Emma has fallen far. Emma is not the woman we met back in season one. She is not the woman who would do anything to protect her family and friends. Instead of protecting them from harm she is the one causing that harm. Hope for her redemption is slowly but surely ebbing away. Emma is now focused on making Rumple into a “hero,” though that is a word I am not sure she quite understands anymore.
One of the major moments of this episode was Merlin being released from his tree prison. But what was significant about this whole thing was the means Emma went to, to free Merlin. In the process she did something she vowed she would never do and that was hurt her own son.
When Merlin was released he went to Emma and told her that he can indeed remove the darkness from her but she has to willingly give it up. He can not take what she is not willing to give away. As we know Emma must not have been able to fulfill that requirement because she is currently Dark Swan. She has a choice to make with Merlin and we see that she makes the wrong one just like she did with hurting Henry.
The spell to free Merlin requires a tear from lost love. They at first believe that Regina’s sorrow over losing Daniel will do the trick. They watch the scene again and collect the tear. But it does not work because Regina has healed her heart. She misses Daniel, that is a pain that will never completely leave her but she has learned how to live with it. She has Robin now and her tears are more of a lost memory of love and that is not powerful enough for this spell.
Emma seems to know this, how I am not sure. She knows that Henry is crushing on Violet and she does something that I never expected her to do. When Regina and Emma are watching Daniel’s death Emma wonders how a mother could do that to her child. Then she turns around and does much of the same to her own son.
Emma is desperate, that we know. Despite what Hook has tried to help her with, she is not able to fully fight the darkness by herself. She is desperate for it to be taken away from her. Cora did what she did to Regina because she had no heart, what is Emma’s excuse? I know she is scared and she is running out of options but how does hurting her own child help her fight the darkness?
What she did was allow the darkness to take an even tighter hold on her. Parents are supposed to protect their children, not harm them. I know she said what she did was for the best for Henry but as Regina pointed out to her, her own mother said the same thing. In the end Regina spent much of her life despising her mother. Henry is not going to walk back into Emma’s arms and forgive her anytime soon. In the process of trying to save herself it would appear that Emma has only doomed herself.
The Emma we have now, Dark Swan, has one mission here in this world and that is turn Rumple into the hero she needs. She needs a hero to pull Excalibur from the stone, so that she can rejoin it with the dagger and eradicate all light from herself. She has Merida imprisoned and forces her to train Rumple and make him brave. She believes if she can make him brave that will translate into him being the hero that she needs.
The old Emma would not be making this mistake. The old Emma would have understood that a hero is different depending on the situation and where they are. Teaching Rumple how to swing a sword will not make him brave and will not make him a hero. Even having Merida threaten the chipped cup and the memories of Belle and their life together is not what he needs. He becomes angry but that does not mean that he is now brave.
Rumple is being trained to be a hero in Camelot standards. Camelot and Storybrooke are two very different worlds. The great way to understand this is how Violet’s dad interacts with Henry. In Camelot he tells Henry that he cannot be a knight and cannot be a hero in that world. He is not strong enough, can’t fight and has no way to protect Violet. Henry tries to change but realizes that he can’t.
Now in Storybrooke that interaction is much more cordial. Violet’s father is grateful for what Henry did for his daughter. Henry did not have to fight with a sword to defend her, he found her horse and brought it back for her. He did it because he cared about her and that brought about a different response from Violet’s father.
What this all showed is that the term “hero,” is a broad term. The term does not have a set definition. There is no checklist you can make marks on as you gather the necessary elements to be a “hero.” Just like we have seen throughout the series the title of “villain,” is broad and can entail many different characteristics.
We get massive hints throughout this episode that Henry will be the hero. Regina calls him it more than once. In this world, Henry is the type of person who constitutes a hero.
Emma has this idea in her head that Rumple is the man she needs to be her hero. But what she is doing is training him to be a hero by Camelot’s standards. A hero there is someone who is strong, and fights monsters and protects their kingdom and family. While in Storybrooke that definition is much more subtle. Henry is a hero not because he goes into battle but because he helps those he loves and cares about, for unselfish reasons. Camelot’s hero identity is more about fighting and swords while this worlds’ definition is more about going out of your way to take care of those around you and make sacrafices to help those people.
If Emma wants Rumple to be her hero here, she needs to have him put down the sword. Rumple can be a hero but that will take time. He has many mistakes to amend and people to apologize to and gain trust from again. It will take a long time before Rumple can be a hero.
