Once Upon A Time 5×05 “Dreamcatcher” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

You can’t just end an episode there!

Episode Summary: In Camelot, Emma resorts to the drastic decision of taking Violet’s heart in order to use Henry’s heartbreak as a way to free Merlin. Killian, Robin, Belle, and Regina break into the Dark Swan’s house and find Excalibur there. In Storybrooke Emma also makes amends with Henry and Violet, but it’s too late when Henry’s learned the truth by listening in on Regina and Robin as they watch a flashback through a dream catcher.

Review | Analysis: Tonight’s episode wasn’t exactly our favorite, but then again, who wants to watch their favorite character do something so devastating like break a child’s heart (even with good intentions)? Generally, episodes that focus too weightily on the plot don’t leave a lot of room for discussion and in this case, they’ve left us with more questions. We’re anticipating next week’s episode as opposed to wanting to elaborate further on this and that’s not exactly fun. It did, however, once again reiterate the theme that all magic comes with a price and the fact that there’s always a choice.

“Dreamcatcher” may have featured Emma Swan doing the worst thing she’d probably ever do, but it gave Jennifer Morrison the opportunity to do some brilliant work.

First things first, a few things in the timeline seem a bit off. If Merlin was trapped so long ago, how did he manage to get to Emma when she was a little kid? Was it a holographic version of him or did he have magical powers that allowed him to leave? Or did someone use some sort of a magical spell to disguise themselves as Merlin in order to advise Emma never to pull the sword from Excalibur? If this is the case, we really can’t wait to see why.

Essentially, the episode’s left us with a number of questions as opposed to some real answers. Although it was great to get some scenes between Emma and Regina where there weren’t unnecessary spiteful remarks thrown in from one party. And their scenes in Storybrooke gave us some great parallels to their rivalry in season one, particularly the Pilot which is one of our favorite episodes to date. It was interesting and saddening to see Daniel’s death revisited, but it makes us wonder if there’s a much grander reason to it other than for Regina to shed some tears.

It’s what takes us back to wondering at what point Emma realized Regina’s tear wouldn’t work. Is it because she’s completely over her first love so she figured Regina would be too now that she has Robin? Or is it because she realized the heartbreak had to be something that had happened more recently than long ago in the past? The point is, when did this realization come and what was the purpose of making Regina live through that memory again? What was the purpose of Emma seeing it? It was a nice moment to bond with a friend/step gram-gram, but is that all it’s for? Before we move into discussing other matters throughout the episode, it’s necessary to commend both women in their performances as heartbreak was very clear throughout this. It wasn’t easy for Regina to live through that pain again and it was evident in her expressiveness that she had absolutely no clue it’d impact her so drastically again. And Emma wore the expression of someone who’s truly feeling sympathy, no child deserves to have their first love ripped out of their hands the way Cora has taken Daniel.

Regina’s claim in Storybrooke about Emma doing exactly what Cora did was a bit too drastic. There’s no doubt that what Emma’s done is wrong in every sense of the word, but there’s an enormous difference between temporarily breaking them apart and murdering someone. Enormous difference. 

Before we get into anything else, let’s discuss Morrison’s superlative acting choices this week that have left us completely and utterly floored. It feels like there’s something we’re not in on because after last week’s moment of absolute bliss with Killian, it seems odd that Emma’s voice would begin to sound almost as robotic as the Dark Swan’s. Is the power beginning to take control in a way much stronger than Emma anticipated? Is the absence of love and positivity making it easier for her to embrace it? It feels as though there’s a missing piece from last week that we’re not shown which seems to reveal that the power is affecting Emma.

