center of her target. Belle is imprisoned, having not realized Merida had such an ability; this goes ignored though, for Merida fires another arrow, this time splitting the first in half. "Uh, where did you learn to do that?" Belle questions, to which the Princess replies that it was when she was young, for she refused to believe a bow was nothing but something her mother would tie to her "curly locks". Merida fires again, and continues that her father agreed, believing that learning to fight was essential whether you wore a dress or a kilt; "He was a wise man, that King Fergus." Belle replies that she wishes her father had been that supportive of her own adventures, and Merida adds that Fergus wasn't just supportive, but taught her everything she knows about shooting, telling her that if she remembers what she's fighting for then she will never miss her target. With that, Merida fires a fourth time, splitting all the arrows once more; Belle states that that seems like good advice. "Ay, now is my potion done?"
Belle's demeanor quickly changes, for she is now a bit more uncomfortable, and questions the Princess if she knows exactly what the potion will do to her. Merida questions Belle if she thinks she'd ask her to make it if she didn't, but the beauty is still unsure, knowing that the potion will turn Merida into a bear. However, Merida clarifies that what is does is change fate; "The Spell of Mor'du, they call it." She continues that legend says the Witch used it to change the fate of a prince, giving him the strength of ten men. Belle is still unsure though, asking Merida if she's certain, but the Princess still remains so, stating it's not the first time she's seen the magic in action. However, Belle still argues with Merida that she doesn't need magic to change fate. Merida asks how the brunette would know, to which she replies that she just watched her split arrows without blinking an eye; "You can make your own fate. All you need is your wit and your bow. Isn't that a better way of proving to the Clans you're worthy of being their Queen?" Merida refuses to listen though, stating that she believes that is where Belle is wrong, and she then proceeds to fire a fifth and final arrow.
Back in the present day, the door to Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer opens, and in comes Belle, helping in a hobbling Rumple. "See? I knew you could make it," the brunette beauty exclaims, to which the former Dark One states he should know better than to argue with her by now. Belle helps him to the counter so he can lean over as she rushes to get him his cane; once Rumple is able to get situated, she asks what they've come to the shop for. Rumple is unable to respond, however, for an arrow is quickly shot through one of the windows, piercing the wall. Belle and Rumple both duck, and turn back to see Merida making her way through the shop door, clearly unhappy. With her bow in tow, she states that she told the Dark One Rumple wouldn't be daft enough to seek shelter in his own shop, but she insisted he wouldn't be able to resist the pull of his own magic. "Merida, you don't have to do this," Rumple pleads, but the Princess insists she tried to fight it and couldn't, so now Belle's fate rests in his hands. With that, Merida pulls out an arrow to fire, and so Belle and Rumple make a run for a back room, closing the door behind them, but the arrow is soon fired, shooting through the door, and just barely misses Belle's head.
Arthur does an evil.
Meanwhile, down in Regina's vault, a cauldron boils as the formerly Evil Queen stands before it, the Crimson Crown in tow. "What the bloody hell is taking so long?!" Hook asks, but Regina demands patience from the Pirate, stating that if these spell books are correct, then as soon as Arthur adds the Crimson Crown to the cauldron then he should be able to make contact with Merlin. "Then we'll be speaking to him before you know it," Arthur exclaims, making his way down into the vault, followed by David and Guinevere. Mary Margaret asks if he's willing to help, to which the King replies that it's the least he could do after all they've done for him. Regina hands Arthur the toadstool, but he simply stares at is for a moment, confusing everyone. Regina asks what he's waiting for, and the King replies that perhaps it be best he does this alone, for back in Camelot Merlin would deliver his prophecies from inside a tree, but only when Arthur was alone. Agreeing that this is too important to risk, David calls for everyone to follow him out; however, when alone, Arthur doesn't use the toadstool to contact Merlin, but he instead kneels down to the fire lit beneath the cauldron, and he drops the Crimson Crown in it, hoping for it to burn away. He soon emerges from the vault where everyone waits; David asks if it worked, but a lying Arthur states that he's afraid it did not. He continues that he thought the spell was about to make contact but then it simply fizzled out, thus leaving everyone else disappointed.
