Once Upon A Time Season 5 Premiere Review: The Birth Of the Dark Swan

by Luciana / September 27, 2015
once upon a time

The hiatus is finally over and the Fall Season is upon us. And what an amazing comeback that was for us Once Upon a Time fans, right? I was – still am, to be honest – so curious as to how they are going to handle the storyline of the Savior herself becoming the Dark One, and I have to say that, so far, things seem to be going pretty smoothly. Although I saw this plot twist coming from a mile away as soon as they started introducing the whole “Emma has darkness inside her and she could possibly become evil” storyline, I just knew that something major was going to go down in order to shake things up. And honestly? It could not have come at a better time. While I loved the first part of season 4 with the Frozen gang, I felt that most of the 4B storyline really dragged. With the exception of the last three or four episodes of the season – which were pretty freaking awesome – I felt that season 4B was really underwhelming overall. That said, let’s get to the point, which is this seriously brilliant premiere we have just watched

Regina, Robin and Zelena

Let’s start with our seriously twisted but not really love triangle. Regina feels in debt and responsible for Emma becoming the Dark One in order to save her life, for obvious reasons. But I feel that Regina has really grown and evolved so much from the ruthless and selfish Evil Queen we first met back in Season 1. This is portrayed so clearly when she can’t even access her darkness anymore to make The Apprentice’s wand work so they can go and find Emma. Her growth was evident in every action in this episode – from her taking point in talking to Zelena and having a backup plan when her wicked sister escaped from Hook’s failed attempt at getting the witch to cooperate. But the biggest proof of how far she has come, especially how much her relationship with Emma has evolved and become something beautiful, was the fact that Emma trusts her enough to let her have the dagger and do the right thing, if the situation ever asks for it. I am a huge fan of character development done right and this is a prime example.

Now Zelena is a whole other story. Even though she is evil and she wants Regina to suffer and all, I just can’t get enough of her. A lot of it has to do with Rebecca Mader’s performance because the woman is just hilarious in every scene and the way she delivers her lines always has me wanting to strangle her, but still makes me laugh my head off. She is an amazing addition to the cast and a breath of fresh air, to be honest.

Zelena seemed to be resigned to go back to Oz and be with her child, but since that didn’t happen, I am very curious as to how they are going to deal with her now in Camelot. Also, she had one of my very favorite lines of the episode: I didn’t enjoy it. I don’t know what you see in him.”

Robin was kind of just there and only served as Zelena’s bargaining chip, but he is part of the regular cast now, so I am guessing he is going to have a bigger role down the road. Hopefully.

Snow White and Prince Charming

This is something that really pains me to say, but the Charmings were kind of just there too. I feel like it wouldn’t have even made a difference if they hadn’t been in the scenes they were actually in. Snow had a little more to do, but Charming was literally there as an extra almost, which is just so sad. The guy barely had any lines through the entire episode and I honestly hope they give him something better to do over the course of season 5.

Hook and Henry

There is a lot to be said about their relationship. I love how they built this bond over their shared love for Emma and the really great camaraderie they seem to have now. Although their scenes together – the ones where they actually interacted – were short, I really, really enjoyed them, especially Henry’s “I’m not a kid anymore” when Hook challenged him to do something that could get him in trouble. Overall, I think these two will really be Emma’s link to keep the darkness inside her at bay and I can’t wait to see how it’s going to play out.


There is just something about the way that Jennifer Morrison plays Emma Swan that makes her really stand out. Once Upon a Time is primarily an ensemble show, but Jennifer’s performance really sets Emma apart from the other characters. The way she played the Savior’s confusion and desperation at having just become the new Dark One was so spot on and beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. Her interaction with the Darkness/Rumplestiltskin was so much fun to watch and it was also a great way to bring Robert Carlyle back, since the real Rumple is in a coma and/or dying. But I loved how he was always enticing her and tricking her into using her magic and generally just being our dear old Rumplestiltskin from the Enchanted Forest that we all know and love.

Merida was also a great addition to the already gigantic cast, but I have to hand it to the casting crew because Amy Mason looks like she stepped out of Brave as a flesh-and-blood-honest-to-god human being. It’s ridiculous how uncanny the resemblance is to the animated character and her performance was amazing. I am really looking forward to see how she is going to help Emma and if a friendship will develop there, just like Emma and Elsa’s last season. Also, I have to comment on the scene where Emma takes Merida’s heart. Amy’s expression was so heatbreaking (no pun intended, I swear) and we could see how much pain she was in when Emma was squeezing her heart. Just brilliant. Hats off to you, Ms. Mason.

And then, the whole gang finds Emma, but her expression when she sees Killian and Henry and her entire family there to rescue her was nothing short of incredible. She literally transforms from the troubled and struggling Dark One into the Emma we all know and love and it is really, really beautiful to watch. I may be a little biased, but the way she looks at Hook is of someone so in love, like he is the best thing that has ever happened to her – the same thing with Henry. Like I said earlier, I really think these two will be her salvation and her link to the light.

That is, after they figure out how to reign her darkness back in, because that last scene took me completely by surprise. So I am guessing that we are going to see what happened after those six weeks — with Emma in her full Dark Swan glory in the present and the time they spent in Camelot in flashbacks.

And before I forget… what is up with Merlin himself seeking out Emma as a child to give her a criptic message and holy cow, the Dark One’s dagger is part of Excalibur?! 


20-something Brazilian journalist. Crazy about TV. Love Castle, Fringe, Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, Once Upon a Time and countless other shows. Lost is the best show of all time. Period. @lucianamangas