This review contains spoilers! Proceed with caution.
As expected, the midseason finale of Once Upon a Time was an emotional rollercoaster with a huge plot twist thrown in at the end for good measure. Now that everyone has had a few days to digest all that happened, TDF is bringing you our take on the episode as well as speculation about Season 5B.
We’ll start with one of the minor characters: Zelena. There was a brief moment last episode where it looked like she was going to co-operate with Regina and Robin in raising her daughter. That fragile peace between the three was permanently shattered when Zelena began plotting to reclaim her child. Obviously, Regina didn’t take too kindly to the idea, and used the Apprentice’s wand to send her sister back to Oz. I have to say I’m disappointed that their final showdown wasn’t more dramatic, though it’s understandable that the writers wanted to place more focus on other plotlines. As for Zelena, I’m certain she’ll be back and causing trouble at some point. Like all pests, she’s impossible to kill off.
Rumplestiltskin never ceases to disappoint and frustrate me, and the winter finale was no different. Putting Belle first and urging her to leave town – the first truly selfless act he’s ever committed – was impressive. Both his character and his relationship with Belle made real progress this season. With so much positive development in so little time, we should have known it was too good to be true. The final minutes of the episode confirmed what we didn’t want to believe: he will always choose power over anything else. Frankly, I feel betrayed by how easily he reverted to his old ways (I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!). I’ve also officially given up on him ever becoming a hero; it’s clear that he has no desire to change. I just feel sorry for Belle now that she’s been fooled again.
Much of the episode was about what kind of man Killian wanted to be, and unlike Rumple he proved himself to be a true hero. He ultimately overcame the darkness and gave up his life to save the Charmings. This paralleled Emma’s sacrifice at the end of Season 4, and hammered home that both of them will do anything to protect their loved ones. Finales are always heartbreak hotel as far as Captain Swan is concerned. At least this time around we know what the future has in store for them. Emma’s use of her parents’ classic ‘I will always find you’ line gave us enough shipper-fuel to last through the coming months. Although I think the whole sharing-the-same-heart scenario is quite cheesy, I’m on board with it if it’s the only way to bring Killian back.
And now on to the burning question on all of our minds: what happens next? It’s safe to assume that the heroes will spend most of Season 5B in the Underworld. Adam and Eddy have stated that the Underworld isn’t Hell, but rather a waiting place of sorts for people with unfinished business. We’ll definitely encounter a few familiar faces (including Cora, Cruella, Peter Pan, and Milah). My guess is that these souls will bring up old memories for our characters and spark an array of conflicts. Some of them (ahem: Cora) are probably going to try to return to the living world, and stopping them will be the main priority. I’m also predicting that True Love’s Kiss will play a part in Emma rescuing Hook – or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
The midseason finale left some loose ends to be tied up. The most pressing is Rumple and Belle’s relationship and how the two will move forward now that Rumple is once again the Dark One. Belle is bound to learn the truth eventually, but whether she leaves Rumple or stays with him remains to be seen. At this point the two have been so on-again, off-again that I just want her decision to be permanent. Side characters like Merida, Arthur, and Guinevere are still trapped in Storybrooke; Arthur hasn’t really been punished for his wrongdoings yet, and Guinevere is still under his spell. I’m interested to see the resolution of their arcs, though it won’t be until later in Season 5B.
‘Swan Song’ wrapped up the Dark Ones arc, but opened a whole new can of worms with the Underworld. This storyline promises intrigue as our heroes navigate a new and hostile environment. The 100th episode, which will air on March 6th as the spring premiere, will be a great way to kick-start the last half of the season. We’re settling in for a long hiatus, but be sure to come out of hibernation once in a while and check back here for the latest news!