'Once Upon A Time's Merida Has Big Things Ahead, But Romance Isn't In The Cards

Sure, it seems like most of the attention in Once Upon A Time Season 5 so far is going to Emma — er, I'm sorry, the Dark Swan — but there's another strong, badass female on the scene whose background and future storyline we've only just started to scratch the surface of. I'm talking about Merida, of course, the Brave heroine who's a pro with a bow and arrow and also happens to be a prisoner of the Dark One at the moment. Since Emma has Merida's heart, the latter has been tasked with turning the recently awakened (and totally magic-less, as far as we know) Rumpelstiltkin into a hero so that he can pull Excalibur from the stone and allow the Dark One to complete her evil plan to snuff out the light for good. All up to date now? Good, because there's much more to come in Merida's Once storyline — though don't get your hopes up for any romance.

Amy Manson, the lovely actress who plays Merida, spoke to TVLine this week about her character's background and future, for that matter, and it all sounds rather exciting. For instance, "The Bear And The Bow", which airs tonight, Emma orders Merida to kill Belle, presumably as a motivation for Rumple to hurry up and get brave enough to be the hero she thinks she needs. Of course, Merida's no murderer, so that plan will ultimately fail, and a friendship will likely be formed between the Scottish warrior and Rumple's True Love.

"Merida doesn’t want to do it, and what ends up happening is a formation has arisen in her own mind of how she can avenge Emma and Emma’s decision, how she can get her heart back, and if there’s any way that she can pull Gold into helping her," Manson said. "That’s what you find out this week, that even though she’s under Emma’s control, Emma doesn’t exactly know what’s going on when she’s with Gold. She has a hidden agenda, for sure."

If that wasn't exciting enough, we're also going to meet Merida's parents via flashback in Episode 9, which is also when we'll finally get to meet up with Mulan (Jamie Chung) and Ruby (Meghan Ory) again — something pretty much every Once fan has been waiting for all season.

"That’s Episode 9, solely set in DunBroch, and you find out why and how and who killed Merida’s father, in flashbacks. That’s mixed in with why Merida needs Mulan’s (played by Jamie Chung) help on that journey. And then Ruby (Meghan Ory) comes into play as well," Manson teased. "Basically, Merida and Mulan have had quite a close friendship for some time, so you find out how Mulan was introduced into Merida’s life. And then Ruby ends up meeting Mulan, and they offer to help Merida on her mission. That’s how the three of them become Charlie’s Angels!"

Without a doubt, seeing two of the series most beloved supporting characters return will be excellent, especially because there's nothing I love more about Once than when it focuses on its central mission: portraying strong women who don't need saving from anyone — particularly not a man. Speaking of which, you shouldn't expect to see Merida in any kind of romantic entanglements this season, because she's got better things to worry about.

"Definitely not. No, the mission for her is too big. The only people she could be with are the clansmen — and they just kidnapped her brother, so it’ll take a lot for her to forgive them," Manson said. I don't know about you, but avoiding the romance factor for Merida is the smartest decision they could possibly make.

Images: Jack Rowdan/ABC