"Birth" is the 96th episode of Once Upon a Time.
Tensions in Camelot come to a head when Merlin, now under Arthur's control, delivers an ultimatum to Emma: hand over the Dark One's dagger and the Promethean spark or he will kill her entire family. Refusing to give in, Emma and our heroes face off against the King and his new powerful lackeys in an epic battle of magic and will; just when the end is in sight, the darkened savior is forced to make a gut-wrenching choice that no one sees coming. Back in Storybrooke, Zelena's pregnancy mysteriously accelerates while Hook goes to new and desperate lengths to get answers from the Dark Swan.
Previously on Once Upon a Time...
On top of the stone from which it was pulled from, Excalibur lies, and is soon joined by the Dark One's dagger that the Dark Swan places with it. ("Nimue") In the Enchanted Forest of six weeks prior, Merlin reveals that there is a way to make Excalibur whole again, that being the spark from mankind's original fire: the Flame of Prometheus. The Sorcerer adds that its heat forged Excalibur, in the first place. ("Nimue") The Dark Swan performs the ritual of re-merging Excalibur and the Dark One's dagger, just as all the prior Dark Ones, the voices in Emma's head, watch; this includes both Rumplestiltskin and Nimue. ("Nimue") Emma and Hook meet alone, in Camelot of the past; Hook goes on about how he is a survivor, and he hands her a specific ring, stating that the one in particular is why. ("Nimue") Searching through Merlin's spell book, Zelena is able to come up with a way to tether Excalibur to the Sorcerer, thus leaving him under Arthur's control. The King proceeds to call for Merlin, who arrives on command. ("Nimue") Guinevere realizes that Arthur lied to David, something the King admits brought him no pleasure; however, as he unwraps the Crimson Crown, he reminds his wife that he must think of his kingdom first. ("Siege Perilous")
Arthur is confronted for his lies.
It's nighttime in Storybrooke, and at the refugee camp set up in the woods of the town, David arrives, parking his truck and quickly hopping out. The sheriff sees Arthur's tent, and so he turns to Hook and Robin who have accompanied him, telling them both to wait and stand guard as he goes in first. "And if our dishonest King should put up a fight?" Robin questions. "We make him wish he hadn't," Hook answers. Meanwhile, from the inside, King Arthur and Queen Guinevere enjoy a peaceful dinner with one another, something that goes interrupted when the sheriff enters. Not realizing what is in store, Arthur happily greets the Prince, telling him that it's good to see him, and then invites him to join he and Guinevere. However, David is not one for smalltalk at the moment, and so he skips right to the point, asking why Arthur lied to him, and why he tried to burn the Crimson Crown. (See "The Bear and the Bow") Tensions rise, and Guinevere turns to her husband, nervously, as he thinks of how to respond. "So you found me out?" "Yeah I found out, 'friend'." Arthur tries to argue that the last part was real, but it no longer matters to David, not anymore.
"He's getting away!"
What he wants answered is that in the Crimson Crown there was a message from Merlin, stating that there was one person who could destroy the Dark One: Nimue. Guinevere turns to her fearful husband, in fear as well, as David raises his gun, demanding that Arthur tell him who that is. The Queen stands, signalling her husband, thus leading to Arthur quickly jumping up and flipping the table, distracting David as all the items on top are lunged at him. During this time, Arthur is able to grab his sword and cut through the back of the tent and escape. "He's getting away!" David shouts from inside, alerting Hook, who starts chasing the King. Through the woods, both men go, and the Pirate starts to catch up to the King. Arthur looks back and sees there still is a respectable amount of distance between the two, but it doesn't take long for the King to trip over a thick root that sticks out of the ground. Hook catches up to him, taking it easy, but Arthur makes one last attempt at succeeding by turning over and kicking the Pirate's legs out from under him, thus knocking them both onto the ground.
The Dark Swan saves the day.
Arthur manages to get up in time to grab a sword and hold it at Hook. "Look at that, you brought a hook to a sword fight," the King exclaims, but Hook corrects that he brought a sword, and just seemed to misplace it; he acknowledges his own sword that lies behind him, but too far away from his grasp. "Shame," Arthur says, "it's always the simple mistakes that get us killed." With that, Arthur goes to plunge the sword into Hook, but another sword gets in his way, knocking it out of the King's hand. Emma Swan stands before him, holding Excalibur to Arthur's neck. "Excalibur..." the King realizes, "it's whole." The Dark Swan confirms this, but states that it's not going to help him; "This sword doesn't control anyone now," and with that, Emma uses her magic to throw Arthur backwards, smacking him against a tree and presumably unconscious. Hook supposes that he should thank Emma, but the Dark Swan replies that he doesn't need to say anything, just for him to not do this again. The Pirate still thinks he should apologize for what he said to Emma the day aboard his ship, to which the Dark Swan questions if he means when he refused to accept her, or when he said he did not love her. (See "Siege Perilous")
A plot twist is thrown in Hook's direction.
"It's a bit more complicated than that," Hook argues, but Emma states that it doesn't matter, for she is the Dark One. However, Hook believes she's more than the Dark One, "You're still you." He goes on that she saved him; that's still Emma. "What do you want from me?" Emma questions, to which Hook states he wants to help her, but he needs her help to do it. From there, he asks who Nimue is, and how she can help defeat the darkness. "Nimue doesn't matter anymore; this will all be over tomorrow," the Dark Swan states, but Hook can't accept that response. It simply causes new questions; what will be over tomorrow? Why does she need Excalibur? "Huh, all this power and you can't even answer one simple, bloody question: why do you need Excalibur?" The Dark One doesn't answer though, but instead she starts to walk away. Hook calls out that he knows Emma is still in there, and despite everything, she always gives reasons. "YOU'RE RIGHT, I DO!" Emma breaks down, shouting, "YOU WANNA KNOW WHY I'M DOING ALL OF THIS?!" She looks back, calming herself, and exclaims, "I'm doing it for you." And with that, she poofs herself away.
ONCE UPON A TIME
Outside of Camelot
Three Weeks Earlier
Emma acknowledges she has a son.
With the Flame of Prometheus in tow, Emma Swan approaches Granny's Diner in the middle of the forest. She opens the container in her hand where the flame glows, and then closes it once more to continue inside the diner. Upon entering, she finds Henry sitting at the counter, with Granny looking down over him. "Mom, did you do it? Did you find the spark of Prometheus?" Hugging her son, Emma confirms this, stating that she can now fix Excalibur. "Finally some good news," Granny exclaims, to which Henry says to Emma that it's great, for he is ready to get the darkness out of her. Emma asks for the sword, but is alarmed when Henry does not know; he states that no one has come back with it. "Really? They should have been back hours ago." She asks the boy if he's seen Merlin, to which Henry replies that he has not, stating that he thought the Sorcerer was with Emma. The Dark One says that he was, but then he vanished; she's starting to believe that something is wrong, and that they're no longer safe in the diner. "Granny, let's close up shop," Emma exclaims, as the elderly woman exits the back of the diner with a crossbow in tow; she tells Henry to close up the front, whereas she has the back.