Merida pounds against the doors of the back room in the pawn shop, and knowing they won't be able to keep her out forever, Belle and Rumple make a run for it, just as the Princess manages to break in. She looks around, not seeing the couple in sight; she pulls out another arrow for her bow, ready to fire, and continues to search the room. She finally sees them hiding in a corner though, and so she shoots, but only shatters a mirror that their reflection had been broadcasted off of. Merida makes her way to them, pulling out another arrow; she begs Rumple to stop her and be the hero they all need. Cowering, Rumple apologizes to Belle, but states he cannot; Merida, however, says it's she who is apologizing for what it is she's about to do. Belle isn't listening though, for she is instead focused on pulling the rug out from underneath Merida, knocking her to the ground and unconscious, giving herself and Rumple time to get up and head out of the back room. The former Dark One makes his way to a cupboard, but Belle ushers him to hurry, for Merida won't be passed out for long. He retrieves a small sack; Belle questions what it is, to which Rumple replies that they may not be able to run Merida out, but this will help them get them somewhere safe. The two then head out.
Merida gives a synopsis of the 5.09 flashback story.
Flash to the past, once more, Belle and Merida have found themselves at the Southern Moor. Hiding behind a rock, they see Merida's three brothers tied up and blind folded, ready to be executed. Fearing for their lives, Merida asks for Belle to hand over the potion, but the brunette responds with another question, that being of why the Princess needs magic to save their lives. She demands Merida tell her, otherwise threatening to pour the potion on the rocks. The Princess gives in, stating that if Belle must know, not long ago DunBroch was attacked by enemies from another land; her father fought side by side with all the clans, Merida with him, but as Fergus brought them to victory, she saw a knight heading towards him. His sword raised, but Fergus didn't see the knight, so it was up to her.
Meanwhile, Belle tries to make sense of 4.06's.
She got an arrow ready to fire, but when she shot, she missed, resulting in the knight running her father through. "My father is dead because of me." Though Belle argues it's not Merida's fault, the stubborn Princess asks what she knows of it. Belle goes on to share her story, revealing that she lost her own mother in the Ogre Wars, and she blamed herself too until she finally realized the truth: it wasn't her fault. (See "Family Business") She forgave herself, and she believes Merida has to learn to do the same. Merida doesn't think she can though, for the Clans lost faith in her that day, and that's why they don't think she can lead; "Now can I have the potion or not?" Belle finally gives in, handing the bottle over. Merida thanks her, exclaiming, "Now let's go kick some arse."
Driving down the streets of Storybrooke, during the night, back in the present day, Belle questions Rumple where it is they're going, and so the former Dark One reveals it's the only place they'll be safe from Emma and her "quivered friend". Belle realizes her husband plans to take them out of Storybrooke, and Rumple holds of the sack, revealing it to be anti-transformation powder, able to protect them from any hex put on the town line. "No! No! We cannot leave, not while there are still people we care about in this town!" Belle argues, but Rumple retaliates that he use to be the Dark One, so he knows Emma better than she knows herself, and she will keep coming until she gets what she wants. Belle claims they'll stop her together, but Rumple questions if she saw what happened back at the shop, reminding her he couldn't even protect her from Merida. Belle has about had it though; "Rumple, stop the car," she orders, "Now!" Rumple ignores his pleading wife, so Belle decides to take matters into her own hands, unbuckling her seat belt and proceeding to open the moving car door. Nearing the line, Rumple slams on the breaks, and Belle manages to storm out. He calls for the brunette, but she slams the door, heading back. Rumple gets out of the car as well, questioning what it is she's doing, and pleads that she come back. She refuses though, stating that running never made anyone a hero, but Rumple points out that he isn't a hero.