“The more you justify what you’re doing the more you push them away,” – Rumple – Emma has to find a reason of her actions. There is still a part of her that knows it isn’t right what she is doing but she is ignoring that part. She has to find excuses in order to push away the guilt that will take control of her. The people around her only hear those excuses and one by one they are walking away from her.
“You may not be hero in this world but you will be in ours,”- Regina- Again the two world are very different. Henry is not traditional knight material but he is a great person who can be a hero in our world. He is the hero that Emma needs not Rumple.
“Ms. Swan,”- Regina- Just like Hook, Regina is now making distinctions between the two versions of Emma that she knows. Hook calls her the Dark One and now Regina is calling her Ms. Swan again. A name she called her when they were enemies. She has drawn a line and Emma is slowly losing all those she had that believed in her.
Will the group use the dreamcatchers to get their memories back?
What was the dreamcatcher that Emma was crying over?
Something we haven’t seen? Henry’s? The choice she made with Violet?
Why was Violet’s dreamcatcher out on the table?
Can Henry find a way to forgive Emma?
Will anyone be able to trust and forgive Emma again?
What was the real reason that Emma did not relinquish the dark power to Merlin?
What would Merlin do with the dark power?
Did he create it?
Does it always have to exist?
When will Emma realize that Henry is the hero she needs?
Can she use her own son like that?
Is there any line she will not cross now?
If Henry does take out the sword can he use it against his own mother?
Are the decisions that Emma is making come from the darkness only or is it also from a part of her?
Where is Merlin in this world?
How did he approach Emma when she was young?
Why can’t she take out Excalibur?
Who was Merlin’s love? Who killed her? Who was that Dark One that imprisoned him? Why did he do it?
Can Rumple ever become a hero by either Camelot or Storybrooke’s standards?
Can Rumple be brave?
How did Emma get Merida as a prisoner?
In the second episode of the season Regina and Emma’s new roles have been defined. Regina, who once was our villain and evil queen, is now going to take the role of “the savior”. Whereas Emma, our “savior,” at one point, is now full of darkness and intent on snuffing out the light that is left inside of her. We also see that both of them falter in taking in on these new roles. Regina doesn’t think anyone believes in her while Emma is still holding onto feelings of love for her son.
We take a step back into Camelot and quickly learn where Merlin is, he is a tree. How he became a tree and why, is not answered yet. But we are told that in order to save Merlin and in turn save Emma from the darkness they need “the savior.” Regina steps forward and professes that she is “the savior,” and that she can help them. This scene gave us two important points for this season.
When Regina steps forward and speaks out she prevents Emma from speaking out because she possess the dagger. Later Emma confronts Regina about her actions and she is not happy. Emma is not oaky with anyone using the dagger to control her. She has had her first taste of her actions not being her own and she is scared.
Regina tells Emma that she did it to ensure that Emma never has to use her dark powers. Regina knows what that pull will do and she wants to save Emma from ever having to fight that battle. Emma thanks her and I believe she is truly thankful for Regina helping her. But I also think this moment made Emma realize something. She is not in complete control of her life or her actions now that she does not possess the dagger.
Being controlled was one of the things that Rumple could never get used to. He couldn’t even give up the dagger to Belle, who he knew would never use it to hurt him. I think Emma is going to begin to have this same struggle. There is a certain humiliation and feeling of weakness to not having complete control of your actions. This very well could be the start of her downfall.
The other point that was important from this scene was Regina stepping up and taking on the role of “the savior.” Now I keep putting that term in quotation marks for a reason. The prophecy that Arthur speaks of calls for a “savior.” As far as we are aware it does not specify who that person is. What power they hold or what they can do. Arthur doesn’t bat an eyelash when Regina speaks up, meaning he had no idea who “the savior,” was going to be.
This is important. Regina struggles throughout this episode because she doesn’t think anyone believes in her. She thinks everyone still sees her as a evil queen and not worthy of this new title. What she learns quickly is that she has to believe in herself for everyone else to believe in her.
Becoming “the savior,” has nothing to do with the words the prophecy says. It comes down to the actions that the person takes. Regina is willing to give up her life to save Robin. Regina steps in to battle a monster to save someone. That is what makes her “the savior,” not whatever the prophecy says. She first has to believe in herself. She has to realize that she can do whatever she needs to do to save everyone. This is her town, full of people she loves, and she will not let anything happen to them. Her drive to fight for these people is what makes her the new “savior.”
While Regina is learning to believe in herself and take on a new role; Emma is busy pretending that she has fully embraced her new role as The Dark One. We see her attitude with everyone but it falls away when she is talking with Henry.
