His Greatest Weakness

The Broken Kingdom, episode 4 of season 5 was added to Netflix yesterday.

I reached the end and had the exact same thought as a friend of mine – next episode please! It almost felt like it was paced as a two-parter. The credits started to roll and I couldn’t believe that was the end already, a lot had been covered but so much more was just set up and teased for what was coming next.

One of the things that I really like about this show, I think I’ve said this before, is it’s capacity to surprise me. I’ll see the promo, or I’ll see the live tweets which have pictures and quotes. This will form a picture in my mind, I’ll add it to my theories of what I think will happen. I then watch the episode and something totally different happens, but it’s not wrong, it makes as much sense as my theories.

I’ve never watched a show that seemed to encourage speculation as much. I am worried though because the ratings aren’t as healthy as I’d like. They are still winning the timeslot but it’s an expensive show, and this season will reach the magic number 100 for syndication.

With the numbers much lower than in the past, I could see ABC wanting to save the money. I really hope not though because I want this show to go on forever, or at least much longer than just the rest of this season! It’s too awesome, just like Stargate, and there needs to be a healthy amount for rewatching.

Ok so I’ve rambled on enough to now go to the cut.

The Broken Kingdom
The episode danced about the timelines a bit. There was an early shot of a child Arthur and Guinevere, when he first told her about Merlin’s prophecy regarding the sword in the stone. Camelot has no King, they are a broken kingdom.

I accepted this at the time but then I thought about it logically. If Camelot is a broken kingdom, if it has no leadership, then why hasn’t a neighboring kingdom said “thank you very much” and taken control of the land and the people? In FTL, it’s positively feudal in how society operates. Why wouldn’t a nearby kingdom want to take the land, make the people of Camelot pay fealty to them? Why just leave the people, their land and everything they produce alone?

The simple answer is because it had to be that way. It’s not a big point so it doesn’t bother me too much. I suppose I could headcanon it and say that Merlin cast some sort of protection spell on the land. That no-one would be able to lay claim to it until the rightful King of prophecy came along.

The story of Camelot continued, with Arthur pulling the sword from the stone – a broken sword, for a broken kingdom. He conceals the fact that it’s broken from Camelot’s people and dedicates himself to the quest of making Excalibur whole again. They didn’t say how many years passed, but he’s been at the quest long enough to annoy his wife.

Eventually Guinevere decides she’s had enough and she’s going to take care of business. With Lancelot on hand, she finds the vault of the dark one, managing to open it to a cave system underneath. Down in the tunnels there’s a doorway, much like one of the sorcerer’s doorways (or the doorway that led to Glinda the good witch), which takes them into a jungle where the dagger lies on a pedestal.

Rumplestiltskin appears and offers Guinevere a deal. He won’t (obviously) let her have the dagger, but he will give her a vial of the sands of Avalon which can fix anything that is broken. In return he takes Merlin’s gauntlet which reveals a persons greatest weakness. Guinevere had found the dagger because it was Arthur’s greatest weakness.

In hindsight that was really a terrible deal Rumplestiltskin made. He’s famous for always getting the better end of the deal but that time he got screwed. It was the gauntlet that the Queen’s of Darkness demanded as ransom in return for Belle. It was the gauntlet that Belle used to misunderstand how he felt about her, which led her to banishing him from Storybrooke. That gauntlet brought him nothing good, and really did a lot of harm.

Now, the sands of Avalon are like the gift which just keeps on giving. They have mind controlled Guinevere, they built Camelot a castle and now they’ve mind controlled the Charming’s. Who knows what else Arthur has used them for over the years.

The episode synopsis said the episode would reveal Arthur’s true identity. I thought that meant that someone else was masquerading as Arthur. My money was on Zelena because of the green smoke that surrounded the squire. However, perhaps it just means the desperation and the darkness in Arthur’s nature, the motive that leads him down the dark path we see him walking.

