TV Time: Once Upon a Time 5.12

Title Souls of the Departed

Two-Sentence Summary As Regina’s relationship with both of her parents is explored in the past and present, she begins to sew the seeds of hope in the Underworld. That hope will be needed, as the quest to save Hook is revealed to be even more challenging than initially feared.

Favorite Line “If you stay, you spread hope, and that’s the best thing anyone can do.” (Henry Sr., to Regina)

My Thoughts It all started with the tick of a clock…

The pilot of Once Upon a Time ended with a ticking clock and a smiling little boy, a symbol of the possibility that things could begin to change for the better and that hope had arrived in a place long thought to be without it. The 100th episode of Once Upon a Time also featured a ticking clock in its final minutes, serving once again as a symbol of positive change in a previously hopeless world. The difference this time was in the person smiling as the clock began to tick and hope began to spread. In the pilot episode, Regina was the villain keeping everyone in a state of hopeless stasis, but 99 episodes later, she was now the hero smiling at the possibility of restoring hope and happiness in a dark world.

“Souls of the Departed” showed how much Once Upon a Time has grown over the course of 100 episodes while still honoring the hopeful tone that has always been its hallmark. And it did so through the lens of Regina’s character growth. Did we need another flashback to the Regina/Snow war? Of course not. That story’s been told an exhaustive number of times. (Although it was nice to fill in the gaps concerning how Cora came to be in possession of a shrunken version of her husband.) But it served as a nice reminder of how far Snow and Regina’s relationship and Regina’s character in general have come since the days when the story told in those flashbacks was the only story to tell for those characters. And it’s always fun to see Lana Parrilla in full “Evil Queen mode,” complete with those gorgeous costumes.

The flashbacks also set up a very nice parallel between Emma in the Once Upon a Time pilot and Regina in the show’s 100th episode. I don’t think it was a coincidence that the writers chose to set this episode’s flashback on Regina’s birthday, just as the series started on Emma’s birthday. Emma and Regina have always been positioned as two sides of a coin, characters whose journeys reflect each other in fascinating ways. And just like when Emma’s decision to stay in the pilot made the clock move, Regina’s decision to stay in this episode did the same. Both of these women have grown from being loners to being part of a loving family, and their choices to stay and be a part of something instead of running away represent the hope that we can all find it in ourselves to stay and fight for what’s right when it feels easier and safer to leave.

That theme—having the courage to stay when it’s safer to leave—was at the center of this episode. It was truly the perfect theme to build this show’s 100th episode around. Once Upon a Time started as a show about a woman who’d only known abandonment. But over the course of 100 episodes, that woman has discovered she has a family that’s now ready to stay in the depths of the Underworld in order to secure her happy ending. They aren’t going to leave her behind. In fact, they’re going to encourage her to stay and fight even when things look hopeless. Because Once Upon a Time also started as a show about a man and a woman who lived their life by the phrase, “I will always find you.” And now, it’s their daughter’s turn to live that phrase as she fights for her true love, with the parents that taught her to never give up by her side.

And what keeps us fighting when things look bleak? Hope. This show has always preached that heroes are the people who believe they can do the seemingly impossible instead of giving up or taking the easy way out. Heroes have hope. And that hope is what allows them to continue to do the right thing rather than the easy thing.

The contrast between belief and skepticism—between hope and fear—was clearly laid out in the first minutes of the episode. I’ll admit that I was a bit disappointed by Neal’s appearance—not because I don’t appreciate his history with Emma (I thought Jennifer Morrison and Michael Raymond-James brought just the right amount of warmth and affection to that scene.), but because I really wanted Neal to have a moment with Henry or Rumplestiltskin in this episode. (Although there were some touching mentions of Henry and Neal by each other.) I know the absence of such as scene was most likely due to scheduling conflicts, but it seemed crazy to me that Neal had no unfinished business with either his father or his son. However, after spending a lot of time thinking about the purpose of that scene beyond plot exposition and honoring another departed character, I’ve come to appreciate it more than I did upon first viewing.

