Nimue Review | Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 7

I am not nothing! I was never nothing! The power you have I don’t need!


Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue, Jared S. Gilmore, Rebecca Mader, Sean Maguire, and Robert Carlyle.

Season 5
Episode 7: Nimue

This episode takes us back to the origin of the Dark One, in an interesting origin tale. The question “How was dark magic created?” wasn’t actually one that I expected Once Upon a Time to ever answer, but it was a pleasurable tale nonetheless, twisting the story of Merlin and Nimue as well as including some of our existing knowledge of the Dark One imbued with classic mythology like the Holy Grail.

Merlin can often seem like an untouchable figure. He’s almost a deity in a way, so to see his own origins was wonderful and nicely achieved. Elliot Knight plays the part wonderfully. In the present, you really get a sense of an ancient figure who is slightly wearied by it all. His face and expressions tell a story all their own. To humanise him through his relationship with Nimue is definitely a sage move, and it helps to contextualise his attempts to help Emma seeing as he has experience with somebody losing themselves to the darkness.

Nimue (Caroline Ford) is also a nice addition. Her descent into darkness is entirely understandable. She gives into her desire for vengeance over the prospect of a life eternal with Merlin. Having said that, it’s not as if her fate is entirely unexpected. The signs are there from the beginning, not to mention those who are familiar with the tale of Merlin and Nimue in the first place. The fact that Nimue’s first instinct is not to strip Merlin of his powers and make him mortal but to make herself immortal is telling, and her entire journey is defined by her anger.

It’s interesting that the act that created the Dark One in the first place was a very human and relatable concept: that of anger, hurt and vengeance. When looking objectively at Nimue’s actions, it’s almost difficult to say that she was wrong. Sure, killing isn’t necessarily the right avenue to take, but it’s difficult to blame her. If somebody had destroyed my entire village, leaving nothing but a handful of Middlemist flowers, which look suspiciously enough like pink roses, I’d probably want to get my own back too.

In the present, it was nice to see Emma stand up to the darkness and remain resolute in the face of Nimue trying to tell her that she needed what she was being offered. The only slight undercutting of her speech is the fact that, no, Emma was never nothing. She was born as the Saviour, and she has powerful magic of her own. There’s practically nothing that the Dark One can offer her, other than the absence of morality. If another character were to have an outburst asserting that they weren’t nothing, it perhaps would be more impactful, but there’s never been any question that Emma wasn’t nothing.

In Camelot, Arthur is every bit the irritating villain. He’s so petulant, it just remains frustrating to watch. His reasons for going down a dark path aren’t entirely well realised. He’s obsessed with making Camelot the best that it can be, but he’s more interested in controlling Merlin than he is actually achieving this goal in a just manner.

Zelena allying herself with Arthur wasn’t at all surprising, and it’s nice for Rebecca Mader to be given something meaningful to do. Snow falling for her ploy was uncharacteristically dim of her, but that seems to be Snow these days. I am worried for what this could mean for Zelena in the present-day storyline, however, as I’d hoped that she could at least attempt a redemption. As soon as everybody regains their memories, I worry that Zelena isn’t long for the story.

This episode was a bit of a departure from the main thrust of the adventure. It was instructive to peel back the curtain on the origin of the Dark One, as well as how it is intrinsically linked to Merlin and to good magic. While it was nice to see Emma stay resolute in the face of complete darkness, I wonder what happened to her after this point to make her succumb. I also hope that the show plans to answer what exactly Emma plans to do in the present now that Excalibur is finally united.

Once Upon an Additional Brainthought

  • I’m presuming that Belle is with Merida in DunBroch at this point in the story, but it was strange that nobody even mentioned the fact that she’d mysteriously disappeared with no trace and they didn’t know where she had gone. You’re bad friends, all of you.

You can watch Once Upon a Time Seasons 1 – 7 on Netflix. It is also available on home media and other digital platforms for purchase or rent.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Serena says:

    So which gods put the Holy Grail in Merlin’s path? And why wouldn’t those same gods protect Merlin from Nimue? I don’t think it was ever explained why Nimue was so different from other people that Merlin was unable to ascertain her intentions or her future, or did I miss something?

    I hate that the writers seem to be telegraphing Merlin’s death. I hope I’m wrong: this wonderful character has suffered from a very minimal and inconsistent supporting role considering he is supposed to be the most clever and powerful sorcerer of all time. The scenes between Emma and Merlin were good, but Merlin was way too easily defeated by Zelena and Arthur tethering him to Excalibur. After showing us that he can see possible futures for everyone except Nimue, how did Merlin not see this coming and counter it?

    Plus Merlin has an important legacy that is being ignored. Are we ever going to find out why he set up the enchantments regarding the storybook and the Author? That storybook has been the key to just about everything since the pilot, and unravelling the mystery of the Author became a huge arc in season four, so why has no one bothered to ask Merlin about it? And why hasn’t Merlin talked to Henry, now that he is the Author?

    Sadly, you were right about Merlin’s beloved Nimue becoming the first Dark One by betraying Merlin — I’m pretty tired of that overused trope so I was hoping it would not be the case.

    The short scenes involving Hook also have me worried for his character. Out of nowhere, the audience is suddenly informed of a ring that Hook attributes to his ability to survive for centuries. A ring which has never been mentioned before in all four seasons that Hook has been on the show. A ring which he then gives to Emma after telling her it probably kept him alive all these years. Feels like a set-up to me.

    The writers better not rob me of both Merlin and Hook! Both characters have been criminally underused this season, so I will be really pissed if one or both get killed off prematurely! At least Hook is having another great hair day…

    I, too, am rolling my eyes that Snow would be suckered by Zelena’s lame performance, and then be knocked unconscious by that pathetic kick. I agree the writers just keep choosing to make our heroes stupid rather than put in the effort to come up with a clever way for Zelena to escape.

    Lastly, I was impressed that O’Donoghue could actually stay in character and pull off what is obviously a fan-service line:
    “At the very least, it’s a reminder that you’ve got a piercing-eyed, smouldering pirate here who loves you.”


    1. Mark Goodwin says:

      I suppose that maybe Merlin didn’t know anything about Nimue’s future because, since she became the first Dark One, she maybe prevented it from the future? Merlin being aware of that future would surely have made him prevent that from happening, and that’s what she wanted to avoid.

      It’s strange how ambiguous it is how powerful Merlin is. Though he is a massively powerful sorcerer, he also seems bound by his knowledge of what comes next, and never seems to affect change, instead allows it to happen. I’m not sure if any of those questions surrounding the Author do occur, though I could be misremembering the show.

      Haha, that line is definitely a nod to the fandom! It almost sounds like he’s just reading a fan tweet!


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