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The vault will only restore the Dark One in exchange for another life.
Belle French to Emma Swan src

The Vault of the Dark One is an Enchanted Forest location featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It first appears in the fifteenth episode of the third season.

History

Before First Curse

According to legend, the first Dark One emerged from the Dark One vault, with some claiming that she was actually born from the darkness within it. ("Operation Mongoose Part 2", "Quiet Minds")

In actuality, the first Dark One was Nimue, and she constructed the vault for her own usage. If the legend is to be believed, then the first glimpse the world got of the Dark One was Nimue emerging from the vault she had made. ("Nimue")

The Vault of the Dark One, located in the ground as a circular seal, can restore a Dark One by sacrificing a life. It's not known if the prior Dark One, Zoso, ever used the vault. When Rumplestiltskin gains power as the Dark One, he gains a key from the vault, which is hidden in a book in his castle. ("Quiet Minds")

During his reign as king of Camelot, Arthur becomes consumed with finding Excalibur's missing half, the Dark One's Dagger, so much that he begins neglecting his wife, Guinevere. When he thinks that he discovered the location of the dagger, Lancelot prepares to leave to go there, but Arthur insists he stay to protect Guinevere, while he himself goes instead. That night, Guinevere finds a Magic Gauntlet in Merlin's tower that reveals the dagger's location as Arthur's greatest weakness. Intending to get the dagger, she tries to leave, before Lancelot agrees to accompany her. The gauntlet takes them to the Vault of the Dark One, and after entering into it, Guinevere saves Lancelot from the Darkness. Relieved to not have lost him, she kisses him, before apologizing and stating that it can never happen again. And from one door in the vault, they find the dagger on a table stand, but it's protected by a barrier. In exchange for the gauntlet, Rumplestiltskin offers Guinevere enchanted sand to give the illusion that Excalibur is whole. Lancelot begs her not to, but she accepts the deal and gives the magic gauntlet to the Dark One. ("The Broken Kingdom")

Before Second Curse
After Mr. Gold's death, no new Dark One assumes the role since he dies after stabbing himself with the dagger. Following a return to the Enchanted Forest, Belle and Neal research for a way to bring him back. The Wicked Witch of the West, with her own ulterior motives, nudges them in the right direction by deploying a candelabrum, Lumiere, to show them the vault key and leading the pair to the vault itself. Once there, Lumiere tells them to brush aside the snow on the ground, which reveals a vault seal. Before Neal can put the key in, Belle realizes Lumiere is lying, after he states having lived in Rumplestiltskin's library for two-hundred years, though the room wasn't built until prior to the first curse. Lumiere admits that he is doing the Wicked Witch's bidding against his will as she wishes to resurrect Rumplestiltskin and control him with the dagger. Belle warns Neal about the consequences if this happens, but he places the key in the vault despite this. The key then brands his palm with a triangle tattoo, and he pays with his life as his father is revived. Rumplestiltskin, unable to accept his son is dying, absorbs him into his own body before Neal perishes. During this distraction, the Wicked Witch grabs the dagger and commands Rumplestiltskin to kill Belle. Before he can follow the order, Lumiere burns his candelabrum flames at the Wicked Witch. Belle then seizes the chance to flee, grabbing Lumiere as she goes, as the Wicked Witch fumbles in anger at her escape. ("Quiet Minds")

During Second Curse
While confined by Zelena, Mr. Gold escapes, and at some point after this, Neal assumes control of their shared body. After fainting, he is taken to the hospital, where Belle notices his palm has a burned triangle symbol and promptly goes to research it. Throughout the day, Neal comes to realize he and his father are sharing the same body. This is further confirmed when Belle finds the symbol on his palm is connected to the Vault of the Dark One, in which someone who uses the vault to resurrect a Dark One is branded and must pay with his life. To ensure Mr. Gold recalls the name of the Wicked Witch of the West, Neal asks Emma to separate him from his father's body. ("Quiet Minds")

Before Third Curse

After absorbing the Darkness, Emma disappears from Storybrooke, with her body reforming out of the Vault of the Dark One in the Enchanted Forest. Finding herself garbed in a cloak, she soon discovers a manifestation of Rumplestiltskin is now her guide, and he intends to stay until she fully accepts her powers. ("The Dark Swan")

After Lancelot comes back to Camelot to warn Mary Margaret about Arthur, he leads her to the Vault to keep the dagger inside the Idyllic Garden safe. Lancelot cautions Mary Margaret against putting the dagger on the table stand since it has a barrier. When she insists on trying, he tries to persuade her into letting him do it instead. Upon seeing her hesitation, Lancelot questions if she doesn't trust him, but before she can answer, Arthur arrives, having followed them. Arthur threatens to kill Lancelot unless Mary Margaret gives him the dagger, and after he moves to make good on his threat, she finally hands it over. While relishing in his victory, Arthur tries to summon Emma, only for it to fail, as Mary Margaret admits the dagger is fake, before David corners Arthur from behind. ("The Broken Kingdom")

After a couple of days, Emma tethers an almost dying Hook to Excalibur which was tethered to Merlin by Zelena. She, refusing to accept this, teleports with him to the middlemist field, hoping to tether him to Excalibur and save his life, even if it means making him a Dark One like her. After Hook passes out, Emma sobs that being without him is not good enough for her. Using the sword, she bonds Hook's life to it, causing him to disappear. İnside the vault, he wakes up but suddenly the Darkness surrounds him and makes him recall what Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold has done to him in his whole life. As the anger inside him grows more for the Crocodile, he reemerges from the vault as a Dark One. ("Birth", "Broken Heart")

After a short time, Merlin, Lancelot and the other Storybrooke inhabitants travel to the Vault of the Dark One to find Hook, but they find him already gone. Then Merlin informs them that the Vault has already accepted Hook as a second Dark One. ("Broken Heart")

Trivia

On-Screen Notes

  • The vault appears in the title card for "Birth".[1]
  • The symbols on the vault[2] includes the tomoe, the triquetra, the triangle, the Eye of Providence (one of the symbols that Guinevere presses to open the vault), the pentagram (which Guinevere also presses) and the sun (which Guinevere also presses). Circling all the other symbols is the Ouroboros, which represents cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself — a reference to the way the Darkness is inherited from one host to the next, and the Dark One's eternal life. ("Quiet Minds", "The Broken Kingdom")
  • The Vault of the Dark One is only a day's ride from Camelot. ("The Broken Kingdom")

Production Notes

  • The scene where Hook rises from the vault, is a combination of new footage and recycled footage from the scene where Emma rises from the vault in "The Dark Swan". The shot where the darkness begins to manifest into human form,[3] the following wide-shot where the transformation continues,[4] and the following close-up shot where the camera pans up the manifesting darkness,[5] are exactly the same in both scenes, the only difference being the lighting, and the third shot being shorter during Hook's scene (in Emma's scene, the camera pans up to Emma's face; in Hook's scene, the shot ends before it reaches the face). ("Birth", "Broken Heart")

Props Notes

Filming Locations

Appearances

Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.

See Also

References

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