So….the writers have left us scratching our heads and rubbing our bruised hearts and thoroughly befuddled, so they all looked at each other around the table and said, “What now?”
“I know!” said one. “How about a diversion!”
So let’s clack our coconuts together and head off on an adventure back to Camelot, where Zelena and Arthur have just poofed away from Emma and Merlin to plot a way to get Excalibur back. There’s something that can help them in Dunbroch, Arthur tells her, and off they go.
Over to Dunbroch now, where Merida is talking to her father’s headstone, asking for his guidance as she rules the pansy saps that laid down their arms because she shot at their arrows. Her Mom shows up to remind her it’s coronation day. And I wish to hell they could have gotten Emma Thompson to cameo. Dammit.
Flashback to Dunbroch “several years earlier” (not taking any chances with that timeline) and Merida’s dad is breaking into the witch’s cottage. Invaders are attacking from the south, so he asks the witch for some magic to “ensure the future of his kingdom.” She tells him she wants an IOU in return and he adds his seal to the agreement.
She takes a piece of hair from Fergus’s beard and makes some polyjuice potion a magic helm that will give him “exactly what he wants” if he wears it into battle.
Two years later and it’s Merida’s coronation. Wait, if it’s only been two years, why did they just say we went back several? Ugh! Again with the timeline crap.
The witch shows up at the coronation to collect her IOU. She demands the return of the helm or she’s going to curse the entire kingdom and turn them all into bears.
Merida tells her Mother that Fergus was wearing the helm when he was killed, and the knight that killed him took the helm. If she can find her father’s killer, she can save the kingdom.
Back to two years before that, and Fergus is taking offense at MacGuffin’s disrespect toward Merida as they prepare to go to war. He opens up the war chest and gives Merida his war bow to carry into her first battle. Then he tells her he’s hired a soldier to tutor her in the art of war. The soldier appears, knocking Merida on her fiery Scottish arse and when the soldier removes her helmet we see Mulan.
Forward two years to (I think) the Camelot timeframe (but who the hell knows, I give up) and Merida seeks Mulan out again. We then see Mulan looking slightly disheveled and doing petty mercenary work. She no longer fights for honor – she fights for herself. What have they done to Mulan!
Meanwhile, Arthur and Zelena are now at the witch’s cottage, where a wolf greets them. Arthur wants the helm, but the witch tells her she doesn’t know where it is. She is kind enough to let them know that Merida is looking for it.
Merida and Mulan have come across the arrow that she fired at her father’s killer two years ago, still stuck in the ground and with a chunk of the killer’s cloak still stuck to it. Wow. What a coinky-dink.
Merida asks Mulan what has hardened her heart and Mulan tells her only that a true warrior never lets another hurt them.
Flashback to the two of them training back whenever while the guys look on and make fun of them. Merida threatens to kick Abs McIntosh’s firm, firm arse.
Where was I? Oh yeah. The episode.
Forward to Camelot-time, and Merida and Mulan are confronted by Zelena and Arthur. Arthur tells them that the helm has the magical power to get other men to fight your battles. Arthur wants it for Camelot, since it’s the only way he’ll get his army to rally behind him and defeat Merlin. This hits Merida hard because it means her father wasn’t a true leader, but relied on magic to send his men to their deaths.
Zelena takes Merida’s bow, planning to use a locator spell on it so it will lead them to another one of Fergus’s possessions. And not to Fergus, which is what a locator spell previously did in all other seasons of this show. And the spell will know exactly which one of Fergus’s former possessions to target.
Merida’s going home now because she’s pretty upset about the whole ‘Dad using magic to lead’ thing. She’s utterly defeated and tells Mulan she’s going to give up and turn everything over to the menfolk to settle. Mulan tells her she can’t give up.
“Why not?” Merida fires back. “You have.”
Back two years again, and Fergus is standing watch near a lake. Merida seeks him out, asking him how he’s inspired all these men to follow him. Fergus looks down at the helm in his hands, and tells Merida that the trick is to show them you’re the first one willing to die.
