‘Once Upon A Time’ S5 Ep 8 recap: Darkness reborn

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Is Captain Swan’s True Love strong enough to break through the Darkness? (Photo credit: Disney/ABC Press via Twitter)

Oncers were left with a shocking twist at the end of “Birth.” After months of mystery, we finally discover Dark Swan’s huge secret and it is something none of us saw coming. Emma made an irreversible decision and she’s been trying to set things right ever since. Camelot flashbacks reveal why Emma was left with no choice and took a big risk all in the name of love. In the Storybrooke present, Emma tries to banish the Darkness before anyone else gets hurt. However, when her secret gets out, all bets are off. ABC has been teasing “Once Upon A Time’s” big two hour event, so we hoped these two episodes would’ve played out like a movie. Since “The Bear King” takes us on a completely different adventure, we’ll cover Merida’s tale in a separate recap. Brace yourselves because things are about to get heated.

Three weeks earlier in Camelot

Picking up from where we left off, Emma has the flame in hand when Merlin is summoned away by Arthur. Now that he is bound to Excalibur, he is forced to do as Arthur commands. Emma finds Merlin at the diner where he has frozen Granny and Henry. Arthur has given her an ultimatum, he will free her family in exchange for Excalibur as a whole. Merlin argues that “acceptance is form of strength.” He begs Emma not to seek vengeance like Nimue did. Will Emma light the spark and give Arthur what he wants in order to free her family?

Rumple tells Emma not to light the spark because Arthur will kill her once he has Excalibur. Oddly enough, Emma tries lighting the spark, but it won’t ignite. Rumple explains that she can only light it when she is ready to let go of the Darkness. It still has a hold over her. She must overcome it. Henry offers her some motivation.

Henry and Hook have been working on Operation Light Swan. The pirate has been looking for a house she’d like. He’s been planning for their future together. Emma promises to let go of the Darkness, she just needs to use its magic one last time. Time for a Good vs Evil showdown!

Arthur had Merlin tie Team Heroes to trees. Emma is being forced into a corner here. Merlin is still pleading with her. He doesn’t want to fight her. Zelena, on the other hand, is ready to go. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. Emma hands over the flame, but it’s a trick. She straps Zelena to a tree. Again, Merlin begs her to hand over flame. He warns that this is a battle she can’t win. Since when did Emma ever cower in the face of a challenge?

Merlin and Emma face-off. He’s played this game for too long, so he is naturally stronger than Emma, the newbie Dark One. Arthur commands him to kill Mary Margaret, so Merlin is compelled to start choking her with a vine. Emma implores Merlin to fight off the Darkness. If he can’t fight it, then no one can. It seems Merlin’s foreshadowing is coming into fruition. He said someday there would be someone strong enough to defeat the Darkness. Could this be that day?

Merlin fights off the Darkness for a moment. Well, at least it’s some sort of progress.
Hook slips out of his hand ties and confronts Arthur. The King gets a quick jab in, scratching Hook’s throat with Excalibur. Once Team Heroes is about to gain the upper hand, Arthur makes a run for it…well, more like he goes to Zelena and has her whisk them away. Seriously, why did King Arthur’s noble image have to be tarnished so badly? For shame! Once the cowardly king and Wicked Witch have gone, Emma quickly heals Hook’s wound and we are relieved to see that Team Heroes has gained possession of Excalibur. Now Emma just needs to light the spark and cast out the Darkness. Then they all can go home. Of course, we already know things don’t go according to plan, but we never would have expected the upcoming twist.

Emma desperately tries lighting the spark, but she can’t. Something deep down inside is stopping her from letting go of the Darkness. As the connoisseur in all thing evil, Regina tries to help. Swan Queen bonds over the lure of the Darkness. She understands how it feels good, even though they know it is clearly wrong. Regina tells Emma that it is okay because the temptation just makes her human. Throughout the course of their tumultuous friendship. Regina has come to know Emma very well. Miss Swan is not weak, so why is she clinging to the Darkness? Until she admits the truth and lets her walls down, Emma will not be able to light the spark. Since Emma refuses to spill the beans, Regina takes the Dagger and demands to know why she can’t let go of the Darkness. What is she afraid of?! Regina has the right intentions, but her tactics are harsh. Everybody, especially the Charmings, lash out at her for pushing Emma so severely. They just need to give her some space to sort it out for herself.

