For the Enchanted Forest character, see Emma Swan.
For the magical entity, see Darkness.
"The Dark Swan" is the first episode of Season Five of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz and directed by Ron Underwood. It is the eighty-ninth episode of the series overall, and premiered on September 27, 2015. This episode is the fifth-season premiere.
Immediately after becoming the Dark One, Emma disappears and the heroes must band together to save her, but first they have to find her, which will require the help of an unlikely ally. Meanwhile, in the Enchanted Forest, Emma struggles to resist her dark urges as she searches for Merlin in the hope that he can stop her transformation. Along the way to Camelot, she gets help from the plucky and brave warrior princess Merida, as well as King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.
In a movie theater in 1989 Minneapolis, Minnesota, a young Emma Swan watches The Sword in the Stone. She steals a woman's candy bar, and an usher approaches her and tells Emma "Don't do it". She expects him to reprimand her. He says, "When you do something that you're not supposed to do, even if you're doing it for the right reason, bad things will happen". He also mentions that she will have the opportunity to remove Excalibur from its stone and warns her not to touch it, before he disappears.
King Arthur, Sir Lancelot and Sir Percival, arrive to the location of the stone where Excalibur is embedded. Sir Kay has found it first and as he tries to pull the sword out, he turns to ash. Despite this, Arthur proceeds with his mission and manages to pull the sword out, only to discover that the tip is missing. He vows to seek out the missing piece, which is revealed to be the blade of the Dark One's Dagger.
Moments after Emma absorbes the Darkness and vanishes, leaving behind only the Dagger with her name on it, everyone is left stunned, bewildered, and angry at each other. Regina is furious over what Emma has done. Mary Margaret still believes that Emma has good in her and that she can be saved. Hook takes the Dagger to summon her back, but to no avail; as Regina explains, Emma has gone to a different world. Later, the Apprentice shares that Emma is now in the Enchanted Forest. Merlin's wand, which contains all the light magic, can help them find Emma. But, the wand can only open a portal to another realm if "two sides of the coin" wield it, the light and the dark. The Apprentice dies and drops the wand. Regina picks up the wand but cannot use it, as she no longer has darkness anymore; they need someone "wicked".
Regina and Robin Hood go to the hospital ward to see Zelena. Zelena agrees to help if she could see the wand, but needs something meaningful to Emma so the spell will work. Zelena cannot use her magic unless Regina removes the magic-restricting cuff. Regina refuses. Later, at Granny's, Hook and Henry plan to release Zelena. She escapes from the cell, after cutting off her hand to remove the magic cuff, before reattaching her hand. Zelena takes Robin captive and trades him for the wand, which she intends to use to return to Oz. Zelena opens a portal, which takes the form of a cyclone and drains her powers. Regina takes advantage of Zelena's weakened state to put the cuff back on her wrist, as well on redirect the portal to take them to the Enchanted Forest, using Emma's blanket to locate her. The cyclone heads towards Granny's Diner, and transports everyone inside to Emma's location.
Emma emerges through the Vault of the Dark One. The voice of Emma's darkness haunts her and manifests as a personification of Rumplestiltskin. She struggles to resist, and vows not to hurt her family. Then, Emma runs up to a peddler, but is angered into choking him. The Dark One tricks Emma into using a transportation spell, and she sees a will-o-the-wisp. The Dark One tells her that for the Wisp to answer her question, she will have to catch it. As she chases it, Emma comes upon a red-headed archer named Merida, who nabs the wisp and places it in her bag. Emma confronts Merida, using dark magic, and tries to convince her that she needs it to find Merlin. Merida is reluctant to trust Emma, but decides to go with her, keeping the wisp in her bag. Merida informs Emma that more wisps can are born at the Hill of Stones, so they head in that direction.
Emma learns that Merida needs the wisp to restore DunBroch and save her triplet younger brothers who were kidnapped by her country's United Clans after they refused to let her rule as queen. After they make camp for the night, the Rumplestiltskin manifestation tries to guide Emma into betraying Merida once they reach the home of the wisps. The Rumplestiltskin manifestation tells Emma that once Merida speaks into the Wisp, it will do her bidding until she dies, and thus, the only solution would then be for Emma to kill her. Merida overhears the conversation, and sneaks off to the Hill of Stones by herself. Rumplestiltskin's manifestation goads Emma, against her better judgment and good nature, to rip Merida's heart out. Before Emma can crush the heart, Hook appears with the others and talks her down from it, and she restores Merida's heart. Once everything has settled down, Merida thanks Emma for showing her that she has darkness in her, too; she was about to kill the clan leaders who kidnapped her brothers and the experience has convinced her to spare them. Mary Margaret hands Emma the dagger; but, Emma, believing that carrying the dagger would give her too much power and too much temptation to embrace the darkness, wants someone else to have it. She decides to give the dagger to Regina, due to her previous dark deeds, which makes her the only one capable of killing Emma if necessary. Moments later, King Arthur and some of his knights arrive on horseback to proclaim that they have been awaiting Emma's arrival. Arthur believes that Emma will be able to reunite them with Merlin, and everyone involved joins forces on their quest en route to Camelot.