Granny tosses the boy a set of keys, but Emma is startled to find both her son and Granny frozen in place, with the key still in the air. "Henry?" the darkened Savior calls out, to which the reply of, "He'll be fine, once we're done," is exclaimed. Emma turns to see Merlin in the doorway, who apologizes for all the theatrics. He states that it's not usually his style, but he had to follow orders. "Orders? Whose orders?" Emma questions, to which the Sorcerer reveals it to be Arthur's. Merlin's way with people has led him to do something he did not foresee; Arthur has tethered him to Excalibur. Merlin continues that Arthur has ordered him to reforge Excalibur into a whole sword, which means he will need her dagger and the Promethean flame. "No," Emma replies, to which Merlin states that if she does not do as told then Arthur will order him to kill her family, and despite how much he will hate to do so, the Sorcerer will obey. "Arthur has my family?" Emma questions, to which Merlin confirms, and in fact because of him.
Merlin delivers Arthur's message.
Flash to not that long earlier, in the castle of Camelot, Arthur waves Excalibur at the heroes, as they worry about what is to happen next. Zelena watches with glee as Merlin is then ordered to poof away Mary Margaret, Regina, David, Hook and Robin Hood, and they all re-appear tied to trees. (See "Nimue")
Merlin apologizes for all of this, but states that Arthur wishes to make a trade in the heart of the Caledonian Forest, in one hour: their lives for the dagger and the flame. Emma states that it's not even enough time, considering it's not even a flame yet, but Merlin states he's seen the strength in her; whenever she's ready to light the spark, it will burn, and Arthur will have what he wants. The sword will be whole once again. "So I'm suppose to just give up without a fight?" "Acceptance is a form of strength. I know the darkness lives in you, Emma, but I beg of you, please, do not seek vengeance. Do not make the same mistakes as Nimue." Emma is left to think about all of this.
And thus we come to the conclusion of Arthur's thankless arc.
Pulling a fearful Arthur against the bars of his cell, Hook gets in the King's face, demanding to know who Nimue is, and what happened back in Camelot. Arthur says he wish he knew, but that the "blonde demon" took his memories the same as how she took Hook's. "Then why destroy Merlin's message?! What aren't you bloody telling us?!" "That's enough!" David exclaims, pulling the Pirate away from Arthur; "He doesn't know anything. He's a King with no kingdom, and as much as he hates it, he's not important anymore." Hook approaches Mary Margaret and Regina, both of which have been watching; the latter asks Hook if he's feeling any better, to which he replies he will feel better when he has some answers, going on to reveal that Emma said this whole thing was about him. Regina laughs though, questioning Hook if he's really that naive, stating that she's manipulating him, for that is what the Dark One does. Hook denies this, however, stating that it was Emma talking. Mary Margaret shakes her head though, speaking up, stating that there may not be any Emma, not anymore. Regina agrees with her stepdaughter, adding that Emma has Excalibur, and she is going to destroy all light magic. "So that's what you think this is about," Hook asks, "A sword she hasn't actually used?" Regina replies that the Dark Swan obviously needs another ingredient to cast the spell, so they must figure out what that is and stop her from getting it, and they can get their Emma back. However, Hook is unable to accept this, for he still needs to find out what it is that happened between him and Emma in Camelot to actually solve the problem.
Belle does a cute.
At Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer, a snow globe is examined by Rumplestiltskin, but the moment of silence is interrupted by the arrival of Hook; "Crocodile, we need to talk," he exclaims. Turning around, Rumple questions if the Pirate heard he's not the same villainous man anymore. Before continuing his conversation with Hook though, the former Dark One turns to Belle, who stands next to the doorway holding a crossbow. He motions that she can now lower it, which she proceeds to do, apologizing to Hook, stating that she thought he may have been Emma. "It's a good thing I'm not," the Pirate replies, "A crossbow wouldn't do you much good." Rumple speaks up that it was the best they could manage, stating that he had some squid ink set aside for a "rainy day", but as he opens his safe, it appears that Emma has gotten a hold of it. "Dark Ones are clever like that," Hook replies, letting his resentment for Rumple get to him.
Rumple explains the nature of Dark Ones.
He goes on about how Dark Ones are clever enough to make people think they've really changed; however, he catches himself, getting back to the topic of why he stopped by in the first place. He needs to get inside Emma's head; the Pirate reveals that the Dark Swan is doing all of this because of him, but Rumple corrects the Pirate that it's not about what he did, but what she did. "You're sure of that?" Rumple goes on that he's seen the look in her face, one that he knows only too well: regret. He became the Dark One to save his son, committed countless sins along the way, convinced himself he'd atone for them all once he found him, but things never work out the way you think they will; "If you wanna find out what Emma Swan is after, find out what she's atoning for." Hook questions how he's suppose to do that, stating that he's been looking all over for her, but that she doesn't want to be found. "Then you have to give her a reason to find you."
Hook later exits the pawn shop, calling out for Emma as he does so. "What happened between us?" he asks, as he heads down the sidewalk, "What the Hell do you want from me?" He looks down Main Street, and despite waiting, the Pirate receives no answer.
Three Weeks Earlier
Emma's taunted by the voices in her head.
Flash to the not-so-distant past, Emma sits outside of Granny's Diner in the woods of the Enchanted Forest, trying to light the Promethean spark. She continues to fail though, but soon enough she is joined by the vision of Rumplestiltskin, who exclaims that he wouldn't light the spark if he was her, "which as a matter of fact, I am." The vision continues that if Arthur uses the spark to reforge Excalibur then he will kill Emma, which is bad news for those in her head. Emma doesn't believe she has a choice though, for she must ignite the spark to save her family; she can't risk their lives. Rumple watches as the darkened Savior continues to try, but also fail at lighting the spark; she asks what's wrong with it, to which the vision questions if there's really anything wrong with the spark, or if there's actually something wrong with Emma. The vision further reminds Emma, in a mocking tone to parody Merlin's, that the Sorcerer said the Savior could only light the spark if she was ready to let go of the darkness. "So perhaps, you're not?" Emma tells the voice in her head that he's wrong; however, Rumple wants Emma to prove it.
Henry spills the beans.
He ushers her to go on and try it, even more mockingly before, resulting in Emma shouting that she's trying. "Hey!" Henry calls out, having heard his upset mother. With this vision now gone, Emma stands to her feet, exclaiming that he wasn't suppose to see that. The boy questions what his mother way trying to do, to which she replies she was trying to get the flame lit. "Well, what do the voices say?" Emma answers that they say she can't do it because she doesn't want to give up the darkness. Henry thinks his mother just needs a little motivation, and so he pulls out a newspaper, handing it to her; it's a project he and Hook were working on, known as Operation Light Swan. Henry continues that the Pirate was looking for a house she'd like, which Emma realizes means that when they got back home Hook planned to ask her to move in. "He said that the house is a promise, kind of like a plan for the future." This gets Emma to thinking, and so she hands back the newspaper, and proceeds to close the box containing the spark. She states that the voice in her head was right, she isn't ready to give up the darkness, not yet, but that she needs to use it one last time.
