TV Recap & Review: Once Upon A Time Episode 501 “The Dark Swan”

I admit that I have sort of lost interest in this show. I just haven’t much liked the last two seasons. This season intrigues me, though. It’s about King Arthur, Merlin and Excalibur. Plus, they have their first appearance by a Pixar character, Princess Merida. I’m also hoping Emma as the Dark One will be more interesting than Emma as the Savior had become.

A man approaches Emma, when she was a little girl, in the movie theater, watching The Sword in the Stone, and tells her that one day she will have the chance to remove excalibur from the stone. He tells her not to do it.

King Arthur and his court approach the stone containing Excalibur and see they have been beaten there. The man turns to ash when he tries to take the sword. Next Arthur tries and removes the sword easily, only to discover it broken. He vows to rule his kingdom while also working to make the sword whole again.

In Storybrook where we last saw them, David and Mary Margaret, Regina and Robin and Hook stand in the street after Emma has disappeared into the vortex. Hook picks up the dagger, after running off Robin who tried to stop him, and call Emma to him but she doesn’t appear. Regina asks if he knows the rules of the dagger. He says yes the one who holds it can call the dark one from any corner of the world. Regina says that is his answer. Emma isn’t in that world.

Emma appears in the Enchanted Forest, Rumple appears in front of her. She says he can’t be there. He is in a coma in Storybrook. He informs her that he isn’t really him. He is the voice in her head, the embodiment of the Dark One. He could take any form of any previous Dark One. He shows her this but then goes back to being Rumple. He tells her she will embrace the power but she insists she will not.  She sets off to find Merlin to help her rid herself of the curse.

Hook questions the Magician’s Apprentice for where Emma is. He tells him she is where all darkness if born, in his realm. Hook wants him to send him there but he is to weak. He gives them his magic wand telling them that for it to work it must be welded as it was forged, with both sides of the coin, the light and the dark. He dies and drops the wand. Regina picks it up. She assumes she is the light and the dark. The wand won’t work. Hook tells her they need someone wicked. Regina doesn’t want to ask her sister for help but Hook tells her she owes Emma.

Hook is hot when he’s angry….he at least should be interesting this season. He gets to pursue Emma again. He’s the most interesting when he is avenging , rescuing or pursing someone he loves.

Emma in the Enchanted Forest asks a man for directions to Camelot. He wants silver but she doesn’t have any. She accidentally uses her power and when she realizes it and releases the man he runs away.

In Storybrook Belle strokes Gold’s face. The Blue fairy wants her to go help with Emma but Belle doesn’t want to leave Gold’s side. If he dies she wants to be there. Blue gives her a rose in a magic looking glass container. She tells Belle that the rose is “melded to her beast” and as long as the rose has petals then Gold is alive. 

I love the little references to the movies.

Regina, Robin and Hook enter the wicked witch, Zelina’s, jail chamber to ask her for help.

Emma wanders the Enchanted Forest, her inner Rumple tells her she is walking in circles. He tells her she can use a magical force to lead her to where ever she needs to be. He tells her to imagine a mirrored lake and adds lots of details. He tells her to picture it clearly in her mind. She does and opens her eyes to find herself there. He tells her that was her first magical teleportation. A blue light comes by and Rumple tells her if she wants to fight Merlin to catch the light.

Zelina, after hearing what is happening with Emma, agrees to help. She wants to hold the wand. Regina reluctantly gives it to her. She tells them they need something of Emma’s, something that meant a lot to her. They will need her to work the wand, though. They’ll have to remove her magic suppressing bracelet. Regina’s magic isn’t strong enough, she says. Regina sets out to find something but the witch stops Hook, telling him he will have to convince Regina because she is his only chance to find Emma.

