Once Upon A Time Recap: Season 5 Episode 8 'Birth'

*All of our episode recaps contain spoilers*

It’s All About Hook

After figuring out he fooled them all by tossing the Crimson Crown into the fire, David, Hook and Robin head to Arthur’s tent to confront him. Having heard Merlin’s message, David is keen to find out who Nimue is, thinking that she may be their only hope to save Emma. Unwilling to cooperate, Arthur escapes and heads off into the forest as the trio chase after him. Hook manages to catch up with the King only to have a sword pointed at him as Arthur says ‘seems you brought a hook to a sword fight’.

Luckily for Hook, Emma shows up to rescue him wielding Excalibur, causing Arthur to back off. Whilst Hook tries to apologise for everything and offers to help her, Emma is still guarding her secrets closely telling him ‘it will all be over tomorrow’. She won’t reveal how, or why she needs the sword but confesses it is all for him… apparently everything she has done is for him.

Over at the station Hook let’s everyone in on this new information but Regina refuses to believe it. She thinks Emma is just manipulating Hook and in a sad turn, both Regina and Snow feel that there may no longer be any “Emma” left. According to Regina, Emma is going to use the sword to rid the world of all light magic, reasoning she hasn’t yet done so because she must need another ingredient. Hook refuses to believe this and fed up of feeling clueless he decides it’s time to finally figure out what happened between him and Emma in Camelot.

Surprisingly, Hook turns to his old enemy Rumple in search of an answer. Rumple tells him that although he did have some squid ink stashed away in case of emergency, Emma has already found it. Rumple explains it isn’t about what Hook did, it’s about what Emma did and that he must find out what she is atoning for if he wants his answers. And what if he can’t find Emma? Simple, he needs to give her a reason to find him instead.

Operation Light Swan

Over in this week’s first Camelot flashback, we see Emma closely guarding the spark she retrieved from her trip with Merlin. She heads to Granny’s where she finds Henry and explains that Merlin vanished. Realising they are no longer safe, Granny and Henry go to lock the doors only to find themselves frozen, as Merlin arrives and reveals to Emma that he is now tethered to Excalibur and under Arthur’s control. He is under orders to retrieve both the dagger and spark from Emma and if he fails to do so Arthur will force him to kill her family.

Instructed to meet Arthur in the Caledonian Forest to make the exchange later that day, Emma is left alone with the voice in her head – aka Rumple. She is unable to light the flame needed to reunite the swords herself, perhaps because she is still not yet ready to let go of the darkness. Just as she is arguing with the Rumple voice, Henry interrupts and gives her some much-needed motivation; Operation Light Swan.

During their time in Camelot, Henry and Hook have secretly been working on the project which turns out to be a ‘plan for the future’. Hook wants to pick out the perfect house back home in Storybrooke so he can ask Emma to move in once they finally find their way back. Although she seems to be on board with this idea, she tells Henry that she isn’t ready to give up the darkness just yet and needs to use it one more time.

Armed with the spark and dagger, Emma heads to where Arthur has her family captive and we see Snow, David, Regina and Hook all tied to trees. She demands her family be freed before she hands over anything but Arthur refuses to make a deal and threatens to unleash Merlin, forcing him to attack her. Emma hands over the box to Zelena, but when she opens it Zelena finds herself thrown backwards and tied to a tree of her very own – much to Regina’s delight! Merlin begs with Emma to give Arthur what he wants, and not to seek vengeance, not to make the mistakes that Nimue did, but she refuses to listen and the pair go head to head with their powers.

After Emma is thrown to the floor in exhaustion, Arthur instructs Merlin to kill Snow. He uses his powers to begin strangling her, as Emma pleads with him to fight the darkness and somehow he succeeds. Meanwhile Hook manages to free himself from his chains and punches Arthur with his hook, causing him to drop the sword and giving Merlin a chance to recover from Arthur’s command. Arthur quickly frees Zelena in order to use her magic and the pair vanish, as the others are also released from their chains. As Emma goes to thank Hook she notices a small cut on his neck and quickly heals it using her magic. She then retrieves Excalibur, ready to light the spark and head home to Storybrooke.

Back at Granny’s, Emma is still struggling to ignite the spark so Regina offers a helping hand. Knowing what it’s like to hold onto darkness Regina refuses to believe that Emma doesn’t know why she can’t let go of it. In an attempt to help, Regina tries using the dagger to (‘as a friend’) control Emma, to break down her walls, hoping to pull a confession out of her that will lead to success in lighting the flame. Unfortunately the others don’t agree with Regina’s method and Hook grabs the dagger, stopping them from finding out the truth.

Later, Emma finally admits why she is afraid to let go of the darkness; she’s scared of the future. She tells Hook that she knows about Operation Light Swan and confesses that she can only admit her true feelings when she thinks that she is going to lose someone. Emma is afraid because once the darkness is gone, the future begins and as Hook tells her that it is nothing to be afraid of the flame ignites.

