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Recap / Once Upon A Time S 5 E 8 Birth

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Season 5, Episode 8:


While Emma tries to prepare Hook for the truth of what she did in Camelot, and the true nature of her plans for Excalibur, Zelena gives birth to her child. In the past at Camelot, Emma must pay a terrible price to free Hook and the others from Arthur and Zelena's captivity.


  • Actor Allusion: Whale is basically Blaine from iZombie, in both look and demeanor. Hilariously lampshaded at one point:
    'Regina: What is with the dye job?
  • Answer Cut: Regina watches Emma flee into the forest after having used the dagger on her to make her confess what was making her cling to the darkness. When the others call her on it, she defends herself: "I was just making her admit the truth. It's not my fault it's painful." Cut to a screaming Zelena going into labor in the present.
  • Anticlimax: Of a sort—when David goes to confront Arthur (having learned of his duplicity with the Crimson Crown), the king cuts his way out of the tent and makes a run for it, only to be fairly easily caught, first by tripping over a tree root and then being disarmed and knocked out by Emma (after she taunts him with the reforged Excalibur). Next we see him, he's locked up at the sheriff's station. However, this doesn't help them figure anything out about Nimue or how to help Emma (since Arthur also lost his memories). And meanwhile in the past, the confrontation with Arthur plays out much more suspensefully and, in the end, fatally, while in the present he doesn't have Excalibur or any magic and so is just a Badass Normal. Still, the fact he is now left powerless and imprisoned does rather undercut him as a threat and makes him appear quite pathetic; this won't be rectified until his arc is concluded at the end of the season.
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  • Beam-O-War: Between Emma and Merlin, which she loses.
  • Black Humor: Zelena claiming, as she is wheeled off to have her baby delivered, that you should never accept onion rings from the Dark One.
  • Booby Trap: Emma does a magical version of this with the chest that holds the Flame of Prometheus, so that when Zelena opens it she becomes ensnared in vines of darkness.
  • Came Back Wrong: Thanks to Emma, Hook has been reborn as, basically, a co-Dark One with her. Foreshadowed obliquely in the previous season when Gold disguised himself as Hook so as to get the dagger from Belle.
  • Commitment Issues: It turns out that more than just wanting the power to protect her loved ones, this is why Emma is afraid to let go of the darkness—because her fear of commitment drove her to only confess her love to Hook, and Neal before him, when she thought she was losing them, and now that she knows giving up the darkness will take them back to Storybrooke where she'll start a new life in a new home with him, she's afraid of the future.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Hook reveals the rings he wears mark men he's killed in the past. Once as trophies, now as regrets.
    • Zelena's comment indicates that the onion rings Emma gave her in their meal in a previous episode were laced with magic to activate Zelena's pregnancy.
    • Zelena thinks she killed Whale the last time they met but he says she just slammed him against a wall. When Emma enters, guess what happens to Whale...
    • Zelena says Regina fixed her binder so she can't cut her hand off again as she did before.
    • Hook uses the magic inside his hook to take the cuff off of Zelena.
    • Rumple and Hook discuss the squid ink, which Hook later uses on Emma.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Aside from the obvious reference to Zelena's baby, this episode is also about how the Dark Swan was born, and the birth of a second Dark One in Hook.
  • Equivalent Exchange: Once again, a trade must be made—Emma can use the power of the tethering spell to both free Merlin from control and save Killian's life, but the price is that he could become another Dark One, thus multiplying the darkness and making it impossible to defeat, and that such an act would also corrupt Emma. So it is basically a sacrifice of heroism and goodness for life...and Emma is willing to pay the price.
  • Evil Gloating: Zelena gets to do quite a bit, both past and present, but the nastiest is when she reveals the truth to Hook.
  • Express Delivery: Thanks to magic onion rings, Zelena's pregnancy gets rushed to delivery quite fast.
  • Forced to Watch: Happens twice to Emma—first watching Merlin as he is in turn forced to kill Snow, and then later frozen by squid ink and forced to watch Zelena reveal Hook's memories to him.
