I hope you've all spent this lengthy summer hiatus preparing yourself for Emma as the new Dark One. The former Savior will likely be largely unrecognizable come the premiere of Once Upon A Time Season 5 in a couple of weeks, and frankly, I'm still not quite sure I'm emotionally prepared. I mean, logically I know it'll all be okay in the end, and that Emma's good nature will eventually be restored, but in the meantime, I'm admittedly a bit of an emotional wreck over what she's going to go through before we get to that point (and over the lasting effects her time as Dark Swan will have on her). After all, things haven't gone too well for past Dark Ones — at least the two that we've actually met.
Besides the fact that being the Dark One comes with the greatest possible power, it also comes at a serious price. Not only can he or she be controlled with that stupid dagger, which is pretty dangerous in the wrong hands, but the role is also a life sentence. Once you become the Dark One, you will remain the Dark One until you die... well, mostly. If that's not the heaviest possible burden, I don't know what is. Both Zoso and Rumple paid the ultimate price for their power, and yet both having and ridding themselves of the power killed them in different ways, anyway.
In case you forgot, Zoso was first introduced as a beggar. In fact, he was actually controlled by the Duke of the Frontlands and was essentially a royal servant, given that the Duke had Zoso's dagger. Zoso was kind of a jerk, which is to be expected given that he was full of the darkest magic imaginable, and he actually taunted and manipulated Rumpelstiltskin — who was, as we all remember, a major coward — into killing him. Zoso thereby passed on his Dark One role to Rumple, who has had it ever since. Well, until the Season 4 finale, that is.
Given that Rumple is the only Dark One whose backstory and subsequent journey into the Darkness we've actually seen, it's difficult to establish a pattern between them. Doubtless being the Dark One would affect everyone differently, since every person has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. Thankfully, we'll get a chance to delve into the history of the Dark One more in Season 5, which should give us a bit of context when it comes to the mythology behind it — and hopefully some answers on how to defeat it for good.
Images: Tyler Shields/ABC