‘Once Upon a Time’ Season 5 Episode 6 Recap, Review: Bear and the Bow

Once Upon a Time Colin O'Donoghue Lana Parrilla
Colin O’Donoghue and Lana Parrilla in ‘Once Upon a Time’ (Photo by Ed Araquel / ABC)

In the final moments of ABC’s Once Upon a Time season five episode six we almost found out what happened to Emma and Merlin in Camelot that led to Emma turning completely into the Dark One. It looks like we’ll have to wait one more week for the actual details as to what went down during Merlin and Emma’s meeting. However, the sixth episode did find the Storybrooke gang discovering they’d been tricked once again and it also featured much more of Merida. Bear with us through this detailed recap of Once Upon a Time‘s season five episode 6 titled “The Bear and the Bow:”

Back in Camelot a flash of light disables the knights long enough for Merlin (Elliot Knight), Hook (Colin O’Donoghue), David (Josh Dallas), and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) to make their way through a passage. As they work their way into Camelot’s cells, Hook is convinced Merlin actually can see the future. “Bits and pieces, yeah,” says Merlin. They find their way to Lancelot and it’s a happy reunion. Merida (Amy Manson) is jailed across from Lancelot and wants out too. Belle whips out a spell book to help Merlin because the bars of the cells are enchanted. It works and both are freed. Merlin assures Merida she doesn’t want to look for the wisps and they’ll find her brothers another way.

Present day and the gang is trying to figure out why Merlin didn’t destroy the darkness in Emma back in Camelot. Regina (Lana Parrilla) holds the crimson crown mushroom and says they can use it to try and communicate with Merlin. Hook wants to know exactly how that will go down, asking if they just speak to it. But Regina says the question has to be asked by someone Merlin chose, and the memory-impaired gang believe that’s Arthur (Liam Garrigan). David will go seek him out but Belle says Rumple (Robert Carlyle) can do it instead of Arthur. Unfortunately, Belle’s outvoted.

Rumple sits with hands tied in the woods and kisses the chipped mug, asking for Belle’s forgiveness before shattering it so he can free his hands.

Back in Camelot it’s nighttime and they’re walking through the woods. Merida explains to Belle how she wound up in jail, and it had to do with mistakenly stealing a boat that belonged to Arthur. Merida and Belle lag behind the group and when the rest are out of sight, Merida takes a rock and knocks out Belle.

Present day, Merida takes the Dark One (Jennifer Morrison) to Rumple but he’s gone. The Dark One says that’s okay, he’ll become a hero by stopping a very surprised Merida from killing Belle.

Flashback to Belle in a boat with Merida heading to the Shores of DunBroch. Merida is rowing, Belle’s just coming to from being hit. Belle grabs an oar to hit Merida and Merida explains she took her so she could do magic to help her find her brothers. Belle is upset and rightly so…Merida could have just asked. Merida tells Belle she’s not going to marry someone she doesn’t love and her brothers were kidnapped so she would give up the throne. “Would you give up everything you’ve ever dreamed of just because a man said you didn’t deserve it?” she asks Merida.

Present day, Belle is in the library trying to figure out where Rumple is being kept. A complex lock opens and Rumple appears. He didn’t expect to see Belle there and he’s overcome with emotion. He tells her Merida and the Dark One are after him. He says while he was in the coma he wanted to let go, but he heard her voice. He can’t believe she stood by him all that time, despite what he did to her and her friends. It’s because of her that he’s alive. Belle says they have to hide, but Rumple knows the Dark One let him escape so he could turn into a hero. She’ll come after Belle and he’ll protect her, and that will make him a hero. They have to get to the shop because magic there can help them.

Speaking of magic, Merida says they have to go into a witch’s house because the magic there can help them find her brothers. Belle does a spell using the witch’s cauldron and they see where Merida’s brothers are behind held. They also see the men who are holding them – the men who wanted to marry Merida. She hears them say they’re going to kill her brothers that evening and take away her crown. Belle says they’ll find a way to save them from that fate, and a lightbulb goes off for Merida. She figures out she needs to change her fate and Belle has to do it for her.