"What, you've been brave before," Belle argues, but Rumple decides it's time he tell her the truth about the day during the first Ogres War: he didn't cripple himself to get back to his son, he did it because he was scared. He joined the army to prove he wasn't a coward, but when he saw the wounded coming back from the front lines, he didn't want to die. (See "Manhattan") "I'm a coward, Belle. That's never gonna change." He pleads that she come back in the car, stating that it's the only way he knows how to protect her. "Protect yourself, you mean." Rumple tries to correct her, but Belle pulls away, storming off down the streets. Rumple calls for her, but she doesn't listen, and so he gets back in the car and drives off. Belle, meanwhile, carries on back down the streets, but is startled to find Merida, bow and arrow in tow. "You should've followed your wee sweetheart over the town line," the Princess exclaims, to which Belle, startled, nervously replies that he's not her sweetheart, and claims to not be afraid of her. Merida warns Belle that she should be though, for now the Dark One's not taking any chances. Pulling out a small vial, Merida reveals that Emma is making her drink what's inside, and before Belle can question what exactly that is, Merida drinks it. From there, the transformation takes place, and Merida becomes a full-grown bear. A terrified Belle makes a run for it, as Merida lets out a roar.
Lessons are taught.
In DunBroch of the past, with the three princes still tied up, ready to be executed, Lord Macintosh turns to the men gathered around. He states that today, with Merida's three brothers out of the way, and Merida in hiding, the DunBroch claim to the throne will be erased. Everyone cheers as Macintosh raises his arms, but Merida soon emerges, exclaiming, "Not if I have any say about it." Followed by Belle, Merida demands that Macintosh and the others release her brothers, threatening to other wise make them "black, as well as blue". Macintosh doesn't buy what the Princess is saying though, for he questions her and what army; from there, Merida pulls out the potion, removing the cap, and chugs it down. "Just you wait," she exclaims, "In a moment you will be very, very sorry." But they do wait, and nothing happens. Merida turns to Belle, asking if she mixed it right, to which the brunette exclaims she did; however, she quickly reveals that she switched the potion with water.
The day is saved.
Merida questions what Belle did with the real potion, but the beauty states that if she beats the Clans with magic then they still won't follow her - she needs to defeat them as a Queen. "If you wanted to teach me a lesson, you should've done it before we were surrounded." However, Belle knows she wouldn't have faced her fears unless she didn't have a choice; Belle knows she can do it. Lord Macintosh interrupts though, telling Merida he's had enough, and states that the only way she and her brothers live out another day is if she relinquishes the crown, but Merida refuses, not after everything her father did to create peace between the Clans. She believes that Clan DunBroch is the rightful leader of the four clans, and she is the soul and rightful Queen. "Then you leave us no choice," Macintosh exclaims, rising his bow and arrow. Lord Dingwall and Lord MacGuffin do the same, and all three aim at Merida's brothers, each firing. Meanwhile, however, Merida has her own bow and arrow out, and letting out a loud scream, she fires too, successfully hitting all three consecutive arrows, snapping them in half before they are able to harm any of her brothers.
Reunions are had.
The three lords are chocked, as well as the rest of the clansmen. Macintosh, MacGuffin, and Dingwall each go for their swords, but so does Merida, who barks, "You saw what I can do with an arrow, do you really want to see what I can do with a sword?!" She proceeds to demand they release her brothers, and so two clansmen do, while the others begin to kneel before her. With the lords last to stand, MacGuffin and Dingwall drop their weapons, kneeling as well, leaving just Macintosh. Realizing he is outnumbered, he finally gives in too, and Merida is left looking down at him, telling him that he's lucky someone once taught him the value of mercy. (See "The Dark Swan") From there, Merida's brothers come running towards, and they all embrace in a heartfelt reunion, hugging. The Princess cries in their arms, and Belle watches, touched. Merida looks back at the brunette, smiling, grateful for all that she's done.
