Review: Once Upon a Time 5.15

This is one that I want to workshop, if that makes any sense. It effectively added a layer to Killian’s backstory that will help him come to terms with what he did as the Dark One, but some moments weren’t quite as impactful as I thought they could be.

My main issue was pacing; Liam has played, and continues to play, a huge role in Killian’s story, and I think the reveal here was significant enough to merit, and even require, more than one episode. The majority of Killian’s actions throughout the series have come from his desire to be the hero that his brother was, the hero that Liam always knew he could be. In the flashback, Liam made a poor decision for what he saw as a justifiable reason: to finally give himself and his little brother the happiness their father took from them. But that secret, coupled with the fact that Liam continued to hide it from Killian in the present, resulted in a pretty big shift from idolized hero to man with questionable morals in a very short amount of time, and it meant that moments like Liam sacrificing himself for his brother didn’t have the emotional weight that they could have.

I also wasn’t crazy about the way Liam treated Emma, just because, again, with all of this taking place in one episode, I don’t think he really gave her a chance before judging her relationship with Killian. I like that the flashbacks reminded us just how much Liam loves his brother and looks out for him, but usually looking out for someone also includes considering what makes them happy, and it’s pretty clear that Emma does that for Killian. It also seems like coming all the way to the Underworld to save him should have earned her some credit. It was fair of Liam to question the role she played in making Killian the Dark One, but I don’t think he knew enough about her or what she and Killian have been through to so easily dismiss their relationship.

What matters, though, is that Killian and Emma recognize the importance of their relationship, even if Killian found himself questioning it in this episode. It was a necessary beat; Killian went through a lot as the Dark One, and I completely understand that he didn’t feel worth saving. Emma and Liam convinced him that he’s worth loving and forgiving, he just has to find a way to do that for himself.

The Emma/Hook angst led to one of my favorite scenes of the episode, with Regina giving Emma some genuinely great advice at the diner. I love moments that show how natural their friendship has become, so I enjoyed the sweet sentiment of “No, you’re too good for him” (who hasn’t said something similar to a friend?), as well as the practicality of “Let Hook decide what he wants, not his brother”. Regina also appropriately (if begrudgingly) called on the similarities she and Hook share, reminding Emma that Hook has to forgive himself, but that she can be there to help him do so. The whole conversation was a great example of why their friendship works so well: they’re both compassionate women who also respect honesty, which is exactly what Regina gave Emma here. Afterwards, they also had a nice moment of co-parenting that I have to call out (“Don’t argue with your mother…or your mother”) because I still get such a kick out of how far they’ve come since the pilot, particularly in regards to Henry.

I don’t know how much his moms had to do with the decision, but I’m glad that Henry came clean about the pen. It was a nice moment of maturity for him, and he did a great job of explaining why he was hesitant. I understand wanting to be a hero, but the way he’s stepped up in the past (especially in last season’s finale) proves that he already is one, and I’m glad that he recognized that the smartest and most heroic thing to do here was to record the stories, not manipulate them. It was also nice that David was the one who helped him realize that a bit, though I’d like to think that Henry had pretty much already figured it out on his own.

Other thoughts on this hour:

The Charming/Cruella stuff was a ton of fun (“You don’t have any of his delicious damage”), and I’m looking forward to David meeting his brother even more now.

I’m not surprised at all that Hades and Zelena are connected (two people that evil have to have crossed paths at some point), but I’m curious to see what their secret is.

I get that logistics and budget-wise it doesn’t make sense to have actors come in for a group scene where they mostly just stand in the background, but Rumple and Robin’s intermittent appearances in the Underworld have been a little weird to me. Characters have always popped in and out on this show, but it’s a lot more noticeable in the Underworld where there’s really only one mission going on. I can kind of imagine Rumple tinkering in Pan’s shop, but it’s not like Robin has anything else to do besides help Regina and Co.

What are your thoughts on this episode and the Hook/Liam of it all? Let me know in the comments!

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