Who: “Once Upon a Time” airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, fall/winter/spring Sundays at 8:00 PM.
What: “Once Upon a Time,” a fantasy drama wherein storybook and fairy tale characters are not only real but are living in this world, away from their enchanted kingdoms and worlds beyond reality, and how they all interrelate (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/once_upon_a_time/summary.html).
When: The two-part Season 5 finale aired on Sunday, May 15, 2016, on ABC at 8:00 PM.
Where: The show is set in fictional Storybrooke, Maine, as well as in “The Enchanted Forest,” the fairy tale kingdom from where most of the main characters originate. The action takes place primarily in present day, though there are flashbacks to the characters’ past lives, before they were whisked away to Storybrooke via curse wrought by the Evil Queen Regina (Lana Parilla) and before they were made run-of-the-mill real world residents with serious bouts of amnesia.
Why: Two primary reasons: one, Chief Couch Potato Kylie loves fantasy and fairy tales, and the Disney network green-lit a live action serial television program about fairy tale characters that they would probably own the rights to, if the characters weren’t already public domain. Two, the creators are Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, two of the head writers of Lost. Whatever else may be said about the latter program, I don’t think anyone could argue that Lost wasn’t well written. Our panel of Once fans is newly full; all of its enthusiastic members, who have joined Kylie for ongoing Once coverage, find love for this program via one or both of those reasons themselves.
How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)
If you didn’t already know, CPU!’s lovely Once podcast panel wrote a reaction piece to the Season 5 premiere! You should read it: click here!
And to catch up on prior Once podcast episodes, click on the YouTube links embedded below:
Season 4A – Frozen
Season 4B – Queens of Darkness
Season 5A – Dark Swan
This podcast was recorded in June 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the second half of the fifth season. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!
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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Our next podcast episode will revisit The Vampire Diaries and the second half of its seventh season involving a new vampire huntress and a mysterious Vault – along with one new panelist! Stay tuned!
Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations
1) Is baby Neal magical like his sister? (This question will remain until answered!)
Answer: At this time, baby Neal’s “specialness,” if it exists, is still unknown.
2) How did Will Scarlett (Michael Socha), aka the Knave from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, end up in Storybrooke and without Anastasia (Emma Rigby), the former Red Queen? And how did he and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) decide to hook up? (This question will remain until answered!)
Answer: Will Scarlett is gone. Where he went is anyone’s guess. Why he was even brought to the flagship show with so little explanation for his coming and going is the bigger mystery.
3) Where did Maleficient (Kristen Bauer von Straten) go? Will we see more of her? Will she reconnect with her daughter Lily in a more meaningful way? (This question will remain until answered!)
Answer: Like Will Scarlett, Maleficient and Lily have both disappeared without a trace or explanation.
4) Will the Once writers/producers provide a better, more detailed explanation for why Will Scarlett was on the flagship series? Will they provide a more significant flashback to explain why he and Anastasia are not together anymore? Would Emma Rigby be available to reprise her role of Anastasia? (This question will remain until answered!)
Answer: Will Scarlett is gone. Where or where has Will Scarlett gone?
5) (re-asked, due to Season 5B developments) Will Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) get a new pen? Will he have to act as The Author anyway?
Answer: Henry got a new pen or a repaired version of the old pen! He found himself compelled to be the Author by the magic of the role; he started writing new pages to the famous “Once Upon a Time” book unconsciously and also consciously used the Author powers to attempt to remove magic from the world by stealing the Olympus Crystal from a library housing “the Holy Grail,” which would have ended magic and a few people’s lives as a result. His granddad Rumpel (Robert Carlyle) showed up, however, and foiled his plans by enchanting his grandson to sleep and stealing the Crystal for himself.
6) Will Regina have to confront her past sins when she arrives in the Underworld? Will she meet her mother, Cora (Barbara Hershey), down there? Will she meet other past characters?