Forward again (whew, I’m getting dizzy) to Mulan, taking the piece of cloak to the witch, to find out who the scrap belongs to. The wolf is there to greet her. As the animal springs, Mulan realizes it’s no real wolf. She knocks over a conveniently placed cauldron and the magical smoke inside it conveniently changes the wolf into Red. Conveniently.
Red tells Mulan that she knew Aurora and Philip and rubs salt in Mulan’s wounds by mentioning how they’re happily expecting a baby. Mulan asks how Red got to the Enchanted Forest and we flashback to the end of Season 3’s time travel adventure.
Snow is talking to Red and it turns out that Red got one of those incredibly hard to find magic beans from Anton, which she selfishly uses instead of replanting to grow a whole new crop and she doesn’t offer to bring anyone else along, leaving Granny to run the diner all alone.
Anyway, after the flashback to explain how she was on another TV series that’s now been cancelled so she’s back again, she tells Mulan that the witch put a spell on her when she sought her out, hoping to find her wolf pack. You know, the one she disowned after she killed their leader – her own mother. I’m sure they’re waiting to welcome her with open arms…er…paws.
Mulan produces the piece of cloak, and Red offers to sniff it out and find Fergus’s killer. Merida, meantime, tells abs McIntosh that he can have the crown if he can find the helm before the witch returns.
Flashback to two years before again, and Mulan and Merida are sparring when Merida hears the call of the pipes. The battle has started without her, and Fergus had Mulan keeping her busy so she would miss it.
The invaders haven’t declared themselves, so we don’t know who they are. Fergus starts the battle and everyody’s slamming away at each other. It’s full on Braveheart out there! One helmeted knight peels off from the others and sneaks up on Fergus from behind. Merida tries to warn him from her spot on the ridge above and fires an arrow, hitting his attacker in the leg. Her father falls. The knight takes the helm and limps away.
Of course, it’s Arthur.
Forward to the lake, where Merida confronts Arthur and Zelena, who have located the helm at the bottom of a lake. Arthur didn’t have the helm now because Fergus wasn’t wearing it when he killed him. Arthur and Merida start fighting.
Zelena heads for the helm, but Red is there with some convenient sleeping powder that knocks her out, then makes her woozy, but not too woozy to poof herself and Arthur away, but too woozy to take the helm with them.
Abs McIntosh and his bros had their arrows trained on the whole shebang, and after Zelena and Arthur go, the pretty-chested pansy boys take a knee again. Ya know, Merida, having a rippling ab’d guy who’s willing to drop to his knees all the time ain’t a bad thang. Just sayin’.
Merida is crowned and the witch shows up to collect. Merida tells her she’s going to destroy the helm, but the witch assures her this was never about the helm. It was all a test. She gives Merida a gift: the magical ale of Sinead. One cup of it can summon the spirit of anyone who’s passed to the underworld. Remember that folks, it’ll be on the quiz in the second half of the season.
Merida thanks Mulan and Red for their help. Mulan finally admits she was getting over a broken heart. Red asks her to come along as she searches for her wolf pack. “Maybe helping someone else find their path can help you with yours” she says as we sigh. Yeah, I ship it. But I think I ship Mulan and Merida more.
Merida slops some ale on Fergus’s grave and he shows up to tell her just how proud of her he is. She apologizes for losing faith in him. He tells her that she made him change his mind and that’s why he threw the helm in the lake. He holds her close and then he fades away, in a great CGI nod to Brave.
“Arthur,” Merida vows, as the drums beat loudly in the background. “You have no idea what’s coming for you.”
And I have no idea why the hell we got this episode. After where they left off on the last one, it’s just completely off-putting and feels horribly contrived. Like “Hey, we need to do some more Brave stuff and where the hell can we work that in?” They should have put it before the last one at the very least. And I’m not even going to bother hammering them on all the plot conveniences, magical reversals and timeline hops. I do have a life outside this blog, after all.
I’m giving this one two googly eyes out of five.
I’m thrilled to see Mulan and always happy to see Red and very happy to see them leaving together. And of course, Abs McIntosh can drop to his knees for me anytime. Other than that….meh.