In jail, Zelena (Rebecca Mader) feels the baby kick as a plate of healthy food arrives courtesy of Regina. She sends it away and the Dark One appears, wantng to have a little chat. The Dark One poofs Zelena out of the cell and to her house, along with a lunch bag full of fried food from Granny’s. Zelena asks, “So tell me, what kind of trouble do you want to get into?” The Dark One tells her to eat up and then shows her the apprentice’s wand. Zelena’s the only one who has used the wand and the Dark One wants to make a deal. Zelena says Henry will resent her forever for ripping out his girlfriend’s heart, but the Dark One thinks he eventually will get over it. Nope, says Zelena, some hurts don’t heal. Zelena doesn’t want to make a deal because of her baby and wants back in her cell. The Dark One says eventually she’ll be back to take the deal. Zelena replies, “No, I don’t think so, Emma. The difference between you and me is I don’t mind being alone.”

Rumple says he’s doesn’t want to go outside and can’t make it to the shop. His leg is hurting horribly and Belle knows why it’s that way. She knows the man behind the beast but now she also sees a hero.

Amy Manson Once Upon a Time Merida
Amy Manson in ‘Once Upon a Time’ season five (Photo by Ed Araquel / ABC)

Merida’s showing off her archery skills; her father taught her well. “If you remember what you’re fighting for, you will never miss your target,” says Merida, recalling her father’s words. Merida asked Belle to make a potion for her but before she gives it to her, Belle wants to be sure Merida knows what it does. It turns a person into a bear, says Merida, and that’s what she needs to change her fate. Merida thinks changing into a bear will make her strong enough to beat the men holding her brother, but Belle thinks Merida is capable of doing it using just her wit and her bow and doesn’t need to be a bear. Merida disagrees.

Belle helps Rumple to the shop and gives him his cane. Just then an arrow flies through the window followed by Merida who can’t believe they’re dumb enough to go to the shop. The Dark One knew they would but Merida didn’t believe it. They hide behind the door in another room and Merida’s arrow comes through the wood inches from Belle’s face.

A potion boils in a cauldron and Regina holds the mushroom. It’s taking a while and Hook’s growing impatient. In comes Arthur and he’s willing to help. Regina hands him the mushroom and he says it’s best if he does it alone, and David leads the gang out of the room. Only Arthur remains, bending down and tossing the mushroom in the fire heating the cauldron. Arthur walks out and tells them it didn’t work.

Merida breaks into the room, shoots at Belle and Rumple, and then says, “Stop me, coward. Be the hero we all need.” Rumple can’t and he apologizes to Belle, just as Belle knocks Merida over. As they leave the shop Rumple grabs something from the safe, something that will keep them safe.

Flashback to six weeks earlier – Merida and Belle sneak up on where Merida’s brothers are blindfolded and tied to posts. She asks for the potion but Belle’s still reluctant to give it to her. Merida tells her about her father’s death at the hands of a knight and how she missed when it was the critical moment. Her father is dead because she missed. Belle tells her she lost her mother in the Ogre Wars but has finally forgiven herself. Merida can’t do that because the clans lost faith in her that day. Reluctantly, Belle hands over the potion. “Thank you. Now let’s kick some arse,” says Merida.

Rumple drives toward the border of Storybrooke with Belle, but Belle refuses to leave while her friends are still in trouble in the town. Belle says they will stop the Dark One together. She demands he stop the car and he won’t so she grabs the handle. He does finally stop it, and she’s out and heading back to Storybrooke. “Running never made anyone a hero,” says Belle. Rumple tells her about the Ogre War and why he really crippled himself – he did it because he was scared. He didn’t want to die then and believes through and through he’s a coward now. Only if they escape Storybrooke can he protect her but she’s done with it. Belle turns her back on him and walks down the road. Rumple drives forward.

Just minutes later Merida is in the middle of the street and she’s now got the bear potion with her, because the Dark One demanded it. Yep, she’s a bear…a giant, angry bear who wants to kill Belle.

Back in time, Merida’s brothers prepare to die at the hands of the three clans. Merida and Belle stroll in and she tells them to let her brothers go. She drinks the potion but nothing happens. Belle claims to have mixed it right but then admits she switched it with water. She knew Merida wouldn’t face her fear unless she did it. Merida tells the men she’s the rightful queen and they draw their bows, aiming at her brothers. With one arrow, Merida pierces all three arrows before they can strike her brothers. The three clans’ leaders draw their swords but Merida says, “You saw what I can do with an arrow. Do you really want to see what I can do with a sword?” The clans people bow to her and eventually all three leaders drop their swords and also bend their knees. Her brothers rush to her and it’s a joyous reunion.

