After a short hiatus for their winter break, Once Upon a Time is back for the second half of season 5. (Some spoilers ahead.)
When we last left the town of Storybrooke, Emma was, well, leaving the town of Storybrooke for the Underworld to rescue Captain Hook. I was thoroughly impressed with the first half of season 5, which reignited my love for the show after a less impressive fourth season. The hiatus gave me time to be excited for what was going to happen next, but also time enough to be skeptical that they could continue the energy they regained in the second half of the season. I must say, I was once again pleasantly surprised.
I found myself concerned that the gimmick of using a desolate-looking Storybrooke as the Underworld would come off as a plot device to avoid making a new set, but it actually worked out quite well. It gives them a fantastic chance to lure you with a sense of familiarity, only to flip it around. Granny’s Diner? It’s run by the witch who eats children. Gold’s Shop? It’s run by none other than Peter Pan. They lend an explanation for the familiar scenery, and that was the only part that felt like a cop out and made me wish they’d continued to speculate longer. Maybe the real reason will end up being a part of the season’s plot, but so far the setting is convincingly handled.
There were two incredibly touching moments that made me remember why I love the show so much. A lot of the speculation during the break has been who would be present in the Underworld, since a lot of characters have died, heroes and villains alike. But as they continually remind us throughout the episode, the Underworld is based more on the Greek mythology of an underworld, and is only for people who have unfinished business. Which means that some of the lovable heroes, like Neal, are not residing there. That doesn’t mean that Neal doesn’t make an appearance, which I was not quite prepared for in an incredibly moving scene between he and Emma. Regina finally gets some closure, too, in one of her best scenes of the show, which further cements her in the role of heroine. Which I love, because she’s developed into a well-rounded, amazingly strong female character.
I’m finding myself really excited to see Greg Germann join the cast too; he’s introduced toward the end as Hades, and looks like he’s going to do a fantastic job in the role.
They even did the hair!
All in all, I’d say I’m once again (haha) excited for Once Upon a Time being on the air.