‘Once Upon a Time’ Season 5 Episode 7 Recap: Nimue

Once Upon a Time Caroline Ford, Elliot Knight Photo
Caroline Ford as Nimue and Elliot Knight as Merlin in ‘Once Upon a Time’ (Photo by Jack Rowand / ABC)
ABC’s Once Upon a Time‘s seventh episode of season five delved further into Merlin’s backstory and introduced a key player in both Merlin’s life and this season’s major storyline. Episode seven also revealed information on the history of the Dark Ones and on the very first Dark One in particular. The episode titled “Nimue” traveled through multiple new time periods in history to chart the creation of Excalibur and ended with Emma surrounded by all of the Dark Ones as she prepared to reunite the two halves of the sword.

Recap of Once Upon a Time Season Five Episode Seven:

The Dark One (Jennifer Morrison) lays the dagger on Excalibur’s stone, and Rumple (Robert Carlyle) tells her the sword represents not just power but history. He also says it’s time for the sword’s promise to be fulfilled.

Flash way, way, way back to 1,000 years before the time of Arthur. Merlin (Elliot Knight) and another man are near death, stumbling through the barren wasteland. They see the Holy Grail and Merlin’s friend touches it and immediately turns to ash. Merlin asks the heavens for permission and then grasps the cup. He drinks his fill and touches the ground. All around him the dirt and rocks turn to a lush green forest.

Back in Camelot, Merlin tells the gang he believes he can reunite the sword and save Emma. But, of course, there’s a catch. He needs the magical means to reunite the blades as well as the two halves. Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) is not happy about Merlin’s inability to give specific answers, and he doesn’t think he can really help Emma who is at that very moment busy making things to pull the memories out of people’s heads. Merlin understands Hook’s pain, but he asks them to bring him the sword and to have patience with Emma. Darkness is a weight on Emma’s soul, but love will help her.

200 years earlier, Merlin’s healing people in a village when a woman shows up. He sends his young apprentice away and unable to see the woman’s future, asks her what she needs. The woman says her village was attacked by Vortigan, a masked man who burns towns to the grounds. Vortigan killed everyone and she wants Merlin to grant her revenge. She has special seeds for flowers that live only in her village, and her revenge is for them to live on. She plants them with Merlin and says she’ll check them out in spring. Merlin makes them bloom now so she doesn’t have to wait, and she introduces herself as Nimue (Caroline Ford).

In Camelot, Emma is busy making dreamcatchers and Merlin explains there’s a way to make the blade whole again. They need a spark from mankind’s first fire, the Flame of Prometheus. The spark is not far away. Emma senses Merlin is hiding something and Merlin says they’ll have to deal with the first Dark One to get the spark. This person is the one from whom all the evil was born. Merlin sees two possible outcomes: they succeed and Emma resists the darkness, or Merlin dies and the darkness stains her soul. If they lose she would become the most powerful Dark One in history.

Hook says his goodbyes to Emma and she tells him, “I’ll work my way back to you, babe.” Hook knows she’s quoting something from pop culture but not what. Hook gives her his ring, saying it’s the reason he’s alive. Emma says she’s immortal and can’t die, but Hook tells her she’s not immortal, the Dark One is. Either way, she needs to take the ring so she’ll remember she has a pirate who loves her. They kiss and Merlin tells her it’s time to go.

Years earlier, Merlin confides to Nimue that he doesn’t know whether to help a man who has always helped everyone, who’s now tired and wants to marry the woman he loves and grow old together. Of course he’s talking about himself and Nimue asks what the obstacle is. Merlin explains his magic is a gift because he found the Holy Grail, drank from it, and received magic and eternal life. That was 500 years ago. He doesn’t age or die, and would have to watch Nimue die if he marries her. He still has the Holy Grail and she says she’ll drink from it too. But, Merlin doesn’t want her to because of what it does to a person after a while. He suggests they take the Grail, make it into a sword, and use it to cut away his magic. He would give up immortality for her and he creates an engagement ring out of grass and it transforms into a gold band on her finger. They kiss and prepare to make the Holy Grail into the sword. Unfortunately, their plan is overheard by Vortigan.

In Camelot, the gang is planning how to get the sword from Arthur (Liam Garrigan). Regina (Lana Parrilla) says she can poof into Arthur’s bedroom, but Zelena (who gets her voice back just so she can offer her opinion) says that’s a horrible plan. David (Josh Dallas) scoffs at Zelena (Rebecca Mader) and she replies, “If Sir Castic would let me speak I’d tell you that I wasn’t idle during those days in there playing mute hand maiden.” She was plotting an escape and she found a way in and out of the castle.

Zelena takes them to a tunnel that’s gated. Zelena wants her magic restraint cuff off since she’s provided them with a route, but Regina won’t take it off until they get the sword. Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) is assigned to stay with Zelena, which to Zelena sounds worse than being alone in her cell.

Inside the castle, Arthur and Guinevere (Joana Metrass) are working on a potion to stop the Storybrooke gang from getting Excalibur. The potion will melt anyone down to just teeth and bones. “This is war now,” declares Arthur, telling his soldiers to throw the potion at any stranger they see.

In Camelot, Merlin and Emma walk through the woods and Emma tells him that Rumple told he’d only be with her until she embraced her powers. Now she’s worried that she accidentally embraced her powers and that deep down she believes the darkness is winning. Merlin assures her there is hope.

Years earlier, Merlin and Nimue go to her burned out village at night. Skeletons and the burnt-out remains of the buildings are all that’s left. Nimue says if she had magic like Merlin’s she’d hand out powers to strike down those who would destroy and kill. Then, they notice cups on the ground all in one small area and figure out whoever torched the village was looking for the Holy Grail. They brought it with them and Merlin performs a protection spell, but during the spell he sees a vision of the one who burned her village and knows he’s very close by. He can’t use magic to kill the man or else the darkness will take over him, so they have no choice but to flee.

Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 7
Colin O’Donoghue, Josh Dallas, Ginnifer Goodwin, Rebecca Mader, Lana Parrilla, and Sean Maguire in ‘Once Upon a Time’ (Photo by Jack Rowand / ABC)

Hook, Robin (Sean Maguire), David, and Regina make it into the castle and see the soldiers carrying the cauldron with the deadly potion. Regina makes a comment about how she’s just surprised Zelena hasn’t screwed them yet.

Outside the castle Zelena breaks down, whining to Mary Margaret that Regina is always the winner and will ultimately take her baby. Mary Margaret gets too close after Zelena fakes pain from the baby, and Zelena knocks her out.

Merlin and Nimue make it to the first flame. They take out the Holy Grail and Merlin is completely committed to using it to give him the life he wishes for: the loss of his immortality. He places the Holy Grail in front of the flame and a spark fills the cup. It lifts in the air and Merlin transforms it into Excalibur. It’s gorgeous. He holds the blade and suddenly Vortigan is there. Merlin tells him the Grail is gone and Vortigan grabs Nimue. Nimue and Vortigan fight and she rips off his mask. He stabs her in the stomach and as she dies, she tells Merlin she’s sorry.

Back with Merlin and Emma, they make it to the first flame but it’s no longer there. The first Dark One took it and still possesses a single remaining ember from it. Emma has to get that ember that has the spark deep inside. Merlin hands her the dagger which he took without telling her family. She needs it to talk to the first Dark One. It’s extremely dangerous but she has to call on the spirit of the previous Dark One. The name on the dagger seems to change and Vortigan appears before her. Merlin can also see him…but actually it’s not a ‘him’. The first Dark One is Nimue wearing Vortigan’s mask!

Back in time, Merlin confronts Vortigan but Nimue – who was only pretending to be dead – rips out Vortigan’s heart. While Merlin was casting the protection spell, she secretly drank from the Holy Grail. She was just play-acting dead so that Merlin would remember what it looks like to die. Merlin warns her that if she squeezes Vortigan’s heart, she will turn completely to the dark. It will destroy their relationship, but she can not resist. The first flame dims and Nimue’s body changes. She picks up Excalibur and tells him not to even think about cutting away anyone’s magic. She breaks the blade into two pieces, apologizes, and he says he’s the one who’s sorry.

Back with Emma and Merlin, Nimue introduces herself to Emma. “How pretty. The first Dark One and the newest Dark One standing as sisters,” says Nimue. Merlin says “the creature” is the first Dark One, not the woman he loved. She tells him on his last day she’ll be his last thought, and she (and Emma) attack him with magic. Emma wants to know why Nimue would kill him if she loved him and Nimue answers, “Even when you love someone you have to say, ‘No, this is mine. You can’t take it away from me.’ And if they don’t listen, if they try to stop you from being you, then you have no choice. You have to kill them.”

Emma holds Merlin down and Nimue explains she and Emma are one and the same now. All Dark Ones must destroy the threat to them. Emma is trying not to listen to her, and Merlin is pleading with her to ignore the Dark One. Merlin tells her to let the light win and Nimue says to kill him so that Emma doesn’t go back to being nothing. “I’m not nothing! I was never nothing! The power you have I don’t need!” screams Emma, picking up the dagger and using it to command Nimue hand over the ember. “The sword you will make has more than one use,” says Nimue, telling Emma she’s not dead and will be right inside her head. Merlin’s proud of Emma and asks her how it feels to take the right path. Emma replies, “To be honest, Merlin, it feels damn good.”

As they walk back Merlin tells Emma that he and his apprentice put the sword in the stone to make sure it was safe, then he created the dagger to control Nimue. She took the mask from Vortigan and wears it now. Emma attempts to make Merlin feel better but letting him know she felt Nimue still loves him. She asks Merlin if it’s possible to have the darkness and use it for good. Merlin tells her not to let those thoughts tempt her, but it is possible that someday there could be someone worthy of wielding that much power. For now, they have to find the other half of Excalibur.

The gang makes it to the Round Table and Arthur’s there with the sword on the table, but Hook says not to touch it because it could have a spell in it. Regina freezes Arthur and tells Hook they don’t have to worry because Arthur can’t do magic. Just then Zelena enters with Mary Margaret bound and gagged. David immediately prepares to go into hero mode, but it’s Regina who wants to battle it out with her sister. Robin stops her because he’s worried about the baby.

Zelena uses one of Merlin’s spell books and makes a tethering potion and places it on the sword. Arthur picks it up and now it has Merlin’s name on its blade, which means the sword can control Merlin. David and the gang try to convince him not to do it, but Arthur summons Merlin. Merlin poofs out and Emma’s left alone in the woods. He appears at Arthur’s side and is forced to use his magic to disarm the Storybrooke gang. He tells Arthur that Emma passed the test and now they can reunite the sword. But, Arthur reveals he’s seeking glory, which is not what Merlin thought. Merlin says Arthur was like a son to him and says the future is in his hands. If he gives him the sword, they can repair everything. Arthur commands Merlin to make the Storybrooke gang leave, and that’s how they wound up back in Storybrooke in the present day.

Emma and Rumple are by the stone when Nimue shows up. Nimue wants her to use Excalibur to douse the light and tells her all of the Dark Ones are proud of her. They all look on as Emma picks up the ember from the first flame and uses it to put Excalibur back together. The sword hangs in the air and Emma remembers how when she was a child Merlin warned her to leave the sword alone. But Nimue says now she’s a woman and needs to take the power. Emma grasps the sword…

Once Upon a Time Season 5 Recaps: Episode 1 The Dark Swan / Episode 2 The Price / Episode 3 Siege Perilous / Episode 4 The Broken Kingdom / Episode 5 Dreamcatcher / Episode 6 Bear and the Bow

Season 5 Interviews: Colin O’Donoghue & Jennifer Morrison / Lana Parrilla / Josh Dallas & Ginnifer Goodwin / Sean Maguire & Rebecca Mader / Robert Carlyle & Emilie de Ravin