Once Upon a Time drops quite a few answers in this episode, “Broken Heart.” Who casts the dark curse this time? Why are everyone’s memories taken? Why hasn’t Hook been Captain Dark One all this time? What’s the Dark One’s plan going into the winter finale?

In flashbacks to their final moments in Camelot, Emma tries her hardest to keep Hook from giving in to the darkness, but instead she’s set the wheels in motion that lead to present day in Storybrooke. Speaking of the present, now that Hook knows he’s a Dark One, he embraces that darkness mighty quick, but what’s his plan?

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Should Emma Believe in Hook?

As Captain Dark One (nickname courtesy of Regina) is born in Camelot, the Dark One is waiting to be that voice in his head just like he was for Emma. Hook can get that revenge he’s been after all this time, the crocodile promises him, and kill Mr. Gold.

Merlin admits to the others that this was the darkest path he saw for Emma, so they’re going to need all the allies they can get. It’s back to Granny’s for them. Though David points out that they were so close to ending this, to Emma destroying the Darkness, Mary Margaret reminds him of what they’ve done for love (aka their one heart). They need to have faith in their daughter. He just hopes that Emma’s faith in Hook is justified.

As for Captain Dark One, while Emma has a new look as the Dark Swan, Hook’s is pretty much the same. While he may want his revenge on Mr. Gold, there’s one problem: he’s in Storybrooke and he refuses to kill Emma to cast a dark curse. That’s when Emma finds him and the trouble begins.

She threw him back into darkness, he points out, congratulating her on a job well done, even as she protests that it was the only way to save him. As for his tether, she tells him it disappeared when he did. Since she’s also a Dark One, she can see the crocodile over his shoulder, trying to get into his head. She draws him out of it with promises of their future, a future they can have and a future she is no longer afraid of.

However, the Dark One returns to fill Hook in on the source of the noise he hears: Excalibur, which must be close and therefore in Emma’s possession. She lied to him so she can control him, that voice hisses in his ear. Emma admits that she does have his tether, but she reminds him that he told her he wasn’t strong enough to resist the darkness. Again, she has to defend what she did to save him. He sees it as her not trusting him, not believing in him, when he was the one who stopped her mother from using the dagger to control her when she held Merida’s heart. How can he fight this if she doesn’t believe in him? He leaves her.

The Return to Storybrooke is Explained

Though Emma hesitates, she has no choice but to use Excalibur to summon Hook to her, which, of course, doesn’t sit well with the pirate. When she’s scared, her walls go up and she stops trusting those around her, she admits. She accidentally uses her hold on him to stop him from walking away, but she then gives him Excalibur.

They’ll get the darkness out of them together and she’ll never try to control him again, she promises. Though he’s usually the one to say “I love you” first, she does that here, and together, they join the others at Granny’s.

Upon learning that Merlin is inside Granny’s, Hook goes in first and finds him recording the message they later hear in Storybrooke. Hook locks the front door. Yes, this is the worst-case scenario. Hook takes Merlin’s heart, but how is he going to use it to cast the dark curse? Well, see, the Dark One in Hook’s head becomes Nimue because she lives in all Dark Ones. If he crushes Merlin’s heart, so does she, and Merlin is still the thing she loves most.

When Emma enters Granny’s, she realizes that Hook has been playing her the entire time. As he sees it, once she lied about Excalibur, all bets were off. He returns the sword to its stone. Emma tries to get through to him again, to remind him of his happy ending (and hers) that he’ll destroy if he crushes Merlin’s heart, but it doesn’t work. Hook crushes Merlin’s heart.

Emma still refuses to abandon Hook, and though she can’t stop the curse, she can make him forget why he cast it and that he was a Dark One in the first place. She does just that using a dreamcatcher and then brings everyone else into Granny’s and takes their memories as well. She’s going to fix what she did on her own, and as the curse takes over, she sits on the floor of Granny’s holding Hook. And with that, we’re caught up on how everyone returned to Storybrooke without their memories.

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Captain Dark One vs. Mr. Hero Gold

In Storybrooke, Hook decides to “return the favor” and takes Emma’s memories from her. Zelena restrains her with the cuff, leaving her powerless. And so Hook is off to be Captain Dark One.

When the others find her, Emma has to fill them in on what happened. That means Mary Margaret pointing out that she should have come to them instead of planning to kill someone and Regina telling her that what she did was stupid since she wasn’t around to do it before. What’s worse, Emma’s dreamcatchers are gone, so she can’t even give them their memories back.

