1. In the flashback we saw that Regina and Zelena actually met as young girls and bonded before being separated by Cora. How do you feel about this chapter of the Mills Family History?
Sam: Seeing Cora manipulate her young daughters for her own purposes was heartbreaking. Both Regina and Zelena had the potential to have happy, normal lives and Cora ruined it for both of them. It must have been really hard for Cora to give-up Zelena the second time when she saw what a natural gift she had for magic.
Zach: It had a two-part impact I wasn't expecting; the loss of their experience in a family unit, living happily together hadn't registered with me up to this point, and seeing the two sisters bonding as children emphasized that point more. The scene where their memories were restored was bittersweet when they realized what could have been.
Ashley: It hurts. Here we have two women who always felt they'd never have a family, that they weren't worthy of love, and the whole time they had each other and didn't know it. They were always "sisters" on the show, but there was something about seeing them as sisters in that flashback that really stuck with me.
Teresa: I think it was a very beautiful chapter. It showed us what could have been if Regina and Zelena had been raised as siblings. It is a tragedy that they did not have that. How differently things would have unfolded!
Joanne: I had to keep reminding myself that Cora had no heart. It was too cruel to separate the two sisters and ruin their friendship. They could of had a beautiful sisterly bond that could have redefined their entire lives and outlook on the world. It made a very touching moment when Cora restored their memories, and they realized what they had missed out on.
1. What are your thoughts on Red's character arc and her relationship with Dorothy?
Amy: I was literally about to jump out of my seat when that smooch finally happened! I LOVE that it was written as any other True Love story we've seen so far. No one batted an eye or thought anything about it. Even Red's best friend Snow was like "Girl...honey baby child....you're in love" LOL! I thought it was lovely and wonderful that a perfectly normal relationship was added in. I am proud to show this episode to my kids and even prouder that they don't bat an eye or find it as anything but a great story.
Teresa: I was one of those that was disappointed in the story-telling aspect of the episode. The seeds were supposed to have been planted last Fall according to the creators, and I felt it made sense that those seeds were Mulan and Red. Dorothy was not in their episode. Moreover, Mulan and Red's time together after "The Bear King", and falling in love in the process, would have made for a legitimate "plausible off-screen moment." On the other hand, people can fall in love at first sight, so that route with Dorothy works on a certain level, and I believe both actresses did a fine job with what was essentially a one-shot. I suppose the contrived feel, especially the "surprise" factor of it being Dorothy threw me out of the story. Surprises for their own sake are not interesting to me.
Joanne: The show creators promised a LGBT relationship a while ago, and people have been waiting for it. Now it has finally happened. I wasn't to sure about it when it did finally happen. There didn't seem to be much foundation to the relationship. They had a brief conversation and Red had a heart-to-heart with Snow, but I was never clear on Dorothy's feelings. My question is what happens to the couple now? Are they never to be seen again or will their relationship be featured from time to time? And what about Mulan? Where is her Happy Ending?
Lori: I think it was very lovely to show how Red was really searching for the missing piece in her life, which she thought was her pack initially, but wound up being true love with Dorothy. We've seen true love with men and women (Snow and Charming, Beauty and the Beast), and with parent and child (Henry and Emma), and now with two women - it just reinforces the fact that love is love, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, etc, and comes in many types of relationships. I think it's a wonderful lesson and I'm glad OUAT decided to incorporate it into their true love theme. My one caveat is that I was a little sidelined by Red's attraction, because it does seem to go against her character as typed in Season 1. But then again, maybe we have to imply that this is her growth as a person.
Mauri: I ended up loving Red’s character arc, but at first I wasn’t so sure since Red’s character had always been obviously attracted to men. Then, as she and Dorothy got to know each other, they found common ground. They both had been cast out with no fault of their own by their peers, and both had one family member that supported them through out their trials. It was the conversation between Snow and Red that explained what Red was feeling and validated those feelings. So, then yes, I could see them as a couple that made sense and not just thrown together. Our fellow staffer, Ashley wrote an excellent article this week about Red’s arc, and I liked the point she made about "Skin Deep" Rumple and Belle’s love story. Rumplestiltskin had never met Beauty in any of the storybooks. They were separate stories. Yes, Rumple represents the beast on OUAT and we all know the Beauty and Beast story, but on the show those characters met, fell in love, and had true love’s kiss in one episode. So, did we just accept Belle and Rumple being together because we already knew the Beauty and Beast story? RubySlippers also showed the couple's past and build up to their relationship, and ended with True Love’s Kiss.
