'OUAT' Season 5 Promo Shows Dark Emma In Action

If you're an Emma Swan fan, you're definitely going to want to see this. Fans already know that Once Upon A Time Season 5 will focus on Dark Swan; the former Savior's turn as the Dark One, now that the power is tethered to her, has been heavily emphasized and served as the focus of all promo material that's been revealed about the new season thus far, and that's exciting to think about. But during the Once cast and crew's annual San Diego Comic-Con panel on Saturday, that excitement reached fever pitch as fans were treated to the very first taste of Dark Swan in action, and the result was simultaneously chilling and a bit concerning.

The promo clip, seemingly taken from an upcoming episode, shows a cloaked guard entering a prison cell and pushing a meal of what looks like gruel (and that's being kind) through to whoever waits within. That person ends up being none other than our beloved Emma, now drastically changed as the Dark one with silvery, glimmering skin, bleached eyebrows and bright red lipstick. Only there doesn't seem to be much of the old Emma left, at least not to the naked eye. When the guard comes too close to her cell, well... let's just say things don't end all that well for him. Here are a few of the most intense parts of the clip:

Maybe Don't Go Too Close To That Ominous Cell?

I mean, I know it's his job and all, but unless it's his first night in the joint — which, given his unfamiliarity with the prisoner, it seems to be — you'd think he'd know better than to get too close, or at least have been warned not to do so.

I'd Feel Murderous Eating That, Too

I mean, I get that this is a rudimentary prison and the Dark One is a criminal, but "gruel" seems too kind a word for the food situation. It's a far cry from the bear claws of Storybrooke, eh?

The Dark One Shows Herself

Well, that's a bit disconcerting. Anyone who's known and loved Emma (both the audience and the characters within the show) will likely be stunned at seeing her in her changed form. She's beautiful yet terrifying and I got a bit of a shiver seeing her for the first time like this, I'll admit.

And Then She Rips Out The Guard's Heart

Anytime someone starts ripping out hearts, you know things aren't going to end well. It's certainly not a gesture of love, that's for sure. Seeing Emma do this with such... emptiness is strange and sad, but really compelling.

Well, No Surprises There... Except Maybe To Emma Herself

There's that look at the end, as the heart turns to ash, where you can see Emma doubt herself, and feel her fighting herself as the light takes over again. Ugh, this is going to be so tough to watch.

And, well, that's that. It's but a small glimpse at what we're up against with Dark Swan, and what Emma is up against within herself, which is where the real battle will lie. I'm still sticking to my line of thinking that the new Dark One won't be all that bad — she has Light Magic and is the product of True Love, after all — but even I was a little taken aback at seeing Emma kill so easily. Of course, Once writers will never allow her character to be annihilated beyond redemption. After all, if Regina can come back from mass murder and torture, among other crimes, to become one of the most beloved characters on the show that people root for, then Emma's turn as the Dark One will be small potatoes.

As for Jennifer Morrison's portrayal of this new Emma, I'll admit it was a bit jarring at first, but perhaps that's the point. In a way, it's wonderful that Morrison will have to learn to come to terms with this new aspect of her character just as Emma will have to come to terms with this new darkness within her. It's a complimentary journey, and one that must be incredibly rewarding as an actor, just as it is for us to watch. I don't know about you, but I just got even more excited for September.

Watch the full promo below, and try not to get too scared.

Images: ABC; Leila Salvatore/YouTube