SPOILERS AHEAD, DEARIE!!
1000 years ago, Merlin finds the Holy Grail and drinks from it which give him his magic. While helping people in a village, he meets Nimue who tells him that her home was destroyed by a man in a mask known as Vortigan. Merlin falls in love with Nimue and tells her that he will give up his magic in order to be with her. They return to Nimue’s destroyed village where Merlin uses the Flame of Prometheus to forge the Holy Grail into Excalibur after he suspects that Vortigan was in search of it. They are met by Vortigan and Nimue pleads with Merlin to kill him with his power but Merlin refuses, not willing to take the dark path. Vortigan manages to capture and kill Nimue. Just as Merlin was going to challenge Vortigan, Nimue pulled out the Dark One’s heart, revealing that she had already drank from the Holy Grail and had only faked her death. Even as Merlin pleaded with her not to crush Vortigan’s heart, Nimue crushes it, becoming the Dark One. and then severed the sword in half so no one else would have the power.
Emma and Merlin, in the current time, return to the same location where Emma uses the dagger to call upon the previous Dark Ones until she sees Nimue’s name. When she tried to attack Merlin, Emma protected him. Nimue stressed that Emma had to protect herself, then forces Emma’s hand to choke Merlin’s throat. Emma fights off Nimue and takes the spark which is Nimue’s essence but does not crush it. At Camelot, the residents were coming up with plans to get back into the castle, but Zelena already knew a way in having studied the place, on the condition that her powers were restored. As Regina, Hook, David, and Robin sneak their way into the castle, Regina asked Mary Margaret to watch Zelena. They reach Arthur who is at the Round Table. Zelena reveals herself to have betrayed them yet again and with Mary Margaret captive. She made a deal with Arthur to make Excalibur be able to summon Merlin which he does while Emma and Merlin were currently on their way back to Camelot. Merlin tell Arthur that Emma passed the test and they have what they need to make Excalibur whole. Arthur refused to give Merlin the sword in hopes of achieving more glory, then orders Merlin to render David and the others powerless and, with the exception of Zelena, made them disappear. In Storybrooke, Emma uses the spark she took from Nimue to restore Excalibur.
Before she was the Lady of the Lake, Nimue was a simple girl living in a simple village until a man with a mask ravaged her home in search of the Holy Grail. Yes, that Holy Grail. As in the cup that Jesus of Nazareth used to serve wine during the Last Supper as a representation of his blood, known in Christianity as the Holy Chalice, and the basis of the actual historical events the Crusades and the Holy Wars. The Holy Grail itself is actually a combination of Christian belief and Celtic mythology of a cauldron having the ability to grant power. In the Arthurian tale, Sir Galahad, one of Arthur’s knights, goes on a quest in search of the fabled grail. However, this is changed so it is that Merlin found the Grail and drank from it, giving him magic and that it was he who created the Enchanted Forest. Now if you know anything about the story of the Lady in the Lake, Nimue seduce and imprisoned Merlin to force him to teach her all the secrets of magic. Elements were taken from that tale and used in Once Upon a Time. Merlin is imprisoned by Nimue, placed within a tree. And she did seduce him in order gain magic by drinking from the Holy Grail. What has always fascinated me about this series is being able to rewrite legendary tales and giving them a modern twist that makes for a continually entertaining, compelling and evolving fantasy drama series. As in the case of King Arthur who has always been depicted as a righteous and just king. A fair ruler who is always understanding of his subjects. A great leader worthy of the throne of Camelot. A god among men. And then you take all that away and make him just as fallible as anyone else. Arthur has manipulated his wife and kingdom, and used Emma’s friends and family all for the sake of personal glory. And Emma is supposed to be the Dark One. Like several kings, in both fantasy and history, Arthur has become corrupted by power and glory which led to the decisions he has made regarding his kingdom and those he sees obstacles. Sometimes, when a hero is rewritten as a villain, it does not work out well. For King Arthur, this has been attributed to him quite nicely.
The ‘fallen hero’ has also worked out nicely for Emma Swan as well. Before, she was unsure of herself after learning to use light magic. Now she is perhaps the most confident Dark One thus far. One more mythological element comes in play. According to Merlin, Excalibur was forged in the Fires of Prometheus. The very same flames that the Titan stole from Mount Olympus to give to man. The same flames that Emma has used to restore Excalibur whole. With this, Emma now has the power to eradicate light magic, and perhaps all magic, permanently.
1,378 total views, 2 views today