Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Once Upon a Time, Season 5, Episode 1: The Dark Swan

After the massive cliffhanger of the last season, of course we’re going to start this season in Minneapolis in 1989. Don’t test me, Once Upon a Time, I will snark.

We have young Emma watching Sword in the Stone and stealing chocolate when an usher manages to be creepy and ominous and all menacing to the little girl about doing bad things. He tells her not to draw Excaliber from its stone.

Now to some knights of the round table – including Lancelot and Arthur – going to find Excalibur only to find one of the knights, Sir Kay, already there and ready to steal the sword first and become king (I would snark about how the ability to extract overgrown cutlery is a terrible way to prove ones worth as a monarch but since the royal competition in this world is the Charmings it’s fairly clear it’s not a taxing job). Exaclibur isn’t for everyone of course, only this Excalibur has no time for would-be kings and turns Sir Kay to dust.

Lancelot: “your turn.” I may like him. Do I even have to say that Arthur gets to draw the sword? He does – but half of Excalibur is missing. Hey, half a sword is still better than being reduced to dust. Arthur and his knights decide to hide the fact that half of Excalibur is missing but they now have a quest to find the other half

And where is the other half? Well the other half is the Dark One’s blade – which now has Emma Swan’s name carved on it.

In Storybrooke everyone is dealing with the sudden transformation of Emma into the Dark One to save Regina (which will go down as one of the best moments in Once Upon a Time history). Killian grabs the dagger and tries to command Emma to return to them… it doesn’t work. Regina snarkily points out (dubbing Killian “Guyliner” reminding us she has the best snark – and that Killian looks hot in eyeliner) that if it isn’t working then that means Emma is no longer in the world.

They go to the Apprentice to ask where she’s buzzed off to and he tells them the Enchanted Forest where all baby Dark Ones turn up. He also has a wand from Merlin which can take them to the Enchanted Forest but needs dark and light magic to do it. Step up there Regina!

Except it doesn’t work because, as Killian points out, she isn’t dark any more. Even if she does have nifty threats. They need someone wicked – which would be Zelena, overriding Regina’s objections

Argh, going to ask Zelena for help is close to the very bottom of things I’d want Regina to have to do (the bottom being nice to Mary Margaret). Zelena is duly vile, mocking Robin for her having raped him – but she agrees to help and they agree to let her try since she has her magic locked down… but she needs magic to open the portal.

Killian tries plan B and appeals to Henry to use the Author pen to change everything – but Henry broke the pen because all that power is way way too dangerous. Instead Killian and Henry decide to break out Zelena

They do – but first Killian tries to use a potion to secure her obedience… and fails. Instead he gives Zelena the means to escape and have her magic back. Bad Killian! Spanking!

Regina is Not Amused. He tries to attack Regina as wanting Emma gone but, alas, Mary Margaret intervenes and plays peacekeeper. She does point out that Emma was the one who manages to unite these very disparate people.

Zelena’s first goal is to go after Robin and hold him hostage – she wants to trade him for the wand so he can return to Oz so she can be somewhere without Regina, somewhere in control. Regina is torn – but cannot let her kill Robin. She gives her the wand to make a portal to Oz… which backfires. Because Regina is cunning and put the magic-dampening cuff back on Zelena when she was weakened from making the portal. Hey Regina may be good now but it’s not like she’s a Charming and embrace full Stupid Good.

And now they have a convenient portal. They decide to ride the Diner through the tornado portal. Granny’s diner. For some reason they bring Roland with them (because small children are essential), and several belated dwarfs who decide to come along (because Grumpy is tired of being a bit character because it’s embarrassing).

Belle is watching over comatose Rumplestiltskin, without his magic. Blue fairy/nun urges her to go help the rest find Emma and gives her a magic rose that tracks Rumple’s life signs. Kind of like a very twee ECG. So she can now join the party

Emma has zapped into the middle of a wood looking all confused – and meets Rumplestiltskin, which is rather confusing. It’s not Rumple per se – but the Dark one’s powers, the voice in Emma’s head, as he has been in every Dark One’s head; he’s a tutor and guide until he embraces his powers. She denies she ever will but apparently that’s not an original line.

Her plan is to go and find Merlin and have him destroy the darkness inside of him. Except on the way she nearly strangles a guy magically who kinda deserves it. Dark Magic is very very easy. Especially since she has no idea how to find Merlin, she has to rely in the Dark One for advice which means being lured into more dark magic. She ends up chasing a wispy blue spell which will apparently help her find Merlin – but another woman grabs it first; again Emma uses Black magic only the woman – Merida – responds with an arrow.

Merida is very sympathetic of the cursed, but she needs the wisp as well. Merida offers to fight for it – Emma refuses because even not using magic it would still be going dark. This impresses Merida and she’s willing to help Emma use the wisp after Merida has.

Merida’s trouble is that her dad is dead and her 3 brothers have been kidnapped because the clans are not thrilled with a female ruler. The Dark One keeps taunting her, revealing that a wisp can only ever have one owner and only by killing its current owner can it be used by someone else. Emma arguing with herself doesn’t exactly reassure Merida

She leaves during the night and heads to the hill where she can use the wisp… leaving Emma to use magic to get there. We have another tense confrontation.

Emma refuses to kill Merida – and Merida shoots her arrow, which Emma then catches. Along with all the other arrows as well while the Dark One taunts her to kill. Emma pulls out Merida’s heart and starts to crush it…

When Killian & co arrive. Killian insists it has to be her choice and they can’t use the dagger and manages to get through to her – she returns Merida’s heart. She doesn’t hold a grudge particularly at least and she has created a learning moment for her as well, in that she shouldn’t unite her country by slaughtering other clans men

Mary Margaret gives Emma her own dagger (um… I think a counter on her power may be a better plan) – Emma agrees with me. And gives the dagger to Regina. “I saved you, you saved me and do what no-one else will willingly do.”

They reconvene at Granny’s transplanted diner in time for Arthur and his knights to arrive (lacking Lancelot since he died in a previous season), apparently Merlin told them where they’d be – and they’re prophesised to find Merlin for them.

To Camelot (‘tis a silly place) with really cheesy CGI. It’s also like tiny. I mean, really, if you’re using CGI shouldn’t your castle be more than 2 stories? What kind of dinky little fort is this?

And six weeks later everyone is suddenly back in Storybrooke, in strange clothes and with no memories of what just happened. Ther memories are gone. Again. And Emma is also back – and she’s gone full on Dark Swan. She turns Sneezy to stone. And Regina doesn’t have the dagger – Emma does.

She’s also hella pissed at them all for something

I kind of love how Once Upon a Time can draw several stories together – like having the Dark One Blade be part of Excalibur or Rumplestiltskin be Hook’s “crocodile” and Belle’s “beast.” I like how they can bring all the stories together like that with these nifty links.

Alas, I have to agree with Mary Margaret on something (ugh I feel unclean) perhaps Emma’s greatest achievement was bringing the whole gang together and making everyone endure the Charmings.

Is it wrong for me to be deeply amused by Leeroy/grumpy’s completely 4th wall breaking rant about being tired of missing the adventures?

Emma gives the dagger to Regina. Yes, yes and again, yes. After so much terrible abuse of Regina I truly love how they have developed her, from her being too good to work the spell to Emma being willing to sacrifice for her, to Emma trusting Regina and only Regina to hold her darkness in check.

This bodes well for this season. Emma’s also a pretty decent Dark One.

Alas, Regina going good has severely de-awesomed her wardrobe