However, while her tone of voice is beginning to change, it’s clear that when it comes to Henry, her heart’s always in the right place. Morrison delivered Emma’s pain remarkably. This is probably the first time in Once Upon A Time history where it almost felt as if someone had taken our hearts and was literally crushing them. It was by far the most difficult moment to watch in the series which is what makes Morrison’s performance so extraordinary. She made the audience believe that even though the dark one’s selfish, committing this act is shattering Emma in ways nothing ever has before. Not only does she know the depth of what true heartache feels like, but she’s inflicting the pain she wouldn’t wish on the worst enemies on her own child. And no parent, especially not someone as loving as Emma would enjoy this act. It’s safe to assume that the same tears we saw the Dark Swan in were once again due to what she’d done to Henry and Morrison does a wonderful job of truly always reminding the audience that Emma cares most for Henry.

A mother’s bond with her son is irreplaceable and she allows us to constantly feel that, but what’s even more astounding is that while there are glimpses of Emma returning, on the surface, the Dark Swan’s robotic tone is still there in bits. It’s the right balance that Morrison meticulously keeps that’s so riveting to watch. When it’s clear Emma’s enjoying the power, Morrison reveals in her expression that the powers feel liberating. She’s without a doubt the loveliest actress to watch because she’s constantly conveying Emma’s innermost thoughts and emotions perfectly — Morrison embodies the character so well, whatever she feels, you feel it too.

The act feels so unlike Emma, it’s almost difficult to believe it’s something we watched happen on screen, but the reality is the darkness is a force that controls, but there is a choice, and it appears at the end we see that the power is something that has an effect on Emma almost like a drug. If Emma says no to Merlin, then how does that play into everyone else betraying her? Also, where was Regina when Emma was with Violet?

While Emma’s choices in Camelot were questionable, she did everything in her power in Storybrooke to make it up to Henry by reuniting him with Violet. She doesn’t have her memories and it doesn’t appear she had plans to restore them, thereby helping Henry find the horse on an Operation Cobra mission was Emma’s way of staying true to her love for her son. It’s a tricky situation because while her intentions in Camelot were good too, she had to free Merlin in order to free herself, it’s what happens afterward that’s questionable. And what was most heartbreaking is that the long-anticipated Swan Believer scene ended with a reverse parallel to season one. It was so nice to see them bond on a mini mission, but the outcome was too heartbreaking in the end. Just as Emma looked to Henry in the Pilot, as did the Dark Swan this week — only this time, Henry closed the blinds. And it hurt. A lot.

The darkness, especially a force that’s so strong like this one makes a person selfish, it makes a person manipulative, it makes them careless. And the price of magic is something we all know that must be paid in full or things don’t end well. Could temporarily losing Henry and Killian be what drives Emma to a place of sheer heartbreak thereby forcing her to make matters right with honor? We all have a bit of light and dark in us, but it’s the choices we make that deem us a hero or a villain. Does anyone else feel like there’s still some big huge secret that’s not being shared? We keep going back to questioning what on earth could have happened in Camelot to make Emma this way. Every time we get close to an answer, we get a resolution but more questions. Where’s Merlin? Did he die in Camelot?

All magic comes with a price and even when there is no magic involved, mistakes that are made need to be made right with honor. In the past, Rumple has attempted to do that, but each time he has, he’s gone one step forward and then two steps back. Killian on the other hand is the prime example of what it means to truly redeem oneself. He’s made the choice that he no longer wants to revel in the darkness within him and each time he’s messed up, he’s made amends with honor. He’s gone forward and stayed there. No one is perfect, we’re all constantly making mistakes, but it’s how we make amends that matters most. Not only do intentions need to be in the right place, but actions need to line up as well. And hopefully, as we’ve firmly established the importance of choices numerous times, the rest of the season focuses heavily on showcasing that with each and every character.

Rumple and Merida continue training, but after he fails to be brave, she brings in the chipped cup to motivate him through his love for Belle. And what’s beautiful is that the message of love is brought forth wonderfully with the exhibition that true adoration inspires bravery. For the very first time, Rumple finally packs up enough courage, motivated by his love to honor Belle — to fight. He attacks Merida with the sword disregarding his crippled physical state and perplexed state of mind.