Sometime later, out in the Caledonian Forest, the heroes remain chained to trees. David struggles to break free, but soon notices Emma making her way over. She states that she brought the dagger and the flame, but Arthur doesn't get it until he frees her family. The King doesn't accept this though, for he instead threatens to unleash Merlin if the darkened Savior doesn't hand over both, and with that, he raises Excalibur, ready to do so. "Emma, please, I don't want to fight you," Merlin exclaims, but Zelena steps forward, insisting that, she, herself does. "So now that mummy's got her magic back, tell us, Dark One, what are you going to do?" Zelena circles Emma, intimidating the blonde, whose eyes follow the Wicked Witch's every movement. She doesn't answer just yet, but instead contemplates her next move of action.
"And then the Witch opened the oven, stoked the flames, ready to put Gretel inside," Zelena reads to her unborn child, inside her cell at the hospital, back in the present day. The Wicked Witch then receives a kick, one much more forcibly than before; "Ooh, I felt that one, you must like this book as much as your mum." However, Zelena then feels another one, this one being much more painful than the last. She tries to calm herself, but the baby continues to cause immense pain for the Witch, resulting in her standing up, grasping her stomach in fear. "Something's wrong... something's wrong!!" Zelena cries, as she struggles to get to the door of her cell. She cries for help, having reached nearly as much pain as she can handle. "Someone help me!!" she screams, banging against the door. Nurse Ratched then opens up a small opening, allowing herself to see in and view the Wicked Witch's predicament. Zelena continues to struggle to stand up, as the pain that is currently being inflicted on her is becoming too much to bare. "Let me out!!" she begs, crying in fear.
The writers decide to speed up this hated storyline.
Regina and Robin soon make their way down to the psych ward of the hospital, having been called by Ratched. As the couple join the Nurse, Robin asks what's happened, only to be told it's a bit difficult to explain, and that they better see for themselves. Regina tells Ratched to be careful though, for this could be another one of her sister's tricks. The three make their way to Zelena's cell, and Ratched unlocks the door, opening it for Regina and Robin to see inside. At the doorway, Zelena stands, leaning against the wall. Her pregnancy has been fully accelerated, and she struggles to catch her breath. "Well don't just stare, help me!!" Zelena demands, but Regina and Robin are simply left in shock. "How did this happen?! You're only two months pregnant!!" Robin exclaims, to which the Wicked Witch replies, questioning how does he think, proceeding to exclaim that it was dark magic. As the Witch cries in pain, dropping to the ground, Regina is simply left with the question of, "Whose dark magic?!"
Hook tries to summon Emma.
"EMMA SWAN!!!" Hook calls out, elsewhere in town, walking atop a building. He calls out once more, but continues to not receive an answer. Now standing on the ledge of one building, he chooses to call one last time. He waits for answer, but does not receive one. "Well I guess I'll have to do this the hard way," Hook exclaims, proceeding to jump from the building. He continues to fall, but suddenly he disappears in a puff of smoke, and reappears standing on the ground before the Dark Swan. "You were sure I'd save you?" she questions, in a monotonic tone, to which Hook replies that whether he is optimistic, or desperate, or both, he needs to know what happened between the two of them in Camelot; "Just tell me." Emma argues that it's not that easy, but Hook retaliates that it can be, adding that whatever she did, whatever she's trying to atone for, he's already forgiven her. "I don't need forgiveness." "Then come clean," the Pirate begs; "I assure you've done no worse than I. I was a pirate for hundreds of years." Emma questions if Hook really thinks it's the same, but the Pirate is refusing to give up. He holds up his hand, pointing at one ring of his in particular. He reveals that it belonged to a man named Barnaby, but when he called the Captain "One Handed Jones", Hook killed him with one hand, in front of his wife, and took his ring.
Emma struggles to drag out the big reveal for another thirty minutes of airing time.
The Pirate continues, pointing out another ring, stating that it belonged to a man named Edgar; he caught him drinking the Captain's wine, and so he drowned him. Hook continues that every ring is a sad story, but Emma then pulls out another; "What about this one?" It's the ring Hook gave her during their time in Camelot. (See "Nimue") Hook had thought he lost it on their latest adventure, but Emma clarifies he gave it to her to keep it safe. The Pirate confesses that the ring she holds is the saddest story of all, for it belonged to a better man than himself: his brother Liam. Emma tells her former beau that he can have it back, but he refuses, telling her to keep it. Hook continues that he use to wear these rings as trophies, but all that changed when he met Emma. "What are they now?" the Dark Swan questions, to which Hook answers that they're a reminder that all sins can be forgiven when someone loves you, and he was absolutely wrong before. The Pirate tells Emma that he loves her, no matter what all she has done. The Dark Swan is touched, and proceeds to question Hook if he really wants to know the truth, no matter how awful. "I do." "Then there's something I need to show you..."
Emma and Hook are next seen entering the the former's home, with the Pirate pointing out he's already seen his ex-girlfriend's home; he asks why they're there, for she promised him truth, not a "bloody" tour. As the Dark Swan walks about, she continues being vague, stating that it's tricky, for if he wants to know it then he must find it. Hook sighs, agreeing to play the game she has going, and so he looks around a bit, finally coming to a telescope as has Emma has placed by a window. He looks through it, and is touched by the view he sees; "I guess being the Dark One has its perks." Continuing the Pirate admires the stunning view of the sea, stating that there's nothing quite like it, with a full moon and waves. Emma reveals that back in Camelot, Hook confessed to her that the ocean calmed him (See "The Broken Kingdom"), so she thought he'd might like to see it. He doesn't know quite how to respond, and so he admits that Emma picked herself a fine home; however, she soon drops the bomb that it wasn't she who picked it, but it was him.
Emma's kiss does something rude to Hook cos reasons.
Hook notices a newspaper on the table, the same one Henry showed Emma in Camelot. It has the home listing circled, and Hook quickly recognizes it as his handwriting. "You said this was our future together. Everything I've done has been to keep that future alive." Hook approaches his former lover, stating that this must be the moment she tells him the truth then, and though she smiles at him, looking into his eyes, it's still not just that time yet; "Almost there... almost." The two then lean in for a kiss, one that lasts several moments, for the love and passion is in fact real. However, the Dark Swan stops, though her lips are still practically pressed against her ex-lover's. She states that she cannot tell him everything until it's all over, and when questioned why not, Emma starts to pull away. She explains that because if Hook knew what it was she was really after then he would do everything in his power to stop her. With that, the Pirate begins to feel... different. Something is clearly wrong, and he drops to the ground, beginning to fall unconscious. He looks up at Emma, asking what it is she did, but she simply stares at him.
A disclaimer is made about Dark Ones and onion rings.