Hook reaches out to Emma afterwards and they finally have a candid conversation about her reservations. She is scared to let go of the Darkness because she is afraid of their future and of making a home with Hook (yup, Henry tattled). Basically, she is afraid of everything. Emma realizes that she only admits her true feelings when she thinks she’s losing someone. Yeah, we know and we remember…Neal, August, now Hook.

Emma has always been a bit of a mess when it comes to romantic entanglements. The girl has commitment issues, but that all stems from constant abandonment. However, things are different this time around. Emma confesses that she is afraid because she want to have a future with Hook. The minute the Darkness goes their future begins and that terrifies her. Hooks assures her that the future is nothing to be afraid of. She loses herself in a passionate kiss and the flame finally ignites. Huzzah!

The gang gathers at Granny’s Diner. Merlin tells Emma to destroy the Darkness once and for all. She uses the first flame to fuse Excalibur and the Dagger together. Once the blade is made whole, the nick on Hook’s neck starts gushing. Merlin explains that a wound from Excalibur cannot be healed and the cut is more severe than it seems because of the enchanted blade. Oh no!

Hook wants her to go on with their plan, Emma’s future is now. There is no turning back. Ending the Darkness has been their whole goal, she can’t give that up. She frees Merlin from his ties to Excalibur and tethers Hook to the sword instead. Merlin warns that creating two Dark Ones and splitting the Darkness can be very dangerous. Emma cannot let Hook simply die, she whisks him away to their field of roses.

Emma leans over Hook, tears streaming down her cheeks. He makes it very clear that he doesn’t want to become a Dark One. Hook is too weak. He barely redeemed himself once, he doesn’t have the will to do it again. He can’t fight it and knows he won’t be able to push the Darkness away again. The temptation is too strong for someone like him. Hook dies in her arms and Emma springs into action.

The pirate’s precise plea not to be turned into a Dark One does not count as a “No” for Emma. She binds Hook to Excalibur and the Darkness transfers from Merlin to Hook. As Team Heroes sees the black streams of Darkness flow out of Merlin, they know it is too late. “Killian Jones” is now inscribed on Excalibur and Dark Swan is officially born. Hook emerges from the pit as a cloaked Dark One. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Present day in Storybrooke

After seeing that Arthur sabotaged Team Heroes’ efforts to contact Merlin by burning the enchanted mushroom, David confronts the king with Robin and Hook as his back-up. Arthur claims their friendship was real, but David isn’t buying it. He’s come for answers. Who is Nimue and how can she help vanquish the Darkness? Naturally a struggle ensues and Emma magically appears in time to stop Arthur from stabbing Hook. He still loves Emma and wants to help her. Why does she need Excalibur? All Emma reveals is that she’s doing this all for Hook.

Team Heroes is a bit at odds over how to handle Dark Swan. The Charmings fear there may be no more Emma left, but they still aren’t willing to harm their daughter. There’s always a way to save someone. Regina thinks Emma is manipulating Hook, but he is desperate for answers. We all want to know what happened between Hook and Emma in Camelot. Hook sees Rumple to get some squid ink to magically force Emma to answer his questions. Emma already took the squid ink, so Rumple can’t help him there. However, he has been the Dark One, so he can offer one bit of insight. Emma regrets doing something really bad. Hook just needs to figure out what she’s atoning for. While Hook tries figuring Emma out, Dark Swan moves forward with her grand plan.

In the middle of reading Hansel and Gretel, Zelena’s pregnancy suddenly speeds up several months and she goes into labor. Robin and Regina arrive at her cell and wonder how the magicless Wicked Witch grew from two to nine months pregnant. Zelena insists this is the work of Dark Magic. Emma is behind this. But why?! Wow, Dark Swan is making people get pretty desperate in their search for the truth.

In the center of town, Hook calls out for Emma Swan as he jumps off the roof. Sure enough, she appears and saves him. Hook finally got her attention and is intent on having that heart-to-heart chat. He lays it all out on the table. Hook already forgives her and is sure she’s done no worse than him. He goes on to explain how each ring is a sad story because it comes from a man he’s killed. The ring he gave Emma belonged to a much better man than he’ll ever be. In an impassioned plea, Hook assures her that all sins can be forgiven when someone loves you. He still loves her and wants to know truth no matter how awful it is. Emma says she has something to show him.
Emma takes him to her house. This is the house he picked out for their future together. It even has a view of the ocean because it calms him. Emma has been trying to keep their dream alive. She will tell him everything after it is all over. She puts him to sleep with a kiss. What is going on, Emma? This feels like madness and it’s about to get crazier.

