Once Upon a Time “Souls of the Departed” Review (Season 5 Episode 12)

Once Upon a Time  Souls of the Departed

A kinder, gentler Emma is on her way to the Underworld to save Hook in the return of Once Upon A Time. On her way, she encounters Neal, who tries to persuade her to abandon her plan but she presses on. It’s kind of cheesy that the Underworld is just a red tinted Storybrooke. Couldn’t they have sprung for a more interesting set? It’s rather anti-climactic. They use green screen for a lot of stuff, so it wouldn’t have been too hard to give us something scarier and menacing.

In the flashbacks, Regina is on the hunt for Snow White. I don’t know if it’s the ridiculous high pony, but Lana Parrilla seemed off her game in these scenes. Her performance was so over-the-top, it almost felt like she was leading a community college acting class. Lana is one of the shining talents on this show, so it was surprising. I’m also a little tired of the “Evil Queen chasing Snow White” thing. Didn’t she have other evil things to do?

I was delighted to see Emma Caulfield, my all-time favorite vengeance demon, as the Blind Witch. She’s just one of a cavalcade of familiar faces making an appearance. Joshua is doing Parent Trap double duty as David’s doppelgänger, Barbara Hershey is back as Cora, Giancarlo Esposito as the Magic Mirror, and Robbie Kay as Peter Pan.

I was surprised by the warmth of the reunion between Cora and Regina. Doesn’t Regina remember what really drives Cora? It’s never parental love. This time, she warns that if Regina doesn’t leave the Underworld, there will be consequences for her father. I still don’t trust that Cora is a changed woman. She was too bad for too long.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Cora pulls a fast one and escapes from Wonderland. She decide to give Regina a birthday gift – Snow White’s heart. Her dad swaps the heart for that of a guard in order to save Regina from becoming truly dark. This feels like a well-trod storyline at this point. This is the problem with forcing flashbacks into every episode. I know that’s the formula, but just for kicks they should try to not do that for just one episode.

True to her word, Cora swirls up Regina’s father in a vortex of fire. But he doesn’t die. He’s shown a path to a better place. This is a sweet little end to the otherwise tragic relationship between Regina and her father. I particularly liked the moment between Henry and his grandfather (though they could’ve just put a cardboard cutout of Henry and had a comparable level of emotion).

The big twist of the episode is the appearance of Hades at the end. He’s unhappy that Regina’s father escaped the Underworld. It’s pretty funny that Cora’s punishment is to become a miller’s daughter again. The special effects with the blue hair flames was well done, and an obvious nod to the Disney movie Hercules.

I could give this episode a solid B. I like that Emma didn’t express any love for Neal and remained on her task of finding Hook. This means that those of us who love Emma and Hook together are good – for the time being. I’m glad that the horrible King Arthur is gone and that some of the more interesting characters from past seasons have returned. I really don’t like that red-tinged Storybrooke is the Underworld. This feels lazy and cheap. Other shows do a lot more with a lot less money.