Sunday’s “Siege Perilous” took us on a whirlwind bromance with Prince Charming and King Arthur. We were filled with glee as the two honorable men with humble origins bonded during their quest to retrieve the Crimson Crown in effort to help Team Heroes communicate with Merlin while he’s still stuck in the tree. Unfortunately, thigs take a dreadful turn once Arthur true intentions are revealed. This is not the legendary monarch we have grown to love and respect. If you feel traumatized by Arthur’s disturbingly dark turn, then you are not alone. For shame! Elsewhere, Dark Swan makes a breakthrough in finding someone who could very likely remove Excalibur from the stone. Hold onto your seats, Oncers, this is one bumpy ride!
About six weeks ago in Camelot
All hands are on deck as our heroes try to figure out a way to free Merlin from his sappy cell. As they scour through the wizard’s library trying to find a de-cloaking spell, they have an epiphany. If they can just speak with Merlin, then perhaps he can tell them how he can be freed. One of his books speaks of the Crimson Crown, an enchanted toad stool mushroom that enables people to communicate through magical barriers. It can be found in the Forrest of Eternal Night, so Charming and Arthur suit-up to go on an old-fashioned quest.
They grab their gear in the room of the Round Table. David assumes the big fancy chair belongs to Arthur, so the king explains its significance. The “siege perilous” is reserved for the knight who is pure of heart. The seat was held by Lancelot before his bitter betrayal. David recounts the legendary love triangle between Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot, then regretfully informs the king of his former friend’s tragic passing. Arthur is saddened by the news. Despite Lancelot’s unforgivable betrayal, Arthur always wished him to be happy, just not with his wife. Well, that’s fair enough.
Before they head out, Arthur opens his chest of magical relics and takes out a torch lit with the ever-glowing flame from the Burning Bush of Biblical fame. (Whoa! Does this mean “OUAT” is going to get Biblical somewhere down the line? Will they start drawing material from religious mythologies? Imagine what other relics they can find and the power those sacred items could hold. Would you want to see “OUAT” go down this road?)
As they venture through the dark woods, Arthur and Charming discover that they have a lot in common. They both have strong-willed wives who happen to be excellent archers, they come from modest upbringings and were thrust into a life of royalty, and they share a competitive disposition. Valiant King Arthur admits that the Round Table was created mostly to keep his ego in check, it seems that he can get out of hand no one is there to keep him grounded. At least he’s being honest, although our illusions of the great King Arthur are being shattered a bit.
They spot the Crimson Crown sticking out of a rock on the other end of a tattered and flimsy bridge stretch across a moat hauntingly filled with animated armor of fallen knights. Creepy! Arthur stays behind and lets the Burning Bush’s flame be David’s guide back. Charming gets the mushroom, but the knights attack and pull him underwater. Arthur heroically saves his new “brother,” but it seems the Crimson Crown was lost during the tussle and rescue. Arthur spews a line about the quest itself being important and not the item, but they both know that’s just BS. It looks like Team Heroes will have to find another way to communicate with Merlin. There must be something other than Emma’s dark powers.
While Arthur and David were bonding as brothers in arms, two sisters were having it out back at the castle. Regina allows her mute maiden Zelena to speak for a moment and what she has to say is not pretty. As we saw in the intense sneak peek, Zelena is hell-bent on running off with her baby and leading a blissful life in OZ. Zelena believes she deserves a second chance at happiness, just like Regina. But the Wicked Witch blew all of her chacnes, especially when she seduced Robin. That will always be super disturbing and so very wrong. Regina silences her whiney shrieking once more and spells out Zelena’s fate: the baby will be loved and safe, but the same will not hold for the Wicked Witch. Lana Parrilla and Rebecca Mader nail these scenes together. It’s always entertaining to see them throw-down, verbally or magically. Such fun! But Zelena isn’t the only one who receives a daunting warning.
After the budding bros return home from their quest, King Arthur bestows the greatest honor upon Prince Charming. He knights David and appoints him to the Siege Perilous. (This should be a super moving and emotional moment and it probably was on paper, but it lacked that extra goosebump inducing feeling. It came off awkward. Maybe because none of the knights nor Arthur went to sit with Sir David at the Round Table. The sentiment is appreciated and acknowledged, but it disappointingly fell a little flat. Plus, the sight of Hook applauding could help but cause a giggle fest. Sorry, love Hook, but you have to admit it looks funny.) Unfortunately, King Arthur’s grand gesture is not as lovely or honorable as it seems.
Lancelot appears out of the shadows, much to Snow’s surprise (when Snowing thought Lancelot died, it was really Cora in disguise). He quickly warns Snow White that Arthur is actually a villain. No! Say it ain’t so. But why would Lancelot lie? The iconic knight proves to be pure of heart once more when we finally see Arthur’s true intentions. In a secret moment with Guinevere, Arthur reveals that he stole the Crimson Crown from David during the rescue. Uh-oh! Sadly, this will be just one of Arthur’s atrocities.
Present day in Storybrooke
Regina & Co. luckily have Merlin’s books to still work with, so all hope is not lost. Which is a good thing because Emma’s nastiness is escalating. She takes Happy’s axe, thinking that the enchanted blade can even cut through the magic protecting Excalibur. Of course, it does not. Rumple cheekily teases that she should try kissing the sword out. Hilarious! Emma needs to get crafty if she’s going to remove that sword.
The dwarves stomp over to the Sheriff’s department and snap at David to start laying down the law. He needs to figure out how to get a handle on his daughter or else. Now David is down in the dumps and feels paralyzed since he can’t help Emma or his friends. Snow gives him the support he needs and sweetly says that Charming is her hero in any world. Awww. We can’t resist that Snowing score playing in the background. Come on David, suck it up and take care of business. Even though David is struggling to get a handle on his daughter, Hook has finally settled on the kind of approach he will take with Dark Swan.
