Once Upon a Time Recap: Ruby Reveal, Underworld Talk, Other Big Moments

Previously on TVLine… I quick-capped the extra-dark bombshell that came out of this Sunday’s first Once Upon a Time episode (of two). But the double-pump serves up a few other big twists and interesting moments — even though the second hour pretty much “Across the Sea‘d” us.

Here are the 20 or so total highlights from the evening:

♦ As we had already seen in a sneak peek, Dark Emma used Excalibur to save (or “save,” all things considered?) Hook — and then shared the morsel that all she had done thus far was for him.

♦ Asked for help by the man who for years chased him, a meek Rumple counseled Hook to “find out what Emma is atoning for,” as the Dark One.

♦ Speaking of Rumple: You had to LOL at his impression of Merlin’s own accent.

♦ In Camelot, Emma managed to rescue her family from Arthur, Merlin and Zelena, though Hook suffered a “minor nick” from Arthur’s blade during the scuffle.

♦ There was a very nice scene where Regina sympathized with the former Savior’s hesitation to get rid of the Darkness. “It took a long time, but I really know you, Emma,” Regina avowed. Determined to help her friend with this dilemma, Regina went so far as to grab the dagger and command Emma to reveal why she’s afraid to give up the Darkness.

♦ Having been apprised by Henry that Hook had a plan for when they got back home — to get a house, where he and Emma might live together — Emma had a heart-to-heart with Killian, first touching on the nature of the first “I love you” she sent his way (during the Season 4 finale). She admitted to a certain track record, starting with Neal, of saying those three little words when any actual future seems impossible. “I do want a future with you,” she made clear, to which Hook assured her, “There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

♦ When Emma went to forge Excalibur with the dagger, Hook (for some unclear reason) right then started to bleed out, from the “nick” he suffered earlier. Merlin said that Excalibur wounds never heal, and that if Emma proceeds with her impetuous plan to tether Hook to Excalibur, it will “multiply” the Darkness — a situation that can only be undone by the “steepest price” of all, something that would be her “final step” into Darkness.

♦ In Storybrooke, Emma used dark magic to accelerate Zelena’s pregnancy — setting up a hilarious scene between Dr. Whale (played by David Anders and his iZombie hair) and Regina, and introducing the world to Baby Girl… Hood? (But what about Emma needing the “cries of a newborn,” Belle?)

♦ As Hook appreciated the telescope at Dark Emma’s Storybrooke house, she informed him that the house was his idea, for their future. “Everything I’ve done is to keep that future alive,” she asserted… before drugging him.

♦ Emma then revealed her plan to transfer the Darkness into Zelena, and then strike the Wicked Witch down (aka that “steepest price” Merlin had talked about).

♦ Zelena helped Hook get the truth out of a squid ink’d Dark Emma, using a dreamcatcher to reveal how he was turned into a Dark One, else he would die. Having been president of the He-Man Dark One-Haters Club for centuries, Hook is not happy.

In “The Bear King”….

♦ The old witch interrupted Merida’s coronation in DunBroch to “collect” payment on the magical helmet she made for King Fergus years ago. To find the enchanted object, Merida recruits Mulan, the warrior who years ago trained her to fight. Only, Mulan seems “different” now. Sadder. Bitter.

♦ After she and Merida had a bit of a tiff, Mulan sought out the old witch, but met her guard wolf instead — who turned out to be Ruby aka Red!

♦ After name-checking a few common friends (and inadvertently rubbing Aurora/Philip salt in Mulan’s wound), Ruby revealed via flashback how she had confided in Snow White that she didn’t “fit in” in Storybrooke, and was going to use a magic bean that she and Tiny farmed to return to the Enchanted Forest and find more of her people.

♦ King Fergus, it turns out, had switched helmets before heading into battle, opting not to use magic to protect his kingdom. (Saw it coming.)

♦ After the umpteenth reference to generic “invaders from the south,” you had to figure that Fergus’ adversaries would turn out to have some sort of “A-ha!” identity. And as it turned out, it was King Arthur leading his knights on a search for Excalibur’s missing piece. Thus, Arthur is the one that killed Fergus. And Merida now vows revenge.

