When we last left Storybrooke, Emma Swan was being the Savior that she was born to be and saving her family and friends from complete darkness. Now it's season 5 and Emma is no longer the Savior but the Dark One.
The season premiere opens with a tiny Emma going to the theater to see "The Sword in the Stone." The roughly 6-year old (I honestly have no idea) pick pockets a fellow movie goer and settles into her seat. A super beautiful theater attendant shows up and begins to warn little Emma about things that I am 100% positive she will never remember. Super beautiful theater attendant tells her that even good intentions can lead to bad consequences and also that she should leave the sword alone. Okay, dude.
I think this guy is Merlin. I want him to be Merlin. If he is, that means he's had a hand in Emma's story from her wee beginnings. Also, he's really pretty and I like his accent. I AM ALLOWED TO BE SUPERFICIAL. Anyway, the possibility of this Merlin makes me a tad more excited for Camelot this season.
Speaking of Camelot. Arthur and Lancelot (YAY for his return) are off to get excalibur because they are all about following Merlin's prophecy. I want to know Merlin and Arthur's relationship on this show. Are they besties? I hope they are besties. I won't settle for anything less.
Some rogue knight decides to grab excalibur before Arthur can but excalibur is having none of that and poofs him into dust. Arthur takes his rightful place and lifts the sword from the stone. Turns out that this sword isn't whole.
Dun dun dun. Is the missing piece the Dark One's dagger? OMG it's the dagger. I'm genuinely excited about this development. It's pretty clever.
Arthur's new mission is to find the rest of excalibur. Unfortunately, it's in our world. Our regular Storybook crew, sans Emma, are left staring at the dagger after Emma is sucked away by black smoke. Hook attempts to call her back but by doing so they discover that she is no longer in this world.
Emma emerges from some black goo and finds herself in the Enchanted Forest. Her day gets worse when Rumplstiltskin shows up. But Gold is in Storybrooke? Apparently he's her sub-conscience? I think? SO MANY QUESTIONS. He pushes her to embrace her inner Dark One but really it's just her own darkness trying to burst through. All I know is Rumple has the power to be anywhere. And to be anything.
Emma is determined to keep the darkness at bay and sets off to find Merlin because she believes that he is the key to getting her out of this Dark One business. On her journey she meets Princess Merida, who is ADORABLE. They are both chasing after a blue wisp. Merida needs it to find her three brothers, who were kidnapped. Quietly sobbing for that development. Those kids were my favorite part about Brave. Merida wants to rescue them and punish those that took them. Then she will take her kingdom, which is apparently full of sexists that think she's too woman to rule. #TeamMerida. Take them all down, girl.
Emma needs the wisp to find Merlin and while she tries to do good and help Merida, she slowly begins to allow her new found darkness to show. When Rumple (or her own inner Dark One voice? who knows?) tells her that the wisp will only work for the first person to use its mystical question answering powers, Emma realizes that she will never get a turn. This inevitably leads to an Emma/Merida showdown. Merida is quite good with a bow but becoming the Dark One is also like becoming a ninja. Emma catches every arrow that is shot her way and becomes a teensy bit angry.
Back in Storybrooke, Regina and Hook argue about the various ways to get to Emma. Really, they just seem to argue about everything.
They eventually realize that their fighting doesn't help anything so they actually seek out real solutions to their problem. Just kidding. They remain snarky the entire episode. It's a little fun.
The sorcerers' apprentice is taking a very necessary rest but gifts a snazzy wand to our crew before he conks out. This wand needs both dark and light magic in order to work and open a portal to the Enchanted Forest. Regina takes one for Team Dark but the wand rejects her. Hook notes that Regina has recently been "too good" therefore she was kicked off of Team Dark. Rude. So, instead, they are forced to get someone wicked.
Zelena is being held in Regina's underground mental hospital. Regina cuffed her with a cuff that prevents her from using magic. Zelena is still pregnant. I still hate this storyline.
Anyway, since we are being cursed with this super awkward, thinly-veiled (but not even) molestation storyline, I'll write the bare minimum about it. Regina doesn't want to use Zelena because it will require un-cuffing the Wicked Witch. Hook thinks it's the only way to get to Emma so he goes behind Regina's back and enlists the help of Henry. Their sleuthing is cute but ultimately backfires because Hook is kind of terrible at being a villain. But oh how I love him.
When Zelena tricks Hook and breaks out of her cell, she once again lures Robin away by pretending to be someone she is not. Cue a few more terrible lines about Robin being "unwilling" and I kind of want to punch the writers for this horrible plot line. Can we stop with this, please?
