Saturday, October 3, 2015

Once Upon A Time Recap: “The Dark Swan” [5x01]

     Well, ladies and gents, it’s that time of year again; time to review and recap the latest episode(s) of ABC’s Once Upon A Time, and include all of the classic reactions, questions, and theories that go along with it. But before we dive into this spoiler-filled recap, let’s take a moment to refresh our memories about how the fourth season wrapped up.

     In the last episode back in May, Rumpelstiltskin and the other heroes briefly got their ‘Happy Ending,’ until Regina made a heroic sacrifice to save Henry, and then Henry stopped the Author (Isaac) and became the next Author himself. However, rather than trying to manage all that power, he broke the Quill in two instead.

     Meanwhile, Lillith asked Emma for help in finding her father. Her only clue to his identity was her moon-shaped necklace made from her eggshell. As it turned out, even Maleficent didn’t know who he was because the whole thing happened in dragon form.

     With his own ‘happy ending’ destroyed, Rumpelstiltskin was finally dying, and he warned Belle that once the mortal man inside of him faded, the evil would take over entirely. The Heroes fetched Mickey and the sorcerer’s hat to remove the darkness from Gold’s heart and banish it into the hat, but the darkness burst back out and shot into Mickey and seriously wounded him. After that, the darkness got free and tried to enter Regina. To save Regina, Emma took the Darkness into herself and got sucked up in a vortex of evil, leaving behind only the dagger… now with her own name on it.

     Now the only person who can defeat the darkness for good, according to Mickey, is the sorcerer… also known as Merlin.

     And now for the present… well, sort of. The first episode of Season 5 actually begins in 1989 Minneapolis, where child Emma is attending a theatre showing of The Sword in the Stone, envying everyone else’s popcorn, and walking in… ridiculously late.

     After stealing a bit of candy from some viewers and settling into a seat, a strange usher appears next to her and warns her: “Don’t do it, Emma.”

     But he’s not talking about the candy; he’s talking about Excalibur. He tells Emma that one day she’ll have the chance to pull the sword from its stone, “but don’t.”

     Then he vanishes into thin air.

     Back in the Enchanted Forest at some unspecified time, three knights are on a quest. One of them is Arthur, and Lancelot is leading him to where the sword lies in the stone and prophesy has foretold Arthur’s coming. However, somebody beat them to the sword: Kay. And Kay takes what he wants.

Art by Gatorvenom of DeviantArt

     Kay grabs the sword, and it glows with magic… then turns him to dust.

     However, unlike the unworthy Kay, Arthur is able to pull the sword out… but the tip’s broken. And it looks mysteriously like…

     The dagger of the Dark One.

     Meanwhile in Storybrooke, the Heroes are all trying to recover from the shock of seeing Emma sucked up by a vortex of evil. Hook picks up the dagger and tries to summon her… but nothing happens.

     Regina tells him to put it down, but Hook insists that he should be able to summon Emma from any corner of the world.

     So Emma’s not in this world.

     She is, in fact, in the Enchanted Forest, arising from the soul/vault of the Dark One. Then Rumpelstiltskin appears: he’s the voice of the Dark One’s power inside of her, and he wants to know: is she ready to begin learning?

     Emma refuses to embrace the darkness… but apparently they all say that at first. Still, Emma remembers that Mickey said the sorcerer can help her to destroy the darkness, so she’ll go to Camelot and find Merlin.

     Meanwhile, the sorcerer’s apprentice is still badly hurt and under Blue’s care. He explains to Hook that Emma is in the Enchanted World, where all darkness starts. He himself is too weak to travel, so instead he gives them his own wand…

     …which he originally got from Merlin. All light magic is inside the wand, but it must be wielded by both light and darkness. Then he dramatically drops it in slow-mo. Is he…

     Are you sure? Television shows can be misleading about this sort of thing, and nobody declared him dead just now.

     Regina tries to wield the wand, but it won’t work for her anymore; she is, ironically, too good now. So they need… someone wicked.

     Back in the Enchanted Forest, Emma asks a peddler for directions to Camelot. However, he keeps upping the price of information and testing her patience… until she finds herself force-choking him.

     It takes a lot of effort for Emma to release the peddler, who then flees. Rumpelstiltskin warns her that the darkness inside her will not be suppressed easily… but Emma wants to find some way to Camelot without giving into it.

     Unfortunately, she keeps getting lost along the way. Rumpelstiltskin offers to help her find Camelot if she’ll let him. He suggests imagining a certain place strongly in her mind. When she does, she apparates there.

     Great! So all she has to do is ask him (or somebody) what Camelot looks like!

     But instead, Emma spots a will-o-the-wisp (from Brave). Rumpelstiltskin says it will lead her to Merlin!

     Back in Storybrooke, Blue finds Belle waiting with the still-unconscious Gold. Belle wants to remain with him in case he passes on, but Blue thinks that she should join the quest for Emma. So, Blue casts a spell to help Belle monitor Gold’s life from afar: the enchanted rose!

