Tonight on ABC their fantastical series Once Upon A Time returns with a double episode. The new back-to-back episodes airs tonight, Sunday November 15, season 5 episode 8 & 9, called, “Birth; The Bear King” and we have your weekly recap below. On tonight’s episode Emma (Jennifer Morrison) receives an ultimatum from Merlin, (Elliot Knight) who’s under Arthur’s (Liam Garrigan) control; Zelena’s (Rebecca Mader) pregnancy accelerates.
On the last episode, Arthur may lose Excalibur when his castle was stormed as part of mission designed by Merlin. Meanwhile, Emma joined Merlin when he faced an old adversary; and in a flashback, young Merlin fell in love with a refugee after he’s given magic and immortality. Did you watch the last episode? If you missed it, we have a full and detailed recap right here for you.
On tonight’s episode as per the ABC synopsis, “Emma receives an ultimatum from Merlin, who’s under Arthur’s control; Zelena’s pregnancy accelerates. Later, Zelena and Arthur travel to DunBroch to obtain an ancient relic, and they cross paths with Merida, who’s trying to repay a debt her father owed to the Witch.”
Tonight’s season 5 episode 8 & 9 looks like they are going to be as magical as ever so make sure that you tune in to our coverage of Once Upon A Time at 8:00 PM EST!
Tonight’s episode begins now – Refresh Page often to get the most current updates!
#OnceUponATime begins in Storybrooke with David, Hook and Robin heading towards Arthur’s tent in the woods with weapons at the ready. David demands to know why Arthur lied and tried to burn the crimson mushroom. David says there was a message from Merlin about Nimue. David demands to know who Nimue is. Gwen stands and Arthur throws the table at them, cuts a hole in his tent and runs off. They give chase and then Arthur trips and goes down. Hook comes up on him and he kicks the pirate down and has his sword on him.
Arthur says he brought a hook to a sword fight and goes to kill him but then Emma is there with her Excalibur whole and stops him. She tells him this sword control no one now and throws him into a tree. Hook says thank you but she says – don’t do that again. He says he’s sorry for what he said on his ship and she asks if he means about not loving her. He says she’s still herself and she asks what he wants. He says he wants her help and asks who Nimue is. She says this will all be over tomorrow and Nimue doesn’t matter. He asks why she needs the sword.
Emma goes to walk away and Hook says he knows she has reasons for doing this. Emma turns and says she’s doing all of this for him. She poofs away in a cloud of darkness and is gone. Three weeks earlier, neat Camelot, Emma has a box with the spark of fire in it and she tells Henry she has it and can reunite the sword. He says they’re not back with him then says Merlin is missing too. Granny and Henry are frozen with magic and Merlin is there. He says he’s following orders by Arthur. He says Arthur tethered him to Excalibur and has ordered him to unite the sword.
She refuses and he says Arthur has her family and will kill them unless she hands over the dagger and the flame. Emma says it’s not a flame yet, just a spark. Emma says she can’t give up without a fight. Merlin begs her not to seek vengeance and not make the same mistakes as Nimue. Arthur is in a cell and Hook wants to know who Nimue is and what he’s hiding. Arthur claims his memories have been taken by Emma’s spell also. Hook says Emma told them this was about him but Regina says Emma is manipulating him as the Dark One. Regina and Mary question and think Emma is gone.
Hook reminds them that Emma hasn’t used the sword yet and Regina thinks Emma still needs another ingredient for a spell. Hook disagrees and says they need to find out what went on in Camelot. Gold is in his shop when Hook comes in and Gold tells Belle to put down the crossbow. He says he had some squid ink set aside but the new Dark One took it. Hook says Dark Ones are clever then asks what’s going on inside Emma’s head. He tells Gold what Emma said about it being about him. Gold says he recognizes the look on her face – regret. He says he went dark to save his son.
