Review: ‘Once Upon A Time’ Goes Dark

Fairy tale soap opera Once Upon A Time returns to ABC tonight with its 5th season premiere. If you’re a fan of OUAT, you are probably waiting with baited breath to see what the new season brings since the end of last season left viewers wondering precisely what would become of our light in the darkness heroine Emma Swan given her transition to “the dark side.” YE got a sneak peek of the season premiere and is here to give you all the deets about what’s in store for your favorite Storybrooke heroes and villains.

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A young King Arthur, on the hunt for Excalibur

First off, it looks like OUAT will fully enter the world of Camelot, home of young Arthur and his knights of the round table. We get a full intro to Arthur, along with the knowledge that Emma’s fate, Arthur’s fate, and the fate of Camelot all seem to be intertwined by the legendary sword in the stone. Emma, however, wants to change that fate if her fate means fully becoming “the dark one” permanently, so she dips out on Storybrooke and heads for the Enchanted Forest on a quest to find Merlin, the only wizard who can help her change her fate. Along the way she’s tempted by ole Rumps, embodied by another dark baddie, leading Emma down the road to temptation but never quite delivering her from evil. And along that road, Emma runs into another lady on a mission to change her fate. You might have heard that this season on OUAT would see visits from some other famous Disney heroines, and the first episode introduces us to Merida, played by newcomer Amy Manson, the head-strong red-headed heroine from the animated Disney film Brave. Merida and Emma both need to find the willow of the wisp for varying reasons, and decide to consolidate their efforts. But Goldie drops some truth bombs on Emma that put her and Merida at odds.

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Amy Manson as the brave Merida

Back in Storybrooke, the whole gang is frantically searching for a way to locate Emma. They’re given a tool to do so by the Apprentice…but the only problem is, Regina needs to enlist help from her green with envy broomstick-riding psycho sis Zelena to get the ball rolling. And it’s worth it to involve even a wicked witch, because they want to prevent Emma from turning full-on “dark” just as much as she does. The whole town works in concerted effort on their quest, even the dwarves.

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Rumps “guiding” Emma toward her fate.

But, inevitably, things don’t go precisely as planned. The ending of the premiere episode leaves viewers with more questions than answers, setting up a pretty intriguing cliffhanger for the season. The cliffhanger is done in such a way that it could be resolved in the next episode, or it could take half the season to flesh out. And that’s kind of a great place to leave viewers. A tidy little flashback early in the episode from Emma’s childhood reveals her Camelot connection, letting viewers know her fate was sealed long ago. But what is that fate? What is her connection to the sword in the stone, to Merlin, to Arthur, and given all that…can anyone in Storybrooke or Camelot stop The Dark Swan from taking over? We sure hope so, but I guess we’ll have to keep watching to find out!

Take a sneak peek at how dark the Dark Swan can get, below:

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