DC Television Universe (DCTU) Series, Episode Six, 2016-2017 Mid-Season Roundup of “Arrow,” Season Five; “The Flash,” Season Three; “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” Season Two; and “Supergirl,” Season Two (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, our cheeky and feisty and newly full DCTU panel was subjected to (now for) something completely different and highly experimental here at CPU!  Because it was difficult to get everyone together during the mid-season hiatuses (hiati?) due to holidays and jobs and families and a penchant for community theater on this panel, we decided to check in with each other in advance of season’s end–when we would visit each show’s current season in four episodes, one for each show.  This episode is cobbled together in a bit of a different format for this mid-season roundup of all four shows at once.  To wit, your main moderator and Chief CP met with each panelist individually to obtain his/her current, sometimes cursory, assessment of the progress of Season Five of ArrowSeason Three of The Flashand Season Two of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl.  Also, because of the separation and the splicing together of individual interviews, Kylie decided to play a tricksy hobbitses version–Couch Potatoes Unite!’s version–of “The Newlywed Game.”  Just how well do our nerdiest panel contributors know each other? And how would they anticipate their responses to some key questions and potential opinions concerning our favorite current four show TV universe? Take a listen and see.

The episode segments were recorded with our newly full DC Television Universe or DCTU panel – including moderator Kylie, Hilary, Kyle, Spencer, Kristen, and adding (for the first time) frequent CPU! panelist Nick – in February and in March 2017 for this, our sixth episode of our DCTU ongoing series.  If you have not watched any of the DCTU/Arrowverse to date, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

Grimm (Seasons 3-5, MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new (and unusually long!) podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in January 2017, our panel of CPU! supernatural and fairy tale enthusiasts – including moderator Kylie, Kristen, Nick, and Jen – is Around the Water Cooler and discussing Seasons 3-5, with particular emphasis on Seasons 4 and 5, of Grimm, from Adalind’s pregnancy with Diana and the consequences of the spell that she underwent to regain her hexenbiest abilities, to the introduction of Trubel, to Monroe and Rosalee’s wedding, to Juliette becoming victim to a spell of Adalind’s, accidentally rendering Juliette a newly born hexenbiest, to Renard’s ping-pong loyalties to Nick, and to Nick’s acquisition of the Grimm artifact that might change the whole game.  If you have not watched any of Grimm, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Grimm” – Reflections on Season Three and Recapping Seasons Four and Five (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Grimm” currently airs on network TV, specifically on NBC, Fridays at 8:00 PM.

What: “Grimm,” a supernatural/fantasy drama, wherein supernatural forces, the stuff of nightmarish fairy tales and legends, are disguised as human beings, and only those descended from the original Brothers Grimm, can see – and fight – those beings and their true natures (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/grimm/summary.html).

When: Season Three aired from October 25, 2013, to May 16, 2014; Season Four aired from October 24, 2014, to May 15, 2015; and Season Five aired from October 30, 2015, to May 20, 2016, on NBC.

Where: The show is set in Portland, Oregon.

Why:  The premise of this show has always been intriguing: Grimms are not weavers of fairy tales but are humanity’s last line of defense against the beasts and monsters that haunt our nightmares. This generation’s Grimm is a police detective who stumbles into his family legacy by accident and must adjust what is his mostly normal life to these new abnormalities.  The mythology in this show is steep, meaning it will always be a cult TV show at best, but cult TV tends to appeal to this group of CPU! panelists more than mainstream/non-cult TV, and none of us have been disappointed by Grimm so far…and we continue to be drawn into its mythical and magical world, as the show only gets better in the process.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

It’s been a while since CPU! covered Grimm, another of the Chief Couch Potato’s favorite shows; in fact, CPU! Chief Kylie briefly covered the show in blog format during season three, here.  As with some other “catch up” panels, you can blame it on starting a podcast! Or, as before, we can just agree to make this cult favorite centered on supernatural hunters purportedly descended from the Brothers Grimm another candidate for the podcast, especially since your main moderator always plays catch-up but also since some CPU! regulars love this show as much as I do!