♦ The magic helmet wasn’t actually the old witch’s solution to protecting the future of Fergus’ kingdom — it was a means to empower its future queen, Merida, yada yada.

♦ The witch brought a gift to the coronation: magic ale that allows you to commune with anyone who has passed to… the Underworld. (Muah-ha-ha-ha-ha!)

♦ At episode’s end, Mulan ‘fessed up that she had been soured by a broken heart, having taken too long to tell someone (no pronouns here, folks!) how she really felt. Ruby suggested that Mulan join her on her own “new path,” and perhaps it will lead her to her own….

What did you think of Once‘s dark cliffhanger followed by the extended visit to DunBroch?


Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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49 Comments
  1. Dean says:

    Okay filler episode, not so craY about Merida’s story but it does probably explain how she got to Storybrooke its also further proof that Arthur is a world class arse. Seems like that same sex couple being teased as it turns out is Mulan and Ruby, no complaints from my end about the wolf and the warrior getting cozy.

  2. Midnight says:

    Even though the second episode was very disjointed with practically none of the main cast, it was actually a very good standalone story. Reminded me a lot of Season 1.

    • laurelnev says:

      It was obviously filmed as 2 separate eps. Think they’re canceling the gawd awful 9pm show, and moved what would have been the Thanksgiving ep to be tonight’s 2nd hour. And December will be full of Holiday specials, so we’ll have few new eps until January. But we’re closing in on the end of this arc, I hope.

  3. laurelnev says:

    And we’re back to ALL of the tragedy that has befallen our heroes this season can be ascribed to Arthur being a dick! I really DO hate how these writers feel the need to tarnish the legends of Arthur so! But I think we have a new catch phrase to replace “I was cursed;” “It’s all Arthurs fault for being such a scoundrel!”

    That being said, personally, I LOVED the 2nd hour. Now I know a lot of folks will be calling the 2nd hour “filler,” but to me, it represented the old, character driven. fun OUAT I used to know and love. The 2nd hour made me realize what the REST of the season has been missing. If we could’ve erased that glimpse of Zelena, which thank goodness was brief, and Z lost, well the 2nd hour would have been the best of the season. Still think it probably is the best so far. Why? Well it was all about those kick ass characters, growing as they face real world challenges. Loved Mulan and Merida, and I’m SO GLAD to see Ruby back, although her reasons for being back in that realm were kind of sketchy. (Guess she couldn’t say “Intelligence. “Nuff said.”) And I LOVED seeing THAT side of Regina make its return. Yes, give me MORE eps like that 2nd hour and I’ll be a happy fan!

    • Dean says:

      Well Artie can’t exactly claim himself as a noble hero anymore now can he? Binding Merlin holding Emma’s family hostage becoming besties with the Wicked Witch all for the sake of people kissin his feet, David’s right he just wants to be important. Agreed about Ruby being back but please don’t mention Intelligence that awful excuse for a show should be forgotten. Still Ruby wanted companionship and Mulan was still bitter about Aurora. I wouldn’t mind seeing a series based on those two, wouldn’t be the first time a spin off with two female companions was made one of which is a sword wielding warrior. For a filler ep it was entertaining.

    • BM says:

      Yeah, maybe the episode itself was good but why am I supposed to care so much about secondary and tertiary characters that I want a whole episode with them? They have so much going on this half of the season that they’re not even able to continue with each in every episode – each episode leaves out part of the story and that is just too much in my opinion. I love the character of Merida but it’s one storyline too many and so far, she hasn’t been *really* relevant for the “greater good”. (Not that the Queens of Darkness were *that* relevant but at least it didn’t seem like they had a million storylines going on at the same time)

      • laurelnev says:

        If more eps were like that 2nd ep, they wouldn’t NEED so many superfluous characters. ;) And it’s not news to anyone who hangs here that I’m NOT really diggin’ this Arthur fiasco. ONLY good thing about the Camelot arc was the deadhead crest on that knight. :)

  4. luckeemisspiggy says:

