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Excalibur

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Excalibur was forged to cut immortal ties.
Merlin src

Excalibur is a magical item featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It first appears in the first episode of the fifth season.

Excalibur is based on the item of the same from the Arthurian Legend and on the Sword in the Stone from the Disney film, The Sword in the Stone.

History

Before First Curse

The sorcerer Merlin falls in love with a refugee named Nimue, and while he considers marrying her, a future in which he can grow old with her is impossible because of his immortality. To cut himself away from his magic so he can become mortal again, Merlin uses the Flame of Prometheus to reforge the Holy Grail into the sword Excalibur. Nimue, who gained immortality and magic after previously drinking from the grail, turns dark from killing Vortigan. Fearing Merlin will try to take away her powers, she smashes Excalibur, severing the tip from the rest of the blade. ("Nimue")

In order to keep Nimue's darkness from threatening the realms, Merlin fashions the broken tip of Excalibur into a dagger, binding the Dark One to its control. As for the other part of the blade, Merlin embeds it in a rock, which can only to be pulled out from the kingdom's true ruler. ("Lost Girl", "Nimue")

Knowing of Excalibur's properties, Prince Charming inspires Snow White into standing up to the Evil Queen, in which he forges a fake Excalibur and urges her to prove herself as the kingdom's ruler by removing the weapon from a stone. After succeeding, a more confident Snow White refuses to give up the throne to the Evil Queen without waging war. Believing Prince Charming received Excalibur from the deal-maker Rumplestiltskin, she then summons him to pay the price for the arrangement only to learn the sword is fake. When Snow White confronts Prince Charming about his lies, she learns he did it as a means to help draw out her courage to challenge the Queen. ("Lost Girl")

In search of the sword that will prove the true ruler of Camelot as prophesied by Merlin himself, Arthur, along with Lancelot and Percival, go on a quest to find the Excalibur. They succeed in finding it, but not before Sir Kay does as well. He attempts to pull the sword to become king, but Exacalibur promptly turns his body into ash. Arthur succeeds with pulling out the sword, which makes him the ruler of Camelot, but he discovers the sword's blade tip is missing. Arthur chooses to keep this a secret from the kingdom, while deciding he must make Excalibur whole again. ("The Dark Swan")

Before Third Curse

Decades later, Excalibur is tethered to Merlin by Zelena, allowing Arthur to summon him, and order him to get rid of the other Storybrooke inhabitants. ("Nimue")

Still under the sword's control, Merlin delivers an ultimatum to Emma, in which she must forfeit the Flame of Prometheus and the dagger to Arthur and Zelena or he'll be forced on Arthur's orders to kill her family. Prior to arriving to the face-off, Emma places dark coils of her own magic within the box containing the flame. When she gives the box to Zelena, the witch opens it, only to be wrapped to a tree by the dark coils. Arthur then orders Merlin to fight Emma, whom he bests in a magical duel, before commanding him to kill Mary Margaret. Merlin is briefly able to stop himself from choking Mary Margaret, while Hook escapes and rushes at Arthur, who nicks him on the neck with Excalibur. Hook follows up by punching Arthur, making him drop the sword, and then forces the king to retreat with Zelena. In the aftermath, Emma magically heals Hook's cut, or so she believes, until the wound re-manifests while she is attempting to unite the dagger and Excalibur. Since his injury came from Excalibur, as the weapon is meant to sever ties to immortality, he cannot be healed. She, refusing to accept this, teleports with him to the middlemist field, hoping to tether him to Excalibur and save his life, even if it means making him a Dark One like her. Hook insists she has to let him go because he won't be strong enough to fight the darkness, but Emma is unable to accept being without him. Using the sword, she bonds Hook's life to it, causing him to disappear and reemerge from the vault as a Dark One. ("Birth")

In the forest, Emma finds Hook after he has been reborn. He asks where Excalibur is, but she lies about the sword disappearing as soon as he became a Dark One. They reconcile with each other, but Hook begins to hear the blade calling for him. When he goes to confront Emma about her deception, she reveals that, in fact, she has the sword. She hastily explains that she thought he wasn't ready, while Hook becomes upset she doesn't believe he is strong enough to turn away from the darkness. After Hook angrily teleports away, Emma is unable to find him, so she uses the last alternative by summoning him with Excalibur. She gives the sword to him to prove she trusts him, which appeases Hook into returning with her to find Merlin. While Emma believes Hook wants to be rid of his darkness like her, he has secretly embraced the darkness and only cares about revenge on Rumplestiltskin. To do so, he enacts another curse to return everyone to Storybrooke. As assurance no one can use Excalibur against him, the pirate sends it back to its stone. Meanwhile, in his castle, King Arthur is shocked to see Excalibur has mysteriously returned to the stone, but doesn't ponder on it too long as the dark cloud engulfs the whole of Camelot. ("Broken Heart")

After Third Curse

The Storybrooke residents, along with some of the Camelot folk, are are transported back to Storybrooke, with their memories of the past six weeks in Camelot wiped out. Guinevere, one of the victims of the new curse, notices that Excalibur is missing, with Arthur admitting that it wasn't in his possession when they came to town. Unbeknownst to everyone, Emma has the sword in the stone in the basement of her new house. In order to hide the fact that Excalibur can control Hook, she glamours the sword, concealing the name written on it. She wishes to make the weapon whole again, as she is the only Dark One who has the opportunity to do it, in order to destroy the darkness within herself and Hook. However, when she tries to pull it out of the stone, she is blasted away by Excalibur's power. The darkness, in the form of Rumplestiltskin, tells her that if she wants the sword, then she has to pay the price. ("The Price", "Birth")

