Season 5, Episode 1
Airdate: September 27, 2015
Emma Swan, the perpetual savior of Storybrooke, the town where fairy tale characters live in the real world, has become infected by the dark magic of a dying Rumpelstiltskin and has become the new Dark One. Now, trapped in The Enchanted Forest with the dark magic tempting her to go evil, Emma teams up with a young archer named Merida in order to find her way to Merlin who could be the only person in the magical world to help her.
Once Upon a Time is sometimes a mixed bag. I enjoy the show as I enjoy its re-imagining of Disney characters and the way its allowed to play with them like some demented kid in a sandbox. At the same time, the show is saddled with cringe-worthy dialogue and some of the sappiest melodrama I’ve see on television in a long time.
With “The Dark Swan,” however, OUAT has really played its varsity team. It’s an exciting and well-played season opener and does what few season openers actually do despite their claims to the contrary — this episode actually does change everything.
Oh, I’m not stupid enough to think it’s been changed forever because we know good and damn well that everything will be pretty much returned to normal by the mid-season mark, but I am loving how the dynamic of the show has been put in a jar and shaken, basically taking the show’s one true protagonist and turning her into the villain while the show’s redeemed villain has to take charge and save the day.
I even liked the way that Merida fit into the story because it didn’t seem like she was just slapped in just to point at and say, “Hey look, it’s a Disney character!” but rather, she was an important and vital aspect who played her part and then went away while we still liked her.
Can we also just talk about how ball-shrivelingly awesome Jennifer Morrison was in the closing moments when she appeared as Dark Swan? I’m really looking forward to seeing what kind of terrible awful things she has in store for everyone.
Also… no flashbacks. I’m cool with that.
Listen, after last season’s post-Frozen villains united snorefest, this show was in need of some fresh ideas and, like it or not, this is a pretty goddamn fresh idea. Hopefully, the potential will be built upon and this season will continue to rock.