    I really liked the Merida/Mulan episode though I wish they’d switched the order in which tonight’s episodes aired. Knowing the show runners have been teasing a same-sex couple, I wondered if it might be Merida and Mulan though it now seems pretty obvious it’ll be Ruby and Mulan (Mulan’s face when the wolf turned out to be a beautiful woman was pretty priceless). I’m gals to have Ruby and Mulan back in any capacity, but I wish they were part of the main action; maybe the back half of the season? Speaking of the back half of the season, I’m willing to bet the “gift” the witch have to Merida at the coronation will play an important role, especially given the recent casting news

  5. Jerry says:

    10 bucks says that if this arc ends where a lot of us think it will, that ale will show up in the finale to confirm someone’s location and set off the 5B arc

    • Cornelius says:

      As soon as I heard the witch say “Underworld” I knew that ale would be important later on this season. Wonder who will end up in the Underworld though.

      • Nicky Aiuto says:

        Don’t even go there. Just because they mention the underworld doesn’t mean they will visit it.

        • robandco says:

          But they have cast Hades (or someone fitting the description), Hercules and Meg. That’s a lot of clues. At that point it’s pretty much a done deal.

  6. prish says:

    The husband asks, “Is he supposed to be King Arthur? I thought King Arthur was a wonderful guy, not a jerk!” and so we begin to watch our Sunday tv favorite.

  7. Ram510 says:

    That was a really decent standalone episode. I say that admittedly not all that crazy about Mirida’s storyline but the episode kept me invested and was much better than I’d ever expect. I would go as far to say that they could’ve had a standalone mini series centered around her, Mulan and Red. This has been a consistently entertaining season so far. Not many OMG moments but great storytelling

  8. DarkDefender says:

    That first hour was the best episode of the series to date. #DarkCaptainSwan
    .
    The second hour was just okay. OUAT is always best when the story relates closely to the core Storybrooke gang.

  9. Terry says:

    It was really annoying that those 2 episodes did not go together at all. I was quite enjoying the first one and looking forward to it continuing and instead I get dumped into DunBroch with the clans. Ugh, left me feeling very disappointed.

  10. ninergrl6 says:

    Hour 2 was POINTLESS save for the brief Underworld reference. It’s everything I hated about season 1 & 2: random plot about random characters with very little bearing on the main arc(s). Pity that this was the follow-up for the EPIC hour 1. At least it’s over with & we can get back to the main storyline next ep.

  11. ? says:

    “Clan MacGuffin.” Cute. I see what you did there, OUAT.

  12. A says:

    In the second hour, they said the word “helm” at least 800 times, right? That seems like a conservative estimate.

  13. Pat says:

    I was happy with the first episode, because it gave me some answers but the second episode for me was confusing and I just did not like it. The Merida character I honestly do not know a thing about this character and when they started her appearance on the show I asked the question who is she? I was disappointed that they left me hanging after the first episode and I am more interested in them as a whole.

  14. Guenivere says:

    So, to be clear, Hook is a Dark One who’s been back in Storybooke for days now…and hasn’t noticed he hasn’t been sleeping?

    Also, where the heck is Archie because it seems to be a therapist would be sorely needed just about now…

  15. Diz says:

    After the 1st episode, the 2nd was quite a bore. I could care less about anything with Merida. I think she’s terrible. Mulan saved the episode. They should have switched the airing of the 2 episodes though.

  16. browneyegurl says:

    So unfortunate to see a character that was introduced as having pain over being orphaned and giving up her son now have completely forgotten that she has her long lost parents and son. So as people have said and Adam tried to argue that people were “assumptive”, the Dark Swan arc is all about propping Hook’s manpain. Henry hanging out with Hook is ridiculous but they thrown every character under the bus to prop him up. It ain’t like Hook has a job to actually buy a home anyway.

    It is obvious that there was a redirection in the show’s narrative somewhere maybe episode 3.

    I’ll just watch to see if any journalist is going to mention the horrible scene of Hook’s emotional blackmail by suicide being framed as romantic.

  17. robandco says:

    I haven’t seen Brave, but Merida’s story was bad. Completely off putting IMO.
    The only good (not to say awesome) parts of the episode were the Ruby and Mulan ones.
    I am so glad they decided to bring Ruby back, she is one of the more interesting characters IMO. She has ties with everyone and the actress is very good.
    And I am so very glad they didn’t scrap Mulan’s feeling towards Aurora, this is so important. I wonder if OUAT will go all the way with this one.
    Let’s hope we don’t have to wait for season 6 to see what’s next for both characters.