Meanwhile, at the Storybrooke General Hospital, doors swing open as an in-labor Zelena is being wheel-chaired to a private room. As she breathes in and out, Robin Hood assures that she has to stay calm, and the Wicked Witch is already doing, breathe. She barks back at the father of her child though, reminding him that she once acted as a fake midwife, so she knows the drill. (See "Witch Hunt" through "Quiet Minds") Regina, who has accompanied them, questions why Emma would do this, for things are just not adding up to the formerly Evil Queen. "I have no idea," Zelena cries, and when asked by her sister if she is sure it was Emma, the Wicked Witch replies with, "Let's just say, when the Dark One offers you onion rings, don't eat them." (See "The Bear and the Bow") With that, a few cries of pain are made, and Regina watches nervously as Nurse Ratched wheels her sister around a corner.
Zelena and Whale discuss events of 3.20.
Zelena is next seen in a hospital bed, holding onto Nurse Ratched's hand, still screaming in agonizing pain, when soon enough Dr. Whale makes himself known. "Someone scream for a doctor?" he exclaims, making his entrance, and the Wicked Witch spits at him that there is an angry baby inside of her, and she needs him to get it out. Whale reminds Zelena of the last time he delivered a baby and how she tried to steal it (See "Kansas"), but proceeds to joke, asking her why she'd try to steal one when making one is so much more fun. Regina and Robin both look at the doctor with disgust as he holds out his hand to Zelena, introducing himself by name. "We really need another doctor in this town," the formerly Evil Queen exclaims, proceeding to ask about the dye-job, referring to his now platinum blonde hair. Whale is insulted, for Emma is able to change her hair and no one makes a fuss, but if he does it then he gets ridiculed; "Come on, you know you like it," he says with pride. "Oh my God stop talking!! Didn't I kill you the last time I was here?!" Zelena screams, in pain, and clearly frustrated with the situation at the moment, which Whale is failing to help with at all. "Nah, you just threw me across the room.
Mary Margaret and Belle have discovered Emma's plan.
Hope that doesn't happen again this time," he replies to the Wicked Witch, who merely rolls her eyes. Sensing the tension, Whale sees that it's "all business" today, which he agrees to stick to, and so he decides to get the vitals going so they can get the baby out of Zelena. Mary Margaret and Belle soon arrive though, the former of which tells everyone to get ready, for they must protect Zelena's baby from Emma. "She's here?!" Robin asks, to which Belle states she will be soon, but proceeds with opening Merlin's spell book, revealing they've found the spell to destroy light magic, and as Mary Margaret goes to explain the final ingredient needed, Regina speaks for her, having read the book page, that it's the cries of a newborn child. "She's not taking this baby, not while I'm still alive," Robin declares, while a worried Zelena turns to her sister, begging that she remove the enchanted cuff so the Wicked Witch may protect her child. Regina finds her too far from trustworthy though, but tells her to worry not, for she will defend the baby. She also prepares to make another comment about not caring about what happens to her sister, but Zelena can't be bothered to listen. She simply screams for Regina to do something, while she continues with contractions.
The writers' way of sidelining Zelena.
Flash to Camelot of the past, Emma frustratedly watches as Zelena prances around, snidely asking who she should execute first, giving the Dark One the options of her boyfriend or her father, but Emma gives in, agreeing to let her have the flame. However, when Zelena is handed the box containing it, she is ordered by Arthur to check it and make sure it's real. She does, and just as Emma had cleverly planned, it's not. Shooting out from the box are instead two individual binds of tape, printed with the pattern of that of the Dark One's dagger and Excalibur. The tape throws the Wicked Bitch back, pinning her against a tree of her own and proceeds to strap her down, thus making her powerless. Zelena glares at Emma, whereas Regina smiles at her sister's defeat. "Now you wanna give me my family or keep fighting?" Emma asks the King, but he continues to hold Excalibur out at her, calling Merlin, who begs of the Dark One to give Arthur the flame, for it is a battle she cannot win. Emma is given no time to consider this, for the Sorcerer concentrates his power, and shoots beams of magic at her, which she is forced to do back in retaliation.
Mary Margaret is used as leverage.
An even fight is going between the two, with the power being about equal, but everyone is forced to look away in the meantime for the light shining is too much to bare. Merlin exclaims that he wishes Emma could defeat him, but he's played the game for too long, and with that Emma is knocked down. Arthur then demands that Merlin kill Mary Margaret, a request he is forced to obey. Using his power, the Sorcerer magics a tree branch to form down the tree and flex itself to where it can wrap around the woman's neck. David calls out for his wife, trying to break free of his binds and save her, but it proves to be of no use. As Mary Margaret holds he breath in attempt to stop her demise, Regina and Robin fight to break free as well, but when unable to, the latter points out that it's no use, for their binds are too strong. Regina tells them all to keep trying though, while Emma sits up, begging that Merlin fight Arthur's thrall over him. As he resists choking Mary Margaret, Merlin frustratedly replies that he can't, but Emma reminds him that he is the greatest sorcerer to ever live, and points out that if he cannot fight off the darkness then no one can.
The villains escape, having failed.
Merlin listens to what Emma has to say, and he tries to pull away, and using all the strength he has, he eventually does. He is able to stop choking Mary Margaret, which leaves Arthur enraged. He screams at Merlin, raising Excalibur and demanding that, by the sword, the Sorcerer kill Mary Margaret. Merlin continues to resist though, but states he is unable to hold Arthur off much longer. Hook is given enough time though, for he is able to remove his hook and get through one of the binds, which then allows him to get through the other. "You will kill her," Arthur states, now pointing Excalibur at Merlin, but Hook is now free, exclaiming, "Not today, mate." Arthur turns to face the freed Pirate, but is punched in the face and knocked to the ground. He tries to maintain his control of Excalibur, but Hook steps on the King's hand, stating that someone else needs it. Arthur ends up giving in and releases his hold of it so he can get up and run to a trapped Zelena for help. He removes her binds and order that he get them out of there, which she does with the wave of her hand, leaving nothing but green smoke in their place.
Emma and Hook celebrate their victory.
Everyone else's binds are soon magically broken off, and while Regina and Robin are relieved, David rushes to Mary Margaret's aid, checking to make sure she is alright. Though a little uneased from being choked by the all-powerful Sorcerer, she confirms that she is. Hook, who goes to feel a cut on his neck made by Excalibur by Arthur, is soon joined by Emma, who tells him he did good. He disclaims the cut on his neck, stating that he's had worse from itching it with the wrong hand, which is a joke regarding the fact that he has a hook for one hand, but Emma shushes him, telling him to hold still. With that, she uses her magic and heals it, which works faster than anything else the Pirate could have done instead. Hook thanks her, but claims it didn't even sting. He then looks down at the ground at Excalibur, pointing out that it's her sword, and so Emma picks it up, exclaiming that they did it, and now all she needs to do is light the spark, and then they can get the darkness out of her. "Well then lets do it and go home," Hook replies, and the two then embrace in a loving hug, proud of what's been achieved.
