This weekend marks the return of ABC's hit fantasy series Once Upon A Time, which takes traditional and familiar fairy tale stories and twists them into something new, with the princesses becoming heroes and the villains finding redemption.

This season sees the rise of a new villain: the dark version of Emma Swan, who inadvertently became the Dark One in the Season 4 finale, a title previously held by the dubious Rumpelstiltskin. Now, the savior of Storybrooke is the villain — although from early clips, we see that she's doing what she can to subvert her new role.

Dark Emma isn't the only thing this season promises, though: the series is also bringing some familiar characters to life in a new way, including Brave's Merida and the kingdom of Camelot, along with King Arthur's court. There are also some new romances on the way for existing characters, and maybe some of those characters will even get their own happy endings.

So what do we know about Season 5 of Once Upon A Time? Here's a rundown of everything promised or teased so far.

The Dark One

As previously mentioned, this season sees Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) slowly grow darker. At first, she's aware of it, but it's likely that as the season progresses, she'll begin to slide down the hole left by the dark magic coursing through her.

"Emma's in a bad place," said Morrison to Access Hollywood. "There's no limit to the bizarre things that she's coming up against and the changes that are within her, because Dark Ones lie and Dark Ones manipulate and Dark Ones hurt people and this is all very different for Emma Swan, so it's going to be very different."

However, she'll have help in the form of an unlikely ally – Rumpelstiltskin – who held the title of Dark One before Emma.

This means that we're going to learn more about the Dark One and how this particular brand of magic came about.

"The context of how they're together won't really reveal itself to the fans until they see the premiere," said Once Upon A Time executive producer Adam Horowitz to Yahoo! "If we're going to have Emma be the Dark One, we're going to dive into Dark One mythology."

"You are going to see flashbacks on being the Dark One, that is what I will say," said Edward Kitsis, also executive producer on the series.


One of the settings for this season features the mythological kingdom of Camelot: that means Merlin (Elliot Knight) could be the key to saving Emma from her dark side.

"For us, thematically, Camelot plays into a lot of the things we're going for," said Kitsis. "As writers, it's fun to have the Round Table and to see King Arthur with Prince Charming."

This confirms that Merlin is not the only character from Camelot featured this season. We'll also see other associated characters, including Arthur (Liam Garrigan) and Guinevere (Joana Metrass), as hinted at in the show's recent casting notices. It's likely we'll also see the return of Lancelot (Sinqua Walls), who does not have a Storybrooke counterpart — maybe viewers will even find out why this season.

We've seen Camelot as a setting occasionally throughout the series, but this season puts much more of the action there.

Henry gets a quest and a girlfriend

Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) was just a wide-eyed boy who believes in fairy tales during Once Upon A Time's first few seasons, but he's grown up a lot since then. That means he's ready to take on his own quests and perhaps even save his mother, Emma, in the process.

"What we love with Henry is that he's growing up, and he can take a more active part in the adventures now," said Horowitz to TV Guide. "I think you're going to see that he's going to take a more pivotal role in some of the things that are coming up."

Kitsis promises that the fifth episode of Season 5 is really "Henry's episode."

But that's not all. This season also sees Henry get his first romance on the series. It does make sense, because Henry is now a teenager.

"Love for Henry is coming," said Horowitz. "We wouldn't go to Camelot and not have Henry fall in love. I would watch the second episode where we might meet Henry's first crush."

This season has an LGBT couple

With the announcement that actress Jamie Chung would return to Once Upon A Time this season as Mulan, plus the announcement that the series would feature a LGBT relationship, it's likely that Mulan will finally tell Aurora that she loves her, something the show teased throughout its previous seasons.

Will Aurora reciprocate, though? When we last saw her with Mulan, she was pregnant with Prince Philip's child, but a lot can happen in Once Upon A Time.

However, those involved with the series won't confirm (or deny) if this LGBT relationship is between Aurora and Mulan, so we'll have to watch and see who ends up being the happy couple.

