Snark Tank; Recap

Say My Name: Recap of Once Upon a Time's Siege Perilous

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Once Upon a Time is fond of naming things. Rumpelstiltskin‘s tale revolves around the name. The Dark One’s Dagger also revolves around a name. And Beyonce famously sang “say my name” to those other two singers in Destiny’s Child, as in “say my name, bitches, I’m gonna be a bigger star without you.” (Editor Bri: Alex, one of the facts above is not quite true! and apparently I missed Beyonce’s appearance on OUAT).

Siege Perilous is taken from the French siège, meaning seat. In the Arthurian legends, the siège perilous refers to the empty seat at the Round Table which ends up killing any knight not worthy of the chair. The seat is an allusion to the seat occupied by Judas at the side of Jesus at the Last Supper. In various cycles written by various authors, the seat means different things. In one story, six knights are destroyed by the seat until Perceval comes along and completes his hero’s journey, restoring the seats of the other knights. In another story cycle, Merlin reserves the seat for the Grail Knight. He who obtains the Holy Grail gets the seat. When Sir Galahad arrives at the table, his name appears on the seat.

Does that mean David is doomed to die for taking that seat? I sincerely doubt it. I don’t think any of Once’s main characters can possibly die until the series finale (unless that certain someone does not want to re-up his contract after season 5). So this was a David Charming episode and like all Charming episodes I wound up bored by the end of it. However, I hung in there with interest for about 40 minutes. That’s because David’s newest conflict, which is all about how to integrate his identity as the Prince who kissed awake a princess with his identity as a sheriff in Storybrook and dad-to-evil Emma Swan, is at least a new variation on a familiar theme.

In King Arthur‘s world, out intrepid heroes discover they need a Magic Mushroom in order to communicate with Merlin, who is stuck inside a tree. The mushroom, or as Regina corrects, the toadstool, is called the Crimson Crown.

Crimson Crown should’ve been the B side of Jefferson Airplane’s 1967 record White Rabbit.

Immediately Charming is totally down with a quest! He wants to be the knight who hunts down the Crimson Crown. Arthur insists upon going with him. They will use the Unquenchable Flame from Arthur’s reliquary, which holds all of the kingdom’s magical objects. (In other words, this is Joss Whedon’s Mystery Box). In the process, Arthur gives Charming a history lesson about the Knights of the Round Table, Lancelot’s exile for messing with Guinevere, and in return Charming is like “oh yeah meant to tell you, Lancelot died.”)

The two bond on their journey into the forest and discuss the perils of being commoners who become kings, the mistakes they’ve made, the chances they took, and their wives’ chances of making the Olympic archery team. It’s all in a good day’s work for these kingly gentlemen. The toadstool is a legend, and David is quick to point out to Arthur that Prince Charming and King Arthur are also considered legendary.


The two of them chat about how they are legends known for their romantic entanglements. But what happens when people stop being polite and start being real – er, what happens after the final rose ceremony – wait, what happens after the happy ending. (Well, I tried) During their conversations Arthur had a lecture featuring a good series of inspirational pillow quotes. My favorite one was about his losses requiring the heroism more than the wins.

I quite enjoyed their discourse since it was virtually all character moments, punctuated by Charming’s almost-death by underwater knights. Of course underneath the banter the viewers were waiting for the big reveal that Arthur and Camelot were not quite all that they seemed. This finally happens at the end of the episode. Although David’s quest is a failure in that they do not obtain the ‘shroom (David thinks he dropped it), he’s still knighted, presented with a family crest, and given Lancelot’s old siege perilous. Because Arthur realized that David just needed to be treated like a hero. During the charing ceremony, David could not look more chuffed. Of course Snow has to tend to crying Neal during this affair and bolts into the hallway where she runs into her old friend Lancelot. They proceed to have the following conversation:





I always hoped for something of a love triangle between David/Snow/Lancelot especially now that the Charmings have settled into monotonous storylines. I doubt that will happen here, although Snow’s look at her husband after Lancelot’s revelation was a bit ominous. I mean he and Arthur are best bros and now she’s got to tell him Arthur is a big fat liar. That’s going to go well.

What is up with this / Tell the truth, who you with

The B and C stories run on parallel tracks. First we have Storybrook Dark Swan searching for a way to get that sword from the stone. She steals the dwarves’ axe. And although that little gambit does not result in breaking open the stone, it does give the dwarves a story. Grumpy is furious that the Charmings keep glossing over their little girl’s misdeeds. When he confronts David and Snow at the police department, it’s like watching the local sheriff be told that his kid is a heroin dealer and something BAD is going to happen if the parents don’t DO SOMETHING.

This leads to the best conversation the Charmings have had in years. David throws some stuff because he feels like a helpless failure. Snow assures him that it’s not their fault that Emma is on Magic-Heroin. There’s nothing they could’ve done different, and he’s still a hero to her.

