After Hook cast the Dark curse, we were shown three waves of rainbow magic sweeping across town. It seemed like overkill at the time, but they were the perfect way to distract us from the fact Hook’s Dark Curse was never broken. Since the curse seems to follow the desires of the person who cast it, I thought it would be interesting to look at what that might mean.
“I want to hurt you, like you hurt me.”
Apart from Hook wanting what he always wanted when he cast the curse - revenge on the Dark One - he also revealed what he wanted to do to Emma when he found out he was the Dark One in Storybrooke. He wanted to hurt her like she hurt him… so how did she hurt him?
Turned him into a villain again, a person he didn’t want to be
Lied to him
Stood in the way of his revenge
Took away his agency
Chose to save Regina over being his happy ending
Stole his memories
Right away we saw him hurt Emma in retaliation by taking her memories after finding out he was the Dark One in Storybrooke. It was her last crime - in his eyes - that wasn’t accounted for under his curse. All the other ways in which she hurt him, he knew about when casting it. This means they already were part of the curse and his memory loss was the last thing that kept his curse from taking on its full effect in Storybrooke, but they were a slave to it as soon as they landed, maybe as soon as the smoke came. They were already compromised. Emma may have taken their memories without anticipating she would be under his spell once in Storybrooke. After she got there, she may not have been capable of cleaning up her own mess. It was only a matter of time before their entire world was bent to his wishes.
When Hook cast the curse, he was incredibly angry about Emma controlling him with Excalibur.
Emma: “I’m never going to try to control you again. I love you.” Hook: “It’s just I’m usually the one who has to say that first.” Emma: “Yeah, well…”
After that exchange - with Hook showing surprise about Emma expressing her love - they go to Camelot’s displaced Granny’s where Hook casts his curse almost right away. The anger driving him was all about creating a world where nobody controlled him - and one where he controlled Emma specifically.
Emma: “You were playing me the whole time.” Hook: “Once you lied about Excalibur all bets were off. I knew it was just a matter of time before you tried controlling me. And now, no-one will ever control me again.”
She just promised him she wouldn’t try to control him again and she follows that up by telling him she loves him. Their kiss didn’t work to break the Dark One curse. Hook later goes to talk to Belle. He already suspected and now he knows for sure she was lying, especially if he feels certain of his love for her. If he wants to hurt her like she hurt him, it makes sense for the curse to take complete control of Emma. He would use emotional manipulation on top of the curse itself and take her lie about love and force her to live it.
In this light, the conversation where Emma tells Regina there is no Savior for the current curse takes on a new meaning. If Emma can’t really control what she does, she was working within the limitations of Hook’s curse already. She may not even be capable of being nice to Regina anymore - Hook was jealous she chose to save Regina - and she is incapable of telling her the truth. So she antagonizes her, trying to challenge her into being their Savior.
This conversation may mark real Emma’s final moments of resisting Hook’s curse, before she lost control over her life completely and became a slave to his desires. It was the only way to try and let Regina know she was powerless.
“Good you, still in there.”
The scene where Emma angrily tells Regina to step up and do what needs to be done reinforces this. Regina specifically describes seeing good Emma shining through. She’s right but the thing she doesn’t realize is that Emma isn’t limited by the Dark One curse, she isn’t compromised in the way Regina assumes. She’s limited by Hook’s curse. The good part of Emma is the one yelling at Regina, trying to give her a message. That’s why Regina doesn’t understand what Emma’s trying to say.
Gold warns her that ‘you always lose the ones you love the most’, after which Emma goes into the shed to cry over her memories in private. Just like the others Gold assumes she’s only under the influence of the Dark One curse. We are once again misled because we see Emma choosing Hook over and over again and the person who is most familiar with the Dark One curse tells us that she has a choice. Right reasoning, wrong curse. Emma can still cry in private, but she can’t tell anyone what’s really going on. She feels she’s already lost them at this point. It’s telling that the people she hurts the most as the Dark One are the people Hook has a vendetta against. Hook turns Emma into a villain like she did to him. Since then we’ve seen her become selfish and judgmental, acting like an addict when it comes to Hook.
