Subtitle: My big dumb hero.
I went to NYCC last weekend and the OUAT panel on Friday night so I saw this episode a couple days early and surrounded by other fans. Fandom can be a curse sometimes, but it is really, truly, such an amazing gift and so wonderful to be a part of such a passionate group of people.
If you know me, or follow these recaps or my twitter ramblings, you know I am constantly threatening to write a 10,000 word essay about Prince Charming aka David Nolan. I find him utterly fascinating. Every other main character in the series has more depth and complexity and nuance and is probably more worthy of my 10,000 words. But that’s sort of why I find him so fascinating. In the original Disney canon Snow White’s Prince doesn’t even get a name and sings: “One song, I only have one song.” and it is the literal truth. Mary Margaret and Regina are barely recognizable as Snow and the Evil Queen in the 1938 film but David is the same guy and I LOVE IT. So even though this episode is basically a lot of set up for something to happen later, I really enjoy it.
In Camelot of the recent past, David is bored. He knows for a fact that everyone in the room/castle/kingdom is smarter than him so he jumps at the chance to quest when Arthur claims to know where the Magic Toadstool (that will allow them to talk to Merlin, so he can tell them how to get him out a tree, so he can take Emma’s Darkness away, and they all live happily ever after aka until season 5B – whew!) is. That’s right everybody: this episode is a Bro-ad Trip in search of Magic Mushrooms.
In Storybrooke of the present Emma steals a dwarf axe to try and hack Excalibur out of its stone which is super in character with “Maybe I should just punch you in the face” Emma (put a pin in this observation). The dwarfs don’t care that she’s the Sheriff’s daughter, they demand he Do Something Immediately. Charming is very frustrated because, like his daughter, he’s most comfortable standing up to bullies and this situation calls for something more subtle. But he is also determined.
Anyway, Arthur arrives with news that his box of magic treasures has been broken into and among the missing artifacts of legend is a magic bean. That sounds like a weak artifact (Holy Grail anyone?) but Arthur is very concerned and David is excited for another Bro-ad trip even though he can’t actually remember the first.
Back in Camelot, Robin is Regina’s best cheerleader and Regina is her own worst enemy.
Robin: I love you.
Regina: I love you, too.
Robin: K, now I’ma bounce so you can undermine yourself yet again.
Zelena: I hate you.
Regina: I hate you, too.
Zelena: Jk, let’s be one big happy family.
Regina: Nope, still hate you.
Zelena: Oh come on, don’t I get a second chance? You did!
Regina: You’ve had plenty of chances.
Zelena: But you—
Zelena: But Rumple—
Zelena: But Hook—
Zelena: But Emma—
Regina, literally: Stop playing the victim! It’s absurd.
Zelena: *Is speechless at the hypocrisy*
Regina: P.S. I’m going to murder you and raise that baby as my own.
She also proudly proclaims herself the Evil Queen even though last week Robin almost died over that? I mean, again, Regina is a character of depth, complexity, and nuance so I like that Regina hasn’t pulled a 180 into herodom … but at the same time the EQ boast and steal the baby/probably murder you threat is kinda over the top when she’s simultaneously lecturing about using up second chances?
Anyways, speaking of second chances and complicated relationships, first stop of the Bro-ad trip is the Round Table where Arthur reminisces about his former bestie Lancelot, the knight of all knights whose romance with the queen got him run out of the kingdom. David explains yes, it’s the most famous love triangle in the world and also he met Lancelot once. Arthur asks after his old friend, David tells him he’s dead and Arthur and I cry into our cups.
Meanwhile in Storybrooke, Bro-ad Trip 2.0 takes them to the tents of Camelot (also Sherwood) where they interrogate the knight who found the broken into chest of treasures.
Hook and Robin are jealous of the Bro-ad Trip and decide to try bonding over their complicated love lives.
Robin: I’m excited to be a dad again but Zelena’s crazy and Regina hates her.
Hook: Emma’s the Dark One.
They don’t get any farther cuz Emma summons Hook to his ship. There she tries to reenact their first date but Hook is unimpressed. Emma says she’s the same person she was pre-Dark only more open to sex (that’s the subtext at least) but Hook disagrees. He loved her when she was closed up and skittish — and that’s completely accurate to their relationship over the course of the series which is kinda amazing continuity for this show. But the main takeaway is the “loved”, past tense. Ouch.
In Camelot we’ve reached the apex of the Bro-ad Trip, a bridge to the Magic Mushroom. And we get really great character discussion/development for both Arthur and David. They were both low born and have risen to positions of power — and now feel trapped. This is not in any way a new or interesting take on the story but it’s so very very in character for Charming, MY Charming, the one I want to write about, I want to cry. He wants to be more. That’s it. That’s everything. And Arthur, too, wants to define himself, instead of being defined by the Sword in the Stone and the Throne that came with it.
They find the mushroom, fight off Voldemort’s army of dead people in the lake, and start the march back to Camelot. And I only want to know one thing:
WHY IS DAVID DRESSED LIKE THE TOADSTOOL??!! (I’m really excited for the answer please don’t disappoint me!)
In Storybrooke David uses a prop cup to trick the shifty knight into revealing his shiftiness by fleeing the scene on horseback. David and Arthur pursue in the pick-up and I have two important questions:
- How does Arthur know how to drive slash learn to drive in three seconds?
- Will Arthur (and the rest of Camelot) ever change into modern Storybrooke clothes or will he stick to leathers like Hook before him?
Anyways, they catch the crook and he lands in jail and then Arthur orders him to take poison for the good of the kingdom. SO. King Arthur’s shifty/shady-ness has been on purpose, but he’s not precisely a villain he’s just Super Arthurian. Which is pretty great all told.
Back in Camelot Guinevere and Arthur reveal they never really trusted the Storybrookers (good for them, tbh) and know they are hiding the Dark One among them but they still need the Dark One’s dagger to put Excalibur back together so they are playing along. David gets knighted and given Lancelot’s seat at the Round Table just to make it completely clear that his new bromance is doomed. As for the original Lancelot, he pops up alive (hurray!) and warns Snow that Arthur’s not all he appears and obvi the audience knows it, but I expect David will fight it so we can look forward to Lancelot coming between another royal couple, at least philosophically.
The nascent bromance of Hook and Robin continues as they make plans to break into Emma’s house and seek out her secrets. Meanwhile Captain Swan’s date/make nice/break-up scene was actually a plot to get something Rumple touched before he was the Dark One (the sword Hook used at their first meeting), sword in hand Emma kidnaps and wakens Rumple cuz she needs him to put Excalibur back together – as a blank slate, neither hero nor villain, he is the best one for the job.
SO is Rumple the Savior? I don’t think so. Jennifer Morrison said Emma is still the Savior at NYCC, and Emma sort of echoed it in the episode. And (remember the pin above) she is acting like herself, just more manipulative and showy – aka like Rumple as the Dark One and like Regina as the Evil Queen. I think Emma is to Excalibur as the Dark One is to the Dagger. I think.
P.S. Belle is adorable and deserves more screen time: