‘Once Upon a Time’ Season 5 Episode 4 Recap, Review: The Broken Kingdom

Once Upon a Time Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin
Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin in ‘Once Upon a Time’ season five episode four (Photo by Jack Rowand / ABC)

The battle to keep Emma from turning into the Dark One continued with episode four, season five of ABC’s Once Upon a Time which aired on October 18, 2015. The fourth episode of the season also revealed much more about King Arthur and Queen Guinevere’s relationship as well as why Lancelot was pretending to be dead all these years. “The Broken Kingdom” also found Hook doing his best to keep Emma occupied so she wouldn’t have time to think about Rumplestiltskin.

Recap of Season Five’s Fourth Episode:

We start off the episode with Arthur and Guinevere as kids. Merlin’s trapped inside the tree and Arthur tells Guinevere about the prophesy of Excalibur, and he promises to give her flowers every year on her birthday (yes, that will be important later in the episode). Bigger kids tease Arthur about the sword prophesy and warn him that no one will ever kneel to the boy who cleans the stables. But Guinevere makes him feel better by assuring him that she believes he will some day find the sword, if he follows his heart.

Fast forward to when he removes the broken sword from the stone. Arthur (Liam Garrigan) and his knights race back with Excalibur but he doesn’t tell the kingdom that the sword is broken, only showing off the top half and leaving the break concealed in his scabbard. Guinevere senses something’s wrong and Arthur says his quest has only just begun.

David (Josh Dallas) joins Arthur at the Round Table, and Arthur reveals the sword is broken and that the missing piece is the dagger of the Dark One. Arthur believes that with the dagger they wouldn’t need Merlin and could reforge Excalibur and destroy the Dark One on their own.

At Camelot, Rumple (Robert Carlyle) leads Emma (Jennifer Morrison), who was sitting in front of dreamcatchers, to a strange noise. It’s the dagger and Rumple wants her to shatter the spell Regina (Lana Parrilla) put on it and save herself. She tells him to get out of her head, but it’s Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) who actually appears in the doorway. She hugs Hook, telling him Rumple’s always there.

The gang assembles in Regina’s room in Camelot and Emma is awake but unresponsive. David rushes in and tells Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) that if they give the dagger to Arthur, he will help them. But Mary Margaret says no way; Arthur’s not trustworthy according to Lancelot. They all believe Lancelot is dead, but Mary Margaret lets them know he’s just hiding out.

Regina says Emma needs somewhere quiet to recuperate, and Henry and Hook take her away. Regina then lets David and Mary Margaret know that Emma must have been in her room looking for the dagger, and David’s still dead-set on giving the dagger to Arthur. Mary Margaret, with fire in her eyes, says no. They argue about Lancelot – who married them – but David’s upset with Lancelot for falling in love with Arthur’s wife, Guinevere (Joana Metrass). Mary Margaret thinks David is starstruck by meeting a king and that he’s not to tell Arthur anything until they know what’s up.

Five years earlier, Arthur is studying up on Excalibur. He’s translating a scroll and has figured out how to find the dagger, but doesn’t know what the symbols Star + Eye + Sun mean. It’s a maddening riddle, says Arthur, but Guinevere wants him to take a break and dance with her at her birthday party. Arthur doesn’t show up, but Lancelot does. She’s upset and dances with Lancelot. Guinevere’s worried because Arthur’s not building a kingdom and instead is locked up in a room all day looking for clues on Excalibur. Flowers are sprinkled and the crowd claps, but Guinevere knows Lancelot actually planned the party and remembered the flowers.

Arthur finally shows up at the party, but he only wants to talk about the dagger. It’s a day’s journey away, he believes, and leaves Lancelot there to protect the queen.

Back in Camelot five years later, David goes back to the Round Table. David confesses to Arthur the real reason the Storybrooke gang is in Camelot. He says he’ll do anything to destroy the darkness and tells Arthur they are going to restore Excalibur tonight… Mary Margaret is not going to take this well!

Arthur’s happy to learn the truth and promises he’ll help David get rid of the darkness inside Emma. Then the ever-trusting David goes ahead and tells Arthur Lancelot is alive. David, David, David, what are you thinking?!

