Once Upon a Time, S5 Ep6- The Bear and the Bow

“You saw what I can do with an arrow, do you really what to see what I can do with a sword?”

Belle’s ability to see the best in people (even the Dark One) has always been one of her greatest strengths. She may not be magical nor skilled with a sword, but she has always played a significant role on Once Upon a Time. Not only is she the resident researcher, but she constantly shows support and has faith in people in moments of great doubt. All of this shone through in this episode, as she helped Merida in her quest to regain her crown and rescue her brothers, and pushed Rumple to face his fears and to act truly selflessly.

Once Upon a Time, S5 Ep6- The Bear and the BowBack in Camelot, Merida enlists Belle’s help in her quest by hitting her on the head and kidnapping her. To which Belle responds with what we were all thinking:

“If you needed magic, you could have just asked!”

 

But Merida had immediately taken note of Belle’s knowledge of magic when the latter helped Merlin free her and Lancelot from Arthur’s dungeons. They find the witch’s cottage and use her cauldron, where they learn that (conveniently), Merida’s former suitors were about to execute her brothers. So the fiery-haired queen asks Belle to make the magic potion that changes fate/turns her into a bear so that she could defeat her enemies and free her brothers. Belle complies, kind of. (And wasn’t the whole point of the movie that one didn’t need magic to change one’s fate? Looks like Once Upon a Time is rehashing the conflicts and themes of Brave just like it did with Frozen last season.)

Once Upon a Time, S5 Ep6- The Bear and the BowThe Bear and the Bow” played like a live-action version of Brave if it was trying to be Game of Thrones. I don’t remember the Pixar movie having characters this vicious, willing to slaughter young boys just because they didn’t want a woman ruling them. (And didn’t Merida earn all their respect at the end of the movie? Never mind.) When did her former suitors become so bloodthirsty? And obsessed with power?

So much GINGER.

So much GINGER.

 

 

But thanks to Belle’s words of encouragement (after an awkward moment when Merida thought she was going to go Bear Mode), Merida saves her brothers and earns the respect and obedience of all her subjects.

Merida isn’t such a friend to Belle back in Storybrooke because she is being controlled by the Dark Swan, and is tasked to kill Belle in the hopes of awakening Rumple’s latent heroic potential. Rumple breaks the chipped cup to cut his ropes (because apparently there were no other sharp objects in Merida’s camp) and escapes to find Belle where they have a very heartfelt, emotional reunion. Before being attacked by Merida.

[Exit, pursued by a bear]

[Exit, pursued by a bear]

In his fear for them both Rumple tries to drive them away from Storybrooke (not a bad idea, considering all that has happened), but Belle puts her foot down and refuses to let him give in to his cowardice. She is then chased by Bear-ida. Seeing Belle in danger finally pushes Rumple to be heroic, by sacrificing himself and also cleverly throwing magic powder to turn Merida back to normal.

Rumplestiltskin’s come a long way in only a few episodes. He started the season in magically-induced coma after having the darkness taken from him. After being awakened by Emma, he reverted to his weak, cowardly, pre-Dark One self. And after Merida’s prodding and this episode’s bear attack, he has finally become heroic enough to pull Excalibur out of the stone. This was only possible through the love and support of Belle, who was the real hero of this episode.

Once Upon a Time, S5 Ep6- The Bear and the BowEmma appears and decides that Rumple is finally worthy of pulling the sword out of the stone. He makes a deal with the Dark One, as one does, and says that he will pull out Excalibur  in exchange for Merida’s heart. He also makes a very moving speech to Belle – Robert Carlyle at his best – just in case he fails to remove the sword, and sparking hope that they may be on the road to serious reconciliation (and Rumbelle shippers rejoiced!)

But he pulled out the sword and Emma kept her end of the deal. Then, as Rumple walked away, he menacingly warned Emma that she had met her match:

Once Upon a Time, S5 Ep6- The Bear and the Bow“‘You’ve made one mistake in all of this, one terrible mistake. You’ve turned me into a hero.’

‘There are heroes all over this town and none of them have been able to stop me yet.’

‘And that’s because none of them are me.'”

Which makes me wonder about the ever-changing definition of heroism on this show. Is one selfless act enough to make a person a hero? I’m sure it takes more than that. Heroism, as much as being a villain, is a continuous process, a series of conscious decisions. A person does not simply wake up one morning and decide to be one or the other.

Once Upon a Time, S5 Ep6- The Bear and the BowRegina has always struggled with this; only after repeatedly acting selflessly was she able to wield light magic and become a hero. Rumple is likewise no stranger to acting selfless (like his sacrificing himself to save the town back in Season 3) and perhaps this episode’s noble act was enough heroism at that moment for him to be able to pull out Excalibur, but after his ominous threatening of Emma, it’s hard to imagine he will remain on the straight and narrow path for long. Even without the darkness or magic, Rumple still has the capacity to make trouble, and that’s not really a hero thing to do. But I suppose only time will tell.

Regina is sick of this magical mushroom.

Regina is sick of this magical mushroom.

There was also something with Regina and the Charmings trying to use a magic mushroom to contact Merlin and mistakenly trusting Arthur (though Regina seemed suspicious about him), and then finally getting Henry to use the mushroom like they should have done in the first place. They reached Merlin’s magical voicemail where he warns them of impending danger (vaguely, as usual), and ominously drops the name “Nimue” which, hey, is the title of next week’s episode!