Dr. Whale returns with a new peroxided hairdo and delivers Zelena’s baby girl. Outlaw Queen must protect the baby from Emma. Regina recalls that a spell for Excalibur that needs the cries of a newborn child. Oh dear! What is Emma scheming?! As Robin holds his baby girl, Zelena taunts Regina for being green with envy. When Regina gazes upon the little babe, Emma sweeps in and takes Zelena away, but leaves the baby behind. Time for some answers!

Hook wakes up next to Zelena, both are chained in Emma’s basement. Emma’s big plan is to transfer her dark magic and contain it all in Zelena. After cutting Zelena’s ties from Excalibur, Emma will kill the Wicked Witch, eliminating the threat of the Darkness and Storybrooke’s main nemesis once and for all. Whoa! Hook says, “There must be a solution without murder.” Yeah, Zelena sucks, but Team Heroes’ motto is to avoid murder. Speaking of which…Robin watches over his baby, while Regina, MM and David head over to Emma’s to see what’s going on.

Regina is against Dark Swan’s plan, snapping “No one hurts my sister but me.” As they try talking Emma out of this crazy scheme, Hook and Zelena break free with the help of his enchanted appendage. Team Heroes is in a tough predicament. The Charmings don’t want to go to war with their daughter, which is why Regina is the only one who can do what has to be done to stop Emma. However, Dark Swan insists that she doesn’t need saving. She thought she’d be doing Regina a favor by getting rid of Zelena. Well, Regina truly has changed because murdering her wicked half-sister is not an option. Since they are resisting, Emma plants Excalibur in the ground and creates a force field around the house. The others are cast out, while Hook stays behind.

Hook finds the squid ink hidden behind a painting on her wall and spills it on Emma. He wants to know what happened in Camelot. We thought Zelena snuck away, but she was snooping around instead. She interrupts Captain Swan, saying she wanted to make Emma pay for what she has done. Zelena stabs Hook, but he doesn’t get hurt by the blade. Zelena found the dreamcatchers and shows Hook what happened in Camelot.

Emma had no choice, but Hook disagrees. Zelena reveals that both “Killian Jones” and “Emma Swan” are inscribed on Excalibur. There are now two Dark Ones and Hook is livid. Emma explains that she wanted to fix it. She planned to destroy the Darkness in both of them. Hook’s rage increases with each passing second. With disgust in voice he says, “So much for our future together, Swan.” Zelena asks if he wants to see what else happened in Camelot. Of course he does, but first they have to take care of Dark Swan.

Holy moly! What a mess. This is horrible, Oncers. Oh the betrayal. We’re torn here. Hook practically told Emma that he’d rather die than become a Dark One. He said he would easily succumb to the Darkness. Then again, Hook was acting just fine until he discovered the truth. He didn’t seem to be fighting any kind of evil temptation when he was trying to save Emma. Now he just turned on a dime. That bit is a little difficult to wrap our brains around. We understand why he is so angy, frustrated, hurt, and heartbroken. Emma struck a devastating blow when she turned him into the monster he feared he’d become. But he’s embracing the Darkness way too easily. He fought to become a better man for Emma. She did a bad thing for the right reason, but he doesn’t care. If only Hook would take a moment to process all of this instead of being blinded by rage and power.

In Emma’s defense, you can’t just watch your True Love die when you have the power to save them. Saving Hook cemented her fate as a full-blown Dark One. She damned herself as much as she cursed him. This is really painful to watch. All of this time, Dark Swan has been holding onto the light. She’s being doing seemingly dark things all to save everyone and it just backfired. Technically, her plan could have worked. Murder is wrong, but Zelena gave Team Heroes countless reasons to kill her in self-defense. Emma was close to vanquishing the Darkness and eliminating the threat of Zelena and no one would have been the wiser. But if Emma killed Zelena, would she ever have been truly pure of heart again? Murder always leaves a dark stain on one’s heart. Team Heroes was just trying to save Emma all around.

What do you think of this twist, Oncers? Are you shocked? Did Emma do the right thing? Is Hook overreacting? Can Hook be saved from the Darkness? Will Zelena and Hook be the new big baddies in town? Is Emma doomed to be the Dark Swan as long as Hook remains a Dark One? Are Hook and Emma tied to one another since they’re both Dark Ones? Can he kill her without causing harm to himself? What will be his next move? Share your thoughts, fears, and theories below and on Twitter (@TalkTVwTiffany).

“Once Upon A Time” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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