     Meanwhile, said quest for Emma has led the Heroes to Zelena (who, if you’ll recall, is pregnant, imprisoned by Regina in the mental ward of the hospital, and restrained with a magic-repressing arm cuff).

     Robin tries to convince Zelena to help for the baby’s sake, but she just insults him and they all squabble until it’s suggested that they hand her the wand. After all, with the cuff on, she’s powerless. They hand the wand over, and Zelena senses its power: she tells them that they’ll need something near and dear of Emma’s to follow. However, Zelena refuses to help cast the spell unless they, in return, remove the cuff.

     Regina steps forward immediately. “Never.”

     The Heroes leave, but not before Zelena reminds hook, “I’m your only way to find Emma.”

     Back in the Enchanted Forest, Emma chases the wisp down… but a red-haired spitfire of a princess snatches it up first!

     Emma loses control and uses her magic to stop Merida from running away. Merida immediately notches an arrow to her bow in warning. Emma explains that she’s not a witch; she’s been cursed, but she wants to be rid of the magic. Merida sympathies, but she needs the wisp for the sake of her own kingdom and family. She offers to fight Emma fist-to-fist for the wisp (say that five times fast)…

     …but Emma refuses to fight and lets Merida go. After thinking about it, Merida offers to help her. She explains that the wisps are born in a magical Hill of Stones, and they answer a question if brought home there. It’s just a day’s journey away, and perhaps once Merida is done with the wisp, then Emma can use it next.

     Or here’s a revolutionary thought, Emma: ASK MERIDA FOR DIRECTIONS TO CAMELOT.

     Or better yet, ask what it looks like, and then just apparate there!

     Meanwhile at Granny’s, Hook finds Henry and asks him to write the evil out of Emma, but Henry admits that he broke the quill because it was too much power. Then Hook has an idea: they can both team up and go break Zelena out!

     Back in the Enchanted Forest, Emma is having trouble keeping up with Merida’s quick pace; the princess of Dun Broch hasn’t slowed for days because her brothers have been kidnapped by the united clans after her father’s passing.

     It would seem that despite her original influence on them in the movie Brave, Merida hasn’t been accepted by the clans as the next queen (which isn’t too hard to understand; she obviously doesn’t know swordplay or forestry well enough for their liking. Nor mine, either; she doesn’t need to slice at every bush that isn’t even remotely in her way).

     Merida plans to reach the Hill of Stones so that she can follow the wisp to her brothers’ kidnappers and wage war upon them. However, exhaustion is setting in, so Emma finally convinces her to rest and sleep for one night. She could also convince her to describe the way to Camelot, but then the episode would be over way too soon.

     Once they’ve made camp, Emma finds she can’t sleep. Apparently the Dark One doesn’t sleep, which is why Rumpelstiltskin gave himself the hobby of spinning gold. Emma refuses. After all, she’s doing well here; she’s going to find Camelot without dark magic, by sharing the wisp with Merida. But then Rumpelstiltskin warns her; wisps can’t be shared.

     Wisps are owned for life by the first person to whisper with them at the Hill of Stones. The only way to take the wisp after Merida has used it would be to kill Merida!

Hmm, where have I heard that before..?

     Emma accuses Rumpelstiltskin of trapping her; he wanted her to kill Merida all this time! She carries on her internal conversation with him, unaware that Merida is well-awake… and listening in.

     Meanwhile in Storybrooke, Henry breaks past his mother’s security system to the hospital’s secure ward (Regina’s apparently better with magic than with passwords) and barges in to spill his drink all over the nurse at the desk. While she and the giant silent janitor* clean up the mess, Hook sneaks past them and enters Zelena’s cell.

     * Though nameless, this janitor is more or less the director’s obscure way of saying, “Hey look, guys! I read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in high school!”

     Hook admits he’s there to get Zelena's help in the search for Emma, but he brought some insurance: a potion from Regina (originally meant to be used on Cora) to rip one’s heart out.

     But when Hook pours the potion on his hook and tries to rip Zelena’s heart out, he’s blasted back by a magic forcefield; it would seem Zelena cast a protection over herself ages ago. While Hook is stunned, Zelena steals his dagger and slices off her left arm!

     With the cuff then removed, Zelena is able to reattach her severed arm to her body with magic and disappear!

     Needless to say, Regina is furious when she finds out. She and Hook are nearly at each other’s throats, until Snow reminds them that Emma kept them united, so they should try to stay that way. Besides, Regina knows where Zelena would go first: Robin.

     Regina reaches Robin first, finding him just after Roland has been put down for a nap.

     She warns him about Zelena and they kiss… but then Robin pulls away. He can tell it’s not Regina. It’s Zelena in disguise!

     With Robin held hostage by magic, Zelena takes him down to have a showdown in the street with the heroes.

