*All of our episode recaps contain spoilers*
How To Free Merlin
In this week’s opener we’re back in Camelot, many years ago, where we see a familiar man wandering around and calling out for the Dark One. He accuses the masked Dark One of destroying the only woman he ever loved and shares how he plans to seek revenge, but is met with silence when he is unable to use the dagger to destroy the Dark One. Using the man’s pain, the still silent Dark One captures a teardrop and the man is turned into a tree… a rather familiar tree. You see, the man we were just watching was Merlin.
Picking up from last week, Regina is still unsure about trusting Arthur, despite Snow and David’s insistence (thanks to the Sands of Avalon) that he is not a bad man. Not to worry though, Emma is quick to show up and let Regina know that she believes her parents are under the influence of a spell with not-so-good intentions behind it. Keen to free Merlin and stop Arthur once and for all Emma offers to use her (now dark) magic, only to be warned about what a slippery slope that decision would be.
This week, as the episode title suggests, we learn about the power of dreamcatchers, and how they can capture memories. Inspired by Emma’s tale of Merlin’s fate, Regina comes up with a plan to use her own tears to create the potion and free him; ‘if a tear of lost love trapped Merlin, then another one might be able to get him out’.
Creating A Hero
Back in Storybrooke Rumple is still insistent that he won’t be the one to pull the sword from the stone, despite the fact that Emma now has Merida’s help. The former Dark One opens up and explains how he convinced himself that every time he used magic it was for the protection of his son, yet it still did not end well for him. His words come with a warning for Emma; ‘take it from me, you will always lose the ones you love the most’.
With Emma now using Merida’s heart to control her, over in the woods the ‘brave’ lady hands Rumple a sword and tries to teach him to fight but unfortunately for her it isn’t going too well. Cleverly doing her research, Merida has a flick through Henry’s storybook to find out a little more about Rumple’s past, attempting to find a way to get him to cooperate. As a reminder of exactly what he has to fight for Merida presents a certain chipped teacup and declares ‘if you want it you’re going to have to fight me for it’. And just like that, Rumple is back on his feet and ready to fight back.
A First Date
Back in Camelot, Violet’s father is unhappy about her spending so much time with Henry, declaring his daughter should marry a knight, not a writer. Unfortunately Henry fails miserably at trying to be the ‘tough guy’ and manages to fall flat on his face trying to wield a sword.
When Regina and Emma learn of this, they both have a little advice for him, that he shouldn’t change who he is to impress Violet or her father Sir Morgan. Taking their advice on board we see Henry staying true to himself and inviting Violet on a date to Granny’s, introducing her to yet more modern day things she is amazed by (movies, soda etc), but the date ends badly when Violet tells Henry that she just wants to be friends.
The Power Of A Tear
Through a dreamcatcher we, along with Emma, witness a snippet of Regina’s past where her mother Cora ripped out and destroyed the heart of her first love. As Regina relives this awful moment, Emma bottles a tear and sadly despite her confession that she had no idea what Regina went through growing up with Cora we see a glimpse of her formulating a plan that definitely feels ‘Cora-approved’ – more on this later.
The priceless tear and other (less important to the plot) ingredients are added together and well…nothing happens. The pair decide that whilst Regina’s pain and heartbreak was very real, she has since had time to heal and make room to fall for someone new in her current relationship with Robin. When Henry shows up, upset about his failed date with Violet, Regina seizes the opportunity to capture his tear for the potion instead.
Unfortunately Arthur shows up right on cue demanding that they hand over the dagger, but Regina uses her powers to fight him off just long enough for Emma to drop the tear into the potion and free Merlin from his tree prison. Merlin is incredibly disappointed in Arthur, causing the King to become very angry, but he backs down knowing the incomplete sword won’t be able to hurt Merlin.
Over at Granny’s Merlin restores Snow and David’s memories, reversing the effect of the sands and a hopeful Hook asks him whether he can free Emma from the darkness. Merlin turns to Emma and asks ‘is your heart truly ready to be free?’, and since we know Emma has embraced her role as the Dark One is present day it looks as though the answer to Merlin’s question was a no.
Operation Cobra Is Back On!
Over in Storybrooke Henry suggests a dance to lift everyone’s spirits following the ‘disappearance’ of Grif and loss of their memories (which we see Emma is storing within a garage full of dreamcatchers!). When he goes to invite Violet he finds out that her beloved horse Nicodemus has gone missing and vows to track him down for her. Of course, this task plays right into Emma’s skill set and Henry goes straight to her for help; Operation Cobra is back on!
The pair head out to a pumpkin place in Emma’s Beetle, bonding over memories of Neal along the way. There they retrieve the horse and head home where they find Violet and her father at the fair. In this world, Sir Morgan seems to take to the ‘heroic’ boy, even exclaiming he would make a good knight.
Sadly, despite their excellent teamwork, by end of episode things aren’t looking so good for the mother and son duo as Henry learns of Emma’s deceit in Camelot…
Regina, Hook, Belle and Robin head off to Emma’s new house in search of clues, only to find that she has cast a protection spell on it. The group quickly work out that Emma would definitely let Henry in and use his scarf to break the spell and open the door. Once inside they discover Excalibur’s hiding place and we see Regina stop Hook from trying to remove Excalibur from the stone as Belle realises Rumple has been there recently too.
When Regina receives a text from Henry stating Emma is heading home the group go to leave but on their way out Hook discovers a dreamcatcher, leading Regina to realise just how Emma took all of their memories of Camelot - these two could make a good team if they could just get past their differences!
Back at Regina’s, she and Robin look into the dreamcatcher Hook found, still trying to figure out what happened in the six weeks they have no memory of. What they find is something neither of them expected. In the captured memory they see Emma asking Violet to keep a secret, then ripping out her heart and simply stating that she can have it back once she helps Emma. Of course, we know Violet is still alive in the present day, so it’s no surprise when we learn that she did as she was told. In a Cora-like move, Emma used Violet to break Henry’s heart in order to get the teardrop needed to free Merlin. The worst part? Henry is standing in the doorway as Regina and Robin watch the events unfold within a dreamcatcher, devastated to learn of his mother’s betrayal.
When Emma shows up at Regina’s place later that night she finds out that Henry knows exactly what she did to Violet in Camelot and explains how she had ‘good reason’ to do what she did, that she was protecting Henry. Emma also accidentally reveals to Regina that they were successful in freeing Merlin in Camelot, leaving Regina bemused as to why, if they did so, Emma is still the Dark One. As she walks away from the house, we see Henry looking out of his window at Emma, both shutting his curtains on her, and shutting her out of his life.
What did you think of ‘Dreamcatcher’?