1. Rumple is again under the control of a villain. Can he escape this time? Should he? Is his second-born truly fated to belong to Hades?
Teresa: Yikes! Rumple is back in Groundhog Day! I guess I'm not surprised about that. Lol, after two years of this template it's become Certain as the Sun Rising in the East. I'm sure he'll escape and perhaps the cycle will be broken this time because I can't see the writers again dooming a baby and delivering another Rumple regression. There has to be some variation and a light at the end of the tunnel. And is it wrong that I was kinda, "Sucks to be you, Milah", and found her fate amusing? She sure dies a lot at Rumple's hands!
Amy: OY-VEY, Rumple.... sigh. I feel like he truly screwed the pooch on this one. While it would be incredible sad, I wonder if Once would dare go dark enough to make this child a twist on Persephone where it has to spend half the year in the Underworld, half the year in Storybrooke. The ultimate custody agreement if you will! I know that he was desperate...again...but burning the boat for Hades, shoving Milah into the river (she kinda deserved it, let's face it), was probably a bad choice on his end.
Joanne: I liked how Hades first referred to him as a rival. Is Hades threatened by Rumple? Mr. Gold will find a loophole, no doubt. I don't think that he could bear losing another child or facing Belle, if he did. Give him time and he will figure out a solution.
Francesca: Knowing Rumple I know he will escape. He is in fact the Dark One times ten! He is more clever than Hades and will trick him, I hope!
1. What did you think of Hercules, his flashback adventures with Young Snow White, and the resolution of his story?
Sam: First of all, I have to admit that I never saw Disney's Hercules. Kevin Sorbo is still my Hercules. I liked that Once chose to focus on a younger version of Herc. I agree that this week had a very Season 1 feel to it. The guest characters were fun and relevant and their story was resolved in just one episode. I loved the return of Bailee Madison as Young Snow! It's been so much fun to have her back year after year and watch her grow-up as Snow White. I enjoyed the adventure romance between Snow and Herc. I really liked that when she confronted the bandits he did not step in and defeat them himself, but took the time to teach Snow a way to beat them herself.
It was nice to have Herc and Meg's story wrapped up by the end of the show. This was a great example of the flashback story and the current story working well together. Herc helped Young Snow take a step forward in becoming a Hero, and present day Snow was able to give Herc a boost so he could confront his own unfinished business.
Zach: I rather enjoyed the Hercules flashback and his history with Snow. It was satisfying to see Snow's character made even more relatable with the reveal that she'd had a previous romance with someone other than Charming. In hindsight, it makes complete sense that she would have had a first crush, but we're so accustomed to the Snow White/Prince Charming story that it never occurred to me that she would have liked someone before him.
As sad as it was to see that both Herc and Meg had died, I was happy them ascend to Olympus for their conclusion. I did see some online chatter from people expressing disappointment that their story wrapped up so quickly, but I like that it was over in one episode. It cut down on the number of storyline-dependent characters and kept the focus on the main characters, yet paid homage to the Disney animated movie. It had a vibe like the episodes of Season 1 where characters showed up, played an integral part of the story, and had conclusions that didn't require an extended appearance. I'd rather focus on the characters we've spent five years watching, so I was happy.
Gareth: I really enjoyed his story. I was quite surprised that the character was dead but it gave it that unique OUAT twist on the character. Seeing Snow's crush on him was adorable and I really liked their scenes together. Bailee Madison is a terrific little actress. The way she mimics Ginny's mannerisms and voice is fantastic.
I agree with Zach, Season 5B does have a Season 1 feel to it with the guest stars working alongside our core cast rather than taking over the whole story.. I much prefer this style of storytelling.
Ashley: I liked Hercules, I was surprised to see how well he fit in with the world of Once Upon a Time, but I found his story itself to be a bit lacking, I can't put my finger on why it didn't click with me when I know many fans enjoyed it. It might have been because of the fledgling romance with Snow. We're so used to seeing Snow White and Prince Charming as the example for True Love that it just seemed jarring and out of place that young Snow would be interested in another. It makes sense, but my response was an emotional one. Also, I wasn't a fan of Meg or her inclusion. I love the actress, but Hercules' story could have done without a love interest and it would have been just fine.
Laurie: I think the writers will regret sending him on to Mt. Olympus so soon!! I liked his character a lot and I LOVED the interaction between him and Young Snow. I thought it was great that we got to see Young Bandit Snow (when she first learned her bandit skills). Bailee Madison was great as always and it’s fantastic that the writers can continue to use her for flashbacks as she gets older. I really appreciate the “older” Enchanted Forest scenes - that we are getting to fill in the blanks and the timeline that many of us have wondered about since Season 1. Brilliant idea that Hercules was the one to teach Snow archery, and it was great that she messed up the first time. You can see her growing in confidence and determination, not getting it all at once. Bailee’s smile when she shot the sword out of the bandit’s hand was perfect. I was very surprised that Hercules's story ended so quickly, but I was pleased that he got his happy ending with Meg. So I can’t be too upset but I thought he would have made a cool friend/ally for Henry.
