"Once Upon A Time" is a bunch of delightful nonsense, and I mean that sincerely. Some of my favorite TV moments of the past year were casually rattling off the insane family tree and plot twists on "Once" the Monday after airing.
And, given the set-up, it looks like season five will be no different. Emma (Jennifer Morrison) has gone bad. Merida (Amy Manson) is coming to say what she needs to say, and let the words fall out. And we'll probably find out they're all each others' uncles, or something.
With that in mind, here are the biggest moments on the season five premiere, "The Dark Swan."
"The Sword In The Stone"
The episode opens up with young Emma sneaking into a movie theater showing "The Sword In The Stone" -- which may be the first time we've seen a Disney movie IN the show proper? And then an usher, who is probably secretly her second cousin, tells her not to do bad things... Specifically that if she ever has the opportunity to remove Excalibur from the stone, she shouldn't do it.
On any other show, this would be a metaphor, of course. But yeah. She literally shouldn't remove the sword from the stone, because probably Arthur (Liam Garrigan) is evil. Or Morgan le Fay will get released. Or she'll meet her second cousin.
...Or alternately, as we find out in the next scene, if you're not worthy you'll poof into a pile of dust.
There Must Always Be A PriceABC
Arthur successfully pulls out the sword, but there's (literally) a twist. The end of Excalibur has been turned into the Dark One's dagger. Arthur is coming to find it to heal his kingdom, and isn't going to take "oh, she's usually nice" for an excuse.
What Happened To My Sweet Girl?ABC
The Storybrooke Gang tries to summon Emma back to town -- without much success, give she's not actually on Earth. "Put that thing down before you hurt yourself, guyliner," quips Regina (Lana Parrilla) to Hook (Colin O'Donoghue). And then we're in the Enchanted Forest, where the Rumple aspect of Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) is ready to Mr. Miyagi Emma through the path to darkness.
Emma, though, isn't convinced. She wants to find Merlin -- a.k.a., The Sorcerer -- to release her from the curse of the dagger, but according to Rumple, it's too late.
...As is proven when she Force-chokes out a random peddler, who is definitely totally random and not Merlin or her nephew's best friend or something.
Some Say Love, It Is A River
Hey, another Disney thingamabob! Rumple is in a coma, so Belle (Emilie de Ravin) gets a rose from the Blue Fairy, which will keep its petals until he dies. So, that's pretty cool, but also the last time we see Belle and Gold all episode. FYI.
Deal With The DevilABC
In order to get to Emma, the Storybooke Squad has to use a wand provided by the Sorcerer's Apprentice -- who dies at the same time -- that will allow them to find her. Unfortunately, only someone evil can use it, so they ask Zelena (Rebecca Mader). In case you've forgetten, Zelena is pregnant with Robin Hood's (Sean Maguire) baby and has a magical harness, so can't use spells.
I feel crazy right now.
Anyway, she explains that she's changed because of her baby (she definitely hasn't) and will happily help. So of course, they recruit Henry (Jared Gilmore), who is the Author now and has the power to rewrite stories -- except he broke his magic pen. Regardless, given Henry's familiarity with the jail, Hook wants his help to break Zelena out anyway.
Really, what is even going on.
Luckily, though, this craziness leads to the actual most bananas moment of the episode. "Want to see something really painful?" Zelena asks Hook, grabbing his knife and chopping off her own hand, and the magical inhibitor with it. She gets her magic back, and promptly disappears.
The Gang starts arguing about whose fault this is, leading Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) to shut it down. "We are going to put our nonsense aside, and find my daughter," she yells. Thank. God.
Trying to find Merlin, Emma tracks a Will-O-The-Wisp, which leads her to Merida, who mentions bears and having trouble with witches in about a minute of meeting her. But as it turns out, Emma is able to resist the darkness long enough to make a deal with her: she'll help her get the wisp back to her kingdom to save her brothers, and in return Merida will help Emma get to Merlin.
...Except, as Faux-Rumple reveals, only one of them can use the wisp. To find Merlin, Emma will have to betray Merida.
Return To OzABC
Taking Robin hostage, Zelena demands they trade him for the wand -- the one tool that will help them get to Emma. Zelena promises that she'll use it to return to a place they can never follow. "Back to Oz," spits Regina, shocked, which is pretty weird, because they've been to Oz a ton of times and it doesn't seem particularly inaccessible.
Regina trades the wand anyway, to save Robin's life -- and Zelena gets DENIED, due to a secret spell Regina put on the wand. Daaaaaaaaamn.
Zelena gets her magical bracelet slapped back on, and with a portal opened, Regina promises they're not going to use it to go to Oz -- they're going to Emma.
Too bad, Oz is impossible to get to most of the time.
Here's A TwisterABC
Regina hijacks the twister that was supposed to take Zelena to Oz, and instead sends Granny's straight to the Enchanted Forest. But not before the dwarves decide to tag along. "We've been on the sidelines too long," Grumpy says. "We've missed too many adventures. It's embarrassing."
Just a question, but is this the most self aware episode of "Once" ever? The answer, of course, is yes.
The Hill Of StonesABC
Emma tracks Merida to the Hill Of Stones -- straight from the movie! -- only to find she's already used the Wisp... So Rumple very strongly encourages Emma to rip Merida's heart out.
But even when Merida tries to shoot Emma with arrows, she still holds back, thinking she can talk. She catches arrow after arrow... And then steals Merida's heart.
"Excellent," Rumple says. "Now crush it."
And as she's about to crush Merida's heart, Hook and company run in to stop her. Rather than knocking the HUMAN HEART out of her hands, Charming (Josh Dallas) says, "It's her choice."
Okay. Fine. But it actually takes encouragement from Hook to turn her from the dark side. "Heroes, and villains, coming together," Hook says. "For you."
...And Emma shoves the heart right back in Merida's chest.
You want #SwanQueen moments? You got #SwanQueen moments. Emma is offered the Dark One's dagger, but refuses. "The fight to control my darkness has just begun," she says. "Someone needs to watch me."
That someone? Regina. "I saved you, now you save me," Emma tells her, adding that if Emma can't be saved, Regina needs to do what no one else can do. Shipping these two hard, you guys.
Just as everyone gets situated around the relocated Granny's -- the fryers are shot, but the generators are working -- King Arthur shows up to take them to Camelot, reunite them with Merlin, and save the world.
Oh, and then we cut to six weeks later. Everyone pops up suddenly in Storybrooke, is dressed weird, has forgotten what happened to them -- "Again?" -- and Emma is bad to the bone.
"You went to Camelot to get the darkness out of me, and you failed," Emma says, before turning Sneezy to stone. Oh, and she has the dagger, so she has complete control.
"Emma, why are you doing this?" Hook asks. "Because... I am the Dark One," Emma answers, and then apparates AF. OH NO.