Emma, Regina, Mary Margaret, David, Henry, and Gold arrive in the underworld, arrive on a mission to rescue Hook, only to discover that their search will be more difficult than they had anticipated. The inhabitants of the underworld are all souls with unfinished business and many with quite personal vendettas hound our heroes at every turn. Meanwhile, in an enchanted forest flashback, a familiar face from the Evil Queen's past returns to present Regina with the perfect gift.
Emilie de Ravin isn't seen as much in the beginning of this season due to being pregnant with her daughter, whom was born March 2016. Emilie's pregnancy was hidden with her wardrobe of thicker coats and loose clothing. See more »
Make a wish! Make a wish!
[Regina angrily blows out the candle]
What did you wish?
That you were amusing, Jester. And it didn't come true.
See more »
Violin Concerto No. 2 In B Minor, Op. 7, Ms 48: I. Allegro Maestoso
Composed by Niccolò Paganini See more »
When 'Once Upon a Time' first started it was highly addictive and made the most of a truly great and creative premise. Really loved the idea of turning familiar fairy tales on their heads and putting own interpretations on them and the show early on clearly had clearly had a ball. Watched it without fail every time it came on and it was often a highlight of the week. Which was why it was sad when it ran out of ideas and lost its magic in the later seasons.
Season 5 had a lot to live up to after Season 4 being as impressive as it was. As far as Season 4's episodes go, they were all decent to brilliant with the only small dip being "Family Business" (though "Heart of Gold" was uneven) and the best being the "Smash the Mirror" two parter, "Best Laid Plans", "Mother" and the first part of "Operation Mongoose". So was expecting a good deal from Season 5 and "The Dark Swan" didn't disappoint at all. All the episodes between that and this ranged to me from decent to brilliant.
"Souls of the Departed" is very good still but a bit of a let down, for an introduction to the second half of the season, the introduction of a new promising character arc and a "reunion" episode. There are a lot of great things that make the episode a very good one but there were a few things that stopped it from being great.
For a "reunion" episode, returning characters seemed too few with only three serving essential point to the story and being significant. Others came over as mere check-ins that come and go too quickly.
Snow and Charming's relationship seemed underdeveloped and part of me felt that they didn't contribute enormously to what was going on and there are a few groaners in the writing.
However, there is lots of character development advancing and the set up for what's to come with the Underworld showing a lot of potential. The story has enough moments where it is absorbing and balanced with assurance and coherence on the whole.
It's the character interaction though that shines, particularly between Regina and Cora and Rumplestiltskin and Neal (the latter being familiar territory, in that it re-visits an older storyline, but done with pathos and relatability). Emma and Hook's brief bit is heartfelt. The storytelling is less jumpy and there is less of the trying to do too much feel. The writing generally is tighter and the characters are more consistent.
All the acting is strong, Greg Germann strikes me as a great fit for Hades, imposing threat, menace and surprising humour and it makes it easy to see what characters see in him and are easily manipulated. He particularly shines at the end, contributing hugely to what is one of the season's standout scenes in the best of ways.
Barbara Herschey, Robbie Kay and Michael Raymond-James make welcome returns and have lost none of what made them such great characters in the first place. Herschey in particular. Lana Parrilla and Robert Carlyle cannot be faulted, making Regina/Evil Queen and Gold interesting characters and not standard cliches
Furthermore, "Souls of the Departed" is a very handsomely mounted episode visually, the settings and costumes are both colourful and atmospheric, not too dark or garish and never cookie cutter. It is photographed beautifully too. The music is haunting, ethereal and cleverly used with a memorable theme tune.
Writing has the right balance of humour, pathos, mystery and intrigue mostly. This aspect has come on such a long way since when 'Once Upon a Time' first started, much more complexity and nuance, or at least at this point before it took a nosedive in the last season. Hades here has the best lines, especially his banter with Cora.
On the whole, very good. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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