Raise The Black Sails Because This Ship Has Gone DARK – Once Upon A Time “Birth” RECAP/REVIEW

 
Brilliant.  Thats one word to describe this Sunday’s Once Upon A Time.  Shocking is another.  Also mind blowing, heartbreaking, plot twisted, and DARK.  “Birth” was an episode that had me gasping and my jaw dropping to the floor.  We all knew this episode was going to give us the answers we have been craving for weeks but the answers we got were SO much better than expected.  What happened in Camelot? Why did Emma become so dark?  How did Excalibur become whole again? Where’s Merlin?  All of this and more was explained and if I haven’t made it clear by now the explanation was crazy.

Where do I start? From the beginning? From the end with that epically painful reveal?  From the first episode of the show because I need to figure out if “Birth” has made my Top 10 (it totally has).  Okay, *takes deep breath* , let’s get into it.  The episode was all about two things: Emma’s answers and Emma’s future.  Let’s start with the answers because holy hell they were so good!  

We began with the Three Musketeers, David, Robin & Killian, about to storm Arthur’s camp to demand answers.  David, with an itchy trigger finger confronts Arthur telling him he knows he tried to burn the Crimson Crown and that he is totally not his Bro anymore.  Arthur quickly books it for the forest with Killian running after him.  The two end up in a squabble but Arthur gains the upper hand and swings his sword to strike Killian, but Emma, with the whole Excalibur saves him. 

This whole season has featured instant-classic Captain Swan scenes from Hook talking Emma down from crushing Merida’s heart to last week’s I love you’s.   “Birth” gave us about 5 more of these, though unfortunately they weren’t all warm and fuzzy like the make out sesh in the field of flowers.  Present day in Storybrooke, Hook has reached his boiling point with Dark Emma’s games and endless secrecy.  In the forest he aggressively demands she tell him why she has done all of this.  It’s the first real fight we’ve seen between the pairing and it sent a chill up my spine.  Hook and Emma’s relationship was forged on genuine love and mutual respect for one another.  We have seen more of their love story than any other couple.  Yes, we have seen David and Mary Margaret’s from the beginning as well but as they were the foundation for OUAT, their story has been very predictable.  The Charmings are the symbol of the unbreakable bond of True Love, a constant in this interconnected complicated world.  Never for a second have viewers truly feared for the future of this couple as they are not only the foundation but also the essence of OUAT.  To break the two would be to rip the very fabric of this world, this show.  But Hook and Emma are variables.  They aren’t a well-known pairing in fairytales but rather a true product of OUAT.  We (well at least most of us) root for Captain Swan because we are unconsciously rooting for the show as a whole.  So when these two fight, it feels like the show has lost its balance.  While dizzying, it does catapult the show into new exciting territory.

Emma isn’t quite ready to spill all the beans but she doesn’t leave without revealing to Hook that what she has done was all for him.  The scene ends on a tense note with Killian standing alone in the forest perplexed.  I myself felt the same way with hundreds of predictions running through my head.  As a proud member of #TeamHook I was genuinely afraid of what Emma did to my man.  Did she take his heart for some reason? Was he on the brink of death? Did he actually die in Camelot? So many questions…that were all painfully thankfully answered.  

We return to the fabled land of Camelot (three weeks earlier) with Emma, with the Flame of Prometheus, finding Henry at Granny’s.  Just as she explains her confusion on the whereabouts of Merlin, he shows up.  He warns her (under the command of Arthur), that if she doesn’t give him the Flame, her family and friends will die.  Emma doesn’t surrender, but rather goes straight behind enemy lines to Arthur and Zelena who have her parents, Hook, Robin and Regina tied to trees.  She quickly subdues Zelena, magically tying her up in vines.  Arthur responds by using Merlin, who begins choking Mary Margaret with a vine.  Merlin and Emma have a very Harry Potter-esque duel of magic before Hook breaks free from the tree and attacks Arthur (that hook does come in handy sometimes! pun absolutely intended).  They have a scuffle but he along with Zelena quickly disappear.  My sweet heroic Hook did however get sliced in all this but Emma uses her healing powers to mend that boo-boo.  Such a supportive couple aren’t they?