Six weeks after the group entered Camelot, they awaken in Granny's Diner wearing Arthurian attire. They find that their memory ends with them entering Camelot. To make matters worse, Emma has embraced the darkness, acquired the Dark One's Dagger, and vows revenge against the others for failing her.
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Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
The former site of Granny's Diner has been transformed into a beer garden. Mr. Clark, driving the Sheriff's car and wearing a red leather jacket similar to Emma's garment of choice, pulls up in front of the beer garden to witness a ribbon cutting ceremony with Bashful, Dopey and Walter in attendance (the dwarves who didn't leave for Camelot – note that Mig Macario and Jeffrey Kaiser are both listed in the episode's press release, even though their scene was cut).
Wrecked Beer Garden
The beer garden in front of Granny's Diner has been wrecked, presumably due to the diner landing after being transported back to Storybrooke. Emma, fully transformed into the Dark Swan, is wearing a long black robe and can be seen near the wrecked beer garden.
- The title card features Granny's Diner in the woods.
- The title of this episode was leaked by Mark Isham via his Instagram account on June 30, 2015, and officially announced by Adam Horowitz via his Twitter account on July 7, 2015.
- ABANDONED IDEAS: According to concept art by Keith Lau, King Arthur and his knights were going to walk down a walkway hidden behind a waterfall and find Excalibur embedded in its stone inside a grotto. This idea was eventually abandoned in favor of scene where they find the legendary sword in a wooded area next to a lake.
- In one scene in Storybrooke, the filming crew had to make the ground look wet. They brought in a city truck to spray water on the ground, which was against the rules, as the lower mainland was on a level three water restriction at the moment. They then took a pro-active approach and used ditchwater and recycled water instead, and even put up a sign on the truck saying so.
- According to Amy Manson, Merida's storyline on Once Upon a Time takes place ten years after Brave's movie events.
- HIDDEN DETAILS: Henry mentions that Regina uses his birthday for all of her passwords, including the one for the entrance to the psychiatric ward. In "A Tale of Two Sisters", Regina types 815 as password for the psychiatric ward, meaning that Henry's birthday is August 15.
- ABANDONED IDEAS: Zelena cutting off her own hand with a knife, was based on a sequence from the script for the Season Four episode "The Apprentice", in which Hook cut off his re-attached hand with a "meat cleaver or something". However, the network thought this would be far too dramatic. The idea was used for this episode instead.
- ABANDONED IDEAS: The scenes with Emma and Merida at the Hill of Stones was originally written as one scene, but during editing, they decided that it would play better if the scene was cut in two, with the diner scene between them.
- During the filming of a scene between Rumplestiltskin and Emma, Robert Carlyle grabbed Jennifer Morrison's face, which was not in the script. This take was not in the final episode, as Robert was playing Rumplestiltskin as the voice inside of Emma's head.
- ABANDONED IDEAS: Originally, Emma's Dark One persona was going to have white eyebrows. Eventually, they gave up on that idea.
- The Land Without Magic flashbacks take place in 1989, 6 after the events of "The Stranger", and the year before "Tougher Than the Rest". (For more details, see the Land Without Magic timeline)
- The Camelot flashbacks take place many years after with young Arthur and young Guinevere in "The Broken Kingdom", and immediately before the scene where King Arthur shows Excalibur to his subjects in "The Broken Kingdom". (For more details, see the Camelot timeline)
- The Storybrooke events take place after "Operation Mongoose Part 2" and before "The Price".
- The Enchanted Forest events take place after "Fall" and before "The Broken Kingdom". (For more details, see the Enchanted Forest timeline)
- The present Camelot events take place 5 years after Lancelot's banishment in "The Broken Kingdom" and before "The Price".
- Merlin tells Emma that one day, she will get the opportunity to remove Excalibur from its stone. This comes true in "The Bear and the Bow".
- Emma became the Dark One in "Operation Mongoose Part 2".
- Regina refers to Hook as "guyliner", which she also did in "Family Business".
- The Apprentice dies from the injuries he received in "Operation Mongoose Part 2".
- Gorgon the Invincible takes the form of a bandersnatch, a creature that previously appeared in the series spin-off Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.
- Zelena was locked away in the psychiatric ward in "Mother".
- Henry broke the Author's Pen in "Operation Mongoose Part 2".
