Once Upon a Time – The 100th Edition

Three months of waiting. Three long months between episodes. Seriously that hiatus is painful but it’s finally at an end. Last Sunday in the US the 100th episode of Once Upon a Time – Souls of the Departed aired. It was put up on netflix on Wednesday and I watched it that evening.

The 100th episode is a landmark occasion. It’s usually marked by something extra special and this was no different. They brought back a lot of old guest stars and there was a lot of callbacks to previous events. It was an episode for the fans and it wasn’t bad. However, it wasn’t that great either as much as it pains me to say that.

The episode itself wasn’t the problem – it’s the Underworld. I have such an issue with this storyline and I’m going to go into greater detail under the cut. Spoiler alert and all that jazz.

An argument against the Underworld
I have lots of arguments against the underworld to be honest. However, none greater than the golden rule of magic. To quote Rumplestiltskin “Magic can do much but not that. Dead is dead.” Everyone has lost someone. What makes Hook so special? He’s lived a lot longer than most, had the equivalent of several lifetimes already. People die and it was finally his turn. He should have died in Camelot when cut by Excalibur, but Emma kept him alive longer by turning him into a Dark One. That was borrowed time, what makes him so special that he should get even more?

Was it because his sacrifice was in vain? You know I have a theory about that. There can be no darkness without light, so there can be no light without darkness. The ying, the yang, the balance of the universe etc. The darkness would have to have gone somewhere, by setting the board all Rumple did was ensure that the darkness went into the person most equipped to handle it. I don’t think they ever said how many dark one’s there have been, but just from what was shown on screen there have been a lot. They gave the date of the first dark one – Nimue – as being 500 years ago. Therefore, for half of the time the dark one has existed, the darkness was contained by one man – Rumplestiltskin. All of the dark ones only held it a fraction of the time. Who better to keep the darkness contained than someone who had already done so for centuries?

Therefore Hook’s sacrifice would always have been in vain. There can be no light without darkness, someone would have become a vessel for the darkness to hide in. Yes this is just a theory, there is no evidence in the show (as yet) to prove it. Yes I am biased because I prefer this theory as it means Rumple is still the complex man he always has been, rather than a shallow villain. However, people sacrifice all the time, they die pointless deaths. A lot of people don’t deserve to die but they do. Hook is no different and he shouldn’t be special.

Don’t get me wrong I like Hook. I just think dead should mean dead. Otherwise where does it stop? Why should Hook be worthy of being returned to life? What about everyone else?

Then there are other arguments against the underworld. First up – Henry. I still can’t believe they took him down there. He’s a child, he should be protected. Now, I read a theory yesterday that they took him down because he’s resourceful. Far better to take him and keep an eye on him, than have him follow alone. However, they weren’t doing a great job of the protection. Emma said – “split up” and he wandered off – alone! Excuse me this is the underworld, full of unknown dangers. I mean in horror movies splitting up is a very bad idea, it just defies common sense. At least go about in pairs.

Also you know there’s a whole lot of dead people – villains – who would like to return to life. The dark ones were called to the surface and marked people to take their place. The regular dead can’t do that. However, the ‘heroes’ have gone down to the underworld, rather like human sacrifice. What’s to stop all the villains from taking their place in the world of the living? Who will protect Storybrooke from them as all the so called heroes are in the underworld? So not smart. Don’t even get me started on the fact that they don’t seem to have an exit strategy – again.

Oh and there’s the child abandonment. Who is looking after the newborn baby Hood? What about Roland and baby Neal? They could be orphaning those children. Oh and Zelena. How is banishing her to Oz, someplace she has conquered before, a sensible idea? She’ll be back and with reinforcements and right now no-one is around to fight her.

I really should stop ranting against this story arc and actually talk about what happened in the episode. I do love this show – honestly – it’s just really frustrating me that the characters are being so stupid.

Raising more questions
If Charming and Snow are true love, how come Snow didn’t know it was James that was kissing her until he told her? I would have thought that she would have sensed something was off, especially as “you’ve changed?” like I didn’t see a bag with spare clothes. Snow just looked surprised. Random aside shouldn’t they have taken supplies with them? I know Rumple said they would only be gone a day but I doubt there’s food and water in the underworld.

Oh I did love the flashback, it was only very short but it did at least confirm that Rumple had told Belle he was going to the Underworld. That wasn’t clear and I was scared he had just left her asleep in bed with no explanation as to where he was going. While it’s possible that they didn’t show us everything, I suspect more likely he didn’t tell her about being the dark one again. That is going to blow up spectacularly in his face. He doesn’t tell her things because he’s frightened of losing her. What Belle hates is that he won’t let her in – trust being the ultimate expression of love – and she wants to be his partner and work with him to solve problems. Those two really need to learn to communicate.