The gang (+Merlin) return to Granny’s so they can finally restore Excalibur and rid Emma of the darkness.  Only problem is there is something holding Emma back from successfully igniting the Flame.  Her family fears it is because of the allure of power, of darkness, but Regina thinks otherwise.  She confronts Emma outside of diner, and in a genuine act of friendship, tries to help her through her issues. “Thought you could use a friend”  (They’re totally BFFs right?).  Regina, being an ex-villain, appeals to her darkness and tries to get Emma to admit what is truly the reason for her hesitance to give it all up.  Regina gets a bit old school Mayor Mills when the tenderness fails and lays on the aggression, picking up the Dagger and asserting “I command you, Dark One, tell me why are you so afraid to give up the darkness?”  Before Emma can break down her inner walls and give the honest answer, her parents and Hook cut in, angry with Regina for using force.

Emma storms off, but Hook soon finds her.  In another instant classic Captain Swan scene we get to see the power their True Love holds.  She admits to him that the real reason for her inability to light the Flame is her fear of the future, of a future with him.  She shows him the newspaper which has a house circled.  It’s a home in Storybrooke that Killian and Henry picked out for them all to live (Operation Light Swan!).   Hook questions why this step forward would weigh so heavily on her.  Emma finally realizes her inner fear is her own happy ending.  She explains that she’s only ever expressed her deep love for someone when she was sure their story was ending but now she can see that she and Hook’s story was only beginning…

Emma: I know it sounds crazy…

Hook: It doesn’t sound crazy at all, Emma.  It sounds like music to this pirate’s ears.  You just have to trust me, the future is nothing to be afraid of.

That power their True Love holds? Their kiss ignites the centuries old flame! Hallelujah! True Love, people!

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Meanwhile in Storybrooke (Present Day),  Hook is hell bent on getting answers.  He marches to Gold’s shop to figure out a way to get Emma’s attention. Rumple explains that to become the Dark One there must have been dark price to pay.  Having been a Dark One he understands Emma and tells Hook the only way to get her attention is to force her.  What does Hook take away from this? Suicide attempt.  Yeah you heard that right.  He goes to the roof of the library and after screaming her name a few times, jumps off.  I knew she was going to save him but I still held my breath and closed my eyes.  I opened them to see Emma had in fact saved him and that he was just about exhausted from all the games she had been playing.

Hook tells her that whatever she had done she is already forgiven.  He levels with her “I assure you you have done no worse than I.”  This season Hook has been nothing but honest and emotionally candid.  The love of his life has been tormented by the same demons that controlled him for centuries.  Faced with this challenge he had no choice but to recognize those demons and confront them.  He reveals that his rings are not meaningless but rather tell stories, horrible stories.  His rings were taken off the hands of men he murdered for senseless reasons.   He says that until he met her they were trophies.  But now they are “a reminder that all sins can be forgiven.” With his heart on his sleeve and his sins confessed, Killian Jones, amid all the confusion, chaos and the lying, tells Emma that he loves her no matter what he has done.

Be still my heart.

Emma says if he wants the truth there is something he must see.  She takes him to her house where they kiss passionately.  So sweet.  Oh wait, no its not, she drugged him and he collapses.  He can’t know the truth yet because “if you knew what I was really after you would do everything in your power to stop me.”  Ugh, Emma, you’re really toying with my emotions.  A girl can only take so much shadiness.

On the other side of town, Zelena’s pregnancy has taken an unexplainable turn as she goes from 3 months pregnant to 9 in about 10 minutes.  Dr. Whale returns!  David Anders sported his iZombie bleach blonde Blaine hair!  Crossover anyone? Tink and Dr. Frankenstein team up? He delivers the baby, a girl! But this accelerated pregnancy turns out to be all a part of Dark Swan’s grand evil scheme.  She appears, then disappears with Zelena in tow, to her dungeon/basement.  Hook is there as well, confused as ever and tied up. Emma plans on transferring the darkness into a new vessel: Zelena.  She accelerated the pregnancy so no innocent parties were harmed.  Thoughtful, but everything else is very very evil.  After Emma leaves, Hook and Zelena, oddly enough, band together against her (desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess).  Hook uses his conveniently (still) enchanted hook to break Zelena’s cuff off and unleash her magic.  She frees Hook and then makes a run for it.  Hook lingers in the house and finds some squid ink.  Time for answers! Finally! (I was totally freaking out and scared of what was to come at this point).  Emma enters and Hook splashes her with the ink and she freezes.  Zelena returns and tells Hook all the answers he desires can be found in the dreamcatcher.  He pick it up and lord I wish he didn’t.  Prepare yourselves for heartache.