That moment with Henry is important. She lets down her walls and her facade of being full of evil and darkness and not caring. She tells Henry that she does not blame him. She tells him not to apologize or feel guilty. He did not fail her, the others did. For a moment before Regina walks up, we see genuine concerned and loving Emma once again. It is momentary but it shows that our light Emma is still inside of this woman.
At the end of the episode we see Emma alone in her house, looking lonely. The Dark One voice that takes Rumple’s form even points it out to her. Emma has not been The Dark One for very long. She is still finding a way to live with this new version of herself.
Emma has accepted a part of what it means to be the The Dark One but like Rumple she still holds light inside of her. Now Rumple had been entrenched in being The Dark One for centuries before he met Belle and let her bring out the good in him again. He had lost a lot before that point making her pulling him back extremely difficult and nearly impossible. Emma on the other hand has not been full of darkness for too long. She is still very new to this life which means pulling her back should be easier. But it is going to take everyone to do just that.
At the end, The Dark One voice, tells her that there reuniting the dagger and Excalibur will be a way to extinguish the light that lives inside of Emma. She is being pulled in two directions and it is difficult for her to choose. The group has to focus their efforts on exploiting the light that is left inside of Emma.
“A curse is not a curse when the inflicted wants it,” – Belle- Belle tells this to Hook after he comes to her inquiring about true love’s kiss. Hook will not let Emma go. But Belle warns him that the longer she is The Dark One the harder it will be to save her. Hook has to focus on the points of light in Emma and show her that she has not full embraced this new life.
“The pull of the family we are so desperate to protect;
The friendships that make it impossible to forget who we used to be;
The magic that threatens to undo our most evil deeds;
And worst of all the love that refuses to give up on us.” – Dark one voice – Here is a list of ingredients needed to bring Emma back. The group has to focus on each of these and they can save her. All of this still lives in Emma, they just have to find it and bring it back out in the open.
How did Merlin become a tree? Why?
Why do people who cross the town line also become trees? Emma’s doing? Some connection to the prophecy?
What else did this prophecy say?
Can anyone be the savior? Is it only about believing in yourself and making the right decisions?
Why are the dagger and Excalibur part of one another? What does this have to do with balancing light and dark magic?
Will Emma ever tell anyone about the voice that is in her head?
How much light is really left in Emma?
How long will Rumple live?
Can they defeat the darkness in Emma without harming her? Who can pull Excalibur from the stone?
Why shouldn’t it be Emma?
Why is Excalibur so important to the fate of Camelot?
Who are Violet’s parents?
Once Upon a Time is back! At the end of last season Emma took in the darkness of The Dark One. This season we get to watch as Emma attempts to fight this new force that lives inside of her. But as we saw in this premiere it appears that her battle is going to be a futile one.
The episode opened with a young Emma seeing a movie and stealing a chocolate bar. Out of nowhere a man appears and instructs her that bad things happen when you do things you shouldn’t. He gives her a warning to not pull out Excalibur when she is given the opportunity in the future then he disappears.
This is in an interesting scene because it again shows us that Emma’s life has always had some element of the fairytale world involved in it. She may have been sent away but these characters keep following her around. The Snow Queen knew her as a teenager and now this man shows up to talk to a younger version of her. This makes me wonder how many other things Emma is supposed to take part in, in some fashion.
We then jump to Camelot to the point where Arthur takes the sword from the stone. When he pulls it out he discovers that it is broken and the broken portion is missing. He decides to hide this from the people of his kingdom.
A quick side note about this scene. When Sir Kay tried to remove the sword he was turned to dust because he was not destined to take the sword. From what I remember of the original story those who tried to take the sword but were unworthy were just unable to remove the sword. In true Once Upon a Time twist if you try to take what is not yours you cause your own demise.
This makes me wonder about Emma and her destiny in connection to Excalibur . We know that The Dark One cannot die. So if she tries to steal or take the sword it can’t turn her to dust like it did to Kay. But can it still give out a punishment to her? Does it somehow take out the light inside of her, making her have to embrace the darkness? Is this part of the reason that she ends up embracing the darkness instead of fighting it?
When Arthur pulls out the broken sword we quickly learn that the broken portion is actually the dagger of the The Dark One. Excalibur is generally seen as a tool or weapon for good. Arthur is a human king but he is still considered a pretty decent guy. Excalibur’s magic is considered light magic. So what does it mean that part of this light magic item now houses and controls the darkest magic there is?
What can it mean for those who wield it? Do their power rely on each other? Who broke it in the first place and why take a portion and house pure darkness inside of it? Does this have any effect on those who use either portion? Can one turn the other dark and vice versa?