"It's something we want to do this year," said Horowitz to Entertainment Weekly. "It's something we think is due and important to do on the show. This is the world we live in. Whether that's going to be with any particular character, we're not going to say."

Regina becomes a hero

Viewers of Once Upon A Time know that Regina (Lana Parrilla), once the evil queen of the Enchanted Forest, has redeemed herself and now has the heart to become the hero. Parilla recently stated that we'll see more of that in the coming season, with Regina doing what she can to help save her once-sworn enemy, Emma.

"Regina is going to be the hero," said Parilla to Ecunmenical News. "It's really her journey of exploring that. It's an immense amount of responsibility. We'll see her evolving into this role and we'll see where she ends up."

Of course, this is Regina, so she's got an ulterior motive: Emma became the Dark One to give Regina her happy ending and Regina is never happy about owing anyone. This season gives her a chance to pay Emma back for her kindness with an equal kindness so that the two can call it even.

However, this also means that Regina will somehow have to convince others in Storybrooke that she means to help — and that could become one of her greatest challenges.


Although ABC teased Merida (Amy Manson) back in July, we still didn't really know what part she'll play in this season. It's likely that the Scottish hot-blooded ginger will be instrumental in saving Emma, although a clip recently released by the network shows the two fighting over a Will o' the Wisp.

From the get-go, Merida fits the world of Once Upon A Time, which celebrates strong and independent female characters.

"To me, she is both a princess and a warrior, which I think fits in with all our characters, be it Snow White or Regina," said Kitsis. "We've always had strong women who are equally comfortable at a ball or at a sword fight. I think Merida exemplifies all those characteristics."

This season, Merida is on a quest of her own: to save her kingdom. But what is she saving it from? We'll have to watch to find out.

The return of Ruby/Red

Last week, Once Upon A Time reported that Ruby, aka Red – who is both Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf – will return for Season 5, as portrayed by actress Meghan Ory. And the good news is that she's returning for multiple episodes, rather than just one quick scene. Red's return was hinted at recently, and then confirmed.

"Well, I hope there's a full moon this year...." said Kitsis to TV Line. "You never know who might come out during a full moon. Or come back, I should say!"

That comment is in reference to Red's alter-ego as a wolf. No details about how she fits into the season's plot are available, but it's likely that she'll help the others as they try to save Emma from her newfound dark magical powers.

The last time viewers saw Ruby on the series was during the show's third season finale, when she appeared briefly in a scene at Granny's Diner.

The first seven episode titles

Horowitz recently released the titles for the first five episodes of this season of Once Upon A Time on Twitter, and some give hints as to what we can expect at the beginning of the season.

The first episode is "The Dark Swan," written by Kitsis and Horowitz. This indicates that viewers will see Emma turning dark pretty early on this season as the title is a play on Emma's last name, Swan and her new status as the Dark One.

The second episode is "The Prince," written by Andrew Chambliss and Dana Horgan. But which prince does this refer to? Is this episode about Prince Charming or another prince, perhaps one we haven't yet met in the mythology of Once Upon A Time?

The third episode is "Seige Perilous," written by Jane Espenson. That doesn't tell viewers much, but it does hint at some sort of dangerous situation for several of the Once characters.

The fourth episode is "Broken Kingdom," which could refer to Merida's kingdom: in a recent teaser, Merida and Emma fight over a Will O' the Wisp, which Merida says she needs to save her land. This episode's writers are David H. Goodman and Jerome Schwartz.

The fifth episode is "Dreamcatcher," written by the show's co-creators. This is the episode about Henry, so perhaps this is when we'll see him fall in love for the first time.

The sixth episode is "The Bear and the Bow," which seems related to Merida, considering her adventures in the film Brave. That episode's writers are Chambliss and Tze Chun.

Finally, the seventh episode is "Nimue," which hints at more Camelot mythology, as Nimue is the name for the Lady of the Lake, the mystical being who gave King Arthur the sword Excalibur. That episode's writer is Jane Espenson.

Once Upon A Time returns to ABC on September 27.

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