Emma returns to the Stone with the two pieces of Excalibur, and Rumplestiltskin's image giggles. He says that they represent history as well as power, and now it's time for that promise to be fulfilled.
1000 Years Before the Age of Arthur
Two foot soldiers, Merlin and Adda, run across the desert. Merlin spots something flickering in the distance and figures that it's an oasis and drags Adda with him. They reach the spot and find the Holy Grail, filled with water. Adda grasps it and screams in pain, and then dissolves into ash. Merlin contemplates whether to drink or die, and asks the Gods for permission. He then grasps the Grail and nothing happens. Once he has drunk his fill, Merlin touches the ground and grass and trees sprouts up as far as he can see. He realizes that he has magic as he looks around in astonishment.
Six Weeks Ago
At Granny's diner, Hook watches Emma outside examining the dreamcatcher. Inside, Merlin tells the others that he can recreate the original Excalibur. However, he and Emma must quest for the magical means to reunite the blades, while the others regain the two parts of the blade. Robin warns that it won't be easy now that they are Arthur's enemies, and Hook angrily says that Merlin won't give them specifics. Merlin says that he knows what it means to lose someone to the Dark One, and says that all he can do is ask them to bring him the two pieces. He also asks them to be patient, and says that love is a great help to relieve the burden of the Dark One.
200 Years Ago
Merlin is in a village healing the locals as his apprentice looks on. A woman, Nimue, arrives, and the apprentice is surprised when Merlin doesn't know what she wants. Merlin sends the apprentice back and asks Nimue why she is there. Nimue explains that a masked man, Vortigan, raided her village. Merlin offers to help, and Nimue says that she wants revenge. She has seeds from the middlemist flower, which only prospers around her village and was wiped out when Vortigan scorched the earth. Her best revenge would be for them to live on to spite him, and Merlin says that they can plant them there. Nimue plants them and says that she will return in the spring to see them bloom. Merlin gestures and causes them to bloom instantly, and says that she can stay close and see them anytime. He admits that he can't see the future, and hopes that she will stay.
Six Weeks Ago
Merlin approaches Emma and asks her to come with him to get a spark from the Flame of Prometheus. Its head forged Excalibur, and they will need thee worries that she will let another Dark One into his head, and Merlin admits that the first one is the Dark One who all evil came from. He sees two parts to their journey: she resists the Darkness in one, and in the other she succumbs and he dies. Merlin admits that the Dark One has the power to kill him, and it would be Emma that kills him because she has become the most powerful Dark One ever.
Emma prepares for the journey and tells Hook that she will be back by nightfall. The pirate tells her to be careful and the y kiss, and Hook gives her the ring he wears around his neck. It has kept him alive for years, and wants Emma to have it so that she will bring herself back to him. As Hook goes back to the others, Emma puts on the necklace with the ring, and Merlin tells her that it's time.
Nimue joins Merlin as he frowns over the flowers. He says that there's a man he wants to help, who is tired of helping others and just wants to marry the woman he loves. Nimue realizes that he's talking about them and tells Merlin to propose if that's what he wants. Merlin explains that the magic he has was a gift after he found the Holy Grail. It also gave him eternal life... 500 years old. He doesn't want to watch Nimue age and die, and confirms that he still has the Grail hidden in their home. Nimue suggests that she drink from the Grail as well, but Merlin says that he has seen the cost of immortality. He suggests that they remake the Grail into a sword and use it to cut away his immortality. Then they can live normal lives together. Nimue is astonished that he would give up so much, and Merlin makes her a ring from the stem of a middlemist. He transforms it into gold, and Nimue says that she doesn't want the moment to be lost. They then go to get the holy Grail, while a masked figure watches them.
Six Weeks Ago
As the group tries to work out how to steal the pieces, Zelena listens in and irritably scoffs. Once Regina restores her voice, Zelena says that they need to sneak in quietly. She has planned a way to get in when they were in Camelot, and in return they'll restore her magic. The group agrees and Zelena leads them to an abandoned tunnel that leads to the castle's courtyard. There's a large metal grate and Zelena admits that without magic, she couldn't remove it. She tells them to remove the cuff, but Regina says that they'll remove it once they return with the blades. Regina removes the grate with her magic and Mary Margaret stands guard over Zelena while the others go in.
In his workshop, Arthur looks through his books for a way to restore the blade. He tells Guinevere that they need a way to protect themselves from the others. Arthur orders his guards to patrol every hall and takes a helm from one of the guards. He then uses a liquid he's brewing in a special cauldron to melt the helmet, and explains that the guards are to throw it on any stranger that they see. The guards take away the cauldron, and Arthur says that they're at war now.
As Merlin and Emma go to the Flame, Emma worries that not seeing Rumplestiltskin is a bad thing. She admits that she has done some dark things recently and hurt Henry, and admits that the Darkness is winning. Merlin assures her that there is hope and gestures to the top of a tall hill.
Merlin and Nimue go to the wreckage of Nimue's village. She says that she feels angry at those who take from the innocent, and would give magic to any who would fight against evil. Merlin says that it's been decided and spots dozens of cups. He realizes that Vortigan was questing for the Grail and annihilated the village when he didn't find it. Merlin has Nimue confirm that the Grail is in the pack while he performs a detection spell. He realizes that Vortigan is behind them and Nimue suggests that Merlin kill him with magic. The wizard refuses, warning that if he kills then Darkness will take root inside of him.