Then Arthur calls David because his reliquary has been broken into. I loved the look on David’s face. “Our daughter is the Dark One and you called me here because someone broke into your tool box??” But Charming is up to this simple theft case because it’s a lot easier to deal with than Angry Dwarves and Dark Daughters. Arthur lies and says there was a magic bean in that box! (Ah magic beans, how we missed you)

So Charming borrows an ineffectual chalice from Belle and passes it off as a magical object. He uses the cup to figure out who stole it – a squire from Camelot named Grif.

After a car chase where Arthur drives, the man is hustled off to jail, case closed. They find the toadstool that they were after back in Camelot, but Arthur does not recall why he needed to steal it from David in the first place.


Finally Arthur arrives at the PD, where has a private talk with Grif. It is revealed that Arthur instructed the guy to steal the magic junk. Now Arthur inspires Grif to take a poison nap for the greater glory of Camelot. This grisly scene drew on the Arthurian legends which emphasized the loyalty Arthur inspired in his camp.

Meanwhile, Belle is certain she found a way to get Rumple to wake from his coma, but to do it she would need something Rumple touched before he became the Dark One. I’m sure Rumple has an old sock or something laying around (have you seen that Pawn Shop?) but for now Belle is out of luck.

You actin’ kinda shady/ Ain’t callin’ me baby / Why the sudden change?

Emma’s story involves multiple magical objects as well. She needs a pure heart to remove the sword, but if you guessed that she needs Henry you would be wrong. Although the end of this episode suggests that the hero she needs is Rumple and his newly pure heart, we think this is a red herring. Anyway, Emma lures Hook out to the boat where she tries to get to his heart by reenacting their first official date to the Sock Hop from Season 4. Hook doesn’t want to date her now that she’s dark, so he tells her he used to love her but now… he doesn’t. Emma is disappointed – she remembers all those episodes where Hook begged her to “let her walls down” and now that she has (by claiming she feels so much more uninhibited with evil!) he no longer wants her.


However, Hook had a rational and relatable speech where he asserts why he once was the villain in Rumple’s story. He took Rumple’s wife (well she went willingly) when all Rumple wanted was to keep his family together. Rumple then chose to become an evil, manipulative killer. Hook’s moment of clarity was a pretty accurate account of that scenario. Hook did not “turn” Rumple evil, but he was the villain of that episode in Rumple’s life. Rumple’s lifelong cowardice and choices turned him evil.

Although Hook was introduced as a super-duper bad guy who once left Emma to die, let Regina get tortured and punched Belle (what a hero!) we always had the impression that there were scenes on the cutting room floor about his dealings with Peter Pan in Neverland. Yes, I know Hook had a Dead Brother story, but that falls short for explaining his particular character arc and why he’s doing what he’s doing. Everyone on this show has a dead brother and some loser parents. Perhaps what I mean to say, viewers, is that I find it more difficult to get into Hook’s head than I do any other character’s.

This storyline may create awkwardness for the show, since Hook will be deemed heroic for dumping Emma when she turned dark, whereas Belle was/is required to be a doormat and take all of Rumple’s bull until he wakes up and wises up – unlike Hook, who dumped Emma Swan when she wasn’t acting right. Or maybe I’m just wrong about all that. There are many shades of grey for these characters and no situation is identical.

On another note, the show continues to let the boys discuss their issues while the girls snipe and fight. Hook and Hood have an amusing chat about the sonogram picture that pops up on Robin’s phone. Robin confesses to being fearful of admitting he is excited about the baby to Regina. Regina validates his fear by confronting Zelena and telling her she can just give the baby to Regina and Robin and then F right off.

My suspicions about the purpose of Zelena/Regina story were pretty much validated in this episode, since they had another scene together that was obviously marked as CAT FIGHT in the script. The only interesting dialogue Regina had was when she parroted her statements from the pilot when she interrupted the Charming wedding (“my gift to you this happy day”). This implies again that the Evil Queen just can’t handle love without trying to destroy someone.

Still, Regina’s fate this episode is better than Snow White’s, since Snow has no storyline yet. The next time Jane Espenson writes an ep, Snow and Guinevere will probably have a CAT FIGHT while Robin, David, Hook and even Rumple bond and chill out as bros.

One of the biggest takeaways this season is that Regina is dangerous and Emma is dangerous and the men that love them are super noble for putting up with it. Am I wrong?

Do you think Zelena will get redemption or death?

Could Grumpy or Snow be the savior? Why or why not? (I can’t believe I just asked that question. I’ll show myself out).


Dead: 1 (Griff)
Magically Undead: 1 (Lancelot)
Fake Magical Objects: 2 (A bean that didn’t exist and a used chalice)
Real Magical Objects: Infinity (the reliquary contains an infinite number of magic macguffins)

Alex is a lawyer and opinionated.

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