Recap by Leigh Ann--@leigh_ann415
The winter finale of Once Upon a Time was full of heart-wrenching, epic moments sure to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Add to that a twist that nobody saw coming and a cliffhanger to keep us wanting more. Adam and Eddy did not disappoint with the writing of this episode. With stellar performances from the entire cast, most notably Jennifer Morrison and Colin O'Donoghue, “Swan Song” proved to be an episode for the record books.
Our tale starts off with a flashback on a ship in a raging storm. It cuts to a young Killian, obviously frightened. He yells for his father when the flame flickers out in the lamp. We are then introduced to Brennan Jones, Hook's father. He tells Killian it's all right because he's there, and relights the lamp. He tells Killian there's nothing to be afraid of. “Whenever you feel scared, all you have to do is look inside,” pointing to his heart, “We're all braver than we think, if we just look deep enough.” He then goes on to say that he's trying to prepare Killian for becoming a man, and what kind of man is he going to be. Young Killian thinks about that for a minute, and then says he wants to be just like his father. His father smiles and says that's a nice answer. Then he tucks Killian back into bed, telling him to find that brave part deep inside himself. And he doesn't have to worry about anything; his father will watch the light for him.
Sometime later, Killian awakens, and the light is out again. He knows something is wrong, so he gets out of bed and goes over to wake Liam, his brother. He says that their father is gone. He opens the door, and a man walks in saying, “Looking for your father? Look out there; he rowed away an hour ago.” The man goes on to then say Killian's father isn't who he thinks, he's a fugitive from the law. Killian obviously doesn't believe the man, asking “Why would he leave us?” The man goes on to say, “He traded you and your brother into my service.” Killian is furious saying, “No, he wouldn't do that.” And the stranger says now he knows what kind of man his father really is.
We cut to present day, with the adult Killian waiting for Mr. Gold to arrive with Excalibur. Killian says it would appear he has won. Rumple replies rather sarcastically, “Oh did you?” He goes on to say, “Last time we fought, this sword ended up in your neck.” Killian answers, “You won the battle, not the war. I took the dagger from you. Now you have nothing, and never will.” Gold swipes the sword around, saying “Watch it, pirate.” Hook then jumps around in his red smoke to the other side, exclaiming, “Ah, there's the Rumpelstiltskin we know and love. That is why Belle's left you, isn't it? She knows just what kind of man you really are,” echoing the words from the flashback scene. Gold asks “What kind is that?” Hook's answer is “A man who loves his power more than anything; more than her, more than your dead son, which is why it's so bloody satisfying to take it away from you. Remember how good it felt.” Gold then says “Power is only as good as the one who owns it, and you've done nothing but parlor tricks.” Hook replies sarcastically, “Oh is that right? I think you're really going to like what's next. The trick where I finally get my revenge.”
Back in Storybrooke, Charming is trying to get Emma to slow down and talk about the plan. But Emma won't have any of it. She wants to find Hook before he resurrects all the Dark Ones. Mary Margaret then says that he didn't want to become a Dark One. Emma says that he did because of her. Regina wants to fight, but Emma is having none of it. Mary Margaret is shocked, saying, “This a man you loved.” But Emma says that man died back in Camelot. Now all that's left is the Dark One. She says they need to split up and find him and stop him, no matter what it takes.
Robin and Regina next are out looking for Hook. They are then interrupted by Zelena. Robin and Regina want nothing to do with her right then. But Zelena says she wants to have a chat about her daughter. She's worked up an alteration to their custody arrangement and wants sole custody, raising her by herself without Robin or Regina getting in the way. This obviously upsets Robin; he pulls his arrow back, ready to fight. He warns her not to try to take his daughter away from him. But Zelena just laughs, in her wonderfully wicked laugh. She says there's no point in arguing over their baby girl, because soon enough they'll both be dead. Regina is shocked, wanting to know what Zelena means. Zelena says, “Ask them,” pointing behind Regina to reveal the Dark Ones.