ANSWER: Regina was not forced to confront her past sins as much. Though there was ample opportunity for Regina to be confronted by Underworld denizens with loads of unfinished business, she met a scant few, who rarely had ire directed at her. She did, however, find her mom, Cora. Cora’s unfinished business, we learn, was that she separated her daughters, Regina and Zelena (Rebecca Mader), for her own selfish aims, and that she wanted to reunite them and to ask forgiveness for her actions before she could move on and out of the Underworld. Regina also found her father Henry, whose unfinished business was that he never saw his daughter happy. Henry was able to ascend to the heavens (via a Stairway, people) when he realized that Regina was in love with Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) and caring for Henry Jr. Cora was able to make amends with Regina and Zelena via revealing an unknown past event via a heartfelt flashback scene discussed in the podcast; she was also able to ascend to the heavens after she helped Regina and Zelena see that they once were able to form a sisterly bond, and that they could ultimately trust each other. Though Regina encountered other characters, her parents were the main two that challenged and/or affected her.
7) If Regina must confront her past sins, how will Robin Hood react?
ANSWER: Not applicable. Robin Hood remained the supportive boyfriend, at least until the end of the season…
8) Will Henry ever, EVER embrace his Author powers? The panelists think this will likely not happen until the end of the series, but despite Henry’s prior protests, will it and/or can it happen sooner?
ANSWER: He finally embraced them, as noted above! Fate had something to do with it, but Henry also realized that he could not forego the responsibility that comes with that power, no matter how much he may want to do so.
9) Are we watching a Henry/Author rewrite in progress? This is Eddie’s meta-Matrix theory.
ANSWER: Still a question; we’ll likely not see an answer to this one until the end of the show.
10) Will we see Henry’s Camelot girlfriend again, despite the heartbreak caused by Dark Emma (Jennifer Morrison)?
ANSWER: Oh, we saw Violet again, and they seemed a-okay, as two teenagers in puppy love can be. In fact, Violet accompanied Henry on his quest to destroy magic using his Author powers to steal the Olympus Crystal. We also found out that Violet’s father is from Connecticut (and may very well be the Connecticut Yankee from Mark Twain’s novel).
11) It’s been advertised that Robbie Kay, who played Peter Pan in the Neverland arc (Season Three), will be returning in this next half season? How and why will he appear? What effect will he have on our characters?
ANSWER: Pan first reappeared in the 100th episode; he was in the Underworld because his unfinished business was that he did not achieve the power to keep him young and immortal when he was alive. He also had something of a seed of remorse toward his son, Rumpel, and offered to make a deal with Rumpel: help dear old dad out of the Underworld, and, in exchange, Rumpel and Pan could rule as one Darth Vader/Skywalker duo, together in the world above. He appeared to Rumpel only for the purpose of making this deal, but Rumpel wasn’t having it. Not one to trust the untrustworthy Pan, he made sure that Pan would be trapped in Pandora’s Box forever.
12) Will the Underworld souls manage to seep into our main world/Storybrooke after all? If so, how?
ANSWER: No soul seeped into the “Over-world.” Once in the Underworld, a character is trapped by Hades (Greg Germann) due to etching on a gravestone or because of unfinished business that the soul had when the individual died. Only when business is finished can a soul escape, either to Heaven or to the Void or to the River of Lost Souls. Or, Hades can remove or change the name on a gravestone. As it turns out, these events rarely happened prior to the arrival of our heroes in the Underworld.
13) Will Rumpelstiltskin end up enchanting Belle to either be unaware of his new Ultimate Dark One status or to be happy/make peace with it? Or, will Belle find out that Rumpel has returned to form, and what will she do? How will they handle Emilie de Ravin’s real life pregnancy?
ANSWER: Rumpel performed no enchantments in Belle’s direction. His approach in this half season was basically to tell Belle, “I am what I am.” Belle, thus, found out that Rumpel was the Dark One again. She also found out that Rumpel made a deal with Hades to protect his son Baelfire by promising Hades the soul of his second child. Figuring that he would never have a second child, Rumpel signed away this soul in one of Hades’ soul contracts. Belle found out that she is pregnant (thereby including de Ravin’s real life pregnancy) and was none too happy about this news. In order to stave off Hades’ usurping of her baby’s soul, she underwent a sleeping curse, which can only be broken by true love’s kiss. Though Hades was destroyed in the end with the Olympus Crystal, Rumpel found out that he is no longer Belle’s true love when he tried to kiss her awake. Where does that leave Belle and Rumpel? Only time will tell.
14) The show has cast a new actor to play Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast. What will we learn from the flashbacks into Belle’s past?
ANSWER: We learned that Gaston wasn’t as big a tool as we all thought he was. We also learned that Belle was quite taken with him at the time, and that she would have married him had she not been later made captive by the “Beast,” i.e. Rumpel.
