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This article focuses on the Season Five episode, "The Dark Swan".
For the Enchanted Forest character, see Emma Swan.
For the magical entity, see Darkness.
The fight to control my darkness has just begun.
Emma Swan

"The Dark Swan" is the first episode of Season Five of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz and directed by Ron Underwood. It is the eighty-ninth episode of the series overall, and premiered on September 27, 2015. This episode is the fifth-season premiere.


Immediately after becoming the Dark One, Emma disappears and the heroes must band together to save her, but first they have to find her, which will require the help of an unlikely ally. Meanwhile, in the Enchanted Forest, Emma struggles to resist her dark urges as she searches for Merlin in the hope that he can stop her transformation. Along the way to Camelot, she gets help from the plucky and brave warrior princess Merida, as well as King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.[2]


Deleted Scenes

Ribbon cutting ceremony

The former site of Granny's Diner has been transformed into a beer garden. Mr. Clark, driving the Sheriff's car and wearing a red leather jacket similar to Emma's garment of choice, pulls up in front of the beer garden to witness a ribbon cutting ceremony with Bashful, Dopey and Walter in attendance (the Dwarves who didn't leave for Camelot).[3][4]

Wrecked beer garden

The beer garden in front of Granny's Diner has been wrecked, presumably due to the diner landing after being transported back to Storybrooke. Emma, fully transformed into the Dark Swan, is wearing a long black robe and can be seen near the wrecked beer garden.[4][5]



Guest Starring





Production Notes

  • As of this episode, Rebecca Mader and Sean Maguire are billed as "starring".[2]
  • Merlin was originally not set to appear in the season premiere.[10]
  • According to Amy Manson, Merida's storyline on Once Upon a Time takes place ten years after Brave's movie events.[11]
  • Henry mentions that Regina uses his birthday for all of her passwords, including the one for the entrance to the psychiatric ward. In "A Tale of Two Sisters", Regina types 815 as password for the psychiatric ward, meaning that Henry's birthday is August 15.
  • Zelena cutting off her own hand with a knife, was based on a sequence from the script for the Season Four episode "The Apprentice", in which Hook cut off his re-attached hand with a "meat cleaver or something". However, the network thought this would be far too dramatic. The idea was used for this episode instead.[12]
  • The scenes with Emma and Merida at the Hill of Stones was originally written as one scene, but during editing, they decided that it would play better if the scene was cut in two, with the diner scene between them.[12]
  • Originally, Emma's Dark One persona was going to have white eyebrows. Eventually, they gave up on that idea.[13]
  • During the filming of a scene between Rumplestiltskin and Emma, Robert Carlyle grabbed Jennifer Morrison's face. This take was not in the final episode, as Robert was playing Rumplestiltskin as a voice inside of Emma's head.[14]
  • In one scene in Storybrooke, the filming crew had to make the ground look wet. They brought in a city truck to spray water on the ground, which was against the rules, as the lower mainland was on a level three water restriction at the moment. They then took a pro-active approach and used ditchwater and recycled water instead, and even put up a sign on the truck saying so.[15]

Event Chronology

Episode Connections




Fairytales and Folklore

Popular Culture

Props Notes

  • King Arthur's coat of arms is traditionally depicted as azure (blue) or gules (red) with three or (yellow) crowns (in thirteenth century manuscripts), or azure with thirteen crowns (in later texts).[22] On the show, Arthur's coat of arms is red with a yellow crown surround by four yellow sea-wyverns; however, there also a yellow version with a red crown and red sea-wyverns.[18] A sea-wyvern is legendary creature with a dragon's head and wings, a reptilian body, two legs, and a fish tail. It is the sea-dwelling variant of the creature known as a wyvern.

Costume Notes

Filming Locations

International Titles



  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2
  4. 4.0 4.1 (section "7/17/15 (Steveston filming)"
  7. File:501Title.png
  12. 12.0 12.1 Jennifer Morrison, Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis on the Season Five Blu-ray/DVD Audio Commentary
  14. 14.0 14.1
  16. File:501Surprise.png
  17. File:501What2.png
  18. 18.0 18.1 File:501ItsOtherHalf.png
  20. 20.0 20.1 File:501WatchingKay.png
  21. File:501IWasJustWorried.png
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4
  23. File:615INeedAnAnswer.png
  24. File:501TellThePeople.png
  26. File:501AllTheRealms.png
  27. File:502PercivalIsDead.png
  28. File:501ThreeTimes.png
  29. File:210YesIDo.png
  30. File:322WeDidIt2.png
  31. File:501Swan.png
  32. File:501MaybeYouLike.png
  34. File:502ShesHereInStorybrooke.png
  35. File:501MaybeYouLike.png
  39. File:502TheBloodyCrocodile.png
  40. File:211HookCameHere2.png
  41. File:501ThatWand.png
  43. File:502ReadyToTrustMe.png
  44. File:501FinallyGotHimToSleep.png
  45. 45.0 45.1
  46. File:511DoingThisRight.png
  50. File:501KingArthurOfCamelot.png
  51. File:509SneakingUpOnFergus.png
  52. File:501SneezyIntoStone.png
  53. Zetabords copy of the original Tweet:
    Wikia back-up copy: File:TWMadelxine-back-up-501.png
  60. The title is a nod to "Dark One", named "Senhor das Trevas" ("Lord of the Darkness") in Portuguese version.

Start a Discussion Discussions about The Dark Swan

  • Ideas for future storylines

    445 messages
    • To continue the debate whether Once = or =/= Disney.
    • 1. A Candle Cove arch (and maybe a spinoff show) 2.a the adventures of Billy and Mandy arch
  • First look at Dark Swan!

    46 messages
    • Eskaver wrote:I love it! Dark One's do like their dark colors. (Although, Rumple was quite vibrant). And yes, I was right about the Dark ...
    • LeonKingg wrote:Eskaver wrote:I love it! Dark One's do like their dark colors. (Although, Rumple was quite vibrant). And yes, I was ri...