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You said this was our future together. Everything I've done has been to keep that future alive.
Emma Swan to Hook src

Operation Light Swan is a mission featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It makes its début in the first episode of the fifth season.


Before Third Curse

Operation Light Swan begins shortly after Emma absorbs the Darkness and becomes the new Dark One, with her family and friends vowing to save her from this fate. This mission expands to include trying to free Merlin from a tree once they learn only the sorcerer can restore Emma. Although Emma had no plans of using her dark magic, she willingly harnesses it in order to save Robin Hood's life, which causes her skin to begin turning scaly. She also continually resists against a manifestation of Rumplestiltskin, whom only she can see, as he tries to tempt her into using dark magic to steal the Dark One Dagger from Regina. In addition, she begins making dreamcatchers to chase away her frequent nightmares. Hook is briefly successful with tempering Rumplestiltskin from Emma's mind, but Emma later uses magic on one of her dreamcatchers to find out about King Arthur using her parents in an attempt to kill Merlin. Despite that Emma's magic will help with the potion needed to free Merlin, Regina is reluctant to let her keep using dark magic, while Emma insists on taking the risk. The potion to free Merlin is assembled, with one of the ingredients being a tear of the broken-hearted that Regina provides, but Emma fears this will not be enough for it to work. Instead, she secretly commits an act of darkness by ripping out the heart of Violet Morgan, a girl Henry likes. Emma orders her to break Henry's heart so she can obtain a fresh tear shed from a broken heart. After Henry's tear is used for the potion, a revived Merlin declares he can indeed remove Emma's darkness, but Emma must be open and willing for it to work, which includes actually wanting to let go of the darkness. ("The Dark Swan", "The Price", "Siege Perilous", "The Broken Kingdom", "Dreamcatcher")

While Emma is still the Dark One, Merlin reminds her of their meeting in the past when she was just a young child and he was disguised as theater usher in her world, in which he warned her to never pull out Excalibur from its stone or bad things will happen. Merlin urges her to take this prophecy seriously as there will come a time when Excalibur will be embedded in stone again. Before Merlin and Emma set out to retrieve the Flame of Prometheus, Hook inquiries about Merlin's future sight ability and whether this plan will help Emma. Merlin admits the future is uncertain and has many possible paths, which upsets Hook, who knows of Emma's insomnia and her obsession with making dreamcatchers. In private, Merlin tells Emma that he foresees two futures for her; one where wins against the darkness, and another where she becomes fully dark and kills him. At the site of where the flame once stood, Emma faces the spirit of the first Dark One, Nimue, who tries to make her kill Merlin. Nimue insists Emma can only truly be herself by being the Dark One, and even suggests that she is nothing without the darkness. Emma eventually shuts down Nimue's claims and steals the Flame of Prometheus from her. ("The Bear and the Bow", "Nimue",)

Under Arthur's control, Merlin is forced to deliver an ultimatum to Emma; give up the flame to Arthur or Arthur will kill her loved ones. Emma struggles to find a way to save her allies and tries to light the flame, but she cannot, as Rumplestiltskin taunts her inability to do it because she doesn't want to let go of the darkness. Henry helps pull Emma out of this by showing her a newspaper ad of a house in Storybrooke that Hook wants to move into with her. From this, Emma realizes she can't give up the darkness yet because she needs to use it one last time to save her loved ones. After hiding coils of her own dark magic in the flame box, Emma forfeits it to Zelena, who is allied with Arthur. Once the magic incapacitates Zelena, Emma is bested by Merlin in a magic duel. Merlin resists against Arthur's command to kill Mary Margaret, and Hook breaks free to make Arthur drop Excalibur, although he is nicked by the sword's blade in the process. Following Arthur and Zelena's escape, Emma's continued trouble with lighting the flame prompts her to tell Regina about her unwillingness to let go of the darkness. Since Emma doesn't know why she can't let go, Regina uses the dagger on her, ordering her to admit the reason. Emma resists Regina's interrogation, and later disappears to be alone. To Hook, Emma reveals she fears losing him if she lets go of the darkness, especially since she wants a future with him. He assures her things will be fine, and Emma's belief in this is enough for her to finally light the flame. However, while Emma is fusing together Excalibur and the dagger, Hook begins dying from his Excalibur wound, with no chance of surviving. Emma, unable to accept a future where he won't be with her, saves Hook's life by turning him into a Dark One. ("Nimue", "Birth")

