1. What do you make of Emma's mission to save Hook and her character growth as a result?
Joanne: To be honest, I wasn't really involved with Emma's character development. I recognized that this arc was to show that Emma had always felt alone and had done things her own way, independent from everyone else. In Underbrooke, her family reigned her in a bit and made her realize that they loved her and were there to help her save Hook, but in the end Hook essentially saved himself by helping her.
Teresa: Like Joanne, I wasn't too into it. I believe Emma's journey was supposed to be her opening to love, but then I always saw her having reached that with Henry in "A Land Without Magic". I did like where the last few episodes of the Underworld arc went with her gradually coming to terms with Hook's death and her need to move on. I felt actually there was a beautiful conclusion in "Last Rites" when she was able to do what her father advised: learn to accept death like everyone else. I thought her acceptance and farewell to Hook at his grave, complete with the rum she placed, was perfection. Then Hook came back to life. To me, his return took away from those moments. (Not that I didn't want him to resurrect. I am not fond of any untimely deaths at this stage of the Story About Hope.) On the other hand, it happened, and Emma has Hook back. I hope though that the lessons she learned in her journey through the stages of grief will play a part in S6.
Sam: I think Emma Swan is a smart, brave, strong character. I wish she could find Love if that would make her life better. I think Hook is hot stuff in leather. He was a great pirate and I do believe he redeemed himself in the last few seasons. But I've never really been sold on CaptainSwan as a "True Love" pairing. I think Emma learned more about her relationship to her family and friends than she did about her love for Hook.
Ashley: I feel like it started out exciting enough, but in the end I was less connected with the mission and more connected with the Underworld. I enjoyed that Emma is becoming more reliant on her family, more allowing of allies in stead of going off and doing her own thing. She's letting people get close to her again and even though she's afraid of losing them, well she lost Hook, twice actually, and has survived both times. She knows that even though it hurts, even with all the collective losses she's suffered, she can keep going.
Mia: I thought Emma's mission to save Hook was very heroic and sweet. It definitely showed her growth. Being open to love, she took a page out of her parent's book, and decided to do whatever it took to save him. Emma was very brave, going into a world that she knew nothing about, only clinging onto the idea that she might be able to bring Hook home.
1. Regina is now split in two. Has this changed who she is? Or just the compulsion to do evil? What does this portend for free will on Once?
Sam: It's an interesting question. How much can a person really change? Can you really absolve yourself of bad behavior by saying that person is not the person I am now? Keeping this in the realm of fiction, which we must remember, Once Upon a Time is fiction, I'm going to say this separation makes sense. It would be a terrible shame for Regina to lose the redemption she's earned in the last few seasons. The literal separation of her Evil Queen personality works for me and here's why: I think it's pretty clear that if not for the manipulation by Cora and Rumple when she was young, Regina would not have become Evil. Remember: Evil isn't born, it's made. I think the Evil Queen was not really a natural part of Regina's personality, although she did surrender to it and live it to the fullest for some time. The selfless, rational, loving Regina that we've come to know in recent seasons is who she would have been without the meddling by Cora and Rumple.
Joanne: We will always have free will. Just because Regina has rid herself of her evil side, doesn't mean that she can't make bad choices in the future. I think splitting Regina and the Evil Queen is a great plot device. It will move Regina closer to redeeming herself in her own eyes. The core characters seem willing to forgive and forget what Regina did in the past as the Evil Queen, but Regina doesn't seem to be able to forgive herself. By dividing her into two separate characters, the writers allow Regina to battle it out with her evil side. I also think that Rumple might use the Evil Queen to help him get Belle back. When Regina offered her magical services, she said that she was his best student. He contradicted her and said the Evil Queen was his best student. He needs her not Regina because Regina had gone soft.
Amy: I was torn by this plot point. The Evil Queen isn't, or wasn't a different person, she IS Regina the same way all of us have things in our past that we regret, they are part of us and our journey. I will say that I AM excited about seeing more Evil Queen. I love Regina best when she's full on Fairytale wardrobe and destroying happiness...lol. The Charmings tried in the past to pull all the evil from Emma and put it into Maleficent's child in the past, and we saw how badly that turned out. I'm curious to see how this plays out and if the two Reginas are going to be completely black and white, good and evil, or if we'll get any shades of gray.
Ashley: This bugged me. The thing about Once Upon a Time that a lot of people love is how it shows us that good and evil isn't as simple as black and white. This is a show where the good guys steal babies and the evil-doers nurture them. So for Regina to pull out all her evil, that just doesn't sit right with me. I don't know if and how it will change her in the upcoming season, but I do know that one of the things that makes Regina some people's favorite is her complexity and how she's overcome and dealt with her evil urges. I hope that we see that Regina has to exist with the Evil Queen and they are reunited.
