Before we dive into this recap, it is important that you are very well aware that there will be major spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own risk.
Last night’s ONCE UPON A TIME was promoted as a huge two-hour event and I swear I thought it was going to be something like parts one and two, and that they would work as one huge episode, like we have seen in past seasons. But to my surprise “Birth” and “The Bear King” served as two completely standalone episodes and – let’s be honest – the one that really mattered was “Birth”. As much as I love Merida and it was great to see Ruby and Mulan again, the only thing we really took from this episode was that Crazy!Arthur was the one who killed Merida’s father in his endless quest to make Excalibur whole. So, let’s focus on “Birth”, shall we?
The first episode of the night revealed what the Dark Swan is really after and what prompted her to fully embrace the darkness back in Camelot. I have to say that I did not see that coming. At all. As much as I had suspected it was something big and it had to do with Killian – and I really suspected that she had done it out of love, just like Rumple had, to save Baelfire – I had no idea it was going to be this big. That was very bold move on the writers’ part and I am so curious as to how they are going to resolve this.
Emma’s master plan is not to destroy all light magic, as the heroes had previously thought. What she really wants is to get rid of all dark magic, including hers. So after she makes Excalibur whole, she saves Killian’s life when Arthur tries to kill him – or so we thought – and he tells her that he still loves her and he wants to know the truth about what really happened in Camelot, no matter how bad it is. He insists on it and tries to get her attention in every way possible, until she relents and takes him back to her house, telling him she will tell him, but only after she has completed her plan. So she puts him under a spell and in shackles, so he won’t try and stop her, and proceeds with her schedule. Speeding up Zelena’s pregnancy is the first item on the agenda and the Wicked Witch quickly gives birth to a baby girl. Regina and the others think that it’s the baby that Emma is after, but they couldn’t be more wrong. The Dark Swan is actually after Zelena, but she is not that heartless, so she saved the baby and then kidnapped Zelena, putting her in her creepy basement with Killian. Once there, she reveals that what she really plans on doing is to tether all dark magic to Zelena and then to kill the witch to get rid of it once and for all.
What she didn’t foresee, however, was the fact that, as much as Killian really, really loves her, he really wants to stop her plan. Remember, he still thinks that she maybe wants to destroy all light magic; so he teams up with Zelena, uses his enchanted hook to get her magic binding cuff off and she frees them both. Except Killian stays behind, hell bent on finding something that could help him help Emma, and she catches him on the act. He confronts her and uses a potion that immobilizes her, so she won’t go through with her plan. And that’s when Zelena decides to return because – guess what – she found one on Emma’s dreamcatchers and she knows exactly what happened back in Camelot. But of course, she is the Wicked Witch and she has a flare for drama, so she stabs Killian just to prove a point. When nothing happens to him, she reveals what really happened and why Emma is so determined to get rid of all dark magic. But before we dive into that, let’s talk about Camelot.
Crazy!Arthur tethered Merlin’s magic to Excalibur, so now he has command over the sorcerer. So he kidnaps Emma’s loved ones and threatens to unleash Merlin on them and kill them all, if Emma doesn’t give him the dagger and the Promethean spark, so he can finally make Excalibur whole. Merlin and Emma duke it out and he wins, but she still refuses to give them to Arthur. She tells the sorcerer that he is stronger than the sword’s command and Merlin is able to fight the power long enough to save Mary Margaret, and for Killian to free himself and attack Arthur. The crazy bastard manages to hurt our favorite pirate, but once he realizes his out numbered, he tells Zelena to poof them out of there. So Emma quickly heals the cut on Killian’s neck and it seems that they are all going to live happily ever after. They have the dagger, Excalibur and the Prolethean spark – all that is left to do is for Emma to light that spark and turn into it fire, so she can make the sword whole again.
In order to do that, however, she needs to be ready to let go of the darkness. Regina confronts her and even commands her to face her fears head on. Killian stops her, of course, but Emma soon confesses to him that what she is really afraid of is that future he has envisioned for them, with the house and white picket fence and she thinks she is going to lose him, just like she has lost everyone. He reassures her that he won’t ever leave her and they profess their undying love for each other and that is what turns the Promethean spark into fire. So great – they have everything, Emma is ready to let go of the darkness and they are going to live happily ever after, right?
Wrong. Because the moment Emma starts the process of making Excalibur whole, the cut on Killian’s neck reopens and it’s so much worse than before. He is suddenly bleeding out and there is nothing they can do to save him. Emma begs with him not to leave her and tells Merlin she can take his magic and transfer it to Killian, tethering him to Excalibur. Merlin warns her she shouldn’t do it because this will be the last step for her to embrace the darkness and it would turn Killian, but she doesn’t listen and takes Merlin’s magic away and tethers it to her pirate in order to save him.
And Killian Jones becomes a Dark One.
Holy. Mother. Of God.
I don’t know about you, but I never saw this coming and I admit my jaw hit the floor when that was revealed. Killian was obviously not amused by that fact and is downright furious with Emma. She turned him into the one thing he has spent centuries trying to kill and I can’t even begin to tell you how heartbreaking that is. She did it out of love, because she loves him so much that the only way to save him was to turn him into the creature he hates the most and my god, my heart cannot take all these feels.
Let it please be acknowledged that Jennifer Morrison is bringing her A game this season. It is easily her best season yet, but these past couple of episodes she has been breathtaking and my heart is in pieces for Emma Swan. And that is all due to Morrison’s talent. I have no idea where they are supposed to go from here, but I am so in. Is there any way we can give a grade higher than A+? Because that’s what “Birth” deserves.
So what did you think? Hit the comments below or come talk to me on Twitter.
Don’t miss the next new episode of ONCE UPON A TIME on November 29 on ABC.