ONCE UPON A TIME Review: Magic Can’t Fix a “Broken Kingdom”
By Meredith Loftus
The Camelot plot continues to thicken with “Broken Kingdom.” The curtain has been drawn back, and we are now beginning to see this kingdom for what it truly is. Camelot may be the place of romance, but it also the kingdom of shady business. Is there anyone there we can trust now that we know how Arthur gained the trust of his kingdom? The themes of trust continue to be at the forefront, while the motivations behind certain power plays are beginning to come to the light. Normally this uncertainty would be unsettling, but in fact this makes this arc all the more compelling.
It’s been a little while since the show put focus on Snow and Charming as partners working together; now that their daughter is the new Dark One, the timing couldn’t be more perfect. As parents, Snow and Charming are trying to figure out this new situation. They both want to save their daughter from the darkness as soon as possible, but their opinions on who they should trust create tension between them. At first glance, it really appeared that Charming was willing to put his trust in Arthur, a monarch he just met, over his true love with whom he shares a heart. Snow calls him out on his need for validation as a hero, while Charming questions Lancelot’s trust and Snow’s lack of answers. It’s never easy to see spouses quarrel and to watch Snow appear to go behind her husband’s back made audiences worried. However, they both know where their priorities lie and it’s with Emma and her well-being. They tricked both Arthur and Lancelot in order to determine who they should really trust. Arthur failed that test. Trust can’t be created with some magic sand from Avalon or bribed with a knighthood; it comes from a place of mutual respect and is reinforced by a history of following through for one another. Snow White and Prince Charming not only set the standard for true love on Once Upon A Time but also are a prime example of excellent teamwork built on trust. Couples may disagree on issues, but the ones that last are the ones that are willing to put aside their differences for the sake of the other, and their family. Their hearts physically and metaphorically beat as one.
Unfortunately, Snow and Charming’s victory is short lived. Guinevere, under the power of the sands of Avalon, frees Arthur, takes back Excalibur, and puts the sands on Snow and Charming. For a man who claims to want to end the darkness once and for all, Arthur’s obsession with the dagger rivals Rumple’s obsession with it while he was in the Dark One. Arthur idolizes the dagger and what it means to him. He puts so much of focus on this future destiny that he neglects to be present for his kingdom and his adoring wife. His fixation on his destiny has blinded him to point where he uses Guinevere’s love as weapon. Guinevere wanted her husband back – the honorable man she fell in love with. Arthur wanted her full support of his desire to legitimize his rule. He took Guinevere’s trust from her instead of her freely giving it to him. Arthur and Guinevere are the complete opposite of Snow and Charming. Trying to cover up a blemish with makeup doesn’t cause the blemish to disappear. Using sand to create a kingdom doesn’t mask the brokenness of it. Using magic to gain trust doesn’t create real trust. Trust has to be earned. Arthur may claim that everything he’s done is for the sake of Camelot, but it doesn’t match up when all of his actions have been self-serving instead of selfless. Camelot is still the broken kingdom, waiting for a worthy ruler to make it whole.
NEXT: The Eye of the Storm