Nov 16, 2013

Excalibur on OUAT

Once Upon A Time may be centred on Snow White, Prince Charming, their daughter Emma, her son Henry and the Evil Queen (who is Henry's adopted mother), but it's also a mix of characters from other fairy tales and legends. Just in this episode we have Rumplestiltskin (also one of the regulars), Belle (from Beauty and the Beast, the Beast being Rumple), Captain Hook and Peter Pan (Pan's the evil one)! We've already had one foray into Arthurian lore with the season 2 episode "The Lady of the Lake" in which we met Lancelot. Now it's time for another key Arthurian element to come into play: Excalibur! :o)

Note: spoilers abound for this (and previous) episodes of Once Upon a Time.

The key section of the season 3 episode 2 "Lost Girl" (for this post anyhow) is the flashback sequence to shortly after Charming woke Snow up from the Queen's sleeping curse (and he proposed to her! and she accepted!). Snow's lacking the necessary confidence to face the Queen in battle, doesn't believe they can defeat her. So Charming asks Rumplestiltskin for advice and then informs Snow that Rumple told him of a weapon that would defeat Regina.

"It was forged by a benevolent mage. His name was Merlin, from a realm called Camelot. (...) Excalibur."

And presto! We have our sword in a stone!

Charming tries to pull it out and can't, Snow says if he can't then how could she possibly succeed?
"The Legend states only the Kingdom's true ruler possesses the strength to free the blade."
The look of wonder on Snow's face when she does is fabulous!

"You see, you are this Kingdom's true leader."

Later when she faces the Queen and finally shakes off her doubts: 
"You told me to stop denying who I really am and that's exactly what I'm doing. This is MY Kingdom and I WILL fight for it!"

Oh, but in the end the sword isn't really Excalibur! The real one is in Camelot, Charming faked this one to give Snow something to help her realise she could face the Queen. (Rumple hadn't helped him after all.)

This is similar to the final Excalibur storyline in the BBC's Merlin (s04e13), when Merlin purposefully plunges the sword into the stone and then makes up a legend about it that "Gaius told him" and leads Arthur to it because Arthur was then lacking self-confidence (having lost Camelot to Morgana and his Uncle). Self-confidence that he was the rightful king which he regained upon pulling the sword from the stone and then goes to confront Morgana and reclaim Camelot.

The reason for this flashback is to show the parallel between Snow's earlier problem to Emma's in this episode. She needs to find out who she really is, become aware of it and accept it so she can find and save Henry. (By the way, the answer is orphan. That's how she felt her whole life, and her parents showed up to change that feeling.)

Elements from Arthurian Legend:

  • Excalibur of course! Even if it's not the real deal, it follows the general rules: sword in a stone that can only be pulled out by the Kingdom's rightful ruler...
  • Reference to Merlin and Camelot (as the origins of the sword)

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