Once Upon a Time (2011–2018)
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Emma's darkness is tested while she has an encounter with the first "dark one". The history of Excalibur is revealed.


Romeo Tirone


Edward Kitsis (created by), Adam Horowitz (created by) | 2 more credits »




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Ginnifer Goodwin ... Mary Margaret Blanchard
Jennifer Morrison ... Emma Swan
Lana Parrilla ... Regina Mills
Josh Dallas ... David Nolan
Emilie de Ravin ... Belle French (credit only)
Colin O'Donoghue ... Captain Killian 'Hook' Jones
Jared Gilmore ... Henry Mills (as Jared S. Gilmore) (credit only)
Rebecca Mader ... Zelena
Sean Maguire ... Robin Hood
Robert Carlyle ... Rumplestiltskin
Beverley Elliott ... Granny Lucas
Caroline Ford ... Nimue
Liam Garrigan ... King Arthur
Elliot Knight ... Merlin
Joana Metrass ... Queen Guinevere


In Camelot, Merlin spearheads a mission to reunite the dagger with Excalibur so he can use the weapon to save Emma from the darkness threatening her soul. With Zelena in town, Hook, Mary Margaret, David, Regina and Robin steal into Arthur's castle to take the broken sword from the maniacal king. Meanwhile, Merlin brings Emma along on a journey to confront his ancient nemesis and retrieve the sacred spark he'll need to reforge Excalibur. Both parties are tested, but one suffers a blow that could derail the entire operation. In a flashback to long before the Age of Arthur, young Merlin finds purpose after he is blessed with magic and immortality, but when he falls in love with a young refugee named Nimue, everything changes for Merlin, as their romance starts a chain of events that touches every one of our present day heroes. Written by NikolaLevic97

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The object/animal/person in this episode is a field of Middlemist Flowers. See more »


[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] See more »


Merlin: I see two paths for our journey, Emma. On one, you resist the darkness and we succeed. On the other, you succumb to the darkness and I do not return. I die.
Emma Swan: You die? But...
Merlin: Even immortality has exceptions. A dark one does have the power to kill me.
Emma Swan: But they won't even be there. Not really.
[Merlin looks down]
Emma Swan: Oh. It would be me. If you died, it would be me.
Merlin: If I die, it means that you lost your battle and the darkness stained your soul. Everything and everyone that you know will be at the mercy of ...
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User Reviews

Excalibur lives
24 July 2018 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

When 'Once Upon a Time' first started it was highly addictive and made the most of a truly great and creative premise. Really loved the idea of turning familiar fairy tales on their heads and putting own interpretations on them and the show early on clearly had clearly had a ball. Watched it without fail every time it came on and it was often a highlight of the week. Which was why it was sad when it ran out of ideas and lost its magic in the later seasons.

Season 5 had a lot to live up to after Season 4 being as impressive as it was. As far as Season 4's episodes go, they were all decent to brilliant with the only small dip being "Family Business" (though "Heart of Gold" was uneven) and the best being the "Smash the Mirror" two parter, "Best Laid Plans", "Mother" and the first part of "Operation Mongoose". So was expecting a good deal from Season 5 and judging from this and the previous episodes it has not been a let down with all the previous episodes being decent to wonderful.

"Nimue" is simply brilliant and the best Season 5 episode since the season opener "The Dark Swan". Also a high point of the season itself and certainly one of the most interesting and most emotionally investable. It basically sets things up and starts to put things into place, but does this superbly. It does so also advancing the characterisation and the story.

It is wonderful to see in "Nimue" how the maturity and confidence has grown so much, very like "The Dark Swan". Really loved the emotion of the episode, definitely one of the show's darkest as far as this and the previous episodes go. Also its humanity, advancing the characterisation without softening any characters or making them standard archetypes and not losing what made them work.

Also notable is the development to Emma. Instead of the overwrought and passive character she could be in earlier episodes, the character has come on such a long way, as has the writing and the tone. There is a good deal of emotional investment and found myself connecting to Emma and the story. The episode wastes no time in going straight into the main story without anything padding it out or distracting.

Most note-worthy is the development and characterisation of Merlin. It was very interesting to see a more conflicted Merlin and one that is different to the usually noble and wise Merlin usually portrayed. "Nimue" gives him a back-story, showing what his past was and how he came to be the way he is now, it is an emotionally investable and compelling one and doesn't fall into soap-opera territory. The chemistry between Emma and Merlin carries the episode very well, and there is still a chance to relish Emma and Hook's sparkling relationship. Just as notable is everything with Excalibur, something that was done compellingly and refreshingly with no repetition and moving things forward, never being incoherent.

All the acting is strong, with some first class performances from Jennifer Morrison, Caroline Ford and particularly Elliot Knight with his meatiest material up to this point. Colin O'Donoghue, Lana Parrilla and Rebecca Mader also do a lot with what they have.

Furthermore, "Nimue" is a very handsomely mounted episode visually, the settings and costumes are both colourful and atmospheric, not too dark or garish and never cookie cutter. It is photographed beautifully too. The music is haunting, ethereal and cleverly used with a memorable theme tune.

Writing has the right balance of humour, pathos, mystery and intrigue, or corn or cheesiness here. This aspect has come on such a long way since when 'Once Upon a Time' first started, much more complexity and nuance.

Overall, for 'Once Upon a Time' fans this is one of the must watch episodes. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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Release Date:

8 November 2015 (USA) See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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