After stealing Happy's ax, Emma attempts to cut through the stone to free Excalibur, but instead, it breaks the ax. Rumplestiltskin tells her that only a hero can pull out the sword, and it wouldn't be her. Later, she kidnaps Mr. Gold and awakens him from his coma, with intentions of molding him into the hero she needs to unearth Excalibur. ("Siege Perilous")

Having done her best to push Mr. Gold to his limit so he can fulfill Emma's plan, Merida leaves him at a campsite with his wrists bound together, while she goes to get Emma. While no one is around, Mr. Gold breaks the chipped cup, using one of its shards to cut himself free, before fleeing to the library, where he reunites with Belle. After the pair relocate to the pawnshop, they escape from Merida, who has been ordered by Emma to kill Belle, in the hopes of forcing Mr. Gold to be heroic. Later, when Belle realizes Mr. Gold cares more about running away to ensure his own survival than being brave by facing his fears, she parts ways from him. However, when Belle's life is threatened by Merida, who transfigures herself into a bear on Emma's command, Mr. Gold sacrifices himself to protect her and returns Merida to human form. The trio return to Emma, and Mr. Gold agrees to pull out Excalibur, in exchange for Merida's heart and her brothers' whereabouts. After freeing Excalibur, which he tosses at Emma's feet, he prepares to leave with Belle, but first, he warns Emma about her mistake in making him a hero. ("The Bear and the Bow")

With both halves of Excalibur in her possession and the Flame of Prometheus, Emma can finally make Excalibur whole again. Before she starts, Nimue's spirit appears to witness the grand ceremony. Soon, the spirits of every previous Dark One appear to encourage Emma to do what none of her predecessors could do. Emma extracts an ember from the flame and uses it to forge the dagger and the blade as one again. Before she can grab the combined weapon, Emma thinks about how Merlin once warned her not to do what she's doing, but Nimue convinces her to seize the power. ("Nimue")

At some point, Emma formulates a plan to get rid of her and Hook's darknesses by putting all of it into Zelena and killing her to extinguish the darkness for good. When Hook is seconds away from being stabbed by Arthur, Emma comes to save him, not wanting Hook to realize his immortality status as a Dark One. Later, she reveals her plan to Hook, but her family arrive to intervene. Using Excalibur, she freezes them in place by slamming the sword into the ground. Upon reentering her home, she is surprised by Hook throwing squid ink on her. While Emma is frozen in place, Zelena restores Hook's memories, allowing him to remember what led to him becoming a Dark One because of Emma. ("Birth")

Bitter over Emma's betrayal, Hook steals some of Emma's memories, making her forget his ultimate goal in Storybrooke. Before disappearing, he also pilfers the sword. Influenced by the darkness, Hook decides he will help the prior Dark Ones rise from the Underworld and come to Storybrooke. To unleash the Dark Ones, he needs the blood of someone who has been to the Underworld and back, namely Mr. Gold. Under the pretense of getting revenge on his sworn nemesis, he challenges Mr. Gold to a duel on the Jolly Roger. As only one can be one victor in the battle, Hook wields Excalibur during the fight, while Mr. Gold must steal the sword to take down the pirate. During the fight, Hook cuts him with his hook grapple, but Mr. Gold surprises him by dropping a weight pulley on him. This causes Hook to drop Excalibur, which the latter seizes. However, instead of killing Hook, Mr. Gold allows him to live, wanting him to taste defeat at the hands of his worst enemy. ("Broken Heart")

After the Dark Ones return and brand her loved ones with the mark of Charon, Emma forms a plan to absorb all the darkness and have Regina kill her with Excalibur, as way to get rid of the previous Dark Ones plaguing the town. When they come to the pawnshop to take the sword from Mr. Gold, he finds a loophole and pours a potion on the sword to become the Dark One again when Excalibur is destroyed. Instead of Emma, however, Hook takes her place to help eliminate the darkness, at the cost of his own life. ("Swan Song")

Trivia

On-screen Notes

  • Mulan claims to own the most powerful sword in all the realms. However, it is Excalibur that is the most powerful. ("Tallahassee")
  • Legends state only the kingdom's true ruler possesses the strength to free Excalibur from its stone. ("Lost Girl")
  • There is a cross pattée on the blade[1] and the hilt.[2] The Holy Grail, from which Excalibur was forged, was decorated with the same symbol.[3] ("The Dark Swan", "The Bear and the Bow", "Nimue")
  • Because it was originally made to cut away immortal ties, even the tiniest cut can kill a mortal person and cannot be healed, even by a healing spell. ("Birth")
  • Excalibur's blade is normally silver-colored with black markings,[4] but after the Darkness is absorbed into the sword, the blade becomes black, with silver markings. This is best seen as the sword disintegrates in Emma's hands.[5] The new version of the Dark One's Dagger has the same color scheme,[6] as does the Dark Grail.[7] ("Swan Song", "Only You")

Production Notes

Props Notes

  • Excalibur's design is based on replicas of the swords used by the Knights Templar,[10] a medieval Christian military order. The order's symbol of two knights on one horse can be seen on the hilt of the blade.[11]
  • The box used to contain the Flame of Prometheus' spark,[12] and the bonds that shoot out of it and tie Zelena to the tree,[13] have the same pattern as the blade of Excalibur.[14] ("Birth")

Appearances

Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.

References

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