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REVIEW: Once Upon a Time 5×08 “Birth”

Written by Alex Reale

Well, that was certainly unexpected! I think we can all agree that the “Birth” episode of Once Upon a Time contained one of the biggest twists in the show’s history. Aside from that twist, the episode was enjoyable and intense, keeping me on the edge of my seat the entire time. This was definitely a worthy hour of television, and yet another perfect example of why I love this show so much. (major spoilers ahead!)

A good chunk of the episode was dedicated to the tumultuous love story between Hook and the Dark Swan. Hook is desperate to reach through the lighter side of Emma to find out why she let the darkness take over and what exactly happened in Camelot that caused everything to turn out this way. Even we the viewers have been begging to get an answer to these questions, and thankfully, we got a decent response in “Birth”. But before we get to that, we have to know what happened in the past.

Arthur, now using Excalibur to control of Merlin and working with Zelena, orders Emma to bring him the Flame of Prometheus or else he will execute her family members. Emma arrives at the meeting place and springs a trap for Zelena. Arthur then orders Merlin to attack Emma, and the two toss some spells at each other (once again, the show displays its less-than-mediocre special effects). Merlin comes out on top, and he is then ordered to kill Mary Margaret. Through Emma’s encouragement, he is able to resist Arthur’s command. Hook escapes his bindings and takes the sword from Arthur, but not before Excalibur leaves a nice cut along his neck. Arthur lets Zelena loose and the duo retreats.

Back in present Storybrooke, Emma finds a way to speed up Zelena’s pregnancy. Guess who’s the doctor delivering the baby? Dr. Whale, played by the endearing David Anders! I’ve said it time and time again that I think David Anders is a fantastic actor, and I figured that he wouldn’t reappear on Once Upon a Time since he’s busy playing a main antagonist on iZombie. Fortunately, he found some time to sneak away and make a welcome cameo on the show. The part where he actually tries to hit on Zelena AS SHE’S GIVING BIRTH was a highlight of the entire episode. It’s a scummy move, but it’s the classic Anders scummy that is always welcome in my book.

After the baby is delivered, Emma takes Zelena to her underground cave, where she has also imprisoned Hook. Emma reveals that she intends to stab Zelena with Excalibur, thus transferring the powers of the Dark One into her while also killing her. Hook tries to talk her out of it because he claims that it is cold-blooded murder. After all the shit that Zelena has caused, including killing Neal, you’d think people would be all “yeah, kill the sh*t out of her, Emma!” I actually sided with Dark Swan on this. Zelena doesn’t deserve mercy after everything she’s done so far. Every time the heroes try to help her, she only turns it against them.

Zelena and Hook escape and head to Emma’s house where they find the magic Squid Ink, which will immobilize the Dark Swan. After doing so, Zelena finds a dreamcatcher and uses it to show Hook what exactly happened in Camelot.

Remember how Hook was sliced in the neck by Excalibur? Apparently, any wound made by the blade cannot be healed. Rather than letting Hook die, Emma tethers his life to Excalibur, turning him into a second Dark One.

And there goes the sound of a million jaws dropping.

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Yep, Hook is now a Dark One (so can he and Emma be called the Dark Two at this point?). Emma wasn’t just trying to eliminate the darkness from herself; she was also planning to remove it from Hook as well. We also learn that turning him into a Dark One is what caused Emma’s drastic transformation into her current appearance. I’m not sure why Hook doesn’t look that different, unless the Dark One-ness just didn’t take over yet. It must be a gradual process. Will Hook soon become another “Crocodile”?

The episode was amazing to say the least. Although there were parts where I got frustrated with the characters (why do they keep letting Zelena get away?!), the Dark One twist was more than enough to make up for it.

Final Grade: A

+ The Hook twist was outstanding.

+ I’m so happy we got to see the cause for the official transformation of Emma into the Dark Swan.

+ The return of Doctor Whale!

+ Overall, an intense episode that kept me on the edge of my seat.

– How do people keep falling for Zelena’s tricks?!

– I actually sided with Emma this episode; Hook should’ve let her kill Zelena. She had the baby already, why can’t they get rid of her?

– Yay for continued bad CGI!

Extra Thoughts:

Once Upon a Time is taking a break next week, so we’ll have to wait a while to find out more about what happened in Camelot. Obviously, there is still a lot that Hook and the rest of the Storybrooke’s don’t know about.

What were your thoughts on “Birth”? Did you enjoy the big twist with the Dark One? Tell us your thoughts in the comments or on  Twitter!

About the author

Alex Reale

From a young age, Alex knew he was destined to be a writer. He also harbored a deep infatuation with superheroes and comics. Luckily, he was able to combine these two passions through his role with A Place to Hang Your Cape, where he works as Junior Sidekick and Social Media Hero.

When he’s not writing for AP2HYC or working full-time as a content manager for a small business website, Alex is diligently at work on other creative projects including a fantasy novel collection and an independent comic series.

You can find Alex's first book, Dodger's Doorway, on Amazon!