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REVIEW: Once Upon a Time 5×05 “Dreamcatcher”

Written by Alex Reale

Let me just say that I’m not a huge fan of forced teenage angst and romance in shows and films. However, Once Upon a Time actually made it work in the latest installment, “Dreamcatcher”. The episode itself actually hinges on young Henry’s relationship with Violet of Camelot, but things don’t work out the way he hoped. Meanwhile, in present-day Storybrooke, Merida begins her mission to teach Rumplestiltskin how to be brave, though it looks like she has other intentions in mind. (spoilers ahead!)

Last episode, we saw how Mary Margaret and David were put under Arthur’s spell, which made them follow his orders and seek out the Dark One’s dagger. This subplot is put to rest pretty quickly thanks to Emma’s dark magic. She uses her powers (and a magical dreamcatcher) to deduce that her parents were under a spell. I was a little surprised that not only did they shut down this mind-control subplot so quickly, but they also had to introduce ANOTHER magical object with specific powers. Dreamcatchers now allow people to see “memories” or something. It seems like yet another super convenient plot device that the creators had to throw in for the sake of quickly tying up loose ends.

Emma uses the dreamcatcher more often throughout the episode, especially in her mission to save Merlin from the tree. In Camelot, she learns of a spell that would require the tear from a person who lost their first love. Regina volunteers her own tears after watching a dreamcatcher-memory of her mother killing her first love. Emma states that this won’t work since Regina has moved on from that event, so her tears aren’t strong enough. So they’ll need the tear from someone else. Enter Henry.

We’ve known from the start that Henry would start being interested in girls this season. The moment Jared S. Gilmore‘s voice deepened, we knew that it was time he was forced into a relationship. He tries to court a young Camelot girl named Violet, but she rejects him and throws him in the friend-zone. This devastates Henry, and Emma uses the tear from the “loss of his first love” to complete her potion, thus freeing Merlin from the tree.

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Now, you may think “Whoa, that’s pretty convenient that Henry lost his chance with Violet just as Emma was working on a potion that required the tears from a person who has lost their first love. But we discover later on in the episode (through a dreamcatcher-memory, of course) that it was all planned by Emma. She had taken Violet’s heart and ordered her to break Henry’s. I guess Emma really IS a Dark One.

It was actually depressing to watch Henry go through that heartbreak this episode. You actually sympathize with him because you know just how much he really liked Violet. You also discover that Emma is just evil. Okay, not exactly evil since she had good intentions, but she’s not as nice as she used to be. This may be the episode when I start to dislike Emma slightly. I mean, I get why she is doing it, but I also feel like she could be fighting harder against the Dark One’s influence. We’ve seen how strong she is in the past; this shouldn’t be too difficult.

Following along with that theme of “nice people doing pretty nasty stuff”, we now turn our attention to Merida and Rumplestiltskin. Merida is forced to teach him how to be brave, which apparently means teaching him how to fight with a sword. Unfortunately, Rumplestiltskin’s lame leg and timid demeanor make him a terrible fighter. Without the Dark One’s influence anymore, he’s just an old coward like he was in the past. Merida decides to take matters into her own hands.

She breaks into Mr. Gold’s shop and steals Belle’s chipped teacup, which she then uses to taunt her student so that he can tap into his bravery. I know Merida is under Emma’s control, but taking the teacup was a bit much. We could attribute this to her current heartless state, or we could just assume that she’s absolutely committed to making her pupil brave, no matter what routes she takes. We learn that Merida plans to turn him brave so that he can actually fight Emma, not so that he can pull Excalibur from the stone. So it looks like she does have SOME control over her actions. This show needs to better establish how the whole “stealing someone’s heart and controlling them with it” idea works.

“Dreamcatcher” was still a great episode, even if it took some dark turns. I think the biggest question now is: what happened with Merlin and why isn’t he in Storybrooke? I just hope they don’t rely on some specifically magical object in order to give us the answers.

Final Grade: B +

+ Solid acting all around, especially from Jared S. Gilmore.

+ It was great finally seeing Merlin.

+ I enjoyed the “brave” subplot.

– And now we have dreamcatchers added to the list of specific objects with specific powers!

– While it was interesting to find out that Merlin wasn’t the FIRST Dark One, I’m a little frustrated that we probably won’t find out who it was for a few more months.

– There were some moments where I wasn’t immediately sure if we were in Camelot or Storybrooke.

Extra Thoughts:

– So it looks like Merlin WASN’T the first Dark One; now we need to figure out who held that moniker.

How did you feel about tonight’s episode of Once Upon a Time? What do believe will happen now that Merlin is back? Send us your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter!

About the author

Alex Reale

From a young age, Alex knew he was destined to be a writer. He also harbored a deep infatuation with superheroes and comics. Luckily, he was able to combine these two passions through his role with A Place to Hang Your Cape, where he works as Junior Sidekick and Social Media Hero.

When he’s not writing for AP2HYC or working full-time as a content manager for a small business website, Alex is diligently at work on other creative projects including a fantasy novel collection and an independent comic series.

You can find Alex's first book, Dodger's Doorway, on Amazon!