Once Upon A Time 5×06 “The Bear and the Bow” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

Adventures and fierce ladies always make for great episodes.

Episode Summary: In Camelot, Belle convinces Merida to courageously fight for her kingdom without the use of magic. In Storybrooke, while still under the Dark Swan’s control, Merida attempts to bring courage out of Rumple by threatening Belle. Arthur lies to the group about making contact with Merlin and when they learn the truth, they get Henry to do it — only they reach his “voice mail”. Rumple manages to pull Excalibur from the stone. And unanswered questions leave us on the edge of our seats.

Review | Analysis: “The Bear and the Bow” featured some fantastic performances, but most importantly it showcased women at their best. It reminded viewers that although we all have our weaknesses, at the end of the day, there’s courage inside everyone. And when there’s someone to believe in you, it’s always easier to see the strength within you as well. What we’re forever grateful for is great moments of females supporting females and Once Upon A Time does that remarkably well. “The Bear and the Bow” not only gave us wonderful relationship developments but it once again illuminated the power of choices and the importance of nobility.

The episode opened up in such an awesome way — who doesn’t want to see Merlin, Killian, Charming, and Belle break into a prison looking as badass as they did? It was mainly just fun to watch Elliot Knight get into character as Merlin and overall to have a nice fight sequence to remind us that this is a fairytale show where dragons and knights are slayed and prisons are broken into.

It was so wonderful to see Belle shine as boldly as she did this week, and the episode gave Emilie de Ravin plenty of opportunities to showcase some of her strengths as an actress. There was a moment during the episode, however, where her comparison of Emma and Rumple rubbed us the wrong way, but understandably, she loves the man thereby making it easier for her to forgive him as many times as she has. The reality is that as Killian pointed out, there’s no comparison between Emma’s six weeks of darkness and Rumple’s 300 years. Additionally, as we keep mentioning, it’s key to remember that Rumple chose to kill the former Dark One to become it while Emma took the dagger to save the entire town.

Nevertheless, it was great to see her fight for him and really keep her head up high when it came to giving in to him. We haven’t been able to love scenes between Rumple and Belle for a while, but this week gave us a lot of hope about where their relationship could potentially go. It was so heartbreaking to see Rumple break Chip in order to free himself, but the saddest moment in the scene was how he kissed it as he apologized to Belle. And when he told her about the fact that her voice is what kept him going when he was in the coma, you best believe our hearts fluttered a little. Robert Carlyle is incredible when it comes to delivering sincere moments like this — you’re able to tell that he’s truly speaking from the heart. It’s sweet to know that his love for Belle hasn’t altered even though a lot has clearly changed in him, but perhaps the best moment throughout the entire episode was when he finally did something brave and it wasn’t for him, it was for Belle.

After she stood up for herself and refused to leave Storybrooke with him because running is the easy way, it seems a spark in him finally lit up. He not only told her the truth about how he crippled his foot, but moments later, he took her words to heart and he was willing to sacrifice himself to insure her safety. Of course, throwing a rock at a bear wouldn’t do anything, but the fact that he tried to fight and luckily succeeded, says a great deal. The truth is, Rumple’s got a long way to go if he’s going to atone for his past mistakes. If he’s willing to be a true hero, bravery and selflessness cannot come and go as he pleases. He must be willing to fight temptations, try harder, be braver, and make honorable choices even when it’s most difficult. And that’s precisely what makes his act heroic — he not only chose to let Belle’s words fuel him, but he chose to do the hard thing. He’s not a fighter, but at this moment, it’s what he chose to be.

If he continues making choices like this and actually chooses Belle over power, Rumple can be so much better. We can also appreciate the fact that when Belle commended his braver, he states that she was the one who’d saved him. In their story, she’s the true hero. She’s the one who’s selflessly stayed with him and continuously tried to bring out the best. She’s made difficult choices. She’s been brave for both of them. It’s beautiful to see him remember this because at the end of the day, no matter how much trouble he’s caused, we’re certain it would’ve been far worse if Belle wasn’t constantly by his side inspiring him in all the little ways she could. If she wasn’t by his side believing in him, who knows what he would’ve done during these last five years let alone before the curse. This doesn’t excuse his actions, but it’s vital that Belle knows she’s the one reason there’s still some good left in him. She’s the one who’s saved his soul from going completely dark. Once again, his actions are far from excusable, but if there was ever hope in him to find light, she’s the reason for it. That said, we’re truly hoping to see more of Rumple making honorable decisions. He’s not a hero at the moment — he may have pulled Excalibur from the stone but having a clean slate doesn’t equate to being a hero. He’s made a wise choice and committed a heroic act, but in order to get there fully, he needs to make these decisions more often than not.