Thus, here we present another new CPU! podcast episode and panel, featuring frequent CPU! panelists Kristen, Nick, and Jen. In so doing, we play catch up with the world of Grimm Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), and the merry band of wesen with which he comes into contact (both friend and foe), spanning the time since CPU! last checked in on the third season.  We cover major plot points from seasons three through five: from Adalind’s (Claire Coffee) pregnancy with Diana and the consequences of the spell that she underwent to regain her hexenbiest abilities, to the introduction of Trubel (Jacqueline Toboni), to Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee’s (Bree Turner) wedding, to Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) becoming victim to a spell of Adalind’s, accidentally rendering Juliette a newly born hexenbiest, to Renard’s (Sasha Roiz) ping-pong loyalties to Nick, and to Nick’s acquisition of the Grimm artifact that might change the whole game.  Our panel’s devotion to Grimm is as steadfastly loyal as it is to other genre shows that CPU! coversbased upon the program’s roots to the Brothers Grimm and to the history of monster stories throughout the ages.  Give the new episode a listen, and see if you agree or disagree with our thoughts.

This podcast was recorded in January 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first three seasons. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Our next podcast episode will revisit an ongoing CPU! panel in the same genre, as the newly full Supernatural panel returns to tackle Lucifer’s earthly antics and the return of Mary Winchester in Season 12A. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions from Prior Season Three Coverage

1) What do the Royals really want with Nick/any remaining Grimms, other than their extinction? Why not just kill him?

ANSWER: This is still a question.  The Royals have taken a back seat throughout Season Five, and in Seasons Three and Four, they were primarily concerned with ensuring that they retained possession of Diana, Adalind and Sean’s daughter, born during the third season.  The panel always believed that the Royals wanted all of the Grimms dead, but these alleged Royals, presumably wesen though the panel is unclear about this, don’t take very feisty actions against Nick as much as against those around him.  Will the Royals return in Season Six, Grimm’s final season, and if they do, what will be their aim? Since the King is dead, who will be in charge? Also, are the Royals actually wesen? Are they behind the pro-wesen terrorist organization Black Claw?  Will Sean, as the illegitimate heir to the wesen throne spearhead what remains of Black Claw and pit himself against Nick? We need some clarification.

2) Will Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio return as Nick’s mom this season [season three]?  The season preview seemed to suggest so.

ANSWER: Nick’s mom, Kelly, did return.  In fact, she helped to protect baby Diana from the Royals by taking custody of her and going into hiding to protect her, as a group known as the Resistance (wesen against the power and corruption of the Royals) saw Diana as a possible savior or weapon in support of their cause.  They also wanted to protect this powerful, magical baby from the clutches of her relatives (Sean is an illegitimate son of the King).

3) How will Juliette deal with all of this – she just started learning all of Nick’s heritage and seems to accept it, despite her pre-magically induced amnesiac doubts?

ANSWER: Juliette, a historically unpopular character, struggled with the truth about Nick to the point that the two were somewhat estranged for a time, though they loved each other deeply.  Unfortunately, events at the end of this season and during seasons four and five complicated their romance further.  Listen to the podcast for details.

4) Now that Adelind has her hexenbiest (witch-like creature) magic back, what is her endgame?

ANSWER: Well, she had it back for awhile, temporarily.  Then, because she needed Nick and his friends to help get Diana back from the Royals, and because she instigated a chain of events that led to Juliette’s accidental conversion to a hexenbiest, she agreed to suppress her abilities to help Juliette.  Unfortunately, it was not a permanent suppression.  Her endgame, though, since season three, has become exclusively about reuniting with and protecting her children (there is more than Diana….listen to the podcast for details).

5) Will the show veer away from “monster of the week” tales into a more mythology-focused storytelling structure?  It may be time to do so: how many new creatures can Nick encounter? Progress is key to longevity, after all.

ANSWER: Like The X-Files, Grimm has found a way to balance both formats, and to incredibly create new wesen concepts all the time, though in season five, the writers have allowed the mythology aspects to flourish.  It was the right call.  The MOW episodes effectively create and establish the world that Grimm inhabits, but it’s the mythology that draws all of the panelists, your moderator included, back repeatedly to watch the show for what will ultimately be all six of its seasons.