  • Happy Place: When Killian is dying, Emma takes him to a field of middlemist flowers (the same ones Nimue brought the seeds for, which Arthur gave to Guinevere, and where Hook had taken her horseback riding) where she tries to get him to keep fighting and eventually performs the tethering ritual.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: Arthur and Zelena force Merlin to deliver this ultimatum: trade the dagger and spark for Snow, Charming, Regina, Hook, and Robin or else they will kill them.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: When Regina and the Charmings go to save Zelena and face down Emma, Regina comments that she's the only one who gets to hurt her sister.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Emma feels this way about her actions in saving Hook. Regina also references this as the reason Emma trusted her with the dagger, because she would take the necessary actions to save everyone, even and especially killing or destroying Emma.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight:
    • Said verbatim by Hook to Emma.
    • This is also what Emma tries with Merlin back in Camelot. Thanks to Fighting from the Inside, he succeeds.
  • In-Joke: When Dr. Whale pops up with white hair (due to David Anders's role on iZombie), he's mocked for the "dye job" but shrugs it off as "Emma changes her hair and no one makes a fuss...Besides, you know you love it."
  • It's All About Me: When Emma arrives in the hospital, Robin and Regina assume she's here for the newborn baby and threaten to fight her. Emma just smiles, says "That would be a problem...if I was here for the baby" and teleports away with Zelena.
  • Irony
    • Early in the episode, Hook chases down Arthur only to be easily toppled, losing his sword, and unable to disarm or defeat his opponent. Flashback to Camelot three weeks earlier, and during the exchange of the heroes for the dagger and spark, Hook easily disarms Arthur of Excalibur (though not without what turns out to be fatal consequences for Killian).
    • It turns out the house Emma is now living in wasn't something she claimed as part of the new curse—it was something Hook intended for the two of them once they got back to Storybrooke, so her taking it was just a part of her plans to save their future together.
    • Love, the very thing which has been the source of goodness, heroism, and hope throughout the show, is the reason Emma fell—because she was not willing to sacrifice Killian in order to let Excalibur be reforged and cut the darkness out of her. At the same time, it is sadly fitting, since it was for love of Bae (to keep from being sent off to war and dying) that Rumple became the Dark One.
    • After spending centuries hunting down the Dark One of Rumplestilskin for killing the woman he loved, Hook has now become the Dark One thanks to his new love, Emma.
    • Also, Hook spends most of the episode trying to get Emma to confess what her plan is, determined to put a stop to it and save her from the darkness. Not only does it turn out it was actually him that she was trying to save, but part of his plan to force her hand was putting himself in danger, believing she would save him because she loved him. However, while she does love him, that isn't the reason she saved him (either from Arthur's swordstrike or his "attempt" at suicide)—it's because if she hadn't, he would not have died or even been injured, thus revealing his Dark One immortality.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: This, aside from not wanting to risk becoming another Dark One, is why a dying Hook insists to Emma that she not tether him to Excalibur—because even if he has to die, at least he'll know she gets to live, free of darkness, and with a future. Unfortunately Emma refuses to listen, since she thinks she can't be happy without him.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: After what Emma had planned for her, Zelena very much relishes revealing the truth to Killian from the memories in the dreamcatcher.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Right in the middle of the confrontation between Emma and Zelena at Camelot, the action cuts back to the present where Zelena is being forced into labor and is in fear for her baby's life, thinking Emma is coming to claim it for a spell (exactly as she did to Mary Margaret in season 3). The implication is that Zelena's current predicament (and what follows in the basement of her house) is a punishment for what happened at Camelot, since all of her loved ones would not have been threatened (particularly what happens to Snow and Hook) if not for the spell Zelena cast to tether Merlin to Excalibur.
  • Last-Name Basis:
    • When Regina confronts Emma about her plan for Zelena, which Emma thinks Regina will thank her for, her response is to refuse it while calling her "Miss Swan." Emma lampshades the name change, and Regina retorts she'll call her Emma again when she starts acting like her (a Call-Back to earlier in the episode when she stated how, after all this time, she feels she has finally come to truly know Emma).
    • Also, when Hook finds out what Emma did to save his life, he goes back to calling her "Swan." The look on Emma's face says it all.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-Universe, everyone (even Regina) treats Emma's plan for Zelena as this if she succeeds in carrying it out, since for all the evil she's done, Zelena is still a helpless victim in this situation, rather than dying in the heat of battle or as an actual execution for her misdeeds. Once he learns the truth of what happened in Camelot, Hook treats Emma's actions in saving him as a betrayal that cannot be forgiven, too.
