Once Upon a Time: Nimue
November 9, 2015 11:58 AM - Season 5, Episode 7 - Subscribe

The origins of Merlin, Excalibur, and the Dark One are revealed, while Emma tries to reforge Excalibur in Storybrooke.
posted by Bulgaroktonos (11 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've got mixed feelings about this episode. On the one hand, the additions to the series mythology was fun and sure, the whole "using Prometheus's fire to reforge the Holy Grail into Excalibur" thing makes a confused mess of everything, but it also felt like it was actually explaining things. On the other hand, the timeline of the episode was a hard to follow and it was 95% flashback info dump. I initially loved the decision to bring Granny's to Camelot, but they haven't done anything with it and all it's done is make it hard to remember where they are, since they keep being in Camelot only they're actually in a modern diner. If it weren't for Regina's Camelot costuming being amazing,* I would forget where they were entirely.

That said, the info dump actually moved some stuff forward so I'm looking forward to next week's two hours of bonkers insanity.

*Loved the cloak this episode.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:13 PM on November 9, 2015

Should we count that crowd of past Dark Ones as OUaT's Star Wars tie-in? They looked like Jawas to me.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:32 PM on November 9, 2015

They did, didn't they?

I also don't quite know how to reconcile the story of Nimue with the idea that the sorcerer bound, I guess, elemental darkness within a human soul and bound it to the dagger to control it. All of that seems out the window to make the Dark One Merlin's girlfriend.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:28 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

As pointed out in the TV.com review, it's weird that they established that the Grail would kill the unworthy but Nimue was able to drink from it and become the first Dark One. Like, why establish that when you're just going to ignore it forty minutes later?

I do like the idea that ultimate evil can come from positive feelings (killing that guy to prevent him from destroying more villages making Nimue the Dark One -- incidentally, this could be a Star Wars tie-in because it's basically what happened to Anakin, right? Corrupted by attempting to defend people?) but I don't think it was explored very well so it just went straight from "her revenge is planting flowers because she's a big effing dope" to "she stole the Holy Grail from her boyfriend to make herself immortal and now she's killing people" and I see how that could happen, especially when she returned and saw the devastation of her village, but they didn't do a great job convincing me that the seeds of darkness were there all along and the transition was super abrupt.

Also, Christ God Snow White! This is classic Zelena! And shame on everyone else for trusting Snow to guard Zelena when she and Charming are frequently so effing dumb! I think I like the idea of Zelena working with King Arthur? Although King Arthur also just seems...odd to me, and his motivations are often unclear. I guess what he wants is to be a legend and he's willing to sacrifice everything for it? I don't think he's evil for the sake of being evil, just single-minded, I guess, but he seemed like he went around the bend to sort of rabidly crazy this episode.

What does everyone think of Emma actually taking Excalibur? I thought maybe she wouldn't and it seems a little odd to have set up that whole usher thing just to ignore it later. I assume she'll actually turn out to be the Dark One who uses the power for good or whatever nonsense because much as I love aspects of this show the whole thing is just kind of off the rails and I don't think they're very good at actually planning ahead.

I agree that I initially loved the decision to bring Granny's to Camelot but there are also a lot of people who came with them who just...aren't around? Like, where the hell are the dwarves? Are they just mingling with Camelot society? And yes, agree, Regina's cloak was definitely the star of the episode.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:33 AM on November 10, 2015

I also don't quite know how to reconcile the story of Nimue with the idea that the sorcerer bound, I guess, elemental darkness within a human soul and bound it to the dagger to control it. All of that seems out the window to make the Dark One Merlin's girlfriend.

Yeah but you've seen this show before so you can't possibly be surprised that they threw out a bunch of previously established information so they could make the Dark One Merlin's girlfriend in a shocking twist that surprised no one.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:34 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Frankly we're just lucky Nimue isn't also Emma's long-lost great aunt or something.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:35 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, Christ God Snow White! This is classic Zelena! And shame on everyone else for trusting Snow to guard Zelena when she and Charming are frequently so effing dumb!

I was back and forth on Zelena as the main villain during the season featuring her, but I love random agent of chaos Zelena. They can't trust her, they know they can't trust her, and yet they're forced to keep her around, letting her fuck things up while cackling. It's great.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:05 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

"it's so hard being immortalllllll" is something that's been dealt with better in highlander, vampire stuff, and the Q in star trek. but of course this is ouat so merlin just came off tone deaf and 'splainy. he's been accused of speaking in riddles by both arthur and hook. why does he do this? it's not like he's cassandra, so is he doing it to be obnoxious? arthur and nimue (and maybe emma later) both react badly to this. you would think his power of foresight would include little details like how not to drive people into doing the exact opposite of what you think is best.