Belle's return from being kidnapped goes unnoticed.
"You punched him?!" Henry asks Hook, back at Granny's Diner, and still in Camelot of the past. The Pirate has been sharing the details of the fight with the boy and Happy, whereas everyone else is just sat in silence. David makes his way back in though, alerting everyone that the woods are clear, thus meaning that Zelena and Arthur must have retreated somewhere far from them, to which Belle speaks up that it appears Merlin won't be much help, for it seems that Excalibur has taken its toll on him. Regina questions how Emma's doing with the spark, and Mary Margaret informs the ex-Evil Queen that her daughter needed some time alone, so she took it outside.
Emma, meanwhile, is seen concentrating on the Promethean spark, trying to make the flame become lit. She's soon joined by Regina, who jokingly questions if she needs a light, then adding that she thought the Savior may have needed a friend. Emma confesses that the vision of Rumplestiltskin is playing her, telling her that she can't light the flame because she's not ready to let go of the darkness. "Well are you?" Regina asks, which only frustrates Emma further, for she has convinced herself that she is. However, Regina continues to relate to the blonde, exclaiming that no one knows the lure of darkness better than she does; Emma can lie to her parents, and she can lie to herself, but she can't lie to her friend. "I don't know," Emma finally gives in, and Regina points out how it must feel good indulging every impulse, wielding great power, doing whatever she wants. "Yes, yes it does," and she turns to face Regina; "Is that wrong?" Regina, not answering immediately, needing a moment to actually come up with an answer herself, finally admits that of course it is, but adds that it's also human.
Then Regina ruins it.
"Look, I know you Emma. It took a long time, but I really... know you. And you're not as weak as I once was, so if you're clinging to the darkness then you have good reason, and it's beyond temptation, so what is it?" Emma responds that she does not know, but Regina is now becoming upset, for she believes there is a difference between not knowing something and not wanting to admit it; "And those walls you put up, Emma. It's time for them to come down." With that, Regina grabs a hold of the Dark One's dagger, frightening the darkened Savior who wishes to know what the ex-Evil Queen is doing. Regina simply states that she's helping her break the walls, and so she demands, as Emma's friend, to tell her why she won't let go of the darkness. The Savior replies that because when she lets it go she's afraid she won't be able to protect her family; however, Regina only believes this to be another wall, and now she wants the truth. Emma pleads, exclaiming that it is, but the formerly Evil Queen refuses to listen.
And Hook is forced to do damage control.
She tells Emma that she just needs to be brave enough to put down all those walls she's hiding behind; the dagger can make her look, but she has to choose how she sees. At this point though, Mary Margaret, David and Hook are seen emerging from the diner, witnessing what Regina is doing to Emma. They approach carefully, with David asking what it is the ex-Evil Queen is doing, to which she replies she's getting answers. Hook takes the dagger away though, not wanting to go about this by controlling his lover. "That's enough!" he declares, placing the dagger down, and then asking Emma if she's alright. She doesn't answer though, and instead grabs the dagger and the spark and walks away. "You really think you're helping her by being cruel?" Mary Margaret asks Regina, appalled, to which Regina defends herself by saying she wasn't being cruel, and stating that if she was then her stepdaughter would know it. "I was getting to the truth," Regina continues as they all watch Emma head into the forest, "It's not my fault it's painful."
Zelena and Robin's child is born.
Back in the present day, Zelena struggles in pain, crying as she is in labor. She is sweating, she is tired, and she just wants it to be all over and done with. "Push," Dr. Whale orders, exclaiming that she's almost there, and as Zelena continues to go through the struggle, Robin Hood stands by as his child is being born, and Whale tells Zelena that she's doing great, and to just do one more push. With that, the Wicked Witch does, perhaps her most forceful one yet, for she just wants the baby out of her. As Robin watches, sweating as well, not knowing how exactly to handle the whole situation, cries are soon heard, and a new child is brought into the world. "It's a baby girl," Whale announces, and Robin looks up, seemingly in shock. He doesn't say a word, but simply stares at his newborn daughter. Zelena does the same, now feeling a mixed range of emotions for a child she had as a means of ruining someone else's life. That someone else stands outside the hospital room; "I can't believe it's come to this," Regina exclaims, "Am I really helping Zelena?" Mary Margaret, who waits with her stepmother, tells her that it's the right thing to do; with that, she asks if Regina is ready to meet the newest member of her family.
The truth behind the Dark Swan's plan starts to unveil.
"Honestly... I don't know." Regina then makes her way back into the room, and watches as Whale hands Robin his newborn daughter, wrapped up in a pink blanket. He smiles, having fallen in love with the little girl already. A knock is then heard though, as Regina alerts everyone of her presence. "Regina..." he exclaims, in tears of joy, "I have a daughter." He rocks the baby in his arms, and Regina approaches him, telling him that's wonderful. Zelena studies the couple, wickedly smiling as she does so; "Look who's green with envy now," she exclaims, sensing Regina's jealousy towards what Zelena gave Robin that she herself never could. This causes an awkward moment to take place between the couple, but it's all interrupted when the Dark Swan appears. "Look who's glowing," she sarcastically exclaims, "Congrats." With that, she uses her magic to throw Dr. Whale against the wall, presumably knocking him out. Robin draws his sword, refusing to let Emma take his baby, to which Regina adds on that it won't be without a fight. However, as it turns out, it's not the baby Emma was after at all. Regina and Robin are confused for a moment, but everything becomes clear when the Dark Swan disappears... with Zelena in tow.
Hook awakes to find he has company.
With sometime having passed, Hook starts to finally begin regaining consciousness, now locked in the basement of the Swan House. It doesn't help to find out his legs have been shackled though, and the chains won't break when he gives them a yank. However, he looks up and sees Zelena watching him with a smile on her face, having been shackled and locked up with the Pirate. Hook asks why she's there, to which the Wicked Witch reveals Emma sped up her pregnancy, kidnapped her right after giving birth, and separated her from her little girl; "And they say I'm wicked." As Hook tries to make himself comfortable as best he can, he wonders why Emma would want her, and Zelena points to a table set up near by, exclaiming that from the looks of things it appears the Dark Swan plans to steal her magic. "Why does she need more dark magic?" But at that point Emma appears, there to answer the question.
Emma reveals her plans of using Zelena to destroy the darkness.
She tells the Pirate that she doesn't; she's not taking Zelena's magic, but giving her own to the Wicked Witch instead. The two stand to their feet, with Zelena asking, "What?" Emma tells Hook that he was right - her plan isn't to destroy light magic, but to destroy dark magic... the dark magic that's inside of her. However, Hook wonders if that were true then why would Emma keep it secret from him or the rest of her family, to which Emma states she knew they'd never let her do what was necessary to get the job done. "And that's where I come in," Zelena realizes, to which Emma makes sure it's clear that the darkness must be contained in a vessel: her. Hook wonders what it is his ex-lover plans to do, to which the Dark Swan reveals she plans to cut Zelena down with Excalibur's enchanted blade and then the darkness will be vanquished forever.
