ONCE UPON A TIME Review: Questioning Trust in “Siege Perilous”
By Meredith Loftus
In the third installment of this season, “Siege Perilous” shook the balance and flipped who we think we should trust on its head. While the motives are still entirely unclear, power plays have been made, and the players are setting up their next move.
Arthur has Charming’s trust and Dark Swan has Rumple. Meanwhile, Lancelot returns and tells Snow to be wary of Arthur. Even with the external trust in question, there was also an emphasis of doubting yourself. The constant question for this season’s arc: who do we trust and can they trust themselves to do the right thing?
Charming faces his own sets of trust issues, but rather with himself more than with the people around him. He feels as though he failed his daughter and therefore doesn’t believe in himself anymore. This doubt makes him question if he really does have what it takes to be the hero people have believed him to be.
Sometimes the most damage we can do to ourselves is to lose our confidence. When we begin to doubt who we are, we grow fearful and wary of ourselves and the world around us. If we don’t believe in ourselves, who will? So when Arthur provides him an opportunity to be that hero in Camelot and in Storybrooke, Charming quickly accepts the opportunity.
From there, we see Charming’s confidence begin to grow again, getting back into his element of going on a quest. By fighting off the undead knights in Camelot and finding the Crimson Crown mushroom in Storybrooke, Charming gets his groove back. He is affirmed by the Storybrooke heroes, as well as Camelot when he is knighted to join the Knights of the Round Table and gets seated at the Siege Perilous, the place of honor for heroes of the purest form.
In Arthurian legend, the knights seated there would later quest to go after the Holy Grail; only the pure and worthy would be able to find it. While it’s too early to tell if this arc will go into Grail mythology, this honor resonates with Charming. He is now one of Arthur’s trusted knights.
Unfortunately, that trust might be misplaced.
KING OF SHADE
Since his first scene in this new season, there has been an air of suspicion around King Arthur. It’s easy to hold up Arthur in high regard because of the legends of Camelot. However, in this episode in particular, we begin to see the legend’s façade peel away to reveal a man who is pulling the strings along the way. In the same way that Rumple has the ability to identify a desperate soul, it was very easy for Arthur to gain Charming’s trust. He bonds with Charming through their humble beginnings, strong wives, and thirst for adventure. Arthur is able to solidify that trust after saving Charming’s life and knighting him. However, everything isn’t as it seems when Arthur reveals to Guinevere that he took the Crimson Crown mushroom from Charming. To secure the safety of his kingdom, he needs to keep Charming close in order find out their new friends’ real motives. When Lancelot appears to Snow to her that Arthur is the other villain in Camelot, we see our heroic legend starting to slip away.
The events are paralleled in present day Storybrooke. Arthur comes to Charming with a mission to find a missing bean that was reportedly stolen. Charming steps into action and is able to find the culprit, Arthur’s servant Griff. At the end of the episode, Arthur goes to speak with Griff at the sheriff’s station and it comes out that Griff was only following his orders. Arthur thanks him for doing what needed to be done to earn the trust of the Storybrooke heroes. Griff’s reward is death. Arthur needs him to die for the good of Camelot and offers him a vial of venom from the poisonous vipers of Agrabah. Griff’s unflinching loyalty to Arthur results in his early death. While there is an aspect of Arthur wanting to do what is best for Camelot, there is also a notion that there is more to his motives now. It will only be a matter of time before Arthur betrays his new friend Charming to meet his own agenda. So much for that bromance!