ABC aired back-to-back episodes of Once Upon a Time on Sunday, November 15, 2015, with episode eight of the fifth season kicking off the two hour block. Titled “Birth,” episode eight was a pivotal turning point in the relationship between Emma and Hook. Much was revealed about what happened in Camelot after Emma came into possession of the Flame of Prometheus, the dagger, and Excalibur. And Zelena was nearly gleeful as she revealed secrets Emma wanted to keep hidden from her loved ones, in particular from Hook. Episode eight was a real game-changer for season five, seemingly ripping apart a fan favorite relationship.
Recap of Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 8:
David (Josh Dallas), Hook (Colin O’Donoghue), and Robin (Sean Maguire) go to Arthur’s tent at night and find Arthur (Liam Garrigan) and Guinevere (Joana Metrass) in a quiet moment, drinking wine. Arthur’s happy to see them until David confronts him with the fact they know he threw the mushroom in the fire. David tells him Merlin’s message says Nimue can destroy the Dark One, and he wants to know who Nimue is. Arthur flees but Hook is quickly after him. Arthur actually gets the best of Hook and as Hook is reaching for his sword Arthur says, “Seems you’ve brought a hook to a sword fight.” Arthur’s about to kill him when Emma/The Dark One/Dark Swan (Jennifer Morrison) appears with Excalibur and saves Hook. Arthur’s amazed the sword is whole but Emma tells him the sword isn’t going to help him and easily tosses him through the air.
Hook says he should apologize for what he said that day on the ship, and he thinks Emma’s the one who just saved him – not The Dark One. Emma tells him he doesn’t need Nimue and teases that everything will be over tomorrow. Hook wants to know what she’s talking about and why she needed Excalibur, but she won’t tell him. He yells at her as she silently walks away until she can’t take it anymore. She turns and tells him she’s doing it all for him.
In Camelot, Emma clutches the spark from the Flame of Prometheus and Henry’s happy to see her with it at Granny’s. Emma and Henry (Jared Gilmore) don’t know where Merlin (Elliot Knight) is, and Emma knows something is wrong. They start to lock up the diner when Henry and Granny are frozen. Merlin’s responsible but he says he’s being forced into following Arthur’s orders. He needs the spark and the dagger to return Excalibur to one piece, and Arthur’s holding her family and friends hostage until Merlin returns with those items. Merlin tells her that acceptance is a form of strength and not to seek vengeance via the darkness. He also tells her the trade with Arthur will take place in the forest where her family is being held.
Storybrooke, present day, and Hook’s threatening Arthur through the bars of the jail cell. Hook needs to know who Nimue is and Arthur tells him he doesn’t know; his memory was also wiped out by Emma. David defends Arthur from Hook, but throws in the insult that Arthur’s not important anymore. Regina (Lana Parrilla) and Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) are there and Hook tells them he’s convinced he talked to the real Emma and that she’s doing this for him. Regina thinks he’s being manipulated and so does Mary Margaret because Emma has Excalibur and she’ll ultimately destroy all light magic. Hook still thinks the only way to help Emma is to find out what happened in Camelot.
Hook visits Gold (Robert Carlyle) and Belle (Emilie de Ravin), wanting to know what’s going on inside of Emma’s head. Gold says it’s about what Emma did, not what Hook or anyone else did in Camelot. Gold tells him if he wants to know for sure what she’s after, find out what she’s atoning for.
Hook screams, “Emma,” as he leaves Gold’s shop. “What the hell do you want from me?”
Back in Camelot, Emma’s trying to light the spark. Rumple tells her not to light it because if she does Arthur will mend Excalibur and kill her. Emma thinks she doesn’t have a choice, but still can’t light the spark. Rumple suggests that maybe it’s because she’s not ready to get rid of the darkness. Henry finds her talking to the voice in her head and he says maybe what she needs is motivation. He hands her a newspaper and says it’s from an operation he and Hook were working on: Operation Light Swan. Hook is looking for a house and is going to ask her to move in with him when they get back to Storybrooke. Henry recalls that Hook said, “The house is a promise. Kind of like a plan for the future.” Emma says the voice was right and she needs to use the darkness one last time before she lights the spark.
David, Hook, and the rest of the gang are tied to trees, guarded by Arthur, Merlin, and Zelena (Rebecca Mader). Emma won’t give up the dagger or the flame until Arthur frees her family, but Arthur says if she doesn’t hand it over he’ll unleash Merlin. Zelena claims to be up for a fight.
Back in Storybrooke, Zelena is reading Hansel and Gretel when she starts to have labor pains even though it’s far too early. In comes Robin and Regina who quickly notice that Zelena looks to be full term. They can’t believe it; she’s only two months pregnant. Zelena says it’s all due to dark magic.
