'Once Upon a Time' 5x04 Review: Camelot is a 'Broken Kingdom'

We got to see a lot of Camelot this week, including flashbacks of young Arthur and Guinevere, as well as Lancelot and Guinevere’s alleged romance.

As a child, Arthur already knew the prophesy that he’d be king, and evidently didn’t mind telling everyone, because as he told a young Guinevere, some older boys came and harassed him saying they’d never boy down to the stable boy. Besides the fact that Arthur and Guinevere knew each other at what appeared to be a preadolescent age, the other key piece of information we got here was that Merlin was already a tree. There goes my theory that Arthur was behind that. Anyway, Merlin was somehow able to talk to Arthur even in that state. If that’s the case, did he use a crimson crown? Was there only one crimson crown? Do they not really need to use it to talk to him? Is Arthur a little bit crazy?

Moving forward through time, Arthur, as a man, finds and extracts Excalibur, discovering that it’s broken. He returns to his village and proclaims himself King by showing Excalibur encased in its scabbard. He draws it about half way out, enough for those who have seen it before to recognize the “dagger” pattern on it, without exposing its missing tip.

Arthur searches for the dagger so that he can make Excalibur whole. He is so obsessed that he neglects his wife. She begs him to spend time with her, but he doesn’t. Lancelot tries to lift her spirits by claiming that Arthur planned the party for her, but she knows Lancelot was the one who did it. When Arthur gets a lead on the dagger’s location, Lancelot offers to help, but Arthur wants him to stay in Camelot to protect Guinevere.

Guinevere is so frustrated at this point that she decides to find the dagger herself, but Lancelot catches her sneaking away. Rather than forcibly stopping her, he goes with her. She found the magic gauntlet that points to a person’s greatest weakness, and it led her to the dagger, to the Dark One’s vault.

When they opened the vault, the darkness came oozing out of the well, but returned soon after they had entered. It attacked Lancelot, but Guinevere was able to save him by warding it off with fire. She kissed him out of happiness that he wasn’t dead, then quickly said she was sorry and that it wouldn’t happen again. Lancelot agreed.

They finally found the dagger housed in a cage-like contraption that was protected with a spell. Before they could figure out how to retrieve it, Rumpelstiltskin stopped them, but as he is known to do, he makes a deal with Guinevere. He trades with her: the gauntlet for some magic sand from Avalon that will make Excalibur appear to be whole. That should end Arthur’s obsession.

All seems well as Lancelot says goodbye to Guinevere, but Arthur was watching and jealously asks her where she was. She admits to finding the dagger, and after he goes nuts rummaging through her stuff to find it, she also admits to getting the magic sand. Instead of making Excalibur appear to be whole, Arthur used the enchanted sand to “fix” Guinevere’s broken heart and then trows some out of the window exclaiming that they will make the broken kingdom whole. Suddenly, the village is transformed into the beautiful gold trimmed castle. I guess Camelot really isn’t what it seems. It’s all a sham!

During the missing 6 weeks

Arthur shows David Excalibur, and explains how the Dark One’s dagger is the missing tip. He asks David to help him find it, and explains that he can reforge the two pieces together. He doesn’t need Merlin to restore it! As we’ll see later, he’s rather bitter with Merlin, and hopes to set him free from the tree so that he can then kill him.

Elsewhere, Hook finds Emma in Regina’s room arguing with the Rumple in her head, and for the first time that we are aware of, she sees “Rumple” while hugging Hook. That’s not a good sign considering that it was the caring touch of loved ones and friends that drove the vision away previously.

This leads straight into the Snowing fight scene, but don’t worry. Things aren’t always what they seem!

You know a show is good when you find yourself yelling at the characters as if they could hear you through the TV. That’s exactly what happened when David came clean with Arthur, and told him he’d give him the dagger. Not only that, but he brought it with him. I was half out of my seat when he opened the box and it was empty. Thank goodness.

Elsewhere in Camelot, we get a brief view of Henry and Violet before Hook takes Emma horse back riding to try to calm her mind. It appears to have worked. I wonder what’s next for them. Some have speculated a wedding due to photographs taken during filming.

As far as the dagger goes, Snow has it, and goes to tell Lancelot that they need to hide it. OK, that’s better than Arthur getting it, I think, but I’m still leery of trusting any of them. Somehow they decide to return the dagger to the Dark One’s vault, where Lancelot and Guinevere found it years ago. While there, Arthur sneaks up on them and demands the dagger. Snow gives it to him to spare Lancelot’s life, and he then commands the dark one to appear. No Emma. It turns out that the dagger Snow had was a replica. Good for her, and then her Prince Charming arrived and they took Arthur back to Granny’s.

Everything seems hunky dory until Guinevere shows up with the knights of the round table to rescue Arthur. Lancelot is dumbfounded until he realizes that Arthur used the sand of Avalon on her. He’s thrown in the dungeon, where he meets Merida, and Guinevere wins over the Charmings with a little more of that sparkly dirt!


Not much time is spent here this episode. The main focus is to show Emma proceed with the next step in her plan to get Excalibur out of that stone. As she said last week, she wants to turn Gold into a hero. You can see the old cowardice rising up in him as he declares that he can’t be a hero, but Emma doesn’t seem the least bit worried. She tells him that she has just the right weapon to sharpen him up. Yikes!

Emma leaves to retrieve her “weapon,” which just so happens to be Merida. I’m not sure why, but she had her tied to the front bumper of her Beetle. Anyway, she takes her heart to ensure that she does as she is told. Merida is supposed to take Gold and make him “brave.” Pun, pun, pun, pun....

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Carissa Shuman

Carissa is a writer, editor, and artist with a love for science and science fiction.

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