It made sense for Neal to be the one to suggest that Emma turn around for her own safety and the safety of her loved ones. Neal never had the sense of hope that’s written into the DNA of Emma’s family; he didn’t believe he was strong enough to stay and fight for and beside the woman he loved, so he left her behind and never tried to find her. Therefore, it felt right for Neal to be the one to warn Emma that her hopes could be in vain and that it would be safer to turn around and leave Killian behind. Hope isn’t a natural state of mind for Neal, so for him to be the voice of doubt in Emma’s mind was ultimately a perfect choice.

But Emma isn’t Neal. She’s learned to hope thanks to her parents, her son, and her pirate. So I loved seeing Emma dismiss Neal’s warning without a second thought—she isn’t someone who runs anymore; she’s someone who stays and fights, and this time she’s going to fight for her own happiness and the life of the man she loves. And it’s because she has hope. She believes in herself and in the strength of her love for Killian (and his for her), and she believes that love and the hope of a happy future is worth the risks that might come in such a dangerous place. So Neal’s warning didn’t get her to abandon her quest, but it also didn’t ease the doubts in her mind about allowing others to follow her into the Underworld.

Emma had every right to be concerned about her loved ones following her into such a dark place. I really liked the world building this episode did in terms of the Underworld. Setting it in a twisted version of Storybrooke made it feel Twilight Zone-esque, in the best possible way. I also liked that we jumped right in with important character interactions in this world. While the Snow/James kiss was an attempt to bring humor into this dark setting (It bugged me, though, that Snow couldn’t tell she wasn’t kissing the man she shared a heart with, but that’s just me being picky.), the real gems were found in the revisited parent/child dynamics with Rumplestitlskin and Pan, as well as Regina and Cora. Not only did Rumplestiltskin and Pan’s scene set up a major plot point for this season—with Pan wanting to replace one of the heroes in order to return to the land of the living—it reminded me just how good Robbie Kay is in that role. It’s hard to go toe-to-toe with Robert Carlyle at such a young age, but Kay manages to shine every time they share a scene (which is also a testament to Carlyle’s strengths as a scene partner). And, of course, any scene between Parrilla and Barbara Hershey is completely captivating. I loved that Cora having her heart didn’t change the fact that she’s still a master manipulator, and that just made it even better to see Regina finally push back against those manipulations.

Neither Cora nor Pan has ever shown real belief in their children. They’ve always tried to use manipulation or magic to get them to do what they feel they should do. In this episode especially, Cora’s lack of belief in Regina stood out. Instead of having hope that she would be able to help Emma and the rest of the team, Cora tried to prove to Regina that her actions would end up in a hopeless fire of suffering in order to get her to leave. That was contrasted so spectacularly with the other parents this episode focused on: Snow, Charming, and Henry Sr.

This was the most I have liked Snow and Charming in ages. Sometimes those characters are written in ways that ignore their supportive, hopeful sides (especially when it comes to their daughter) in order to further the plot. So it was nice to see them at their strongest and most supportive when Emma needed them. Morrison did a great job of showing Emma’s desperation and anxiety with characteristically believable restraint. It was clear Emma wasn’t going to give up, but it was also clear that she didn’t want her loved ones to stick around if it was going to be as dangerous as Neal said. And once she saw the state Killian was in (Kudos to the makeup team for making Colin O’Donoghue look awful—a truly difficult feat.), it was heartbreaking to watch her panic set in. You could feel the hopelessness descend on her as she worried he was suffering alone, without any hope that she was coming for him. As someone who’d suffered alone for a long time, Emma knew—to an extent—what that was like, and it killed me to see how much she wanted Killian to know she was trying to find him.