Robert Carlyle and Emilie de Ravin have always been so wonderful together — their dynamic was certainly missed, but what we were able to appreciate most this week is the fact that even though they aren’t officially together, there’s such tenderness in the moments they share together. Their embrace at the end felt right. Carlyle and de Ravin made certain that every single emotion within their characters was felt entirely by the audience, and this was especially noticeable after Rumple had defeated the bear. It’s what gives us hope that maybe, just maybe if Rumple chooses to truly be better, they can actually make it work.

While we’re not fond of theorizing because it could go a 100 different ways on Once Upon A Time, at this point, we’re certain that there’s so much more to Excalibur than who pulls it out. Arthur’s done it and we all know he’s not the noblest King in the world. Perhaps it’s not about the hero who pulls it from Excalibur, but who’s able to combine it with the Dark One’s dagger. What are your thoughts on this?

Belle’s constantly made the choice to see the best in people, and even when they don’t see it themselves, she doesn’t give up until they do. It’s what makes her character so wise because there’s so much strength in forgiveness. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it’s what she’s mastered. It’s not easy to always see the best in people. It’s not easy to always give chances and forgive, but she pushes through and chooses to be the person that’s always encouraging. After she rescued Merida and Lancelot with Charming, Killian, and Merlin, when they were alone in the woods, Merida knocked her out — except she didn’t want to hurt Belle, she wanted her help. Before we get into her moments with Merida, it’s necessary to point out that it was ridiculously sweet of Merlin to commend her cleverness — it’s not done often, and Belle deserves a lot more credit than she gets. And that not only makes her an honorable figure, but it’s what makes her so strong.

Merida believes that because her voice alone will never be heard in the kingdom, she needs to use magic in order to save her brothers; however, Belle makes sure she uses her bow and arrow instead. She reminds Merida of the fact that she’s both gifted and brave enough to succeed on her own without any magical spells. A woman with a will and intricate skill sets is far more influential than a bear anyway. And in the end, that’s exactly what happens, she breaks all three arrows aimed toward her brothers in one shot and proves that she’s far more worthy of being Queen than any of the men are King. Belle states that sometimes, people don’t face their fears unless they have no choice, and that’s the reason she chose to switch the potions.

She knew that at the end of the day, Merida would do anything to save her brothers. She knew that Merida was capable of taking on each and every person with her expertise, dedication, and wit, but she needed Merida to believe in herself. She needed her to be in a position where she had no choice but to face her fears. And that in itself is a choice as well. It’s a choice to fight when you’re most afraid and Merida did just that. Let’s take a moment to appreciate to fact that a group of men has bowed down to a Queen who not only bravely stood up for herself but for her entire family — making her an honorable hero as well. It was also nice to have her state she’s learned about mercy because of Emma thereby reminding viewers that the real Emma Swan is a beautifully selfless hero whose heart is bigger than anyone can even fathom.

Amy Manson has been doing a spectacular job in each episode she’s been in, but this was her shining moment. This is the episode she showcased that she’s truly doing Disney’s Merida justice. Can we keep her? There were numerous times throughout the episode when her performances gave us chills. “If you remember what you’re fighting for, you will never miss your target.” Manson brought this message to life brilliantly — throughout all her scenes you could feel every ounce of emotion she felt. You knew very well she was driven by her love for her brothers and when she learned about their position, Manson wore anguish in her expressiveness remarkably. What’s most incredible about her as an actress is how expressive she is with her facial features — we’re always covered in goosebumps because of how well she projects her innermost feelings onto the surface.

It’s about time we get to know Merida completely — it was wonderful to see Manson deliver a wide range of emotions, for it’s what makes the audience understand so much of her character. We watched her go from determined to heartbroken, afraid, and full of self-doubt thereby when we later watched her be brave in the midst of everything she faced, the unparalleled elation as she reunited with her brothers followed by the gratitude we saw her wear in the end, layered her beautifully. An inspiring woman who is strong because she’s fought even when she’s felt weak.

We’ve used the word “brave” so many times by now and if Disney’s film wasn’t of the same title perhaps we wouldn’t be so worried about it coming off as incredibly cheesy, but oh well, it’s no surprise we’re fond of cheesy things. Excuse us (insert some kind of a smiling emoji here).

