"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.
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).
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.
- The title card features Granny's Diner in the woods.
- The title of this episode was leaked by Mark Isham via his Instagram account on June 30, 2015, and officially announced by Adam Horowitz via his Twitter account on July 7, 2015.
- Merlin was originally not set to appear in the season premiere.
- According to Amy Manson, Merida's storyline on Once Upon a Time takes place ten years after Brave's movie events.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Land Without Magic flashbacks take place in 1989, a few years after the events of "The Stranger", and a few years before "Snow Drifts". (For more details, see the Land Without Magic timeline)
- The Storybrooke events take place after "Operation Mongoose Part 2" and before "The Price".
- The Enchanted Forest events take place after "Fall" and before "The Broken Kingdom". (For more details, see the Enchanted Forest timeline)
- The Camelot flashbacks take place immediately before the scene where King Arthur shows Excalibur to his subjects in "The Broken Kingdom", and before Lancelot's banishment in the same episode. (For more details, see the Camelot timeline)
- The present Camelot events take place years after Lancelot's banishment, and before "The Price".
- Merlin tells Emma that one day, she will get the opportunity to remove Excalibur from its stone. This comes true in "The Bear and the Bow".
- Emma became the Dark One in "Operation Mongoose Part 2".
- Regina refers to Hook as "guyliner", which she also did in "Family Business".
- The Apprentice dies from the injuries he received in "Operation Mongoose Part 2".
- Gorgon the Invincible takes the form of a bandersnatch, a creature that previously appeared in the series spin-off Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.
- Zelena was locked away in the psychiatric ward in "Mother".
- Henry broke the Enchanted Quill in "Operation Mongoose Part 2".
- The Darkness suggests that Emma gets a hobby to the pass the time, which she does in "The Broken Kingdom".
- Hook makes a reference to Henry's "Wookie prisoner gag" from "Operation Mongoose Part 2".
- Hook tells Zelena about how her sister sent him to rip out Cora's heart, an event which took place in "Queen of Hearts".
- Zelena cast a protection spell on her heart, just like Regina did with Henry's heart in "Save Henry", and David and Mary Margaret's shared heart, as told in "Heartless".
- Zelena uses magic re-attach a severed limb, just like Mr. Gold did in "The Doctor" and "The Apprentice".
- Zelena talks about when she was glamoured as Marian, a storyline which began in "There's No Place Like Home", and concluded in "Heart of Gold".
- Zelena says that Robin Hood smells of forest. Regina said the same thing in "Witch Hunt".
- Zelena tells Regina, "Hello sis, I see you've fixed the clock", a reference to their fight, which happened in "It's Not Easy Being Green".
- Emma uses her powers to pull Merida to her, just like the previous Dark One, Mr. Gold, did with Roland in "Bleeding Through".
- When Henry first meets Emma as the Dark One, he tells her, "Mom? What happened to you?" His father, Baelfire, asked his own father the same thing, when the latter had just became the Dark One in "Desperate Souls".
- The reason why Emma embraced the role as the Dark One is revealed in "Birth".
- How everyone returned to Storybrooke, and the reason why their memories are gone, is explained in "Broken Heart". The missing memories are returned in the same episode.
- This episode introduces Merida from Brave. Also featured are the Will-o'-the-wisps and the Hill of Stones from the same movie.
- Mother Superior gives Belle a rose in a jar, an iconic object from Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
Fairytales and Folklore
- This episode features King Arthur, Lancelot, Percival, and Sir Kay from the Arthurian Legend, Captain Hook from the Peter Pan story, Robin Hood from the ballad, Rumplestiltskin from the Rumpelstiltskin fairytale and the Wicked Witch from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
- One of the previous Dark Ones is called Gorgon the Invincible. The Gorgons were female creatures from Greek Mythology, who had hair made of living, venomous snakes, and anyone who gazed into their eyes would be turned to stone immediately. Medusa was one of the Gorgons.
- King Arthur's coat of arms is a sea-wyvern, a 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.