In the Enchanted Forest, Emma chases the blue light. The light runs into a person. Emma uses magic to stop her. It’s Princess Merida. She draws her bow and has an arrow pointed at Emma quickly. She calls Emma a witch. Emma insists she isn’t but tells her the truth of the curse. She needs the wisp of the willows, the blue light, to cure her curse. Merida tells her she needs the wisp to help her family. She offers to fight for it but Emma won’t fight. She tells Merida she can have it. Merida offers for Emma to come with her to the home of the wisps. When you bring them home they’ll answer your questions. Merida says maybe she can get her help and then give the wisp to Emma so she can get hers. Emma agrees and sets off Merida.

At Granny’s Hook tells Henry he can fix Emma. He is the author now. He can use the pen to write away the darkness and bring Emma home. Henry tells him he broke the pen. It was to much power. Emma wouldn’t have wanted him to use it that way. Hook says there is a way that doesn’t break any rules Emma wouldn’t like but Regina won’t like it because it involves the person she hates most. Henry knows he means Zelina but agrees to help. Hook wants to break her from his prison.

Hook seems awfully happy to be breaking a prisoner out of jail. He is downright jolly. I guess he was as bored the last little while doing absolutely nothing but following Emma around as I was watching him do it. Not that he is happy Emma is missing. He does seem more upset that she is missing than he is that she is potentially evil, though. Which makes sense. Of everyone I still think he would be the most likely to accept her no matter her alignment.

Merida races through the forest with Emma struggling to keep up. Emma asks why she is in such a hurry and Merida tells her that after he father died the clansmen in her land didn’t approve of her as ruler. So, they kidnapped her little brothers and now she must use the wisp to find out where they are and to get them back. Emma says they need to rest and after Merida trips and falls she agrees to rest, reluctantly and only until the next morning.

So, this takes place later in the timeline than the movie Brave. A little while later. Merida seems older, her father isn’t alive and she doesn’t mention her mother at all (except for a brief mention to Emma about how she should try being a bear when she mentions that she is cursed). Her brothers were basically toddlers in the movie. So they are presumably still children. While some of the stories the show has used seem to recreate their stories, pulling only bits and pieces from the original version, with the modern movies they have pulled characters from, Frozen and Brave, they always seem to continue the story from the film without changing the past events at all, with the assumption I guess that all of the audience is already familiar with the movie’s storylines. And I guess assuming that anyone that isn’t will find the movies and watch them. I’ve seen Brave about 10 times in the last month since my 1 year daughter loves it. So, I’m good.

Emma’s Rumple shaped inner Tyler Durden appears to her while Merida is sleeping and tells her that once Merida uses the wisp it belongs to her until she dies. She can’t pass it on to Emma. He wants her to steal it. She refuses. Merida is awake and hears Emma talking to herself.

Hook and Henry enter Zelina’s cell. Henry knew the password. He says Regina uses his birthday for everything. “You’d think she would change it after a bank statement of two”, he says. Which shows that Henry is a bit more like Hook than they’ve let on previously.

You know it occurs to me that Henry is a combination of light and dark. His mother is the Savior and the current Dark One. His adopted mother was the Wicked Queen and is now good. His paternal grandfather was the former Dark One for 100s of years. His maternal grandparents are Snow White and Prince Charming. And his likely step father to be is Captain Hook. And he is the current author even though he broke the magic pen. It seems to me he should be able to use the magic wand.

Henry distracts the nurse/guard by spilling a soda on her. While Hook slips in to see Zelina. He wants some kind of assurance that if he frees her from the bracelet she won’t do anything unexpected. He plans to use the potion Regina gave him years ago to steal Cora’s heart to take Zelina’s as a sort of ransom. When he tries he is knocked back into the wall. Zelina tells him she passed a protection spell on her heart. She grabs his knife from inside his coat and cuts off her hand. She picks the hand up, the bracelet sliding off and puts it back in place. She tells him he should have listened to her sister and then she turns into green smoke and vanishes.

It really was a dumb move on Hook’s part. He is a little rusty or was just so eager to do something bad he didn’t really think it through. Probably that one.

Regina is not thrilled with Hook and Henry. Mostly Hook about Zelina’s escape. He insists he is at least doing something to save Emma. They bicker but Mary Margaret stops him and insists finding Emma is what is most important. Regina knows where Zelina would go.