I did wonder why Arthur never thought to use the sand on Lancelot, perhaps he just couldn’t bear the sight of him. After all Lancelot had paid attention to Guinevere when Arthur had ignored her, the two of them might have been in love or there might just have been deep affection there, the sort of broken love they both felt for Arthur even though he treated them badly.

The rest of the episode
The Charming’s faking out Arthur and Lancelot by pretending to fight. Well the fight was real but they resolved it and worked together as always. I suppose that’s to be expected, they are a team and it’s sweet, though part of me did want to see them genuinely fight a little more. It was an unexpected twist though as they had fooled me as well.

Snow pulling out the dagger, holding it in the command position – “there is something we must hide”. It was an odd move and an odd tone, it made for a fantastic shot but it didn’t really fit. I watched the episode with someone else and they asked me at this point, whether Snow was going dark. I think perhaps it was more that she’s a terrible liar, to people that she cares about, and she was a little off her game as she didn’t like having to deceive Lancelot.

Merida returns! About time, she was in the premiere for all of five minutes and hasn’t been seen since. In Camelot time she’s in the dungeons, offering Lancelot an alliance as “any enemy of King Arthur’s, is a friend of mine”. Back in Storybrooke she’s working with Emma but not willingly as I had assumed. I had thought that maybe Emma and Merida had formed an alliance of convenience, because they were both enemies of King Arthur. However, Emma took her heart, which means she can control Merida.

Regina was barely in this episode but still stole the two scenes she was in. Snow asking Regina to “give them a minute” when the Charming’s were fighting, the look on her face and the casual teleport smoke was so cool. Then Regina pacing up and down “I get antsy when I don’t know who to hate” is just brilliant.

Emma and Hook, that’s so sweet. “let’s sail away” is such a pirate expression. Then him saying “I’ll never stop fighting for us” was lovely, if a blatant copy of Belle’s line when Regina captured her, when Belle said “I’ll never stop fighting for him” or the repeat when Belle was talking to Rumple “I learned a long time ago that when you find something worth fighting for, you never give up.” I do wonder if the writers intended that echo in the lines. A lot of what they do is deliberate and both of the lines are in reference to loving the dark one.

Zelena was completely absent again. Robin was only there briefly for one scene. Belle was completely absent, the dwarves and Granny also MIA. I suppose a lot of the screentime in the episode was taken up with the Camelot flashbacks. However, I do wonder what is the point of all these people “going on the adventure” if they then don’t do anything when they get there.

Henry and Violet, very sweet and very innocent, though I did like Hook’s teasing. I wonder if Emma’s repeated reference to herself as “the dark one” is indicative of her losing the fight.

Then the end scene. Rumple made two appearances as himself in this episode, not just as manifestation of the darkness. There was him as the dark one, in the Camelot flashback, then there was him as Gold at the end of the episode. Emma repeated that he was going to be a hero, he said he couldn’t. That’s when Emma went to Merida and said “There’s a guy I know. You wouldn’t like him, he’s a real coward. …. I need you to make him brave.”

I’ve seen the promo episode for next week. Rumple says “I could never be brave.” and Merida replies. “Yes you will be, you have to.” and the voice over says “Without a hero, lives will be shattered.”

My problem with this is I really don’t believe that Rumple is actually a coward. He beats himself over and over, he has taken to heart that he’s a coward but I really don’t believe that he is. Oh, he’s no reckless hero. He doesn’t risk his life for no reason, but when it matters then he steps up. As a powerless spinner, he walked through a burning castle because he believed it would save his son. As the dark one, he sacrificed his life, to defeat Pan so that his family would be safe.

He really isn’t as much of a coward as he believes, and as everyone says he is. I really hope that the writers are building this up that Rumple will become a hero. They said in an interview that he wasn’t going to have any magic, so he needs something to defend himself and Belle. Plus if he is a hero, it would make reconciliation easier. Also, if he isn’t the dark one anymore and never will be again, then he needs some sort of defining role, so that he remains relevant.

Why can’t it be next Wednesday already?