This episode was nonstop and action packed. Debuting were Merlin, a grade school Emma (aptly dubbed “Little Swan” by one twitter user), Merida, Arthur, and of course, Dark Swan.
The opening sequence showed young Emma in a movie theater that was showing The Sword and the Stone. As she walked through the theater, she spotted the obligatory Apollo candy bar sticking out of a woman’s coat pocket. She deftly snatched and moved to sit down when an usher arrived and said “Don’t.” She thought exactly what you might be thinking, but the man wasn’t an usher, and he wasn’t telling her not to steal or not to eat the candy bar. He was Merlin in disguise, and he told her that one day she’d have the opportunity to pull Excalibur from the stone, but she mustn’t do it.
Next up was Arthur, Lancelot, and another knight who must be Percival. They arrive at the stone to retrieve Excalibur and witness Sir Kay attempt to remove it. That didn’t work out so well for Sir Kay since he wasn’t part of the prophecy. Let’s just say there isn’t a Sir Kay anymore. Here comes the really interesting part. When Arthur pulled Excalibur from the stone it was missing the tip. A smooth transition revealed that the Dark One’s dagger is in fact the tip of Excalibur. So, it seems that when Merlin advised young Emma to avoid removing Excalibur he was actually referring to her taking the dagger.
— Once Upon A Spoiler (@UponASpoiler) September 28, 2015
As the previews indicated, our team of heroes watched helplessly as Hook summoned the Dark One to no avail. Regina noted that it didn’t work because Emma is no longer in this world. She was transported to the Enchanted Forest where her emergence reminded me of Nyx from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. No sooner did she ascertain her whereabouts than Rumpelstiltskin showed up, except it wasn’t really Rumpelstiltskin. He was the embodiment of the Dark One, a vision, a voice urging her to embrace the darkness. As she struggled against all the temptations of the darkness, she crossed paths with Merida. They were both looking for the will-o'-the-wisp. Merida wanted to use it to save her brothers who had been kidnapped by a neighboring tribe, and Emma wanted to use it to find Merlin. They volleyed back and forth between partnership and conflict, the last of which almost ended in Merida with a crushed heart!