Emma enters Gold's shop, saying there's no sign of Hook, the next stop is the Jolly Roger. We then hear Henry screaming outside for help. Emma rushes outside, finding Nimue confronting Henry. She tells him not to move, but Nimue says it's too late, and paralyzes him. Emma runs over to Henry and asks if he's okay. He says he thinks so, as the others walk up to them. Regina wants to know what just happened to them. Gold then appears, saying he has the answer. He tells them to check their wrists. They are embellished with the mark of Charon, the ferryman who carries newly deceased souls across the river Styx. Gold then says the Dark Ones have only a temporary pass into this world. The only way to stay is to trade places with a living soul, which means our group of heroes. Gold says when the moon reaches its peak, the ferry from the Underworld will arrive to take them down there. Regina asks how they can stop it, but Gold says they can't. Emma then says that he's scaring Henry, and tries to comfort him. But Gold just says they should all be scared. This is a fight they cannot win. Emma says she's not going to give up. Gold warns to use this time wisely, to use it to say goodbye.
The Dark Ones are still around, looking for victims, with Nimue at the lead. We then see Hook, looking out over the harbor. Regina walks up to him, saying she might find him somewhere with the view of the sea. Hook says there's no use in hiding now. Regina tells Killian he can't go through with this, She knows that he thinks Emma has betrayed him, but she asks if dragging her family to the Underworld is really the answer. Killian is shocked that Regina would say that, bringing up the Dark Curse. She of all people should know how far someone would go for revenge. And unfortunately for her, so do all the people she's killed who are waiting for her in the Underworld. But she says she's not that person anymore. She then says he may be the Dark One, but they both know he's not the man she recruited to kill her mother. When she starts talking about the past, Hook stops her, silencing her, saying they agreed they would never speak of what happened in the past again. She has no idea what kind of man he truly is.
We next see a flashback from the Enchanted Forest. Hook is staring off at Regina's castle as a horse and carriage rides by. It stops and our Evil Queen Regina steps out of it. Hook says he'll kill her mother, but in exchange, he wants her to bring him to a land without magic where he can finally get his revenge on Rumple. Regina agrees, but first she needs to know what kind of man he really is, a recurring theme for this episode. She says her mother is an expert at one thing, exploiting weakness, and she needs to make sure he has none. Hook realizes it's a test. He gets in anyway, with Regina laughing her malicious Evil Queen laugh. It's wonderful to see our Evil Queen again.
Then Henry and the others are seen looking through books to stop Gold's plan of going into the Underworld. Henry says there has to be a way to escape it. Mary Margaret says that maybe Gold's right, surprising Emma. Emma says she's Snow White, she doesn't know how to give up hope. Hope is in her blood. But Mary Margaret doesn't want to spend what could be her last moments looking through books. She wants to make the most of her moments with her family. Henry suggests having dinner at Granny's, and Charming agrees. But Emma says Neal will be left all alone. Mary Margaret says he won't be alone, he'll have Emma. Emma tearfully says she won't give up on her own family. Mary Margaret says they're almost out of time, and time is what's most important, time with those we love. A lesson we should all learn from. Mary Margaret kisses Emma on the forehead and says she knows Emma won't stop trying, and she wants her to succeed. But she wants Emma to meet them at Granny's, to say goodbye. Emma tearfully promises. They hug one more time and Mary Margaret says she loves Emma. Emma says “I love you too.” And then Mary Margaret walks out with Henry, Charming, and the baby.
Regina arrives, saying she hears they're giving up. Emma says they're not ever giving up. She says if she can destroy the Dark Ones, everybody will be spared. Regina asks how. Emma needs Regina to keep that promise and swear she won't tell anyone else. Regina says to get rid of the darkness, you still have to put it in someone and sacrifice them. She asks who, and Emma replies, “Me.”
Back in Gold's shop, Belle comes in. Rumple gives her something that'll save her when she crosses the town line. He says maybe one day she'll come back, but he wants her to go see the world and have a life. He tells gives her the car and says goodbye. After she leaves, Rumple looks at the mark of Charon on his wrist.
The bell jingles, signaling somebody has entered. It is Emma and Regina. They're not going down without a fight. Emma says she just needs Excalibur. Gold realizes then she wants to use it to take all the darkness into herself and destroy the sword and herself. Gold looks shocked Emma would even consider doing it, but he gives her Excalibur anyway. He says Excalibur was destined to be in the hands of a true hero. Emma and Regina start to go out of the shop, until Gold says it might not work. The blade chooses who it finds worthy. But Emma says it doesn't matter. She needs to be with her family while she can. She tells Regina to come to Granny's with her. But Regina says she can't, because she and Robin need to protect Roland and the baby from Zelena.
