But what happens when the bad guy turns out to be… yourself?
That’s what Emma (Jennifer Morrison) will grapple with when Season 5 of the ABC drama bows this September. In last spring’s finale, Emma made the ultimate sacrifice, took Rumplestiltskin’s dagger, and became the Dark One. Once Upon a Time has always enjoyed turning familiar fairy tales on their ears, but this is totally new territory for the show. The Saviour is now the Big Bad!
So, what can we expect to see in Storybrooke now that Emma’s gone evil? Here’s everything we know about the fifth season OUAT (so far):
The Dark Swan Rises
Emma’s transition into the Dark One doesn’t happen overnight. AtComic-Con, we got a glimpse at where she disappeared to at the end of the finale, and the first episode — titled, very appropriately, “Dark Swan” — will show us what becomes of her.
“Every part of her is fighting her dark urges,” executive producer Edward Kitsis told Entertainment Weekly. “What happens when [the darkness] mixes with the lightest magic of all, and will Emma have the strength to fight it?”
We’ve seen Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) as the Dark One, but that doesn’t mean Emma will follow in his exact footsteps. “How a Dark One manifests is specific to each person who takes on the mantle,” added executive producer Adam Horowitz.
Meanwhile, Emma’s loved ones — including mom Snow White Ginnifer Goodwin), dad Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), and boyfriend Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) are fighting to bring her back to the light. “Hook loves Emma and he, much like the Charmings, is going to do whatever it takes to try and bring the savior Emma back because that’s who he fell in love with,” O’Donoghue said at Comic-Con.
Emma’s struggle will play out for much of the season, an acting challenge that Morrison relishes. “Emotionally, it’s interesting because there’s something really fun and free about Emma in the darkness, where she’s just free of the gravity, of what other people think, and the gravity of worrying about saving people,” the actress told EW.
And after four seasons of T-shirts and jeans, she’s getting more elaborate gear. “It is a whole different thing to have something a little bit more extravagant and to be painted white and all that stuff.”
A ‘Brave’ New World
One of the big reveals at Comic-Con a few weeks ago was that Merida, the fiery princess in Brave, would be introduced this season. And as we saw with Elsa and Anna from Frozen, this Merida (as played by Amy Manson) will be a slightly different, deeper take than what we’ve seen on screen.
Horowitz told EW that Merida is “certainly a part of Emma’s journey as the Dark Swan and dealing with her darkness.”
She’ll also be part of the Camelot storyline (more about that later), and Kitsis teased her involvement with other characters. “Merida really fits in. You see her with Snow, you see her with Ruby, you see her with anyone,” he told TV Guide.
Off to See the Wizard
As we learned in the Season 4 finale, only one person can get rid of the darkness that has consumed Emma — Merlin.
Yes, Camelot is coming to Storybrooke. In addition to Merlin, OUAT is bringing in King Arthur and Guinevere, too! The show has already found its Arthur in British actor Liam Garrigan (24: Live Another Day,The Pillars of the Earth), but are still looking for a Merlin (“a man with great wisdom and intelligence beyond his years”) and Guinevere (“a headstrong queen”).
OUAT fans with good memories will recall that we’ve already met Lancelot (Sinqua Wells), though he’s supposedly dead in the present timeline. (Then, again, is anybody ever really dead on this show?)
We can probably expect some flashbacks that detail what went down with Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere, but as with any other classic tale, also expect some twists. Like the fact that Prince Charming has a connection to the Round Table.
“Camelot is going to be a huge part of the Charmings’ life, particularly Charming,“ Dallas said at Comic-Con. "You’re going to see him bro out with King Arthur in a big way. You’re also going to see Charming at his most heroic, which is going to be fun.”
All That Glitters
Now that Emma is the Dark One, what will happen to Rumplestiltskin? Well, he’s alive… but just barely. “Mr. Gold is presently in a coma, so he’s not doing too much,” Carlyle noted at Comic-Con.
If you heard those rumors about Rumple’s mom appearing this season, sorry to tell you that those were decoys for the Merida casting. But one bit of news that might give some hope to Belle/Rumple fans — Michael Socha, whose Will Scarlet/The Knave was romancing Belle, is stepping down to recurring status.
One Big Happy (?) Family
Two actors who are moving up to regular status are Sean Maguire and Rebecca Mader, aka Robin Hood and Zelena. The Wicked Witch is pregnant with the former’s baby, but he’s in love with her sister Regina (Lana Parrilla). So… yeah, that’s a big ol’ mess of a romance. The showrunners won’t call it a love triangle, but rather a “love obstacle.”
“I would say it’s the guest who won’t leave, but instead of just eating your ramen, they’re trying to kill you,” Kitsis explained.
But as Parrilla noted at Comic-Con, Regina is “really now starting to accept that she can be happy.” Someone got their happily ever after at least!
Once Upon a Time Season 5 premieres Sunday, Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. on ABC.