Once Upon A Time Recap: Season 5 Episode 6 'The Bear & The Bow'

*All of our episode recaps contain spoilers*


Merida’s Time In Camelot

With Merlin and his powers leading the way, David, Hook and Belle head down to the dungeons to break out Lancelot, where they find him and his new neighbour Merida. They agree to free Merida as well and Belle chips in with a solution to the problem of the spell cast on the cells bars. Merlin takes over, breaking the enchantment and freeing the prisoners. Although Merida is reluctant to leave without the wisps required to free her brothers, Merlin assures her that they will find another way to rescue them and she joins the group.

As they trek through the woods, Merida and Belle hang a little further back from the others and before she has a chance to understand what’s happening Merida knocks Belle out. Following her bump on the head, Belle awakens to find herself in a rowing boat, alone with Merida who thinks she will be able to help on her quest to find her brothers – evidentially she’s a ‘hit first, ask questions later’ kind of girl. Although Merida does have the option to free her brothers, she would have to marry someone she doesn’t like or relinquish her throne to do so. Refusing to give up on her dreams because ‘a man says she doesn’t deserve it’, Merida leads Belle to the house of a witch to put her master plan into action.

Luckily for them the witch isn’t home so the pair are able to use her cauldron to take a look at what is happening to Merida’s three brothers. The vision shows that they are being held at the Southern Moor and are to be executed at day’s end and Merida decides she needs Belle to help change their fate. Merida’s plan involves Belle brewing a potion that will help to change her own fate by, well… turning her into a bear. Merida believes that the potion will make her strong enough to rescue her brothers but it looks as though Belle can see strength in Merida without the need for any magic – ‘all you need is your wit and your bow’.

When the pair finally reach the place where Merida’s brothers are being held captive she asks Belle to hand over the potion and we learn a little more about what happened back in her kingdom. The reason Merida is so insistent on taking the potion is because of her guilt over not being able to save her father. When a Knight attacked him, Merida missed her arrow’s target and has been blaming herself ever since. Understanding Merida’s struggle, Belle shares her own story of losing her mother during the Ogre Wars where she too blamed herself. In the end Belle realised it wasn’t her fault and was able to forgive herself and believes Merida will do the same some day too. With their stories shared Belle hands over the potion bottle and Merida steps up to save her brothers.

Unfortunately for Merida things don’t exactly go to plan when she drinks the contents of the potion bottle only to find nothing happens. Truly believing in Merida’s bravery, Belle switched out the contents for water, simply stating that using magic may help her save her brothers but it won’t necessarily make the people of her kingdom follow her lead. As it turns out, Belle’s hunch was right and Merida certainly doesn’t need any potions to stand up for herself and her family. As her enemies fire synchronised arrows at her three brothers Merida uses her new belief in her ability to change her own fate, firing her own single arrow, splitting through all three and saving her brother’s lives. Not only that but she’s definitely won over the hearts of the kingdom’s people too.

The newly-found friends part ways, with Belle on her way back to join the rest of the squad in Camelot and Merida staying put with her family and kingdom. Although sadly, with their memories erased, their relationship in present day Storybrooke isn’t as good.

Emma’s Latest Plans

Speaking of Storybrooke, back there we find Rumple in the forest, hands bound by ropes, looking over at the chipped cup as he formulates an escape plan. Picking up the cup, he utters ‘forgive me, Belle’, smashing it to pieces and uses one fragment to free his hands. When Merida returns to the scene with Emma, expecting to be able to lead her straight to Rumple, they find him gone, leaving our Dark One very disappointed. Not to worry though, she has a new plan! Not one to be disheartened by a setback, Emma asks Merida to put an arrow through Belle’s heart with the hope it will force Rumple to become a true hero.

In other Emma news, we also see the Dark One attempting to make a deal with a fellow villain; Zelena. After breaking her out of her cell and feeding her pregnancy cravings with a bag of onion rings, Emma produces the Apprentice’s wand and, knowing that Zelena has previous experience with using Merlin’s magic and has lived to tell the tale, proposes that the pair work together. Interestingly Zelena declines the offer… It’s definitely a bad sign when someone who’s done as much evil as Zelena refuses to work with you!

Becoming A Hero

Back to Rumple’s journey, we see him finally reunited with Belle as she finds him hiding out at the library. After a bit of a heart-to-heart where he confesses he survived the coma for Belle and understands how she has stood by him despite his many flaws, Rumple quickly realises his beauty is in danger, figuring out that targeting her would definitely be Emma’s next move – no one can get inside the mind of the Dark One better than an ex-Dark One!