However, secrets still remain hidden...
"And that's why you needed my baby out," the Wicked Witch exclaims, which Emma confirms, believing that there are limits and that she doesn't want anyone to get hurt who doesn't have to be. Hook still sees this as coldblooded murder, but Emma points out she killed Neal (See "Quiet Minds"), and Marian (See "Heart of Gold"), and in time she will kill him too. An enraged Zelena spits out that after today then she can be certain. Hook ignores the Wicked Witch though, knowing that none of this is about Zelena, but about her. They went to Camelot for Merlin's help; Hook believes that he surely must have had a solution for the darkness that doesn't require this. "Merlin can't help us anymore," Emma exclaims, with a guilty expression on her face. Hook asks why not, but she's still hesitant to speak. "What happened there? Why are you really doing this?" the Pirate wishes to know, but Emma still won't respond.
Hook comforts his beloved.
Flashback to Camelot during the heroes' six week quest, and Emma sits alone, concentrating on the Promethean spark. Hook soon approaches, having been looking everywhere for her, but Emma seems less-than-pleased to see him. She points out that the dagger is right there, acknowledging it's presence by the spark, and states that Regina wanted to use it on her so he might as well too. Hook believes what Regina did was wrong though, and apologizes for it happening. Emma says it's alright, however, for ex-Evil Queen was right that Emma does know why she's afraid to let go of the darkness; because of her, she finally admitted it to herself. "What are you so afraid of, love?" Hook asks, taking a seat on a log with Emma. She reveals the newspaper that Henry had showed her earlier, with the house listing circled. Emma reveals that it's their future she's afraid of, and Hook realizes that Emma talked to her son; he exclaims that sometimes he forgets boys can't keep secrets. "Don't blame him," Emma exclaims, "He just thought it would help if I knew what I had to look forward to when we got home."
The Flame of Prometheus is finally lit.
Hook asks what it is Emma's trying to tell him, interpreting it as Emma not wanting to let go of the darkness because she's afraid of taking the plunge and moving in with him. "It's not about moving it, it's about... everything." She continues that when she confessed her love to him back in Storybrooke (See "Operation Mongoose, Part 2") it was because she thought she was never going to see him again. She exclaims that it was the same with Neal, that she could only ever admit her true feelings for him when she was afraid she was going to lose him. "Well I guess it's worse than I thought," Hook replies, "You can't see any future at all with me." Emma points out that it's not him, though; she's afraid because she does want a future with him. "You do?" Hook questions, to which Emma confirms, adding that the minute the darkness is taken away then that future begins. "I know it sounds crazy," but Hook interrupts, stating that it doesn't sound crazy at all, but like music to "this Pirate's" ears. He states that she just has to trust him, for the future is nothing to be afraid of. With that, they kiss, and finally the flame becomes lit. Hook sees this and stops; "See?" he points out, and Emma smiles at him.
Outside the Swan House, the Charmings and Regina approach. Mary Margaret doesn't understand how Emma plans to destroy light magic using Zelena, to which her stepmother confirms that she can't. "What is she planning?" David asks, but Regina states that his guess is as good as hers', but all she knows is no one hurts her sister but her. Regina pushes the gate open and she and the Charmings make their way up Emma's front steps. "What are you planning to do once you find Emma?" Mary Margaret now wants to know, fearing what the ex-Evil Queen may have in store. Regina turns back, stating that it's simple; she's going to show the Dark Swan what dark magic really looks like. Mary Margaret doesn't like the sound of this.
A plan to escape the Dark Swan is hatched.
Meanwhile, Zelena, down in the basement, hears footsteps from upstairs. She points out Emma pacing around up there, and turns Hook, stating that he's her "boy-toy", and thus she wonders what the Dark Swan is up to up there. Hook states that he's no one's toy, and they need to get rid of the iron shackles before Emma gets back; however, Zelena points out the shackles aren't the problem, but the enchanted cuff is. She reveals that Regina put it back on she enchanted her wrist so she can't cut it off, so without magic they'll never get out of there alive. "Well it's a good thing I happen to have some then," Hook realizes, confusing the Wicked Witch; "You have magic?" The Pirate denies this though, instead informing her that his hook does from when it was imbued with magic to rip Zelena's heart out. (See "The Dark Swan") The Witch sticks out her wrist, now frustrated with the Pirate for not going on with it immediately.
She asks what it is he's waiting for, and Hook points out that the last time he tried to help her she betrayed him, and so he now wonders how he's suppose to trust her. "You don't," Zelena replies, rather bluntly, pointing out that he also doesn't have a choice. Realizing this, he decides to take his chance with trust, and so the cuff goes removed. Zelena is relieved, and goes to feel her now-freed wrist. With that, she magics away her shackles, and lets out a sigh of relief; however, she's not done yet, for a wardrobe change then follows. Another sigh is let out, as she feels so good to be back to dressing the way she once did. "And now, about that deal we made," she reminds the Pirate, who is expecting to be betrayed any minute now. Zelena does the unexpected though, and frees him; "Shall we get out of here?" she asks with a wicked smile on her face. Hook nods, and the two exit.
The Charmings disagree with Regina's idea.
Back outside though, the Charmings still argue with Regina. David points out that Emma is still their daughter, to which Mary Margaret adds on that they can't go to war against her. Regina sees this as them simply not having the stomach to do what's right, but Mary Margaret still refuses to hurt her own daughter. Regina points out that this is exactly why Emma gave her the dagger; she knew that Regina was the only one who could do what has to be done. "Now stand back, or I'll make you stand back." However, her stepdaughter refuses. Mary Margaret wants to go with Regina, exclaiming that not only will they stop Emma, but they will save her. "I don't need saving," Emma shouts, now exiting her home, having heard everything. The three turn as Emma approaches, telling them that they'll have to trust her, but that once she's done with Zelena then they will all be thanking her, especially Regina.
But it doesn't matter, for Emma puts a stop to them all.
The ex-Evil Queen is confused though, not exactly understanding what is being said, so Emma clears things up that back in Camelot she helped the Dark Swan admit some things about herself, and now she's ready to repay the favor, because Emma believes deep down Regina will be much happier when Zelena is gone. "Gone? This is not the way, Ms. Swan, and you know it." The Dark Swan notices that Regina is back to calling her "Ms. Swan", like she did during their earlier days together, to which the ex-Evil Queen replies that if she starts acting like "Emma" again then they'll talk. "I am Emma," she declares, now frustrated with everyone. With that, she hits the tip of Excalibur onto the ground, sending magical beams of light circulating the front lawn of the house, thus giving the Charmings and Regina no time to react before they find themselves frozen in place.
Hook and Zelena part ways... for a bit.
