In Once Upon A Time, it's only a matter of time before Emma gives in to becoming the Dark One, or so the present plotline in Storybrooke tells viewers. But how did she make that journey to darkness, even when surrounded by people who love her?
The question of how Emma succumbed to the darkness lies with the mystery of the Storybrooke's citizens' time in Camelot, something they've forgotten in the present. On the series, flashbacks to their time in Camelot slowly unveil what drew Emma to embracing her new dark gifts.
In a sneak peek of next week's episode, "The Broken Kingdom," Emma wakes up alone in the middle of the night in King Arthur's castle and finds herself drawn to the Dark One's dagger, now inscribed with her name. She battles with her inner Rumpelstiltskin, who urges her to seize the dagger for herself, but Emma refuses, because she gave the dagger to Regina (who was smart enough to put a spell on it to protect it) to control her if things went south.
As we know in present-day Storybrooke, not only did things go south, but Emma now has control of the dagger, as well as Excalibur, which she needs to have pulled from its stone. Emma wants to reunite the dagger with the sword to snuff out all light within her soul. Of course, this suggests she still possesses light inside, and it's likely that the others will try to tap into that.
Emma also still has feelings for Hook, in spite of the darkness that's growing inside of her.
"The internal conflict remains a huge thing for her," said Once Upon A Time co-executive producer Adam Horowitz to TVLine. "She is dark, but she does have feelings for Hook, and those things are at war within her and really are pushing her in the action she's going to be taking next."
There's also the mystery of Camelot: last week's episode revealed that King Arthur isn't all that he seems and that, in fact, he cannot be trusted. Of course, that doesn't mean that Arthur is a villain: as the series has shown throughout its run, if someone is bad, it's usually for a good reason.
"Arthur isn't a villain in the pure sense of villains that we've had before," said Horowitz. "What we saw is what we'll continue to see—a man who's really conflicted and is driven by doing what he thinks is right, and what he thinks is his destiny."
Once Upon A Time airs on Sundays on ABC.