Lori: I am not keen on the "double" aspect. However, I do see it as a ramification of Regina trying to take the easy way out and get rid of her "evil" side. I know she was struggling to find the hope in her future, but she has to realize that you can't erase aspects of yourself. Just like you can't erase grief: it becomes a part of who you are and you need to deal with it. I think she has to learn how to embrace the Evil Queen part of her without succumbing to it. The only way I see this plot point being resolved is through reintegration, so I'm not really tantalized by it at this moment. Also, I've seen some people asking how the EQ could come back after having her heart crushed. I think we need to remember that this is a personification of the Evil Queen, a manifestation created by a potion, and not a human being, and therefore cannot be killed in the usual ways.
Zach: I'm not sure how I feel about this. After all, it wasn't some mysterious entity that committed the atrocities of Regina's past, it was just Regina; she wasn't under a spell or a curse or authorial influence, she was aware of what she was doing, so the shift from one person, with a dark side and a good side, to two separate people is a bit jarring. She still had plenty of sass for Hyde when they met in Storybrooke, so where does the line between Regina and the Evil Queen fall? Where does one start and the other begin?
On the other hand, I think it's a very clever storytelling device because it keeps the Evil Queen alive without flashbacks, and we've covered so much of the past over the last five years that we need a new format or the show will get stale. Not only that but the personality separation will allow Regina to express her thoughts and feelings while confronting her past in a more creative way than hearing a voice-over as she writes in a diary or something similar, and we may get answers to the questions I posed above as a result. Plus: splitting Regina from the Evil Queen allows for a visual representation of her struggle, something necessary for the medium of television, and it will play into the duality motif of the show, so I love that aspect of it.
Teresa: I don't really think this has changed who she is, because the Evil Queen to me is a part of Regina, a bad part of her, but still her. While she was molded by those who manipulated her, she was the one who made the decisions during her reign. I am a firm believer in free will, so it is to me problematic, because separating her into "two" implies that maybe Regina was never responsible for her previous actions. On the other hand, like Lori, I think perhaps the story could go with Regina accepting all of herself, relishing in her triumph over it, and rejecting magical solutions to her inner conflict. They never seem to work on Once, as Rumple's continued failures show.
1. Hero deaths have been rare on Once Upon A Time. This week Robin Hood sacrificed himself to save Regina and his baby. How do you feel about his death and how it fits into the continuing story of Once?
Sam: I'm really going to have to wait and see the repercussions of Robin's death before I know for sure how I feel about it.
Ashley: Disappointed. I felt there was so much more to see with Robin and Regina's relationship. They were in a nice place, a happy place. I'm going to be brief since I'm very tired of talking about this and simply say that this was a misstep.
Zach: Ashley said it all, disappointed is the best way to describe it. It really goes against the
"hope and happy ending" message of the show. I'm going to keep faith in the writers that something substantial will happen with Regina, but it was still disappointing.
Laurie: I am very disappointed in Robin Hood’s death, but the manner of his death was in keeping with his character. I don’t think there IS a continuing story of Once anymore - does anyone think these events are planned? Regina and Robin supposedly had True Love, and a future together. We haven’t seen anything of them as a couple because the entire show is now a vehicle for Hook and Emma, so Robin became expendable (just as Neal was in Season 3). There is only so much time to explore different plot lines - this season has suffered from an excess of “new” characters and each one (including Hook-don’t get me started) ) had to have their backstory episodes. The only problem is that this leaves us no time to explore the characters that already exist in the Once world. And I miss them.
Teresa: I completely want to echo what Zach wrote. Where is hope? Unless, I, to my great sadness started suspecting in Season 4, am right that when the writers have been saying that the show is about hope, they meant that it's about hope being elusive, only reserved to a few. Is the focus now what happens when hope is yanked away? I believe that this death hit so hard because it represents the confirmation of a paradigm shift for Once. I am at a loss as to where the show will go now. Any proposition for a new story will be haunted by this abrupt negation. How can we get excited about future stories when the three-year promise of a Second Chance has ended in despair? It's a very strange place to be for me.
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.
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.
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.
Just when it appeared that Wicked would finally win, Regina sent Zelena into her own Oz spin-off, but she vowed to return. Will Greenie come clicking her heels back to Storybrooke any time soon? And will the little green bean get a name?
Zach: She'll be back for sure. I'm a bit disappointed that she didn't go to Underbrooke with the rest of the group because I would have loved to see Zelena and Cora finally meet and find out what Cora thinks of her abandoned daughter. Putting that aside, I'm sure that whatever they have planned for Zelena will be Oz-some. I have no idea what they will end up naming the baby but I get the feeling Zelena won't be involved in that decision.
