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ONCE UPON A TIME Review: “Nimue” Sheds Light on the Dark One’s Origins

BY The Screen Spy Team

Published 7 years ago

ONCE UPON A TIME Review: “Nimue” Sheds Light on the Dark One's Origins

By Meredith Loftus

We’ve hit the midway mark in Once Upon a Time's Camelot/Dark Swan arc, and the latest installment “Nimue” is by far the best episode to date.

Excalibur is now in one piece, and Dark Swan can put her plans into motion in Storybrooke.

Meanwhile in Camelot, Arthur makes an alliance with Zelena and turns Excalibur into the same manipulative weapon as the dagger, except now it controls Merlin.

The origins of the Dark One also become known, as well as the tragic love story between Merlin and Nimue. The players are finally in motion, and rest of this arc will see that action played out.

In the middle of all of this, however, hope continues to stay alive as Emma fights off the darkness, showing a strength that will be powerful enough to win the war for good.

Merlin’s help or not, Emma is still her own savior.

Something Worth Fighting For

During her time in Camelot, Emma Swan has slowly descended further into the darkness. She admits to Merlin during her quest that she has performed dark acts recently and the darkness is winning. Merlin has some concern but he does not give up hope that she can choose the right path in the midst of the darkness. We are always given a choice to do the right thing. People can persuade or suggest the decisions we make, but at the end of the day it’s no one’s decision but our own; it’s the power of free will.

After Emma summons the original Dark One, Nimue, to appear, she stands at a crossroads Merlin foretold. She can either give into the temptations of the darkness or she can resist it. Merlin tells Emma to resist Nimue’s wishes, while Nimue tries to convince Emma to act on the darkness and kill Merlin. At this stage, it would be really easy for her to give in. Nimue has been in her head since becoming the Dark One so she knows the struggles Emma has faced in her life. Emma for most of her life believed she was an orphan that did not matter. She has faced rejection, pain, loss and betrayal. Nimue uses that to feed Emma the lies that by killing Merlin, she would never have to fear being in that state again; she wouldn’t be nothing. That is where Nimue slips up and Emma snaps. Emma may have gone through pain and abandonment, but it no longer defines her. She has always been something to someone. Emma Swan is a daughter to her parents, a mother to her son, a loyal friend to her peers, the love of her beloved pirate, and the savior of the realms; this former lost girl matters a great deal to many people. Her goodness and light is an inspiration for others, and that is worth fighting for. She is not nothing and she never was. She is something special; she is loved beyond all measure and loves in return. Knowing that truth, Emma finds the strength to take back control and command Nimue to relinquish the spark needed to make Excalibur whole again. Emma wins against the darkness in her greatest battle in Camelot to date. She took the right path, and to put it in her words, it felt damn good to see her triumph.

In Storybrooke, Dark Swan is finally putting Excalibur back together, with an audience of all the previous Dark Ones who have been waiting for this moment for so long. As she does it, she remembers Merlin’s warning about Excalibur. Emma is still the savior and because of that, she hesitates to take Excalibur. The darkness is more prevalent in her life, and all the Dark Ones convince her to take it. Dark Swan does eventually take it, but seeing that hesitation brings to light the light still inside her. She may have made Excalibur whole again but what she does with it now might not be what we expect. There is another great battle ahead between the light and dark within Emma. Can the Savior Swan find a way to prevail over Dark Swan? If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Once Upon A Time it’s that there is always hope.

Worth Mentioning

  • It was only a matter of time before the Wicked Witch got her magic back. Zelena’s sass was at an all-time high and her magic restored only amplified it. Let’s see how long this new alliance with Arthur will last.
  • Speaking of King Shade-a-lot, Arthur’s obsession with destiny and self-glorification brought him to a new low: turning Excalibur into a weapon to manipulate Merlin. Arthur is still destined to do great things, but he instead chose to act out of pride in an attempt to attain that destiny. This will no doubt lead to his ultimate demise.
  • We finally got to the see the origins of magic and the Dark One in this episode, mythology I’ve been waiting a long time to see. Magic entered the world through the Holy Grail, a legendary item not just in Arthurian lore. Then the Holy Grail is forged by the Promethean fire to create Excalibur, turning one iconic item to another.
  • This storyline of Nimue and her relationship with Merlin and Excalibur actually holds up. According many Camelot stories, Arthur receives Excalibur from Nimue, which technically happens. Also, Nimue learns magic from Merlin, and he falls in love with her. However, after she learns all the secrets of his magic, she plans to entrap Merlin; he foresees it and allows it to happen because of his love for her. Nimue later entraps him in a tree. The writers of Once Upon A Time definitely stayed true to their source material in this case.
  • While this season continues to give its spin on Arthurian legend, Once Upon A Time also continues to delve into Greek mythology with the flame of Prometheus in this episode. These nods to Greek mythology make me wonder if this will grow into the focus of 5B.
  • I guess I have to assume that Belle is still on her mission with Merida during the events of this episode. Besides, now that Arthur controls Merlin, the heroes will need her wit to save them. Plus, where was Henry?
  • When Arthur turned Excalibur into a weapon of control over Merlin, Merlin’s name appeared on the sword in the same way the dagger has the name of the current Dark One on it. If Emma’s name was on the dagger and Excalibur is now whole again, whose name is on Excalibur?
  • In 5×06 “The Bear and the Bow” Merlin tells the heroes that the only person who can help save Emma from the darkness is Nimue. In this episode we found out that Nimue is the original Dark One and one of many Dark Ones inside Emma’s head. How does that add up? I need answers!
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