What happened in Camelot? How did Emma become the Dark One? Once Upon a Time begins to answer those questions in this episode, “The Price,” which shows what happened immediately after the residents of Storybrooke arrived in Camelot six weeks ago and introduces a new problem in the present.
With Emma unable to risk using dark magic, it’s Regina who steps up in Camelot and declares herself the savior, the one who will help them find Merlin. Meanwhile, back in Storybrooke, everyone’s dealing with their missing memories and a new threat to the town and to one of their lives.
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So, Where’s Merlin?
Upon arriving in Camelot, everyone meets Guinevere, Arthur’s queen, and since they’ve been waiting a decade for their arrival, they’re going to be holding a ball in their honor. However, Hook would much rather focus on what’s really important by finding Merlin, but they hit a snag when they find out that Merlin is trapped in a tree. Since telling Arthur that Emma is the Dark One is out, David just says that their home is being threatened by the Dark One. In order to free Merlin, however, they need the savior — and Regina steps forward and says she’ll free Merlin from the tree.
Regina and Emma get a taste of what holding the dagger means when it comes to controlling the new Dark One. Regina tells her to shut up and listen; Emma can’t talk. Regina says she should be thanking her; Emma promptly does just that before repeating that she means it. Regina steps up to free Merlin so that Emma doesn’t have to use dark magic again because they all saw what happened when she did it last time.
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Every Ball Needs a Good Stabbing?
While everyone in Camelot may be looking forward to the savior attending the ball, Regina isn’t so keen on going and even offers to watch baby Neal for Mary Margaret and David before admitting that she can’t dance.
First, Regina has to lose the pantsuit and the “scary” Evil Queen dress she defaults to and instead needs to dress less evil to help people see her as the savior. Then David teaches her to dance, and when they’re done, everyone in Camelot will believe she’s the savior, he promises … as Percival watches through the necklace he gave Regina earlier.
While Mary Margaret gets to share a ball with her daughter like she always wanted to, Henry gets a little help from his grandfather when it comes to talking to his first crush (and introducing her to the wonders of an iPod) and everyone’s generally having fun and dancing, but that comes to a screeching halt when Percival dances with Regina and reveals that he knows who she is. See, back when Regina was still the Evil Queen, she burned down his village and saw him hiding and smiled at him. He goes to stab her with his sword, Robin Hood intervenes and then David stabs Percival.
In the fight, Robin is stabbed, and Regina’s magic can’t save him because, as she discovers, the sword was enchanted to kill her. The only option is for Emma to step in and use her magic, which she does, despite a few protests and the Dark One telling her that she must take a price to save Robin, a price that Regina has to pay since she’s asking for the magic. After Emma saves Robin, she excuses herself, saying she feels a little woozy, but once alone, the Dark One tells her he knows that she liked the power, the darkness.
Emma’s actions in saving Robin just reaffirm Arthur’s belief that Regina is the savior Merlin prophesized since she was able to save his life, and Regina keeps up the charade. Later, Guinevere finds Arthur at the roundtable and brings up her concerns about their new guests, especially with Percival dead. But helping them is their only way to get heir hands on the dagger, and Arthur needs to make Excalibur whole again.
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Storybrooke Needs a Savior
Six weeks later, there’s a new curse over Storybrooke, one that the dwarves are eager to test out, and Dopey is the (unwilling) volunteer to test what happens when they step over the town line. David, Mary Margaret and Regina try to stop them, but Leroy argues, how do they stand a chance against the person who not only knows how they beat the bad guys, but also beat most of them? It looks like Dopey’s fine on the other side of the line, but then a tree surrounds/traps him. “That’s new,” says Regina, stating the obvious. And familiar. Oh, if only they remembered their time in Camelot.
Henry summons Emma and apologizes for failing her in Camelot, but she tells him she didn’t fail her; everyone else did. When Regina joins them, Emma taunts her about worrying that Henry will find out what happened in Camelot and insists they won’t get their memories back because she built her curse without the one thing they need to break it: the savior. And it’s a shame too because there’s a problem coming that only a savior can solve and she doesn’t think Regina has it in her to take on the role.
To everyone’s surprise (though they probably should have expected this), Arthur and his knights ride into town (and, alas, the dwarves may never figure out what to feed poor Dopey tree) and his subjects show up in the forest. That’s when Mary Margaret and David come clean about their daughter being the Dark One, which means there’s not going to be any defeating her.
As Regina worries about proving that she’s more than the Evil Queen, a creature swoops down and flies Robin Hood away. Everyone takes chase, and Regina tries to use magic to stop it, but nothing works and Regina’s just left feeling defeated and like no one believes she can be who they need her to be. She’s ready to prove them wrong, as she tells Mr. Gold’s comatose body, but first, she needs to know what she’s facing.
Fortunately, Belle has that answer: a fury, collecting the price for unpaid magic. It’s going to drag Robin to the underworld, but since the portal is only open when the moon reaches its zenith, they have time. The only problem? The only way to save Robin is for someone to give their life in his place. Regina confronts Emma, trying to get her to call the fury off, but the Dark Swan tells her that the price isn’t hers to pay. It’s Regina’s. (Again, if only they remembered Camelot.) All she can do is step up and do what needs to be done.
Regina does step up, offering her life instead to the fury as a figure (who can only be Charon, the ferryman of the dead) approaches in a boat. (This is where I start casting the entire underworld for Once Upon a Time‘s version of it before realizing I’m really getting ahead of myself.) The fury turns on Regina, but Mary Margaret, David, Leroy and Arthur join her, and it backs off and the ferryman disappears back into the darkness. It works and Robin is saved. “If anyone’s going to save this town,” Leroy tells Regina, “it’s you.”
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Become the Dark One, Get Nice New Digs
“It’s far easier to hate a Dark One than it is to love one,” Belle warns Hook when he goes to see her about trying true love’s kiss. Mr. Gold chose power over love, she explains. Once darkness got its grip on him, that was it.
That doesn’t stop Hook from trying to save Emma with a kiss when she whisks him off to her new house. There’s nothing to fix, she insists. This is who she is now. When he asks what happened in Camelot, she doesn’t tell him and instead just wants to know if he wants to stay. It may be who she thinks he is, he tells her as he leaves, but it’s not who he is.
At the end of the day, after the fury is stopped, everyone gathers in Granny’s, and Emma watches from the street before heading home. Feeling left out? the Dark One asks, back because there’s more work to be done, something bigger than both of them. One thing has always held back Dark Ones, he explains as she heads downstairs into the basement/cave/home of Excalibur back in the stone. It’s the pull of family, of friends, of love, but she can change that. It’s why she brought the sword there, he continues. She can make the weapon whole again and use it and snuff out the “light.” She tries to pull it out of the stone and fails. She has to pay the price first, the Dark One reminds her.
Once Upon a Time season 5 airs Sundays at 8pm on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)