Zelena and Hook, in the meantime, have made their way out of the Swan House basement. They can see the beaming light from outside from the spell Emma has just cast, relieving the Wicked Witch, who sees that the Dark Swan is busy. She turns to the Pirate, stating that they'll have to sneak out the back, but he reveals he's not going with her. "Are you joking? I actually keep my word with you and you decide to go down with the ship?" Hook states that if he doesn't stop Emma then she'll just find someone else to put her darkness into, and if he leaves now then he may never get the answers he needs. Zelena questions how exactly Hook plans to get them, seeing as how Emma doesn't seem to be in a "sharing mood", but the Pirate informs that the Dark Swan stole squid ink from Rumple's shop, so if he can find it then he can get her to tell him what he wants. "Well then, you better hope she doesn't find you first," and with that, Zelena leaves Hook behind, exiting the back entrance of the home, leaving Hook to do damage control by himself.
Emma is frozen, via the squid ink.
Hook continues searching Emma's house for the squid ink, opening drawers to rummage through, but finding nothing; however, something soon catches his attention, that being a framed painting that hangs on the wall. He goes for it, taking it down, but sees nothing. As he places the painting on the floor though, the bottle of squid ink can be seen taped to the back of the frame. Emma arrives before he can see though, appalled by what he is doing. "Really? I was trying to help you," she exclaims. "Swan," he sees, but then looks back at the painting where he sees the bottle attached. He doesn't say anything else, or give Emma a chance to, but he instead grabs the bottle, pops off the cap, and throws it at his beloved. "I'm sorry, love," he apologizes, watching her freeze in place, but he continues that she left him no choice, for Regina was right: Emma is a villain now. From there, he wishes to be told everything that happened in Camelot that made her that way, but Emma wonders how he plans to make her do that.
The Dark Swan's undoing... per se.
"I've got some ideas," Zelena exclaims, having returned, then acknowledging Hook seems to have found the squid ink. The Pirate wonders why she came back, and so she replies that she thought about how Hook said he couldn't run until he got some answers, and she herself realized she couldn't run either, not without making the Dark One pay. "Whatever you think you're doing..." Emma says, but then sees Zelena is holding a knife behind her back, and so she pleads for the Wicked Witch not to. Zelena doesn't listen though, and instead plunges it into Hook's chest; she laughs as she does so, and Emma appears to have given up. Hook doesn't know what to make of this all, and Zelena comments that he must not have seen that coming, but that it also must be nothing compared to the surprise he's feeling right now. "You're saying to yourself: 'I just got stabbed in the chest, why shouldn't it hurt more? Why am I not dead?'" Hook is starting to panic, and so he demands Zelena explain what is happening. She replies that he could take her word for it, or instead return the memories Emma stole and see for himself.
Zelena returns Hook's missing memories.
With that, Zelena reveals a dreamcatcher she found outside, the one that contains Hook's memories of the missing six weeks. "Don't trust her," Emma tries, "I can explain everything, Killian." But Zelena stands in front of the Dark Swan, wickedly grinning as she holds the dreamcatcher, knowing that Hook desires to know the truth. "Do it," he tells the Wicked Witch, and so she does. Going through the events of his trip to Camelot, Hook is able to view when he convinced Emma to return Merida's heart (See "The Dark Swan"), then when everyone is welcomed into Camelot, and they attend Arthur and Guinevere's ball (See "The Price"), followed by riding through the middlemist fields and celebrating Emma having gotten rid of the voices in her head. (See "The Broken Kingdom"). Emma continues watching as all the memories come flooding back to her lover, including their victory when defeating Arthur and Zelena in the Caledonian Forest, and to lighting the Promethean spark.
The reforging of Excalibur takes place.
All of the events being played in the dreamcatcher lead up to the biggest one of all. Everyone has gathered around in Granny's Diner, with Emma and Merlin standing face-to-face; the latter asks the darkened Savior if she's ready, to which she confirms, and so Merlin exclaims that it's time to destroy the darkness once and for all. He opens the box containing the Promethean spark, and Emma looks down at it, and then back up at Hook, smiling. He nods at her, ready for the ritual to take place, and so she uses her magic to make the spark into a flame. As she wields it a bit, she finally gets it situated to where it'll float in mid-air, with everyone surrounding her watching with joy. Emma then picks of the Dark One's dagger and Excalibur, holding the tip of each towards the flame so that they can be reforged as one; however, this is interrupted when Hook exclaims, "Bloody Hell." Emma keeps going, but David asks him what's wrong. The Pirate goes to feel his neck, and blood starts to pour, which Mary Margaret points out. Belle watches, not quite knowing what to do as Hook collapses.
Hook's wound has returned, and is deemed untreatable.
Emma finally stops, and kneels down next to her boyfriend; he's unable to clearly speak, and Regina wonders how the wound occurred. Emma replies that it was Excalibur, but argues it was just a small cut that she healed; Merlin disagrees though, stating that it only seemed that way. He continues that Excalibur was forged cut unlawful ties, and so a wound from it cannot be healed. Emma gasps, and Mary Margaret exclaims that there must be something they can do, but Merlin denies this, stating neither Emma's or his own power is strong enough. "Killian, you have to hold on, I can't lose you," Emma tries, as her boyfriend struggles to go on. Speaking between deep breaths and the pain inflicted upon him, Hook tells his beloved that it's alright, but she refuses to accept this. As she shakes him, tears in her eyes, she tells him that he can't leave her. He has to stay for their future together; however, Hook states that their future is now. He tells her to reunite the blades so he can see her without the darkness one last time. "No," she exclaims, thus confusing Regina. Emma states she's not going to let Hook die, not when there's a way to save him.
Emma comes up with an idea... that will lead to major consequences.
The ex-Evil Queen tries to get through to her friend though, stating that Merlin said it: there's nothing she can do. "That's what he said, but it's not true, is it?" she asks, looking back up at the Sorcerer. She continues that Merlin told her how powerful she is, and now she wishes to use that power; she states that she can use the Promethean flame to release Merlin from Excalibur and then use it to tether Hook's life to it instead. "It could save him," she concludes. Merlin asks Emma if she realizes what that could do, and Regina realizes it could create another Dark One. The Sorcerer continues that it will multiply the darkness so that it cannot be destroyed, not without paying the steepest of prices. Emma looks back at Hook, seeing as the life is starting to drain out of him, while Merlin continues to warn the Savior it'll be her final step into the darkness. "I don't care what happens to me," she exclaims, but David tells her to wait, with Mary Margaret pleading she can't. Belle looks as if she's about to say something, but Regina speaks up instead, agreeing with the Charmings.
Hook's passing leads to Emma doing the unthinkable...