But Snow was there for her daughter—just as she was when Killian died. I loved watching Snow’s strongest side rise to the surface to protect her daughter from her own doubts and fears. Snow has always been a beacon of hope, and it was beautiful to see her share that hope with Emma, reminding her that Killian knows Emma loves him and that they will find him. It was an echo of Charming’s earlier statement that they weren’t going to leave the Underworld without Killian—no matter the dangers they would face. They’re a family, and Killian is a part of that family now. And this family always finds each other. That belief has encouraged Snow and Charming as they’ve fought for their love, and now it’s allowing them to encourage their daughter as she fights for hers. Their support of Emma and their belief that they will find Killian together provided a spark of hope that moved me beyond anything I was expecting.

Speaking of things that moved me beyond anything I was expecting—I did not expect to be left a sobbing mess after all of Henry Sr.’s scenes, but there I was, crying on my couch last night because he was the epitome of everything right about this show. Like Snow and Charming, Henry Sr. encouraged his daughter to keep fighting. It didn’t matter to him if he was in danger because of it, what mattered was that he was going to keep encouraging Regina to do the right thing. In the past, she was too consumed by her anger and need for vengeance to listen to him, but now, she was finally at a place where she could let his love for her and belief in her inspire her to be the best version of herself.

Henry Sr. is a wonderful character. His willingness to forgive and to love his child unconditionally makes him, as Regina said, special. And in that forgiveness, one of this show’s most beautiful themes was brought into the spotlight: redemption. No matter who we were in our past, there is hope that we can be forgiven and that we can grow into a better person. It’s not too late, and we’re not beyond hope. All we have to do is make the choice to acknowledge who we were and to take steps to be better than that person. Henry Sr. allowed Regina to do exactly that, and she emerged from their meetings the best and strongest version of herself yet.

The real emotional gut punch of the episode came when Henry Sr. met his grandson. In both men, we were given examples of people Regina hurt when she was at her worst, but they were also examples of people who’d forgiven Regina and who believe in her best self. Henry is so much like his grandfather: He believes in people and he encourages them to believe in themselves. So it was lovely to see those two characters finally meet—and for Regina to witness that meeting. Parrilla was at her absolute best in that scene, as well as the scene between Regina and her father at his grave. There was a softness and subtle vulnerability to her performance that was unlike anything we’ve seen from her before, and it was beautiful. I have a feeling this arc is going to bring incredible things out of both Regina as a character and Parrilla as an actor.

In the end, seeing Regina embrace her best self allowed her father to be able to move on. And that gave Regina a sense of purpose. She put many people in the Underworld, and her job is going to be to help them find happiness and move on. It’s a huge change from the woman who wanted to destroy all the happy endings and keep everyone stuck in one place and time forever. And I can’t wait to see her grow even more through this journey of contrition and forgiveness.

By choosing to stay, Regina spread hope that this team of heroes could help all those souls stuck in the Underworld move on to a place where they could be truly happy (including Killian, whose place is with Emma and her family). And so began Operation Firebird, an aptly-titled operation about rising from the ashes and being reborn from death. However, not everyone was pleased about this operation. I loved the first glimpse we were given of Hades in all his wine-swirling, pedicure-getting, violin-loving glory. I like that he chooses his punishments carefully (turning Cora back into a peasant was brilliant), and I’m interested to see why he’s physically punishing Killian so severely. Did it just start in response to Emma and her family going down there to get him, or is it based on something more?

No matter how bad things look for Killian, if this episode reminded us of anything, it’s that hope is the one thing that truly matters on Once Upon a Time. Even when things look bleak, we must hold on to hope and work to encourage others to do the same. And that’s why I have no doubt that this season will end with Killian back in the arms of the family that’s not giving up on him. They always find each other, and I don’t expect that to change now.

25 thoughts on “TV Time: Once Upon a Time 5.12

  1. This episode was just OK for me but I love the emphasis on hope that you and others have pointed out.

    Other than the fact that I wish Neal’s scene would have been with Henry, I liked seeing him and Emma together again because it was a moment between two people who cared for each other very much but who weren’t the right fit romantically. There was an ease there and a familiarity that I really liked. I still wish we’d gotten to see them work out a nice co-parenting relationship with Henry but this showed it would have been possible at least.

