Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 19 – TV Review
The episode is titled “Sisters” because James gets thrown away like trash, while Zelena and Regina come together over a just-mentioning-it-now magical contrivance. Courtesy of Cora.
Who goes to Heaven.
So yeah, not a good episode.
TL;DR Zelena and Regina had fun one time as little girls, so when Cora restores their memories of it (she stole those memories, natch), they become instant best siblings forevar ILY; then Cora ascends to Heaven; James follows Gaston into the River of Souls without much fanfare; Zelena, now with Regina’s blessing, is convinced she can change Hades and make him a good man.
Disney: teaching us that yes, he can change. It’s okay if he tries to steal your baby and murder it, because you can change him, honey. Just stick it out.
God, what a trash pile of an episode. The major plot, as per the “Sisters” title, revolves around Regina wanting to stamp out Zelena’s love for Hades because he’s bad for her. She enlists Cora to help, who reveals that when they were little girls Regina hurt herself with Cora’s magic wand. She recruited a young Zelena from Oz to save her, then the girls palled around, but when they figured out they were related, Cora tore them apart and used a memory potion so they’d forget. She magically returns their memories, and now Regina and Zelena are all good. And it turns out that was Cora’s unfinished business, so she crosses the bridge to Heaven. Who’s next? Pan? Well, maybe not him. Because Gold, convinced Zelena pressured Belle into sleep cursing herself, has his Bad Dad abduct Zelena before she can go on her date with Hades. Meanwhile, James poses as David so he and Cruella can get their hands on Rapesly to trade to Hades for release from the Underworld. David catches up to them, though, and they scuffle on the dock and James falls into the harbour, which, as you’ll remember, is the River of Souls. But don’t worry, they’re not afforded any flashbacks or any character moments apart from the odd moustache twirl from James. Because why make time for OG characters who have never been given their due when you can spend yet another episode on Zelena?
Seriously, who is Rebecca Mader blackmailing at ABC?
Barbara Hershey isn’t having a good year. Damien is yet to start, despite being seven episodes in. And now Cora, the most dastardly stage mother since Mama Rose, is a snivelling bridge-mender who hits so hard against her established character that she’s accepted into motherfucking Heaven.
At least Emma is still noticeably absent from most of the episode. We can be thankful for that.
Why I hate this episode:
Cora gets to go to Heaven? Hahahaha.
Cora isn’t the only villain getting a free pass this episode. Hades has been catapulted into sympathetic territory at light speed. Only a few episodes ago he was trying to steal Zelena’s baby to sacrifice for a time travel spell, but now he’s all lovey dovey and ready to give up all his aspirations to settle for just having Zelena by his side. I wholly expect this to be all a ploy, but it bothers me that nobody (not even fucking Regina!) is worried about him.
Even Cruella says the reason she wants to abduct Rapesly isn’t to offer to Hades for his time travel spell: no, it’s to leverage Rapesly because she’s the child of the woman he loves. Fuck the fuck off.
The schmaltz of Cora’s ascension to Heaven is only trumped by the fucking ass-pull that lets it happen. You see, Regina and Zelena played dress-up one time when they were children, which means that no matter what happened between them since then, once they’ve got that memory back, they’re the best of sisters. Maybe if Cora hadn’t torn them apart, none of that nasty shit would have happened. But even with Cora to blame for their starts of darkness, they still did all said nasty shit. Jesus, people. Have a realistic reaction to something for once.
With all this mother/daughter/sister stuff going on, the James episode Cruella teased us with comes and goes without any attention. James is just a big evil poopy head, and David is a perfect little princess. Their fight on the dock is also a rerun of what happened with Gaston and Belle. So OUaT is repeating itself within two episodes. Classy.
Oh, and Hades mentions in a quick line of dialogue that he’s engraved all the Storybrooke interlopers’ names onto tombstones now. To prevent them from leaving. 1) You could have done that the whole time? 2) You could have done that the whole time.
But it’s not all bad:
Despite the apparent abandonment of the time travel spell plan, Hades tells Zelena that his new plan is to strand the heroes in the Underworld (thus, the tombstones) while he and Zelena yuck it up in real Storybrooke without them. Cool.
And, to Zelena’s credit, she is uneasy about dogging Regina like that.
The best thing about the episode is, as has been a creeping theme recently, Emma doesn’t really have anything to do with what’s going on. She tags along for the James/David drama, but is otherwise irrelevant. I like it.
Snow doesn’t get any screentime at all. Which I like even more.
James clarifies to David why he hates him. It’s not because mummy chose David and James was hurt. It’s because David’s life ended up being much better, and he’s simply jealous. Keep it petty, baby.
Calling in Pan to deal with Zelena is cute. Let the season 3 villains fight.
Cruella gets best line of the episode when arriving at the rendezvous point where James has ambushed Robin and Emma: “Why is everything in the woods with you people?” Because they’re filthy animals and unworthy of you, darling.
Cruella manages to slink away from James’ dock defeat.
The actress who plays young Regina is the same as young Rebecca from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Oh, and with Cora off to Heaven (barring a season 6 jaunt to Heaven), this could be the last we’ll see of Barbara Hershey on Once Upon a Time. You’d think that’d be a bad thing, but given just how pathetically the show has eroded her character, it’s not.