New Questions

1.) Will the Royals return in the sixth season?  If they do, what will be their aim?  Are they behind the wesen uprising organization known as “Black Claw?” Who is the ultimate head of “Black Claw?” Is Sean head of both now?  Why?

2) What is the stick that Nick found in the Grimm treasure chest, and what part will it have to play in the coming episodes?  Does it only work when he touches it?  Is it meant for him or for any Grimm?  Is it divine in origin?  Where was it found?  Why do the Grimms have it? Can wesen use it?  Does it heal but also take life away?  So many questions have been raised!

3) Will young Diana, who has grown at an alarming rate, be the “Big Bad” of the final season, with her bratty child demeanor and potent magical ability?  How will Adalind (and Sean) keep her in check?

4) Is Juliette still a hexenbiest? Will she be more Juliette-like since coming into contact with the magical Grimm healing stick?

5) Will there be a war between wesen and humans?  Did Black Claw and the resistance organization Hadrian’s Wall effectively incite one?  Are humans more aware of wesen now?

6) Will Nick end up with Juliette or will he be with Adalind, who he now also loves and who has custody of their son, Kelly (listen to the podcast for details)?  Will Adalind be able to return to Nick?

7) Does Sean really subscribe to Black Claw’s philosophies?  What will he do that he is now mayor, owing to the fact that he “got in bed” with Black Claw, who aims for wesen to live free as the creatures they are?  Who will be promoted to Captain of the South Precinct? Will Hank (Russell Hornsby)?  Will Wu (Reggie Lee)?  Will Nick?

8) Is there a cure for Wu’s lycanthrope condition?  Rosalee said there wasn’t one, but she’s pretty resourceful with spices and teas.  What will happen to him?  What is he, really?

9) Rosalee is pregnant.  Will the baby be half blutbaten, half fuchsbau, or one or the other? Will she be able to have it, since wesen mixing is uncommon?

10) Will baby Kelly be half hexenbiest (or zauberbiest), half Grimm, or one of the other?

11) Will Hank finally find a woman or fall in love with one who doesn’t leave him or physically threaten his life in some way?

12) What is at the end of the tunnels underneath Nick’s secret bunker apartment? Why did we spend so much time worrying about those tunnels, except to set up the other characters’ escape from Black Claw and Sean while Nick stayed behind to fight them when they descended upon the loft?

13) What will Sean do to Nick, since Nick took out all of the Black Claw that came to kill him?

14) What will Nick do to Sean, since Adalind was coerced into leaving Nick with Kelly to be Sean’s political trophy wife and Diana’s caretaker with the promise that Adalind could be reunited with Diana?

15) Will baby Kelly grow as fast as Diana?  Or, was Diana augmented by the spell that Adalind underwent in season three to regain her hexenbiest abilities?  Will these young but presumably magical siblings have to duke it out somehow?  Will Kelly grow at an alarming rate?  Or, will the show time jump during the final season?

16) How will the show end?  Will there be a “happily ever after” for our characters?  Will we lose someone this season?  How will these thirteen episodes shape up?

17) Are Nick and Trubel related after all?  What does the ancient Grimm registry reveal?

18) Will any of the characters end up dying?  The podcast panelists feel that Wu, Monroe, Rosalee, and Adalind are particularly susceptible to possible collateral self-sacrifice because of their histories (Wu has the strange lycanthrope disorder, Monroe and Rosalee constantly run into danger for Nick, and Adalind does the same for her children and may do something self-sacrificing for Nick or even for Juliette, as she has sometimes done in the past).