    I also LOVED the scenes with Regina and Henry, Sr. Henry’s unconditional love for his daughter and his unwavering belief in her ability to choose to do better was so beautiful to me. I’m so happy that Regina got the closure of her father’s forgiveness and that Henry got to let his daughter know how much he cared about her and how proud he was of the person she became. Regina has had a long journey on the show, as evidenced by that flashback. She’s gone from a woman who was so set on revenge and being alone to one who has embraced love and friendship. It may have been safer to leave but she couldn’t just leave her friends after all they’d been through. I love how much she has grown and I love that she now wants to try to make up for the wrongs she did and give the people lingering in the Underworld some closure.

    The scene with the two Henrys also had me crying. To see these two men who accept Regina for who she is now even knowing what she’d done thank each other for the role they’ve played in her life was precious. I’m so glad Henry got to meet his last grandpa and they got to share that moment together.

    • I totally agree with you about there being a really nice familiarity between Neal and Emma in that opening scene. In an episode that focused on forgiveness, it reminded me that Emma was finally able to forgive Neal and let herself move on from that pain to the point that they could have such a nice moment of warmth and sincere affection. And that makes me feel incredibly proud of Emma.

      And I love that this post is basically just a support group for people who cried over the two Henrys finally meetings. 😉

  2. I’ve noted before my ambivalence toward opening episodes. They are just really hard to assess. It seemed like this did a good job of setting things up, but how can we know until we see where we’re going? *sigh*

    Katie, I love how you’ve teased out the parallels between Emma and Regina, the pilot and Ep 100. The clock and that smile (in both eps) are a favorite moment of mine.

    I didn’t really have an issue with the Neal scene being just Emma. I did like the easy chemistry between the two. Katie, I thought your characterization of “affection” was spot on. These two care for each other, but I can’t imagine Neal going to the end of the world and/or time for her like Hook did. I think you see the difference between the two in this scene. Neal is concerned for her, but his solution is for her to run. My issue wasn’t that Henry wasn’t a part of this scene; my problem was with Emma withholding that information from Henry . . . ummm, why, Emma, why? I think Henry would have taken comfort from knowing — really knowing — he was in a better place. I don’t know if it’s just something Emma doesn’t want to share — one of those private, special things that you don’t want out for general consumption. Or, if she thought Henry would be hurt that Neal came to her and not him. Either way, it just bugged me that she didn’t tell him when she had the chance.

    Pan and Gold. Ok, yeah, just stand there and talk to each other . . . and we’re all completely glued to our TV’s. That’s crazy-good acting. Did anyone else love the fact that Pan’s in a Gold-like suit?

    Katie, I love how you’ve highlighted the theme of having the courage to stay. Staying is difficult; staying is hard. Once Regina saw everyone as cannon fodder, and in this episode we see just how far she’s come. The father she so easily sacrificed she now fights to save. I also love the very real quandary of not wanting to sacrifice her father, but not wanting to bail on her friend. We see the whole group trying to figure out the best way to make sure EVERYONE is taken care of.

    Papa Henry and Regina . . . oh, good grief, just kill us all now with the feelz. I loved the echo from the 5a finale. Hook wanted to die a hero. Papa Henry just wanted to see his daughter be a hero before he died. *sniffle*

    Speaking of being killed by the ALLL THE FEELINGS . . . Emma’s agony that Killian doesn’t know she’s looking for him.

    But folks, we have a name for the operation, so we’re good . . . of course, we have yet to find out if it’s the mythological bird or the muscle car. 🙂

    • Oh, yes, I forgot! Pan in that suit! That was a real highlight. God, I love him. Especially in a sharp suit. (Well, actually I love to hate him, but you know how it is).

      I thought it was a bit odd that Emma didn’t share that she had talked to Neal too. To say, no, he’s not here, he doesn’t have unfinished business, he’s gone on. I don’t know what to make of that. But then again, I blab everything, so I’m constantly wondering why people don’t just say things when the opportunity arises.