- The Darkness suggests that Emma gets a hobby to the pass the time, which she does in "The Broken Kingdom".
- Hook makes a reference to Henry's "Wookie prisoner gag" from "Operation Mongoose Part 2".
- Hook tells Zelena about how her sister sent him to rip out Cora's heart, an event which took place in "Queen of Hearts".
- Zelena cast a protection spell on her heart, just like Regina did with Henry's heart in "Save Henry", and David and Mary Margaret's shared heart, as told in "Heartless".
- Zelena uses magic re-attach a severed limb, just like Mr. Gold did in "The Doctor" and "The Apprentice".
- Zelena talks about when she was glamoured as Marian, a storyline which began in "There's No Place Like Home", and concluded in "Heart of Gold".
- Zelena says that Robin Hood smells of forest. Regina said the same thing in "Witch Hunt".
- Zelena tells Regina, "Hello sis, I see you've fixed the clock", a reference to their fight, which happened in "It's Not Easy Being Green".
- Emma uses her powers to pull Merida to her, just like the previous Dark One, Mr. Gold, did with Roland in "Bleeding Through".
- When Henry first meets Emma as the Dark One, he tells her, "Mom? What happened to you?" His father, Baelfire, asked his own father the same thing, when the latter had just became the Dark One in "Desperate Souls".
- The reason why Emma embraced the role as the Dark One is revealed in "Birth".
- How everyone returned to Storybrooke, and the reason why their memories are gone, is explained in "Broken Heart". The missing memories are returned in the same episode.
- This episode introduces Merida from Brave. Also featured are the Will-o'-the-wisps and the Hill of Stones from the same movie.
- Mother Superior gives Belle a rose in a jar, an iconic object from Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
Fairytales and Folklore
- This episode features King Arthur, Lancelot, Percival, and Sir Kay from the Arthurian legend, Captain Hook from the Peter Pan story, Robin Hood from the ballads, the ugly duckling from the titular fairytale, Rumplestiltskin from the "Rumpelstiltskin" fairytale, and the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
- HERALDRY: King Arthur's coat of arms is red with a crown surround by four sea-wyverns, the sea-dwelling variant of the dragon-creature known as a wyvern. A wyvern is a dragon-like creature from European folklore. The most important difference between a dragon and a wyvern is that dragons are depicted with four legs, or without legs, whereas a wyvern only has two legs and uses its wings as additional limbs. Wyverns do not breathe fire, although they are known to breathe poison instead.
- Arthur pulls Excalibur from the stone, an iconic scene from the legend.
- HIDDEN DETAILS: Arthur finds Excalibur in a wooden area next to a lake. In some versions of the Arthurian legend, the sword is given to Arthur by a magical woman living in a lake.
- Arthur pulls Excalibur from the stone after Kay fails, but is shocked to see that half the blade is missing. Ironically, in the legend, Arthur pulls Excalibur from the stone because he is sent to find a replacement for his foster brother Kay's broken sword.
- Emma's identity as the Dark One is an allusion to the Black Swan from the Swan Lake ballet.
- One of the previous Dark Ones is called Gorgon the Invincible. The Gorgons were female creatures from Greek mythology, who had hair made of living, venomous snakes, and anyone who gazed into their eyes would be turned to stone immediately. Medusa was one of the Gorgons.
- Mother Superior conjures a magical rose and links it to Mr. Gold's lifespan, so Belle will know he is alive. This is a reference to the rose that Beauty's father steals from the Beast's garden in "Beauty and the Beast".
- Zelena uses the six-leaf clover, which is from L. Frank Baum's children's novel The Patchwork Girl of Oz.
- The diner is transported to another world by a cyclone, just like Dorothy Gale's house was in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
- Once Upon a Time co-creator Edward Kitsis is a noted fan of the band Grateful Dead. Percival's coat of arms (a lightning bolt against a red and blue background) is from the cover of the band's double live album Steal Your Face (1976).
- The Severe Nurse's name is revealed to be Nurse Ratched, from the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The man with a mop is Chief Bromden from the same novel. Both characters' looks are modeled on the 1975 movie of the same name.
- When "Regina" enters Mary Margaret's apartment, Robin is holding a copy of the children's picture book Goodnight Moon.
- Zelena refers to Oz as the land "over the rainbow". This is the feature song by Judy Garland from the 1939 The Wizard of Oz film.
- The design of the Camelot castle is based on the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany.
- HERALDRY: King Arthur's coat of arms is traditionally depicted as blue (azure) or red (gules) with three yellow (or) crowns (in thirteenth century manuscripts), or blue with thirteen crowns (in later texts). On the show, Arthur's coat of arms is red with a yellow crown surround by four yellow sea-wyverns, the sea-dwelling variant of the dragon-creature known as a wyvern. There is also a yellow version with a red crown and red sea-wyverns.