Hook climbs up on the roof near the clock tower and if Emma won’t save him when he calls for her, then he says he’ll just have to do it the hard way and leaps off the building. Emma saves him, of course. He wants to know what happened in Camelot and says whatever she’s trying to atone for he already forgives her for so it’s over. She says she doesn’t need to atone for anything. Hook says he was a pirate for hundreds of years and every ring he wears is from someone he ruthlessly murdered. She holds out a ring on a necklace – the one he gave her in Camelot. He says it’s the saddest story of all because it belonged to his brother. He used to wear the rings as trophies but after meeting Emma he wears them as a reminder that all sins can be forgiven when someone loves you. No matter what she’s done, he forgives her. She says if he really wants to know the truth, then there’s something she has to show him.
Emma takes Hook to her house and tells him the truth is tricky and he has to look for it. Hook looks through a spyglass and sees a gorgeous view of the sea. He congratulates her on picking out a fine home for herself, but she says she didn’t choose it, he did. He picks up the newspaper and sees his handwriting by the house that’s circled. She tells him he said the house was their future and she’s doing everything to keep that future alive. She smiles as she tells him it’s almost time to explain what she’s doing. They kiss and it seems like the old Emma and Hook, and then she says she can’t tell him everything until it’s all over because if he knew, he’d do everything possible to stop her. Hook passes out in her arms.
Zelena’s wheeled into the hospital, blaming everything on Emma as she screams in pain. “Let’s just say if the Dark One offers you onion rings, don’t eat them!” Dr. Whale (David Anders) is there and Regina says, “We really need another doctor in this town,” asking him what’s with the dye job (Anders’ hair is white from iZombie). He says, “So Emma changes her hair and no one makes a fuss but I get ridiculed? Come on, you know you like it.” Zelena remembers that she almost killed him last time they were together when she stole Mary Margaret’s baby. Just then in rushes Belle and Mary Margaret, informing the group that they have to protect the baby from Emma. They’ve found the spell to destroy light magic in Merlin’s spell book and Emma will need the cries of a newborn child to use Excalibur. Zelena begs them to protect her.
Back in Camelot, Zelena asks Emma who she should execute first, Hook or David? Emma hands Zelena the flame and Arthur wants her to check to see if it’s real. It’s not, and Emma uses dark magic to incapacitate Zelena. Emma asks Arthur if he wants to give up her family or keep fighting, and he makes Merlin take on Emma. They battle it out and Merlin tells her he wishes she could defeat him, but she can’t. Arthur orders Merlin to kill Mary Margaret. He makes a vine come down the tree to strangle Mary Margaret while Emma tells Merlin he has to keep trying to fight off the darkness. “You are the greatest sorcerer that ever lived. If you can’t fight off the darkness, no one can,” says Emma. Mary Margaret’s dying, but then Merlin stops himself. Hook breaks free and attacks Arthur, and Arthur flees but without Excalibur. Arthur saves Zelena and they vanish. Emma heals Hook’s cuts and the good guys appear to have won – for now. Emma picks up Excalibur. All she needs to do is light the spark and they can get the darkness out.
Everyone’s at Granny’s Diner telling Henry, Belle, and the rest of the group what happened. Emma takes the spark outside to work on it and Regina goes out to help her. Emma says Rumple’s still in her head because she thinks she might not be able to say goodbye to the darkness now, and Regina knows exactly how she feels. It’s wrong, but it’s also human says Regina. Regina says she really knows her and that if she’s clinging to the darkness there’s a good reason she’s doing it. Emma says she doesn’t know why she’s doing it, but Regina thinks maybe she just doesn’t want to know why. Regina tells her it’s time the walls come down. Regina uses the dagger to command her to explain why she wants to keep the darkness, and at first Emma answers that it’s because without it she doesn’t know if she can protect her family. Regina tells her that’s not the truth and to knock down those walls and let the real reason out. Hook, Mary Margaret, and David show up before Regina can get that final answer. Mary Margaret thinks Regina was being cruel but Regina says she was just getting to the truth.
Back in Storybrooke, Zelena delivers a baby girl while Regina and Mary Margaret patrol the hallway to protect the baby. After the birth, Robin holds his daughter and shows her to Regina. In comes Emma and she throws Dr. Whale against the wall (poor guy!). She congratulates Zelena, and David and Regina swear she won’t take the baby without a fight. “That would be a problem if it was the baby I was after,” says Emma, surprising everyone by taking Zelena.
Hook comes to and he’s chained up next to Zelena. She tells him she was kidnapped right after she gave birth. They are down by Excalibur’s stone, and Emma has spell books and tools laid out on a table. Zelena thinks Emma wants to steal her magic. Emma says she’s not stealing Zelena’s dark magic, she’s actually giving hers to Zelena. She tells Hook he was right and her plan all along has been to destroy dark magic. Hook asks if that’s the truth, why didn’t she say that? Why keep it a secret? She says because she knew he wouldn’t let her do what needs to be done. The darkness has to have a vessel and that will be Zelena. She’s going to cut Zelena down with Excalibur’s blade and that will be the end of the darkness. That’s why she sped up Zelena’s pregnancy – to not hurt the baby. Hook says she’s still talking about cold-blooded murder. Hook thinks Merlin would have a solution that doesn’t involve murder but Emma says Merlin can’t help them anymore.
