I didn’t love this episode as much as the earlier ones in the season, but it definitely wasn’t bad. Instead of Camelot flashbacks we got a look at Hook/Killian Jones’s past: a father who abandoned him and his brother, and whom he later killed when Evil Queen Regina was testing him as an assassin. The recurring theme of the episode is: “What type of man do you want to be?” which comes into play with both Hook and Rumple/Mr. Gold (more on that later). In the present, we have Emma preparing to face off against Hook and make the ultimate sacrifice to protect her family.
All the Dark Ones of ages past have gotten a temporary visa to visit Storybrooke. To stay permanently, they have to exchange someone from the land of the living. Rumple, Regina, Snow, Charming, Henry, and Robin Hood end up marked for the Underworld. Rumple says there is no escaping this fate and they should all make the best of their last moments with their loved ones. He sends Belle out of town, encouraging her to follow her dreams of seeing the world, while the Charmings plan one last family dinner. Somewhat hilariously, Regina makes the best of her ‘family’ moment by sending Zelena back to Oz.
Meanwhile, Emma refuses to lose her family and asks Rumple for Excalibur. She plans to take all the power of the Dark Ones into herself, and then kill herself with the sword. Hook steals it from her and time runs out. As the ferryman approaches, Nimue goes all Force-Choke on Emma to prevent further interference. Seeing the woman he loves in pain, plus some goading from Regina about “what kind of man he wants to be,” prompts Hook to change his mind. He absorbs all of the Dark Ones and then pleads with Emma to use Excalibur on him and end the chaos.
Tearfully, Emma runs him through with Excalibur and her dark power goes with it. Major kudos to Jennifer Morrison for the many emotions she’s conveyed in the Dark Swan arc. I’m a little sad to see Dark Emma go, but wow did I miss her rocking the red jacket. Unfortunately, the next day Emma is hearing strange whispers. She demands to speak with Rumple/Gold, who’s just reunited with Belle. Emma accuses him of having the dagger because she can hear it calling to her.
The logistics are a little unclear, but it turns out that Rumple enchanted Excalibur before giving it to Emma: it became a conduit for all the dark magic stored inside, and Rumplestiltskin is again the sole Dark One, with ALL the power of the previous ones. The fact that Hook was the one who died in the process was really just a nice bonus. Emma’s understandably pissed, and threatens to tell Belle unless he helps her get Killian back from the Underworld.
I’m still processing a lot of this episode and what it means for the next story arc, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on “Swan Song.” We’ve got until March to theorize, so let’s get going! Comment below with your likes, dislikes, and questions. You can look forward to my own speculations for the 100th episode in next week’s article.