- The diner is transported to another world by a cyclone, just like Dorothy Gale's house was in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
- Once Upon a Time co-creator Edward Kitsis is a noted fan of the band Grateful Dead. Percival's coat of arms (a lightning bolt against a red and blue background) is from the cover of the band's double live album Steal Your Face (1976).
- Hook mentions Henry's "Wookie prisoner gag" from "Operation Mongoose Part 2"; a reference to the scene from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, where Han Solo and Luke Skywalker pretend Chewbacca is their prisoner in order to enter the Death Star's detention area.
- The Severe Nurse's name is revealed to be "Nurse Ratched", from the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The man with a mop looks like Chief Bromden from the 1975 movie of the same name.
- When "Regina" enters Mary Margaret's apartment, Robin is holding a copy of the children's picture book Goodnight Moon.
- Zelena refers to Oz as the land "over the rainbow". This is the feature song by Judy Garland from the 1939 The Wizard of Oz film.
- 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). 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. 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.
- In the Arthurian Legend, each Knight of the Round Table is often accompanied by a heraldic description of a coat of arms:
- Lancelot's coat of arms is traditionally depicted as an argent (silver) shield with three bends (a band running from the bearer's right side corner of the shield to the bearer's left side) gules (red). On the show, however, Lancelot's coat of arms is almost identical to that of Sir Bors, who is Lancelot's cousin in the legend. In Arthurian heraldry, Sir Bors' coat of arms is similar to Lancelot's, but is emblazoned with ermines (a pattern of black shapes representing the winter coat of a stoat).
- Sir Percival's coat of arms is traditionally depicted as azure (blue) fenced with crosses or (yellow). On Once Upon a Time, Percival's coat of arms (a lightning bolt against a red and blue background) is from the cover of the band's double live album Steal Your Face (1976).
- Sir Kay's coat of arms is traditionally depicted as azure with two argent keys placed back to back. On Once Upon a Time, his coat of arms is similar to that of Sir Safir. Safir's crest is vair (a set of patterns which represents a kind of fur common in the Middle Ages) azure and argent, and checky (divided into several rows of squares of two alternating tinctures) vert (green) and or. However, the show's version is all vair, and the colors are vert and argent.
- Interestingly, in "The Price", black and white versions of both Kay and Percival's actual coats of arms from the legend, are hanging on two of the seats around the Round Table.
- When Emma emerges from the vault, she is wearing the same dress that the Evil Queen wore when she was imprisoned in "The Cricket Game", but with a different cloak. In "There's No Place Like Home", Emma wore a lightened version of the same dress when she was the Evil Queen's prisoner.
- The sleeves on Emma's cloak have swan-like feathers.
- Mary Margaret is wearing a 3.1 Philip Lim Floral Macramé Blouse. She wears the same blouse in "The Price".
- Belle is wearing a Wilfred Festin Jacket, an Opening Ceremony Cabbage Knit Flare Skirt and a pair of Jimmy Choo Cosmic Leather Pumps (no longer available).
- Regina's necklace is an Alexis Bittar Gold Capped Crescent Pendant. This pendant is also worn by her in "The Price".
- The armor Percival wears in present day Camelot is the same one Arthur wears when he kills King Fergus in "The Bear King" but with different shoulder pads.
- When everyone returns to Storybrooke, Emma is wearing a hair ornament reminiscent of the wings of a swan.
- The interior scenes at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota, were filmed at the Dunbar Theatre in Vancouver.
- Minaty Bay (north of Steveston Village) doubles as Camelot for the beach scene with King Arthur, Lancelot and Percival.
- The Hill of Stones scenes were filmed in Robert Burnaby Park in East Burnaby.
- The diner scene in the Enchanted Forest, and the Camelot scene where Emma and her friends enter King Arthur's castle, were filmed in Burnaby's Central Park.
|Finnish||"Pimeyden pyörteissä"||"In the Vortex of Darkness"|
|French||"La Ténébreuse"||"The Dark One"|
|Italian||"La Signora Oscura"||"The Dark One"|
|Polish||"Mroczna Emma"||"Dark Emma"|
|Portuguese||"Emma das Trevas"||"Emma of the Darkness"|