I find it interesting that Pan is – Pan, seeing as he technically died as Malcolm. He transformed back into his adult self before the flash of magic vaporized him and Rumple. Sending Malcolm to the underworld and Rumple to the vault. I suppose it makes sense because Pan is perhaps how he views himself, that is the image he has in his mind of who he is. Plus Pan is so much more compelling, Robbie Kay is a genius actor really to exude that much evil as a child. Pan is the one to raise the possibility that he could take the place of one of the living.

I also find it interesting that James is dressed in normal Storybrooke clothes. He died in the Enchanted Forest. Regina said that the dark curse had to get Storybrooke from somewhere and perhaps it was here, and I think Robin said “or vice versa” and I have to agree with Robin. Perhaps the Underworld used to look like the Enchanted Forest, but when the dark curse created Storybrooke and moved everyone there, it did so in the Underworld as well. Maybe that’s partly why it’s such a dark curse. I wonder if they will explore that some more.

Moving on to how the episode began – Neal. He’s not in the Underworld because he didn’t have any unfinished business. He says he’s in a better place and he warns Emma not to go to the Underworld. I agree with him – obviously – this whole trip has pointless disaster written all over it. I’m kinda sad that his brief time on screen was with Emma because I really thought it should have been Rumple. Neal was everything to Rumple, the focus of his existence for centuries, he’s the reason he became the dark one, the reason for the dark curse. The show seems to forget that while Neal and Emma had a relationship and Neal is Henry’s father. Neal was also Rumple’s son, making Henry Rumple’s grandson and that should mean something.

To be honest the episode was mainly focused on Regina and I don’t mind that so much because she is my second favourite. Hopefully Rumple will get a star turn in a later episode and we’ll find out any “secret plans” that I hope he has which explains his actions.

Happy Birthday Regina
The flashbacks to fairytale land were to Regina’s birthday. This clearly took place in a time after Charming had woken Snow with true loves kiss and they were “taking the kingdom back”. It’s never really been clear but I think that perhaps they managed to take King George’s kingdom first and Regina’s didn’t fall until they captured her. Regina was going to be executed but Snow saved her at the last minute and Rumple laid forth a deal, which Regina failed. This then meant she couldn’t harm Snow in this land, meaning she had no alternative but to cast the dark curse and take everyone to another land – where she could have her revenge.

Anyway, it’s after the sleeping curse and before Regina’s capture. That is easy enough to place. However, what is hard to place is where it is in relation to Cora’s visits. From what was said it sounded like it was the first time Cora had managed to return from Wonderland since Regina banished her there on her wedding day. Cora was banished back to Wonderland before the end of the episode, and the looking glass was closed so she couldn’t return using that method. Which means for some reason Regina repaired the looking glass in the first place, as it smashed to pieces after Cora was banished the first time.

What I’m getting at is Tinkerbell using pixie dust showed Regina her true love – Robin in a bar. All Regina saw was the lion tattoo, Cora then appeared some time later. Regina told her of this new “true love” and Cora went searching. She didn’t find Robin, she found the Sheriff of Nottingham and tried to pass him off as Robin. Regina saw through the plot, which is when she cursed herself sterile, so she would never have a child. Cora would never be able to kill Regina and use the child like a puppet on the throne.

Unless I’m forgetting something that makes the timeline:
– Cora’s initial banishment to Wonderland on Regina’s wedding day.
– Cora returns on Regina’s birthday, because Henry (Regina’s father) accidentally opens up the looking glass for her. Regina shrinks Henry and when Cora is banished back to Wonderland, she takes Henry with her. We later see his rescue, which is how Jefferson wound up trapped in Wonderland. I’m not entirely sure when this rescue takes place.
– Cora somehow gets out of Wonderland, which is when the Sheriff of Nottingham true love con happens.
– Somehow Cora returns to Wonderland because Regina sends Hook to kill her, I can’t quite recall how Hook gets to Wonderland to do that. I am rewatching the show, I’m on episode 6 of season 2 and haven’t seen this part again yet. Hook pretends to kill Cora and returns her body to Regina. Regina sets Cora’s body up in a crypt, which is why she believed Cora to be dead up until after the dark curse was broken and Snow and Emma are in the Enchanted Forest. Cora is then in the Enchanted Forest for the curse, which is why she and Hook are teamed up then.

