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My life was such a burden. You'll see. All magic comes with a price... and now, it's yours to pay.
      —Zoso's last words to Rumplestiltskin.

Zoso, formerly known as the Dark One, is a minor antagonist on ABC's Once Upon a Time and he appears in the eighth episode of the first season. Zoso is a evil man cursed with eternal life, but gifted with powerful magical abilities.

Background

Long ago, in the Enchanted Forest, a man named Zoso harnesses the power of the Dark One and gains a cursed dagger, which can bend his will to anyone who possesses it. In Reawakened: A Once Upon a Time Tale, it is mentioned that Zoso had been the Dark One for decades before he tricked Rumplestiltskin into taking the curse onto himself.

Role in the series

Then, perhaps, instead of controlling the power, you need to take it.
      —The "beggar" suggests Rumplestiltskin to kill the Dark One.

Before the First Curse

Learning of a sorcerer's box capable of absorbing and accumulating magic, he takes down the apprentice guarding it. However, when Zoso waves the dagger over the box, a powerful wave of magic from within the item blasts him away. As the Dark One lies still on the ground, the apprentice informs him that the sorcerer cursed the box so that anyone who has succumbed to darkness cannot break it open. Beaten, Zoso teleports out of sight.

Later, he is enslaved by the Duke of the Frontlands, who acquires the dagger and gives it to one of his soldiers, Hordor. During an Ogre War, the Duke enlists all children aged fourteen to be trained as soldiers for his army. He dispatches Hordor to a village to pick up a girl named Morraine, who recently turned fourteen, as her parents beg for mercy. From a considerable distance, Zoso is ordered by Hordor via the dagger to magically force Morraine's parents into submission, which frightens the other villagers immensely. Unable to be freed of the curse of the Dark One, Zoso decides to goad someone else into killing him with the dagger so he can be free. He manipulates a cowardly wool spinner, Rumplestiltskin, whose only desire is to protect his son Baelfire from being forced to fight in the Ogre War. Disguised as a beggar, Zoso gains his sympathy and is offered food and shelter for the night. Zoso purposely tells Rumplestiltskin about the wonders of the dagger and encourages him to steal it from the Duke so he may gain control of the Dark One. Rumplestiltskin burns down the Duke's castle and snatches the dagger for himself. In the woods, he summons Zoso, who appears as a hooded figure. Rumplestiltskin cowers in fear of him, but quickly reacts in a blinded rage when Zoso taunts that his son was fathered by someone else. Zoso is stabbed to death by him, and reverts to human form. Rumplestiltskin is stunned at his true identity while Zoso briefly laments about life being a great burden for himself. Lastly, he affirms that Rumplestiltskin is the perfect pawn to help ensure his own death because he, like himself, is a desperate man. Upon death, Zoso's name disappears from the dagger while Rumplestiltskin's name replaces his.

After the Third Curse

Zoso is present with all past Dark Ones lead by Nimue, appearing in Emma's head to watch her reunite Excalibur with the Dark One's Dagger.

After Hook creates a portal to the Underworld, Zoso, along with the other Dark Ones all return in their physical form to Storybrooke to snuff out the light.

Trivia

  • Zoso has the second longest gap between his first and second appearances with sixty-one episodes between "Desperate Souls" and "The Apprentice".
  • The Dark One's name, Zoso, refers to a nickname for Led Zeppelin guitarist and songwriter Jimmy Page, who was represented on Led Zeppelin's fourth (unnamed) album by a symbol resembling the letters ZoSo.
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