This review contains spoilers! Proceed with caution.
With the two-part season finale airing next week, Once Upon a Time really kicked things up a notch. ‘Last Rites’ delved into some heavy emotional stuff. Although some of it was handled with care, other plot points weren’t so gracefully executed.
Arthur resurfaced back in Storybrooke (and so did Merida in a brief cameo!) before promptly being killed and sent to the Underworld. After some reluctance, he decided to accompany Hook to find those missing storybook pages that Hades went to such great lengths to hide. It turns out that Arthur is a pretty great ally when he isn’t being a nuisance. However, the way his storyline concluded was a letdown. Becoming the new king of the Underworld seemed like too much of a happy ending for him. Lately even the characters who don’t deserve it are being redeemed – and Arthur is one of them.
Things didn’t end quite so well for Hades. He and Zelena’s relationship closely resembles Rumple and Belle’s in that the former has an insatiable hunger for power while the latter is content with the simple things in life. And like Belle, Zelena soon wised up to her beau’s hidden agenda. But rather than put herself under a sleeping curse, she found stabbing a massive crystal into Hades’ heart to be a better solution. Rebecca Mader absolutely killed it in this scene with showcasing her character’s vulnerability. Despite all of Zelena’s bad decisions, Mader makes it impossible not to sympathise with her. All Zelena wants is to be loved; even though killing Hades went against that desire, it was ultimately the right decision.
No victory comes without sacrifice, and Robin Hood made the biggest sacrifice of all. Part of me still won’t accept his death. The main characters have had plenty of close calls – some of them have actually died a couple of times – but to kill one of them off for good seems too cruel. (I’m holding on to hope that he’ll return, although Sean Maguire’s recent tweet suggests otherwise). Farewells are something of a specialty on Once, but they were glaringly absent in this case. Robin never got to say a proper goodbye to Regina or his children. There was no parting monologue, no declaration of undying love…none of that stuff that the show usually loves to spin. Killian returning from the Underworld just minutes later only rubbed salt in the wound. It was a great moment for Captain Swan, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. Outlaw Queen shippers needed their own space to grieve.
Robin Hood will be sorely missed in the coming week. Regina must be reeling from his death, but so far she’s boxed up all of her emotions. This puts her in danger of reverting to her Evil Queen status unless she opens up to those around her. At any rate, we better prepare ourselves for the torrent of feels to come.