      • Just like to add in. That the Neal and Emma scene was only filmed about a month ago (as the actor was in town for abit) and put in the 100th episode (since the 100th episode was filmed last Nov) So i can see why it was not mentioned by Emma she spoke to him because it was late scene added in.

    • I am with you, I was surprised Emma didnt tell anybody about Neal’s visit. If anything, she could have left out the warning part…poor Henry.

      Opening episodes are usually not my favorite either, but I think this one is in the top three. The three being the pilot, 3A, and this one.

      Your comment about not wanting to sacrifice her father but not wanting to turn her back made me realize that this was the second time Regina was faced with the conscious choice of sacrificing her father, and both times she was willing to make that sacrifice. But while the first time was a sacrifice with the intention of taking away everyone’s hope of a happy ending, the second was a sacrifice in order to give that hope back. Perfection.

    • First of all, I LOVED that Pan was wearing a suit so similar to Gold’s. It was the perfect touch, and it once again showed just how much thought is put into these amazing costumes.

      I’m in your camp when it comes to premiere episodes. They often tend to be among my least favorites in a given season. I liked that this one had more of a focus on character than many others, but it still felt like there were a lot of things they needed to cram in during the course of only one hour. I’m always of the mind that premieres are better when they’re two hours (even if it’s just airing two episodes back to back).

      After reading your very valid points about Emma not telling Henry about seeing Neal, there’s a part of me that wonders if Neal was even Neal…if that makes any sense. He could have actually come to her in a kind of vision, or he could have just been a figure of her subconscious, a representation of her anxieties about what she’s going to face. I don’t think that’s what they were trying to get at with his appearance, but it’s something I thought about. (Normally I don’t have weird theories or read that much into moments, but that scene felt strange to me for more than one reason, and I can’t turn my brain off about it.)

      • It felt strange to me too because of how Neal is written and shown. Its just odd how he is written as dead then what he was shown alive.

        I didnt quite like it… because a sense of it undermined Emma, and Emma/Hook for abit. And off on a romantic grand quest to save Hook… and we get a scene with the ex and the way it was done was eww. But all i wil say is good to hear he is not in the Underworld and gone. Finally some ppl can stop asking about him.
        Like i said it was only recently filmed.

  3. Ah, it’s been such a long time since I’ve come here on a Monday to read what you have to say about an episode and chat with everyone! It’s so nice to have our show back at last.
    I had no expectations of this episode, living in my quiet little spoiler-free bubble. I figured we’d get to see some of the characters who have been dispatched over the past seasons, but I didn’t really know what that would look like. I have never much cared for Regina’s father, but this episode might have changed my view of him somewhat. And I’m always on board for Henry to meet his crazy family – only one grandparent left to meet now, which I hope is going to happen soon.
    I wasn’t expecting this episode to hark back to the earliest episodes with the focus on Regina and Snow, but once I thought about it, it did make sense to loop back in the 100th episode to the very beginning. Even if that left me feeling like I didn’t see enough of Emma. But that probably makes sense in the grand scheme of things too. There are a whole lot more people in the Underworld because of the actions of the other characters than because of Emma. I would imagine a lot of people have a bone to pick with Regina and Rumple…
    Killian really DID look awful, which I agree, isn’t easy.
    I can’t rave about this episode, but I am really looking forward to this arc. And I loved the callbacks to the pilot, especially the ticking of the clock. And having you back writing about Once on a Monday morning! 🙂

    • Thanks, Jo! It feels good to be back—and to have all of you back, too. I do wish we’d had a little more time with Emma and her feelings in this episode, but, like you said, it made perfect sense to focus on Regina in the first episode about a place where she sent many people to. I have a feeling this is going to be my favorite B-arc the show has done yet. I liked 3B but didn’t love it—same with 4B, but I think this is going to be a great half-season.