Now in the mayor's office, Regina and Robin enter to find Zelena sitting in Regina's desk. Regina then pulls out the Apprentice's wand. Zelena says that the last time Regina tried to use it, she wasn't powerful enough to make it work. Regina stops her, saying last time she didn't believe in herself, but now she does, as does everyone in the town. Regina whisks the two sisters off in a cloud of purple smoke to the clock tower. But Zelena is disappointed Regina chose it, saying she thought Regina was going to use the wand. Regina says she is, and a green tornado appears, knocking Zelena off her feet. She is then sucked into the cyclone. Zelena screams Regina will see her again. But Regina replies, with a great line, “Somewhere over the rainbow!” As Zelena is whisked away, Regina says, “Enjoy Oz, witch.” And that would appear to be the last we see of Zelena...for now.
Meanwhile, Hook is watching this play out as Nimue sneaks up behind him. He doesn't say anything as the scene cuts back to the Enchanted Forest flashback to a pub where Brennan Jones is working. He says he knows what Regina wants him to do: kill his father. Hook then reveals himself to Brennan who is taken aback, asking how is this possible. He left many centuries ago. Hook says they both found a way to cheat death. Hook's father then goes on to say that he was put under a sleeping curse. Hook doesn't believe this, asking why is he awake now. It was True Love's Kiss that broke the spell. His True Love changed him. As Brennan breathes an apology, Hook asks where the woman is. His father replies that she is dead. Hook then says he came there to kill him. His life would be the price he had to pay to finally get his revenge on Rumple. But he says they both have lost too much, and he's planning on sparing his father. In order to let Regina think that he killed him, he says he can arrange transport to somewhere to start again. Brennan asks if it would be possible to bring two. He goes on to say that he has a son.
In Storybrooke Emma arrives at her house, and gets Excalibur. But Hook appears, saying he can't let her use the sword on herself. She says if she doesn't do this the man she loves will die. But Hook says if she does, she will die. Hook then tells Emma to hand over the sword. But Emma won't give in, saying, “Now you care what happens to me?” Emma then says that revenge did not matter to the Killian she knew. Hook replies that it did, Emma just distracted him. Hook says that she should've let him die like he wanted. But Emma apologizes, saying she couldn't watch one more person she loved die. And Hook says now she gets to watch everyone she loves die. Then in a poof of red smoke, Hook jumps around her changing into Henry, who takes the sword from Emma. Emma whispers, “Killian, do not do this.” But Hook says it's too late for that, enjoy the time she has left with her family and disappears.
Back at Granny's, Nimue appears and tells Henry and the Charmings that there's no way to stop their trip to the Underworld. She then makes the Charon marks burn, and they are sent off to the lake. Regina runs up to Henry and asks if he's okay. He says he thinks so as Mary Margaret is frantic Neal is back at the diner. Robin says that Roland and the babies are safe with the fairies. Hook arrives then and Henry asks if this is really it. Hook says it is, and points over to the boat that will take them to the Underworld. Emma comes up running to them then, shouting for her parents and Henry saying she's sorry, she tried. Mary Margaret says it's okay. Then Regina walks up to Hook and says it's time to drop the act, he can't just sit back and watch another family being destroyed to get his revenge. Hook asks what makes she think he can't, and Regina replies with what they swore they would never speak of again. She knows the real reason why Hook doesn't want to talk about what he did to his father. She tells him he has to ask the same question he did that night: what kind of man does he want to be?
Back at Hook's father's house, we see Hook looking at his father with his new son. Hook's father calms his son saying that they'll find another home, but what matters most is that they're together. And then, Hook's father tells his son the same thing he told young Killian, whenever he's scared, he just has to look inside his heart. We're all braver than we think. And then we hear his name, Liam. That's enough to get Hook going. When his father goes outside, Hook wants to know why he named his son after his brother who he abandoned. He asks if he was that easy to replace, but Hook's father says he wasn't trying to replace him. He said he did it because he never wanted to make the same mistake, he's changed. Hook gets up in his face then and says people don't change. Hook tells his father he's deciding what kind of man he wants to be. If the Queen discovers he didn't kill him, he might not get what he needs. His father isn't worth it, and Hook pulls a sword through his father's chest, making him fall to the ground. Hook's father tells Killian it's never to late to change. Hook just stands over his father's body as he dies, leaving another boy without a father.