After making their way over to Rumple’s shop in search of magic the pair come face to face with an angry Merida, arrows in tow, one of which she aims straight at Belle. After a couple of near misses, at the last second, Belle grabs the rug out from under Merida’s feet, causing her to fall flat on her back and allowing Belle to escape with Rumple. As the pair are driving along the road leading out of Storybrooke, Rumple explains that he has brought along an anti-transformation powder to ensure they don’t suffer any unwanted side effects that we all know can be a problem when crossing the town line! Despite this, Belle refuses to leave behind the people they care about who it seems are still in danger, and forces Rumple to stop the car just before the town line, claiming that running never made anyone a hero.

This prompts Rumple to finally come clean and confess to Belle what really happened to him during the Ogre Wars. Rumple’s long-standing lie painted him as a hero who crippled himself to save his son growing up without a father but in reality he only did it because he was too scared to fight. Hearing the truth Belle leaves Rumple behind and starts heading back home, where unluckily she runs into Merida.

Mirroring the situation over in Camelot, Merida drinks a potion (given to her by Emma) which transforms her into a bear, and naturally Belle flees. As Merida the bear chases Belle through the woods, Belle begs her not to do anything she might regret. Just in the knick of time Rumple shows up to save Belle exactly as Emma had hoped, demonstrating his bravery by throwing the pouch containing magic directly at Merida, turning her back into her usual human self.

When Merida, Rumple and Belle head to Emma’s place, they find her standing by Excalibur, still lodged in the stone and Rumple agrees to use his new hero status to retrieve it, as long as Merida gets her heart back. Emma agrees, honouring her original word to return Merida’s heart once she was finished with it. As a bonus, and another glimpse that she still has good in her, Emma also soothes Merida’s worries by revealing her brothers are safe and with her mother, albeit rather abruptly.

As Rumple goes to pull the sword he apologies to Belle for everything just in case it doesn’t work, but luckily for him, it does. He throws the now free Excalibur at Emma and leaves her with some interesting parting words – ‘you may have Excalibur, but you’ve made one mistake in all of this, one terrible mistake. You’ve turned me into a hero’. Whilst she has every right to be a little sceptical of this, let’s be honest she has a point when she says ‘there are heroes all over this town, none of them have been able to stop me yet’, plus the fact that Rumple in particular has a pretty dark past, it looks as though their roles have reversed. This is set to be an intriguing new side to Rumple!

Merlin’s Message

After Emma accidentally (or so we’re led to believe) revealed the information to her last week, Regina lets Snow, David, Hook and Belle know that they did manage to somehow free Merlin from the tree back in Camelot. Knowing that if they choose to try out the Crimson Crown as a way to contact him, Merlin will only appear to someone who has been chosen by him, their thoughts go straight to Arthur. Despite Belle’s suggestion that they should ask Rumple for help instead of Merlin, she is outvoted and they choose to stick with the plan to try and reach out to Merlin.

With the Crimson Crown in his hands, and the room to himself at his request (he makes a case that Merlin may not appear unless he is alone) Arthur is all set to communicate with Merlin… but of course, he doesn’t even try. Instead Arthur throws the magical toadstool into the fire, leaves the room and spins a tale of how his attempt to contact Merlin simply didn’t work. Regina’s reaction here is the best part, her facial expression says it all; she knows she didn’t mess up that spell. It looks as though our Storybrooke squad are about to start seeing the real Arthur.

A little later, Regina, Snow, David and Hook discover Arthur’s betrayal when they find the half-burnt Crimson Crown. Unsure why Arthur would do this, they set out to find someone else who can try to contact Merlin instead. Luckily Regina has a new plan, noting that there in someone else in Storybrooke who was chosen by Merlin too; the author. As we know, Henry had a bit of a tough time last week when he learnt what Emma did to Violet back in Camelot but he insists on helping, claiming that he believes he must do all he can to save Emma – ‘the person who ripped out Violet’s heart isn’t my mother. But Emma is still in there somewhere, and I’ll do anything it takes to get her back’.

As the group gather around, Henry drops the Crimson Crown into the cauldron and Merlin sort-of appears in front of them. Unfortunately it’s not the real Merlin, just a recorded message, meaning they are still unable to speak directly with him. It seems his message was left only in case of a dire situation as he speaks of Nimue – the only one who can destroy the darkness. Merlin’s message leads us nicely onto the title of next week’s episode, ‘Nimue’, which in Arthurian legend is the name of the Lady Of The Lake. Will we be meeting another new character next week?

What did you think of ‘The Bear And The Bow’?

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