In the time it takes to snap your fingers, Hook is rejoicing in being a Dark One, scheduling a duel with Mr. Gold, complete with a Rumplestiltskin imitation, to finish what they started all those years ago. Sure, a regular sword won’t kill Hook, but he will be using Excalibur during the fight, so Mr. Gold just needs to take it from him.

Emma offers to protect Mr. Gold, but that means someone has to take the cuff off of her, and no one trusts her enough to do that, not even Henry. She lied to them about Hook, about everything, so why should they trust her now, he wonders. The mother he knew wouldn’t keep things from him. He thinks she just wants to be able to use dark magic again to do it alone, to leave them out of it like she did before.

As the others go off to the library to research something that can help, Mr. Gold leaves them to prepare for the fight on his own. Sure, he saved Belle from Merida, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was a coward his entire life, he tells Belle. He wants to do better by her if he survives, to love her as he hasn’t before, with honesty and courage, to be the man she deserves. If he wins, he’ll go to the well where they were married. If she meets him there, she’ll know how she feels.

Merida is left to guard Emma in Regina’s house, but Hook waves her aside quite easily. Emma thinks that his coming to her means he still has feelings for her, and he agrees, only they’re not the feelings she wants him to have. “Anger, hatred, disappointment,” he tells her, calling her nothing more than a pretty blonde distraction.

Now he’s a free man and she can’t hold him back from getting what he wants — and he doesn’t care what the darkness wants. She’s so afraid of losing people she loves, she pushes them away, and that’s why she’ll always be an orphan, why she destroys her happiness on her own, he tells her. Harsh, but true? He wants to hurt her like she hurt him, he says before leaving her.

When it comes time for Hook and Mr. Gold’s duel, Captain Dark One comes out on top for most of it, even though he takes Mr. Gold’s limp to ensure it’s a fair fight. However, in the end, Mr. Gold is the one standing over Hook and he lets him live, knowing that he bested him.

That’s a point for Mr. Gold against Hook, but he doesn’t get the outcome he hoped for when it comes to Belle. She meets him at the well, but while she does love him and part of her always will, he broke her heart and her trust too many times. He may be the man she always hoped he would be, but she needs time to figure out if she wants to make it work on her own.

What is Hook Planning?

Meanwhile, Emma enlists Henry’s help for Operation Cobra Part 2. She’s not asking him to remove the cuff from her wrist, but instead to help her find the dreamcatchers. Hook had to have taken her memories for a reason. Using a locator spell, they find the dreamcatchers, but since Hook has protected them, Emma needs her magic to get to them. Since she took the first step and included him in this plan, Henry takes a first step as well and removes the cuff.

Then it’s time for Emma, Henry, David, Mary Margaret, Regina, Robin Hood and Merida to get their memories back. When they do, Emma remembers what Hook is planning to do.

Hook and the Dark One stand at the spot where the fury tried to take Robin to hell. See, he needed the blood from a man who’d been to hell and back. Rumple died and returned, and his blood can be used to open the portal to the underworld. Hook does just that, and here comes the boat.

Last time, it was just the shadowy figure of Charon on board. This time, it’s full, and the first one to step off and join Hook is Nimue. “We’re here, all of us, as promised, in the flesh,” she tells him. “And now it’s time to get to work,” to snuff out the light. The boat is full of Dark Ones.

Can Zelena Change?

When Zelena goes to the hospital to see her daughter, Regina is waiting and Baby Hood isn’t there. They’re not going to let her take Robin’s daughter from him. They both agree that the “insanity” has to stop, but while Zelena doesn’t think it can, Regina does.

Regina brings Zelena to see her daughter. Regina knows what it’s like to spend years doing terrible things, but she was able to turn things around because of Henry. Having a child and that unconditional love made her her best self. She hopes that Zelena’s daughter can do the same for her.

They may never be a family, but because Zelena is the baby’s mother, they’re going to let her see her as long as either Regina or Robin Hood is also present. So is there hope for Zelena? Her smile when she holds her daughter suggests maybe.

Once Upon a Time season 5 airs Sundays at 8pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Meredith Jacobs

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

If it’s on TV — especially if it’s a procedural or superhero show — chances are Meredith watches it. She has a love for all things fiction, starting from a young age with ER and The X-Files on the small screen and the Nancy Drew books. Arrow kicked off the Arrowverse and her true passion for all things heroes. She’s enjoyed getting into the minds of serial killers since Criminal Minds, so it should be no surprise that her latest obsession is Prodigal Son.