In the present, Nimue comes up to Hook saying it's time. But Emma says she's not taking the people she loves. Nimue stuns Emma, saying she can stop Emma from interfering. Emma holds her hands to her throat, powerless and silent. Hook comes to her aid after a minute and says that's enough. He's being the man he wants to be. Nimue says he can't stop them, but Hook says he can, and raises the sword up, making it turn red. Nimue and all the other Dark Ones are sucked into it. Emma is shocked at what this means. She begs him not to do it. He says they both know what has to happen, and they have to hurry. The Dark Ones won't stay trapped in Excalibur much longer. He tells Emma she has to help him, but she doesn't want to. It should be her. But Hook says her family needs her. He's the one who should go to the Underworld. He was weak, like she said. So he wants to make up for it now by being strong. They tell each other they don't want to lose each other, but Hook says she has to let him go. He wants to die a hero, the man he wants her to remember him by. He hands her the sword, and she takes his hand, and grasps hold of it. She whispers she loves him, and kisses him one more time. He nods for encouragement as she takes the sword and rams it into him. Hook screams. Emma holds onto him and sobs. And in a flash of blue light that makes Regina look away, the Emma that we know and love is back. Red leather jacket and all. She takes the sword out and it starts melting away, opening Hook's earlier cut in Camelot. Emma grabs hold of it, wanting to fix it, as Hook falls to the ground, with her parents looking on. And Regina and Robin trying to console Henry. Emma stays on the ground, sobbing over Hook's body.
Back in the town, Gold is sitting in his shop as another visitor comes. He says they're closed. But the visitor this time is Belle. She says Henry told her everything, and Rumple lied to her. She takes him into her arms then and kisses him. She pulls away and says for the first time he truly was someone. She doesn't need to see the world, she just wants to be with Rumple. They embrace and reconsummate their marriage.
In Emma's house, we see Emma lying on the sofa, clutching Hook's ring. She starts, hearing the dagger singing. She sends a text to Gold telling him to meet her at the shop. He leaves while Belle sleeps. Gold says to Emma unless the sign says it's open, she's not invited. But she replies she was invited, Gold still has the dagger. She says it's calling to her. Rumple tries to deny it, but she insists that he has it. And in true Gold fashion, he pulls it out, revealing that it has his name on it. He is again the Dark One. He says when Emma came to him asking for the sword, he saw an opportunity. One sprinkle from a vial of magic was all it took. And he says while Hook thought he was destroying the darkness, he was actually moving in, channeling it someplace safe. Emma says “Into you,” meaning Gold. And Gold says Hook had no idea and now things are as they should be. Emma is furious and tries to stop Gold, but Gold stops her, saying that she can't hurt him. He has the combined power of every Dark One that ever lived, including Emma. Emma says that he found a loophole and betrayed them all again. But Gold just replies, “It's what I do. It's the man I am.” Emma says now that he has his power back, he's going to do something for her. She wants to go to the Underworld.
In the Charming's loft, Mary Margaret is stunned Emma would consider going to the Underworld. But Emma wants to get Hook back. It isn't fair to Killian since everything was based on a lie. David says that it's a one-for-one trade, to get him back someone will have to die. Mary Margaret says Emma just got back from being the Dark One. She can't give into it again. But Emma says she's giving into love. She's taking a page out of her parent's book. They share a heart, and so will Emma and Hook. Emma's parents just look at her, but Regina says it could work. And Emma says it will work.
Back at the lake again, Emma tels Gold to do it. Gold cuts himself, asking Emma if she's sure about this. Emma is. Gold then takes his blood and drops it into the lake, opening the portal. The boat arrives, and Emma looks back at her parents, who nod. Emma takes the lead as all of our heroes walk into the boat. Emma utters her parent's famous line as she walks into the boat, “Hook, I will find you. I will always find you.”
And that was “Swan Song.” We will have to wait for March 6th to see what waits for our heroes in the world of Underbrooke, where the Storybrooke we know will turn into the Underworld and we will see the likes of Cora, Pan, Milah, Cruella de Vil, and Regina's father all wrecking havoc. We will also have the additions of Hercules and Megara, and possibly Hades too. It's promising to be even more emotional and epic. But not only that. “Souls of the Departed” is the show's 100th episode. Here's to 100 more!