Once Upon a Time (2011–2018)
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The Bear and the Bow 

Gold and Merida are tested to their limits, can they be the heroes they need to be? King Arthur's help is needed to contact Merlin but can he be trusted


Ralph Hemecker


Edward Kitsis (created by), Adam Horowitz (created by) | 3 more credits »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Ginnifer Goodwin ... Mary Margaret Blanchard
Jennifer Morrison ... Emma Swan
Lana Parrilla ... Regina Mills
Josh Dallas ... David Nolan
Emilie de Ravin ... Belle Gold
Colin O'Donoghue ... Captain Killian 'Hook' Jones
Jared Gilmore ... Henry Mills (as Jared S. Gilmore)
Rebecca Mader ... Zelena
Sean Maguire ... Robin Hood (credit only)
Robert Carlyle ... Mr. Gold
Liam Garrigan ... King Arthur
Elliot Knight ... Merlin
Amy Manson ... Merida
Sinqua Walls ... Sir Lancelot
Joana Metrass ... Queen Guinevere


In a Camelot flashback, a chance encounter with Merlin, David, Hook and Belle gives Merida new hope in her quest to save her brothers from the usurping clans of DunBroch. Unwilling to leave anything up to fate, Merida brings Belle along on a dangerous journey that culminates with an invaluable lesson in bravery. In Storybrooke, Regina, Mary Margaret and David discover the spell that would allow one of Merlin's chosen to communicate with him, but when Arthur fails to reach the missing sorcerer the heroes grow suspicious.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

1 November 2015 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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Did You Know?


Zelena makes a comment about the man who mops in the psych ward, saying he loves to talk. The man is a reference to Chief in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," who was known for his silence and presumed muteness. See more »


When Merida and Belle are at the Witch's cabin, Amy Manson rather visibly adjusts her wig, See more »


Captain Killian 'Hook' Jones: Not bad for a bloke who spent the last thousand years in a tree.
Merlin: Just like riding a bike.
David Nolan: Well, it won't be long before Arthur knows we're here.
David Nolan: How do you know what a bike is?
Merlin: Do you really think all my prophecies came true because of luck?
See more »

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User Reviews

The powers of bravery
19 July 2018 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

When 'Once Upon a Time' first started it was highly addictive and made the most of a truly great and creative premise. Really loved the idea of turning familiar fairy tales on their heads and putting own interpretations on them and the show early on clearly had clearly had a ball. Watched it without fail every time it came on and it was often a highlight of the week. Which was why it was sad when it ran out of ideas and lost its magic in the later seasons.

Season 5 had a lot to live up to after Season 4 being as impressive as it was. As far as Season 4's episodes go, they were all decent to brilliant with the only small dip being "Family Business" (though "Heart of Gold" was uneven) and the best being the "Smash the Mirror" two parter, "Best Laid Plans", "Mother" and the first part of "Operation Mongoose". So was expecting a good deal from Season 5 and "The Dark Swan" didn't disappoint at all. "The Price" was very nearly as great.

After a slight lull with "Siege Perilous" and "The Broken Kingdom" (though they are still decent), "Dreamcatcher" while not as good as the first two episodes of the season, is a step in the right direction. A step in the right direction that carries over in "The Bear and the Bow". There are a lot of great things but there were elements that could have been done better.

Seeing more development to Merida and efforts to make her more interesting was appreciated and it is successful to a point in this goal.

It is still early days for her story to be properly investable and to go anywhere, this felt like things were being set up. Also there is not yet enough to Merida to make her completely compelling or worth rooting for, brave and heroic she is but there is also negative character traits like selfishness that makes her less endearing, there is a sense that the show have finally realised that they need to do something with her character and have just started.

The Camelot arc however is already attention grabbing and shows potential and the characters introduced at the start of the season are already intriguing. The old existing characters generally have not lost what made them so great and interesting, and are generally true to character. The most striking assets are the interesting aspects are the development to Merida, the role of Mr Gold, seeing characters neglected for a while having time to shine (i.e. Belle) and the interestingly different interpretation of Arthur.

Lots of evidence of forward momentum and character development advancing, especially with Gold. Camelot is wonderfully presented yet again, both grand and mysterious and the story on the most part is absorbing and balanced with assurance and coherence on the whole.

All the acting is strong, especially from Robert Carlyle who has always been one of the show's best and most consistent actors. Liam Garrigan continues to impress as Arthur and Amy Manson gives her best performance to date from her first episode to here.

Furthermore, "The Bear and the Bow" is a very handsomely mounted episode visually, the settings and costumes are both colourful and atmospheric, not too dark or garish and never cookie cutter. It is photographed beautifully too. The music is haunting, ethereal and cleverly used with a memorable theme tune.

Writing has the right balance of humour, pathos, mystery and intrigue, little corn or cheesiness here. This aspect has come on such a long way since when 'Once Upon a Time' first started, much more complexity and nuance.

Overall, very good. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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