The pirate pops into Granny’s. He catches Robin Hood looking at sonogram of his baby and the former theif confesses that he’s excited, even though it is Zelena’s child. He’s afraid to show Regina how happy he is to have this baby. This scene is one of the episode’s highlights. A beautiful combo of tenderness and humor. Seriously, Hook was practically like, “Ewww, mate! TMI” It is an absolutely wonderfully hilarious scene which shows why we need more of these two together. (Attn “OUAT” writers, Please send Hook and Hood on a quest!) Suddenly, Granny hands Hook a meal to go. Emma is waiting for him on the Jolly Roger.
Hook boards his vessel and with a wave of her hand, Emma sets a romantic scene in hopes of rekindling their romance. She may look the part, but Emma has changed. Hook cuts to the chase and asks what she wants from him because he isn’t buying this charade of hers. She argues the case for Captain Swan, explaining that Rumple and Belle made it work. Plus, becoming the Dark One made Rumple better and stronger, he was a coward beforehand. Hook begs to differ. He grabs the cutlass and says he was the villain who prompted Rumple to become the Dark One. He’s been on a tumultuous journey to climb out of the darkness. He will not stand by and have Dark Swan drag him back down. Emma believes he loves her, so she thinks he’s just playing hard to get. Hook painfully admits that he used to love her, but she’s not the same. Hook was in love with Emma Swan, not the Dark One.
Bravo, Hook! Finally, he’s standing up to Emma instead of being her obedient little love-struck puppy. The pirate is getting his swagger back and putting Emma in her place. Deep down inside, if she truly loves him and wants to have a relationship, then Emma is going to have to fight the darkness trying to consume her soul. Alas, that does not seem to be the case.
Belle had said that she needed something that belonged to Rumple before he became the Dark One to cast a spell that would wake him. When the rose blooms, Belle knows that Rumple is awake, but he’s gone from the shop. We find out that Emma used Hook to get the cutlass and wake Rumple. His heart is a clean slate, meaning he may be the only one who has a pure enough heart to remove Excalibur from the stone. Will Mr. Gold do Dark Swan’s bidding? Will her plan even work? Can we please see more of cheeky Rumple and Mr. Gold as the Devil and Angel on Emma’s shoulders? As always, Robert Carlyle is pure perfection. We love seeing the juxtaposition of these two vastly different characters. Mr. Gold just woke, so we’re not sure what Rumple 2.0 will be like. Will he be cowardly, evil, or a true hero? We’ll have to wait and see.
Emma hasn’t been the only one in Storybrooke using people to fulfill her secret, scummy agenda. King Arthur has been putting on quite a front. He brings David in for help when their chest of precious magical relics goes missing. Once again, these two bros bond on another quest, or so it seems. After a culture-moshing awkward truck-joust, David locks up their culprit, Arthur’s resentful squire, Griff, up in a cell and feels like he finally accomplished something good Storybrooke. Plus, he found the Crimson Crown, which Regina just spotted in Merlin’s book. Let’s hope this Yoshi-looking mushroom helps them contact Merlin and save Emma before she makes Excalibur whole. At this rate, we don’t want that weapon in Dark Swan or King Arthur’s possession.
By episode’s end, we realize that Arthur manipulated David all along. He ordered his Griff to steal the chest. They also lied about a missing magic bean that could transport them all home. There is no bean and no chance of them go back home to Camelot. When the coast is clear, Arthur pays his loyal squire a visit and reveals his plan. Team Heroes brought the Dark One to Camelot and she trapped them all in Storybrooke. Arthur feels he has no other choice, he’s going to recreate Camelot here. But first, he needs to tie-up some loose ends. Griff is loyal, but magical can force him to expose Arthur’s plan. The King hands his devoted squire a vile of poison from the Vapors of Agrabah. Griff takes one for the team and drinks the potion. When he dies, his body disappears in cloud of green smoke.
Oh no, no, no! This is so much worse than what Lancelot insinuated. King Arthur really is a villain. It’s not as gut-wrenchingly disturbing as their twist on Peter Pan, but still. Everybody loves and respects King Arthur. We’ve been so excited for the Camelot storyline and now this iconic character has been tainted. Sure, King Arthur is human. He has his weaknesses, including his bloated ego and his jealously of any man that cozies up to Guinevere. But still, he’s supposed to be an honorable man. We’re supposed to rally behind him and champion his causes. We were looking forward to cheering for King Arthur and giggling over his bromance with Charming, but now it is all spoiled. Arthur is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Team Heroes better discover the truth in the present day, before he takes over Storybrooke.
“Siege Perilous” took some solid strides in the story-telling department. Some of the execution fell short of expectation, so potentially awesome moments ended feeling awkward and even silly. Nonetheless, we learned quite a bit and the stage has been set for bigger battles to come this season.
What did you think of the episode? What were favorite or least favorite moments? Are you bummed that King Arthur is a villain? Are you shocked “OUAT” went in that direction? Do you think Rumple will do Dark Swan’s bidding? Will he redeem himself for good and become a full-fledged hero? Are you proud of Hook for standing his ground against Emma? Do you think he’s the only person who will be able to pull her out of the darkness? Or is Henry the key to her salvation? Do you think the Crimson Crown will work? Can Merlin help free himself and save Emma? Or will there be a new twist in which Emma is the only one who can save herself? Share your thoughts below!
“Once Upon A Time” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.