‘Birth/The Bear King’ — OUAT 2-part episode

The following blog contains spoilers from Episode 8 and 9 of “Once Upon A Time” 

This two-part episode gives us insight into Emma’s plan and the secrets she’s been keeping. Making Excalibur whole again wasn’t just to harness dark magic, it was to save her one true love.

Back in Camelot, King Arthur cut Hook with Excalibur when Emma came to save him and her family. The small cut isn’t what it appears to be though. As Emma soon learns — A wound from Excalibur can never be healed. To keep Hook from dying and despite warnings from Merlin, Emma tethers him to Excalibur, creating a second Dark One. Hook, however, wanted nothing more than for Emma to return to her old self and begs her to let him go. He knows he can’t handle the Darkness like she can.

This was the whole reason that Emma kept the darkness and wiped everyone’s memories. She has been trying to find a way to rid herself and Hook of the darkness. Emma decides she needs a vessel to put the darkness into and chooses Zelena, since she’s already proven she’s wicked. But, there’s one problem — Zelena is pregnant. So, what’s a Dark One to do? Why, speed up the pregnancy, of course! Everyone fears Emma is after the baby, but once she delivers, she zaps Zelena back to her house.

Once there, Zelena discovers the dreamcatcher into which Emma stored everyone’s memories from Camelot and returns them. Hook them realizes that, while saving his life, Emma has made him the Dark One against his will. And he’s no exactly filled with gratitude.

In the second hour, “The Bear King,” we see the return of Merida and Mulan (!) who has lost her way after losing Aurora. The episode centers around Merida’s family and her father’s magic helm. Zelena and Arthur are also seeking the helm, which is believed to have the power to have men fight your battles for you, something that destroys Merida’s perception of her father.

Along the way, Mulan frees Ruby and Merida fights Arthur. They find the helm, and discover it was never enchanted.

‘Nimue’ — OUAT Episode 7 recap

This blog contains spoilers from “Nimue” — Season 5: Episode 7 of “Once Upon A Time”

We learned the identity and backstory of the very first Dark One — Nimue. Meanwhile, the rest of the heroes continued to try to reclaim Excalibur.

The episode begins with a flashback “1000 years before the age of Arthur” as Merlin and another man are stranded in a desert and find the Holy Grail. Merlin is able to drink from the grail and attains immortality. After gaining these powers, Merlin uses them for good for hundreds of years, healing people, until he meets a woman (Nimue) whose village is burned to the ground by a masked man.

As Once Upon A Time has taught us, all magic comes with a price, which Merlin has learned in the most painful way — seeing everyone he loves die one after the other while he continues to stay young. He decides he doesn’t want to live forever without Nimue, so the two go on a quest to turn the Grail into a sword so they can live their lives together.

But, just as the sword is forged, the masked man reappears and stabs Nimue. Although, unknown to Merlin, she had drank from the Grail, she pops back up, grabs his heart and exacts her vengeance for her village. The decision to kill blackens Nimue’s heart and turns her into the first Dark One.

Back in the Camelot, Merlin asks Regina and the others to recover the piece of Excalibur from Arthur while he and Emma go in search of an ember of the fire of Prometheus to forge it back together.

Merlin brings Emma to the site of Nimue’s fateful encounter to summon her since she is now the keeper of the ember. After resisting the darkness and the urge from Nimue to kill Merlin, Emma takes the ember and heads back to Camelot with Merlin until he mysteriously vanishes.

Zelena had helped Regina, Robin, Hook and Charming sneak into Arthur’s castle to steal Excalibur. When they make it to the Round Table, Zelena emerges with a kidnapped Snow, frees Arthur and helps him tether Merlin to Excalibur, allowing it to become like the Dark One dagger.

As the episode closes, we return to present-day Storybrooke, where Dark Emma retrieves the ember she took from Nimue and uses it to re-forge the sword in her basement while the spirits of all past Dark Ones look on. Ignoring Merlin’s warning years earlier to leave Excalibur alone, she reaches forward and is ready to wield its power.

It’s 3-D, Charlie Brown

20th Century Fox & Peanuts Worldwide Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang (Franklin, Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty and Sally) revel in a snow day in "The Peanuts Movie, which opened Nov. 6.

20th Century Fox & Peanuts Worldwide
Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang (Franklin, Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty and Sally) revel in a snow day in “The Peanuts Movie, which opened Nov. 6.

When I first heard that “Peanuts” was being brought back to the screen in CGI and 3-D, I was worried. I thought, good grief, they’re going to ruin these characters. As a lifelong fan of both the strip and animated films, I didn’t want to see Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang reimagined, I wanted the timeless classics.

After seeing “The Peanuts Movie” this weekend, I learned I didn’t need to worry. When I heard the first notes of Vince Guardaldi’s “Linus and Lucy,” I knew we were in for a nostalgic treat. If I could describe the movie in one word, it’d be “charming.”

I found myself smiling throughout the film as we saw familiar scenes recreated on the big screen — Snoopy as the World War I flying ace fighting the red baron and attending a school dance as Joe Cool, Lucy giving advice for those cold, hard nickels at her psychiatrist stand, the kite-eating tree, Linus snuggling his trusty blue blanket and pondering life’s big questions with Charlie Brown at that brick wall we’ve seen on countless occasions.

With the help of Charles Schulz’s son, Craig, and grandson, Bryan, director Steve Martino (“Horton Hears a Who”) succeeds in a faithful adaption of the beloved comic strip and the film is a love letter to the “Peanuts” gang.

