Birth Review | Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 8

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


Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue, Jared S. Gilmore, Rebecca Mader, Sean Maguire, and Robert Carlyle.

Season 5
Episode 8: Birth

At last, after eight episodes, we finally have some clarity over what transpired in Camelot to make Emma embrace the darkness once and for all. The reveal couldn’t be more timely as, with limited clues as to Emma’s plan, the storyline was beginning to get stale.

It was a nice additional layer to the conflict that Emma struggled with whether or not she was ready to let go of the darkness, or if she wanted to. It was appropriate for Regina to be the one to confront her about this, considering her own experience with the seductive effect of being dark, but I can’t help but feel that the others were unfairly dismissive of her. She wasn’t doing anything wrong in trying to make Emma open up, but Snow, Charming and Hook just don’t have what it takes to force themselves through Emma’s boundaries the way that Regina can.

With this episode, we finally have a sense of what Emma is doing in Storybrooke, and it’s a satisfying resolution. I have suspected that Emma intended to get rid of darkness instead of light with the sword, and my suspicion was proved correct here. It’s nice that Emma has been actively working against her darkness from the inside this whole time, and has used her persona as the Dark One to help distract the others from the truth.

Killian’s death was a hugely believable motivator for Emma committing to being the Dark One. Considering she had just committed herself to a future with him, the prospect of that not existing when she has it within her power to prevent it definitely makes sense. It’s more in character than her becoming power hungry would have been. She needed the power for a specific purpose and has been working against it since arriving in Storybrooke. The fact that it turns Killian into something that he despises is, unfortunate, but Emma had a plan to fix that. I’m not yet sure how a small scratch from Excalibur is quite as life threatening as it’s made out to be here.

A compelling twist in this episode was the misdirection of Zelena’s baby. By advancing Zelena’s pregnancy to the point of birth, it would be rational to assume that Emma wanted her baby, especially after Zelena’s machinations for baby Neal, but the fact that Emma actually wanted Zelena herself was wholly unexpected. It’s nice for Zelena to be part of the main plot, as she’s always brilliantly hilarious whenever she appears.

Using Zelena as a way to siphon off the darkness in both Emma and Hook in order to destroy it is an interesting conundrum. Though Zelena is, undeniably evil, and continued to prove that in Camelot, it’s still a hugely dark thing for Emma to contemplate as premeditated murder. While none of the others have especially strong feelings towards Zelena, Emma purposefully killing her would be a step too far, even if her intentions are noble.

The reveal of Hook as another Dark One came completely out of left field, not least because we didn’t even know that it was possible to happen. It’s quite a tragic fate for him as it involves him becoming something that he hates, and he makes it clear to Emma that he would prefer death. Is turning him into the Dark One more in Emma’s interests than Hook’s? Probably. She doesn’t want to have to live life without him, and she seized the opportunity when it was presented. The fact that it turns Hook both into a villain and into a Dark One, both things that he has worked to distance himself from, is deeply unfortunate.

It now puts present-Hook’s actions into a bit of an unpredictable tailspin. Unlike Emma, who has a base level of heroism to work from when turned into a Dark One, we are yet to see what Hook will be like as a Dark One. Will he be as successful as her at resisting the voices in his head, or will he succumb much more than she did? Seeing as Emma erased his, and the rest of the town’s memories in order to save him, she clearly did not want him learning the truth until it could be solved. How will Hook react in the present, now that he knows his identity? Doubtless he’ll probably turn against Emma to stop her plot to get rid of the darkness, giving us another compelling villain to work against at this juncture in the story arc.

It was certainly a timely reveal of the true nature of Emma’s plan. The storyline was starting to get a bit stagnant, purely because we didn’t have enough hints about what was going on to even speculate. There’s no way we could have guessed that this twist was coming, but it definitely makes sense from what comes before. Emma’s attempts to bond with Killian and keep him close certainly make sense now that we know she knew of his status as the Dark One, and wiping everybody’s memories meant that she could keep his identity as Dark One a safe secret until it could be fixed. This plot twist leaves the rest of the storyline uncertain, but hopefully Emma will succeed in freeing the pair from darkness.

Once Upon an Additional Brainthought

  • Poor Whale. I laughed when he was punted across the room so mercilessly.

You can watch Once Upon a Time Seasons 1 – 7 on Netflix. It is also available on home media and other digital platforms for purchase or rent.

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