Ashley: I hope she does. As much as I liked the idea of Zelena causing problems on the family trip to the underworld, the idea of her returning to an unprotected Storybrooke and having to tangle with the fairies is a fun idea. I just wish that Zelena could have had a confrontation with Cora in the underworld. And that baby's name is Pistachio, I will tolerate nothing else, haha.
Joanne: I definitely think Zelena will be back for her little green bean. She wants to raise the baby herself, and won't be cheated out of her rights by Regina. It may take her a while, but wicked always wins. I don't think she'll call the baby Forest, Kelly or Pistachio, but maybe Elpahba or Ivy would be nice.
Sam: As much as I love Zelena as comic relief, I really wish the whole baby-not-love-triangle never happened. I think sending her to Oz is only a temporary fix. She'll be back. Whatever name that baby gets, she'll always be Pistachio to me.
Laurie: It doesn’t seem as if this kid will ever get a name! And I don’t think Zelena will stay away long - although I was happy she was gone, at least for awhile. I think her plot line just muddies the waters, and her one-note take on evil was becoming predictable. Let her rest in Oz until the writers can figure out how to make her interesting again. Maybe we’ll get some great Outlaw Queen family scenes again!
1. What are your thoughts on Dark Hook? Did it meet your expectations? What do you think will happen next week?
Teresa: Totally met my expectations. I adored it beyond belief. It was terrible, horrible, brutal....in other words what a Dark One is! I've been waiting for Colin to have a moment like this for quite some time, and he didn't disappoint. One hell of a performance! I feel for CaptainSwan fans, that was the down-side. I could almost hear their collective hearts breaking. They got Rumbelled and Rumbelled good! Right in the gut! What will happen? I think he will literally knock himself straight into Hell next week.
Amy: He's just so bad!!! Bad in a fantastic way. I enjoy watching the badies at work, and the extra guyliner is super appreciated. I will say that my heart was just crushed for Emma when he called her an orphan. The one thing he knew would just truly stab at her heart. I'm very interested to see next week's finale and exactly how this plays out.
Lori: On one hand (no pun intended - well, maybe a little!) I thought it was hysterical to see him go all dark pirate - smarmy and disheveled with a perpetual-bad-hangover look. But on the other hand, it made me realize how Emma really did fight the darkness inside her. Her stoicism and tight-lipped mannerisms were all about control. So really, the two Dark Ones work well together as a contrast: Emma being the Savior with light magic was able to control the darkness more effectively, and Hook, having reveled in darkness and revenge for most of his pirate life, is letting it spill all over him like a broken cask of rum.
Mauri: It was shocking to see him being truly bad, but he didn't have Emma's Savior magic to keep the darkness from engulfing him. With him being a Dark One it's like moving from sober to going on a bender.
Francesca: I really do not like this storyline. They have gotten so far away from the initial fairy tales that making yet another character Dark is not interesting to watch. Too many shows these days deal with dark subject matters like revenge, murder and deception. The whole initial appeal of OUAT was that there was hope, adventure and love. This has been missing for some time now; although Colin did a great job performing as the new Dark Hook.
5x01 "The Dark Swan"
1. Dark Swan is here! What was your reaction to the new Emma? Her and "Rumplestiltskin" also had unique dialogues and clashes. Thoughts on their interactions and what they reveal about The Dark One mythology.
Lori: I loved how the Emma/Rumple/Merida scenes focused on the "desperate soul" theme of the Dark One Mythology; at one point Emma even uses the word "desperately" to describe her need for the wisp to rid herself of the curse. It makes me wonder what really happened in those six weeks to turn her completely dark, since she fought it so hard in this episode. Also, I found it interesting that there was emphasis on the fact that the Dark One can't sleep (shades of "Skin Deep": "Why do you spin so much?" "It helps me forget.") because sleep deprivation affects one in many ways. And if you can't sleep, you don't rest, you don't dream - it actually makes sense that this would be part of the Dark One curse.
Amy: Adored it on so many levels. When Emma first emerged from that pit of "Wonder Goo" as the new Dark One, she literally looked as though she had just been given birth too, or baptized into this darkness. She was wet, no makeup, somber. I am really enjoying the Rumple/Dark One in her head. It gives us more Robert Carlyle in Rumple leather, which is pretty fantastic on its own...but there is something so sinister about this darkness that Emma hears, just constantly prodding at her. I love it. Don't get me started on the new Storybrooke Dark Swan costume, because I may faint. It's divine.