PARTING SHOTS

Grimm has become appointment television for our devout panelists, should they find themselves at home and with the appetite for a Friday fright night.  It’s still not a perfect program and will never be more than a cult favorite because of its steep mythological aspects and show-specific jargon, but the fan base it has cultivated in six years is voracious and loyal. NBC also continues to allow Hulu and other venues to air full seasons of the show, not just five or six episodes at a time for those looking to catch up, and the entire panel recommends Grimm to anyone who likes anything about the fantasy or horror genres and advises that such genre nerds consider catching up, since the show is almost finished and is available to stream on Amazon Prime and on Hulu. Grimm remains well written and worth the look and has only become better as the seasons have progressed. Also, for those who care, David Giuntoli is quite enjoyable to look at…Anyway, in the end, season six, officially the final season, consists of only thirteen episodes, but our panel believes, cautiously, that they may be the best episodes yet.  In fact, we can’t wait to find out if Grimm goes out on a high note, and we predict that it will.

LOOKING AHEAD

The sixth season of Grimm premiered on January 6, 2017, and has been announced to be the official final season.  The season will consist of a total of thirteen episodes, which will air Fridays on NBC from January through March 2017.  CPU! will return to talk about Grimm in a two-part goodbye series digesting the sixth season and looking back at the series as a whole following the airing of that finale.  Until then!

American Horror Story Series, Episode Five, Season Five: “Hotel” (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, our small but robust panel of casual horror fans (and rotating moderators!)–including moderator Nick, Sarah, and Kylie–gathered together to Look Back at the fifth season of American Horror Story, otherwise known as “Hotel.”  This is the fifth episode of an ongoing CPU! podcast series examining one of our favorite television programs throughout its anthology of various seasons depicting different and unique horror stories per season, and it was recorded in November 2016. If you have not watched American Horror Story: Hotel, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS. Tell us what you think in the comments below, and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

PODCAST! – Looking Back at “American Horror Story: Hotel” (American Horror Story Series, Episode 5, Season 5; MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Nick

THE SPECS:

Who: “American Horror Story” airs on cable TV, specifically on FX, Fall Wednesdays at 10:00 PM.

What: “American Horror Story,” a horror drama created by Ryan Murphy (Glee, Nip/Tuck) that tells a new horror story each season while featuring recurring actors and ensemble players.  This season is subtitled “Hotel” and centers on the staff and guests of a supernatural hotel in modern day Los Angeles.

SYNOPSIS

The events of “Hotel” occur in 2015 in Los Angeles, California, in the haunted, retro Hotel Cortez, which was built to become a torture chamber by its founder, James Patrick March (Evan Peters). The wardens of the hotel include the 111 year old vampire, Elizabeth Johnson (Lady Gaga), and the front desk clerk and manager, Iris (Kathy Bates). The residents and guests include a drug addicted prostitute and ghost named Sally McKenna (Sarah Paulson); Iris’ hateful son and former drug addict turned vampire lover of Elizabeth, Donovan (Matt Bomer); transgender bartender Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare); actress and vengeful former lover of Elizabeth, Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett); male model heartthrob and murder addict, Tristan Duffy (Finn Wittrock); New York fashion designer Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson); and the suspicious detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley) and his depressed wife Alex (Chloë Sevigny). When Lowe checks into the hotel, he does not know that he is being targeted by a serial murderer, the Ten Commandments Killer. Flashbacks are set in the 1920s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, with an epilogue set in 2022.

When: Season Five aired from October 7, 2015, to January 13, 2016, on FX.

Where: Each season focuses on a different locale.  This season, the action is set largely in Los Angeles, California.

Why:  Nick and Sarah, two CPU! regulars, proposed that CPU! publish an American Horror Story podcast series, being big fans of the show, and your Chief CP, who has previously covered this program on the CPU! blog and enjoys the show quite a bit, agreed wholeheartedly to the idea. Thus, welcome to our new CPU! series revolving around AHS, with each episode in the series focusing on one season of the show.  The series will start at the beginning and will be ongoing as long as AHS stays on the air!

How – as in How Much Do We Love this Show?!

American Horror Story is a groundbreaking horror anthology series that airs on FX.  Not only did this program render the horror genre mainstream television fare, it also propelled anthology formats to popularity.  The show is widely watched and a tent pole for FX, becoming a Halloween/fall-time cable staple of disturbing imagery and grotesque scares.

