Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 11 – TV Review
Okay okay, put down your disco balls and amyl nitrite. Queenie’s here only for about two seconds’ worth of fanservice.
No, what really matters is Emma’s love for Hook.
And Hook’s daddy issues.
What a great combination for an episode, right?
TL;DR The Dark Ones mark all our heroes for death; Hook allows Emma to destroy him with Excalibur to eradicate all dark magic, and therefore get rid of the Dark Ones; Gold actually becomes a new, Super Dark One, instead; Zelena is sent back to Oz; flashbacks show how Hook killed his douchebag dad to impress Queenie.
Queenie does have a penchant for killing dads.
So it’s the Dark One apocalypse in Storybrooke. Each of the resurrected Dark Ones marks one of the gang for death, thereby replacing their slots on the Ferryman’s boat back to the Underworld so they can stay alive. There is apparently no remedy for this, and everyone except Emma and Regina decides to cherish the precious minutes they have left before they’re dragged to hell. Emma wants Regina to use Excalibur on her (Emma) to eradicate all dark magic and nullify the Dark Ones, so they retrieve Excalibur from Gold. But Hook ends up stealing it from Emma, and everyone’s fate appears to be sealed. Thankfully, Regina is able to get Hook to come around by bringing up what Hook did to his dad in the Enchanted Forest (we’ll get to that), so Hook allows Emma to kill him with Excalibur, successfully banishing all the Dark Ones and dark magic. Yay. But not yay: Gold actually tainted Excalibur, and all the dark magic flowed into him, instead, and now he’s the Super Dark One. Cute. Emma ends the episode by having Gold call upon the Ferryman to take her to the Underworld so she can rescue Hook. Meanwhile, Gold manages to ingratiate himself to Belle and she gives him another chance, unaware of his Super Dark One trickery. And Regina summons a tornado to take Zelena to Oz so she can’t get her hands on Baby Rapesly. And in Enchanted Forest flashback, we see Hook’s selfish thief of a Bad Dad abandon his sons to slavers. An adult Hook then gets an offer from a campier-than-ever Queenie: kill my mum in exchange for a means to get your revenge on Rumple. But first Hook has to show his worth by killing his own father. Despite Daddy’s apparent reforming of ways, Hook stabs that bitch on up, regardless. This shameful memory is what motivates him to make the altruistic, sacrificial choice in Storybrooke.
Given how that turned out, is Once Upon a Time telling us that homicidal selfishness is actually a better course of action? Because I already knew that.
Well, I’m gonna have to eat my pessimistic prediction from last episode: the Dark Ones didn’t stay around. Yes, there was a dujour magical convenience to get rid of them, but the whole gaggle of them were in and out with little complication.
Kudos, Once Upon a Time.
Why I hate this episode:
But that magical convenience is grossly convenient. Excalibur has been built up to be this godlike decider of darkness and light. It’s the oldest magical entity in Once Upon a Time. But all Gold does is sprinkle some nondescript magic potion onto it, and he’s able to wildly alter its abilities. Who does Gold think he is? Bonnie Bennett? Inconsistent magic rules have nearly killed The Vampire Diaries (conversely, The Originals is building itself back up by sticking to the rules, instead. Smart). They erode the stakes.
One of the results of the Excalibur switcheroo is that Hook died for nothing, so Emma now wants to travel to the Underworld to rescue him. Death has become so trivial in Once Upon a Time that you can literally just walk into hell to get someone back. The only consolation is that we might get to meet OUaT’s version of Hades from the Hercules movie. Is James Woods available?
Snow’s insistence that everyone immediately give up after getting marked by the Dark Ones is madness. Emma even points out how fucking out of character it is, but Snow just plays the “family time is important” card and Henry and David are ready to die without a fight. What?
Gold instructs Belle to leave Storybrooke to escape the impending Dark One apocalypse once they’ve fully resurrected. Because once you leave the Storybrooke town line, magic no longer exists, right? Well, then why didn’t anyone suggest doing that to escape the Dark One marks? Instead of sitting back and awaiting their descent into hell, they could have all just walked out into the real world and been fine. I would understand nobody thinking of it for the sake of simplifying the plot had the town line not been mentioned at all. But with Gold explicitly telling Belle to get out of town to escape magic, it’s on the table. One of our heroes should have thought of it.
We don’t get to see Cora in the Enchanted Forest flashbacks. What a shame.
The dwarves turn up during the sequence of our heroes being marked, but are then absent when everyone gathers to be taken by the Ferryman. What is going on with these unnecessary dwarf inclusions this season?
Zelena’s banishment to Oz is too easy. Not that I’ll miss her. She should have never come back at all.
Oh, and Hook’s theft of Excalibur from Emma is a fucking joke. Hook confronts Emma alone in her house and explicitly shows off his teleportation powers. Then he teleports behind Emma, makes himself look like Henry, and Emma believes he’s Henry and gives him Excalibur when “Henry” asks for it. Bitch, you knew Henry was not in that house.
But it’s not all bad:
An incompetent Emma is a familiar Emma. May she never change.
Regina, after languishing all season, gets to be the real hero of the episode. Mostly incidentally, but I’ll take it. She’s the only marked one who gives a shit about trying to prevent the trip to hell. And it would have been so sweet if she had actually gotten the chance to cut Emma down with Excalibur.
Despite the derailment of the plan, Regina does end up saving the day by badgering Hook with flashbacks to when he killed his dad, as it’s his shame over his choices then that motivate his better choices in the present. Emma does what all Super Smash Bros bad teammates do and sneaks in to steal the kill, despite Regina putting in all the work to build up his percent. Rude.
I also love that Hook’s death is virtually meaningless thanks to Gold’s deception. And, weirdly, the episode focuses on the return of Hook’s neck gash as the apparent cause of death once his Dark One status is revoked. You know, that giant sword through the gut probably wasn’t doing him any favours, either.
I’d been hoping for Gold to take back his Dark One powers, and he did me one better: now he has the powers of all Dark Ones. His alteration of Excalibur caused it to send all the Dark Ones’ magic into him. Well played.
Hook hogs a lot of the flashback screentime, but God, Lana Parrilla hams it up as vintage Queenie. She struts and poses and everything. And her stipulation for accepting Hook as her mother’s assassin is that he must first prove his worth by assassinating one of his own parents? Magnificent.
Speaking of Daddy, he is definitely deserving of murder. He ditches his child sons on a boat so he can escape the authorities. Actually, he doesn’t merely ditch them. He sells them into servitude. What a gem.
When adult Hook confronts him, he reveals he was put under a sleeping curse soon after that, and was only rather recently awakened by a True Love’s Kiss. He then had a new son with this lovely lady, and then she died. I can’t imagine OUaT would bother chucking in all that exposition arbitrarily, so maybe we’ll get to find out what that was all about?
He named his new son Liam, which is the same name as Hook’s now-dead brother. I don’t care how much Daddy tries to justify it as honouring Liam, because that’s just fuckin’ rude, dude.
Hook agrees, and reneges on the deal to fake Daddy’s death due to his supposed reformation, stabbing his dirtbag of a dad to death. And may I say, sir: well earned.
I’d like to believe Zelena is gone for good. I really would.
Oh, and despite the dwarf insurgency, Emma leads a pretty sassy group power walk.