  • Motive Misidentification: Everyone thought Emma intended to destroy light magic, and was going to use Zelena's baby to do it; Belle even found a spell she thought would be used, one that required the cries of a newborn. Instead, it was Zelena herself she wanted...and to pour her darkness into so she could then be slain, thus destroying all dark magic instead.
  • Mystical Pregnancy: Zelena suddenly goes from just two months along to labor instantly thanks to Emma. She also seems really, really well for someone who just gave birth.
  • No-Sell: On stabbing Hook...because he too is now a Dark One.
  • The Reveal: Aside from how Emma became the Dark Swan and what her real plan is for Excalibur, it is finally revealed why Emma blamed Regina and the others for what happened in Camelot—because they insisted she let Hook die in order to reforge the sword and destroy the Darkness. While her choice to tether Hook was still the wrong one in the end, it's understandable why she blamed them: as she herself points out when begging Regina, she would have done anything to save Daniel or Robin, yet is counseling Emma to let go of her own true love, and it's frankly quite shocking to see Snow White (she who always seeks to Take a Third Option) agree to let Hook die even if it was to save Emma. Granted, there was very little time to save him and no other options, and the spell Emma wanted to use was dark magic.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Turns out to be the real motive for Emma's plan—that she wants to make up for saving Hook's life with Excalibur, only to turn him into another Dark One in the process, by destroying the darkness in both of them with the sword.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Unsurprisingly, when Hook reveals Emma's claim that she was doing everything for him, Regina says she is only manipulating him, like all Dark Ones do, and sadly Mary Margaret agrees with her by suggesting (contrary to Hook's belief) that Emma might not be there anymore. On the other hand, Regina still seems to think that once they get Excalibur back, it can be used to save Emma, and later when she is all about confronting Emma to save Zelena, Mary Margaret insists they will not just stop Emma, but save her. So if idealism is taking a beating, it seems to be only to allow some practicality and pragmatism to enter in, without being abandoned entirely. Ironically, and sadly, the end of the episode suggests Hook has fallen into cynicism after all.
  • Start of Darkness: Emma's use of dark magic to save Hook's life ends up transforming him into another Dark One—and at the same time results in her becoming the Dark Swan.
  • Symbolism: When Emma admits the truth, that she only confesses love when she's about to lose it, and now that she won't, her fear of the future keeps her from letting go of the darkness, Hook tells her to let it go, to trust him. They kiss...and the Flame of Prometheus ignites.
  • That Man Is Dead: When Hook addresses Gold as "crocodile," Gold responds he's not that man anymore.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Hook is sickened that Emma made him a Dark One to keep him alive, and tells Emma he can't forgive her for doing that. Poor Emma doesn't take it well. This stands in marked contrast to him telling her earlier in the episode that anything she did could not be as awful as the things he'd done, and that whatever it was, he already forgave her.
  • Time Stands Still: Happens twice, once when Merlin freezes Henry and Granny to give Emma Arthur and Zelena's ultimatum, and once when Emma uses Excalibur to freeze Regina, David, and Mary Margaret.
  • Villainous Valor: Zelena wants Killian to use his enchanted hook to cut off her Power Nullifier cuff so she can then free them from their manacles. He hesitates, since the last time he tried to make a deal with her, she betrayed him. But after taunting him that he has no choice but to trust her...she follows through on the deal. (This may be, however, because she wanted to linger and return to discover the truth of what happened in Camelot, and then taunt him and Emma, as she herself states.)
  • Wham Episode: Not only do we find out what Emma's true plan was, but The Reveal was that she needed to destroy the darkness, not just because it was right or to save herself, but to save Killian. Now Zelena is free and out for Revenge...and because of being made a Dark One against his will, Hook seems to want the same.
  • Wham Shot: Killian's name under the Glamour on Excalibur. Also, him rising out of the Vault of the Dark One.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Hook, Snow, and Charming try to call Regina on using the dagger to force Emma to confess what was keeping her from letting go of the darkness, but when Hook goes to speak to her later, Emma says Regina was in the right to do as she did, and she was glad of it.

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