     Zelena wants to leave Storybrooke and get far away. Her entire family before now has never loved her, but now this baby will love her and only her, and she doesn’t want to lose that. She demands that Regina trade the wand for Robin’s safety.

     The other heroes warn Regina not to, but she makes the trade. Zelena casts the tracing spell over her necklace to return herself to Oz via a magical twister… but somehow the magic rebounds and stuns Zelena long enough for Regina to snatch the wand back! Apparently Regina knew that the portal would weaken her.

     Now they’ll redirect the portal and follow it to find Emma.

     And speaking of Emma, she comes back to the camp with breakfast only to find Merida gone! Emma demands that Rumpelstiltskin tell her what the Hill of Stones looks like… instead of, I dunno, asking what Camelot looks like!

     Emma apparates to the Hill of Stones, but Merida is already there and has already whispered to the wisp! Merida holds Emma at arrow-point and warns her not to approach; she heard everything the night before and knows that Emma is struggling not to kill her! 

     Back at Granny’s, the Heroes tie up Zelena with ropes, instead of putting something more powerful like that magic-suppressing cuff back on her.

     They batten down the hatches for the cyclone, with Emma’s baby blanket as their enchanted object that will lead them to her. Suddenly the dwarves burst in to do what they do best: warn everyone of the oncoming magical storm!

     Regina orders the dwarves to leave, but Grumpy stands his ground. The dwarves have been left out of the story for too long, and now they’re not leaving even in the face of certain death!

     The cyclone arrives at last, sweeping up Granny’s (and, strangely, no other buildings) and spiriting them all away!

     Meanwhile in the face-off on the Hill of Stones, Emma is struggling to restrain her magic. Merida fires her bow —

     But Emma catches the arrow. (Though let’s be honest; even an arrow to the chest can’t slay the Dark One. Then again, Emma isn’t quite the Dark One yet, so maybe the arrows could do some damage after all.)

     Merida runs and fires again. Emma catches the arrow. Again. And again. Finally Emma grabs Merida and pulls her close with magic, then rips her heart out and prepares to crush it.

     Suddenly Hook and the rest of the Heroes arrive!

     Hook tries to convince Emma not to let the Darkness win. Snow wants to command Emma using the dagger, but Hook insists that this has to be Emma’s choice. (I’d hate to be Merida about now.) Emma reminds him that she needs Merlin, and this is the only way to get to Camelot.

     Hook insists that they can find another way, together. If he and the rest of the Heroes can unite, then surely she can fight her own demons, too. Hearing this, Emma manages to return Merida’s heart to her.

     Merida prepares to follow the wisp, and she thanks Emma for the reminder of mercy. Emma then greets her parents, and Snow gives her the dagger. However, Emma refuses, and entrusts it to… Regina.

     “I saved you. Now save me. And if you can’t save me, do what no one else will willingly do.”

     The Heroes then show Emma how they arrived: in Granny’s. Then suddenly a passel of knights come down the road. It’s King Arthur and his men! He came to find the newcomers because their coming was prophesied by Merlin himself. Merlin is missing, but the visitors are destined to bring about his return. Now they all ride to Camelot!

     Six weeks later in Storybrooke, a few of the dwarves that didn’t join the excursion witness a massive magical explosion! Granny’s has returned, along with most of its inhabitants (except Zelena) all in medieval garb. But Zelena’s not the only thing missing; their entire memories of the Enchanted Forest are gone!

     They can’t remember anything that happened past walking into Camelot, and Emma… is back.

     They went to Camelot to get the darkness out of her, but they failed. And to prove it (and freak out all viewers a little bit), Emma turns Sneezy into stone!

     Regina prepares to wield the dagger… but she doesn’t have it anymore. Emma does. And she’s going to punish them for what they did to her. Why? “I’m the Dark One.”

     Man, what must have happened in Camelot!?

Tune in Tomorrow

     …to see Storybrooke in need of a Savior (which they don’t have). And when Regina can’t step up and manage Emma by herself, she prepares to conjure something dark and sinister to compensate.

Quote of the Episode:

     “Put it down, Guyliner.”

     Finally, somebody else besides me uses that nickname!

Current Questions:

A. Will Arthur find out where the dagger came from before Emma spirits everyone back to Storybrooke?

B. Where’s Merida’s mother? The clans certainly respected her when Fergus was still alive (may he rest in peace). Why didn’t they accept her as queen!?

C. Will we get to see more of Merida’s universe? Like her brothers? And the three princes? Going on a quest with either trio would be such a hoot!

D. Where’s Zelena?

Current Theories:

A. Grumpy (and possibly the other dwarves) are all in for a rough time. They stepped in declaring their loyalty “even in the face of certain death,” remember? Writers don’t stick those lines into dialogue lightly, cheesy as they are. And, as we’ve already seen, the Seven Dwarves are down to six already. This does not look good.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! I love reading your recaps! (And your idea of happenings in Camelot are pretty close to the real thing. I just watched the newest episode. XD)