  4. First and foremost, so thrilled to have your reviews back in my life. You always manage to make me see a perspective I wasn’t even thinking of. Sometimes, the fandom wars make it difficult to watch two characters objectively, but kudos to you for writing about Regina and Emma so beautifully. There were obvious hints to the Pilot, but I didn’t catch the similarities between Regina and Emma. And I’m so looking forward to Regina doing a lot of great work in “underbrooke”. I feel like this is the time where her redemption arc will truly come full circle in all the best ways.

    Additionally, your take on Neal. Again, kudos for seeing this through such an amazing, pure perspective. Parenting plays a crucial role in a kid’s development, and sadly, hope doesn’t run in Neal’s DNA. He’s known to run away. But Emma’s known that we don’t give up on the people we love — we fight because we’re brave enough and capable of winning. And I love that you wrote about this message so beautifully.

    And lastly HECK YES X INFINITY to your words on the Charming family. They’re the reason I fell in love with this show. Bandit Snow in all her glory and the way she supported everyone, starting with Emma when she first got to Storybrooke. And I’m looking forward to the tears I’ll cry because this family will slay us and your reviews will contribute to the tears the next afternoon. As per usual, excellent job, darling!

    • Thank you so much, my dear! I was nervous about doing posts for this show again, but ultimately it felt like coming back home. I missed it more than I thought I did.

      It can be so hard to put the fandom aside and try to think about this show and its characters/relationships objectively. Even when we don’t think we’re letting fandom biases get in our heads, it’s crazy how I’ll find myself thinking something and get mad because I never would have thought that if I didn’t hear it through discussions of fandom drama. But I do try very hard to check my biases or acknowledge them where they exist. And I think my stubborn nature helps me forget about fandom nonsense and just write. The more people view things through the lens of fandom drama, the more I want to stand apart from that and provide people with a place they can come to and talk about their love for the show as a whole and all its characters. So thank you for seeing that. It means so much to me. ❤

  5. Oh, and one more thing, I’m so looking forward to Hade’s game and his punishments. Turning Cora into the thing she’s tried so desperately to forget was genius and to see how this will change her will be fascinating.

  6. Lmfao, I keep forgetting to add things before I submit, okay one last thing, BEAUTIFUL JOB ON REGINA X HENRY SR. X HENRY JR. You wrote about that so wonderfully, my heart broke all over again. That scene is one I’ll cherish for a very long time and it’s definitely my favorite Regina scene to date, so kudos to doing it justice.

  7. “And in that forgiveness, one of this show’s most beautiful themes was brought into the spotlight: redemption. No matter who we were in our past, there is hope that we can be forgiven and that we can grow into a better person. It’s not too late, and we’re not beyond hope. All we have to do is make the choice to acknowledge who we were and to take steps to be better than that person.”

    First off, I love that sentence, and its great to see that the show is still being true to its roots 100 episodes in.

    I loved this episode. I dont think I quite realized how much plot fatigue I had after 5A until here we were allowed to slow down a bit and give Regina some overdue character development.

    I think they did a great job setting up the premise of the underworld by showing rather than telling. Ok, there was telling too, but on this show you either get “showing and telling” or just “telling” and Ill take the former any day. It reminded me a lot of the 3A premiere in the best possible way. I also loved seeing how far our team has come since then. Back at the start of 3A when they were off to save Henry, they werent a team at all. Now look at them running around the underworld calling each other friends and having each others back. And then there is Rumple, who is still exactly the same and peacing out the second they get there. Sigh.