Rumple decides to be a hero.
Back in Storybrooke of the present, during the night, Belle runs through the woods as she is chased by the bear that is Merida. At first keeping a safe distance, Belle is startled to find the Princess catching up to her, and not paying attention to where she was going, the brunette trips and falls down a narrow hill. She gets up and runs in a circle, but sees Merida has her cornered. As the bear stands before her, roaring, Belle begs for her to listen and not do this. The bear only continues to roar, but just as it goes to attack Belle, a stone strikes the bear's face. They both turn and see a hobbling Rumplestiltskin making his way towards them. Fearing for what could become of her husband, Belle calls out that Merida will only kill him, and that he must run, but this time the former Dark One refuses. Belle pleads for him to, but Rumple demands Belle go herself.
A beloved ship is reforged.
She pleads once more, but Rumple continues to approach the bear; it's not long before Merida smacks him away, throwing him across the ground and onto his back, startling Belle. Getting in his face and sniffing him, the bear stands back up, roaring a bit, but Rumple exclaims, "Do your worst!" Merida roars some more, and Rumple is clearly a bit frightened; however, he looks to his side and sees the sack of the anti-transformation powder. He decides to take his chance, and so he throws the sack at Merida, and soon enough she is turned back into the red-headed princess she once was, and is left lying on the ground. Belle walks around the unconscious Merida and makes her way to Rumple, asking how he knew that the powder would transform her back. "I didn't," the former Dark One admits, making Belle proud, who knew he had it in him; "You saved me." However, Rumple thinks differently; "Actually, I think you saved me." The two embrace in a loving hug.
Belle and Merida part ways.
At the DunBroch shores, of the past, Belle and Merida prepare to say their goodbyes. The latter asks if the brunette is sure she doesn't need to help her friends on their quest, for it's the least she can do. Belle turns her down though, thanking her for her offer, but stating DunBroch needs their Queen right now. She asks what Belle plans to do about the man she loves... or loved, but the brunette still does not know - all she can do right now is hope she gets home and finds a way to save him; "But, succeed or fail, I do know one thing: I won't give up." Merida comments that Belle doesn't seem like the "giving up" type, and the two both smile. Belle shares that she hopes their paths do cross again, and Merida thanks her for everything. From there, the Princess escorts her friend to the rowboat waiting for her, and sees her off.
Emma comes to a realization.
Meanwhile, over in Camelot, Merlin roams Granny's Diner where he finds an Apollo chocolate bar sitting on the counter. He smiles, picking it up; as he looks at it, he hears Emma approaching him. "Is everything alright?" he asks, to which Emma asks for him to tell her, for she is having the strangest sense of déjà vu. Merlin doesn't clear things up for the darkened savior though, but he instead exclaims that he has always wanted to try a chocolate bar; "Last time I had the chance, it was in the hands of a little girl with sticky fingers." And then Emma remembers...
Flash to a six year old Emma at a screening of The Sword in the Stone, stealing an Apollo chocolate bar out of the coat pocket of a woman who isn't looking. "Don't," she hears, and looks up to see an usher that is none other than Merlin in disguise. Emma apologizes. (See "The Dark Swan")
Merlin warns the Savior once more to stay away from Excalibur.
"You..." Emma realizes, having come to the revelation that the usher from all those years ago was Merlin. The Sorcerer is pleased to see she remembers, but Emma questions how this is possible, for he was still stuck in the tree back then. Merlin states that it's not important how he got his message to her, but what is important is if she remembers what he said. Emma knows it was something about Excalibur, and so Merlin finishes that one day she would have the opportunity to remove it from its stone. "Well I hate to burst your bubble," the blonde exclaims, but points out someone beat her to it. (See "The Dark Swan") "Perhaps," Merlin replies, but he reveals that it will one day end up back in the stone, and with the darkness in her, stronger than ever, he believes it's best she heed his warning to leave Excalibur alone, for the fate of everyone she loves rests upon it.
