'Once Upon a Time' S5E1: The Dark Swan

★ ★ ★ ½

Oncers have been looking forward to (or dreading) Emma’s return as the Dark Swan (after having saved Regina from that fate) and she certainly made an entrance. The most interesting thing about Emma’s perspective on becoming the Dark One is the fact that the magic is not just enticing, but so overwhelmingly powerful that it controls the wielder more than the other way around — which sheds light on Rumple’s struggles in a very deep way.

Once in the Enchanted Forest, Emma meets Merida, a leader of her kingdom wanting to slaughter her enemies so that she can rescue her three younger brothers. Amy Manson does a spectacular job bringing Merida to life and, as the first Pixar contribution to the series, fit seamlessly fit into the world of Once Upon a Time. Merida, a cautious and spunky warrior, being matched with Emma, who is unable to control her dark powers, were a good pair to highlight how Emma has already wound up on the wrong side of things. Both, though, ended up learning that a bad action, no matter how good the consequences, is still a horrible thing to do. (Guess Snow and Charming keep missing that memo.)


The Camelot ties to the show felt extremely natural and, unlike Frozen, is completely uncharted territory. But man does it bite to have memory loss happen, once again, to give an element of surprise to the season. It was fun the first time, funny the second time, and now it’s just an annoying part of the show that happens so often it might as well be something that happens to people on their way to the grocery store. The sad part is, a good amount of time will be devoted to them getting their memories back. Again. Yes Snow, we’re as sick of memory loss as we are of you.

While OUAT does a fantastic job of giving viewers an elaborately intertwined universe that ties in so many good characters from several sources, after five seasons of introductions, OUAT still can’t figure out what to do with most of them. Supposedly, Storybrooke is chock-full of fairy tale characters, but it rarely ever feels that way. The only ones (besides the regulars) we ever see are the Charming posse whose only personality at this point is "heigh-ho, heigh-ho, off to help Snow we go"; and the rest of the characters vanish off the face of the Earth. When OUAT had an episodic storyline, they were able to introduce a wide variety of characters who all lived with each other. Granny’s wasn’t just a hub for whatever showdown the Charmings had before their sundown duel with whoever on main street, it was a place where minor characters (and not just extras) got together. That being said, it’s sad not seeing characters like Cinderella or Aurora/Phillip not have their own storylines, no matter small — or that there aren’t any storylines that involve the town on a much deeper level, like in season 1. (Ruby’s coming back, eventually, so there’s that at least).


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Sep 28, 2015 7:22PM EDT

I wholeheartedly agree. Memory loss again is ridiculous. Things were just getting interesting having left Storybrooke for the enchanted forest. There could've been a whole storyline with Camelot, where Emma unwittingly becomes the darkest evil known to man. I also agree that none of them feel like fairy tail characters. They are essentially just regular people. The only one who sort of feels how she should, is Regina because they call her the evil queen maybe every other sentence. I don't like them bringing Zelena back into things either. While I love Rebecca Mader, it doesn't feel like a strong story. Lets see where this goes. I love Emma's new outfit. Not a fan of the old-lady hair though. What gives with that.

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