Therefore this episode explains how Henry got shrunk and Cora kidnapped him to Wonderland. However, it still doesn’t explain how Cora managed to get back out for the true love con, and back to Wonderland again. I’m also still not clear on when exactly the rescue and Jefferson’s abandonment happens. If this is all in the few months of “taking back the kingdom” then that was a very busy time.

I do love that Henry tried to help Regina. If not for his actions then Snow would have died, Regina would have had her revenge and what then? Without a focal point for her anger and her grief what would she have done? He was right in saying that it could turn her dark forever. It’s not like she had anything to hold onto, nothing except him I suppose and he never protected her from Cora. It was a complicated situation, too little and too late but he still tried to do right by her. Him meeting Henry (his grandson) in the Underworld was pretty awesome.

What I didn’t love was Regina squeezing the heart and Snow leaping up. One of Regina’s knights then died (oh and what with the heart turning to ice and not dust?) and Snow was fine. She had been reacting to Jiminy Cricket trapped in her corset (and what was he doing down there anyway?). Seriously that was way too convenient. I get that they were doing a “fake out” but that was just so unlikely that it would match up like that.

You can’t save everyone
The clocktower has an important role in the Underworld. When it ticked foward from 8:15 in Storybrooke, it was to show time was moving forward again. Emma had stayed and the savior had taken the first step to breaking the curse. In the Underworld, it showed that one soul had left the domain – Henry and moved onto heaven. His unfinished business had been concluded, he had found closure.

The ‘heroes’ then reckoned that a lot of the people in the underworld had unfinished business because of them. They said that they could help people move on. Rumple looked at them like they were crazy. They’d blackmailed him into going down there for Hook. As a random aside I have a real problem with this blackmail, I think I’ve mentioned this before but Belle is an actual person – not just leverage against Rumple. If they actually cared about Belle then they would have told her. Anyway, I digress, Rumple said he wasn’t going to get caught up in a fools errand and I’m with him. Shouldn’t they focus on one mission at a time and not get distracted?

Not to mention Hades did not seem pleased that a soul had left his domain. I wonder if it’s a little bit like the Ori and Origin. The Ori gained power by having people worship them. Maybe Hades gains power by having people stuck in the Underworld. After all, if people have unfinished business when they die, it’s not likely that it’s going to get resolved because nothing changes once they are dead. They are challenging like a god in his own domain, that is seriously not going to end well.

They really need a bit of pragmatism to go along with their reckless heroics. If nothing else think about what they are teaching Henry. Mind you this is already the boy that gave up his heart to Peter Pan “to save magic”, he seriously needs to learn some caution and guile or he’s never going to make it to adulthood. These people are dead and yes that is sad, but they need to get their priorities in order. Otherwise their trip to the underworld might prove permanent if they die down there and then what will happen?

I really wish Rumple or Snow will have a confrontation with Cora at some point. After all Snow killed Cora, and Rumple was the one that put her up to it. They both have complicated history with Cora anyway, it’s not just Cora’s death. However, the writers have already said that’s not on the cards and I don’t know how much of Cora we will see again. She was obviously Hades puppet, and not in a position of power as her placement in the mayor’s office might have suggested. Cora failed to get Regina to leave and got turned back into a Miller’s daughter. Hades obviously has tremendous power and his motives are largely unclear at this point.

The fact that it was Regina that Cora tried to get to leave, well Regina, Robin and Henry, has to be important. I’m sure Hades wants everyone gone but it was those three that Cora failed to remove, those three who Hades wanted gone the most. Why is that? Is it because Henry is the truest believer? because he’s the author? Is it because of Regina and the fact that she sent a lot of people to the underworld personally? I doubt very much that it was Robin Hades wanted gone. Robin actually didn’t say very much in the episode at all, he was just sort of there.

It’s only the first episode of the arc. It was inevitable that it would raise more questions than it would offer answers. I did like how some things weren’t forgotten, like Henry looking for Neal at Granny’s. However, Rumple’s connection to Neal was ignored and that was bad. Plus the constant “we must save Hook” with no explanation as to why he’s so special and worth saving over everyone else who has ever died.

I also liked how they did play back into an old arc of Henry (Regina’s father) being kidnapped and shrunk in Wonderland. It was a pretty good 100th episode. They brought a lot of people back for it and they laid some groundwork. I guess I just have to have faith that they are going to resolve the underworld arc in a way that makes sense. Right now it doesn’t. Right now it feels like the characters I love are being idiots and I don’t understand why. I maintain that every episode should be at least 3x as long, so they could cover more aspects and maybe then things would make more sense.

The next episode will air in the US in two days. Next Wednesday I’ll watch it on netflix. Maybe more will be revealed or maybe there will just be more questions. Either way I’ll be watching.