Once Upon a Time Recap: “The Dark Swan”

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via Spoiler TV

Once Upon a Time‘s 5th season premiered on Sunday, and needless to say, I was on the edge of my seat along with approximately 5.8 million other people. I’ve been chomping at the bit ever since the season 4 finale cliffhanger—even more so since we got a sneak peek at Comic Con in July, where we learned more about the Dark Swan, as well as the impending parallel storyline of Merida.

The premiere did not disappoint, introducing us to twists and turns from the start. Read more if you dare, dearie!

Season 4 left us high and dry on the cliffiest cliffhanger of them all. Emma, who had been realizing all season long that she had the potential for darkness, sacrificed herself upon realizing that the Dark forces once contained in Rumplestiltskin’s body would ravage the town. She became the Dark One in his place, vanishing on the spot. The last time we saw Emma, she was clad in symbolic white, the last vestige of the goodness within her.

ONCE UPON A TIME - "Operation Mongoose, Part 1 and Part 2" - The Author proves to be a formidable wild card and forges an alliance with Gold. Emma, her parents, Hook and Regina scramble to stop them, but when Gold and the Author turn the tables on heroes and villains alike, the prospect of any happy outcome appears worlds away. Henry discovers he has big shoes to fill as he steps up to save his family before the story's final page is turned. It's a race to the finish, and everything culminates with a shocking twist that will leave the residents of Storybrooke reeling, in the captivating two-part season finale of "Once Upon a Time," SUNDAY, MAY 10 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Jack Rowand) JENNIFER MORRISON
ABC/Jack Rowand

“The Dark Swan” begins in a movie theater in 1989. Young Emma is watching The Sword in the Stone when she is suddenly approached by a strange man dressed as an usher. He warns her “don’t do it,” before offering some advice, as well as mentioning that she will one day have the chance to pull Excalibur from the stone. He mysteriously disappears, and Emma no doubt forgets the curious incident.

Later (or earlier, depending on how you interpret the convoluted OUAT storyline), King Arthur and his knights approach the embedded Excalibur. Although Arthur succeeds in pulling it from the stone, they immediately realize that the end of the famed sword is missing.

Twist #1: Rumple’s dagger, i.e. the blade of the Dark One that now bears the name of Emma Swan, is the missing piece of Excalibur.

via Tumblr


Things pick up right where they left off in Storybrooke. The gang (i.e. Regina, the Charmings, Captain Hook, etc.) stand stunned in the middle of the street after Emma’s disappearance, and argue over what to do next. Regina is angry with Emma’s decision, but Mary Margaret firmly believes that since Emma made her decision out of good intentions, she can be saved. Hook attempts to summon Emma using the dagger, but when nothing happens, they realize that she is no longer in their current world.

The Apprentice gives them a wand that contains all Light Magic in order to aid their search for Emma. Regina immediately tries to use it, but when nothing happens, Hook declares that she’s gone completely soft. He suggests that they use someone wicked, aka Zelena. Zelena agrees to help them, but only on the condition that they remove the magic cuff that is keeping her powers in check. Regina refuses, and tries to think of another way to reach Emma. Hook decides to take things into his own hands (hand?), recruiting Henry to help him break Zelena out of prison. Their plan backfires and Zelena escapes after cutting off her own hand and then reattaching it.

Zelena impersonates Regina in order to kidnap Robin Hood, whom she then uses as a bargaining chip. She will give Robin Hood back unharmed in exchange for the wand. Once, the Evil Queen never would have given up that power, but the Regina we know now is a changed woman. She makes the exchange to keep Robin safe, while also knowing that Zelena is too weak to perform the spell without hurting herself. Zelena summons a twister to take her back to Oz, but when she collapses under the strain, Regina commandeers it with the wand so that the gang can take it all the way to the Enchanted Forest. They take refuge in Granny’s Diner with other townspeople who want to come and help Emma, such as Belle and some of the dwarfs.

Twist #2: Okay, maybe it’s not a twist, exactly, but we now know that Regina has a manageable balance of good and evil in her. By completing the spell to locate Emma, she has proven that she has the capability of being the heroine she longs to be.

The Enchanted Forest

via ScreenRant

Emma finds herself in the Enchanted Forest, dressed in strange clothes. She is hounded by what appears to be Rumplestiltkstin—but as no one else can see him, we know that it is the Darkness within her. This echo of Rumple shows her how to apparate teleport using Dark Magic, even though she tries to fight it. The personification urges her to catch a will-o-the-wisp, as it can lead her to the enchanter Merlin. She chases one, only to see it caught by another hunter—a redheaded queen named Merida. They argue over the wisp, as Merida also has great need of it to save the lives of her brothers and ensure the safety of her kingdom. Emma comes close to hurting Merida, but they eventually agree to travel together to the Hill of Stones, where more wisps can be found.

via ScreenRant

After they make camp that night, Merida overhears Emma muttering to herself. Emma, of course, is conversing with the personification of Rumple, who is encouraging her to betray Merida. The young queen figures that she will be better off not trusting this strange witch, and ditches Emma come morning. Emma follows her to the Hill of Stones, where she gives into the darkness long enough to pull Merida’s heart from her chest. As she’s about to crush it, the gang shows up and Hook is able to convince her to spare Merida’s life. As Emma is reunited with her family and friends, King Arthur and his knights ride up, saying that they have been expecting their arrival, predicted by Merlin years ago. According to the foretelling, Emma will be the one to rescue Merlin, who has since gone missing. Arthur escorts the group to Camelot.

Storybrooke (6 Weeks Later)

Fast forward 6 weeks: our noble comrades find themselves waking up on the floor of Granny’s Diner, which is now safe and sound in Storybrooke. Clad in Arthurian garb, they quickly realize that they have no memories of their time away, and have no idea what might have happened after arriving at Camelot.

Well, they sort of get an idea when they see that Emma has traveled along with them, and has fully embraced the darkness.

via Entertainment Weekly

Wait, what?

Yeah, I know! Virtually every episode of OUAT leaves me both excited and confused not unlike my first boyfriend. This season has so much room for possibility that I don’t even know where to start my predictions. The plot point that actually had me the most excited was that of the potential destiny for Mr. Gold and Belle. There is certainly a future where he is concerned, even though he’s lying close to death in Storybrooke. Belle was given a rose in a glass case (I KNOW) that will continue to have petals as long as he remains alive. Belle takes the rose with her when the gang rides the cyclone to the Enchanted Forest, so we know that he stays alive for a while longer. Is it too much to just want them to be happy?

At any rate, we will eventually discover what happened during those six weeks, and learn what it will take for Emma to regain the Light Magic that was once so strong in her. The relationship between Emma and Regina will no doubt become more complex, and not simply because their roles are reversed. Before entering Camelot, Emma entrusted the dagger to Regina, knowing that the former Evil Queen will either save Emma, or do what no one else will have the spine to do. But by the time they’re back in Storybrooke, Emma has the blade in her possession once again. WHAT CAN THIS MEAN?

I’ll just be here, reading every bit of OUAT fanfic I can get my hands on.

Until next Sunday, dearies.

-The Collected Mutineer