Five years earlier, Lancelot finds Guinevere sneaking out in the dead of night. She broke into Merlin’s tower and took his gauntlet and she’s going to use it to find the dagger, even though Arthur would never do that. She’s going to finish the quest and Lancelot says he’ll join her.

Guinevere puts on the gauntlet, goes into the woods, finds the Dark One’s vault with the symbols from Arthur’s scroll, presses them, it opens and black liquid oozes, and a stairwell is revealed. They venture down and Lancelot is attacked. Guinevere saves him and they passionately kiss. She apologizes and says it won’t happen again. He agrees.

Five years later, Arthur tells David he wants the news that Lancelot lives to be kept a secret. However, Guinevere overhears and wants to know where he is so she can make him pay for his actions. David thinks they’re both equally guilty of infidelity, but Guinevere has a different story to tell. “If Lancelot is in Camelot, then that dagger isn’t safe anywhere,” says Arthur. David says he brought it with him, Arthur and Guinevere exchange looks, but the box it was in is empty.

Mary Margaret goes to Granny’s Diner to talk to Lancelot. She needs his help and tells him they have to hide the dagger.

Henry (Jared Gilmore) and Hook bring Emma to a quiet, out of the way stable that Violet’s family owns. Hook’s overjoyed to hear about this girl Henry has a crush on, but Emma can’t believe he lied about his feelings to his mom who happens to be the Dark One. Hook wants to know what’s going on with her, and Emma tells him she’s seeing and talking to Rumple in her head all the time. She even sees him as she’s telling Hook about this. Hook’s battled demons in his head and purged them by sailing the Jolly Roger, and he thinks getting Emma’s heart racing on a horse might be just the ticket to ridding her – for now – of Rumple’s presence.

Lancelot (Sinqua Walls) and Mary Margaret walk through the woods and she wants to know about his relationship with Guinevere. He says he’ll forever love Guinevere.

And now we’re back to that scene five years earlier in which Guinevere and Lancelot are looking for the dagger guided by Merlin’s gauntlet. She thinks they’re close. They step through a door and there’s the dagger on an altar but when she reaches for it, she’s thrown back. Rumple’s there and sees Merlin’s gauntlet. He won’t give them the dagger after learning she’s Guinevere, but he’ll make a deal if she gives him the gauntlet. He won’t give them the dagger, but he’ll make it appear like the sword has been completed by using enchanted sand. One pinch of it can finish Excalibur. It’ll be their secret, and she can have her husband back. Lancelot doesn’t want her to listen to Rumple, but she accepts the deal. “Good girl, but be careful. Love is a weapon. The most dangerous weapon of all which means the pain you should worry about isn’t the kind inflicted by a broken sword, but the kind that comes from a broken heart,” warns Rumple.

Five years later, Lancelot and Mary Margaret make it to the vault of the Dark One. He pushes the symbols and they retrace Guinevere’s footsteps. Mary Margaret’s been there before… She had a vision of Emma crushing her heart there years ago. Lancelot tells her the altar is shielded by a protection spell, and Lancelot wants to be the one to put the dagger on the altar in case something bad happens. Mary Margaret hesitates and in walks Arthur, sword drawn. He followed them and sent David out to search for them in the wrong place. “If you ever want to see him again, you’re going to hand over that dagger,” says Arthur.

Liam Garrigan Joana Metrass in Once Upon a Time
Liam Garrigan and Joana Metrass in ‘Once Upon a Time’ (Photo by Jack Rowand / ABC)

Five years earlier, Arthur watches Lancelot and Guinevere share a quiet moment together and figures out their relationship. Guinevere comes into the room and Arthur wants to know where she’s been. Hiding the sand behind her back, she tells him they were searching for the dagger of the Dark One. She says she found it in the Dark One’s vault. Arthur goes crazy, trying to find it in her bags, screaming at her. Angry, she tells him she was only able to get the enchanted sand but not the dagger. He thinks she just wanted to trick him, but she says it was because she wanted him back, the king she knew he could be. He says he will be back if she tells him where the vault is, but she threatens him to stop trying to mend the sword or his marriage and the kingdom will be broken forever. He thinks her heart belongs to Lancelot, and he won’t lose her to him. He uses the sand to keep her by his side! She’s now enchanted and her anger is gone. She will support his desire to get the dagger, and he says it’s time to fix the broken kingdom. He tosses sand out the window to fix Camelot.