15) What is Rumpel’s big plan or end game? Is it just the power and the love of Belle, or does he plan to use this power for something? Or: does he plan to resurrect Baelfire (Michael-Raymond James) somehow, which is a possibility raised by several panelists, including the moderator? What’s he going to do while Emma, the Charmings, Regina, et al, are in the Underworld?
ANSWER: The panel was confused after the first half of the season; it appears that Rumpel accompanied Emma et al down to the Underworld. Also, his aims are truly 1) power, 2) Belle’s love, in that order. He doesn’t seem to want to try to resurrect Baelfire; in any event, we learned in the 100th episode that Baelfire moved on, as he visited Emma in a vision and told her that he was in heaven and happy. In the Underworld, Rumpel largely kept to his own devices until his grandson wanted the Olympus Crystal, which Rumpel also wanted to destroy Hades and the soul contract on his second child. Other characters occasionally wanted to use his power, but he mostly stayed away from the others.
16) Will Baelfire be trapped in the Underworld, given the fact that the Dark One/the Shadow partly caused his death? Will Henry and/or Emma get to see him again?
ANSWER: Baelfire moved on; his business on Earth was finished when he found Emma and Henry, which he told Emma in a vision.
17) Will Henry’s life be at risk in the Underworld, and if he is truly endangered, how will his endangerment affect the uneasy friendship between Regina and Emma?
ANSWER: Henry, despite hanging out down in the Underworld with his family, was only as in danger as the members of his family were. He did eventually make it back to Storybrooke along with the others, and he was generally protected by his moms, who got along quite well this half season, all things considered.
18) How much of the Hercules universe will be present in the Underworld – will we meet any of the Greek gods and goddesses other than Hades (as we speculate that Greg Germann has likely been cast to play the King of the Underworld)? What will we learn of Hades, as castings of the characters of Hercules and Meg have also been teased?
ANSWER: Hades (who was, in fact, played by Germann) was there, and we met Hercules and Megara in one episode, which the podcast panel felt was too short shrift, given the omnipresence of Hades. We also met Zeus in one episode. Hades in Once is just like the Hades in Hercules, though he is capable of falling in love, apparently with Zelena. The sincerity of his love is in question, though, considering that he wanted to escape the Underworld along with her, tired of ruling hell as he was.
19) Cruella de Vil (Victoria Smufit) is also slated to return for the 100th episode. How will she reemerge, and what effect will she have on our characters?
ANSWER: Cruella’s unfinished business stemmed from the fact that Emma killed her (and she can’t be blamed for it). All she wanted in the end, however, was back out of the Underworld and generally to make lame mischief, such as cavorting with Charming’s twin brother James (Josh Dallas), until he got tossed into the River of Lost Souls, and destroying a telephone that allowed trapped Underworld souls to call the mainland as ghosts. In the end, she sought to rule the Underworld, though I don’t quite remember what happened to her. The panel generally agreed that her presence was unnecessary and boring.
20) Will our Underworld visitors have to confront and/or be tested by these trapped souls: Emma by Cruella (who she accidentally killed), Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) by Cora, Regina by any of a number of souls she terrorized as the Evil Queen, etc.?
ANSWER: Emma was kinda/sorta confronted by Cruella, but it happened more via sarcasm than anything else. Snow eluded contact with Cora, and Regina really only talked to her parents. The panel believes that Kristen’s theory, that personal demons would be confronted in the Underworld via souls harmed in life before death, will be more likely to happen in the coming season (listen to the podcast for details).
21) Will any of our heroes be left/trapped in the Underworld at the end of this arc? If so, who, why, and how?
ANSWER: No one was trapped. Even Hook escaped, but Robin Hood was a casualty of the process. RIP.
22) With Zelena in Oz, will we see her again in this half season?
ANSWER: Zelena didn’t stay in Oz. She went to Storybrooke to visit her baby, who was in the care of Belle, but they all got sucked into the Underworld via portal due to Rumpel’s deal with Hades and Belle’s pregnancy with Rumpel’s child.
23) Will Maleficient, Lily, August, Will Scarlett, or any of these disappearing characters reappear? Will their disappearances, at least, be explained? (This question will remain until answered!)
ANSWER: Not so far, and it seems irresponsible of the writers. Maybe they will surprise us in the end. Where oh where have they all gone?!