My heart was racing and my tear ducts were ready to flood if necessary.  I didn’t end up crying (ok there was one tear) but thats only because I was too busy being paralyzed by the episode’s final Dark plot twist.  

Remember how Hook got into that scuffle with Arthur and got sliced?  Well apparently it was a mortal wound since it came from Excalibur.  I know, take slow deep breathes because its about to get worse.  Even though Emma healed it, when she put the sword back together, therefore restoring Excalibur to its true form, the wound became a true pierce of the magical sword.  Hook collapses, gripping his neck in pain, dying.

My heart broke in a million pieces as he laid in Emma’s arms as she painfully denied his impending demise.  This couple is my favorite on television right now (maybe ever?) so believe me when I say, this scene truly hurt me.  I watched in silence, eyes wide in fear, clutching my throw pillow as Emma cried for Killian to not leave her…

“Come on Killian! What about our future together?!”  

She was not ready for him to go and it’s in this moment I believe Emma realized that Hook was her True Love, her happy ending.  She had let go of her fears of a future with him and was just starting to believe in it. Her happy ending was slipping away and if she didn’t do something now it will be gone forever.  Emma, the savior, who brought back the happy endings, couldn’t imagine a life where she herself didn’t have one.  She disappears with him from crowded Granny’s to the quiet field of flowers.  There Emma breaks down over Killian who uses his final breaths to tell Emma that he doesn’t want to become the thing he hates the most, that he is too weak to fight the darkness.  He tells Emma he would be happy dying knowing she will live.  

But this isn’t enough for the girl who so desperately wants to save everyone, the girl who wants a future with the love of her life. Emma has reached the point where she will do anything for it to happen, even allowing the darkness to consume her.  She has lost one too many loves before and wasn’t going to allow this self proclaimed “survivor” to abandon her.  As she wields Excalibur over Hook, therefore tethering him to it and transferring the Dark magic into him,  she truly becomes the Dark One, the Dark Swan.  And she’s not alone.  Hook vanishes in a cloud of smoke and in a sequence that had me audibly gasping and saying “No way. No way. No effing way.” they cut to the Dark One manhole cover which bubbles up, with a cloaked figure emerging.  The head tilts up to reveal HOOK looking sexy sinister as ever.  Can you say Plot Twist?!

[Sidebar: Neal being Baelfire was a twist that surprised me but THIS…THIS was a TWIST…THIS SHOCKED/ DUMBFOUNDED/ PERPLEXED/ AROUSED(?) me]

We return Storybrooke with Hook looking into the dreamcatcher in absolute disbelief.  Same, Killian, same.  Emma pleads to him…

“Everything I’ve done since we got back to Storybrooke was to try to save you, Killian”

After centuries of pure hatred towards the Dark One he has become one himself.  Just a few episodes ago we saw Hook have a breakthrough, confessing to Emma that he was the villain all along, that his hatred for the Crocodile created a jet black darkness in his heart.  This personal show of strength only made this loss even heavier.  He confessed his sins and was purified, feeling as though he was finally not a villain anymore that he was a hero who had the love of his life by his side, a true fairytale fit for a happy ending.  But with this discovery he was back to square one with centuries of hard work and personal growth thrown overboard.  A hero no more.

“How could you do this to me? So much for our future, Swan.”¹

Dark Hook has risen, delivering the final chilling line of the hour as Zelena asks if he would like to know what else happened in Camelot…

“Aye, but first we have to take care of her”

¹ this. line. tore. my. heart. out. and. stomped. on. it. But I’m staying optimistic, this love story isn’t over! #CaptainSwan4ever

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