    I am conflicted about the Neal scene. On the one hand, it was gorgeously shot. I loved the idea that he could come to her via her subconscious. I love that he surprises her from the back seat like the first time they met. I thought the two of them had crazy chemistry, mostly do to the fact that Emma was smiling and happy to see him, and I love Emma with anyone who makes her smile. I even think it made sense that he would choose to come to Emma if his goal was to warn them all to go back. But the dialogue here was just perplexing to me. Sometimes this show sends serious mix messages, and thats all I got from this scene. All magic comes with a price. Ok, I get that. Nobody understands that more than Neal. But this show also likes to tell us that choosing love is never the wrong choice. But I also dont think the writers would intentionally bring Neal back just to use him as a negative parallel, so again, I am just kinda left scratching my head as to what they were trying to do here. I would have been much happier with a “hey, Im in a great place, I am happy you are fighting for your Tallahassee, tell Henry I love him and not to worry about me, be safe, I love you, Neal out!”. Now I am the one that doesn’t have closure! If I ever get stuck in the Storybrooke Underworld, I am blaming this scene right here.

    So aside from the confusion that scene caused me, I loved most everything else. I definitely got choked up a few times during this episode, which doesn’t happen often with this show. I have two weaknesses that turn me into a crying mess without fail: 1.) Unexpected displays of graciousness and 2) people talking to their deceased loved ones. The only time I cried in 5A was when Merida was talking to her dad, and I dont even care about Merida. Cry when people die? No. Cry about people already dead? Yes! Yep, this season is gonna be rough on me. By far my favorite part was Henry thanking his grandfather for believing in his mom. Graciousness AND speaking to dead relatives! Of course I wasn’t going to hold it together there. Also, Lana killed it in this entire episode.

    – I am with you, James kissing Snow was creepy. I am super excited to see more of James, and I am totally nok with impersonation of others for drama, but I draw the line at touching. I am a firm believer that nobody should be touched under false pretenses. I remember being grossed out when Rumple did it to Belle too.

    -Mark Isham did a fantastic job with the score last night. That music when they first get to Underbrooke (is this what we are calling it?) was perfect. It was like a creepy warped jack in the box version of the familiar theme music. It was unnerving, and there was this tension in the music that carried through the entire episode. I loved it.

    -It was great seeing the familiar faces. I especially liked seeing the blind witch again, but I have always loved Emma Caufield since her Buffy days.

    -Rumple cracks me up. During this entire episode he was basically the equivalent of 10 year old me when my mom would drag me to the mall. “But mooooooom, you’re going to get sidetracked! Stop torturing me!” Bonus points for use of the word “lollygag”.

    -During that toast scene with the dwarfs in the EF, all I could think about was that Doctoberfest mug, and how much I need one.

    -I love Greg Germann. I expected his Hades to be a bit more over the top, but I appreciate that he didnt just do a direct copy of James Woods. I am looking forward to seeing more of him, and I loved his punishment for Cora. And while I am a firm believer that if the writers ever ask the question “should we CGI this?” the immediate answer should always be “no”, I am gonna give them a pass on the blue flaming hair. But if it were me, I just would have gone with some blue highlights.

    -I am just going to start preparing my soul now for the Killian/Liam reunion, because I am not sure I am going to survive that one. Eternity of trying to figure out that Neal scene is imminent.

    • I wonder if part of the motivation for Neal warning Emma is so that we get the warning from a reliable source. Anyone else’s warnings are going to suspect. We knew that Cora’s motives were iffy waaaay before the Hades reveal. Since Neal warns Emma, I think we’re supposed to assume a very real danger.

      However, if you do get stuck in the underworld because of that scene, we’ll come get you — Peggy Carter style.

      And you know I’m with you on the Doctoberfest mug.

    • I kinda took the Neal scene the same way I took Killian telling Emma not to mess with the timeline in the S3 finale. As we learnt there, even if what you’re doing is good and heroic and even if your intentions are in a great place, it doesn’t mean it’s something that should be done, it doesn’t mean that it won’t still carry an awful price and that ppl you love won’t get hurt in the process. Just as Zelena used Emma’s good intentions to get back to the present via killing Marian and taking her place, we have Pan talking about taking the place of one of the heroes to get back to the land of the living. Also, given that the only place that the unrepentant villains can move onto from the underworld is hell, they’ll definitely be trying to take their places as well. With Neal, I don’t think he was trying to discourage her as much a give her fair warning that this might not end the way she imagines it will, & if she’s gonna proceed to be careful and to make sure that she’s sure she can live with whatever the outcome is.