He says he convinced himself everything was for that but things did not work out. He tells Hook to find out what Emma is atoning for to get the answers. Hook says he can’t find her then Gold says give her a reason to find you. Hook goes outside and calls for her and asks what happened between them. He asks what the hell she wants. Back in Camelot, we see Emma trying to raise the spark to a flame then Rumple is there and says Arthur will kill her if he reunites Excalibur but she says she has no choice and can’t risk the lives of her family. Rumple says she can only light it when she’s ready to reject darkness.
Henry finds Emma talking to herself and he asks what she’s doing and what the voices said. She says they told her she wasn’t ready to give up the darkness. He shows her a photo of a house that he and Hook were looking at for their Operation Light Swan. Emma shuts the lid on the spark and says she has to use the darkness again. She goes to the woods and sees Arthur has her family tied to trees. She tells him to free her family. He says hand the stuff over or he’ll unleash Merlin. He also has Zelena at his side. Zelena asks – what are you going to do.
Now, we see Zelena reading to her stomach – she’s reading Hansel and Gretel then starts having horrible pain. She screams and bangs on the door saying – let me out. Regina and Robin show up and they look at her giant belly – she’s only two months pregnant and then says it’s dark magic. Hook goes calling for Emma and stands on a rooftop. He jumps off and she catches him then asks why he was so sure she’d save him. He says he was optimistic then asks what happened between them in Camelot. He says he forgives her and she says she doesn’t need that.
He says there’s nothing she’s done as bad as what he’s done. He shows her a ring that belonged to Barnaby and he killed him in front of his wife. He says every ring he wears is a sad story. She shows him the ring he gave her to keep safe and he says it belonged to his brother Liam. She tries to give it back but he says keep it. He says he wore rings as trophies and now they’re just reminders. He says he loves her no matter what and she says she needs to show him something. She takes him to her house and she points him to a telescope. He looks and says oh. He says being dark has it’s perks.
He sees the sea and a full moon of waves. She says he told her the ocean calmed him and he says it’s a nice home but she says he picked it, not her. He looks at the newspaper and says it’s his handwriting. She says he told her this was their future and she says everything she did was to keep that future alive. He asks again for the truth and she says they’re almost there and kisses him. She says she can’t tell him everything because he would try and stop her. He passes out after the kiss and as he gets groggy he asks what she do. Zelena says Emma did this with her onion rings.
Dr Whale is there and Zelena says get this angry baby back and Whale reminds her the last baby he delivered she tried to steal and Regina asks why his hair is blonde and he says Emma changed her hair and got no guff. (David Anders hair is so pale because of his role on CW’s iZombie!). Belle and Mary run in and tell them that Emma is coming for the baby. She needs the cries of a newborn child. Zelena begs Regina to take off the cuff so she can protect her child. Regina says no but she’ll protect the baby. Back in Camelot, we see Zelena asking if she should kill Hook or David first.
Emma hands her the flame and Zelena opens it but it’s a spell that traps her against a tree. Regina smiles. Emma asks if Arthur wants to keep on with this. Arthur orders Merlin to fight her and they do battle with magic. Hers is gold, his is blue and Merlin says he wishes she could defeat him. He knocks her back with magic. Arthur orders Merlin to kill Mary and vines choke her. Emma tells Merlin he has to fight it but he says he can’t. She says he’s the greatest sorcerer of all time and if he can’t fight off the darkness, no one can. He stops choking Mary.
Arthur says kill her and Merlin says he can’t hold off much longer. Hook gets free. Arthur tells Merlin to kill her but Hook comes at him. He takes the sword and Arthur runs off. Arthur releases Zelena who magics them away. Emma thanks Hook and she sees a cut he has on his neck and she heals him. He thanks her and says it didn’t even sting. He says now they have the sword. She grabs it and says we did it Killian. She says they just need to light the spark and they can get the darkness out. He says let’s go home and do it and they embrace.
