1. Thoughts on the flashback and what Emma learned then and now.
Amy: I LOVED every minute of the flashback. The way that Jenn Morrison is able to physically embody a younger Emma is really fantastic. The whole Cleo introduction mimicked Emma's Pilot introduction which was very cool. That jacket... Holy Macaroni! Zach has been calling that her armor for YEARS. I ADORE that they used that wording.
Teresa: I liked how Emma changed the idea of what "armor" can mean. It's not always a bad thing if it is used in a manner that is healthy. Finally she has made that journey. If you will, the ultimate turning lemons into lemonade.
Lori: I think it's great that they explored the "mythology" behind the red leather jacket. It's such an iconic part of her character.
Joanne: The flashback scenes were fantastic! It really showed how Emma was searching for her roots and how Cleo helped her establish an identity. I loved the whole leather jacket being her armor metaphor. Cleo helped Emma to control her impulsive feelings and get her life under control.
Zach: It was an Emma-centric episode and those ones are always interesting since she's the main character. The show began with both her birth and her arrival in Storybrooke, she's the one whose journey we've been accompanying since the beginning, so it's nice to see significant aspects of her life explained. I was thrilled to hear Cleo explain that her jacket is her armor, and to see Emma adopt that viewpoint herself. I've been calling Emma's jacket her armor for a long time on our podcast so it was satisfying to see it canonized in the story.
From a metaphorical aspect, for me the jacket meant something else as well. This episode is titled "Firebird," an animal otherwise known as a phoenix, and while we didn't see one, the flashback was centered around Emma and Cleo sparring over Emma's skipped bail in Phoenix, Arizona. Also: Emma's jacket is red, a color associated with fire and power, and the moment she first puts it on is the moment she gets her wings and experiences her Swan Princess rebirth.
Speaking again on Cleo and Emma's relationship, it informs Emma's character in Season One a bit more, and brings a better understanding to who she is, how she operates, and why she has certain qualities to her personality. The ability to change years worth of understanding about a character with just a few scenes is a tremendous talent, and I tip my hat to Jane Espenson for writing such a great episode.
2. Hades tricked them all! How can the Heroes defeat him?
Amy: I have a feeling that Zelena will be the only one who can really one-up him, or at least get close enough to, which is rough because under all that villainy goodness, they actually love each other. (As evidenced by True Loves Kiss) Perhaps Zeus' magical Lightning Bolt of Doom, aka the Olympian Crystal, can zap him?
Lori: No clue. I do feel badly for Zelena. It seems like his desire for revenge outweighs his love for her...but then again, it was her dedication to vengeance that attracted him in the first place. And he did ask her to make chaos with him. Seems like Zelena also has to learn the lesson that you can't fundamentally change the person you fall in love with.
Joanne: I think that Zeus will step in and take care of Hades. I'm feeling sorry for Zelena. She finally found someone who will love her for who she is, but she is trying to be a better person for her daughter. I don't think she is the same person that Hades fell in love with in Oz.
Zach: I'm not sure, I think the only way would be for someone to take his heart again. The press release for next week says that Zeus is making an appearance, so maybe he'll step in?
Teresa: I too think it will be by some magical intervention, perhaps one like the Olympian Crystal, as Amy said, or one that hasn't yet been introduced.
3. Is this really the end of Hook? Is he fated to stay in the Underworld and move on?
Lori: Highly doubtful. I'm sure there will be a way for him to come back.
Joanne: He's not quite dead yet. I don't think Hook with stay in the Underworld. He will find a way back to Emma. Once again, I think Zeus will step in and help the heroes out.
Zach: Nah, he'll be back next week, though I don't know how. (Is this how Zeus will step in?) Also: his goodbye scene with Emma was pretty sad.
Teresa: Hook is likely the safest character on ONCE. You can't devote the whole half season to saving him just have an "oops, fail." All will be well with him.