Zelena wants to trade Robin for the wand so that she can run away with her unborn child...over the rainbow. I can't tell if this show is very self-aware or just super cheesy. Also, Zelena is a-okay with peacing out because she has her baby now and it will love her like no one else ever has or will. What kind of Teen Mom realness is this?
Regina trades the wand for Robin because duh. The others grumble because it's their only way to get to Emma. I get it. I do. And I usually have mixed feelings about Regina but in this case, I would have done the same. Robin is her love so why would she not help protect him? Snow, Charming and Hook are trying to save their loved one, why can't Regina? It ultimately doesn't matter because when Zelena opens a portal it makes her weak and Regina's contingency plan accounts for this. She manages to stop Zelena, get the wand back AND use Zelena's portal to get to Emma. This is turning into Mean Girls. I dig it.
The Storybrooke gang uses Granny's Diner to fly through the portal and to the Enchanted Forest where they ultimately meet up with Emma during her showdown with Merida. Emma is holding Merida's heart in her hand, slowly beginning to crush it, when Hook runs up and gives her a reason to stop.
Quick note: I am totally on the Captain Swan train. I think they work on many different levels and their relationship is honestly one of the only reasons I tune into the show anymore. In saying that, if you don't care for the pairing, you may want to skip any section that I recap that involves them in a scene together. Like, right now.
So, Captain Swan. YAAAS. Hook pleads with Emma to remember that she has the ability to overcome her newfound darkness. Killing Merida will not do anything but set her down the path that has been unfairly thrust upon her. But he also tells her that ultimately it is her choice. None of them can make it for her or stop her from embracing the Dark Ones powers. I like this Hook. This Hook knows what it means to be consumed by darkness but also how to conquer it. He wants that for Emma and believes so much in her ability to do it for herself. How can you not root for them? This time, Emma is able to hold herself back, but she expresses a deep fear that she will eventually hurt her loved ones. Still, round one goes to Emma. You go, girl.
After getting her heart back, Merida decides to approach her missing brother situation with a bit more mercy. Seeing Emma's darkness made Merida realize that she too has darkness within her. Her darkness wants her to kill those responsible for taking her brothers. Now she wishes to overcome that, just like Emma. Dark Emma inspires, y'all. Two points for Dark Emma.
Merida skips away and I already miss her. Please be back. Please.
The Storybrooke crew is all together again and everything is swell. They try to give Emma her dagger so she can be in charge of herself but she is hesitant. Instead, she gives it to Regina because she knows if things go south Regina will have the least problem with taking Emma down. This is serious stuff.
The crew make their way to Granny's Diner where granny is fretting about the fryers going all wonky during their portal trip. Granny thinks of the important things. It's sweet to see all of the support Emma has and I definitely think she feels it too. It's nice.
Before they can go into the diner for a celebratory drink, King Arthur (is he King yet?) shows up and drops a BOMB. Not a literal one. Not sure he has those. Anyway, he tells them that he has been waiting for them. Apparently, Merlin is throwing prophecies out like it's an Oprah giveaway and told Arthur that the Storybrooke crew is the key to reuniting the two best friends. They are going to be best friends, guys. I just know it. Everyone follows Arthur to Camelot and I am very excited for Camelot.
Okay, so maybe they don't stay in Camelot. The episode ends with an ominous "six weeks later" where we find our crew transported back to Storybrooke. They are all wearing pretty Camelot-inspired clothes but have no idea what happened. They believe they just walked into Camelot but now they are back home in Storybrooke. Amnesia. Again. I'll wait to complain until I see a few more episodes, but honestly...amnesia? AGAIN?
Before the show closes, Hook is the only one to even think about Emma and ask where she is. Surprise!
Emma busts open the door with a new frosted hairdo and sweet black trench coat. She tells them all that they tried to help keep her from darkness but they all failed. She hilariously turns Sneezy into stone after asking what he is. Not who, but what. I mean, poor Sneezy but LOL. Anyway, our dear Emma is now on a mission to punish them all. I guess even Henry. I feel like even Rumple had his limits as a Dark One. Didn't he kind of still love his son? I don't know. I guess we'll see!
This was a fairly enjoyable season premiere. It had a few snarky lines that made me chuckle. Hook is still my forever fave. I really hope Merida returns because she's already a welcome addition to the show. Merlin is probably the guy from the theater and YES if that is so. I'm still intrigued by Camelot and Arthur and I'm excited to see more of Lancelot and the introduction of Guinevere. Overall, my interest in Once Upon a Time is slowly returning and hopefully it stays for the duration of the season. Unless they have even MORE of Zelena. If they do, I'll probably turn into the Dark One myself. Very willingly.