Back at Granny’s Hook recounts the adventure to Henry who is excited. David and Regina report back that Arthur is far away and Emma is outside with the spark trying to make it work. Regina comes out and she tells her that Rumple is playing with her telling her she can’t light it because she’s not ready to give up the darkness. Regina says he knows the lure of the darkness and says it feels good to do whatever you want. Emma agrees that it does then asks if it’s wrong. Regina says it is but it’s also human. She tells Emma she knows her by now and says Emma is stronger than she is.
Emma says she doesn’t know and Regina says maybe she knows but doesn’t want to admit it. Regina grabs the dark dagger and commands her to tell her why she’s afraid to give up the darkness. Emma says she can’t protect her family if she does. Regina says that’s not the truth and says knock down the walls she’s hiding behind and says see it and tell her what she’s afraid of. Hook, David and May come up and Hook snatches the dagger from her. Regina tells them she wasn’t being cruel, she was helping her find the truth but it’s painful.
Zelena delivers in pain and Whale says one more push then the child is out and Whale says it’s a baby girl. Regina and Mary wait in the hall and Mary asks if she’s ready to meet her new family but she says she doesn’t know. Robin holds his daughter when Regina comes inside and he says he has a daughter. Zelena says Regina is green with envy. Then Emma is there and Regina says she won’t let her take the baby. Emma says she’s not after the child and puffs Zelena away with her after throwing Whale against the wall (yet again).
Zelena and Hook are both chained to the wall in Emma’s basement. He asks why she’s there and she says her insane GF sped up her pregnancy then kidnapped her after she gave birth. She thinks Emma is casting a spell to take her magic. Emma says she’s not, she’s giving her dark magic to Zelena. Hook asks why keep it secret and she says she won’t let him stop her. She says the dark magic must be put into a vessel then Emma will cut her down. Emma says that’s why she needed the baby out. She reminds him that Zelena killed Marian and Neal. Hook says it’s murder.
Hook says they can talk to Merlin but she says he can’t help them anymore. Hook asks again why she’s really doing this. Back in Camelot, Hook finds Emma and says he’s sorry that Regina used the dagger on her but Emma says Regina was right and she shows him the ad for the house. She says she’s afraid of the future. He asks if she’s scared to move in with him and she says it’s everything. She says she’s afraid because she does want a future with him and the minute the darkness is gone, the future begins. He says that’s music to his pirate ears. He says don’t be afraid of the future and kisses her.
The flame lights. Mary asks David and Regina how Emma can use Zelena to end dark magic. Regina says no one hurts her sister but her and tells them she’s going to show Emma how dark magic really works. Zelena says the anti-magic cuff is the real problem. Hook says he has magic in his hook. He says the last time he helped her, she betrayed him. She says he has no choice now. He magics off the cuff and she gets rid of the shackles then puts herself into a fresh outfit and then comes over to Hook and undoes his shackles too then says – let’s get out of here.
Mary and David argue with Regina over going to war with Emma. Regina says Emma gave her the dagger because they knew she was the only one who could act. Emma comes out and says when she’s done with Zelena, they will all be better off. Emma says she knows Regina will be happier when Zelena is gone. Emma puts up a magic barrier around the house. Zelena tells Hook they have to sneak out the back but Hook says he’s not going. He says he needs to stop her and Zelena says Emma is not in a sharing mood. Hook says he needs to find the squid ink she stole.
Zelena tells him good bye and heads for the back door. Hook searches her house then takes a painting off the wall but then Emma comes in and he squirts her with squid ink and says she’s a villain now like Regina said. He says she has to tell him what happened in Camelot. Zelena is there and says she will make the Dark One pay. Zelena stabs Hook in the chest and he asks what’s happening. She says she found this outside and Emma whispers not to trust her then says she can explain everything. Hook says do it and she shows him his memories.
We see Emma with Merlin and the others and Merlin says it’s time to destroy the darkness once and for all. Emma puts the flame in her hand then begins to wield it into a tight ball. She does and then it whirls and she holds the dagger and sword up into it and Hook starts to bleed from the neck. Emma stops the process and Emma says Excalibur cut him. Merlin says Excalibur’s cuts can’t heal. Hook tells Emma it’s okay but Emma begs him not to leave her. He tells her to reunite the blades do he can see it before he dies. Emma says she can heal him and Emma says she can use the flame to release Merlin.
