Merida is here, y'all, and you're going to hear her ROAR. Kind of. Okay not really, since she's basically Swan's bitch - but we can at least take solace that Merida isn't really an awful person because of all the things she's forced to do.
Camelot: Merlin helps Hook, Belle and Charming break Merida and Lancelot out of their dungeony prison. Merlin basically blinks and the bars in front of the cell doors vanish; magic is pretty badass. They all take off in the woods on another grand adventure. Belle and Merida hang out at the back of the group, talking about the ginger's kingdom problems and how she needed to get the whisps to help get her brothers back.
Storybrooke: Arthur continues to be Mr. Shady, saying that he can use the mushroom to help Merlin, but he ends up burning it up. Telling the crew that the magic failed, they start to look for an alternative. In Storybrooke, the crew finds the burnt mushroom, knowing of Arthur's continued treachery... but of course there is an alternative to the cooked shroom! There's always an alternative, and it makes me wonder why the Storybrooke crew doesn't prepare ahead of time, because "Plan A" NEVER GOES RIGHT.
Gold escapes from Merida's grasp by breaking the chipped teacup he and Belle shared and sawing his way through the ropes around his hands. Hopefully Belle isn't too pissed off at him breaking that precious trinket to run away.
Camelot: Belle wakes up in a boat with Merida after the ginger knocks her out - it's time to go rescue her brothers and Belle is the one who can help make a potion.While inside a little hut in the woods (as seen in Brave), they see in the smoke of a boiling cauldron that Merida's brothers are about to be executed. Better haul some ass, girlfriend. Belle sees Merida shooting bow and arrow, hitting her target spot on, over and over again. Belle makes a potion for the ginger that will change her into a bear - so by being a big scary bear she'll win her kingdom back via fear. Belle tells her she doesn't need the potion, as she's pretty much the best archer in all of existence, but Merida doesn't believe in herself.
Storybrooke: Gold has escaped from the woods to the Storybrooke library, where Belle just so happens to be, looking for a book. They have a little reunion, where he tells her it was her voice that kept him from death - that after everything he's done, she was still by his side. Belle is touched, telling him that she sees the hero in him. She wants to help him escape the homicidal Merida, who has been ordered to kill Belle to provoke Gold to be the hero Swan needs. They go back to the pawn shop (seriously, how dumb are you?) where Merida breaks in like bow-toting Van Pelt from Jumanji. At this point, I'm upset we haven't had Merida in Once Upon A Time before now, because she's quickly becoming my favorite. Gold is still a coward, but Belle saves the day by knocking Merida out. Before leaving the shop, Gold grabs a little bag from his safe, and whatever is inside will keep them safe. That can't be promising.
Zelena is rocking a baby bump, and the cranky attitude that comes with hormones. Swan appears in her padded cell and promptly poofs them back to her house. Swan offers freedom and protection from Regina and company in exchange for help. Zelena gives Swan some shit for breaking Henry's heart, which is pretty comical. "Have fun with a lifetime of resentment." Zelena tells Swan to screw off, she'd rather be alone than help her.
Camelot: Merida shows up to where the 3 clans are, seeing her brothers tied to poles for their eventual execution. Merida freaks out, telling Belle that her father is dead because of her; she drew an arrow to defend her family but it ended up running through her dad. Belle says to nut up, her brothers need her, and that she CAN indeed lead the clans. Reluctantly, Belle gives her the potion.
Storybrooke: Belle and Gold are in a car driving toward the town line. In the bag is something that will keep them safe beyond the borders. Belle shuts the idea down, nearly doing a tuck-and-roll out of the car to get away from him. He begs her to come back and she tells HIM to nut up (listen to Belle, guys, she's more brave than all of you!), when he confesses: his crippling was his own fault to avoid the Ogre Wars, not to get back to Baelfire. He's a coward, 100% through-and-through. She realizes he's not trying to protect her, but himself, and runs off into the night... apparently forgetting that maniac Merida is after her. Halfway up the road, Belle runs into Merida, who happens to have the potion from Camelot... the one that turns her into a 20 foot bear. Cripes.
Camelot: A Braveheart-wannabe is there to kill the ginger brothers, when Merida comes up to save them. She talks a big talk, drinks the potion and waits for it to kick in... and it doesn't. Belle says it's just water to teach her a lesson, forcing Merida to face her fears head on. Braveheart and two other goons aim their bow and arrows at the 3 ginger brothers, firing their execution shot. Merida whips out her bow and fires a single shot...
Her arrow runs through all three of the executioner's arrows, splitting them before they can kill her brothers.
"You saw what I can do with an arrow, do you really want to see what I can do with a sword?!"
Everyone bows to her, as she is the unrequited badass of the highlands. Secretly, I'm hoping she ends up boinking Braveheart, because hot diggity dayumn.
Storybrooke: Bearida (HAHAHA I couldn't resist) is chasing Belle through the woods and corners her. Gold comes out of the woods to rescue her, but Bearida bats him away. Facing his fears, being trapped at the feet of a giant bear, he throws the bag of dust up and Bearida swallows it, transforming her back into our favorite ginger (sorry, Ariel). I guess Gold isn't a TOTAL coward.
Camelot: Belle and Merida make up for each other's treachery, as gingy has her kingdom back and Belle is in a boat to go find her homies. In Granny's, Merlin and Light Swan have a moment, as he holds up an Apollo bar - he was the usher in the theater that told itty bitty Swan to not remove the sword from the stone. Leave it alone, Emma.
Storybrooke: Gold arrives back to Dark Swan's evil lair with Merida and Belle in tow. He's ready to be that hero she needs, still unsure if he can do it without turning into a pile of ash. He makes a deal, because lord knows that's like catnip to the Dark One: give Merida her heart back and the whereabouts of her brothers in exchange for the sword pulling. Before grabbing the shiny thing, Gold apologizes to Belle for everything, and would change everything for her. She replies "It's never too late", prompting Gold to grab the sword.
He removes it cleanly from the stone. He's the new hero of Storybrooke and now my brain is melting. Swan is evil, Gold is good, up is down and day is night.
Charming, Snow, Hook and Regina find the mushroom, realizing Arthur is full of shit. All is not lost though, there is someone else who was chosen by Merlin to help them: the author. Cue Henry, who is hellbent on getting his real mother back. He drops the mushroom into the cauldron and it puffs up smoke. Within the smoke is Merlin... they've reached his magical answering machine. Things are worse than expected, and he leaves little to no good information to help stop Swan: she found him just in the nick of time to stop him from giving the answers.