In this week’s season of ABC’s Once Upon A Time, Emma Swan continues to live out her darkness. Her darkness is not one that is murderous, vengeful or cheating. Hers was one of living completely independent of others, and making decisions only for her own gain. Her darkness pales in comparison with that of Rumplestiltskin and Nimue, whose darkness festered into pure, unrecognisable, violent evil. But it is something worth studying as it is a darkness we find more common in ourselves (like, the average person on the street).
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, actor of Emma Swan Jennifer Morrison describes her role as the new dark one:
Her villainy is coming from a place that she is constantly dealing with the darkest parts of herself that is being exaggerated. We all have dark thoughts from moment to moment – that is exponentially exaggerated in any given moment for her. I’ve tried to build her from a place that exploits her loneliness, all the revenges she could not have, and the needs she has never allowed herself to have, and then going about getting those things, demanding those things in a way that is selfish. So it’s just a little different… She is not putting others first anymore.
So there you go, Morrison has said it herself and there’s nothing from me to add. But, I think there is place to study Dark Emma against Dark Hook, or at least what we know of Dark Hook at this point in time.
Throughout the episodes, both their characters become radically distinct from each other in their darkness. Emma’s focus was really on getting her needs for love met in the most expedient way she could think of, eliminating the time-waster of having to discuss things out with her mom (with a mom like Mary Margaret, anyone would right? LOL), her dad, Regina and maybe Belle. She turned her back on those who loved her and withdrew from the arms outstretched. In fact, her darkness tells her she no longer needs those who love her, and she stretches out to concentrate all her desires and energies onto that one man in whom she projects her needs. Her trickery is always for getting what she wants, in the way she wants it – Hook and a lifetime with Hook.
In fearing to lose Hook, she controls him with the sword. Again, in fearing to lose Hook, she gives him the sword. In trusting Hook with her entire being (or fearing to lose Hook?), she is tricked by Dark Hook – and he kills Merlin under the influence of Rumple and Nimue.
So another quality of the darkness of Dark Emma is foolishness – “stupidity”, to use her (or was it Regina’s) word. In isolating her self, she loses her bouncing boards. She loses the privilege of how many heads are better than one. She loses accountability, she gains power and control. In that situation, she is by default fully responsible for all her foolishness, which crushes her at the end of the episode and forces her to do the most childish thing she has ever done – wipe away Hook and everyone’s memories in an attempt to save the situation, thinking that she eventually could. Dark Demon Rumple chuckles on, he really doesn’t care how much of an idiot Dark Emma is becoming, as he is bent on destruction.
We all know what this cost to her and everyone else, and especially to Hook.
Character study was one of those things I enjoyed doing at literature class in secondary school. Following Once Upon A Time has been an enriching journey for me. It’s like having a weekly film retreat! For me, OUAT allows me to process my thoughts about my own vulnerability and complexity of character, with its own. A particular issue that props up in an episode allows me to process something about life imaginatively.