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ONCE UPON A TIME Recap: The Dark Swan

Note: This episode contains spoilers for ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Read at your own risk. 

It’s been over four months since we last saw the inhabitants of Once Upon a Time’s  Storybrooke, which means we’ve had ample time to think about season 4’s crazy finale. With Emma as the new Dark One, Henry the author, Rumple in a coma (with a newly purified heart), and Regina falling into the role of the savior by default, there’s been both a ton to digest, and wonder about before season 5’s return. While we learned about Merida, King Arthur and Merlin’s addition, and the return of Red and Mulan over the summer, there are a bunch of questions that need answering. How will Camelot be incorporated? How will Merida be introduced? And, how will Emma’s friends and family decide to pull her back from the edge of darkness? Luckily, the season premiere touched on several of these inquiries and more. So, let’s get into it.

Once Upon a Time Preview

The episode opened with young Emma sitting in a movie theater. Curiously, a theater usher–who we already know is supposed be Merlin because of casting–walked over to where she was sitting and warned her not to steal Excalibur (Yes, Excalibur) when she’s given a chance. Seeing as she’s watching The Sword in the Stone at the time, she was understandably confused by the man’s cryptic warning.

Following this, we were taken to the Enchanted Forest where three knights, including Arthur and Lancelot, arrived at the infamous sword’s resting place to find Sir Kay (Arthur’s foster bro) attempting to take it. Needless to say, the sword was pulled from the stone, but much to the foursome’s surprise, was missing the tip. By the design of the sword itself, we now know that the dagger of the Dark One–which once bore Rumple’s name and now bear’s that of Emma Swan–is in fact part of the legendary weapon. We’ve yet to find out what this means, but already, the writer’s have effectively tied the two stories together.

Next, we picked back up in present day Storybrooke, immediately after Emma’s disappearance. With the dagger still in their possession, Hook desperately held it high and tried to use its power to summon Emma. But, when nothing happened, they came to the horrible revelation that since it didn’t work, it means she isn’t on Earth anymore. When they asked the apprentice how to find her, he handed over a wand and died. After Regina attempted to use it and it failed, Hook explained that they’ll need someone “wicked” to use it, suggesting Zelena.

Meanwhile, Emma got teleported to the Enchanted Forest. Much to her surprise, Rumple was there as well. No, he didn’t magically (heh) teleport with her. When Emma asked how he’s there with her, he explained that he represents her inner dark one. Throughout the episode, we saw him tempting her to let her evil consume her. But, she constantly fought back, telling him that she’ll never embrace the darkness and is going to find Merlin to end this once and for all. Despite her steadfast devotion, Emma slipped a few times, accidentally teleporting and choking a stranger. The frighteningly curious thing about her mistakes is that she didn’t realize she was doing it. The hold the Dark One has over her is strong, and it’s already becoming readily apparent that she’s doomed to give in and do something dreadful.

Once Upon a Time Season 5 Merida

On her quest to find Merlin, Emma followed a blue will o’ the wisp, and ended up bumping into a fiery red-head named Merida (who we know from Brave), who was willing to fight for the wisp because she needed it to save her family. From their encounter, we learned that her father had passed, and the rest of the clans don’t respect her as Queen. Her brothers are in danger because of it, and she needed the wisp to locate them. With the wisp in Merida’s possession, and both women desperate for help, Emma hesitantly agreed to accompany Merida in hopes that she’ll be able to use it afterwards. But, while the duo tried to get some rest, Rumple revealed to Emma that once somebody whispers to the tiny light, it becomes theirs forever, unless the person is killed. Though Merida was turned over, facing the other side, she wasn’t asleep and heard Emma telling herself that she would’t kill Merida.

Back in Storybrooke, because of Regina’s refusal to release Zelena, Hook and Henry devised a plan to sneak past the guards and let Zelena out. Unfortunately, however, once she was out, Zelena used her new freedom to try to get back to Oz, instead of helping Emma’s relatives, friends, and loved ones. But, knowing that opening the portal was going to weaken her, Regina grabbed the wand and redirected the portal to Camelot using Emma’s baby blanket. Snow, Charming, Hook, Regina, and the rest of the gang then headed to Granny’s diner to wait out the storm–but, not before a hesitant Belle visited Rumple (who’s in a coma) and received an enchanted rose (you know, the one from Beauty and the Beast) from Blue. Once the portal opened, the diner and everyone in it were swept off to Camelot.

When Emma realized Merida ditched her, she set out to find her. Once she finally did, Rumple bated Emma incessantly to kill Merida because she’s already used the wisp. While Emma was refusing to kill her, Merida was shooting arrows at her. Seeing as she’s the Dark One, she was able to catch every arrow, then finally gave in to her temptation and rip Merida’s heart out just as her friends and family arrived through the portal. Hook begged her not to crush Merida’s heart and after fighting back and forth with Rumple, she shoved it back into her chest. When they offered Emma the dagger, she refused it, knowing how strong the Dark One’s grasp on her is, and it was given to Regina instead. When they reached Granny’s diner (which also came through the portal) the Knights of the Round Table showed up and told the group that they’re destined to reunite the knights with Merlin.

Once Upon a Time Season 5 promo Emma and Rumple

As soon as they arrived in Camelot, we were taken six weeks into the future. Everyone (in Enchanted Forest attire) woke up in Granny’s–which was back in Storybrooke. As they came to the realization that the last thing they remembered was walking into Camelot, Emma Swan showed up at the door in her best Dark One attire, telling the group that they failed her and are going to be punished for it. Oh, and she also had the dagger.

After watching Emma put up a serious fight, it came as a shock to see her Dark Swan form so soon. But, she’s risen, and we can’t wait to find out what her friends and family did to her to trigger the complete switch. Seeing the famous rose from Beauty and the Beast was also a real treat. With Rumple/Gold in a coma back in Storybrooke, it will be curious to see whether he wakes up before the six weeks is up, and whether he will try to do anything in town while everyone is away. Also, it is important to remember that Zelena was transported to Camelot with everyone else. The producers teased that she obviously won’t be tied to a chair for six weeks, and will definitely be causing trouble in Camelot. Seeing as the dagger and Excalibur are meant to be whole, we will be learning a great deal about the mysterious lineage of dark ones.

What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments below

Image Credit: Disney/ABC 

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