She says Merlin can save him but Merlin says that would make another Dark One and she will pay a steep price. Emma says she doesn’t care and Emma tells Regina she knows how far she would go if this was Robin or Daniel. Emma magics she and Killian to a field of flowers and she says he’ll be okay but he says to let him go. He says he doesn’t want to become this. She says he can fight it but he says he’s weak and the darkness will get to him because he’s been dark before. He says he doesn’t think he can do it again and Emma reminds him they have a future.
He says he’s just happy to know that she has one and he goes limp. Emma says that’s not enough for her. She holds him and cries and then takes Excalibur and floods it with magic. In the diner, Merlin tells them it’s too late and he begins to sprout dark tendrils. These spread to the sword Emma has and gold magic flows over Killian and he’s gone then his name appears on the handle of Excalibur. Then in a flash, Emma is dark as she is now white hair and all. A flood of blackness forms and we see Killian in a dark hood like Nimue. Emma tells him she’s sorry and says she had no choice.
Hook says there must be another explanation. Zelena hands Hook the sword and she removes a spell and shows him that his name is on the sword part and Emma’s name is on the dagger end. Emma says she wanted to make up for this and says it was the only way to get rid of the darkness in both of them. She says all she’s done is try and save him. He’s angry and asks how can she do this to him and he says they have not future. Zelena asks if he’s ready to find out what else happened in Camelot and he says yes but first they have to take care of Emma.
Back in Camelot, Zelena takes Arthur home and he says he needs no more of her dark magic and she says she can send him back to Emma and Regina. Arthur says they still need each other and he says he can use Excalibur to destroy her sister so she can keep her baby. Arthur says his knights can defeat them then says there is something in DunBroch that can help them. Over in DunBroch, Merida puts a flower on her father’s grave and tells him she saved the boys and proved she’s fit to be queen. She says now it’s even harder since she has to rule and her father made it look easy.
She says she wishes he was here so she could ask him how he did it. Her mother is there and says her father is always with her then says she misses him too. She tells Merida it’s not a day for sadness since she’s got her coronation. They leave the grave of King Fergus. Several years earlier, also in DunBroch, a man with a peg leg and a clock rides on a horse. He dismounts and draws his sword then goes into a house – it’s a witch’s place. He says show yourself and then says she turned him family into bears. He says he needs some magic. He says invaders are attacking.
He says he needs magic to defeat them. The witch asks what he wants and he says he needs something to ensure the future of his kingdom and says he will pay the price. She says he can pay her later and calls it an IOU. She offers him a contract to sign and he stamps it with his signet ring. She says it’s a deal and she blends up a potion. She plucks one of his beard hairs and adds it to the green swirling mixture. Out of it arises a helm. She says wear it into battle and he’ll get exactly what he wants. He takes it. Two years later, we see Merida getting her crown. Her mother takes it and says it’s her honor to crown Merida of Clan DunBroch as our true queen but then the witch bursts in and she has the contract.
Merida says her father would never stoop to use magic and she shows her that he father came to her and she made an enchanted helm for him. She says Fergus died before paying and says she wants 10k of gold and says she can give back the helm. Merida says she doesn’t have it and the witch says give her the helm or gold by tomorrow night or she’ll curse them all to be bears for the rest of their lives. She tells Merida to lead and figure it out which was something Fergus could not do. Merida’s mother searches the house for the helm.
Merida says he was wearing it when he was killed. She asks what it was about the helm’s magic and her mother says her father must have had a good reason for needing it and Merida says it’s not lost, just not here. She says the knight killed her father and took the helm. Her mother says she’s not going after him. She says she can’t lose her to the same knight that took her father. She says he killed her father for it but Merida says her arrow won’t miss this time. Back in times before, we see Fergus and Merida walking among the clans. Fergus says he’ll take the tongue of the next man who disrespects her.