The driving plot of the film centers on our favorite “blockhead” Charlie Brown once again pining away for the Little Red-Haired Girl, who this time moves across the street from the Browns. Charlie Brown sees this as a chance to have a clean slate with her. Finally, someone who doesn’t know of his past failings — buying a pitiful Christmas tree, failing to kick a football time and time again, never being able to keep his kite in the air. But, of course, he wouldn’t be Charlie Brown if things went well, so we see his good intentions throughout the movie derailed by his constant bad luck.

While CGI wasn’t how I’m used to seeing the gang, the animators stayed true to Schulz’s style, going back at the more than 18,000 strips for reference. Martin0 said the complexity of the animation was getting it to look so simple. The crew had to develop a technique that allowed them to keep the “soft wiggle” of Schulz’s work while translating characters in a 3-D world.

There are some small changes — all the kids, except for Sally, are in the same class. Even Peppermint Patty, Marcie and Franklin, who went to a different school in the “Peanuts” universe. It makes sense tough, in a 90-minute movie, there wouldn’t be time for everything. But, it works well and keeps the core gang all together.

There are some Easter eggs for long-time fans including mid-credits scenes involving Lucy, a Blockhead and a football, a group of Christmas carolers, the odd dance moves that we were accustomed to, Snoopy’s voice from specials long ago and traditional animation for Charlie Brown’s inner thoughts. In other words, something for every member of the family.

A Hero is Born — “Once Upon a Time episode 6 recap”

This blog contains spoilers from “Once Upon A Time” Season 5, Episode 6 — “The Bear and the Bow”

Sunday, we learned the danger in Storybrooke (and to Emma Swan) is greater than we thought. We are again taken back to six weeks ago in Camelot where we see the group working with Merlin to free Emma from the darkness.

Charming and Hook fight through the guards in the dungeon to reach Lancelot. They discover Merida has also been imprisoned. Merlin says the bars have been enchanted and his magic won’t work. Belle finds a spell in her book, which Merlin then uses to dissolve the bars.

While walking through the woods, Merida asks Belle to hang back and when the rest of the group is out of sight, she knocks her out and takes her to the Shores of DunBroche. When Belle comes to, Merida explains that the other clans refuse to recognize her as queen unless she marries one of them and they had kidnapped her three brothers. They break into a witch’s cabin and use the cauldron to check on Merida’s brothers; they see them tied to posts and the clans, tired of waiting on Merida to re-emerge, say the trio will be executed. Knowing Belle’s skill with magic, Merida persuades her to concoct a potion that will turn her into a bear.

After seeing Merida’s archery precision, Belle asks why she needs the potion — that she could take on the clans with her bravery and her bow. Merida says she missed shooting an arrow at her father’s attacker that resulted in his death.

Merida and Belle head out to save her brothers and upon their approach, Merida asks Belle for the potion. She warns the clans that they’ll regret challenging her and drinks the potion. When nothing happens, Belle tells her that it’s just water and that Merida doesn’t need the potion to save her brothers. Clan members launch arrows at the brothers, Merida draws back her bow and splits all three arrows in one shot. Shortly after, the clans lay down their weapons and kneel before Merida.

Meanwhile, at Granny’s in the woods of Camelot, Emma finds Merlin holding a candy bar and soon learns he was the usher who spoke to her in a movie theater when she was a little girl. Emma had stolen the same kind of candy right before Merlin spoke to her. He asks her if she remembers what he told her then:

“Leave Excalibur alone. The fate of everyone you love rests upon it.”

In present day Storybrooke, the Dark Swan sends Merida to hunt down Belle and kill her after Rumple escapes. Belle finds Rumple in the library and the two make their way to Gold’s shop. He grabs a pouch from a safe before an arrow crashes through the window. Merida bursts into the store, finding the pair in the back. Prodding Rumple to become the hero Emma wants him to be, she draws back to fire when Belle yanks the rug from under her and the couple escape in Gold’s car. As they’re nearing the town line, Rumple tells Belle the pouch contains transformation powder that will allow them to cross the line safely.

Realizing  Rumple has returned to his cowardly ways, Belle jumps from the car and leaves Rumple behind. He seemingly drives off to safety. Belle is confronted by Merida who tells her she has reason to be afraid and downs a potion that Dark Swan gave her. She transforms into a giant bear and chases Belle through the woods. As she stands above Belle, Rumple reappears and the bear turns its sights on him. Gathering his courage, he grabs the pouch and throws it into the bear’s mouth. Merida returns to her human form. Belle asks how he knew the powder would work, Rumple says he didn’t, he just took a chance.

The trio return to Emma and Rumple makes a deal before agreeing to try to pull Excalibur from the stone. He wants Merida’s heart back and to know how her brothers are. Dark Swan reluctantly obliges and Rumple steps toward the stone and pulls it out with ease. As he’s leaving, he tells Emma that she will regret making him a hero because he knows how the Dark One thinks.

Regina, Hook and the Charmings meanwhile discover that King Arthur double crossed them in present day Storybrooke and burned the magic mushroom needed to contact Merlin instead of using it in the cauldron. Regina remembers that one other person in Storybrooke was chosen by Merlin — the Author (now Regina’s son Henry). Henry casts the mushroom into the pot and a message from Merlin appears in the smoke. He tells the group that if they’re seeing the message, then things are worse than they feared and the only hope to save Emma from the darkness now is finding a person named Nimoway. The Dark One finds Merlin before he finishes the message, leaving us wondering who Nimoway is until next week.

“Once Upon A Time” airs at 8 p.m. EST Sundays on ABC.