Once Upon A Time Recap: Season 5 Episode 11 'Swan Song'
*All of our episode recaps contain spoilers*
Darkness In Storybrooke
As the squad follow Emma around town they agree that they will need to fight back against Hook. Sadly, even Emma realises that he is now a Dark One and no longer the man she loves and agrees to stop him, no matter what it takes.
Also roaming the streets of Storybrooke are Nimue and all of the previous Dark Ones, having been brought back from the Underworld by Hook. One way or another the Dark Ones manage to catch up with all of our favourite residents, leaving them each with the mark of Charon – navigator to the Underworld. Rumple explains that the only way the Dark Ones are able to stay in this world is if they trade places with living souls and the marks represent these chosen souls. When the moon reaches its peak the ferry to the Underworld will arrive and drag them all down with it. Naturally they are quick to ask what they can do to stop this but Rumple simply tells them that they can’t and instead suggests that they accept their fate and spend what little time they have left together with their loved ones, saying a proper goodbye. Despite Rumple’s words Emma, who as a Dark One is unmarked, is still determined to find a way to win.
Although Emma isn’t planning to give up, the rest of the Charming family decide that it doesn’t seem right to spend what could be their last moments searching through books looking for a solution. Instead, Snow, David and Henry decide on dinner at Granny’s, and Emma agrees to join them later to say goodbye.
Meanwhile, Regina finds Hook down by the water and although she insists she is not that person anymore Hook thinks that she of all people should understand how far he is willing to go for revenge. As we know, the pair have a past but when Regina tries to bring this up Hook uses his powers to stop her, angrily stating she has ‘no idea the man he truly is’.
Elsewhere Rumple encourages Belle to leave town, handing over his car keys as well as something to protect her as she crosses the town line. He tells Belle that she can finally see the world she’s been dreaming of all these years and as she goes we see Rumple staring at the mark he was given by the Dark Ones.
In order to spare her friends and family, Emma decides that she must destroy all of the Dark Ones and turns to Regina for help. Emma asks Regina if she is still willing to keep the promise she made in Camelot – to do whatever was necessary to get rid of the darkness – and although not happy about it, Regina agrees to help by keeping Emma’s big secret; she is planning to sacrifice herself.
The pair head to Rumple’s shop in order to get hold of Excalibur which is currently in Rumple’s possession. To their surprise he agrees to hand over the sword without making any sort of deal, telling Emma that ‘Excalibur was always destined for the hands of a true hero’. Whilst he believes Emma is brave he is quick to reminder her that her plan may not succeed as the sword chooses both who is worthy and which miracles to perform. Sword in tow, Emma decides it’s time to head to Granny’s and find her family.
Back To Oz
Now with Robin, Regina runs into her sister who is very keen to talk about custody of her (still nameless) baby daughter. Zelena is now demanding sole custody and expresses her wishes to teach her daughter to be wicked, believing that both Robin and Regina will soon be dead at the hands of the Dark One’s roaming the town.
Luckily, Regina finds a way to send her sister all the way back to Oz. Using the Apprentice’s wand and her self-belief she transports herself and Zelena to the town’s clock tower and uses magic to remove the wicked witch from everyone’s lives… for now at least.
In this week’s flashback snippets we finally got to meet Hook’s father. At the beginning of the episode we join a young Killian Jones aboard a ship with his brother and father. After a heart-to-heart conversation where when his father asks ‘what kind of man are you going to be?’ Killian replies ‘I want to be just like you’, but he awakens the next morning to find his father gone. Killian is told that his father rode away, and paid for the boat he left on by selling his sons into servitude.
As we already know Regina (Queen at the time) once enlisted Hook to kill her mother and in exchange Hook asked to be sent away to a land without magic, allowing him to get his revenge on Rumple. Mirroring the last conversation he ever had with his father, Regina states that she first needs to know what kind of man he really is. Knowing that her mother is a true expert at exploiting weakness, Regina is keen to ensure Hook has none and decides to test him.
The pair arrive at a bar where Regina asks Hook to simply confront a mysterious man in order to prove his strength and show that he is ready to face Cora. It is then revealed that the man is question is in fact his father – it turns out he too has found a way to cheat death.
Left alone, the pair catch up as Hook explains his new name, pirate captain status and time in Neverland. His father tells Hook that he was caught not long after the last time they saw each other and was put under a sleeping curse, later broken by true love’s kiss. After falling in love with his nurse, Papa Hook says that he has changed and apologises for leaving the boys, stating that Killian and Liam could have had the father they both wanted and deserved had he known this woman back then. It seems he truly believes that they could have been a real family, but sadly the woman fell ill with the plague soon after the pair were married.
Catch up out of the way, Hook decides it’s time to discuss why he’s really there revealing that the life of the man who left him is the price to pay in order for him to get his desired revenge on Rumple. Instead, Hook offers to bring his father a letter of transit allowing him to escape; as long as everyone believes him to be dead they can both get what they want. As Hook goes to leave his father makes an unexpected request – he’d like two letters of transit.