Back in Camelot, Emma has the spark and the dagger. She’s staring at them and up walks Hook. Emma says she knows why she’s afraid of letting go of the darkness and hands Hook the paper with the house circled. She’s afraid of their future. Hook forgot boys can’t keep secrets and he asks if she’s afraid to light the flame because she’s afraid to move in with him. Emma explains it’s about everything. She can only admit her true feelings when she thinks she’s losing someone. Hook doesn’t get it and she says she does want a future with him. He tells her the future isn’t anything to be afraid of. They kiss and the spark ignites into a flame.
In Storybrooke, Mary Margaret, Regina, and David storm over to Emma’s house. In the front yard, Regina claims she’s ready to show the Dark Swan what dark magic really looks like. Inside, Hook and Zelena are trying to figure out how to get out before Emma returns. Zelena needs her magic shackle off in order to escape and Hook says he can do it with his hook because he imbued it with magic a while back to rip her heart out. He can’t trust Zelena but she points out he doesn’t have a choice. He takes the shackle off and she’s got her magic back. She frees Hook and they walk out.
Regina argues with Mary Margaret and David about using dark magic when Emma comes out and tells them they’ll be thanking her when she’s done with Zelena. Emma says back in Camelot Regina helped her admit things about herself, and Regina says this is not the way to handle Zelena. Emma uses Excalibur to freeze everyone and while Emma’s busy, Zelena and Hook can sneak out – but Hook won’t. He needs answers, but Zelena leaves.
Hook looks around for the squid ink Emma stole from Gold’s store. He sees a framed print that looks out of place and takes it down right as Emma comes back inside. On the back of the frame he sees the vial of squid ink he was searching for and grabs it. He tosses it on Emma and tells her she’s going to tell him what he needs to know about Camelot. Zelena comes back in, declaring she also can’t run until she gets some answers and until she makes the Dark One pay. Emma’s frozen in place by the squid ink but can speak and as Zelena passes by she sees she’s holding a knife behind her back. Zelena stabs Hook in the chest but he doesn’t die. Hook has no idea why he’s not dead. Zelena has the dreamcatcher she found outside and it has all the memories from Camelot. Hook wants her to show him what memory Emma is still hiding from him.
The dreamcatcher works and Hook watches as the Storybrooke gang is gathered at Granny’s Diner where Merlin is ready to help Emma get rid of the darkness once and for all. Emma smiles at Hook, picks up the flame, and uses it to reunite the two halves of Excalibur. As Emma is putting them back together, Hook falls to the floor with blood gushing from his neck. Emma had healed the wound Arthur inflicted with Excalibur, but Merlin explains that a cut from Excalibur cannot be healed. Neither he nor Emma are strong enough to save Hook. Hook wants to see Excalibur back together before he dies, telling her their future is now. Emma won’t accept Hook’s death and quickly figures out a way to save him. She will use the Promethean Flame to release Merlin from Excalibur and then she’ll use it to tether Hook’s life to it instead. Merlin says if she does that it will multiple the darkness so that it can’t be destroyed without paying the steepest of prizes. But Emma doesn’t care what happens and she won’t listen to her friends or parents telling her not to do this. Emma will not let anyone stop her.
The next scene shows it’s just Emma and Hook, alone in a field of beautiful pink flowers. Hes dying and he tells her he wants her to let him go. He doesn’t want to become dark and Emma says they’ll fight it off together. Hook says he’s not as strong as her and that he’s succumb to darkness before and it took centuries to push it away. He just doesn’t know if he can do it again. He dies in her arms. She picks up Excalibur and holds it over Hook. At Granny’s, Merlin tells them it’s too late as he’s untethered from Excalibur while Hook is now tethered. Killian’s name appears on the blade and Emma transforms into the Dark Swan. Up from the portal arises Hook as the Dark Hook.
In Storybrooke, Hook finishes watching the memory and sees himself in a dark hood and evil. He had no idea and Emma apologizes. He can’t handle the truth until he looks at the sword and sees both their names. Emma had used a cloaking spell to hide his name but it’s gone. Zelena laughs and says, “I suppose it’s not the Dark One anymore, is it? More like the Dark Ones.” Hook knows now that she saved his life twice today because she didn’t want him to know he can’t die. Emma says she wanted to fix it before he knew, and she still believes the only way to save them is to destroy the darkness using Zelena. Hook says that what she did wasn’t “saving” him. He’s furious and says, “So much for our future, Swan.”
Zelena asks Hook if he wants to know what else happened in Camelot and he says yes, “But first we have to take care of her,” meaning Emma…
Once Upon a Time Season 5 Recaps: Episode 1 The Dark Swan / Episode 2 The Price / Episode 3 Siege Perilous / Episode 4 The Broken Kingdom / Episode 5 Dreamcatcher / Episode 6 Bear and the Bow / Episode 7 Nimue