Once Upon A Time Recap: Season 5 Episode 1 ‘The Dark Swan’

*All of our episode recaps contain spoilers*

Destined To Be Dark?

Season five kicks off in 1989, with a young Emma headed to the cinema to see Disney’s The Sword In The Stone. There she meets a mysterious usher who tells her that just like in the movie, one day she will have the opportunity to remove Excalibur from the stone but she shouldn’t do it or ‘bad things will happen’ – did we just meet Merlin?!  

The Real Sword In The Stone

Over in the Enchanted Forest King Arthur and co. find their way to the famous stone only to discover that half of the sword is missing. Cue reveal… Excalibur’s other half is none other than the Dark One’s dagger. We’ve gotten to see the famous dagger many times over the seasons and also had hints that the characters would be headed to Camelot this season however this revelation was a sneaky little twist.

Emma’s Journey

When it comes to catching up with our other favourite Storybrooke residents we head straight back to the scene where we left them last season. Here we watch as Hook tries to use the dagger to summon Emma back to Storybrooke. Unfortunately for him Emma is no longer in the same world, meaning she cannot be brought back so easily.

Over in another realm we track down Emma and follow her as she tries to figure out her next move. Always by her side to lend a helping hand is Rumple… or rather, the voice in her head presenting itself to her as the fellow ‘Dark One’ teaching her to use her new powers. Although Emma is resistant to letting in the darkness she never wanted, we begin to see her learning to use these powers to get what she wants.

Meet Merida

One of the unlucky people to come face to face with Emma and her dark powers is Brave’s leading lady Merida, a new addition to the cast of fairytale characters. Merida’s backstory goes a little like this… when her father, the King, passed away the people of her home town didn’t believe that a girl could be their leader. In addition her brothers have been kidnapped and Merida is out on a mission to get them home safely, perhaps getting a little revenge along the way.

The pair quickly team up, realising that will-o’-the-wisp may be the answer to both of their problems, but when Merida hears Emma talking to the imaginary Rumple in her sleep, she flees. When Emma catches up with her a fight over will-o’-the-wisp quickly turns deadly when Emma rips out Merida’s heart, showing us all a peek at her new darker side.

Hook vs. Regina

Meanwhile back in Storybrooke these two ex-villains spend the majority of the episode squabbling over what to do to save Emma, naturally disagreeing at every turn. Initially following advice from the Apprentice that only someone with both light and dark can open a portal leading to Emma, Regina steps up to cast the spell but things don’t exactly go to plan. With all of the good Regina has done recently she just doesn’t have enough darkness in her and the pair have to turn to the pregnant and imprisoned Zelena.

With Regina refusing to reinstate her evil sister’s powers, Hook is desperate and enlists Henry to go on a rogue mission. This results in Zelena getting her magic back by cutting off own hand, taking with it the bracelet which was restricting her power, then magically fixing it back on like it was no big deal. A bit of a cruel thing to do in front of a guy who has a hook for a hand but we’d expect no less from Zelena.

Although unhappy with Hook’s deception we all know Regina isn’t about to let her sister get away with anything and tricks her into opening the portal to Emma for the rest of them, crushing Zelena’s dream of returning to Oz in the process.

Storybrooke #SquadGoals  

Enter our new favourite squad! Using the portal opened by Zelena, Regina, Hook, Snow, Charming, Robin… and the pretty much the rest of the town, manage to transport themselves (and Granny’s!) right to Emma, just in time to stop her from using her new dark powers to crush Merida’s heart.

In a moment that really shows how far Emma and Regina have come on their journey over the past four seasons, Emma entrusts Regina with the dagger, believing that in the end she is the only one who will destroy her if necessary.

Welcome To Camelot

After landing in the Enchanted Forest and saving Merida’s life the squad meet with King Arthur and co who reveal that it has always been Emma’s destiny to reunite them with Merlin (who at this point has been missing for years). They all team up to journey to Camelot and we get a first look at a place we’re sure to see a lot of this season, including a pretty incredible castle.

The First Glimpse Of Dark Swan 

Cut abruptly from the castle exterior to six weeks later where we see the squad - dressed in some pretty amazing outfits - and Granny’s crash land right back in their Storybrooke home. In a twist that is a total throwback to season one our favourite fairytale characters have once again had their memories wiped. Whilst they all appear to remember landing through the portal and heading to Camelot what happened next is a complete blank.

Surprisingly, Emma has returned with them, although she’s looking a lot different to her usual self, sporting the character’s new Dark One look complete with white hair and a berry lip. Emma is also now back in possession of the dagger, leaving an irritated Regina powerless to stop her.

Whilst they may not all be able to recall the events of the last six weeks Emma clearly knows more - ‘You went to Camelot to get the darkness out of me. And you failed.’ Emma also makes another powerful statement – ‘There is no longer a saviour in Storybrooke.’ It looks as though we’re set to find out more as the flashbacks unfold over the course of season 5.

What did you think of ‘The Dark Swan’?

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