      • I think you are right that it wasn’t meant to be anything more than just a cautious warning, but I think coming from him I just didn’t like hearing it. It’s probably nothing more than personal bias, but I think it also highlights the general divide among viewers when it comes to what’s right and what’s wrong. The answer always is “its complicated” and as someone who sometimes feels guilty buying a blue toothbrush over a green toothbrush, the moral gray area here is kind of driving me crazy. I used to think the show had a firm stance, but I am not so sure it does. Not to mention this show exists outside the boundaries of our normal lawful society, which just makes it all the more confusing, haha. I think it’s nothing more than the fact I would feel much better if Neal said she was doing the right thing, because then I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about the fact they are there to save Hook and it may cause something bad to happen to someone else. Basically that Neal scene, and just this plot to save Hook from the underworld in general is giving me an existential life crisis, no big, lol.

    • I am with you on the existential crisis… I tend to be an “ends justify the means” person (there’s my Slytherin side coming out), so I’m probably not the best person to talk about how to interpret Neal’s warning because I’m someone who thinks Emma is doing the right thing no matter how dangerous it will be. I’m very much in the camp that believes fighting for those you love is never wrong (unless he specifically said he didn’t want her to fight for him, which he didn’t in this case), so I agree that it seems like there are mixed messages being sent here. But that does happen from time to time with this show, especially because it is so hard to apply real-world morality to it (which makes my job as a writer very hard sometimes).

      I think I’m just going to try not to think about it anymore. 😉

      Instead, I, like you, will be preparing my soul for the inevitable Killian/Liam scenes. (I also have very strong feelings about Emma meeting Milah, and I just want that to be presented well and not done just for awkward humor.) There will be many tears this half-season, so I’m here with virtual tissues whenever you need me!

  8. This was an okay episode. I think I got teary-eyed watching Henry Sr. and Regina. Lana Parrilla does great with angst material like that and I think she nailed it. Her Evil Queen acting, that is a whole other different story.

    I appreciate it when Once tries to fill in gaps and explain things. Sometimes, it doesn’t work; other times, it comes out okay.

    I appreciate the show explaining how Henry Sr. got to Wonderland, more specifically how Cora was able to kidnap him. I’ve never doubted Henry Sr’s love for Regina. He’s stayed by her side always. He’s seen her at her darkest and he still loved her. He hasn’t always been the strongest character, but I really liked his role here. He actually tried to do something proactive to help Regina. It was beautiful to watch in the flashback, and also in the present.

    It was also interesting to see how Cora and Henry’s parenting tactics really differ from each other. I’ve always known Cora has been manipulative. She believed by helping Regina get Snow’s heart, that was going to help Regina get closure.

    Regina held Snow’s heart once and she could have crushed it, but she didn’t and now these two women are a family again. But Henry believed differently. He wanted to help Regina move past her anger and her vengeance because he knew that was the only way she could truly be happy.

    He was right. All Regina needed was love to heal her heart. It started with Henry, and then with Robin. Henry Sr. always wanted Regina to return to her best self and being the Evil Queen wasn’t that.

    (Wasn’t crazy about the Neal scene in the beginning but I understand why it was there. He wanted Emma to give up and go home, which is very in character for him, but that’s not who Emma is and that’s also not who Killian is either. I like being reminded of that contrast between both men).

    I also appreciate how Neal wasn’t surprised or offended that Killian is the reason why Emma is down there. I think he knew back in “Quiet Minds” about the growing bond between Emma and Killian. He knew that Emma would choose the pirate and he was okay with it. He’s still okay with that. There was no awkwardness there or resentment.

    I’m glad Adam and Eddy portrayed like that and really give proper closure to that triangle.

  9. Pingback: TV Time: Once Upon a Time 5.14 | Nerdy Girl Notes

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