Previously on Once Upon A Time, the Camelot version of Team Charming freed Merlin from the tree, but somehow the present-day Storybrooke version does not include Merlin, and somewhere in between, Emma went dark. The Dark Swan wants to remove Excalibur from the stone, but needs a hero to do it, so she stole Merida’s heart and instead of using her, an actual hero, she makes Merida train Gold to become a hero. Merida has a hard time doing this, since Rumple is the worst, but she decides to use Belle as incentive.
We begin in Camelot, where Merlin and Team Charming go down to the dungeons to free Lancelot and Merida. Merlin is a little rusty and can’t figure out the magic on the cell bars, but Belle finds a spell in a very large book she’s lugging around that will solve the problem. Merlin calls her clever and Belle is grateful that someone finally realized she’s the brains behind this operation.
As soon as they’re released, Merida wants to continue her quest to save her brothers by following the wisps, but Merlin says there’s another way. One that won’t get her dead.
In Storybrooke, Regina tells Team Charming that Emma revealed they had released Merlin back in Camelot, so they decide to use the magic mushroom to talk to Merlin. He will only talk to a chosen one, and since they don’t know Arthur is the worst, they call him in to help. Belle thinks Rumple could help too but Team Charming is like, “You’re literally the only person in the world who cares about Rumpelstiltskin. This is about Emma.” But that doesn’t deter Belle from wanting to protect her beast.
Speaking of Rumple, he’s tied up in the forest, caressing and kissing Chip, which is creepy if you think too much about it, so we’ll just move on along. He smashes the cup and uses the shards to set himself free.
Camelot Merida also compliments Belle on her magic skills, and pretends to hear a noise to break off from the pack.
Unfortunately it was not for snogging, and Merida knocks Belle out with a rock to the head.
Present-day Merida leads Emma to where she had been keeping Rumple, but he’s gone. Merida swears she did as she was told, but Emma isn’t done with her yet; her next task is to kill Belle to try to get Rumple back.
Flashback Belle wakes up on Merida’s boat, furious. Merida compliments the fire in her, and Belle says if she needed help, all she had to do is ask. But Merida’s more then hit-first/ask-later kind of girl. Merida gets Belle up to date on her own story, about how not wanting to get married is calling her crown into question, which is making her angry. She looks at Belle and says, “Would you give up everything you ever dreamed just because a man said you didn’t deserve it?” And Belle remembers her feminist roots and is ready to fight with the fiery queen.
In the Storybrooke Library, Belle opens a magic door and Gold comes tumbling out of it, trembling in fear. He’s relieved when he realizes it’s Belle, and immediately starts whining all over her. He says the obvious thing, which is that she’s the best part of him, and then realizes that this puts her in danger because of Emma’s quest to heroify him.
Camelot Merida and Belle head to the witch’s cabin from the movie, hoping the old woman isn’t home.
The cauldron shows Merida the dopes that want to marry her, and her three brothers tied to posts—teenagers now—who are slotted for execution by day’s end. Belle’s confident they can save them; she uses the word “fate” which gives Merida an idea. Merida needs to change fate, but needs Belle’s help to do so.