1. What did you think of Merlin and Nimue's backstory? Did it live up to your expectations?
Teresa: Yes and no. It lived up to my expectations for characters in which I have no investment. I hope all ends well, but I worry more about Henry and the rest of the gang. The show is at its best when we see that.
Francesca: This episode was more on an adult level, in thanks to the wonderful writing of Jane Espenson. Not sure where they are going with Arthur in this story, but I did like Nimue's backstory and how she became the first Dark One.
Amy: I loved it. Merlin's backstory was fantastic. I almost jumped out of my skin when he found the Holy Grail, and that the story kept with some parts of the original myth. Having to be "Humble before God" to drink from it. And the "Wastelands made fertile", all part of the original lore of the Grail. I am really digging Merlin.
Lori: Yes. I loved the fact that Merlin was willing to give up his power and immortality for true love. We sometimes tend to view Merlin as an archetype or as defined solely as a wizard, so it was refreshing to see his human aspect focused on in this episode.
2. A great deal was revealed about the mythology of The Dark One. Thoughts on what we learned.
Lori: Desperate souls? A bit, although I like Rumple's desperation a lot better. I do see the connection that both Nimue and Rumple were originally oppressed peasants. It's interesting how the power of the Dark One was born through revenge, and it says a lot about what the drive for revenge can do to a person. We've seen this already with Hook, though, so as a theme it didn't hold as much power for me here.
Francesca: The only thought I see is that each Dark One was truly weak and therefore did not choose the right path, and in turn, chose revenge over forgiveness.
Amy: I love that it was, as we've seen with others, someone who thought she was doing the right thing. Nimue thought she'd be saving the lives of other villages, other families and children. Of course, she also wanted revenge, and used the power for darkness, so that squished. I also love that she is a woman. She and Emma are very similar, I think. It was fun to watch them play off each other.
Teresa: I was struck by how all the Dark Ones are in the heads of each Dark One. Imagine having all those voices whispering in your ear! This sheds a lot of light on choices the Dark Ones make.
3. Zelena and Arthur have now teamed up. How do you see the consequences of this development unfolding?
Amy: Oh this is just the best idea EVER. (hahahaha) Zelena and this Shady ass Arthur . . . what could possibly go wrong? I adore Zelena. She is exactly what you see. Out for herself, devilishly wicked, just really fun to watch that crazy woman. Having said that, I don't expect she has any loyalty to Arthur Von Shadealot.
Lori: I just can't. It sours my stomach how degraded Arthur is and pairing him up with Zelena is just another blow to the integrity of the original character. I understand that this is what OUAT does, putting twists on characters, but unfortunately this is my least favorite. I see no redeeming qualities in this Arthur. In fact, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to pair him with Zelena: they are both whining, selfish children who blame others for their problems and take no responsibility for their own actions.
Teresa: Nothing good. Zelena is very dangerous. I have to say though, I love Rebecca Mader's performance. She brings the entertaining crazy like nobody else can! I'm with Lori though. Arthur is not just any character. He is an iconic part of many peoples' heritages. Not sure I like how drastically they've changed him and the Holy Grail. It all has a very specific, real meaning to so many. There needs imho to be some serious restoration at the conclusion of this arc, not just of Arthur, but of the legend.
Francesca: Wow, first of all, never trust Zelena. She will always turn on you. Not quite sure where this will lead, unless she is doing so to help her peeps.
4. Emma took the sword. What is the Dark Swan's next move?
Lori: No clue, honestly.
Teresa: I don't think SHE has a clue. To paraphrase Indiana Jones: she doesn't know of what she is in possession.
Francesca: The new Dark Swan seems as though she will take them to "Hell." Again, anyone's guess with this Season 5. It is Soooo unpredictable!
Amy: Everyone seems to think Emma wants to get rid of light magic. I don't believe that's it at all. I think the sword is the key to the Underworld and she needs it to unlock that realm. I think Storybrooke might even be IN the Underworld right now, and the sword will undo any cloaking. Someone is there and needing saving. (Just a theory)
5. Favorite Moments:
Teresa: When Emma let loose and said that she is NOT nothing!
Francesca: I liked when Merlin created Excalibur!
Amy: Emma and Nimue interacting. Fabulous. Honorable mention for all the Dark One Jawas in Emma's basement.
Lori: The best part for me was the opening scene. It's a nod to two things from the original legends: one, that humility is required to drink from the Holy Grail, and two, the Grail legend's wasteland motif. I think it was beautifully done. I read somewhere that people think there is a timeline discrepancy with 1000 years before Arthur and the Grail. The historical Arthur did live somewhere around 500 AD, in a Celtic-Roman society where the social system was still structured around chieftain "tribes." Arthur's Camelot portrayed in OUAT is a medieval feudal society, let's say around 1300 AD . . . so there is no timeline discrepancy with that, at least. (By the way, Vortigern was an actual chieftain before Arthur. You can read about him in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae. Merlin was his "prophet.")
6. Favorite Quotes:
Francesca: There's no rest for the wicked! ~Zelena
Amy, Teresa, Lori: "I am not nothing! I was NEVER nothing!"~ Emma
7. Anything Else?
Francesca: Two things come to mind and that is, once again, the core cast is taking a back seat to all these new characters and storylines. And two: why are all the Dark Ones made up to look evil and demonic like, while Emma's Dark One looks like a band member from one of Robert Palmer's videos? Unless it is in her contract not to be made-up ugly?
Amy: I can't wait for next week's double episode. Finally getting more pieces of the puzzle. I adore Dark Swan. It's been fun to watch. Part of me hopes there is more to Arthur being an asshat then just his need for glory. As a lifelong lover of Arthurian legend, it kind of tears my heart to see him as such a shady shadester.
Teresa: I'm with Francesca and Amy, on all points. Get us back to the core themes and characters, the way "Dreamcatchers" did, and for the love of Everything, redeem Camelot!
It may seem like an odd reference, but I'm wondering if Arthur's situation is a bit like Tai Lung from Kung Fu Panda. Both were trained from childhood to believe they were destined for greatness, only to discover in adulthood that things have not worked out as they hoped. So, they become consumed with taking the glory they believe they're entitled to by force. Just a thought.
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