Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 12 – TV Review
Yes, for the second episode in a row (three month hiatus not withstanding), Once Upon a Time has had to lean on our enduring goodwill for Queenie.
She’s the only thing that’s actually gotten better with time on Once Upon a Time.
TL;DR The Enchanted Forest flashbacks are utterly pointless, but Queenie is a riot; our present day heroes search unsuccessfully for Hook in the Underworld; they find Cora, instead; a fanservice-y slew of dead characters pop up, including Regina’s dad; Cora turns out not to be the nastiest thing down under.
Spoiler: it’s the bad flame hair CGI.
So it’s off to the Underworld we go, and the gang finds a muddy, ruined version of Storybrooke constitutes this particular purgatory. They encounter some dead characters, most important of which is Barbara motherfucking Hershey’s Cora, who is the mayor or something. She wants Regina to leave the Underworld before anything bad happens to her, and threatens to send Regina’s dad to Hell, an even worse afterlife. Regina eventually chooses to stay and selflessly help her friends, which completes her dad’s unfinished business to redeem her, and he moves on to Heaven, I think. Meanwhile, Peter Pan, owner of the Underworld’s counterpart of the pawn shop, grudgingly gives Gold a potion to contact Hook, but it doesn’t really work. Still, the gang decides to stay on in the Underworld to find him, and, having witnessed Regina’s dad get his happy afterlife, save the souls of everyone. But that might not be so easy, as Hades doesn’t seem too fond of losing his Underworld subjects to the light, and punishes Cora for letting her husband slip away. And the Enchanted Forest flashbacks show yet more tussling between Snow and Queenie. Henry Sr accidentally lets Cora out of Wonderland, Cora efficiently snatches Snow’s heart, but Henry Sr gives it back before Queenie can crush it. Queenie shrinks him and puts him in a box as punishment, and she also tries to fling Cora back to Wonderland, but Cora grabs the Dad Box on her way through the magic mirror. Oops.
Well, we already know he’s going to die. So who cares?
You’d think that an episode featuring the return of Cora, Peter Pan, and several other once-loved characters would be more exciting. More vital. But it’s not.
When your main characters can walk into the land of the dead like it ain’t no thang, and then decide to just hang around down there, then you’ve got a problem.
Why I hate this episode:
I’ll take this moment to bemoan the absence of Graham from the Underworld. Because Jamie Dornan’s all “I’m a real movie star” now with 50 Shades, I don’t expect he’ll be turning up at any time. But if anyone got a raw deal on OUaT and deserves another chance, it’s poor Graham.
Cruella gets it about as bad, only being seen as driving her car around. There’s still time, I suppose.
The Enchanted Forest flashbacks are the worst of OUaT flashback superfluousness. We already know exactly how every character involved in that conflict ends up. There is nothing new to show us about it. Unless they pull out more and more extreme shit that really should have been mentioned earlier, in which case it’ll be too ridiculous to believe. Right, Arrow?
There’s a trashy, pointless moment at the start of the episode where Baelfire appears to Emma in a dream to warn her not to go to the Underworld. She doesn’t listen, of course, but I suppose the show just wanted to chuck him in, too, while they were getting their fanservice cameos out of the way.
Sensibly, one way for an Underworld dweller to come back to life is to replace one of our living visitors on the boat ride back to the real world. Which, given a lot of the gang’s dead enemies are dangerous murderers, should worry the gang more than it does. You lot need to fucking get out while you can. Move it.
Henry Sr’s costume is so silly to look at.
Oh, and I couldn’t tell who the woman giving Hades the pedicure was. She looked like the Snow Queen, but Elizabeth Mitchell wasn’t listed in the credits. I’m confused.
But it’s not all bad:
I’m as susceptible to fanservice as anyone, so here’s a list of returning characters that I was happy to see: the witch from the Hansel and Gretel episode, whose design was so fabulous that I can’t believe it took this long to see her again; David’s evil twin, who tricks Snow long enough to get a smooch in; Cora, of course, as the mayor of UnderBrooke; Peter Pan; and Giancarlo Esposito returns in the flashbacks as the mirror. Once Upon a Time is so tired and old now that it can operate on its own nostalgia.
The one promising development in the flashbacks is that Cora steals away the Dad Box to Wonderland. So there’s a chance Queenie might have to go after her to get him back. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland wasn’t spectacular by any means, but it’s pretty rough that its parent show mostly erased it from existence. Fingers crossed that Queenie could cross paths with the Red Queen.
Barbara Hershey’s performance is surprisingly subdued in the Underworld scenes, but I reckon that was on purpose to give Greg Germann’s Hades more flair by comparison. Who doesn’t love an evil blonde man getting a pedicure in a cave with multicoloured rivers converging under a throne? James Woods must have been busy, though. What a shame.
When Regina tells the gang about Cora’s insistence that she leave the Underworld for her own safety, Emma actually agrees. She doesn’t want to force Regina to put herself at risk to help Hook. She’s come a long way.
Regina’s decision to stay is predictable, but this ragtag team needs at least one powerful magician who isn’t Gold. Because Gold is not too reliable, given that he’s now the Super Dark One.
Peter Pan explicitly tells Gold that he wants to take one of the spots on the return boat out of the Underworld. So we should be seeing some more of him. Neverland was a bit of a slog, but Pan was always a gleefully cruel presence.
Oh, and the flame hair CGI on Hades is rubbish. Which makes it quintessentially Once Upon a Time.