Merlin found his true love and then lost her to the dark side, while Emma struggled against every Dark One that ever was on Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 7.
Below, TV Fanatics Allison Nichols, Robin Harry, Amanda Steinmetz and Christine Laskodi are joined by Gareth from Once Upon a Fan to debate the identity of the first Dark One, Arthur’s plan for Merlin and which characters they want to see more of after "Nimue."
Did you suspect that Nimue was the first Dark One and what do you think of the twist?
Allison: I didn't suspect her. I liked the twist a lot. I wasn't really into the whole Nimue and Merlin flashback, so the twist helped.
Gareth: I thought it was a very obvious twist. I think a lot of the fans had worked it out in advance. The moment when Merlin couldn’t kill the Dark One and was transformed into the tree was the moment I guessed it was because whoever the Dark One was meant something to him.
Robin: I suspected that even before we met Nimue, but I started doubting myself when that third player showed up.
Amanda: I didn't think the twist was surprising at all. They wouldn't have put so much focus on Nimue and Merlin's relationship otherwise.
Arthur now controls Merlin. What will he use him to do?
Allison: Arthur wants power. He wants to be remembered. I'm not sure what specifically Arthur will use Merlin to do, but it will be to help grow his legend and ensure that everyone knows who King Arthur is.
Gareth: Nothing good. I have a feeling events are about to spiral out of control in Camelot with Emma forced to make some tough choices. The problem with this season for me is a general lack of tension since we already know the result of their time in Camelot. We know that everybody except Merlin has made it back to Storybrooke intact, which has rendered any tension moot. I don’t really know or care about Merlin enough to worry about whether he makes it out alive.
Robin: Arthur won't kill Merlin because he wants the power, but Arthur's insane and there's no telling what he will think is the way to get that.
Amanda: Arthur wants glory, but I'm not sure what that exactly means for him. Merlin is powerful, so Arthur will use him however he sees fit to keep control over Camelot.
Christine L.: I think Arthur will use Merlin to get rid of his obstacles. It's pretty easy to get away with everything when you have a magical genius who can just "poof" away anything to stands in the way of you getting what you want. Man, I really don't like Arthur.
Were you surprised that Emma grabbed ahold of the sword even after she remembered Merlin’s warnings from her childhood?
Allison: I was surprised that Emma had that moment of hesitation. It shows that she isn't completely gone. She had an audience of Dark Ones, so she couldn't not grab it.
Gareth: Not really. We have to see the consequences of those actions and the fall out from Emma going against Merlin’s advice. I still think Emma is playing a long con and is working against the darkness in order to destroy it forever.
Robin: I was not surprised. She was surrounded by all her past Avatars...I mean, Dark Ones. The situation was way too compelling. I know there's a theory that Emma's pulling a long con, and we saw her fight off the darkness with Nimue, and I find it interesting that we haven't seen her in the signature gold skin of the Dark One. I just don't see how she's fooling her own subconscious.
Amanda: Not really because it wouldn't serve Emma's storyline if she didn't go through with it. We are watching her continuing descent into darkness, and a part of that journey is bound to have moments of hesitation or questioning.
Which character do you feel is missing from this season of which you’d like to see more?
Allison: I'd just like to see more of the main cast. We've spent a lot of time on Merida, Arthur, Merlin, and all the newbies in Camelot. I don't really care about them all that much. So all the dwarves and Granny and everyone that came over in the diner, where are they? Are they hanging out in the woods of Camelot somewhere?
Gareth: Regina, without a doubt. I’m not sure what is going on with her this season but we need her up front and central to the plot ASAP. Robert Carlyle, Jennifer Morrison and Lana Parrilla are what make this show for me and keep me watching. I wouldn’t care if anybody else left or was killed off, but those three actors are essentially Once Upon A Time to me.
Robin: Allison has a good point. I don't necessarily need to see more of him, but I find it weird that Leroy made such a fuss about going to Camelot and missing out on adventures, but he's nowhere to be seen in Camelot. Anyway, I think the pirate is being underutilized. Hook is capable of more than being Emma's love anchor.
Amanda: I think a lot of the main cast has been left out in the cold so far this season, particularly Regina. There's always so much focus on introducing new characters every half season, but I don't think it's necessary to keep the show interesting. I'd rather see the writers reign it in a little. We already have more than enough fairytale and folklore characters to keep the story going.
Christine L.: I feel like this happens every season. We get more of the temporary characters than we do of the ones we know, love, and are invested in. I've been sorely missing Regina and Robin, particularly. I'm also surprised at how little everyone is including Henry in these huge decisions about how to help Emma. He's a kid, sure, but that's never stopped them before.
Was there anything in “Nimue” that disappointed you?
Allison: It was yet another episode that mainly took place in the past. If we are going to spend so much time flashing back to Camelot and then flashing back even further, why bother to do the Storybrooke storyline at all? We could have just held off on showing everyone back in Storybrooke until we actually reached that part in the timeline. Plus, then maybe we wouldn't have had yet another memory wipe.
Gareth: I’m really unhappy with the treatment of Arthur. Ugh. Some twists work on this show, but coming from England and with a massive love of Arthurian legend, I just feel the mysticism and mystery of Arthur has been completely lost. I feel quite betrayed by the shoddy treatment they have given such an iconic character. The actor is very good, he could have carried a far more complex version of the character well.
Robin: Last week I thought there was a chance that I could like Zelena. Then we found out she gave Arthur power over Merlin. Even worse, she just had to go and say "wicked" again. Ugh.
Amanda: I agree with Allison. I was so annoyed that we would have to endure another split timeline. I think the storyline in Camelot could have been fine on its own and then we would eventually get back to Storybrooke.
Christine L.: The reveal that Zelena was working with Arthur. I just laughed because it seemed SO obvious and NONE of them realized it. I expect more from Regina and Hook, especially. They've both been double-crossed or done the double-crossing enough times to know when it's happening!
What was your favorite quote or scene from this episode?
Allison: I loved how Emma held onto Killian's ring before summoning the first Dark One. She is trying to use Killian as a way to hold on to Emma and to ward off the Dark One.
Gareth: Jennifer Morrison is just owning this season. “I’m not nothing, I’ve never been nothing”. She continues to really impress me this year.
Robin: I'm with Gareth, Jennifer Morrison just killed it this week. My favorite scene by a long shot is her defeating Nimue's hold over her. "I'm not nothing, I was never nothing!!" That was amazing.
Amanda: Looks like we all agree that Jennifer Morrison is shining this season. I also loved the Once Upon a Time quote...
I'm not nothing! I was never nothing. The power you have I don't need.Emma
Check back in on Sunday for our review of Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 8 and if you can't wait until then, you can watch Once Upon a Time online here at TV Fanatic.
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.