Emma spits back at her about saving both Daniel or Robin though, pointing out how far she was willing to go, and how far she pushed Emma to save Robin, specifically. (See "The Price") Regina doesn't know how to respond, and as Emma cries, she states that she refuses to lose Hook, and that she won't let anyone stop her. With that, she and Hook disappear in a puff of smoke, reappearing in a field of middlemist flowers. She cries as Hook starts to regain consciousness, just barely. She holds his hand, and assures him he will be okay, but Hook pleads he let her go. He deems it to be a worse fate than death, and he doesn't want to become that. Emma assures that he won't though, for he can fight the darkness, with her help; they can do it together. "I'm not as strong as you are, or Merlin," Hook exclaims, stating that he's weak. He has succumb to darkness before in his life and it took centuries to push it away, something he is unsure he'll be able to do again. "But our future," Emma tries, grasping Hook's hand even more, but the Pirate states he'd be happy just knowing she has one. The pain worsens though, and finally the life flees his body. His head turns over, and Emma gasps, going to feel his face.
And so, the Dark Swan is born.
"That's not enough for me!" she cries over the corpse of the man she loves. However, she doesn't do this for too long, for she grabs Excalibur and holds it over Hook. Suddenly, a light beams from it, and across the rest of the middlemist field. Meanwhile, back at the diner, Regina loves over towards Merlin and steps away. Robin asks what's happening, and soon enough it becomes apparent, for everyone witnesses as darkness begins fleeing Merlin's body, with Emma tethering it to Hook. "It's too late," he exclaims, and Emma, back in the field, watches the darkness come out of Excalibur and enter the Pirate she is trying to resurrect. As it consumes him, Emma cries, knowing that what she is doing is wrong, but still refusing to quit. Soon enough, Hook disappears, leaving Emma alone with Excalibur. The name of "Merlin" changes to "Killian Jones", and with this being Emma's final step into the darkness, a burst of dark magic transforms her attire into that of leather, with her hair pulled back, and bleached. Emma is shocked, for now, the Dark Swan has been born.
Meanwhile, at the Vault of the Dark One, the darkness forms from all sides, rising upward to form the figure that is of Captain Hook.
Zelena does away with Excalibur's glamor.
All that has taken place has now been seen by Hook, in the present day as Zelena holds the dreamcatcher of his memories. The Pirate doesn't quite know how to react, and Emma apologizes, while also arguing she did not have a choice. Hook is in denial though, believing there must be some sort of other explanation, and so Zelena mocks him, for he is finding the truth too hard to swallow. With that, she picks up Excalibur that sits on the ground; she hands it to him, and then waves her hand to reveal that a glamor spell had been used to cover the part which read "Killian Jones". Zelena laughs at the fact that it had been there the whole time, right under his nose, and he didn't even see it. "Oh, I suppose it isn't the Dark One anymore. More the like the Dark Ones." Hook realizes that this is why Emma saved his life twice tonight, for he was never in danger, but she just wanted to keep him from the truth.
Emma is to be taken care of...
"I wanted to fix it first to make up for what I had done," but Zelena points out that it would have been by killing her. Emma argues it was the only way to destroy the darkness in both of them, and everything she has done since getting back to Storybrooke is to save Hook. However, Hook doesn't see how she is saving him; he is appalled by what Emma has done to him. She tries to apologize, but the Pirate replies with, "So much for our future, Swan." Now he's bitter with his former lover, whereas Zelena is simply having a good time as Emma's entire plan has fallen apart. She moves on though, asking Hook if he now wishes to know what else happened in Camelot. Hook confirms this, as Emma stands, frozen in place, with tears in her eyes. The Pirate continues, however, for before they do anything else, Emma must be taken care of. Zelena's jaw drops, following with a wicked smile. She looks back at Emma, who appears to be deeply heartbroken.
- The title card of this episode features Hook's figure rising from the Vault of the Dark One.
- The bottle of wine Arthur and Guinevere share in their tent is the same wine that Regina shared with Robin Hood in "Snow Drifts".
- The flashbacks, according to the caption given in the first act, are said to be set three weeks prior to the present day action of the episode. However, this contradicts what we know; the characters are meant to have been in Camelot for six weeks, and the curse which returned them to Storybrooke is seen being cast in the flashbacks for "Broken Heart", set on the very same night. One could argue that this caption factors in the time that they've been home, but a collective overview of the episodes defies this, for it seems rather evident that they've been back for a mere number of days. It is likely that this is a continuity error on the writers' part, although there are a few margins of error which one could inspect.
- When leaving the pawn shop, Hook is seen carrying the snow globe that Rumple was inspecting in the previous scene. A sequence explaining its meaning was cut from the episode.
- The comments made regarding Dr. Whale's hair being dyed are references to David Anders' show, iZombie, where all zombies (Anders' character included) have platinum blonde hair.
- The title of this episode was officially confirmed by executive producer/co-creator Adam Horowitz, via his Twitter account, on September 26, 2015.
- "Birth" and "The Bear King" were filmed simultaneously.
This episode garnered 4.85 million viewers, showing a slight decrease from the previous week.
The episode received positive reviews from critics.
- Andrea Towers of Entertainment Weekly notes in her assessment of the review, "While the two back-to-back episodes didn’t make too much sense meshed together, we still learned a lot of important things."
- In a review from Rickey.org, Nick Roman said, "I liked that the script had enough trust in its audience to allow them to decide for themselves whether or not it was the right thing to do."
- Amy Ratcliffe of IGN said of the episode, "The first installment of tonight's two-part yet separate Once Upon a Time episodes addressed nearly all the questions about the whys and hows of Emma's decision. Hook was an obvious choice, but the part about him also becoming a Dark One was an unexpected move and a smart way to twist the story. It was weird to follow the big reveal with a barely related adventure starring Merida though." Ratcliffe gave the episode a 8.5 rating out of 10.
- Gwen Ihnat of The A.V. Club gave the episode a excellent review, giving it a A. In her recap, she gave the performances high marks: "Fortunately, “Birth” was magnificent enough to almost make up for all of that. We finally learn Emma’s secret plan, and it’s amazing: She had to turn Hook into another Dark One to save his life. In all the likely speculative scenarios, I sincerely doubt anyone saw that coming. So sure, Emma’s plan is a bit dastardly now: To have Zelena absorb all of the dark magic, then kill her, but hey, she’s the (a) Dark One! Of course her plan has to be a bit menacing."
- Christine Orlando of TV Fanatic gave the episode a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.
- ↑ Brigitte Hales tweet.
- ↑ Adam Horowitz tweet.
- ↑ Larry Andreutti tweet.
- ↑ "Once Upon a Time recap: Birth & The Bear King", by Andrea Towers, Entertainment Weekly (November 15, 2015)
- ↑ "‘Once Upon A Time’ Review: ‘Birth’ and ‘The Bear King’ Are Emotional, Twist-Filled", by Nick Roman, Rickey.org (November 15, 2015)
- ↑ Once Upon a Time: "Birth" Review, by Amy Ratcliffe, IGN (November 16, 2015)
- ↑ “Birth” and “The Bear King” showcase the best and worst of Once Upon A Time, by Gwen Ihnat, The A.V. Club (November 15, 2015)
- ↑ "Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 9 Review: Birth", by Christine Orlando, TV Fanatic (November 15, 2015)