1. After getting to know Gaston better in the flashback and current story, do you think he deserved his fate?
Sam: I'm not sure anyone deserves to be cast into the River of Lost Souls, but Gaston did turn out to be a pretty bad guy as we suspected all along. I really don't believe that all the stories about him were just "tall tales" made-up by LeFou. I'm pretty sure Gaston really was a hunter of game and women. I do feel kind of bad for Belle that she was the one who pushed Gaston to his eternal doom, but it was a sure-fire way for her to learn this week's lesson about going to extremes to protect those you love.
Ashley: I think so. I found Gaston more interesting in the flashback when he would go from sincere to sinister at the drop of a hat. If we had seen that Gaston throughout the present-day happenings, I would have said maybe he didn't deserve his fate, but in the Underworld he was blinded with bitterness and revenge.
Laurie: Yes! He was untrustworthy from the beginning, as much as they tried to fake us out with his friendly, humble act at the beginning of his association with Belle. He just bugged me throughout the episode. I’m sorry Belle had to be the one to do him in, but it had to happen.
1. Can Zelena trust Hades? Does he really love her or is he using her?
Teresa: He convinced me! On the other hand, he has his own goals, and I can see him eventually choosing those over Zelena. These scenes truly surprised me. I felt for both characters. Who would have thought that Zades would have such chemistry?
Lori: I'm not sure. If he does really love her, then it's a great parallel to Rumple and Regina who both at some point felt completely unloveable. "No one can ever love me." So, I'm starting to hope that she can make the leap of faith in herself that she is worthy of love. Her reaction to her baby this week has softened me to her character a bit. But if it is all a trick on Hades's part, then I actually fear for her.
Joanne: I'm on the fence about whether or not Zelena can trust Hades. He is a master manipulator and he does have an ax to grind with Zeus, but he seemed quite taken with her and all her wickedness. It was sweet that he fashioned the Underworld into Underbrooke so that she could have all that her sister, Regina, had in the real world. If he is being sincere, I hope that she doesn't blow it with her distrustful nature. If he is just using her, then she will make him pay.
Francesca: I think Hades is using Zelena to get back to Olympus to deal with his brother.
I don't think he can be trusted at all. His character has no redeeming qualities.
1. What did you think of the flashback story of the Brothers Jones and their relationship?
Sam: I have to admit I was not terribly invested in the Brothers Jones story, but I gave it a second watch to see what we learned. Finding out that Hook grew up in his brother's shadow does help to explain the low self esteem that he's shown sometimes during his redemption arc beginning in Season 3. In addition, earlier flashbacks about Hook portrayed Killian as an upstanding sailor, but now we learned that he's always had a tendency toward darkness. This revelation does help explain why Hook took such a hard turn when he was a Dark One, and why he was so mad at Emma.
Ashley: I felt it was a bit ... I don't know if dry is the right word. I wasn't invested in it probably because we've seen and heard so little of Liam that we the audience don't really know him enough to make the emotional connection that I think was expected with this episode.
Teresa: I preferred their story in "Good Form." A lot of the heart that made Young Killian and Liam special to me from that episode got the life sucked out of it. The whole premise--"Big brother wasn't what he seemed and Hook is a Hero!"-- was not deep nor was it new territory, especially so for the latter. I must admit though to getting shamelessly teary-eyed when Liam's Heaven was revealed to be a ship.
Laurie: The only thing useful about the backstory was getting to see Hook as a screw-up, not as the noble naval officer turned pirate as in the previous Hook backstory. The writers are very invested in Hook and in his redemption, which is why we got this backstory which had nothing to do with the current story line. One good thing is that we also got a nice redemption for Liam, which led to his recovering his ship and crew in his “better place," which shows us that each destination is personalized. Forgiveness is a powerful thing, and forgiving ones self is clearly a theme for this season. The last scene with Hook and Liam was also very well done, so I would have to say that overall I didn’t hate it, but I wish the time had been used on other characters.