    • prish says:

      But her red-headed bearded Dad was so cute, I’d forgive anything. Too bad they killed him off, since they worked so well, together. It was the best parent/kid combo the series has ever seen.

  18. the girl says:

    Definitely looking forward to seeing what I have now dubbed “Mulan Rouge” in action. Mulan’s face when Red turned back into a woman was priceless. Otherwise that episode was just filler. A good episode, but completely pointless to the current season’s main story.

  19. Lily says:

    Loved “Birth”…. absolutely hated “The Bear King”. Hook declaring war on Emma, for turning him into the thing he hates most, was such a great cliffhanger. What type of future could they have, if she murdered someone?

  20. Jimmy says:

    Hated the second episode. Completely unnecessary and took away from the great first hour. Not even the return of Mulan and Ruby could save it.

  21. crows@hotmail.com says:

    it’s a twist having both dark ones, but I would like to see Emma and Hook turn to the light and be together……..Arthur should be the dark one…….not emma or hook!

  22. Alin says:

    I was annoyed the second hour wasn’t picking up after the first but I actually enjoyed it more. I’m kinda over Camelot so the Merida storyline was a bit of fresh air. The winter finale is on Dec. 6 so I guess they have to air all the 11 episodes before then.

  23. Curly says:

    Omg that was exiting I hope that Killian can forgive Emma

  24. prish says:

    Aha! I am seeing Gold becoming The Dark One, again, and this time to save the two of them. Who else could wield the power and nudge it into good. Missing our Gold Dark One, here. No one does it with such flare.

  25. Danielle says:

    Also, with this Prometheus flame plot the last two weeks they were dropping in a greek mythology reference to prep us for a Hades/ Hercules plot.

  26. Datya says:

    Matt, the “cries of a newborn baby” were for the spell to get rid of light magic, which was never Emma’s goal.
    ***
    I feel like most people here, including myself, had an inkling that Dark Swan was trying to get rid of the dark magic, not light – especially based on her asking Merlin last week if the darkness could be used for good…
    ***
    I loved both episodes, but was still reeling from the crazy “Hook is a Dark One” reveal during thr second episode. I would have enjoyed Merida-Mulan-Ruby a lot more if their episode had come first (Arthur and Zelena looking for the helm could have fit before too).

  27. Shannon says:

    The first episode was amazing. Being someone who is familiar with Brave and likes the Merida arc, I thought the second episode was pretty good, too. It would have been better imo if there hadn’t been as many cliches, but the Underworld mention almost had me screaming HELL YES! Back to the first episode…I’m really growing tired of Zelena. I mean it’s good that she revealed the truth to Hook, but I get why Dark Swan is so willing to do what she’s planning to do. That said, I don’t feel that Hook should forgive her soon, if at all. He admitted to being a murderer, but that’s in his past; Dark Swan is doing this NOW. She truly believes she’s doing the right thing, though. So maybe that is what will tip the scales toward forgiveness. Oh, and as soon as Merida said that the knight that killed her father took the helm, I just knew the knight would turn out to be Arthur. I for one am quite happy they’ve made him a villain; I was never a fan of King Arthur in legend, and the second I saw him on my screen, I read him as bad news. There’s just something evil in his eyes.

  28. Carol says:

    My only question is: Why Hook didn’t feel that he was also a Dark One? Emma spent the entire season struggling with her new powers and the only reaction Hook had was after he found out what she did to him.

    • Well, she took his memories. I don’t think it’d be a stretch to believe he couldn’t feel it simply because he didn’t know. Maybe Hook didn’t feel it because he never attempted to tap in to any darkness from the point when he was turned up to now.

  29. Jeannettebb says:

    Uh hello, and we cared about this episode about sideline characters because? The focus is obviously on Hook and Emma and the writers had a perfect opportunity to give us more in this episode. Where the hell did that come from? I lost interest before the middle of it. Not to say I do not like their characters, its just that they are not strong enough to stand alone. Take them to Storybrooke.

  30. ann says:

    i used to love this show…but im not feeling this season… half the time i dont know whats going on