'Once Upon a Time' S5E4: The Broken Kingdom

★ ★ ½

Hey guys, just letting you know that this will be my last Once Upon a Time review. While last season kept me passionate enough to write about it on a weekly basis, the show’s recent steep decline in quality leaves me without much to say.

Once Upon a Time has had more than its fair share of problems, but no episodes are ever as bad than the ones that turn out to be very bland character backstories. Turns out, just like Oz and Wonderland, Camelot isn’t interesting.

Just like Camelot's disappointing false front, Arthur’s motivations and the Lancelot/Guinevere relationship feel forced and superficial. While a peek at Arthur’s childhood gives a good foundation for his character, the very second after he's pulled Excalibur from the stone, his storyline is about as broken as the sword itself. It's understandable that Arthur feels a ton of pressure to complete Excalibur and bring happiness to his kingdom, but not only does his obsession seem forced, his superficiality and inability to find the dagger is all based on some very flimsy logic.

OUAT S5

That being said, the fact that all it took to find the dagger was Guinevere waltzing into Merlin’s tower and using the gauntlet just showed how idiotic Arthur was. It wasn’t even presented in the usual "magical items have consequences" fashion. The solution was right there! In their kingdom! Two feet away! When asked why Arthur never used it, Guinevere basically said "Just ‘cuz."

The hasty handling of Arthur’s storyline hindered his character development greatly and while his present day actions speak louder than earlier ones, wanting everything to be perfect doesn’t pack the same emotional punch that the problems faced by Regina, Zelena, and Rumple did. Lancelot has never been a compelling character, but matters are made worse when his relationship with Guinevere is shoved into the plot just so that that way Arthur has a reason to hold a grudge against him. Their affair should have had much more weight than it did, and it demonstrated no emotional connection beyond "Arthur has just been so distant lately." Additionally, there weren’t enough moments between the two of them to show just how much Lancelot cared for her. They couldn’t shoehorn him into their childhood at all?

Even though Camelot started out with some potential, the Arthurian legends are a huge amount of material to cover in just one season, and cramming it all into one episode definitely doesn’t help. I'm also sad to hear that Morgana will not be making any appearances.

Notes:
  • If what Arthur told Guinevere was a secret, how did his bullies even know about it?
  • Why did people suddenly believe Arthur? He’s been bullied by the townsfolk for years and they suddenly go "hey, he has a sword! He must be king!"
  • Why did people believe automatically believe Arthur? You’ve bullied him all these years and you suddenly turn around and go "hey, that’s a sword! He must be king"?
  • "I’ve heard tales of it." Charming is terrible liar.
  • Extra throwing flowers sounds like an extra.
  • I know OUAT isn’t going to be winning any awards for acting, but man do some people make that painfully obvious.
  • Nothing like using a shower of flowers to steal your best friend’s girl.
  • "He straight up lied to my face and I’m a Dark One."
  • How did Charming and Snow both steal the dagger? Regina isn’t doing a good job at keeping that thing out of irresponsible hands and no one's hands are more irresponsible than those of Snow and Charming.
  • Why are Snow and Charming still forgiven? What is the deal with characters glazing over the fact that Snow has done some very terrible things?
  • The last thing we need is a flashback in a flashback in a flashback. Just saying.
  • Why is Dark Emma wanting Rumple, of all people, to be the knight to pull out the sword? Why is Rumple even still around anymore? What use does the show have for him anyways?

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