1) Will Robin Hood come back, either as himself (as Emily predicts), in flashbacks or as a Robin Hood soul trapped inside a Robin Hood body with a different personality (as Eddie predicts), or as a shell of his former self due to some spell cast by the split-off Evil Queen, who misses the soulmate meant for both her halves (as Micah predicts)?
2) Will the Good Regina go Evil like the Evil Queen? Eddie predicts this, but Amie and Kristen disagree.
3) Will the Good Regina and the Evil Queen Regina battle each other, as Amie predicts?
4) Will others be forced to “battle themselves” as a result of what happened to Regina and/or Jekyll and Hyde, as a means by which to confront personal demons, as Eddie and Kristen predict?
5) Will Regina accept that both sides of her personality are part of her, and will her two halves rejoin, as Micah predicts?
6) Will we see any of the side characters, such as Jiminy Cricket/Dr. Hopper; Pinocchio/August; Geppetto; or any of the Storybrooke denizens we were introduced to in seasons one and two, now that the show is definitely returning to a story structure that spans the whole season?
7) Will Henry further use his Author powers for more than just recording events, as he began to do in the Underworld arc? What will happen if he does?
8) How much will the Evil Queen half of Regina influence Henry? Will she pull some Regina/Evil Queen twin switcheroo with Henry or with any other character, as Eddie predicts?
9) Does Snow White finally have her groove back? Will Snow and Charming (Dallas) finally be compelling again?
10) How will Belle awake from her slumber? Who will be her True Love in the end? Will it be the Knave/Will Scarlett, so that he can finally reappear in Storybrooke and explain his comings and goings? Will Belle come back bigger and badder than ever?
11) How much time will be spent in the Land of Untold Stories? Will we see more of Jekyll and Hyde? Are they hinting at the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Will the Untold Stories affect Storybrooke? How?
12) Will other characters drink Jekyll and Hyde’s potion and play good or evil sides of themselves, such as Rumpel, Snow, Emma, or anyone else?
13) Will Regina find a new soulmate? Was Robin Hood really her soulmate in the end?
14) Will any character realize that True Love is not necessarily the only happy ending possible?
15) How will Emma and Hook (Colin O’Donaghue) recover or react now that they’ve returned to Storybrooke?
16) Will we see Dorothy and Ruby as a couple again?
17) Where is Mulan nowadays? What is Merida doing with her life?
18) What’s next for Zelena and baby Robin?
19) Have we seen the limit of Emma’s savior magic? Will her power continue to grow?
20) Will any characters who have moved on, been lost to the River of Souls/the Void, or been trapped in Pandora’s Box ever be seen again, such as Baelfire, Cora, or Pan?
The podcast panelists, the new panelists included, felt that the Underworld arc was tighter and more focused than the Season 5A Dark Swan arc or either of the Season 4 arcs (“Frozen,” “Queens of Darkness”); however, they also felt that it was somewhat boring and repetitive, featuring a “saved soul” of the week format, at least until Henry’s, Hades’, and Rumpel’s aims collided at the end of the season. There is also a permeating sense that Once might be on an upswing in terms of its engagement and compelling story offerings but also that the show has not quite reached the heyday of its first two seasons since those seasons aired. Most of the panelists are optimistic that the show’s return to a season-long storytelling path will allow OUAT to find the spark of what made the first two seasons great. Some panelists believe that there is solid potential for the ratings to go up, as these panelists feel that the show’s split season story arcs alienated some viewers. In any event, all of the panelists are excited by the prospect of a season featuring two versions of Regina/the Evil Queen and fully regard Parilla as up to the task. Though some panelists have begun to lose interest in the show, all remain loyal and plan to keep watching because, if nothing else, the writers know how to bait viewers with tantalizing possibilities, even if they unevenly capitalize on those possibilities in satisfying ways in the end.
Once Upon a Time has been renewed for a sixth season, which is slated to premiere on ABC on Sunday, September 25, 2016, at 8:00 PM. The Once Upon a Time podcast panel will next reconvene following the sixth mid-season finale of OUAT, which will likely air in or around December 2016. Of course, we may also write another reaction piece to the sixth season premiere (stay tuned!). As always, CPU! will keep you abreast of happenings and special events in addition to all OUAT podcast coverage. Until then!