Souls of the Departed- 5x12
Recap & Analysis by Amy Hood- @Amylia403
The winter hiatus is over and the first episode up was definitely worth the wait. Once Upon a Time turned 100 this week and a carriage full of guest stars turned up for the landmark episode. In a moment that many fans had hoped for, Neal returned to warn Emma of the dangers ahead. He assured her that he isn't in the Underworld and is in a place where he is happy. The meeting took place in the yellow bug, near a roller coaster, suggesting that Neal's Heaven is his younger days with Emma. This moment also gave Emma the ability to tell Henry later in the episode, when he was trying to find Neal at Underworld Granny's, that his father was happy
The flashback this week centered around the events of Regina's birthday. Unhappy with her inability to kill Snow White, she wants only for her birthday to be over. Henry Sr., always the concerned father, asks Sydney/Magic Mirror to summon Cora so he can speak to her through the mirror in an Enchanted Forest to Wonderland trans-realm call. Cora uses this chance to escape the mirror and, in her twisted motherly way, gets the one thing Regina really wanted for her birthday: Snow's heart. In an effort to save Regina's soul and keep her from going dark forever, Henry Sr. steals back the heart and returns it to Snow. This is only revealed when Regina goes to crush it and instead of being in pain, Snow simply laughs off Jiminy (getting a little fresh) who had been stuck in her tuffets. Furious, Regina shrinks Henry Sr. and puts him in a box, which Mommy Dearest Cora grabs just before she is banished through the looking glass and back to Wonderland.
Back in Present Day, our group of heroes begin to explore the Underworld, which looks like a post-apocalyptic Storybrooke. Regina tells Robin that whoever created the dark curse she cast must have had inspiration from this place. Granny's dinner is being run by the Blind Witch who offers Snow White gingerbread or children from the menu just before Charming's smarmy brother James comes in and lays a big kiss on Snow. Oops, wrong brother! He leaves as Charming comes in, and the hint of a future meeting is laid into place.
Rumple ventures out to the Underworld version of his shop where he finds his father, Peter Pan, to be the proprietor now. The chipped cup on display lends to a flashback of he and Belle saying goodbye just before the trip to the Underworld began. On another display is the Peter Pan doll that had been Rumple's when he was a child. Pan wants to form an agreement. He tells Rumple that if one of the heroes stays in the Underworld, he (Pan) would be able to take their place and return to the living. A very curious situation, which has me wondering if this means one of the group will end up having to stay in order for Emma to bring Hook back to Storybrooke. Rumple wants no part of it, but Pan gives him a vial with a "Call Up a Dead Guy" potion as a gesture of good will. (Or so he says. I am hesitant to trust Pan as he has been one of the sneakiest villains to date)
Other reunions are going as well as can be expected in the Underworld. Regina finds Cora, who almost immediately issues an ultimatum. Cora tells Regina that she must take Henry and her "thief" and return home or else her father Henry Sr. will pay the price of being sent to a place "much worse" than the Underworld.
In the cemetery, Emma sprinkles the potion that Pan gave Rumple onto Hook's grave. His image appears, but he looks more like a card-carrying member of the Walking Dead Zombie Crew than the dashing pirate. He is suffering and hurt, but the communication spell won't hold and he cannot hear Emma. He vanishes, leaving the group to wonder where to look for him. Regina takes the remaining potion and pours it over her father's grave. Her guilt and sadness overwhelm her and she cannot even look at him when he first appears. He tells her that he loves her and forgives her. The two share a few really lovely moments in which Henry Sr. tells her not to leave, and that she must stay and do the right thing, even if he must pay the price for it.
When Cora finds that Regina did not leave as she ordered her to, she brings Henry Sr. and Regina down to a cliffside and waves her hand to have the fires take him. Cora vanishes herself away before seeing what happens. The flames vanish, a light from above lights a new path, and Henry Sr. realizes that he is going to a better place. Regina was his unfinished business and their interactions in the Underworld allowed him to be free and done with it. In an amazing moment that is sure to rank as a fan favorite, Henry Sr. gets to meet his grandson Henry. The family share a moment together before Henry Sr. walks up the path into the light.
The final scenes show Cora traveling down the elevator in the library to see Hades. The clock tower (lying partially crushed in the street) has moved from 8:15 to 8:16, meaning that a soul has escaped Hades' domain. He tells Cora she has failed him, and as punishment he puts her into tattered clothing and makes her into the poor miller's daughter once more.
This episode laid out much of the rules of the Underworld for the upcoming adventure. We know that a soul must be replaced by another soul if it is to escape back to our world. We see that the clock ticks will each indicate a soul moving on to a better place, which Hades is none too happy about. Our heroes discovered that everyone in this Underbrooke has unfinished business and they may be responsible for much of it. This also gives them the ability to be able to help some of these people move on. We also learned that quite possibly Storybrooke is a copy of the Underworld and not the other way around as we had thought. This leads me to assume that the Dark Curse was originally created by Hades.
There were also many moments that touched back on the pilot. Regina's birthday was a sort of dark version of Emma's birthday from the first episode. Both had the single candle, both were longing for something. We again saw the clock stuck at 8:15 and, in a change from the pilot, it was Regina's actions that made it tick instead of Emma's. Fellow staff member Zach Van Norman theorized that Regina may actually become the savior of this Underworld, which would make a great deal of sense since Hades specifically wants her (out of all the heroes) gone. Emma and Regina are very much two sides of the same coin so a flip of their roles in this crazy Underworld version of Storybrooke would be a great representation of that. One thing is for certain, our heroes are definitely not in Maine anymore....