This Once Upon a Time review contains spoilers.
Once Upon A Time: Season 5 Episodes 8 and 9
If you are a Once Upon A TIme fan (and if you are reading this the odds of that being the case are exceptionally high) you looked forward to tonight’s double-hitter of an episode of with bated breath. I know that I did. Now, in the aftermath of the two entirely unrelated but not awful episodes, I am not sure what to think. While learning the shocking truth about what Emma did to save Hook was satisfying, it could have been done in fifteen minutes. Merida’s story taking up the second episode was fine, but it was a confusing thing to have following the central storyline of the season. We just made one hell of a discovery about Killian but now we’re going to hang out for an hour with Merida, Mulan, and inexplicably, Ruby?
I love love love the choices Emma made regarding Killian (I am trying desperately not to be spoilery here, because if you haven’t seen it, I think you should, it’s that well-done). By this point in the game we all had sussed that a large part of why Emma had transformed into what she’d transformed into (a stylish Snow-Queen like Dark One) was directly related to having to save Killian’s life. The writing of this reveal was delicious.
My only criticism is this (and it will be a familiar one to readers of these reviews): It is hard to truly savor and fret over the toxicity of Emma and Killian’s presently doomed relationship because it all continues to feel unearned. Even Killian following her around from scene to scene to demand answers about what happened in Camelot seemed like placeholder dialogue, placeholder character work.
The feeling of my stomach giving way when the truth was revealed at the end of the first hour had more to do with a lingering stomach bug than it did with any sort of empathy. I want to care about them so deeply. That said, the show can and has worked backwards on relationships (Read: Emma and her parents). Maybe it will be in crisis and conflict that their romantic bond is really forged. Time and tide will tell. Until then, if Killian does get to wear all of the eyeliner that is allowed, I will rail to the very heavens.
Hour two was a totally satisfactory stand-alone episode. It was great to see Ruby returned, and to watch Mulan dealing with the emotional fallout of Aurora’s rejection. I wish OUAT had the opportunity to do more of the 42-minute fairy tale epic. It makes sense that they should — they have such a natural gift for moralizing. All of this said, it was a strange decision to air these two episodes back-to-back. Ideally, the central season-long storyline should be interwoven with a story-of-the-week. That it wasn’t was only made all the more sense when two episodes were presented back to back.
Best Moment With Emma’s Red Leather Jacket:
Not featured. That was cool because Ruby’s costumes and wigs were on point. I spent a majority of her scenes Googling stuff like “bras to wear under see through shirts not slutty tho.”
Best Death and/or Maiming:
Holy Lou but the stabbing of Fergus was graphic. I was there for it. Also Merida is terrible at what she does.
Episode 8: 2 out of 5
Episode 9: 3 out of 5