1. In "Birth" we learned that Emma planned to use Zelena to destroy Dark Magic. How do you feel about this plan?
Sam: That was a very dark turn. I think it shows how the Dark One's magic is really tainted by the revenge that Nimue was feeling when she killed Vortigan. Emma Swan would not kill in cold blood, even for revenge, but a Dark One would.
Joanne: Well, part of me was thinking that was a good solution. It would solve several problems. It would get Zelena out of Regina and Robin's life and they could raise Robin's daughter without Zelena's toxic influence. Zelena would also be the perfect vessel for the Darkness because she is dark already. Where the plan falls apart is killing Zelena. It is morally wrong. Even if nobody likes her and she is responsible for Neal and Marian's deaths, Emma should not act as judge, jury and executioner.
Laurie: I was pretty shocked by this. Emma’s plan to kill Zelena was so completely out of character. Yes, we know she was doing it “for Hook,” but really? I don’t need to be shocked like this to appreciate that she is now the Dark One and has some hard choices to make.
Ashley: I think that it was a plan fitting of a Dark One. The Dark Swan didn't blink twice at sacrificing Zelena's life for her own, whereas Emma would not have allowed herself to condemn another person, even if that person did what Zelena did. I think it says a lot that it made me uncomfortable at how casually Emma was talking about her plan. It really was kind of evil in that "Dark One has good intentions but terrible practices" kind of way.
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.
1. Gold showed true courage in his quest to save Belle and finally became a hero before he pulled Excalibur from the stone. He also made it clear to the Dark Swan that he intends to bring her down. What is next for the former Dark One?
Ashley: I'm eager to see the true man Rumple could have been without his father's or the darkness's influence. Rumple has the advantage; he knows how a Dark One thinks. I wonder if he won't be tested and tempted with the potential to possess magic again.
Laurie: I was very impressed (as usual) with Robert Carlyle’s acting in this episode. He got the opportunity to play a lot of dimensions of Rumple, all in one episode. I think we are going to see Rumple move forward with strength and commitment to doing what is right (finally) and to help everyone achieve more happy endings, including Emma. He knows, as no one else can, that the only way to help Emma is to bring her down. Rumple has unique perspective here and I am very interested in how that is going to come about. By no means is he the only person who wants to help Emma, so he will have to work alongside the Charmings, Regina, Hook, Robin and the rest. Definitely major character development for the former Dark One!
Sam: Can a Hero seek revenge? It's one thing for a Hero to stand up and protect those he loves and the "community". But, it feels like it may be easy for Rumple to slide into the realm of revenge while trying to stop Emma.
Joanne: I'm hoping that Gold has learned from his past mistakes and become a team player. With his experience, Belle's book smarts, and the other combined talents of the heroes, all should come up with a way to defeat or stop Emma.