Once Upon a Time – The Dreamcatcher (Season Five, Episode Five Review)

Season five of ABC’s fantasy/adventure Once Upon a Time continued on Sunday October 25th with the episode entitled Dreamcatcher. The action begins with a flashback to Merlin’s transformation into a tree. He laments to his masked assailant, “You destroyed her, the only woman I ever loved.” Holding the Dark One dagger, Merlin (Eliot Knight) prepares to destroy the feminine-framed, black clad aggressor, but is unable to do so. He drops to the ground and a tear for his lost love trickles over his cheek. The Dark One pulls Merlin’s head back to collect this precious symbol of his loss and use its power to trap the great sorcerer within a magical tree. This scene is reminiscent of Dopey being transformed into a tree when he tested the border around Storybrooke.

Still from Once Upon a Time Dreamcatcher
Still from Once Upon a Time – The Dreamcatcher

In earlier episodes, Merlin warned a young Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) not to draw Excalibur from its stone when the opportunity arose. He also crafted an iconic hat with the ability to absorb the essence of any magical being trapped within, thereby increasing the hat’s power. Before his transformation into a tree, Merlin gave this powerful item to his apprentice for safe keeping. The apprentice’s advice sent the Storybrooke, Maine residents on their quest for Merlin, following their savior Emma to Camelot. Once they found the mighty magician transformed into a courtyard centerpiece, they sought his freedom. The group hopes that he will free Emma Swan from the curse of the Dark One once he is liberated.

The episode continues with a flashback to Camelot six weeks earlier. Prince Charming/David (Josh Dallas) and Snow White/Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin), under the influence of Guinevere’s (Joana Metrass) magic fix-it dust, urge a reluctant Regina (Lana Parrilla)  to give the dagger to Arthur (Liam Garrigan). Regina hesitates due to the couple’s earlier certainty of villainy in Arthur’s heart, but meets with condescension from Snow and Charming. They explain Arthur’s plan to reunite the dagger and sword. As Emma intercedes, Guinevere’s spell on her parents is broken. Emma had found a magic dreamcatcher that revealed a memory of Guinevere’s spell. Regina warns Emma against using dark magic, pointing to Regina’ own unfortunate history with the evil, only to have Emma reply, “I’m not you.”

Still from Once Upon a Time – The Dreamcatcher

The action continues in present-day Storybrooke as Arthur lies to cover his murder of his squire. Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) suggests a ball or carnival to lift everyone’s spirits, but mainly because he’s smitten with fourteen-year-old lady-in-waiting Violet (Olivia Steele Falconer) and wants to please her. Belle (Emilie de Ravinl) reports her hitherto comatose Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) missing and the heroes suspect Emma. Emma the Dark One stole Merida’s (Amy Manson) heart, controlling the Brave princess. She demands that Merida train Rumpelstiltskin as a hero who can remove the mythical sword from the stone so that it can be reunited it with the dagger and destroy all the light. Rumplestiltskin points out that Dark Ones hurt their loved ones, saying, “The more you justify what you’re doing, the more you push them away.” Emma says, “I’m stronger than you were.” After Merida and Rumpelstiltskin venture into the woods, Emma visits a shed filled with dream catchers, doubtless traps for the residents’ memories.

During a flashback to Camelot, Emma’s biological and Regina’s adopted son Henry, a young writer with the heart of a true believer, develops his first crush. Sir Morgan’s raven-haired daughter, Violet,  shares with Henry her heartache over losing her mother and her love for her horse. Sir Morgan shares his disapproval of Henry, saying, “Will you protect my daughter with your pen?” The man for Violet, in Sir Morgan’s estimation, is a knight. Henry begins to learn swordsmanship, but when his mothers find him she tells him, “Changing never works.” Instead, Henry should capitalize on being the mysterious stranger from an outside land and he would always be a hero to the citizens of Storybrooke. The experience gives Regina an idea of using the dreamcatcher to conjure the loss of her first love. The resultant tears should provide the necessary component for a spell to free Merlin. Emma witnesses in horror as Regina’s mother (Barbara Hershey) kills Regina’s stable boy and true love. After collecting the tears, Regina shrugs off the experience and says  mothers always do what they think is best for their children. At Granny’s Diner, Henry sets up a date for his lady fair, including leftover lasagna, a can of soda, candlelight, and “their song.” Violet, however, shoots Henry down explaining that she does not feel the same way towards him.

Still from Once Upon a Time - The Dreamcatcher
Still from Once Upon a Time – The Dreamcatcher

In Storybrooke, Henry and Emma search for Violet’s missing horse, Nicodemus. With interactions reminiscent of earlier seasons, they drive in Emma’s yellow Volkswagen Bug to Peter Peter’s Pumpkin Patch, knowing of the horse’s fondness for gourds. Nicodemus reacts violently to Emma, sensing her Dark One-ness, as Henry proceeds to calm the mount. While distracted, Regina and a small group break into Emma’s house and find evidence of Rumpelstiltskin’s recent imprisonment and the famous Excalibur in the basement. Henry texts a warning of Emma’s return to the investigators. While on their way out, Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) discovers a dreamcatcher, which Regina recognizes as magical and snatches it. Speaking to his still bewitched Queen Guinevere, Arthur discusses the need to reconnect Excalibur and the dagger to eradicate all dark or light magic.

The scene returns to heart-broken Henry in Camelot as he finds his moms in the courtyard. Their first attempt at crafting the potion ailed, since time and a new true love soothed Regina’s pain. Henry cries, “I’ll never be a hero in this world” as his mothers gather his tears. Arthur and his men show up to stop them from freeing Merlin, but Regina holds them off while Emma wields swirls of light and dark. After the tree morphed into Merlin, the sorcerer knew Emma by name and rebuked Arthur as a disappointment.

At the carnival, Sir Morgan (Ryan Robbins) encourages his daughter to enjoy the gaiety, ensuring Nicodemus would turn up. Henry enters astride her beloved mount and Violet is overjoyed. Her father compliments Henry, calling him heroic and humble saying, “You’ll make a fine knight someday.” In the woods, Merida taunts the disabled Rumpelstiltskin by endangering the chipped teacup that symbolizes his love with Belle. Her father long ago imparted the belief “If you want a man to fight, give him something to fight for.” Rumple fights, but Merida says, “You have a long way to go to take on Emma.” Forgoing the party, Regina and Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) invoke the magic of the dreamcatcher and witness Violet’s forgotten Camelot memory. Henry enters, unnoticed, and watches as Emma rips out Violet’s heart telling her she will get it back after she breaks Henry’s heart.

In Camelot, Merlin frees Snow White and Prince Charming from Guinevere’s spell and Hook asks if he will free Emma from the darkness. Merlin can, but asks,“Is your heart truly ready to be free?” The camera focuses on a panicked-looking Emma. Harkening back to earlier seasons, Emma knocks on Regina’s door, only to have Regina ask Emma to leave. “I believed there was nothing you can’t come back from,” she said, waving the dreamcatcher in Emma the Dark One’s face. She confirms they saw Emma rip out the heart of a 13 year old girl to hurt Henry. Worse, so did Henry. Emma claims a good reason, but the  one-time Evil Queen retorts “My mother thought there was a good reason for what she did. There’s always a choice.” As she walks away, Emma spots her son at his bedroom window and he drops his curtain.

This episode makes a nice return to centering on the relationship between Emma, Regina, and Henry. It will be exciting where they go this coming November 1st when The Bear and the Bow airs. CrypticRock gives Dreamcatcher 4 out of 5 stars.

Still from Once Upon a Time – The Dreamcatcher

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