As I discussed in my review of ‘Last Rites’, the new tradition of closing out the season’s second major arc before the finale looked like it was set to continue. While there were no parallel universes, or time travelling escapades, ‘Only You’ and ‘An Untold Story’ were full of unexplored territory for Once, and provided a nice breath of fresh air after the tumultuous events of the Underworld arc.
Similar to Elsa’s escape from the urn in season three’s ‘There’s no Place Like Home’ and Emma’s sacrifice to the darkness in ‘Operation Mongoose’, there were a couple of big events here that have laid the groundwork for an interesting sixth season.
The decision to break away from the Disney wheelhouse and opt for something a little different could prove to be quite interesting for Once. The inclusion of the Jekyll and Hyde mythology was a smart move, and gave the show the chance to try out something a little darker, and to explore a world that’s been relatively untapped since we saw Dr Whale’s past a few seasons ago. It already proved its worth by tying nicely into the existing plot, with the introduction of a split personality having serious repercussions for one major character.
We spent a lot of time at that weird asylum, but Regina was at the center of this two-parter, as we explored the grief that she has been feeling after Robin’s death at Hades’ hand in the previous episode. We heard a lot about how being good has only brought her pain and suffering, which to be fair it has, but it’s also brought a lot of happiness and contentment. She has a wonderful relationship with Henry, friends who support her, and she got to experience a romance with Robin that she never even had a chance to explore with Daniel.
Unfortunately, all of the pain that has come with being a hero was weighing too heavy on the former evil queen’s shoulders. Her dark side was bubbling under the surface, and it took all Regina had to not revert to her old ways to make things easier on herself. Thankfully she won out in the end, and thanks to a handy potion from Dr Jekyll she was able to finally set herself free by splitting herself in half and crushing the Evil Queen’s heart.
I’m glad that Regina herself has finally been given the chance to break away from her dark past, but was it a bit too simple to have Regina literally remove the darkness from inside of her? Part of me would have considered that darkness to be a huge part of who she is, not something that could be cured. Does performing a magical exorcism change who Regina is fundamentally? Her mentality didn’t change a whole lot after she killed her evil self, she still had the same sharp tongue, but are we going to see some noticeable changes next season?
In any case, having an evil Regina wreaking havoc around Storybrooke could be a lot of fun, if the series steers clear of some of the worn out body swapping ruses that have become common place on shows like this. Regina’s name shouldn’t be tarnished, considering all that she’s done to redeem herself, but I’m all for a major arc with the Evil Queen as the big bad if it’s done right. Not only is she incredibly entertaining, but it will give Lana Parilla a chance to bust out some serious acting chops; we all know she can bring it when she needs to.
I think my biggest issue with this finale was Henry’s reckless behavior which almost led to his family being trapped an unknown world with a mad man. Why would he think that randomly destroying magic would be good for anyone in Storybrooke? It’s brought pain, sure, but not thinking it through and running off to New York with the most powerful magical object in the world was a stupid move, even for a kid. He put everyone in danger, and played right into Rumple’s hands. That’s even worse than Emma’s split second decision to go to hell and back to get Hook. For a character that is already difficult to like, it made me wish more than ever that Henry would be written out somehow. If he weren’t so important in keeping the other characters grounded, that is.
It was sad that Regina didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to Robin’s son before he was sent back to Sherwood with Robin’s men. I liked his little parting gift, though.
I wonder if this is the last we see of Merida. Arthur is dead, which basically pacifies her declaration of war in ‘The Bear King’ so what’s left for her to do?
Lana slayed in that scene in Neal's apartment. It re-affirmed my belief that she is the best thing about this show.
Sam Witwer is an interesting choice for Hyde. I’m not sure how I feel about him yet, but he was clearly having fun with the role.
Didn’t anyone notice that big purple cloud in the middle of Manhattan?
That fountain speech in New York was horrific. I almost skipped forward.
What past do Hyde and Rumple share?
He Said, She Said
Regina: “Snow White told a secret, and I could have chosen to forgive her. Instead I did terrible things. Unspeakable things. That will always hang over me.”
The Evil Queen: “You're weak. No matter what you do, you can't destroy our darkness. Deep down inside, you know the truth.”
The fifth season of Once has been a difficult one. The show’s age is really starting to show, with recycled plots and revisionist flashbacks becoming regularities. I do think that the series has more stories to tell, this finale proved that despite its misgivings, but how that story is told will be the real test. There were glimmers of the wonderful series we used to know this year, ‘Sisters’ stands out in particular, so I do still believe that Once is capable of being a captivating fantasy every once in a while. It’s the execution that will be what influences me into sticking with the series to the end. There’s a lot of potential with an evil queen and Hyde running amuck, let’s hope they get the chance to let loose.
3.5 out of 5 evil queens
Originally posted at PandaTV.
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