Back in Storybrooke, the bear chases Belle through the woods and of course, given that it’s night, Belle stumbles. The bear catches up and Belle begs Merida not to do it. As she’s about to attack Rumple hits her in the head with a rock. Belle tells him to run but he says he’s not running this time. The bear knocks him to the ground, stands over him, and he tells it to do its worst. Then he see the bag from the shop and throws it into the bear’s mouth. It changes back to Merida. He didn’t know it would work and Belle tells him he saved her. He answers, “I think you saved me.”

Six weeks earlier, Merida offers to help Belle with her quest but Belle tells her the kingdom needs their queen right now. Merida wishes her well with the man she loves and they are both hopeful that their paths will cross again. Merida gives the boat a push and Belle rows away down the river.

Back at Granny’s Diner in Camelot, Merlin picks up an Apollo Milk Chocolate candy bar. Emma walks up behind him and says she has the strangest sense of deja vu. Merlin confesses to always wanting to try a chocolate bar. He says the last time he had the chance “was in the hands of a little girl with sticky fingers.” That jars Emma’s memory and she recalls meeting him in the theater all those years ago. She remembers him telling her not to touch Excalibur. Merlin tells her the sword will return to the stone and that now that the darkness is in her, it’s critical she leaves it alone. “Leave Excalibur alone. The fate of everyone that you love rests upon it,” says Merlin.

Flash-forward to the Dark One staring at Excalibur while Merida walks in with Rumple and Belle. Rumple says a hero never runs from his problems. He also knows she won’t stop wreaking havoc unless he pulls the sword out and he wants to make a deal: Give Merida back her heart and make sure her brothers are safe and he’ll pull out the sword. Done. Rumple goes to grab the sword and before he does he tells Belle he’s sorry for everything. “If I had to do it all again I would make sure I was the man you deserved right from the very start,” says Rumple. He adds that he would change everything for her and Belle says it’s never too late. He grasps the sword and removes it from the stone. They all stare at it and then he tosses it at the Dark One’s feet. Before they leave Rumple tells the Dark One she’s made a terrible mistake in turning him into a hero. She says there’s heroes all over the town, but he says none are like him.

Regina is going over the spell for the umpteenth time and can’t figure out why Arthur couldn’t talk to Merlin. Then David bends down and finds the burned mushroom resting in the ashes. They know Arthur lied and sabotaged the spell, and Regina says he must not have known magic toadstools don’t burn. Mary Margaret says they have to talk to Merlin now more than ever. Hook says they still need someone who is chosen and that means they’re out of luck. Regina then has a brilliant idea: the author was also chosen by Merlin.

Henry (Jared Gilmore) joins the gang and he’s ready to help. He thinks Emma is still in there somewhere and he’ll do what it takes to get her back. He puts the mushroom in the cauldron and a hologram of Merlin appears. Merlin gives them a message (Regina says she can’t believe they’re getting Merlin’s voicemail). Only one person can defeat the Dark One and their name is Nimue. He’s interrupted before he can finish his message. Hook says, “What the hell did Emma do to him?”

Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 6 Review:

We’re slowly but surely edging closer to the big reveal as to why Merlin didn’t help Emma rid herself of the darkness. Merida’s storyline and the rescue of her brothers, along with Rumple’s journey to becoming a hero, took up a good deal of time in “The Bear and the Bow,” but there was also enough room to squeeze in a little bit more on Arthur’s villainy. Unfortunately, that meant many of the key characters including Hook, Regina, Mary Margaret, and David were barely heard from in this episode. A shift back to focusing on the Storybrooke heroes will likely happen in episode seven as the details behind Emma’s embrace of the darkness should be the central story of “Nimue.”

Overall, episode six did a decent job of moving supporting characters’ storylines forward. Fans who aren’t that into the Merida storyline probably won’t list this episode among their favorites of season five, but at this episode gave actress Amy Manson something juicy to work with.


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

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