Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time: 5.11 “Swan Song” Review

Remember, dearie, all spoilers come at a price~

My patience for Once Upon a Time is beginning to wear down. Now, if you have been reading these weekly reviews, you may know my patience has been wearing down for quite awhile. The incessant use of memory loss, Zelena’s refusal to go see a counselor for her abandonment issues, and the ruining of Storybooke’s community feel by focusing solely on the Charming Softball team has all gotten under my skin. It feels as though the series is not really about exploring fairy tales anymore, but wearing out whatever plots seem to bring in the most viewers. Of course, it is fairly easy for me to criticize the writers when I am not in their position. Who knows what guidelines they have been given in terms of budget, what the network has demanded in viewership to keep the show going, and how many actors and actresses they can sign on from the original batch of fairy tales. But whatever is happening in the background I am still faced with the product each week, and it is certainly getting old.

Last week, we left off with all the Dark Ones being resurrected for the purpose of Killian’s revenge, which focused not only on Rumplestiltskin, but Emma as well. Since the Underworld has a toll the Dark Ones marked the souls of the usual band of fairy tale heroes, plus Rumplestiltskin, to take their place in Hell. Emma refuses to let her friends and family to pay for her mistakes, so she decides to funnel all the darkness into herself and destroy it. Though this would destroy her as well, she wants to atone for the sins she has committed. Of course Hook will not let this happen, not because he loves her, but because he does not want his plans to be ruined. Luckily Hook’s desire to be a better man than the murderous pirate he once was overpowers the Darkness, and he decides to sacrifice himself to banish the darkness.

Which would have been courageous and romantic and all that, had it not been for Rumplestiltskin being a piece of shit, directly contradicting everything we thought we knew about him. This season we have seen Rumple’s redemption, and his overwhelming desire to be a better man for Belle. When he believes he will be dragged down to Hell he gives Belle a ticket out of Storybooke so she can travel and see all the places she has dreamed of. This selfless act convinces Belle that Rumple has changed into the man she knew he could be, and she decides to stay with him. Of course, unbeknownst to her, Rumple is actually the same power-hungry man he always was. He put a spell on Excalibur so when Hook sacrificed himself the darkness was not destroyed, but funneled back into Rumple’s dagger. Now Rumplestiltskin is the Dark One, and is more powerful than ever.

So all of that development we saw this season was literally for nothing. Rumplestiltskin still cares about himself and his power over everyone else, even Belle. Which really annoys me, because I adore Belle. She is such a great character, and was the Disney Princess I feel most attached to (thanks to my eldest sister being obsessed with the musical). Seeing her character betrayed like this is really upsetting, and I know she will have her heart broken again when she figures out Rumple is the Dark One. After all, she is not a stupid girl; she is probably the smartest and most useful out of all the characters in Storybooke. Which really makes you wonder why she does not get more screen time.

Needless to say, Emma is not necessarily pleased that Hook sacrificed himself for absolutely nothing. So she decides she will travel to the Underworld and bring him back, claiming she and Hook have “one heart” so she will not have to pay the toll. Of course Emma will not go to Hell alone, so her parents, Regina, Robin, and Henry are all along for the ride.

The choice of characters for this rescue mission really bothers me for two reasons. One being that the Charmings and Hoods are basically leaving their newborn children behind to go on a vacation to Hell. Even if Robin and Regina do not need to worry about Zelena, since Regina banished her back to Oz, their baby is, like, three days old. Even if the fairies are totally capable babysitters, you are taking a risk that may leave your child an orphan. Now, of course we know that there is not that risk, because there is no way the writers would kill off any of the main characters. But still, they could at least give the illusion of danger. The second reason the choice of characters bothers me is because the character development is going to be so limited. We have been focusing on the same band for awhile, and have completely ignored everyone else in Storybooke. What about the dwarves? Or Granny? Or basically every character we met in the first two seasons that created the basis for the show? Also, where are Maleficent and her daughter? Last season they stated they were going to hang around in Storybooke. Where did they disappear to? And what is going to happen to the entire population of Camelot that was just left behind in the modern world?

Now let me make it clear that I will continue to watch Once Upon a Time. Overall, I really do enjoy this creative show diving headfirst into some of my favorite fairy tales. But there is a large difference between casually watching the show week to week, or even binging it on Netflix, and sitting down to really think about what the show is presenting each episode. It certainly makes you a bit more critical. Still, I am interested in seeing how the show will represent Hell. Will the characters have to face everyone they have ever killed? What will it be like for Regina to face everyone she wronged as the Evil Queen? Will Emma or Henry see something down there? What type of trials will they have to face in order to find Hook? And will Hook even want to be found?

We will have to wait until Spring to find out. See you then, dearie~

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