My Once Upon a Time Theory: Season 5

[Warning: Season 4 Finale Spoilers]





In the last couple of weeks I have become massively addicted to Once Upon a Time: the ABC show, now available to view on Netflix if you’re in the UK like me! (I went through seasons 1 through 4 in 10 days!) Upon reaching the final episode of Season 4 I was amazed at the plot twist, and a little bit distressed/excited (as many fans probably were) that Emma Swan was now The Dark One. I began considering what the writers may do in the next series – namely with Merlin’s story and how he might save Emma. I began researching the old legends of Merlin; how the stories came about, and who he is. What I discovered was incredibly interesting, and a possible Once Upon backstory immediately shouted out to me. 

I now have a bit of a theory on Season 5 that I want to share with you … So here are my findings about Merlin, mixed with how I think they will be interpreted next Season …

Who is he?

  • Merlin is a powerful sorcerer. He is also the son of a demon, or an incubus, and a nun. The demon tricked his virgin mother, and broke into her room to rape her in her sleep, thus ruining her reputation and causing her to give birth to a half-demonic child – Merlin. However, upon birth she had him baptised immediatley – therefore ridding him of his demonic ties.

  • Or, ridding him of the darkness. That is why Merlin can defeat the darkness – it was meant to be his. He was meant to be the AntiChrist, but when his mother baptised him she released the darkness into the world alone. It then tried to consume everything, so eventually Merlin managed to tether it to a human soul, which could be controlled by a dagger: he did not take it back himself. 


What are his powers?

  • Merlin can see the past because of his demonic father, and the present and future because of his Mother’s holiness. He also has the power to shapeshift


  • Into a dragon …

Where is he now?

  • In some legends (there are multiple interpretations), Merlin fell in love with a sorceress; Niniane or Viviane, at Camelot. (In some cases this person is also The Lady of the Lake). She asked him to teach her everything he knew in return for her love, and later, after he had done so, she tricked him by trapping him inside a tower, or, in some versions, by entombing him in rock (but in that version he died). 


  • I propose that his love is not the Lady of the Lake, but Maleficent. At some point Maleficent came to Camelot to find him, and to learn from him. He then fell in love with her, and thus agreed to teach her all he knew. That is how she learnt to shape shift into a dragon. They then became lovers and she became pregnant. She locked Merlin inside a tower – perhaps to prevent him taking their child from her, or something along those lines. That is why he now speaks to the Apprentice only from afar – because he is trapped in a tower in Camelot.  
  • This means that Lily is the daughter of Merlin. (An obvious interpretation given her star-shaped scar, and crescent-shaped necklace, both so Merlin-esque!) It also means that Malificent lied to Lily, as even if she did sleep with him in dragon form and doesn’t remember it, you would think that she would guess it to be him given their past together.


What does this mean for Emma?

  • Well, it means that she, and her friends and family, will have to go to Camelot and free Merlin in order to ask for his help. It also means that Lily will likely be with them, given she will have probably figured out that he is her father by this point. I would guess that this trip to Camelot will be half way through the season – breaking the season into two as done for the last two Seasons.
  • My theory does mean that Merlin pursposefully imposed the darkness on others rather than taking it back inside himself. Also, this would be why the Apprentice said that Merlin was the only one who could destroy it. Taking it back inside himself may be the only solution to ridding Emma of it without her death, and I would guess the dagger would then be obsolete. 
  • However, will he be so willing to help them, given my theroy holding up?  Also, if he is unable to control it then this may then make Merlin the ultimate Villian for a Season 6, if he has no further solution to stop himself … And would such a wise man, who can see the future, purposefully make himself the ultimate Villain? And why would the Charmings, the Heroes, allow this – given that Emma is not as dangerous to the world as he would be. Thus, this does not seem to be a solid theory without taking into account that, if he must take it back inside himself, he will have a way of either controlling the darkness, or destroying it.  




  • Another factor to consider is the role of Lily. It has been implied by the Apprentice that her and Emma’s fates are intertwined – implying she will have to play a significant part in this whole thing. Maybe she has to take the darkness herself, as she is Merlin’s daughter. Or maybe he will force it upon her. Or, maybe, and more likely, her and Emma will have to beat the darkness together because of their bond – possibly after it is back inside Merlin.
  • Whichever way, I think that Lilly will have to play some sort of role – I am just not so sure about what that will be exactly!



  • Similarly, Regina may have a pivitol role. Due to her heroic act at the end of the Season 4 finale, she became the Saviour, if only in that moment. And, now that Emma is the Dark One, she may have to take on that role permanently. Therefore, she would have to play a role in the removing of the darkness from Emma. 
  • It is also highly likely that she will play a role in Dark Swan: Emma may try and turn her friend dark again, or may try and kill Zelena for her, to solve her and Robin’s baby problem. Or the Charmings may entrust her with the dagger, given her magic capabilites, and thus ability to protect it from any other villains that may appear out of the woodwork. Exciting stuff anyway – espically as Regina is my favourite character and I loved seeing her play the hero role in the Season 4 finale. 

  • So there you are! It isn’t my usual type of post, but it’s fun to be different sometimes! In summary, I am a little bit nervous about Emma being ‘Evil’, and what that may mean for her soul, but I am sure it will be thrilling to watch … if only we didn’t have to wait until September.

    Please feel free to comment with your own theories underneath – I am sure many other fans are speculating!

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