I do not have many theories right now but I am sure that this is going to play a major role in Emma’s fate this season. Maybe bringing them back together will somehow help Emma be able to fight and win her battle with the darkness.
After this revelation we are taken back to the moment right after Emma has disappeared. Hook attempts to use the dagger to bring Emma back to them but he is unable to do so. Regina tells him that is because Emma is no longer in their world. Which means they will need a portal to find Emma.
Hook goes into desperation mode. Everyone is upset but Hook is the most upset out of the whole group. He starts running to idea after idea. They go to the apprentice who gives them a wand that will help but needs dark magic to balance the light magic to wield it. While they all are trying to figure out a way to get Zelena to help them Hook approaches Henry. He asks Henry to rewrite the story with the quill but is dismayed to learn that Henry broke the quill. He then recruits Henry to break out Zelena which of course completely backfires.
Hook is going to have to settle down and get his head on straight. He is not thinking right and doing things that are dangerous and have zero chance of working as they should work. He should have known that going after Zelena would not work out. But he is in a haze and that is going to cloud his judgement throughout this season.
They do end up getting to Emma and helping her to not hurt Merida but it is quickly clear that Emma can’t do this alone. When Emma hugs Hook and finds comfort in his arms the phantom voice of darkness disappears. Emma needs someone strong to lean on and help her stand up for what she believes in right now. Hook has to tamper down his emotions a bit or else he is going to be no help to Emma. He can’t be making desperate decisions and running around without thinking. That is only going to make things worse.
Emma ends up in The Enchanted Forest where she meets the voice of the darkness inside of her. The voice takes the form of Rumple when talking to her. It tells her that fighting the darkness inside of her is a waste of time. It tries to give her a tutorial of what she is required to do now. She refuses to listen at first
I like that this voice is personified. We have watched many characters in this show struggle with the darker side of themselves. But it is always from the outside. We don’t see or hear the voice that is tempting them. This side of Emma is going to be a big deal and I like that the darkness has now has its own character. It will be interesting to watch as the two become intertwined and become less of separate entities throughout the season.
Emma is determined that she will not let the darkness consume her. She refuses to use the powers saying she will not hurt anyone. But we quickly see that this struggle is going to take more then her resolve to win. She has no control over her powers. She accidentally chokes a man who refuses to help her without payment.
Emma has never been one who has had complete control over her emotions. She can’t tamper her anger and her fear. Her power is so great that it takes barely a nudge for her to lash out and use it. Emma is going to need her family and friends to lean on.
It is interesting that the voice disappears when she is hugging Hook and Henry. For a moment when she is wrapped up in the love of those who love her she is safe and can’t hear the voice. But as soon as they part the voice is back. Emma is an independent woman who hates needing others. She is going to have to learn to accept this help. Though we do see at the end of the episode that they do fail in keeping Emma from accepting this dark side of herself.
The last scene is everyone waking up in the diner back in The Enchanted Forest. And in true Once Upon a Time fashion they have no memories of their time in Camelot. This shows thing is telling one story in present and filling in blanks through flashbacks. We are going to get to see how Emma loses her battle with her dark side. The juxtaposition of seeing how far she has fallen and watching her fight at the same time will be interesting.
I am excited for this season to watch as our characters take on completely different roles then we are used to seeing them play.
“I want you to start behaving like The Dark One!”- Darkness’s voice- The darkness is not happy that Emma is unwilling to play her new role. Can anyone actually fight and win against this darkness? Or is this a role that has to be filled no matter what?
“Use your anger,”- Darkness’s voice- As I stated before Emma has little control over her emotions. Her magic is connected to these emotions. Does anger play a part in her losing her battle with the darkness?
Where is Merlin?
Why is he missing?
Why is the dagger part of Excalibur?
Who broke it?
Why did they make part of it something so dark?
What role will this play in helping or hurting Emma? Who was it that came to Emma when she was younger? One of the knights of the roundtable?
Why isn’t she supposed to take Excalibur?
Does this play a role in her losing herself to the darkness?
How long does Emma fight the dark inside of her before losing?
Why did she come back with everyone?
What is her plan now?
Will Rumple wake up?
If he does can he help Emma?
Can there ever not be a Dark One?
Is there a counterpart to this Dark One idea? Someone who is pure light?
Was this somehow Emma at one point?
What role will Zelena be playing in all of this?
Will the baby change Zelena at all?
Will we see Merida again?
Will Maleficent and Lily be bak and if so will they help Emma?