When Hook regains his memories and takes her memories instead, it seems like Hook made it particularly easy for Emma to find the stolen memories, but can we be sure they weren’t edited? They were stolen and added to the curse with just one dreamcatcher™ while in Storybrooke there were several ones. Technically both Emma and Hook could have done their own editing. There may be memories the characters - and the audience - still don’t know about.
“Evil doesn’t always look evil. Sometimes it’s staring right at us, and we don’t even realize it.”
What we do know for sure is that this seems to mark the end of Emma fighting back. His Dark curse seems to be taking full effect. Hook gets forgiven for everything by everyone, Emma endangers her entire family and takes them to the Underworld for him after he tries to kill them all. Nobody questions it because the Dark One curse was lifted and Emma looks like herself again, but we were warned by Regina herself that evil doesn’t always look evil.
Emma seems to have identified Regina as the key to breaking this curse. Was it because there actually is a Savior for this curse - built in by Merlin who put it together? Darkness wants to snuff out the light, we know it came for Regina right away when it was free. The curse isn’t just Hook’s, it was described as the darkness using him to get what it wants. So his desires serve a greater purpose. If Regina is the one to bring back light together with Emma, then the darkness fighting the light and using Hook as a vessel - because it wants Emma and Regina apart… seems to have worked.
Or is it because Emma knows there really is no Savior, only leaving the most powerful magic of all as an option to break this curse? Knowing that it can only work if Regina loves her back. Was Emma giving Regina the dagger a way of telling her that she loved her and had the power to save her or destroy her depending on Regina’s feelings? After all True Love’s kiss up to that point was the only way we’d seen the Dark One curse almost being broken. Is Regina’s insecurity about being worthy of love the key to breaking this curse?
We’ve all noticed that Emma seems more like her old self as soon as she gets close to Regina. Regina is the only one who stands up to Hook and has expressed criticism since the curse took hold. It does seem like the curse has less of a hold on her. If all the heroes are compromised except for her, then at some point she will have to realize her power. She will have to rely on her inner compass instead of on mimicking what Emma and the Charmings do. Right now it could be she’s blinded because she still sees herself as a villain and them as heroes just because of their old labels.
“It’s like my whole life is darkness and when you’re around, things are brighter.”
When Lily told Emma she made her life more bright, Emma didn’t listen, now it seems like she is in the same position. She couldn’t understand how Lily could have everything she could only dream of and throw it all away. How she could still be unhappy. Now technically Emma too has everything she ever wanted and yet… it’s not what she needed.
Regina seems to be to Emma what Emma was to Lily in the past. We’ve seen it before. Regina doesn’t try to save Emma. In Neverland she taught Emma magic so she could turn on her own light while Hook and Neal were fighting over her. She has been loving and supporting Emma, going to the Underworld for her without expecting anything in return, saving her from the wish realm. Regina has been a light in that she tries to remind Emma of who she is, remind her of her own power. A light that brings clarity in its brightest moments.
The power of the Dark Hook curse seems tied to Storybrooke and Storybrooke’s magic. Emma acted more like herself when they left Storybrooke for New York and the magic was tied to the crystal. Proximity to the crystal seems to impact them. Regina and Emma were interacting like before and parenting Henry together. As soon as magic came back into the crystal, Hook came back and when they arrived back in Storybrooke, she went right back to him. In the wish realm Emma also acted more like her former self once she remembered who she was… until she returned to Storybrooke. Same with their time in the land behind the mirror where they were working together. Seems like there’s a bit of a pattern there.
“I should have known that Operation Cobra: Part Two wouldn’t have been as simple as I thought. Because it’s a sequel, and they’re always more involved than the original.”
What unifies the entire story is the Black fairy’s Dark curse. Everyone used and adjusted her basic recipe to cast it, but beyond that we can actually divide the story in two parts. Regina’s Dark curse was the original. Emma broke its hold and Regina herself destroyed it completely after sending Emma and Henry away taking them all back to the Enchanted Forest. The second part starts right after the missing year with Snow White’s curse. We know everyone’s memories were returned, but that part of the curse was Zelena’s addition, so since we never went back and Emma started giving in to Hook as soon as that curse was cast, we may also still be influenced by Snow’s desires. She even admitted she started planning Emma’s wedding after the first curse. Then Hook cast his curse and Emma marrying him while singing and dancing would definitely seem like something that would happen where Hook and Snow’s desires intersect.
The Black Fairy’s curse is now added to both of these curses, but they seem to form a whole. It seems like Regina possesses a particular power she is unaware of, so it makes sense that the Darkness used the desires of people like Snow and Hook to set the stage. Snow carries resentment towards the Evil Queen. She may want Regina to be happy, but that’s not all there is to it if you look at what happens as soon as Snow’s curse is cast. Regina falls for a man she previously wasn’t interested in, but she always keeps losing him… just like Snow kept losing Charming because of the Evil Queen. Marian showed up, putting Regina in the same position she was in when David was married to Kathryn. Snow also wishes very traditional things for her daughter, like a marriage and a man. Where Emma always kept a bit of a distance with Hook, after Snow’s curse, she started to let him in. Hook’s curse took all these things to the next level, with Emma torn by the desires of others and Regina far away from her. They barely interact.
Emma & Regina were always the power couple. Together they have defeated most of the threats to the town. So what did the darkness achieve, exactly? What did those two curses achieve? They weakened Emma and Regina’s bond and they kept them apart. We weren’t made to fear the Black fairy. She’s not the scariest villain we’ve ever had. What we are made to fear is that this is really how the story ends. What is everyone really going into the Final Battle for? What are we worried about? About the Black Fairy or about the fact that Emma Swan doesn’t seem like herself anymore and that Henry’s parents are talking even less now than back when they seemed to hate each other? What set this story in motion in the first place? We can sense that the Black Fairy and Gideon are a summary of all of Emma’s fears she needs to face in order to win. Emotionally, however, we all feel exactly what this battle is about.
The songs in Emma’s heart are all the elements that go into the final battle. In the past Hook says he doesn’t need Snow & Charming’s treasures, their gold or their title. In the present he married their golden-haired greatest treasure, which technically makes him a prince… but he’s shown right for the wedding he’s still driven by that same revenge from the past. Meanwhile Regina’s Evil Queen song is one about resisting love. She tears Emma’s baby blanket up, she gets upset when Granny sings about the princess and when Snow and Charming sing about their daughter, she sings about her happy ending at the same time. Emma carries this conflict in her heart. What’s different between Hook and Regina is that Regina isn’t the Evil Queen anymore. She has let love in. Self love. She loves Henry. She let Robin love her and cared about him. She has profoundly changed since singing that song.
As the Evil Queen mentioned earlier, there is a very thin line between love and hate…
…and they’ve both worked too hard to have their happiness destroyed.
Both of you are my two best friends. You two are like sisters to me. You don’t know each other but I just want to tell the both of you that I love you so much. Right now, we don’t have a signal. We are under attack by ISIS. And we are hearing gunshots and grenades. Our mayor here, he hasn’t confirmed the events that happened here to the media. If you know someone, or if you have a connection to the police or soldiers or whatever, we are calling for help. Marawi is on red alert. They’ve beheaded people. They’ve shot civilians. They’ve burned down schools. I am telling you, ISIS does not represent ISLAM. These are evil people. I love you guys. I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again. I love you so much. Forgive me if I did something bad. I’m not sure what will happen tomorrow. They said that there’s something big happening. I am traumatized by the gunshots. They said that what happened so far was mild compared to what they had in store for tomorrow. Tomorrow will be the real thing. They’ve cut off the electricity in some places and I hope our place isn’t next.”
Marawi in Mindanao, Phillipines is under attack. This is just one of the many SOS messages that were sent out. Please please pray for our brothers and sisters.