- REUSED PROPS: The sword Merida is wielding is the same sword Prince Charming is wielding after Regina sends everyone back to the Enchanted Forest in Season Three. The Apprentice is also using the same sword against Zoso in the Season Four episode "The Apprentice".
- HERALDRY: In the Arthurian legend, each Knight of the Round Table is often accompanied by a heraldic description of a coat of arms (for King Arthur's coat of arms, see Props Notes):
- Lancelot's coat of arms is traditionally depicted as a silver (argent) shield with three red (gules) bands running from the bearer's right side corner of the shield to the bearer's left side (these are known as bends). On the show, however, Lancelot's coat of arms is almost identical to that of Sir Bors, who is Lancelot's cousin in the legend. In Arthurian heraldry, Sir Bors' coat of arms is similar to Lancelot's, but is emblazoned with ermines, a pattern of black shapes representing the winter coat of a stoat.
- Sir Percival's coat of arms is traditionally depicted as blue (azure) fenced with yellow (or) crosses. On Once Upon a Time, Percival's coat of arms (a lightning bolt against a red and blue background) is from the cover of the Grateful Dead double live album Steal Your Face (1976).
- Sir Kay's coat of arms is traditionally depicted as blue with two silver keys placed back to back. On Once Upon a Time, his coat of arms is similar to that of Sir Safir. Safir's crest is vair (a set of patterns which represents a kind of fur common in the Middle Ages) blue and silver, and divided into several rows of squares of two alternating tinctures (this is known as checky), green (vert) and gold or). However, the show's version is all vair, and the colors are green and silver.
- Interestingly, in "The Price", black and white versions of both Kay and Percival's actual coats of arms from the legend, are hanging on two of the seats around the Round Table.
- SECONDHAND CLOTHING: When Emma emerges from the vault, she is wearing the same dress that the Evil Queen wore when she was imprisoned in the Season Two episode "The Cricket Game", but with a different cloak. In the Season Three finale "There's No Place Like Home", Emma wore a lightened version of the same dress when she was the Evil Queen's prisoner.
- HIDDEN DETAILS: The sleeves on Emma's cloak have swan-like feathers.
- BRAND INFO: Mary Margaret is wearing a 3.1 Philip Lim Floral Macramé Blouse. She wears the same blouse in "The Price".
- BRAND INFO: Belle is wearing a Wilfred Festin Jacket, an Opening Ceremony Cabbage Knit Flare Skirt and a pair of Jimmy Choo Cosmic Leather Pumps (all three are no longer available).
- BRAND INFO: Regina's necklace is an Alexis Bittar Gold Capped Crescent Pendant (at the time of August 30, 2018, the exact color is no longer available).
- USE IT AGAIN: This pendant is also worn by her in "The Price".
- BRAND INFO: When Robin is at the Blanchard loft, he is wearing a John Varvatos reverse printed Short Sleeve Henley. He wears the same Henley in the episode "Swan Song".
- SECONDHAND CLOTHING: The armor Percival wears in present day Camelot is the same one Arthur wears when he kills King Fergus in "The Bear King" but with different shoulder pads.
- HIDDEN DETAILS: When everyone returns to Storybrooke, Emma is wearing a hair ornament reminiscent of the wings of a swan.
- ABANDONED IDEAS: For the wrecked beer garden deleted scene, Emma wore a black robe with a crocodile motif at the collar; a reference to the previous Dark One, Rumplestiltskin.
- The interior scenes at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota, were filmed at the Dunbar Theatre in Vancouver.
- Minaty Bay, a populated locality in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District in British Columbia, doubles as Camelot for the beach scene where King Arthur, Lancelot and Percival dismount and the forest where Sir Kay tries to pull Excalibur from the stone.
- A forest in Vancouver doubles as the Enchanted Forest for a scene between Emma and the Darkness.
- A scene with Emma in the Enchanted Forest was filmed in Upper Coquitlam River Park in Coquitlam.
- The Hill of Stones scenes were filmed in Robert Burnaby Park in East Burnaby.
- The diner scene in the Enchanted Forest and the Camelot scene where Emma and her friends enter King Arthur's castle were filmed in Burnaby's Central Park.
|Finnish||"Pimeyden pyörteissä"||"In the Vortex of Darkness"|
|French||"La Ténébreuse"||"The Dark One"|
|German||"Schwarzer Schwan"||"Black Swan"|
|Italian||"La Signora Oscura"||"The Dark One"|
|Polish||"Mroczna Emma"||"Dark Emma"|
|Portuguese||"Emma das Trevas"||"Emma of the Darkness"|
|Spanish||"El Cisne Negro"||"The Dark Swan"|