Review: ABC's 'Once Upon a Time' kicks off fifth season

Merida, a character from Pixar's "Brave," made an appearance on the show for the first episode of season five (Courtesy/ABC).

The ABC original "Once Upon A Time" is officially in its fifth season and viewers are in for a ride now that Emma Swan, Storybrooke savior turned "Dark One," is the new baddie in town.

As recapped by Access Hollywood, "Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) chose to save her friends and family in the Season 4 finale, but in the process, it was her name that ended up on the Dark One's dagger. Sunday night's season opener showed viewers the aftermath of Emma's brave, yet dangerous move.

The episode starts off in a 1989 Minneapolis movie theater screening "The Sword in the Stone," where a young Emma is seen stealing candy from a stranger's pocket. A man dressed as an usher witnesses Emma steal the candy and uses the situation to warn her never to take things, especially the sword Excalibur. Clearly this guy was not just an employee.

The episode flashes to a scene that takes place in Camelot, the newest setting to make its way into the show's mixing pot of worlds, and shows King Arthur pulling Excalibur from its stone. To his surprise, the tip of the sword is missing, adding to the shock that the Dark One's dagger is made from the missing piece.

The rest of the episode consists of two main plot points: the first is Emma’s struggle to avoid giving in to the darkness of her new powers and the second is the struggle of her friends and family to open a portal to their homeland, the Enchanted Forest, to get to Emma.

As pointed out by media review website IGN, “watching Emma try her best to resist the call of the Dark One for most of the episode was important.” As strong as she has managed to be throughout everything that has happened over the past four seasons, nothing could have prepared her to inherit such darkness. Viewers were able to see this struggle through Emma’s interactions with star Merida from the recent Pixar movie "Brave."

Both Emma and Merida need the help of a magical wisp to guide them on their respective journeys, but “knowing they both couldn’t use the wisp, Emma aimed to rip out her [Merida’s] heart as the darkness nearly took hold,” says Entertainment Weekly.

In their mission to get to Emma’s side as soon as possible, the rest of the cast back in Storybrooke needed to find a way to use dark magic to counteract the light magic used to create a portal-opening wand.

Now that “Evil” Queen Regina has joined the good side, her magic has not warranted a portal, so she has to trick her long lost sister Zelena, the Wicked Witch, into opening it for her.

Once the whole cast is reunited in the Enchanted Forest and get to Emma in time to save her from giving into the darkness, they meet King Arthur who has been waiting for Emma and guides them to Camelot.

Just as the gang enters Camelot, the episode fast forwards six weeks into the future and everyone, except Emma, has no recollection of the events that have taken place. It would not be a season of OUAT if some memories were not stolen, and that's exactly what Dark Swan did.

Emma plans to punish them for "what they did to her" and it is sure to be vengeful.

Whether or not season five will have a "happy ending" still remains to be seen, so fans will have to continue tuning in to ABC every Sunday at 8 p.m. to see the story unfold.


Joey Spagnuolo is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joseph.spagnuolo@uconn.edu.