Once Upon A Time: “The Dark Swan” (S5Ep1)Posted: September 28, 2015
I decided to start with that to remind myself why I am still putting myself through this mess every September. I wasn’t expecting this episode to be good. I was expecting it to be all right because Once Upon A Time is usually good at premieres, but this one wasn’t. It had a few good moments when it focused on its well-established characters, one good twist and one disgustingly obvious plot twist.
The episode starts with super young Emma (McKenna Grace) going to see The Sword and the Stone at a movie theater by herself. She is told by a mysterious usher — who we know from promos is Merlin (Elliot Knight) — that she will have the chance to pull Excalibur from the stone one day but she shouldn’t do it.
We then cut to Camelot and a knight riding a horse, which always means a bad episode. King Arthur (Liam Garrigan), Lancelot (Sinqua Walls) and some other dude find the sword. A rival dude arrives, they tell him not to touch the sword. He ignores them and turns to dust. Arthur is able to pull it out but the tip is missing because it is the dark one dagger!
We then switch to Storybrooke and rejoin everyone left standing in the street at the end of 4B. Regina (Lana Parrilla) freaks out. Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) tells Regina to calm down. Robin (Sean Maguire) asks stupid questions and Charming (Josh Dallas) is useless. Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) tries to summon Emma (Jennifer Morrison) with the dagger. It doesn’t work and Regina realizes she must be in a different realm.
Emma appears out of the black goo in the Enchanted Forest and is met by Rumple (Robert Carlyle), but it isn’t really him. He is just a representation of all the Dark Ones and the dark powers inside Emma. He is ready to be her Dark One guide. He tells her the only way to avoid becoming the Dark One is by death. Emma tells him to eff off, she is going to find Merlin because the Apprentice said he could stop it.
Back in Storybrooke, the gang gets the all-powerful magical item of the week from the Apprentice. It is a wand with all light magic that can open a portal to the Enchanted Forest, but it needs to be weld by someone with all dark magic. Regina tries, but it doesn’t work. They realize they need Zelena (Rebecca Mader) to wield it. This all leads to a bunch of messed up scenes with Zelena taunting Robin about the rape baby and Regina and Hook squaring off over who is willing to go further to save Emma. It was a mess but Hook said Emma sacrificed herself for Regina.
Emma makes her way through the Enchanted Forest with Hallucination-Rumple and realizes she can’t control her magic or her darkness until she bumps in Merida (Amy Manson) while chasing a wisp. Amy Manson isn’t doing that bad as Merida, but she is a bad position following up Elizabeth Lail and Georgina Haig’s excellent portrayals of Anna and Elsa last season.
Merida agrees to take Emma to the stones where they can find more wisps. She needs it to rescue her three brothers who were kidnapped because the clans decided to revolt after her father died. That actually sounds kind of interesting and I wouldn’t mind a flashback of that. Hallucination-Rumple convinces Emma Merida has the only wisp and Emma’s chance to find Merlin will be lost after she uses it. He tells her she must kill her to stop her from doing so.
Meanwhile in Storybrooke, idiot Hook recruits Henry (Jared Gilmore), who they make really stupid when the plot calls for it, to free Zelena from her hospital dungeon and magic cancelling bracelet. Their plan backfires of course and she escapes, kidnaps Robin and gets the wand from Regina, in another middle of the street confrontation. She tries to create a tornado to take her back to Oz instead of the Enchanted Forest, but Regina knew she would double cross them. She is able to capture her again and redirect the tornado to take the main cast, the normally forgotten children and a handful of dwarfs to the Enchanted Forest in Granny’s. Regina and Snow have two good moments in here over how much they hope to save Emma.
Emma finds Merida at the Hill of Stones and takes Merida’s heart. She is about to crush it, with Hallucination-Rumple’s taunting, right when the Stroybrooke gang arrives and stops her. With some poorly written words of encouragement from Regina, Snow and Hook, Emma puts Merida’s heart back. Snow tries to give the dagger to Emma so she can control herself. But Emma hands it to Regina instead. She tells her to save her like she saved her and destroy her if it comes to that because she is the only one she can trust to.
She walks with everyone back to Granny’s that landed in a different part of the forest. Then King Arthur rides up and says they have been waiting for Emma because a prophecy said it would reunite them with Merlin. They all go walk into a terrible CGI’ed Camelot.
Then the disgustingly obvious plot twist happens.
Six weeks later, Granny’s lands back in Storybooke and everyone wakes up dressed in Enchanted Forest clothes. Regina, looking fantastic, says the last things she remembers is walking into Camelot. Because, plot reset. Again.
Emma then walks in that weird Dark Swan outfit, has some eye sex with Regina and tells them they tried to stop her from being the Dark One and they failed. Regina reaches for the dagger, but Emma has it. She tells them there is nothing they can do to stop her and she is going to punish them for what they did to her.
Though I am beyond annoyed that the big twist was memory loss again, I am slightly interested to see how the dynamics between Emma and Regina, Henry and her parents changes now that she is fully the Dark One. So I guess this was an effective episode because it has sparked my interest to see what comes next. But, was it a good episode? No. But as I said, I wasn’t expecting it to be because not many episodes are anymore. Anyone know when Mulan is coming back?