Two of CPU!’s frequent panelists, and one of our resident married couples, Nick and Sarah, are big fans of the show and, as noted above, proposed that CPU! start a series discussing AHS throughout its seasons.  We have already published our first episode in this series, chatting the first season of AHS, widely known as “Murder House;” the second episode discussing the second season, “Asylum;” the third episode discussing the third season, “Coven;” and the fourth episode discussing the fourth season, “Freak Show.” Listen here:

American Horror Story Series, Episode 1, Season 1, “Murder House”

American Horror Story Series, Episode 2, Season 2, “Asylum”

American Horror Story Series, Episode 3, Season 3, “Coven”

American Horror Story Series, Episode 4, Season 4, “Freak Show”

In today’s episode, the fifth episode of this series, we cover Season Five, “Hotel.” As the seasons are discussed and published, moderation duties will rotate among the members of our small but robust AHS panel; Nick is back at the moderating mic to talk this fifth season.

As of the publication of this post/episode, CPU! has covered all aired seasons, from “Murder House” to “Hotel,” and will, from here on out, continue to cover the AHS series as long as new seasons of the show are created.  After all, though common cast members may return from season to season, the season story arcs are always, by design, different, and CPU! is nothing if not thorough when it comes to TV adulation!  In this episode, then, we discuss our favorite and least favorite moments within the “Hotel” season and our general impressions of the season’s success.

This podcast was recorded in November 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the “Hotel” season. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, we will pause our American Horror Story series again until after the new year.  In the next episode, we resume our DC Television Universe series when our DCTU panel discusses the first season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which was not as universally popular as some of the other shows and seasons discussed by that panel.  Intrigue! Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

American Horror Story is recommended to anyone who loves horror and to fans of any of the AHS repertory of repeat players, though fans of Jessica Lange might start to lose interest in AHS as of the “Hotel” season because Ms. Lange was no longer part of the cast for that season forward and has publicly indicated that she is no longer willing to appear on this program. As we discuss in the podcast, the panel provides mixed reviews about the “Hotel” season relative to other seasons; Kylie likes it less than “Asylum,” Nick likes it better than “Freak Show,” and Sarah, perhaps, likes “Hotel” better than Kylie and Nick do.  American Horror Story is groundbreaking for its successful use of the anthology format, though its horror premises are not necessarily boundary pushing; indeed, most if not all of the seasons pay significant homage to horror films of yesteryear, but the panelists regard this quality as part of the show’s charm. If you haven’t yet caught up on AHS and have a hearty stomach for the gruesome and grisly, the entire series is available at all of the streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Horror genre fans who seek more scares on TV would be remiss to miss this show!

LOOKING AHEAD

Our next episode in this series will cover season six, the current season, which is subtitled “Roanoke.”  This episode will be published after the new year.  Stay tuned!

iTunes PODCAST – Once Upon a Time (Season 5B, The Underworld, MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in June 2016, our Once Upon a Time panel – full for the first time as we introduce new panelists Emily and Micah, who join moderator Kylie, Kristen, Eddie, and Amie – returns to the Water Cooler to discuss the second half of season five of Once Upon a Time – i.e. the “Underworld” arc. If you are not caught up on Once, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Once Upon a Time” – The Season 5 End of Season Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

THE SPECS:

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

Welcome to a newer, fuller Once experience!  This panel, traditionally and soundly covered by Kristen, Eddie, and Amie over the past year, is now joined by two voices, new both to CPU! and to the panel itself, who have convened with our pioneering three to create a full Once panel for the first time since the CPU! Podcast’s inception (as Once comprised one of our pilot three episodes).  Panelists Emily and Micah join CPU! and our Once group to discuss Season 5B of OUAT, otherwise known as the “Underworld” arc, in great detail. Listen to our newest chapter of CPU!’s ongoing Once Upon a Time podcast, during which we reflect on Season 5B.  Do you agree with us? Or, do you have your own thoughts? Comment below!

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!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, and/or our Stitcher Radio channel to keep track of brand new episodes. In the meantime, let us know what you think! Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

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

Old Questions

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?!

New Questions

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?

PARTING SHOTS

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.

LOOKING AHEAD

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!