Five years later, Arthur says he’ll kill Lancelot if Mary Margaret doesn’t hand over the dagger. She gives it to him to save Lancelot. Arthur says, “I have waited a lifetime for this. Now I control your daughter. I can command her to unite the sword and free Merlin. Excalibur’s blade will be the last thing he sees before I use it to run him through,” says Arthur. He will also use the blade to snuff out the darkness. He commands the Dark One to appear but nothing happens. Mary Margaret says she’s not coming because the dagger is not real. It was all a trick and David was in on it. David comes in behind Arthur and holds him at sword point while Mary Margaret disarms him. Arthur’s upset David broke his trust and betrayed him…not in the least bit concerned he was doing the same thing to David that he accused David of doing. Arthur continues to claim he wants to destroy the darkness and David tells him the darkness is in his daughter and every choice he makes is for his family.

Hook and Emma are walking through the forest with the horse. Hook says Emma has to introduce herself to the horse before she can ride it. The horse shies away and Rumple laughs. Hook tells Emma to knock off talking to the demon in her head and get on the horse. Emma has no idea why and Hook says it’s about her putting her faith in him and their future. “I’ll never stop fighting for us. All you have to do is trust me. This will work,” says Hook, in his most charming way. Up on the horse Emma goes.

At Granny’s Diner, David and Mary Margaret talk about what to do with Excalibur and the dagger. Arthur wanted to reunite them and use it for evil, but David thinks they could be used for good. Lancelot says Guinevere is fit to rule, but Arthur says nothing which makes David and Mary Margaret very suspicious. And for good reason as his knights surround the diner and face off with Lancelot, Mary Margaret and David. Guinevere, still under the sand spell, frees Arthur and tells Lancelot she loves Arthur. Lancelot knows immediately she’s under the sand’s spell, but Guinevere has Lancelot taken away to the dungeon. Arthur gets Excalibur back and Guinevere uses the sand on David and Mary Margaret.

Lancelot lands in the cell and Merida is down there. She’s locked away too, and tells him an enemy of King Arthur’s is a friend of hers.

Regina paces and Robin tells her to stop worrying. In walks Mary Margaret and David who claim Arthur is actually a good guy and Lancelot is where he should be – locked away. They now want Regina to give the dagger to Arthur.

Hook and Emma get off the horse after an invigorating ride. He picks a rose for her and asks what she doesn’t see. “Rumplestiltskin. He’s gone,” says Emma. It worked and they kiss in a field of pink roses.

Storybrooke, present day. Emma holds a pink rose and Gold is tied up. He tells her she can just set him free, but she needs him to be the hero and pull Excalibur from the stone. She’s going to use a ‘secret weapon’ to get him to do it.

She goes back to her VW Bug where she has Merida tied up, pulling her heart out. She instructs her to pull out the bow and make Gold brave, just like her.

“The Broken Kingdom” Review:

“The Broken Kingdom” revealed much more about King Arthur’s obsessive quest for the dagger and how he’s been able to manipulate Guinevere into being such a supportive wife. The reveal really altered our perception of the King who, up until this episode, seemed shady but not truly evil. It will be interesting to see the next step in Arthur’s arc this season and if this particular storyline will end with King Arthur – a beloved, heroic mythological figure – will wind up being one of the series’ big villains.

Hook continues to be a dashing hero while Mary Margaret and David have actually become more interesting as a couple as this season goes on. Episode four also finally pulled Merida back into the story, although it was just two very brief scenes at the very end.

Season five’s fourth episode pulled off a few surprising twists that Once Upon a Time fans may not have seen coming. But while episode four was pretty entertaining overall, unfortunately it also had a few scenes where the visual effects were way too obvious. The scenes down in the Dark One’s vault contained CG effects that weren’t up to par with Once Upon a Time‘s usual efforts. They were jarringly apparent, something unusual for the show, and hopefully just a one-time glitch.


Once Upon a Time Season 5 Recaps: Episode 1 The Dark Swan / Episode 2 The Price / Episode 3 Siege Perilous

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