Season 5 is off to a running start and the break-neck speed continued in this week’s episode, "The Price". Longtime fans of the show know that the title is reflective of Rumple’s frequent warning that “All Magic Comes With A Price.” We discovered this week that it is not just Rumple who asks payment in return for magic, but every act of dark magic requires it, no matter who requests it. The residents of Storybrooke are trapped in the town once again by a curse. This time it is Emma, the new resident Dark One, who has cast it. The group of heroes who traveled to Camelot six weeks prior have no memory of what happened, and anyone trying to cross the town line is changed into a tree. (Alas, poor Dopey. His bravery in testing the town line will be remembered). Similarly, this is reflected by Merlin’s predicament in Camelot, as we see in a flashback that he is trapped in, or as, a giant weeping willow.
, Emma refuses to reveal why she has cast this curse, or what happened in Camelot, but one thing is certain, she has completely given in to the darkness. She tells Henry that he didn’t fail her, but everyone else did. This complete with a warning for Regina, that something is coming to Storybrooke, and there is no savior to save the town anymore. Henry seems to be the only one confident that Regina can be the new savior. Appropriate, since he does have the heart of the truest believer. True to her word, something dark and evil does come to Storybrooke: a Fury, a creature sent to take someone across the river Styx and into the Underworld. It is the price for a life saved by dark magic back in Camelot, and it has come for Robin. The only way to pay the price and save Robin is with the sacrifice of another life.
In the flashbacks of Camelot, we get to see a grand ball, complete with a beautiful Mom & Daughter entrance by Snow & Emma.
Regina, still posing as the savior, attends in a dress that according to Snow, is “slightly less evil” than her normal attire. Everyone seems to be happy, even Henry meets a new love interest named Violet.
Regrettably, pesky Percival cuts in on Regina and Robin while they are dancing. He recognizes Regina as the Evil Queen, tries to kill her and Robin is stabbed in the scuffle. Percival is killed by Charming, but Robin is near death. Regina is unable to save him with her magic and begs Emma to do it. Robin is saved, but using the dark magic has taken its toll on Emma. Her hand sparkles and the Rumple/Dark One in her head comes to her smirking, knowing she liked the power. Unfortunately, it appears that the price of Emma using this dark magic to save Robin was never paid in Camelot. Regina requested it and she must pay the price. The Fury has come for Robin to collect that price. Regina doesn’t believe she can be the savior for the town, and she decides to sacrifice herself to the Fury.
In a showing of belief in her, (and if you’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy a familiar shot) Snow, Charming and Grumpy all join hands with Regina. The Fury is bested and the price paid by their willingness to sacrifice for each other. Regina’s faith is restored, Robin is saved, and the people of the town have faith that there is a new savior in town, the once Evil Queen. As everyone celebrates, Emma is left alone walking down Main Street, very symbolic of a “Lost Girl” once again.
In her basement back at home, Excalibur sits lodged in a stone, waiting for a hero to release it.
This episode was very Emma centric, and her change between Camelot past and current day Storybrooke is fascinating to watch. In Camelot, she is very childlike. She has natural, flowing hair, little to no makeup, wears a pristine white dress to the ball and even has flowers in her hair. Her tone of voice and mannerisms even reflect a very obvious innocence. In the modern day Storybrooke, her transformation is a stark contrast. Her hair is severe, pulled back tightly. Her words and movements are sharp, her voice tone menacing. Even her wardrobe is completely black. Aside from this transformation, something is slightly off. Emma tells Hook she wishes she could tell him what happened in Camelot. To me, this suggests that there is still some type of struggle within Emma. Perhaps she isn’t as far gone as it appears.
There were moments in this episode that truly showed how far the Charmings and Regina have come. Years spent with Regina trying to kill Snow, years of hate and anger between them and now, Charming teaches Regina how to dance. Snow and Charming even help Regina prepare for the ball in a sweet moment that shows the full circle arc that their stories have made. We also see Snow and Emma getting ready. Mother and daughter, together, in a moment that would have been very common had the original curse not been cast. These moments, though short and still, are some of the most powerful reflections of family.
Other powerful moments come from a conversation between Belle and Hook. The two are in a unique position of both having been in love with a Dark One. Belle has the most telling line of the night when she tells Hook that “A curse isn’t a curse anymore when the inflicted wants it.” Hook is sure that after spending hundreds of years trying to kill a dark one he is prepared to spend hundreds to save one he loves if need be. Belle reminds him that it is far easier to kill a Dark One than to love one. Belle obviously still loves Rumple, but it’s clearly hard to hold onto that amidst the darkness.
This episode was filled with subtle moments, relationships and beautiful dialog that touched back on the lore of previous seasons. One of the things I love most is when the series calls back to things in previous episodes, previous seasons and things that stayed with us. We also got a peek at some of Arthur’s kingdom, Merlin’s fate and what the group was up against in the past. Perhaps I am just suspicious at heart, but I’d be willing to bet that something is going on with Guinevere. Like other things happening right now in the series, I don’t believe she is what she seems…..