Once Upon a Time “The Bear and the Bow” Review (Season 5 Episode 6)

Once Upon a Time  The Bear and the Bow

Things felt a lot heavier in this week’s Once Upon a Time. Belle was given way too much responsibility to act as the episode’s lone moral compass; while Merida continued to annihilate whatever good feelings you may have had about her animated counterpart. All the while, the story seemed to shoot off in too many directions, obscuring the handful of stand out moments.

In Storybrooke, the B Team now knows that Merlin escaped the tree back in Camelot. They decide to use the toadstool to cast a spell to communicate with Merlin, but need Arthur’s help. They still don’t know what a dirtbag the King of Camelot is, so that goes about as well as one would expect. Meanwhile, Merida continues to do Dark Swan’s bidding and tries to make Rumple man up. Rumple manages to escape his flame-haired personal trainer, but Emma has a backup plan. She tells Merida that Rumple will come back if Merida shoots Belle in the heart.

In past tense Camelot, the group finds Merida in Arthur’s prison and releases her. That feels like a mistake when she turns around and knocks out Belle. She’s determined to rescue her brothers and wants Belle’s help to do it. She wants to use a spell to transform into a bear and keep her brothers from being executed. Unfortunately, all this time with Merida only proves that she’s a truly unlikeable character. Yes, she’s supposed to be the empowering, ballsy female, but she’s too hard and quick to sacrifice others. I actually liked the animated film Brave, along with its message of female empowerment and mother/daughter bonding. But none of that character’s spirit or joy is present in this version.

The show does continue to make impressive strides this season in its sets and green screens. It’s hard to tell sometimes when something is a green screen, which is good (recall the mess that was Once Upon a Time in Wonderland). The scenes with Merida and Belle on the lake are picturesque and charming because they feel like they’re taking place in Merida’s native Scotland. The special effects with Merida’s bow work were also impressive.

Back in Storybrooke, the seemingly endless battle resumed for whether Rumple can be redeemed. At this point, I just want a final verdict. Either let him turn good like Regina, or let him wallow in his evil, like Zelena. Pick one. Speaking of the delightful green witch, the scenes with Zelena were my favorite of the episode. Zelena reading “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” was pretty funny, as was Regina sending her a plateful of vegetables and green juice. Rebecca Mader is such a delicious villain. I really wish we saw more of her.

I really enjoyed that Zelena didn’t hesitate to tell Emma to pound sand. Like we saw with Maleficent, Zelena may find her life’s purpose with her child. Not even Dark Swan’s truly evil ability to make fried onion rings could sway Zelena. I also liked the juxtaposition between Zelena telling Dark Swan that there are certain things that can’t be forgiven and Henry’s later statement about knowing that Emma isn’t responsible for stealing his girlfriend’s heart.

In the end, Dark Swan doesn’t heed Merlin’s warning to leave Excalibur alone. She has Rumple pull the sword from the stone. I’m kind of ready for this story to move along, so hopefully we’ll get more exposition next week on what’s up with the sword. Is anyone else out there missing the Hook/Emma relationship?