Six Weeks Ago
The group sneaks into the castle and see the guards with the cauldron. Once they pass, the group continues on and Regina admits that her half-sister hasn't screwed them... yet.
At the grate, Zelena breaks into tears and complains that Regina is always the winner and she's always the loser. When Mary Margaret goes over to check on her, Zelena kicks her unconscious and ties her up.
Merlin and Nimue reach the temple with the Flame and go inside. The wizard takes the grail from Nimue and puts it next to the flame, and casts his spell. The Grail melts and reforms as a sword, and Merlin grasps it. Vortigan arrives and then grabs Nimue. Merlin warns that the sword will bring Vortigan no joy, and she turns and yanks Vortigan's mask from his scarred face. He stabs her and Nimue falls into Merlin's arms, dying.
Six Weeks Ago
Merlin and Emma arrive at the ruined temple and Merlin explains that the first Dark One took the flame after killing Nimue. He still possesses it in the form of a single ember. Merlin gives Emma the Dark One's dagger and admits that he took it from the others without asking, and tells Emma that she needs to talk to the first Dark One and reach back to the origin of dark magic. Emma wonders if it's safe, and Merlin admits that she now has the power to kill him. She concentrates on taking the right path and the name of the previous Dark Ones appear on the blade. The first Dark One appears and Merlin says that it's not a him. The name Nimue appears on the blade, and Nimue removes her mask to reveal her gold scaled features.
Vortigan takes Excalibur and walks away. Merlin teleports in front of him and says that the power was never meant as a weapon. As Vortigan prepares to kill him, Nimue pulls out his heart. She says that she drank from the Grail while Merlin cast the detection spell, and she faked dying to remind Merlin of what death looks like. Merlin begs Nimue to spare Vortigan, warning that if she kills then she will commit atrocities that she can't imagine. He says that he needs Nimue to be the woman he knows, or they will lose everything. After a moment, Nimue crushes Vortigan's heart. He dies and the Flame is reduced to a single ember. Nimue's skin transforms and she snatches up Excalibur, and Merlin begs her to stop. She turns and smashes Excalibur against the forge, shattering off the tip. Merlin says that he's sorry.
Six Weeks Earlier
Nimue is glad to stand with her "sister," and Merlin says that the first Dark One is no longer the woman he loved. He tells Nimue that he has thought of her every day, and Nimue says that she will be his last thought on his last day. She makes Emma blast Merlin to the ground, and Emma wonders why she's doing it. Nimue says that no matter who one loves, they can't take away what belongs to the person they love. Acting through Emma, Nimue has Emma grab Merlin by the throat and says that all Dark Ones are one and the same and must destroy the threat to them.
Merlin begs Emma to control the Darkness, and Nimue says that he doesn't understand the power to protect oneself and one's loved ones by killing. She tells Emma not to go back to nothing, and Emma says that she was never nothing. She says that she doesn't need the power and takes the ember from Nimue. Nimue warns that she is not dead yet and the sword she will make has more than one use. She says that she will be in the dagger and disappears.
Merlin gets to his feet and tells Emma that she did it. He asks how it feels to take the right path, and Emma says that it feels damn good.
As they return to the diner, Merlin explains that after Nimue became the Dark One, he and his apprentice placed the larger part of the sword into the stone. He then created the smaller part as a dagger to control Nimue's reign of terror. Eventually she took it from him and trapped him in the tree, and took Vortigan's mask for her own. Emma says that she felt Nimue's love for Merlin, and he thanks her.
The apprentice says that things would have gone better if Merlin could have seen the future. He assures him that he would live through it again no matter what, and he had the best moments of his life with Nimue.
Six Weeks Earlier
Emma wonders if it's possible to use the Darkness for good, and Merlin admits that one day there may be a person who can withstand the temptation of such power. However, if they wipe out the Darkness then no one will ever have to face such temptation.
The group enters the Round Table room and Regina immobilizes Arthur. Zelena brings Mary Margaret in and undos Regina's spell, and reveals that Arthur removed the cuff as part of their new alliance. When Regina prepares to cast a fireball, Robin warns her not to harm his baby. Zelena finds Merlin's spellbook that Arthur was consulting, and says that it contains the proper tethering spell. She casts it and explains that Arthur can use the broken blade to control Merlin. David tells Arthur that he can start over, warning that Emma is worth more to him as a savior than a Dark One. However, Arthur ignores him and summons Merlin.
In the forest, Merlin suddenly disappears. He appears at Camelot, and Arthur tells him to use his magic to keep the group from attacking him in any way. Merlin has no choice but to disarm them of weapons and magic, and then tells Arthur that Emma has passed the test. He has what they need to reunite the blade, but Arthur refuses to let him take the glory. Merlin apologizes for not being there to guide him, and Arthur insists that he is the man that Merlin made him. He orders Merlin to stay silent, and then demands to know how he will use Excalibur to strike darkness from the realm. Merlin says that Arthur is doing it now, and the future is in Arthur's hands. Arthur insists that it is his right and tells Merlin to make the intruders leave. Merlin gestures and the group disappears.
Rumplestiltskin tells Emma that it is time. Nimue appears to witness the historic event, and admits that she tried to stop Emma because she was concerned Emma would cut away the Darkness. All of the Dark Ones are proud of her, and they appear from the shadows. Emma takes out the ember and conjures a single spark from it, and uses it to reforge the blade. Emma starts to reach for it, but then remembers Merlin's warning to her as a child. The Dark Ones tell her to take the power, and Emma grasps the hilt.
Written by Gadfly on Nov 9, 2015