Merida's heart is returned.
Back in the present day, down in the basement of Emma's home, the Dark Swan stands before Excalibur as Belle and Rumple bring a tied up Merida down the stairs. "He bested me, fair and square," the Princess exclaims, to which Emma replies she was getting worried, for there was a moment she thought she was going to have to drag them down there herself. "Well a hero never runs away from his problems," Rumple exclaims, "Now, as a former Dark One, I know you won't stop wreaking havoc til I pull that sword from that stone." Emma's pleased that they understand each other, but Rumple continues, stating that he also knows she won't be able to resist making a deal. He propositions the Dark Swan, offering to pull Excalibur in exchange for Merida's heart, but Merida speaks up, also wishing to know the fate of her brothers. "You really think you're in the position to make deals?!" Emma questions, to which Rumple smugly replies that that is exactly what he thinks, and so a bitter Emma raises the Princess' heart, squeezing it, making her come closer. She plunges the heart back into Merida's chest, stating that she was finished with it anyway, and from there Belle begins to untie her. "And her brothers?" Rumple asks, to which Emma hurriedly reveals they're fine, safe and sound by their mother's side; "Now get on with it!"
Rumple pulls the sword from the stone.
Rumple goes to do as told, but Belle interrupts, asking what will happen if her husband is unable to pull the sword from the stone. Emma angrily replies that if that's the case then Belle will be sweeping his remains from the floor, for she was his maid once. (See "Skin Deep") Belle is fearful of what will happen next, but Rumple goes to grab the sword... but then stops. He turns to his wife, stating that, just in case this doesn't work, he wants her to know he's sorry for everything, and if he had to do it all again then he'd make sure he was the man she deserved right from the very start; he would change everything for her. A teary-eyed Belle replies that it's never too late, and from there Rumple nods, proceeding to do what he promised he would, and pulls Excalibur from the stone. He appears surprised and relieved to be alive, and Belle is proud of the hero he has become. Knowing that a deal's a deal, Rumple drops Excalibur on the ground by Emma's feet, allowing the Dark Swan to pick it up. "Now you may have Excalibur, but you've made one mistake in all of this, one terrible mistake: you've made me a hero." However, Emma argues that there are heroes all over town and none of them have been able to stop her yet. "Well that's because none of them are me." And from there he leaves with Belle and Merida, allowing Emma to think about what has been said.
Arthur's treachery is discovered.
Meanwhile, down in Regina's vault, the formerly Evil Queen continues searching through the spell book, and Mary Margaret states she must have checked over the spell dozen times. Regina believes she did everything right though, stating that Arthur should have been able to communicate with Merlin; however, David realizes the King must not have wanted to, for in the burnt out fire beneath the cauldron is the darkened Crimson Crown. "He lied to us," the Prince exclaims, to which Regina replies that he must not have realized magical toadstools don't burn. David wonders why Arthur wouldn't want them to talk to Merlin, and Mary Margaret states that now they need to more than ever. "Unfortunately we need someone who's chosen," Hook speaks up, pointing out the Apprentice is dead, so they're out of options. However, Regina realizes that perhaps they are not, for there is one other person in Storybrooke who was chosen by the Sorcerer: the Author.
A new piece to the puzzle in the form of the name "Nimue".
Henry soon joins everyone down in the vault, and Regina asks if he's sure he's up for this, to which the boy states that he's alright, for he believes the person who ripped out Violet's heart isn't his mother (See "Dreamcatcher"), but Emma is still in there somewhere, and he will do whatever it takes to get her back. Mary Margaret and David nod at each other as Hook assures Henry he can do it; Regina hands over the Crimson Crown, and soon enough he drops it into the cauldron, causing smoke to fizzle up, and former a holographic image of the Sorcerer. "Merlin?" Henry calls out, but it's not Merlin, but instead a message. The recording of the Sorcerer states that if they are receiving the message then things are worse than he feared; Regina can't believe this, for she is insulted that they are getting Merlin's voice mail. The message continues though, with the Sorcerer stating that there is only one person who can help them defeat the Dark One now, revealing her name to be Nimue. David questions who this is, but Merlin only continues that she is the only way they can defeat the darkness; however, he can't say anymore from there, for at the time the message is being recorded, the Dark One has found him, and so he is forced to bring it to an end. The holographic image disappears, and everyone is left with nothing but questions. Hook breaks the silence though, asking, "What the hell did Emma do to him?..."
