- The primary storyline, which involves the Author and the Queens of Darkness, is completely put on hold in favor of a huge Robin Hood spotlight.
- Rewinding to nine weeks ago (just when the Frozen arc ended), we learn shocking news about Robin’s adventures in New York.
- In the Enchanted Forest flashback the focus is again on Robin as he makes a deal with Rumpelstiltskin and visits Oz. Elsewhere, Will Scarlet finally has something to do.
The previous episode was jam-packed with information vital to the stories involving both Maleficent’s baby and the Author. The fact that this follow-up episode addresses nothing pertinent to these stories is both satisfying and annoying. On one hand, it’s nice to jump around and spend time with so many different characters this season (all while the continual story thread is still in tact). On the other hand… come on! We find out that Maleficent’s baby is Emma’s friend Lily AND we find out the identity of the Author and the mystery behind Henry’s storybook, and there’s absolutely nothing about this at all this week?
This tactic is different. I expect it’s experimental (perhaps the writers hope to implement it more often). The current storyline was paused altogether in order to show us what Robin Hood was up to in New York while we were watching Ursula reunite with Daddy and such. For the most part it works well (although it is a little aggravating, as we crave additional information about the Sorcerer and the Author). Judging this form of storytelling for what it is, though, it does have its merits (and a surprise or two of its own). I wouldn’t mind if this storytelling style was used again in the future, perhaps during a less intense part of the year.
Concerning Robin Hood in the Enchanted Forest, it’s nice to see much of the original cast from his story back together. There is a certain quality about this that I enjoy seeing unfold. It’s one thing to reimagine a character and give him or her more depth. But to then place a character back into his or her original story (with the other supporting characters you’ve also reimagined) is a real treat. The way Robin, Marian, Little John, and the Sheriff of Nottingham interact with each other in the tavern is just fun. It’s the same thrill as when one sees Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff take back Arendelle together or when Snow, Charming, and all seven dwarfs face Regina. Maybe it’s just me, but I like seeing a whole cast together.
Concerning Robin’s New York escapades, if it wasn’t for Elf and Enchanted and a bajillion other movies, a spinoff series of Robin in NYC would be fantastic. The horse chase scene… wow! There was really cool stuff there (and, for once, not with CGI).
As for the big reveal of Zelena… well, I didn’t see it coming, I’ll say that much. (So glad I didn’t watch the preview.) As one of Once Upon a Time‘s only big characters not attached to a Disney story, it’s interesting that Zelena had a large presence in the first place and even curiouser now that she’s back. At first, Zelena’s return comes as a genuine shock and elicits the response, “Wow, great job, writers. This is going to be an awesome little cameo!” However, it’s soon evident that Zelena is here to stay (at least for a while). When the big picture is quickly analyzed, what can’t be forgotten is that the Author/Sorcerer thing, which is already interesting itself, is still going on. Not to mention that Zelena’s return marks yet another Once Upon a Time death that was not really a death. Zelena’s death follows behind the death of Rumpelstiltskin (who incidentally also temporarily dies in this episode before being revived), Neal, the Blue Fairy, August, and I’m sure a few others I’m forgetting. In order for a character’s death to resonate emotionally with the audience, storytellers cannot keep bringing back characters they have already killed off. If they do, the next time a death occurs the audience will not take it seriously and will expect it to be faulty. I enjoy having Zelena onscreen, but her presence is, admittedly, a cop-out. If the season winds up centered on defeating her it will be disappointing (although it won’t negate the cleverness of the rest of the season).
While the intricacies of Once’s Upon a Time‘s story seem to be made up as we go along, there are two sides to this coin. Firstly, this is one convoluted tale. Zelena’s soul escaped her body, roamed around for a few minutes, found Emma, went back in time, killed Marian, then re-entered Marian’s body? And she didn’t find it suitable to show herself before she started to freeze earlier in the season? It’s a bit far-fetched, even for a show about green witches and talking merpeople. Some aspects of this story make sense, if only because New York has been a go-to spot for virtually anyone who leaves Storybrooke. For this reason the complexities for this story, like Neal’s apartment and Zelena’s henchman’s hideout, fit into the puzzle.
Lately, with all of these returning faces (Aurora, August, Gepetto, Robin, Zelena) and the intriguing prominence of the Author and the Sorcerer, all of this truly feels like a final season. Or, at least, it’s what I hope a final season would include. While there haven’t been any indications that Once Upon a Time is ending, the vibe of the story certainly has a ‘pull-out-all-the-stops-and-explain-everything-before-ending-on-a-high-note’ feel to it. This is something Anthony and I discussed in the comments in the fall. If this isn’t the end, what do the writers have in store for the show’s conclusion (whenever that might be)?
- The ‘What-The-Heck’ Moment: Hidden. Mickey.
- Runner-up: Aladdin product placement? Really?
- The Magic Moment: TBH I was fist-pumpin’ seeing the Charmings, Emma, Henry, and Hook chase after the Author. The editing here is sick and leads into the flashback exquisitely. Include more scenes like this, please!
- The Whoa Moment: I mean, is there really any question? Zelena! Poor Marian.
- Were you surprised by Zelena’s return?
- Would you like to see more episodes like this? Episodes that completely pause the ongoing story to delve deeper into something from the past?
- How long before a Netflix Original debuts about Robin Hood teaming up with (wait for it) … Daredevil?!
- If you were Regina, who would you choose to save: Robin or Emma?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes