'Once Upon A Time' Season 5 Might Find Merlin In An Unexpected Role: As Lily's Father

Once Upon A Time Season 5 won't premiere for another several months, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to spend all summer coming up with theories about what's going down once we get back to Storybrooke later this year. The central focus will likely be Emma's new role as the Dark One and the attempt to restore her to her old Savior self that we know and love. The most likely way to make that happen, as we know by now, is to find Merlin — who is, as the Apprentice pointed out, the only one who can banish the Darkness for good. However, he's thought to be far, far away from, well, anything. The quest to find him will be major, but maybe for more than one reason.

Here's the thing: Lily came into town last season after Emma and Regina found her and brought her back to be reunited with her mother, Maleficent, for the first time. During the Season 4 finale, Lily expressed her desire to stick around for a while to look for her father — a man whose identity is unknown since apparently when fine ladies and gentlemen turn into dragons and get busy, they don't really know who the other is. This is convenient in a storytelling sense since it gives Lily a purpose, but it also leaves the door wide open for a theory that recently popped into my head: Merlin might not just be the one wizard that can help Emma. He might also be Lily's father.

If you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense. Most obviously, there's the curse put upon Lily by Snow and Charming in order to save Emma and ensure that she was good. Because of this, the Apprentice was forced to ensure that misfortune and darkness was Lily's fate instead. This decision tied Emma and Lily together in incredible ways, ensuring that they not only ended up in the same universe, but constantly gravitated towards one another during their early years. It was a connection that neither woman understood until the truth was revealed, but perhaps even now we still don't understand the true depth of their connection. By that I mean, if fate has tied Lily and Emma together, why wouldn't it make sense for Merlin to be Lily's father AND the one wizard that could unbind Emma from the darkness her parents tried to spare her from so long ago?

There's also the fact that Maleficent was, in her time, one of the most powerful magicians in the Enchanted Forest. She had the ability (if you want to call it that) to transform herself into a dragon, which is clearly something that Merlin would also have been able to do. While we haven't delved too far into Maleficent's history, it's not outside the realm of possibility that she encountered Merlin — or was perhaps even mentored by him, as Regina was from Rumpelstiltskin — which forged their fateful connection. Of course, that doesn't explain why Merlin was absent from her life after that, but it's safe to say that even in fairy tales, relationships aren't necessarily perfect.

Admittedly, I might be taking the easy way out here and connecting clues that have no actual bearing. After all, who else could Lily's father be? The only male character that's had any mention but has yet to be seen is Merlin, and he also just so happens to be the one that needs to be found if Emma's ever going to escape her new dark fate. And if Merlin's powerful enough to remove the darkness from Emma, maybe he can do the same for Lily, as well — especially since she never deserved it to begin with.

Of course, this theory could be totally incorrect and a bit of a reach, but I have a hunch that something like this could be revealed eventually. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait a while to see how far off I really am.

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