Review: Once Upon a Time 5.21

I wasn’t a fan of this one, not even because of the death so much as the events surrounding it.

One, Arthur’s reappearance. It’s no secret that I think the Camelot arc was pretty shoddily done, so I can understand wanting to conclude it in one episode, but waiting so, so long to do so was a mistake. I could barely remember what Arthur did, why he and Hook didn’t like each other, etc., which meant that his scenes weren’t nearly as enjoyable as they should have been. It almost felt like the writers used the passing of time as a cheap copout, banking on the fact that viewers wouldn’t remember the terrible things Arthur did and would thus buy that he wanted to heal the broken Underworld. Even if I don’t remember all the specifics from his episodes in the fall, I do remember the way he manipulated Guinevere using magic, making his redemption feel rushed and unearned. His teamup with Hook was nice I guess (and I feel like Charming is going to be way jealous if he hears about that bromance), but it also felt like a quest Hook absolutely could have done on his own.

The murder itself also made zero sense. Hades has had a reason for every single thing he’s done, so killing Arthur just to kill him was a weird anomaly. Doing it with baby Robin in his arms was particularly unsettling and gave the episode a surprising start, but still didn’t explain his actions. I also didn’t buy Zelena thinking that Hades’ intentions were pure; like him, she’s a smart character, and he wasn’t exactly being subtle about his plan to defeat the heroes. It did speak to her lifelong desire to feel loved and have a family, and I’m beyond glad that she ultimately decided her sister was the one to give her that rather than Hades.

Of course, Hades did some serious damage before Zelena made that call, killing Robin right in front of poor Regina, who’s already experienced that pain once before. Beforehand, I’m glad the couple had some nice moments, with Regina apologizing to Robin for giving the baby to Zelena, and Robin reminding her of how far she’s come since her Evil Queen days, something that she may need to remember as she grieves him. It was a harsh ending for a main character, as Hades made it clear that Robin wouldn’t be able to move on or even exist in the Underworld. That’s an immensely difficult fate for Regina to swallow, especially knowing that he did it to save her and because he leaves two young children behind. Lana Parrilla’s performance was simply heartbreaking, especially as she explained what really happened to Zelena, her barely contained rage and anguish seeping through.

This is where I’m 100% honest and admit that I never thought Robin was a great match for Regina (true love aside), just because I don’t feel like his character was ever developed enough. She’s a dynamic individual and needed someone who could match her fire, something they never did a good job of showing in Robin. With that in mind, I’m more sad for Regina than I am about his death. Even though I never fell in love with him as a character, she did, and that was enough to make his demise a powerful and devastating moment.

It’s also a bummer because their relationship was special in that he knew her as the Evil Queen and loved her anyway, not in spite of that but because he loved that she was strong enough to overcome that darkness. In a lot of ways, he was her reward for all the trials she faced in her life, and I’m really sad that she doesn’t have that anymore.

Zelena and Regina comforting each other afterward was bittersweet; undeniably heartbreaking as both had just lost their true loves, but also a nice moment of sisterly care. Zelena further comforted Regina at the funeral, naming the baby after Robin in a lovely gesture.

Appropriately, the show still managed to end on a note of hope, with Hook at last returning to Storybrooke. Throughout the hour, I loved that Hook and Emma remained connected, with Hook unable to move on because Emma was in danger and Emma needing to stop Hades because of what he did to Hook. Their reunion was absolutely perfect; the unadulterated joy there was lovely and well-earned, creating a genuine and romantic moment.

What are your thoughts on this episode and Robin’s death? Let me know in the comments!

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