Amy: No way. Hook will be back and alive as ever soon. I think somehow Henry has written him a way out, or perhaps he'll be granted reprieve by Zeus for his selfless act. (The way Hercules was in the Disney version)
4. Who do you think will die next week?
Joanne: I think the trailer is just a teaser. I don't think anyone will actually die. I'm in total denial.
Zach: In the preview they show Robin talking to Regina and then the voiceover says someone will die and it will break the heart of Storybrooke as they show Regina, so I wonder if it's him. But that bit with Mr. Hood could also be a red herring for Zelena; since her true love is Hades. she'll have to be there to spend any time with him if he gets banished there by Zeus. (Definitely going with the Zeus-stepping-in theory.) And then Regina would be devastated since she and Zelena just reconciled before sending Cora off to be really most sincerely dead, so that could be the thing. I have no idea!
Teresa: I think it's Robin Hood, though I really hope I'm wrong. We've had three years of investment in pixie dust and second chances. I want the Happy Ending!
Amy: Unfortunately, I think it's going to be Zelena.... which KILLS me because no one adores Bex Mader the way I do...LOL! I feel like that might push Regina over the edge after just getting her sister back.
Lori: I have no clue and I refuse to spend time speculating. There have been too many misdirections in the past. I'll take it as it comes.
5. Favorite Moments
Zach: Dawn of the Red Jacket.
Teresa: I liked the red jacket too. Iconic!
Amy: Gosh, I had a few! The hand grasping as Emma left in the elevator kinda squashed my heart. I really loved Emma getting her jacket/armor. Such a huge part of the story line that we finally got to see.
Lori: Emma's leave-taking of Hook. Very touching.
Joanne: Rumple getting the best of Pan. I love that Rumple abandoned Pan once Hades tore up the contract. I also loved that he tricked him with the lure of Robin's heart only to switch it out with water from the River of Lost Souls. It was devious of Rumple, but his life was ruined by his father's abandonment of him a long time ago.
6. Favorite Quote
Teresa: "Not Hell and not the Devil" by Zelena. I love it when myths are expounded upon. Amy did an article on the very topic with almost the same wording! http://www.onceuponafans.com/origins/hades-lord-of-the-underworld
Amy: "Not HELL, and NOT the Devil"-Zelena. I feel like a few fans were still not quite realizing that so I love that she clarified the Mythology lore ONCE is drawing from!
Joanne: "I guess my armor's been on for such a long time that sometimes I forget that I don't need it with you." -Emma
Zach: I have three this week: What Cleo said about her jacket being armor, what Emma said about what the jacket stands for now, and when Emma said she had to get to work.
7. Anything Else?
Amy: Once again, Jane Espenson really wrote a solid episode. The flashbacks were fantastic in the way they paralleled the pilot. The Underworld "goodbye" was really well done and even had me shedding a few tears. Also, I have to say, the collective "BUH-BYE!" uttered by the fandom on Twitter as Pan went sploosh had me cracking up. Bye Felicia!!
Joanne: I was glad to see them wrap up the Underbrooke portion of the season. It's been great seeing some of the loose ends wrapped up with some of characters and it was well done, but I'm ready to get back to the real Storybrooke.
I also think Emma might go into a downward spiral loosing Killian after spending all of Season 5 trying to save him. She is blaming herself for everything. It doesn't look good for her.
Teresa: They quite quickly got out of the way major plot "OMG's" like saving the Rumbelle Baby and Pan's plans. Too quickly for the build-up? Overall, my most positive emotion came from the end of the Underworld trip. It came close to overstaying its welcome.
Zach: This was my favorite episode of season 5B so far. I liked how the opening of the flashback mirrored the pilot episode, with Emma as the perp rather than the bail bondsperson. On another note: I've really enjoyed all the resolution for so many characters in this half of the season. It's been very satisfying to see things like the Emma/Neal, Regina/Cora/Zelena, and David/James reunions and have some closure to those relationships, among others.
Having said that, I'm ready to find out where we're going next and who these mysterious brother characters are for the upcoming "mental hospital" story, so I'm looking forward to the conclusion of the Underworld storyline and the beginning of a new story.