Robin comes down the stairs as Regina rushes in to tell him Zelina has escaped. Robin shushes her saying that he just got Roland to sleep. Regina tells hims they have to leave now the others are waiting. He kisses her then jumps back exclaiming “Zelina”. Regina turns into Zelina and congratulates him on being able to tell it was her. She comments on how it was funny he couldn’t tell when she was disguised as Marian. She also tells him he is the key to everything.

Zelina meets the others in the street. She wants to trade Robin for the Apprentices Wand. She is sick of losing and sick of Regina getting everything. She wants to run away with the baby and hide in Oz. She won’t let them take her baby and turn it against her she says. Regina trade the wand for Robin, much to the anger of the others. She uses the wand to conjure a portal to Oz but when she tries to leave she is froze and can’t go. Regina stopped her because she knew conjuring the portal would weaken her. They’re going to take her portal she says but not to Oz.

I mean…it’s selfish of Zelina to just want something to love her and be all hers but it is also understandable. It’s pretty cruel of them to intend to take her baby from her and no doubt turn it against her. Which is a pretty awful thing for a child to deal with. It was wrong of her to trick Robin into creating a baby with her but it’s also pretty wrong of them to do what they plan to do now that the baby exists. It would have been less cruel to everyone to just kill her and never let there be a baby. I know they couldn’t do that but it is a less cruel option. Keeping her imprisoned knowing that they will take her baby and she will either never see it and/or it will hate her and love her enemies is the worst form of torture. And it won’t exactly be great for the baby either. It will be the child of a wicked witch conceived out of trickery and deceit and raised by a father that didn’t want it and an aunt that hates the event it is the product of. They’d be better off to just let Zelina leave, really.

Emma wakes up in the forest. Merida is gone. Rumple tells her Merida headed off alone and wants her to kill her. She asks what the stones look like. She wants to teleport there. She gets there just as Merida is whispering to it. Emma tries to stop her but is to late. Merida tells her she heard her talking to herself and she calls her a witch again. Rumple talks to her telling her to rip her heart out.

The Heroes (including for some reason baby Neal and little Roland) take up refuge in Granny’s while the cyclone shaped portal whirls toward Storybrook. Regina pulls out Emma’s baby blanket (saying she couldn’t exactly carry her yellow VW) to use as a symbol of Emma and where they want to go. She waves the wand over it. Just as the cyclone is about to hit the diner 3 of the dwarves including Grumpy, known as Leroy here, runs into the diner and insists on being a part of the adventure this time. The cyclone hits and transports them….

In the Enchanted Forest Emma and Merida are at a stand off. Merida holds her bow at her and shoots her with an arrow but Emma catches it. Emma refuses to kill Merida and keeps catching her arrows. Emma tells her to stop and uses the magic to bring Merida to her and take her heart. Before she can crush it runs up and stops her. Emma asks how. Hook says it doesn’t matter. Nothing has stopped him from getting to her before. They won’t let her crush Merida’s heart. Mary Margaret wants to use the dagger to make her stop but Hook says “no” that it has to be her own choice. Hook tells her to look at them, heroes and villains united because of her. If they can overcome their demons than so can she. In the end she shoves Merida’s heart back into her chest. She embraces Hook and her inner demon has vanished.

Rumple makes a joke about Merida’s accent. I’m pretty sure Robert Carlyle is Scottish himself. So, that’s a cute little joke.

Merida thanks Emma for showing her her darkness and letting her see her own darkness. She was going to kill the men who took her brothers but now she will try to show them mercy instead. Mercy that can unit her kingdom. Sh takes off after the wisp to find her brothers.