"#snow white would be the type of child to accept candy from strangers"

i do enjoy her comedic scenes. those are my favorite for the character and it's a shame she only gets them rarely.

i guess i'm going to have to go with zelena as the episode mvp. infiltration meeting, snow and zelena, evil zelena. i still really hope there's reconciliation between her and regina but man it's not happening if she keeps pulling this shit.

also what the fuck is the timeline? how can there be that many dark ones if the dark one was only created 200 years ago? did i get that right? i don't really care. I DON'T.

ladling acid from a giant cauldron one serving at a time to smite your enemies mmmmm i think the soldiers are probably lucky that fight never happened.

emma and hook's ring--"whoa whoa WHOA" such a weirdly modern relationship trope on this True Love show. it's totally emma for once, but i assume they'll end up together and while i gag to think about it, i wonder how'll they get us there?
posted by twist my arm at 8:32 AM on November 10, 2015

As always, twist my arm, I love your comment! It really makes me think about parts of the episode in different ways; like, you're totally right about how Merlin interacts with other people (I think I'm kind of blinded by how charming I find him) -- he was super condescending in this episode and woe is him for being immortal boo effing hoo ugh give me a break. That kind of patronizing attitude may make sense when you're talking to Snow "I Am Basically Unable to Function From Being So Naive" White but not other people.

I'll support Zelena as episode MVP honorable mention after Regina's cloak.

Also yeah, like, if you have that many soldiers why do you need a vat of acid? Can't you just...uh...deploy your soldiers? It seems unnecessarily complicated and prone to failure and just made Arthur seem more like a Bond villain. I get that he's over-the-top awful or whatever but it's increasingly cartoonish.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:49 AM on November 12, 2015

aw thanks.

i still think he's a total cutie and liked him fine before too. it's been batted about the fandom that "merlin is hot" is the 3rd/4th thing the toxic community can all agree on.

the problem is the writing, ouat is relying on our outside knowledge of the immortality trope. i ASSUME he started off loving his immortality but the shine wore off and he went through phases of failed attempts at suicide, that he tried everything to work through the malaise and reality of forever.

i totally believe that a normal human's brain, not a Q or asgardian or whatever, can't psychologically handle timespans that long even with immortal companionship. it's an interesting concept (certainly i've plotted out what *i* would do with the centuries to keep from going insane) and no surprise that as mortals we keep coming back to it, but... it's ouat and they only showed us his conclusion not his struggle.

the "speaking in riddles" thing is also a trope. rumple did it to manipulate. cassandra was cursed. there are teacher characters that do it to allow protags to have character growth--"i can't tell you what to do, you have to decide for yourself. FOLLOW YOUR HEART" etc.

but merlin is supposed to be good AND he's directly involved in the action! so he's not a selfish/bad guy manipulater like rumple. and he's not the Teaching Lessons Guru. he needed to get out of the tree, he wanted to have a life with nimue. there needs to be a reason like "future too fuzzy, can't. decipher." "every time i'm straight with humans they get selfish and try to cheat fate." SOMEthing to make it work.

so yeah. condescending and weird.
posted by twist my arm at 11:38 AM on November 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

This may have all been contradicted by now, since I'm still playing catchup, but - I love Hook and Emma together, but I'm kind of sick of seeing them do all kinds of lovey gestures while still denying them True Loves Kiss. I mean, I could kind of get behind "it has to be a mature, deep love" but they gave it to Charming and Snow, and no matter how much they tell us those two are perfect true love, I feel like those two are always getting into dramarific bullshit a high schooler could solve. I keep feeling like the only reason they deny it is because they want to keep the option open of shipping Emma elsewhere.

I saw every bit of the Nimue coming, though I think the whole "it kills the unworthy" is more about "it judges the purity of your motivation" which would actually be kind of a delicious thing, in terms of how easy it is to slip into evil from good intentions.

One thought I had though - if the Dark One's Dagger provides such a corrupting influence (with a lot of handwaving over how), what about the other half of the sword, the one Arthur has been keeping on his person for at last fifteen years? Isn't it possible he was initially fine and then got corrupted by it?
posted by corb at 2:23 PM on December 8, 2015

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