Subtitle: So, King Arthur is a bad guy.
There are twists and turns aplenty and it works because we know – or think we know– both David and Arthur to be heroic but not the sharpest. There are also, 1-2-3-4 timelines in this one episode! But that works too because the point is: don’t trust your senses, trust your heart.
In Camelot of the way past (TL1), prepubescent Arthur boasts to prepubescent Gwen that a tree told him he will someday be King and she will be his Queen. I haven’t encountered a version of the Arthurian Legend where Arthur and Guinevere are childhood friends but let me tell you I LOVE IT.
‘Met as kids’ is one of my favorite true love tropes and I am here for it! IF ONLY ARTHUR WEREN’T SO EVIL. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Also he gives her this flower that looks like a pink rose but is apparently a “middlemist”.
In Camelot of the past (TL2), Arthur frees Excalibur from the stone in the same scene from the first episode of the season and then he proves to be a hustler by showing his people the rescued sword but not its broken tip (to his credit, he does not keep this from Guinevere). Arthur is made King, Guinevere his Queen, Camelot his kingdom, but he becomes obsessed with fixing the sword.
In Camelot of the recent past (TL3), now that David is a Knight of the Round Table Arthur lets him in on the secret of the broken sword and his quest to reunite it with the Dark One’s Dagger. David is all, ohhhhhhhhhhh, and runs off to tell Snow et. all that his new BFF has a way to get rid of the Dark without getting Merlin out of the tree. But Snow has been put off of trusting Arthur with their secrets/daughter by Lancelot. The two proceed to fight about who to believe – Arthur or Lancelot – exactly as I predicted last week.
Meanwhile Emma is still seeing Head!Rumple, almost hits Hook with a stray magic bolt, and then falls into a magic trance type thing because I guess fighting off the Dark/Head!Rumple takes a lot of energy (makes sense). Henry has an idea where she can hide out to rest so he and Hook head off to help Emma with her demon.
Back in Camelot of the past (TL2), Arthur is ignoring Guinevere on her birthday.
Lancelot tries to make it up to her, middlemist flower petals and everything, pretending like Arthur organized the party or at least told him to do it, but Gwen is not fooled. And look, y’all, I ship Lancelot and Guinevere in pretty much all circumstances but OMIGOD I SHIP THEM SO HARD in this episode.
Arthur does make an appearance at the party – to crow that he’s figured out where the dagger is and he’s gonna go get it. Lance offers to go with but Arthur tells him to stay home and protect the Queen. Good plan, Arthur.
In Camelot of the recent past (TL3), David approaches Arthur to come clean. He tells his new (super shady!) BFF the truth about Emma, the Dark One, and the dagger. Good plan, David. He admits his wife is against him trusting Arthur because – surprise! – Lancelot is not dead after all, he’s here, in Camelot, spreading rumors and causing trouble. Gwen pops in to say she and Arthur are united in their distrust of/ire against Lancelot, that the ‘legend’ (the one Art claimed not to know about last week?) is only the beginning.
In Camelot of the past (TL2), Lance catches Gwen sneaking off to find the dagger herself, with the aid of Merlin’s gauntlet (that Belle used in 4.11). I like the call back but it also means I assume they will encounter Rumple and make some horrible deal with him which SIGH. But anyways, Lance decides to go with because he too wants to rescue Arthur from himself/the dagger obsession and also he is in love with Guinevere.
The gauntlet leads them to the gate in the ground where the tar creature that killed Tasha Yar and Neal lives. Gwen recognizes the symbols from Arthur’s scroll and opens it, revealing a stairway down into a dungeon. There the two meet a dark cloud of evil – the same one that surrounded Regina, prompting Emma to take on the Darkness and become the Dark One (parallels with the greatest love story of all time? So unintentional) – and it engulfs Lance. Gwen, like Emma, attacks the Dark on his behalf, using a torch – light! well played Gwen – and succeeds in setting Lance free. Then they make out.
Annnnnd agree it will never happen again because they are Lancelot and Guinevere and that’s what they do. I love them so much.
In Camelot of the recent past (TL3), David doesn’t have the dagger cuz Snow does and she heads to Granny’s where Lancelot is hiding out. They head off to hide the dagger and Lance admits he still loves Gwen and always will. Snow ships it of course. Meanwhile, Henry leads Hook and Emma to the stable owned by the family of the girl he has a crush on and they are pretty adorable about him having a crush. Emma is all What, no, but. and Hook is all, Good job Henry.
In Camelot of the past (TL2), Lancelot and Guinevere find their way into the tropical island where the dagger hides (???) and encounter Rumplestiltskin. He refuses to hand over the dagger but offers to give them the next best thing, magic sand that will make it LOOK like the dagger is whole. In return they give him the gauntlet (told you). Lance is all how about no? but Gwen agrees cuz she wants her husband back and her kingdom whole.
In Camelot of the recent past (TL3), Lancelot and Snow White find their way to tropical island where the dagger hides and Snow remembers it from the vision of Evil Emma she had way back when that drove her to curse Lily before she was born… so that’s interesting. But before Lance or Snow can do anything with the dagger Arthur appears. He followed them from Camelot and demands the dagger. And this is where it becomes clear that whether or not Arthur started out as a noble, moral, good person he is not one now. He says straight out that he is going to use the dagger and the Dark One to kill Merlin and become the king those bullies never thought he could be. There is nothing noble, moral, or good about any of it.
In Camelot of the past (TL2), Arthur spies Lance and Gwen sharing a touching, bit too close goodbye and jumps to all the wrong, basically right, conclusions. He accuses Gwen of the same and she explains why they left and what they retrieved – magic sand, but not the dagger. And here is where Arthur loses ANY hero points. He uses the sand on Guinevere and turns her into a Stepford Wife.
NOT COOL ARTHUR. Then together they glimmer glamour the random tents and lonely tower that make up Camelot into the walled kingdom we know it to be today (/the recent past TL3).
In Camelot of the recent past (TL3), Arthur threatens to kill Lancelot so Snow hands over the dagger. Arthur demands the Dark One appear and do his bidding but TA-DA the dagger is fake. This whole quest was a test to see who Snowing could trust, Arthur or Lancelot. And Arthur failed hardcore. David appears to prove he and Snow are a team no matter what and thank you very much. Also they will do anything to protect their daughter.
Meanwhile, their daughter and the pirate get on a horse. Not a euphemism, that’s what they are doing.
Snow, Charming, and Lancelot cuff Arthur and drag him off to Granny’s. Lance suggests Gwen he put in charge of Camelot… and Arthur smirks cuz he knows that bespelled Guinevere not only backs him, she’s rallied the troops to rescue him. Lance is sent to the dungeon and Snowing are magicked via sand into agreeing with Arthur. They traipse over to tell Regina and Robin they should hand the dagger over to Arthur. Neither look convinced so we’ll see how that goes next week.
In the dungeon Lancelot meets Merida, also an enemy of Arthur. Okay…
Meanwhile, Hook and Emma find a whole meadow of those flowers.
In Storybrooke of the present (TL4) Emma still has one. She also has Merida and intends to use her as a secret weapon to make Rumple, the epitome of cowardice, brave.