Emma tells the others they shouldn’t have come. It’s to dangerous. David embraces her and tells her they had too. Hook tells her she doesn’t look like a crocodile. She says she lucked out. Mary Margaret tries to give her the dagger so that she can control herself. She says no she need someone to help her not be overcome by the darkness. They are worried the dagger will fall into the wrong hands. Emma takes it and gives it to Regina. She says, “I saved you now you save me” and if they can’t save her Regina is the only one she trusts to do what has to be done. All of the others wouldn’t be able to see past their feelings, she says. Henry says it won’t come to that. Emma hugs him and asks how they all got there. Hook takes her hand and says they can show her. They walk around the corner and find Granny’s. Just as she is seeing everyone that has come to help her they hear horses. King Arthur and his court ride up telling them their arrival was destined. Predicted by Merlin himself. Merlin is missing but they are supposed to help bring him back. They take everyone to Camelot.

A police car drives down an empty street  with 2 of the dwarves driving and Granny’s drops out of the sky. The Dwarves  come in to the diner and find everyone dressed in clothes from the Enchanted Forest. They have been gone six weeks and the last thing they remember is walking into Camelot. Emma isn’t with them but comes in the door, dressed in a black fur coat and looking….well….evil. She says they went to Camelot to get the Darkness out of her and they failed. She turns to Sneezy into stone and says there is no savior in town anymore. Regina reaches for the dagger but it’s gone. Emma has it. She says they will all be punished for what they did to her. Hook asks why she is doing this, “Because” she says “I am the Dark One.

I really do with Emma would let Hook work with her. I think it would be awesome but I also suppose she wouldn’t forgive him for that once she was good again. Which isn’t fair. She should value someone that loves her no matter how she is but I don’t see her looking at it that way.

There are many things I like about Once Upon A Time. I love the magic of it. I love seeing the different twists on the fairy tales. I love seeing how they get to their happy endings. I love knowing that most of the good guys will get Happy Endings because it’s a Disney fairy tale show and that’s just how that works.

What I don’t like….is some of the choices they make story-wise. Some things get condensed and concluded to quickly and others get way to stretched out. Neverland went on forever and I swear that island was the size of a one room apartment. It was like watching people walk in circles for half a season. I almost gave up on the show during that. The Frozen storyline went on to long, too. And I’m about sick of Zelina, too but mostly because I just find her irritating and if they’re not going to redeem villains they need to just have them go away when they’re story is gone.. But during the second half of Season 3 when Hook and Emma go back in time to the Enchanted Forest of the past I would have loved to have seen more of that story. That could have been a whole season. Merida also seemed to be pushed out of the story quickly. Although, I am hoping she comes back.

My other big complaint is that I don’t love the story structure. In season one I liked the way the story was told. How we found out the past in bits and chunks. I haven’t loved the way that story telling method has worked since then, though. I don’t like that they keep doing the memory loss thing over and over. How many times can you magically lose your memory before you end up brain dead or unable to form new memories? I kind can’t believe they are doing that AGAIN.

But…all of that said….I do like the premise of this season so far and path is it taking. I wish they weren’t doing the memory loss thing again but I can deal with that if the story is good. I like Emma as a villain of sorts is interesting. I want to see what that does to her and Hook. We know Hook won’t give up on her as long as she is alive. We know he is over 300 years old and possibly immortal (that hasn’t been made clear exactly….if he or any of the others are immortal). He can wait and fight for her forever. So, that is an interesting dynamic they can have. He spent 300 years looking for vengeance. If he has a chance at fighting for someone he loves to come back to him can you imagine how long he would wait, would fight, for that? It really seems like he will be the character with the most going on this season. Which is awesome! He is a great character and a character willing to do as much for love as he is makes for a great fairy tale character. A character that isn’t entirely a hero but isn’t a villain either is always my favorite character. I look forward to the rest of this season. I want to see how Emma became evil and how they will bring her back to the light side. I want to see what happens with Zelina and the baby (although honestly I am hoping Zelina gets away to raise her baby on her own – that’s just the best thing for everyone in this mess of a situation). I’m sure there will be new storylines as well and I hope they are good ones. This is the best start to a season I’ve seen in a few years from this show, though. So, I’m excited. 🙂

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