Source: OUAT / ABC Network

The last year of Once Upon A Time has been a real rollercoaster ride, starting with Emma becoming the Dark One. The journey to Camelot in order to free Merlin from the tree so that he can rid her of the darkness became more complex as the series went on, we discovered the origin of magic and how the Dark One came to be. The Holy Grail that Arthur searches for so desperately turns out to be his very own Excalibur and combined with the Dark One dagger can destroy magic. Arthur shows his darker side by binding Merlin to Excalibur to make him do his bidding and when Hook is injured with the sword, Emma embraces her darkness to bind him to it in order to save him, causing him to become the second Dark One in Merlin’s stead.

Hook gives in to the darkness and begins to enact his revenge on Rumple, using his new connection with all of the previous dark ones in order to be able to use Merlin’s heart to cast a new curse. Emma discovers this and wipes everyone’s memories so she can protect Hook from his dark nature while she makes plans to save him.

Emma manipulates those around her, forcing the newly not-Dark-One Rumple to become a hero by forcing Merida to turn into a bear and attack him and Belle. Rumple is able to pull Excalibur from the stone it has found itself in and Emma magically speeds up Zelena’s pregnancy with the plan of syphoning all of the darkness into her and killing her with the sword. Unfortunately Hook finds out the truth and this doesn’t happen, Hook instead summons all of the Dark Ones from the Underworld so that they can take the place of living people. At the last moment Hook is made to realise the error of his ways and absorbs all the dark magic, begging Emma to kill him with the sword. She is heartbroken, but does as he asks.

Rumple being the master manipulator that he is, somehow finds a way to absorb the dark magic so that rather than it being destroyed, he becomes the Dark One once again. Just as we were beginning to think he may have changed. Emma concludes this means Hook died for nothing and she’s going to go rescue him from the Underworld with the help of her friends and family.
Cue the Lord of the Underworld himself and his true love being reunited along with a petty plan to take over Storybrooke by keeping everyone else trapped in it. The second half of the season introduced new enemies and brought back a few old ones, only for them to be killed again. It also features massacring some very good Greek Myths and I would recommend doing some reading around the subject of Hades and the Underworld. The familiar basics were mostly done very well but whenever they tried to get into the main meaty bit of some myths, everything fell down around their ears in terms of what they actual say.
Hades is defeated and as a reward, Hook is returned home by Zeus. I don’t know how that works but I’m going with it. And Arthur – who has been entirely forgotten in this half of the series up until this point – becomes the new King of the Underworld in order to try to fix the broken kingdom as he was prophesised to do.

But wait! There’s more! The final two episodes of the season become a set up for season six, returning all of the old guest cast back to where they belong and bringing in a whole new group of characters from the Land of Untold Stories. The ringleaders of this plot seem to be Mr Hyde, working in part alongside Rumple by means of a mixture of a deal and a small amount of blackmail. Dr Jekyll is not going to be happy about this, though not as unhappy as Regina will be to find out that the Evil Queen wasn’t as vanquished as she thought she was and is still out there somewhere, plotting her next move.

The new season cannot come quickly enough. Moving away from its fairytale beginnings, season six at the moment seems to be promising a whole host of different story characters from other areas of literature. And that is really exciting to see what happens with them.