She sees the men writing and thinks they’re sending love notes but Fergus says they’re writing their wills. Fergus shows her his war bow he carried into his first battle and says now she can carry it into her first battle. She thanks him and he says he hired a soldier to teach her the art of war since he promised her mother he’d keep her safe. Merida pulls a sword and challenges the man who knocks her down. It’s Mulan, not a man. Mulan says she can teach her how to fight better than any man there and will teach her honor as well. Two years later, we see Mulan collecting money for someone.
A man shoves her and says she can’t push him around. She tells him he’ll lose a hand if he touches her again. She knocks out his accomplices and says left or right hand. Merida puts an arrow in the guy’s hand and tells Mulan she needs her help. Mulan says she only helps herself these days and says honor won’t fill her purse. Merida asks what happened to her. Merida tosses her a sack of gold and Mulan agrees to help on one condition and says no more questions about her. Zelena and Arthur are in the woods of Camelot and come upon the witch’s shack.
They head inside and a giant wolf comes at him. Zelena throws some powder on it and it goes down. The witch says she won’t be as easy to subdue as her pet. Arthur asks for the magic helm and the witch says she already sent someone to look for it. Zelena holds her head near the cauldron and threatens her and the witch says Merida has it. Arthur is shocked since she just escaped his dungeon. Zelena promises to make Merida pay. Meanwhile, Merida and Mulan are on the battlefield. She finds one of her own arrows and says she fired it and missed the killer but got his cloak and they have a scrap of it.
Mulan says let’s go and Merida reminds her she knew Fergus too and asks why she closed off her heart. Mulan says a true warrior doesn’t let anything hurt them. We see before when Mulan taught Merida how to fight. Some of the men watching mock her and call Mulan her nursemaid. Mulan tells her no one will follow her out of fear and says to ask her father since they already follow him. She sees her father in the helm. Later, Merida tells Mulan she won’t give up on justice for her dad. Mulan says someone is coming and Merida nocks an arrow as Arthur and Zelena appear.
Zelena says they want the helm and Merida asks why everyone wants it and Arthur says it has the power to make other men fight your battle and says he needs it but Merida says her father wouldn’t use magic to fight his battles. Mulan says they need the helm to protect their people. Mulan says they don’t have it anyway. Zelena takes her bow and Merida begs her not to take it since it’s the last thing he gave her. Zelena says Merida can console herself with the memories of what a terrible ruler he turned out to be then tells Arthur they can use it to track the helm and they poof away.
Mulan tells her they can still track the helm and Merida says if her dad can’t lead without magic, neither can she. Merida says her father led innocent men to their deaths and Mulan says she’s going to tell the lords why they need the helm but Mulan says don’t give up and Merida says Mulan seems to have given up then she rides away from her. We see Fergus in the past when Merida came looking for him by the water. He says the invaders are sailing in and he’s watching for them. She asks if they will win the war and then says she wants to know how he inspired all these men to follow him into battle.
He looks at the helm and she asks if everything is all right. Fergus says you have to show you’re the first one willing to die and says that tells them how important it is. He tells her he’s the Bear King and can face anything the southern invaders offer. He tells her to leave him to watch and she goes. Later, Mulan takes the cloak scrap and goes to see the witch to get her to tell her who the cloak belongs to. She goes into the witch’s house and looks around. The wolf snarls and leaps. Mulan backs away and it follows her outside. Then Mulan smiles at him and says he’s not wolf.
She says he needs help remembering who she is and kicks over a cauldron. It’s Ruby! She tells Mulan her friends call her Red – the witch had her this whole time. Red tells Mulan that wolfing out is kind of her thing but the witch put her under thrall then asks Mulan how she knew. Red says Mary and Emma told them about Mulan and she says she knows Philip and Aurora too. Mulan gets quiet and says it’s hard to travel between realms then asks how Red ended up here. We see Red back in Storybrooke as Mary and David announce their son’s name is Prince Neal. They are at Granny’s.
