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ONCE UPON A TIME Review: Lessons in Bravery in “The Bear and the Bow”

BY The Screen Spy Team

Published 7 years ago

ONCE UPON A TIME Review: Lessons in Bravery in “The Bear and the Bow”

By Meredith Loftus

In the latest episode of Once Upon A Time, Dark Swan succeeds in creating the hero she needs to get Excalibur out of the stone. Arthur’s web of lies begins to unravel, and the heroes are one step closer to finding a way to save Emma. While “The Bear and the Bow” continued to move the plot forward, at it's heart was the character development of the Brave queen and a powerless Rumple. The audience was reminded that we find moments of true bravery, not just believing in ourselves, but in having someone else believe in us too.

The feisty redhead Merida sets forth on her own adventure in the Enchanted Forest, in hopes of using magic to free her brothers from the clans threatening to take control of her kingdom. Though she acts without thinking, she couldn’t have picked a better partner in her endeavors than the brilliant Belle, who will later offer her wise counsel. Just like in 2012 Pixar movie Brave, Merida decides the best way to save her brothers is to change her fate: taking a potion that will turn her into bear. Belle reminds her that magic isn’t required to change your fate; it’s our choices that can change the course of our lives, and in Merida’s case, her wit and a bow, are all that are required to save her brothers. Merida is operating out of fear. It takes Belle’s clever switch of the potions to make Merida realize that she holds the power to save her brothers and rule the clans of DunBroch. She just needed to be brave enough to see it. Merida then remembers Emma’s act of mercy on her life and chooses to spare the lives of her former suitors in favor of peace and unity with the clans. Merida could have easily executed the rebellious men and sentenced her kingdom to a fate full of war and hostility, but she doesn’t. Changing the destiny of your life does not require a magic potion; it only takes a decision to lead you down a path towards the light or into darkness -- a decision to be brave or to give into fear.

Brains and Beauty

With all this talk of creating heroes and changing fates, there is one character who shines as the real hero of this episode: Belle. With a balanced combination of wit and heart, she challenges both Rumple and Merida to face their fears. Where Merida is concerned, it’s Belle’s wisdom that saves the day. She knows that magic isn’t the solution to Merida’s problem. Years of watching Rumple battle his obsession with the magic he came to possess has shown her that. Magic seems to be easy, but there is always a price attached to it. Merida also has her own fears to fight after failing to save her father. We know guilt can eat away at a person and drive them to despair. Here, Belle shares her own experience of losing her mother in the Ogre Wars to not let that guilt win. Later, Belle switches the potions for Merida to get her to face her fears head on when her brothers’ lives are on the line. She believes in what Merida is capable of and it saves a kingdom as a result.

It’s this same belief Belle has in Rumple that ultimately saves them both in the bear attack. Belle has always seen the man behind the monster, but now she begins to see and believe that the man can be become a hero. Throughout the episode, she encourages him to face Merida and save her from this mortal fate. Belle was the sole reason Rumple didn’t let go while he was in his coma, and the episode illustrates how love can be a powerful motivator of bravery. She is the light in his life, and he wants be a hero worthy of her. Belle also was brave enough to walk away from Rumple’s fearful attempts at escaping Dark Swan’s wishes. She loves him, but once again, she won’t stand by and take the easy way out. Belle stands her ground and refuses to leave Storybrooke because she knows they can face the darkness together. Belle’s unshakable faith in others brought out the best in the people around her.

A beautiful heroine with knowledge and wisdom as her sword is an inspiration to us all.

Worth Mentioning

  • If I ever need someone to be my ally, I now know to use onion rings.
  • Emma told Merida that her brothers were safe in DunBroch with Merida’s mother. So where was she while her sons were taken captive and Merida went off to find the wisps?
  • There is a tie for quote of the episode. First one is Charming to Merlin: “How do you know what a bike is?” The second one is from Regina: “I don’t believe this. We’re getting Merlin’s voicemail?”
  • Dark Swan and the Wicked Witch finally met, and it was better than I could ever ask for! The level of sass was off the charts, as well as Zelena remarking to Emma that she doesn’t mind being alone, unlike Emma. Requesting for at least one scene between these two per episode while Emma is the Dark One!
  • The heroes FINALLY learned that Arthur was not who he claimed to be, and it didn’t take looking at a surveillance camera to reach that conclusion. Will they finally lock him up a jail cell in the next episode? Let’s hope so.
  • Did anyone’s heart break a little bit when Rumple broke the chipped cup so he could escape? I know mine did!
  • One of my favorite scenes of the episode was when Henry came to Regina’s vault to communicate with Merlin. Regina didn’t want to pressure Henry because he just learned what Emma did to Violet. However, Henry is the truest believer. He believes in Emma even when she doesn’t believe in magic or her own goodness. He tells the heroes that he knows that the real Emma is still in there and he will do whatever it takes to get her back. Henry officially wins “Son of the Year.”
  • Merlin’s instructions to the Storybrooke heroes were to seek help from Nimue to save Emma. Considering next week’s episode is entitled “Nimue,” we will learn more about her and, most of all, if she can be trusted. I’m willing to bet she is Merlin’s love, the first Dark One, or both!
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