Over at his father’s house later that day, Hook sees him with his other son who we learn is named Liam. Papa Hook tells the boy the same things he told young Killian the night before he disappeared, angering his other son. Outside Hook confronts his father about the name of the young boy, to which he replies that it was chosen to honour both Killian and Liam. Whilst Papa Hook is still insistent that he has changed his ways, his son refuses to believe him and throws the letters into the fire, ruining his father’s chances of escape. Stating that if the Queen ever found out he had tricked her he would not be able to get his revenge, Hook stabs his father who utters the words ‘it’s never too late, you can change, be a different man’.
A Change Of Plans
Although Emma does stop by Granny’s, she doesn’t go there to join her family, instead leaving them a note and slipping out quietly. As she leaves we see Hook and Nimue watching her from across the street as the original Dark One tells the newest ‘you know what you need to do’.
As Emma arrives home with Excalibur she finds Hook has already beaten her to it and is waiting for her at the house. He tells her that he cannot let her carry out this plan and that she needs to handover the sword. Although he confesses that he feels he ‘owes her’ for letting him become the man he always wanted to be he is dead set on getting his revenge and coldly explaining that if she didn’t want him to change she should have let him die back in Camelot. Because Emma couldn’t let Hook go she must now watch everyone she loves die, as the Dark Ones take their lives.
As the pair fight, Emma turns around to see Henry standing before her and hands over the sword to him. Of course, it isn’t really her son, just Hook playing tricks and as she realises she begs him not to go through with his plan but he simply tells her it’s too late.
Back over at Granny’s, Snow discovers the letter Emma left for her family and naturally they head off to stop her from sacrificing herself. Unfortunately the Dark Ones are fast on their tail and torture them, leaving the Charmings to later awaken by the lake alongside Regina, Robin and Rumple, as well as the Dark Ones. When Hook and Emma also show up, Regina decides to once again confront the pirate about what he is about to do, stating ‘I know the real reason you don’t want to talk about what you did to your father’. Whilst Hook is angered by this, Regina insists that he will listen, or he will regret it for the rest of his (immortal) life.
What Kind Of Man Do You Want To Be?
As Emma tries to put her plan into action, Nimue uses her powers, beginning to choke our Dark Swan. As Hook watches, he begins to realises what’s happening and tells Nimue to stop – he’s ‘being the man he wants to be’. Whilst Nimue claims the Dark Ones cannot be stopped Hook holds up Excalibur, drawing them in and trapping all of their darkness within the sword.
Passing the sword to Emma, Hook asks her to use it on him rather than herself, stating her family needs her and that he is more deserving of being sent to the Underworld. Keen to make up for letting the darkness in once again, Hook begs Emma to let him die a hero because that’s the man he wants to be remembered as. Knowing the darkness won’t stay contained for much longer Emma tells Hook she loves him and stabs him with Excalibur. As she cries, she is transformed back to her old red leather jacket clad self and the sword disintegrates into nothing. Hook is also transformed as his original Camelot wound, caused by Excalibur, returns. Emma and the rest of the squad watch on and he dies, leaving Emma distraught.
The Dark One Comes Full Circle
After we saw Rumple wave her off earlier, Belle returns to town, showing up at his shop. Belle reveals that after she left, Henry called her and told her everything, confirming that Rumple had once again lied to her. This time though, Belle has made up her mind and tells Rumple she returned to be with him, believing that he was truly selfless in letting her go.
A little later we see an upset Emma, home alone when she begins to hear whispers that lead her to Rumple’s shop. Realising that it is in fact the Dark One’s dagger calling, Emma confronts him about it and discovers Rumple’s name is back on the metal, meaning he is once again the Dark One. Whilst he was hoping to keep it a secret (not realising that Emma would still be able to hear it calling) Rumple tells her the truth, explaining that he saw an opportunity when she came to him for Excalibur. Rumple used magic to turn the sword into a conduit before handing it over, meaning that when Hook thought he was sacrificing himself to destroy the darkness he was in fact just simply moving it elsewhere; back to Rumple.
Understandably Emma is furious to learn of Rumple’s betrayal and to hear that Hook sacrificed himself for nothing so lashes out at Rumple. With his new powers stronger than ever before – he has the combined power of all the previous Dark Ones including Emma – he stops her easily, stating that is the man he is. Taking the opportunity Emma tells Rumple that he will use his powers to help her, and if he doesn’t cooperate she will tell Belle everything.
Emma’s new plan is to save Hook from the Underworld, following in her parents’ footsteps by literally sharing her heart with him. With Regina’s support for the idea, everyone agrees to help Emma, and Robin asks how they will reach the Underworld. Just as before, Rumple’s blood (the blood of a man who’s been to hell and back) is the key to opening the portal, and we see him slice his hand, dropping blood into the water. As the ship arrives, the group all head out into the water, with Emma taking another page out of her parents’ book stating ‘Hook I will find you, I will always find you’.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Emma and the rest of the Storybrooke squad will succeed in saving Hook. Question is, how are they going to do it?
What did you think of ‘Swan Song’?