Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 1 – TV Review

OUaT Merida Brave The Dark Swan

Talk about moving down in the world.

In other downgrade news, Emma is a poor substitute for Rumple when it comes to the Dark One.

But I think Once Upon a Time is aware of that.

TL;DR Our heroes try to stop Emma from being consumed by the evil that comes with being the Dark One; they fail, and end up with amnesia; Camelot isn’t very exciting; Merida is about as shit as you’d expect; Zelena is still hanging around for some reason.

Pregnant rapists are the kind of thing that ABC wants to hang onto, apparently.

So the plot starts us right where we left off last season, with Emma becoming the Dark One and vanishing. The gang realises that she must be back in the Enchanted Forest, and the Apprentice gives them a wand to get there. But it will only work if someone with dark magic uses it. Regina is too goody-goody these days, which means Zelena gets called in to help. There’s some obligatory scheming and double-crossing, but everyone ends up travelling to the Enchanted Forest, rescuing Emma from giving into her dark side, and being welcomed into Camelot. And then they all end up mysteriously back in Storybrooke six weeks later suffering amnesia. Except Emma, who is full tilt evil pants. Meanwhile, Emma spends the episode getting barked at by the spirit of the Dark One, who takes the form of Rumple for convenience’s sake. She runs into Merida while trying to catch a wisp to help locate Merlin (who the Apprentice has said can save Emma), and the ladies briefly join forces. But Head Rumple puts Emma on the road to crazy town. She and Merida battle, but the gang shows up before things get too violent.

Goddammit. This was our one chance to see Merida horribly murdered, and it’s squandered.

All in all, it’s not a bad opener. At this point, Once Upon a Time has got their formula down to keep things moving just enough, while also sprinkling in some new Disney properties and giving every character their soap opera time to shine.

But that’s just the problem: none of this is new.


Why I hate this episode:

The “everyone returns to Storybrooke without their memory of what happened in the Enchanted Forest” thing is an exact retread of what happened in the second half of season 3. I mean, I know soap operas are inherently repetitive. But this is so blatantly the same thing. If I had any dignity left inside of me (which I clearly don’t. Because I’m watching season fucking 5 of Once Upon a Time, you know?), I’d be insulted.

I’m getting tired of there always being some bullshit way to travel between realms whenever the plot calls for it. The Apprentice just happens to have some powerful magic wand thing just chilling in his pocket. And, because the plot calls for it, they need to go recruit Zelena to use it. It’s contrived.

The fact that Zelena is still around is irritating. Despite the surface level juiciness of her twist reappearance last season, I don’t want her. We had plenty of her in season 3. And Once Upon a Time already has enough hanger-on-ers. They should have just let Zelena flee to Oz to have her baby in peace.

Grumpy and a pair of other dwarves join our heroes in their journey to the Enchanted Forest. Do we really need to start fleshing out the dwarves? It’s been four seasons. Just let it go, guys.

Gold is still unconscious and sick. Boo.

I couldn’t give anything close to a shit about Merida. I didn’t like her irresponsible, Karma Houdini incarnation in Brave. And I don’t like her aged-up, inconvenient incarnation now. I can only hope that, because Disney hasn’t got a recent Brave movie to leech off of, we won’t be seeing too much of her.

Oh, and Emma is literally milliseconds away from crushing Merida’s heart and answering all our prayers, but bloody Hook intercepts her just in time. Fuck.


But it’s not all bad:

Watching Merida in her death throes was delightful. That little bloated, teary face as Emma squeezes the life out of her heart. Ahh, refreshing.

The amnesia plot recycling is groan-worthy, but it brings me joy that the gang must have spectacularly failed to keep Emma from turning evil. I relish both their failure, and that Emma might get a little bit of her edge back. Snow was fabulous in her evil, Heroes and Villains version. It’s time for Emma to have some fun.

Regina shines the most in this episode. She is the de facto leader of the group now that Emma is out of the picture, and has the most sensible outlook. She refuses to release Zelena from her anti-magic shackle to cast the spell, which makes her smarter than Hook and Henry, who instead scheme to help Zelena so she’ll help them. Not that it’s much of an achievement to be smarter than Hook and Henry, but Regina’s gotta take victories where she can get them.

Despite the boys’ plan fucking up and Zelena using the Apprentice’s wand to summon a twister to Oz, Regina again displays her pragmatism by attacking Zelena mid-spell, slapping the shackle back onto her, and then hijacking the twister portal to take everyone to the Enchanted Forest. It works like the twister at the beginning of the Wizard of Oz. Our heroes, plus Zelena, Granny, and the dwarf dregs, hole up in Granny’s diner, which is flown into the Enchanted Forest. It was cute.

Do you think Sophie Lowe could return as Alice when the new Alice in Wonderland sequel draws nearer? I’d be up for that. I’m sure Will would be happy to see her. And Disney wouldn’t resist an opportunity for cross-promotion.

I’m not going to give out any best lines this episode, but Regina does refer to Hook as “Guyliner” at one point.

Merlin, Camelot, Arthur, and his knights are now on the scene. Well, except Merlin, technically. He told a prophecy about our heroes showing up in the Enchanted Forest, which is how they get invited to Camelot castle. But he’s missing these days, and Arthur says that the prophecy also foretells that the gang will help find Merlin.

The Sword in the Stone is also in play. We see a greedy knight of Arthur’s try to claim it, but it turns him to dust. Arthur then gives it a go, and manages to unsheathe the thing. But in the biggest twist of the episode, the tip of the blade is missing. And that tip happens to be… the Dark One’s dagger. Ooh.

I nicknamed the version of Rumple that Emma sees as Head Rumple, in homage to Head Six from Battlestar Galactica. But then I just shortened it to Humple. For sex pun reasons.

Zelena cuts off her own hand to free herself from the anti-magic shackle (she quickly uses magic to reattach it, though). Cool.

Oh, and Once Upon a Time’s budget must have gone up, because our principal cast are all together in almost every scene. That’s encouraging.

OUaT The Dark Swan Regina intersection

It’s a traffic hazard, and it’s rude.

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About ijusthateeverything

Sincerity is death.

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