1. We have a new mission: Operation Firebird. Can everyone in the Underworld be saved?
Teresa: I think so. Regina basically proclaimed herself the Savior when she said she came back to help everyone. I believe that the gauntlet was thrown down. Operation Firebird is a go! The only caveat in my opinion is that all can be saved, who choose to be saved.
Amy: With the Underworld being a stop over on your way to a better place or a worse place, I feel like that means that not everyone can be saved. Some of those with unfinished business are on their way towards a very, very, hot destination. I do adore all the mythology that came in with this episode and I can't wait to see Operation Firebird take flight!
Lori: Do they want to be? It seems like Cora has learned from her mistakes, had the right intentions but made the wrong choice as to how to go about doing it. Like Henry Senior, she is thinking only about Regina's safety, not her own self, so I think there is an opportunity for her to go on to a better place as well. Peter Pan seems like his usual selfish self, so maybe he just hasn't learned yet...but does that mean that he can't?
Joanne: I don't think everyone can be saved. I do think that Hades will do his best to keep every soul he can in his realm.
Francesca: I don't think all the souls in the Underworld can be saved unless they come to terms with their regrets and find forgiveness.
1. The tale of the Dark Swan took an unexpected turn when we learned that Emma was trying to save Hook rather than succumb to the darkness, but Hook was less than thrilled about his fate. How did you feel about the Dark Swan story and its effect on Emma and Hook's relationship?
Joanne: I was a little disappointed in it. I'm still not understanding why Hook didn't know that he was a Dark One. I was also disappointed in his reaction to her efforts to save him. They could have worked together to rid both of themselves of the Dark One curse, but instead he gets all pouty about it.
Teresa: I felt a let-down for it seemed that everything was leading to Dark Swan focusing on Emma and facing her inner darkness. I was really looking forward to that. The "twist" came quite close to "bait and switch" in my opinion. Yet once I recovered from that disappointment, I enjoyed Dark Hook. I felt like unaddressed resentments within him just deliciously bubbled forth. The venom he heaped on Emma didn't come from nowhere. Now that he's expressed these resentments, I imagine this will be a strain in their relationship, but one that could ultimately make them stronger now that all "cards" have been dealt. I don't want Hook to leave--and I doubt he will--but there's a part of me that can see high drama coming if the next step in CaptainSwan's relationship is Emma accepting that "dead is dead" and must therefore let him go.
Ashley: I do wish the Dark Swan storyline had remained Emma-centric, though I understand how her fear of losing yet another important person in her life could drive her to make the decision she did.
Samantha: When Dark Swan Emma showed up in Storybrooke and threatened to punish the town it was chilling, but it quickly became apparent that Emma was only trying to protect and save everyone as she usually does. The power of that initial threat was just a false promise of conflict that never really materialized. I will say that I loved every bit of Jennifer Morrison's Dark Swan portrayal. Her tense body language and her tight jawed speech really conveyed the inner battle Emma was fighting with Darkness. The Dark Swan severe costume, hair and make-up all worked for me too.
I really do understand why Hook was angry. I feel he did find redemption during the time they spent in Neverland (Season 3) and in his efforts to bring Emma back to Storybrooke. I can see where he would rather die than have Darkness pushed upon him again. It's often said that Power is Rumplestiltskin's addiction. I think this kind of addiction to power or Darkness is a problem for Hook and even Regina. Having the Darkness forced upon him by Emma was a sort of betrayal and I think it will take some work by Emma to repair the relationship, should Hook survive his death.
Zach: I'll join Samantha in saying that Jennifer Morrison did a fantastic job in her portrayal of the Dark Swan. She brought a rigid, snake-like physicality to Emma that was very threatening and I thoroughly enjoyed the contrast between Emma's Dark voice and Rumple's Dark voice; where his went high, hers went low, and I liked what Jen did to make it her own. The costume was great (I want that jacket), very Catwoman ala Tim Burton's Batman Returns, and the hair played to the aesthetic as well. All that being said, I was disappointed overall in the storyline. I was expecting to see Emma's darkness rooted in her abandonment issues with her parents and the anger that comes with it, along with rage at Regina for casting the curse that separated them in the first place. Making Hook the driving force behind it all missed the mark. It felt like a missed opportunity to have some character/relationship development between Emma, the Charmings and Regina, and have resolution to their dynamics. I appreciate that Emma's motives were for the greater good though, it's keeping with her role as the Savior and the embodiment of true love.
Amy: I loved Dark Swan. I thought it was SO interesting to see such a new facet of Emma. Jen Morrison knocked it out of the park. The scenes with Emma/Dark Swan and the dream catchers were absolutely heart squishing. I really adored the costuming, big kudos yet again to Eduardo Castro.