Red sat watching then Mary came to her later and asks what’s up. Mary says they defeated the wicked witch and won a time travel war and Red is lurking by the bathrooms. Red says since they got back to Storybrooke she has felt off and Mary says she knows Red is the only one of her kind here. Red says that’s probably it and she wants to find more like her. She says she’s been helping Tiny in the fields. She shows her they grew one bean and Mary asks if she wants to go back to the Enchanted Forest. Mary hugs her and says do what makes you happy but says she will miss her.
Mulan asks Red if she found what she’s looking for and Red says her pack is gone without a trace so she went to the witch for help and she made her a guard dog. Red asks why she was there and Mulan says she wanted to track down the man who killed her friend’s father. Red smiles and says she doesn’t need magic. Merida’s mom Elinor tells Merida she can’t give the crown to Clan Macintosh. But Merida tells her rival if he can find the helm, he can have the crown.
But then Mulan is there with Red who says she can sniff out the killer. We see another scene from two years earlier of Mulan and Merida sparring then Merida hears sounds of war and asks if Fergus told Mulan to keep her away from the fight. Merida runs towards the battle. Fergus and the clans face off with the invaders. The clans attack and the skirmish begins. The knight cuts down men then comes for Fergus. Merida makes it to a nearby hill then sees the knight coming. She nocks an arrow.
She shoots and misses and the knight’s sword goes into Fergus’ back and he goes down. The knight reaches down and takes the helm. Merida screams no and Mulan drags her away. We see it’s Arthur. Later, Zelena takes Arthur to the water’s edge and she magics the helm out of the water but then Merida shoots it out of his hand and says it doesn’t belong to him. Red says that’s the man that killed Fergus and Merida asks why. He says they were questing for the lost piece of Excalibur.
Arthur says a knight does what he must on the battlefield. Arthur says the helm Fergus was wearing was not the enchanted one and Merida says that means her father led legitimately. Arthur says he already killed Dunbroch’s king and can kill the queen as well. Merida and Arthur cross swords. They fight and Merida says Arthur sent her down a dark path. She says she’s going to make him pay for what he did to her father. Zelena comes at Mulan and Red knocks Zelena out with sleeping powder.
Arthur says he needs the crown to complete Excalibur but then other clansmen are there and have arrows at the ready to take him out. Zelena is sleepy but recognizes they are outmatched and poofs them away. Merida thinks the clansmen who tell her they couldn’t let their queen fall. They kneel to her and she asks if they still want her. They tell her that she was willing to give up her crown and life for the kingdom. They tell her she’s fit to lead the clans. Elinor crowns Merida queen and the clans cheer.
The witch bursts in and Merida says she has the helm and will destroy it. She says no one should have the power to lead people into a fight they don’t believe in and won’t hand it over. The witch says this was never about the helm, but was a test for her. Elinor says the witch’s magic is not direct. She says she came with a gift for her and says there is one person who could not be there to see her crowned then offers her magical ale and says one cup can summon anyone who’s passed to the underworld.
She hands the flask to Merida and the clans chant Merida’s name. Later, Merida thanks Mulan and Red for helping her save her kingdom and they agree Merida helped them too. They stand at the grave of Fergus and Mulan hands back the bag of gold then says she was trying to get over a broken heart. She says she waited too long to tell someone she loved them and then it was too late. Red says she ate the only BF she ever had but offers to help Mulan then asks her to come with her on her wolf hunt.
Red says helping her on her path might help Mulan find hers. The women hug Merida then leave. Merida sits at her father’s grave and splashes some ale on the ground. Then her father is there and says don’t waste good ale. He tells her she did it and became queen. She tells him she’s sorry for losing faith in him over the helm. He says he lost faith in himself when he went to the witch to ask for it. He says when she came to him the night before the battle, she inspired him to throw it aside.
Merida says she won’t forgive his example as a leader. He says she’s made him proud and they embrace. She says she wishes he was still there and he says me too. He fades away. Merida then glares and says – Arthur you have no idea what’s coming for you.