Written and Media by Emma Canady
If you haven’t watched ABC’s Once Upon A Time(OUAT) yet, then now is the time to start. On the 27th of September, OUAT came roaring back with a premiere that left its fans exhilarated and terrified for what’s to come.
Since its conception, OUAT has left viewers scratching their heads and marveling that the writers have managed to twist so many classic fairy tales. After all, the show proclaims that Snow White met her Prince Charming while suspended in a net trap, has Captain Hook as the romantic lead, and has happily accepted “We lost our memories… again!” as the unofficial slogan. By now, the viewers know that really, anything can happen.
Because of this, fans were nervous waiting for the fifth season to premiere. The season four finale left our heroes in an incredibly unlikely situation— with savior Emma Swan clutching the Dark One’s dagger as darkness swirled around her. In order to save her once nemesis, Emma thrust herself into danger with a heartfelt and tear-filled plea to her parents to save her and the long awaited I Love You to her True Love.
WARNING— this article will contain spoilers.
Jennifer Morrison stars as Emma Swan, the show’s most unrelenting hero— until recently. Morrison’s portrayal as Dark Swan is breathtaking. Even within her first moments on screen, you can see how the dark magic and power has changed her. From the way she holds herself, the trembles of her breathing, to the slightly lower octave she has her voice in, the audience is blatantly aware that Emma is not quite Emma.
As Emma struggles with controlling the newfound darkness, which is portrayed as her mind’s manifestation of Rumplestiltskin, she goes on an adventure with Merida in the Enchanted Forest. The rest of the heroes struggle to find a way to her from Storybrooke, where they were left gaping in the streets.
Or, more accurately, Hook and Henry struggle to find a way to get to her. Snow and Charming stand idly by, aghast expressions on their faces as they clutch their newborn son, and Regina argues with Hook’s, albeit dangerous, plan to get to the Savior-Turned-Dark-One. Perhaps it is to show that Hook, Emma’s devoted and dashing True Love, and her son Henry are the ones that will continue to have unwavering faith in her redemption. Perhaps it is because of Hook’s complicated and devastating history with the previous Dark One that he is so eager to find her. Either way, it left a bit to be desired from the rest of the rescue crew at their lack of action to get to her.
Hook’s persistence finally pays off at the end of the episode when the group finds themselves in the middle of the Enchanted Forest. With no time to spare, Hook and Co. crash through the woods to find Emma with her fist around Merida’s heart, seconds away from killing her and giving into the darkness. When Snow pulls out the dagger that could control Emma, Hook stops her and declares, “It has to be her choice”.
With a speech that, admittedly, made me cry each time I watched it, Hook gently reminds Emma that evil can be fought and that she is stronger than any darkness inside of her. With her head pressed into the crook of his neck, or her arms around her son, the FakeRumple is gone, once again punctuating that Emma’s boys bring her back to reality.
The story continues until, with little warning, the audience is jolted forward to Storybrooke, six weeks.
The group wakes up, minus Emma and without their memories. After a quick, “How long has it been?” and “Our memories, they’re gone.” “Again.” the door to Granny’s diner swings open, and Emma saunters in. With white hair slicked back and donning black leather from head to toe, Emma is a dangerous vision. She murmurs, with a cold and low tone that makes Snow and the audience gasp, they failed. And Emma promises they will be punished for what they’ve done.
Disappearing in a smoke of darkness, Emma leaves our heroes frozen in fear and confusion. The rest of the season will unfold to show us what happened in those missing six weeks and Emma’s descent into darkness.
Catch ABC’s Once Upon A Time on Sunday at 8/7c.