Interestingly, tonight’s episode gave us a hysterical little scene between Emma and Zelena making us actually wonder what their friendship would be like if one of them wasn’t a psychopath (Zelena of course). Regina apparently only feeds her organic food (smart choice), but sometimes, a woman’s got to have her onion rings! Especially if she’s pregnant — can’t ignore those cravings. Emma tells Zelena that she’ll give her freedom and protection against anyone who tries to hurt her if she helps her when the time comes. However, Zelena chooses to ignore her offering stating she likes being alone.

What’s essentially so fascinating here other than how obvious it is that Rebecca Mader probably has the most fun with her role, it’s the fact that she’s hit a sensitive spot for Emma. Dark Ones don’t mind loneliness, but Emma does — it’s why she’s reached out to Killian and Henry. She loves them and the loneliness does in fact get to her. We’re also thrilled that she mentions Zelena has no place to judge her after what she’s done. People seem to forget that while Emma’s done a terrible thing, she didn’t kill. There’s an enormous difference and she can be forgiven. A few weeks of darkness is nothing compared to years and years of evil doings. Of course, we need to commend Morrison’s work once more this week because not only does she continue to impress us as the Dark Swan with her hollow gazes and robotic tone, but the glimpses of the real Emma we see when Henry is mentioned are brilliant. Morrison does a prestigious job with subtly, and it’s what’s so riveting about her work this season — it’s not easy not to overdo the material she has to work with, but the balance she keeps is truly remarkable. Where is her Emmy?

Caitlin brought up a really interesting point about how food’s been involved in both confrontations with Killian and Zelena making us wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that as a child, it’s something Emma would never refuse. As we all know and Morrison has confirmed through her studies, we can be certain that there were probably times Emma wasn’t able to eat well as a kid because of foster homes. Perhaps we’re analyzing too much into this, but it’s interesting to take into consideration. It’s why she’s always stolen food. It’s why if you notice when she eats, it’s almost like she’s a child afraid it’ll be taken away from her. Maybe this is something that’s still in her even as the Dark Swan because it’s something that she’s carried in her as a child. It breaks our hearts that she’s probably missed out on a lot of fun stuff as a kid. And if that’s not the most heartbreaking idea, then we don’t know what is.

Speaking of little!Emma, in Camelot we get a confrontation with Merlin where she realizes he’s the usher from the movie theater. Is anyone else wondering what on earth happened after he asked Emma if she was ready to give up the darkness? Oh right, it’s only episode six, we can’t have all the answers yet. At least Merlin somehow confirmed that how he delivered the message to her wasn’t important, but what matters is that she remembers the very last words he said to her. We’re actually unsure at this point if Dark Swan Emma remembers that she shouldn’t pull Excalibur from the stone, but if they’ll be reuniting the sword and dagger next week, we’re wondering what Merlin meant exactly. Is Emma not allowed to touch it? Did he know that something would happen in order to make her embrace the darkness and thereby, he knew she’d be tempted to pull the sword in Storybrooke?

Hopefully, these are the answers we’ll get next week as Nimue will probably reveal a lot more than Merlin was able to. Also, unless Once Upon A Time will be changing the story of who Merlin’s love is, wasn’t it implied that Nimue was destroyed by the Dark One last week? Questions, questions, and more questions.

Thankfully, even though he’s heartbroken and crushed, Henry understands that the woman who took hold of Violet’s heart isn’t his mother. He knows Emma would never do anything to hurt him that badly if there wasn’t something else. Much like Killian, he understands that somewhere deep within, the real Emma is in there trying to burst out. And that’s the Emma Swan they both love most deeply — that’s the selfless woman that inspires them every single day. Henry’s a wise kid, he knows just how much his mother really loves him and it’s comforting that he understands. We’re really hoping to get more scenes with Henry and Emma in the future. They were always our favorite part of season one and it’s a dynamic we truly miss. We’d hoped that this season would’ve delivered more, but this is not at all what we had in mind. Something happy, please?

There are a lot of unanswered questions still and only five more episodes to go until it’s all revealed, but if there’s one thing we can be certain of, it’s that in the end, it’ll come down to the power of choices again. We cannot change our fate with magic or authors, but each and every person is equipped with all the strength they need to battle the demons in their path in order to reach their highest potential. We keep saying it, but we really can’t wait to see Emma save herself.

What are your thoughts on this week’s episode?

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