Emma’s Plan

Over in Storybrooke something’s wrong with Zelena, as we see her reading a fairytale to her unborn child then suddenly clutching at her stomach in agony. It turns out although she’s only supposed to be two months pregnant, the baby is on it’s way! Regina and Robin rush down to her jail cell and realise that the only possible explanation for the suddenly sped up pregnancy is dark magic.

When the group get to the hospital we see the return of a familiar face; Dr Whale! As Zelena is in labour, Snow and Belle show up with a warning that the baby must be protected from Emma. The pair have been doing some research and thanks to Merlin’s spellbook believe that Emma is trying to get her hands on the ‘cries’ of a newborn baby in order to get rid of light magic. Interestingly, when the baby (it’s a girl!) is born, Emma does show up but it’s not the newborn she’s after, it’s Zelena.

The Truth

After roaming around Storybrooke with no luck, we finally see Hook catch up with Emma. Taking Rumple’s advice he steps off the top of a building, causing Emma to swoop in and save him once again. All he wants to know is what happened back in Camelot and in an attempt to get her to open up he confesses his own sins from his years as a pirate. Hook explains that whilst he used to see his rings as trophies, now they are just reminders of the fact that anything can be forgiven if someone loves you. Confessing that he lied that day on his boat, Hook tells Emma that he does love her which kick-starts our journey to finding out the truth.

The pair head to Emma’s house where she tells him that he has to look for the truth and reveals that back in Camelot it was him who chose the house. Although she is starting to let him in on the secrets she is still unwilling to reveal the truth until her plan is finished, believing that if he knew what she was up to he would do everything in his power to stop her.

After Emma unexpectedly knocks him out, Hook awakens and finds himself chained to the floor next to fellow ‘prisoner’ Zelena who believes Emma must be casting a spell to steal her magic. She couldn’t be more wrong though, as Emma reveals that she doesn’t want to take Zelena’s magic, she wants to transfer her own magic to Zelena instead. All along Emma’s plan has been to destroy dark magic, not light, however she didn’t tell anyone as she knew they wouldn’t allow her to do what needs to be done to achieve the goal. To rid the world of dark magic, Emma plans to gather all of it within a vessel then destroy it using Excalibur and has chosen Zelena to be that vessel. Hook disagrees with her plan to murder Zelena and is sure that Merlin must be able to help her find another way.

Left alone, Zelena tells Hook they need magic to escape and since she can’t remove the bracelet she has no powers. Luckily for her Hook has a little magic of his own, still embedded in the hook he enchanted in order to kill Zelena once before. Teaming up with the ‘wicked’ witch, he uses the magic to remove the bracelet and the pair leave their makeshift prison.

Whilst the escape is going on Regina, Snow and David arrive at Emma’s place, with Regina keen to ‘show Emma some real dark magic’. Arguing over what’s best, Snow is determined to save her daughter when Emma appears and tells them that once she is done with Zelena they will all thank her. An angry Emma then uses Excalibur to cast a spell over them and the house, before returning to find Zelena gone and Hook searching for the missing squid ink.

As he throws the ink over Emma and demands answers, Zelena returns to the house, dreamcatcher in tow and gets her revenge on Emma. Taking a knife she stabs Hook straight in the chest and at that moment Emma realises the truth is about to come out. Hook pulls the knife from his chest, confused and realising he is unharmed, he turns to Zelena for answers and she presents him with the dreamcatcher containing his memories of Camelot. As he chooses to view the memories we see the truth unravel as he does.

Back in Camelot after Emma is finally able to ignite the spark we see her ready to destroy the darkness once and for all. As she lights the flame and holds up the sword and dagger to it, Hook begins to bleed from the wound caused by Excalibur back in the forest. Merlin explains that no wound from Excalibur can be healed and a distraught Emma comes up with a plan to save him. She wants to use the flame to release Merlin from Excalibur and tether Hook to it instead, saving his life but creating another Dark One in the process. Merlin warns that the price to pay to then destroy that much darkness will be steep but of course she refuses to listen. Emma disappears away with Hook who, having spent years fighting off darkness before, doesn’t want her follow through with the idea. Despite this she uses her dark magic to save him and we see a new Dark One emerge just as she did.

After Hook’s memories have been restored we see Zelena hand Excalibur to him, revealing that under a simple glamour spell his name has been engraved on it the whole time they’ve been home. Emma explains that her plan to destroy Zelena and all dark magic was the only way to save them both and give them their future, but to Zelena’s delight all Hook feels is anger.

For what we understand to be the first time ever, there are now two Dark Ones, and the ship that is Captain Swan is definitely on the rocks. Question is, how are they going to get out of this mess?

What did you think of ‘Birth’?

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