After Hook's reemergence as a Dark One, he asks Emma about Excalibur, and she lies to him about the sword being missing. Hook later discovers her deception, which causes him to no longer trust Emma. He gives into the darkness by allowing Nimue, by proxy, to sacrifice Merlin's heart, so he can recast the Dark Curse and reach Storybrooke to kill Mr. Gold. Once the curse is cast, Emma knocks Hook out and absorbs his memories from the last six weeks into a dreamcatcher, in the hopes of finding a way to restore him to his old self. Consequentially, she takes everyone else's memories too, to keep them from remembering Hook is a Dark One, before adding the dreamcatcher to the curse brew for a full memory wipe. ("Broken Heart")

After Third Curse

Operation Light Swan continues even after the Storybrooke residents in Camelot are whisked home by the curse with no memory of what transpired in the last six weeks. Emma uses this to her advantage by making her family and friends believe she has gone fully dark, while secretly carrying out her true plan of removing both her and Hook's darknesses. To accomplish this, she intends to pull out Excalibur, merge it with the Dark One Dagger, infuse the darknesses into Zelena before killing her and wiping out the darknesses for good. However, Emma finds herself unable to unsheathe Excalibur from its stone and decides Mr. Gold, who now has a heart with neither light or dark in it, is the perfect candidate to mold into a hero to free the sword. After waking Mr. Gold up from his coma, Emma has Merida train him into being heroic. Mr. Gold later escapes, to which Emma orders Merida to hunt him down and kill Belle so Mr. Gold will be forced to be brave in the face of danger. Emma presents Zelena with a treat to satisfy her pregnancy cravings, which she imbued with magic to speed up Zelena's pregnancy and induce labor, as she doesn't wish to harm an innocent in order to complete her ultimate plan. In the end, Mr. Gold is able to save Belle from Merida and frees Excalibur from the stone. Emma then uses the Flame of Prometheus to merge Excalibur and the dagger into one whole weapon. ("The Dark Swan", "The Price", "Siege Perilous", "The Broken Kingdom", "Dreamcatcher", "Nimue")

The heroes, under the impression Emma wants to snuff out the light, mistakenly believe she wants Zelena's baby as a spell ingredient, but Emma comes for Zelena instead. Emma tells Hook about her plan, excluding the fact that he is also a Dark One. Hook helps free Zelena and later paralyzes Emma with squid ink as he demands answers from her about what happened in Camelot. Zelena provides the answer in the form of a Dreamcatcher, in which Hook sees the events that prompted Emma to revive him from death as a Dark One. In retaliation against Emma, Hook allows Zelena to disable her magic before he steals some of her memories so she forgets what his goal in Storybrooke is. Hook then steals all of Emma's dreamcatchers, which sends her on a hunt to retrieve them, which she eventually does with help from Henry. Only after regaining her own memories, Emma realizes Hook intends to open the underworld gateway to let the previous Dark Ones into town. The Dark Ones brand Emma's family and friends in order to have souls take their places in the Underworld so they can remain in the land of the living. To counterattack this, Emma decides to absorb all the darkness and have Regina kill her, effectively making the Dark Ones cease to exist. Hook tricks her into giving him the sword, but when it comes time for Charon to whisk everyone to the Underworld, he has a change of heart and absorbs all the darkness. Emma kills him with Excalibur, causing both herself and Hook to revert to normal, as the other Dark Ones fade out of existence. ("Birth", "The Bear and the Bow", "Broken Heart", "Swan Song")

Weapons, Items and Magic Involved


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.


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