This Sunday on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, we and Emma learned the identity of the very first Dark One, while the heroes’ plan to pinch Excalibur was waylaid by a real witch.
At the crux of this week’s exposition-heavy hour was the original love story between Merlin, who lonnnnnnng ago had been gifted with magic by the Holy Grail, and Nimue, a young
Evangeline Lily woman whose village had been ravaged by a man named Vortigan. Merlin and Nimue fell in love, which proved to be a problem when the wizard pointed out that, as an immortal, he will assuredly outlive her. His fix: to turn the grail into a sword, with which he can “cut away” his magic, putting him and his love on equal footing.
Just as Merlin forges Excalibur, Vortigan shows up and grabs Nimue. She attempts to fight her way free, only to get critically stabbed. Then, as Merlin confronts Vortigan, Nimue sneaks up on the baddie and rips his heart out — having herself obtained magic by secretly sipping from the grail, against Merlin’s earlier wishes. Worse, despite Merlin’s strong advisory, Nimue proceeds to crush the man’s heart, thus turning her into the very first Dark One, having used her magic to kill.
Five hundred or so years later….
Merlin brings Emma to the site of that fateful encounter, so that she can summon the original Dark One, who is the keeper of the ember that can fuse Excalibur and the dagger back together. There are two possible outcomes here, Merlin said: Emma fends off the Darkness, or she succumbs and thusly kills him. Nimue, to be sure, does her sniveling best to urge Emma to whack the wizard, saying they have no choice but to destory this threat. Nimue, though, goes one babbling step too far by suggesting that without Darkness, Emma is “nothing.” Never tell a woman she is nothing, dearie. “I am not nothing! I was never nothing” a triumphant Emma roars back at her taunter. “The power you have, I don’t need!” Emma plucks the ember away from Nimue, who then disappears, and heads back to Camleot with Merlin — until he mysteriously vanishes mid-conversation.
Zelena helped Regina, Robin, Hook and the Charming sneak into Arthur’s castle for the purpose of stealing Excalibur. Left behind, Z got the drop on her “guard,” Snow White, by apparently felling the once-fierce bandit with a kick to the tummy. When the others later arrive at the Round Table and Regina “freezes” Arthur, Zelena emerges from the shows, with a bound-and-gagged Snow in tow, to free Arthur and help him “tether” Merlin to Excalibur — turning his sadly truncated (ahem) sword into basically a bigger version of the Dark One’s dagger, but to control the mighty wizard.
Arthur summons Merlin away from Emma and commands him to ward off the Storybrookers’ attack. Merlin does his best to convince Arthur that his prophecy is still in the course of playing out — that in vanquishing the Darkness with a restored Excalibur, Arthur will be remembered as a great king. Artie, though, just wants glory, and fast, and has Merlin magic the unwanted guests away.
Back in Storybrooke, Emma retrieves the ember she took from Nimue and uses it to reunite broken Excalibur and the dagger, while Rumple, Nimue and every other
Jawa Dark One looks on. As the sword is forged, Emma recalls Merlin’s warning from years ago in the movie theater, to “not text during the movie” “leave the sword alone” — which she considers doing, for a moment, even as the Dark Many urge her to seize the power. Butas the episode draws to a close, Emma does reach for and wields the restored Excalibur — but to what end, we now wonder more than ever?
What did you think of the episode “Nimue”?