You've probably seen at least some of the update on OUAT's plans for season 5, especially if you follow on Facebook or Twitter, since I sent an article link on this to both in the past couple of days. (In case you're not aware, I've recently been linking to additional fairy tale relevant articles and interesting news and tidbits I haven't had time to get to, from a remote app I can use while doing other things, without having to log in to the blog, to FB or Twitter. So far so good!)
By now you also probably know that at the end of the last season...
END OF SEASON 4 SPOILERS!!!
LOOK AWAY IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW...>>>
SPOILERS OVER (pretty much, more later)
Since Emma Swan's name is "swan" it has been an obvious and likely plot possibility from the very beginning - that the light and dark sides of Emma be explored - think Odette/Odile in Swan lake, except I'm guessing there'll be less tutus.
(Oh boy. I hope there are less tutus...)
However... (Wait for it..)
Despite it seeming to be a fairly obvious take-off of Black Swan (the amazing-disturbing movie with Natalie Portman playing a ballerina who gets to finally dance the lead in Swan Lake), it looks like the promotional material (which you're not going to be able to avoid, especially if you're anywhere near LA or San Diego's ComiCon) is directly taking those visual motifs and repurposing them (other people might use a stronger term) for the upcoming season.
The emphasis is on ravens and raven feathers, rather than swans but really, the black-on-white/white-on-black with a slash of red, is clearly the same idea.
MORE SPOILERISH THINGS
& RANDOM SPECULATION BELOW
From The Movie Network:
Obviously there's a good portion of the half-season where the light side loses, at least enough for Kitsis and fellow EP/showrunner Adam Horowitz to give her the new nickname 'Dark Swan.'
The real question is how the powers of the Dark Swan — yes, that’s what they’re calling her! — will differ from Rumplestiltskin’s (Robert Carlyle). “How a Dark One manifests is specific to each person who takes on the mantle,” says Horowitz. “Emma will have her own unique spin on what it means to be a Dark One.”
Big question: will the creators take a stab at dealing with mental illness issues along with general interior conflict? I can just about guarantee it will come up on Tumblr, even if it isn't intentional on the part of Kitsis and Horowitz.
Big question #2: will they finally acknowledge/touch on the Swan Queen vibe (aka Emma & Regina) that so many fans believe is there (and many are rooting for), as their long-time promised, yet not-yet fulfilled, gay character exploration? (Personally, with how Regina's character is looking, I can't see that being a two-way street if it does - her character clearly loves Robin - but that doesn't mean they won't have Dark Emma make a pass at Regina. Not exactly the best way to handle the idea though, as in this would then be a dark trait/manifestation, so I'm hoping this isn't the plan...)
The B-plot, by the way, is Arthurian and all things Camelot. They've gone into this territory before, and more than once, (Lancelot - who will apparently be returning, somehow, and the Lady of the Lake complete with sword, just to name the biggies, but there have been other references too), so here's my prediction: Season 5 is going heavily into princes, princesses, castles and dragons land - that is, the pop-culture idea of what a fairy tale is (see Fairy Tale Fandom's great post on Saint George and the Dragon, which is relevant here). What will this probably overlap with? Maleficent, Lily and whatever draconian familial issues are going on there as well as anything to do with knights errant (be that actual knights or Hook as Emma's knight or whatever).
Plus: Merlin, Merlin, Merlin, who is yet to be cast. He's supposed to be a "big dealio" and key to getting "the dark out of the swan".
SPOILERY THINGS OVER
No doubt we'll find out many other tidbits during the ComiCon panels, come mid-July.
I'm not really getting on board with the Dark Swan look, I'm afraid, but yes, I will be watching. Gotta keep up with what regular folk are considering as being fairy tales these days!
Once Upon A Time season 5 is set to premiere on September 27th.