Once Upon A Time S5E11 – “Swan Song” Review

once3Once Upon A Time has reached its mid-season finale, and it was a doozy of an episode.


The episode begins with a flashback of Killian as a child being abandoned by his father.  A haunting question from that time that echoes through the whole episode is “What kind of man will you become?”  After the prologue, we find ourselves back in Storybrooke with Captain Dark One running amuck with Nimue.  As everyone tries to stop him, Hook is bent on exacting his revenge on not just Rumplestiltskin, but Emma who had betrayed him.  As everyone searches for Hook, the various seemingly resurrected dark ones find Emma’s family.  As they pass through the family members Rumple tells them all that the dark ones have to exchange with living souls in order to fully get out of the underworld.  Each of the members are marked and will be traded soon.  That seems to be Hook’s revenge.  Emma is unmarked and hatches a plan with Regina to take Excalibur and sacrifice herself with all the darkness to stop them.

As a bit of a side quest, Regina and Robin Hood stop Zelena from taking full custody of Robin and her child.  Regina whisks her off to Oz with the help of the wand she couldn’t use earlier in the season (but now can).  Zelena vows to return (of course).

Meanwhile, in the main plot, Emma is supposed to meet her family at Granny’s before they are taken to the underworld.  But, she tries to stop Hook with Excalibur.  Instead, Captain Dark One tricks her and takes Excalibur.  Rumple lets Belle leave Storybrooke safely, not telling her what is happening.  She goes with the magic she is given.  All the marked are eventually transported to the river where the ferry will take them.  As the Dark Ones and Hook stand to see them off, Regina confronts Hook about the kind of man he really is.  Back in the day, Regina had Hook kill his father to prove to her that he could fulfill the plan to kill Regina’s mother, Quora.  Regina convinces Hook to not be a man that would destroy another family, to be good again.  Hook manages to turn from darkness, wanting to become the man he’s always wanted to be, and absorbs the other Dark Ones in Excalibur.  Emma and he exchange sorrowful words as they both know Emma must kill Hook for all of them to be rid of the darkness.  She kills him with Excalibur and is rid of the darkness herself.  In the epilogue-like scenes that follow, Belle has gotten a call from Henry about all that has happened.  She realized Rumple was selfless and reunites with him.

once2When Emma wakes up she can still hear the Dark Ones voices.  She has Rumple meet her at his shop, and confronts him by saying she knows the dagger is with him.  He immediately confesses and brings out the Dark One dagger.  He explains he was able to make Excalibur a conduit when he handed it to her.  He also says his betrayal shows the kind of man he always is and chooses to be.  Now he has all the Dark Ones’ power in him.  Emma strikes a bargain with him that she won’t tell Belle that he is the Dark One again if he helps her get to the underworld to retrieve Hook.  The episode ends with the gang headed on the ferry to free Hook.


It was quite the crazy episode with the big twist being Rumple as the Dark One again.  At one point I thought he would sacrifice himself and become the Dark One without killing Killian.  But, the bigger twist is revealing that he has always been devious and will continue to be.

The storyline wrapped up quite well, putting an end to the Dark Ones trouble and putting it into just one, and one we all know.  It is good to have the villain we know instead of leaving us in confusion with how it could play out without the roles we know everyone has.  Even the storyline with Zelena is wrapped up which is nice to have done with.  Though we all know she’ll be back, it’ll be good to not have her lurking with a baby and adding more confusion to the family tree.

But, I must say that this episode was a little disappointing as a book end to the Dark Swan story.  Maybe it concluded too fast, but so much of it was predictable for me that I didn’t feel invested in it.  I also expected to see some battles take place, but there were very few swinging of swords.  The ways in which it felt predictable for me were Killian’s demise, Rumple’s darkness return, Zelena leaving, and once Hook died – having the cliffhanger be that they would venture to the underworld.

Actually, I’ve rather thought this would be the next step for the show since they started introducing Greek mythology.  Yes, if you look at some of the past episodes there are some hints to it, like the fury earlier in the season.  Also there’s some norse myth hints too.

Anyway, the episode wasn’t terrible, and really had that finale quality to it.  But, for such a spectacular season it didn’t have the oomph I hoped for.  I would have liked it to split up into two episodes, at least to have some weight with everyone coming to grips with being taken to death on a ferry.  Does it mean I’m going to stop watching?  Of course not!  This was still a great episode with a great season to back it up.  I’m very curious to see what the underworld is like since Rumple talked up how terrible it is.


There are a few things left dangling, and even some speculation to make:

  • Does everyone, except Belle, know that Rumple is the Dark One again?
  • Why would you bring Henry to the underworld!?
  • Why is it that Emma can still hear the Dark One voices though she’s not the Dark One anymore?
  • How in the world did Rumple make Excalibur bring the darkness to himself so fast?
  • Who are we going to see in the underworld?  Which leads me to speculation…

I think this second half will be filled with characters we’ve already had, like Cruella.  I wonder if Neal is even there since he had a Dark One connection.  It’ll make for a very interesting dilemma for Emma if it happens.  Also, I don’t think they’ll stay in the underworld, but it’ll introduce them having to find some Greek characters to help.  Hercules is my prediction for Greek heroes who will venture to the underworld with them.

We’ll have to wait and see what all will happen as Once takes a break until next year.