At that moment, Belle was the only one who mattered. At that moment, the hypothetical danger she was in drove him over the edge. It’s interesting because we keep questioning the differences between Rumple as the dark one and Emma. A lot of what he’s done, while he was tethered to darkness it seems he’s enjoyed a lot more than Emma has — it’s essentially what makes us question things most when it comes to his character. Surely there’s a great man deep within, but he’s done so much damage that we’re really hoping it’s not just wiped away through a clean slate. We’d love to see Rumple get braver through intensive and real training. We’d love to see him find light in love right away. We’d love to see him really atone for his mistakes. He tells Emma that giving in to the darkness only ever hurts those who are closest, and we’d really like to see more of his character do some apologizing and atoning. We’d love to see him hurt over what he’s done because as the dark one, he was pretty much the worst.

Some of the acts he’s committed even are so far out, we wonder how it’d ever be okay, but watching Rumple grow this way has been the most interesting storyline for us. Robert Carlyle did a remarkable job of bringing real courage to a cowardly Rumple allowing us to momentarily see a whole new side of him. And we’re really looking forward to the kind of person Carlyle creates with the Rumple today, while we imagine a lot of his mannerisms may remain, we wonder how much they’d change as well. We can have Once Upon A Time without a dark one. Surely there will be other challenges to tackle throughout the seasons. Can we get rid of it for good? Please?

This week was also given an opportunity to watch young love blossom and fall through reminding us all of the time we had our first real crush. To be quite honest, it’s little awkward watching kids fall in love, almost like it’s wrong to watch because they’re so young. However, we’ve all been there. We’ve all experienced it. And the series does a great job of making it seem real. It painted the awkwardness and insecurities perfectly through Henry. Violet’s father made Henry feel as though he wasn’t worthy of her daughter because he came from a different land, but Henry’s moms were there to remind him that he was the mysterious stranger from the exotic land. Is that what Emma experienced when she first met Killian Jones in the Enchanted Forest? “Mysterious bad boy stranger from the exotic land where my parents are from? Cool.” That had to have been her internal monologue right? Lol. It was sweet to get a moment with both his moms reminding him of the fact that he’s not only worthy of being a prince, but c’mon Henry’s got more royal in him than anyone else. Additionally, different is good and different needs to be celebrated, but the reality is, Henry needs to be himself because it’s what makes him special. It ultimately sort of sucks (excuse the language) that we were given such great moments only to be given another that was so heartbreaking with Emma.

While we don’t exactly want to take things in the wrong direction, sometimes it seems the series forgets that when Emma and Neal first met, he’d pretty much lied to her about everything.  And years later he admitted that if he knew who she was, he wouldn’t have gone near her. It’s entirely understandable that they’d try to make him look more courageous as a way to respect his death, but the reality is no one’s perfect, and it’s silly to see him mapped out as though he was the perfect gentleman when he was far from that.

It’s not easy losing a parent and often times there aren’t many people who understand just what that’s like this, it was incredibly sweet of Henry and Violet to bond over their loss and longings. And both young actors made the pain feel believable. You felt for them. You were able to see that the reason they have this connection, whether or not it ever goes anywhere, is because they share such a poignant similarity. The bond they share is essentially something that’ll always be remembered, even through the heartache because of this little detail. It’s a real connection. It’s easy to connect with people who are like you, especially the first person you ever meet in those circumstances.

For an episode that featured a lot of plot-heavy scenes, it was great to get a little moment of Charming enthusiastically teasing Henry by reading his texts. Followed by Killian’s addition of knowing his way around women if Henry needs any dating tips. It was a sweet way of showcasing just how real their familial bond is and for a brief moment, it was almost as though they didn’t have trouble dealing with it. It’s easy to presume after this moment that Dallas and O’Donoghue probably have the same gleeful expressions anytime someone younger mentions a crush. It was a lovely addition to the episode with Grandpa and future-step-dad messing around with the kid and essentially embarrassing him as all older figures in the family do.

After the team learns that Emma has Excalibur hidden in her basement, they go straight to Arthur. (Face Palm). This can’t be good, but we’re excited to see where it takes them especially with Emma knowing the truth about Arthur and his intentions.

What are your thoughts on this week’s episode?

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