- The title card of this episode features one of Merida's arrows flying towards the "O" of the logo and smashing the glass screen that fills it.
- Although credited, Sean Maguire (Robin Hood) is absent from this episode.
- The title of the episode was the original title of Brave.
- The scene in which Merida is rowing the boat with Belle was filmed on Amy Manson's birthday.
- In her cell at the hospital, Zelena could be seen reading Heidi Murkoff's bestselling pregnancy guide, What to Expect When You're Expecting. This same book is later seen being read by Belle in "The Other Shoe".
- The title of this episode was officially confirmed by executive producer/co-creator Adam Horowitz, via his Twitter account, on September 2, 2015.
The episode's numbers remained steady for a fifth week with a 1.5/4 among 18-49s, but slipped a tenth of a point with 4.83 million viewers tuning in, mostly affected by the World Series on Eox and Sunday Night Football on NBC.
The episode received positive reviews.
- Andrea Towers of Entertainment Weekly notes in her assessment of the review, "Bravery was given out in spades tonight on Once Upon a Time, and while Arthur continued to prove he wasn’t the world’s most trustworthy member of the Scooby gang, two of Once’s most underused characters — as well as a relationship that hasn’t been fully explored since last season — got some time to shine."
- In a review from Rickey.org, Nick Roman said, "“The Bear and the Bow” is a really compelling episode for Once Upon a Time, and I admit that I wasn’t necessarily expecting it to be. However, the separate trajectories towards heroism and self-confidence for both Merida and Gold were genuinely engrossing... The plot (The deception from Arthur) thickens, and it didn’t feel like part of the same episode as the rest of the story, considering how singularly focused it is on the Gold/Merida arcs. But it was necessary if next week’s episode is going to kick off the search for this mysterious person. So I can’t really complain about it. All in all, I thought “The Bear and the Bow” delivered, as Once Upon a Time continues what is gradually becoming one of my favorite first-halves of any season in some time."
- Gwen Ihnat of The A.V. Club gave the episode positive review, giving it a B-. However, she pointed out that "I’m having trouble with Merida’s entry into OUAT season five because I’m just not that invested in the character. Not that she isn’t a plucky little heroine—oh God, she’s plucky!—but because her own backstory and mythology doesn’t offer is a lot. Snow is now a terrible character, but her story was always rich with possibilities: the apple, the mriror, the queen, the hunter, even the dwarves. Everyone knows that story, even if they don’t know they know it. But if you didn’t check out Brave in the theater a few summers ago—which you probably wouldn’t do unless you were a small child or had a small child yourself— you would have no idea where there are bears running around all over the place this episode."
- Christine Orlando of TV Fanatic gave the episode a 4.3 out of 5 stars.
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.
- ↑ Amy Manson tweet.
- ↑ Adam Horowitz tweet.
- ↑ "Once Upon a Time recap: The Bear and the Bow", by Andrea Towers, Entertainment Weekly (November 1, 2015)
- ↑ "Once Upon A Time’ Review: Compelling ‘The Bear and the Bow’ Crowns a New Hero", by Nick Roman, Rickey.org (November 1, 2015)
- ↑ “The Bear And The Bow” myth not enough to hang a Once Upon A Time episode on, by Gwen Inhat, The A.V. Club (November 1, 2015)
- ↑ "Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 6 Review: The Bear and the Bow", by Christine Orlando, TV Fanatic (November 1, 2015)