This Once Upon a Time review contains spoilers.
Once Upon A Time: Season 5 Episode 7
Once Upon A Time is a great show. It’s compelling and effective for reasons I can’t quite explain with aplomb or accuracy. It’s very often hindered by the white male voices at its helm, it forces relationships into greater intimacy than they have earned (See: Hook and Emma), and it is goofy, daffy, and at times, quite gormless.
That said, I think the one factor that keeps us all tuning in week after week (other than a natural human penchant for fairy stories and spectacle) is the earnestness of the entire thing. In the world of OUAT, good and evil are black and white, everything is clear and everything is — ultimately — fair.
It is this just and inviolable worldview that perhaps is to blame for this week’s episode. On paper, it’s all there for a winning hour of television. The identity of the first Dark One is revealed, along with more of Merlin’s history, the gang and Arthur reached a crossroads, Zelena is up to her old tricks, and Emma continues to wage her battle against the dark — this time with a minor victory.
Okay, sure, great. But at this stage in the game, we are one step ahead of the story.
The reveal that Nimue was the first Dark One would have be revelatory if they’d simply MADE it. Instead we are treated to awkward history wherein the only way a woman can assert her sense of self is to act out against her immortal boyfriend. It’s like the team worried that Guinevere’s thrall was just a step too far, so they make Nimue and Emma give their warrior “I am not nothing! Power! Etc,” speeches completely undermining the strength of their central protagonist in the process.
Guys, we never thought Emma was nothing. For five seasons you’ve given us this emotionally damaged but intensely strong and self-actualized woman. I was supposed to be moved to tears when Morrison defeats (for the moment) Nimue. Instead I found myself loudly proclaiming “Duh” in the quiet of my living room.
It was an episode where I found my thoughts wandering to nexts steps. I should have been wrapped up in the urgency of Emma’s re-forging of Excalibur, but instead I was putting the pieces together: It seems more and more likely that the terrible truth behind present-day Emma’s darkness is that she probably murdered Hook and brought him back to life at the cost of herself. I mean, it’s going to be something like that right? They’ve already set up Nimue and Merlin as foils. I am terrified of them going in this direction because good lord they have not earned us caring about Hook and Emma as a couple. Not even a little!
The only thing that makes me even angrier is talking about the not-roses that once again permeated the scenic locales this week. For the love of god, if you’re going to make up a flower – MAKE UP A FLOWER. Don’t just have roses popping up individually from the ground like blades of grass. Stupid grass.
Best Moment With Emma’s Red Leather Jacket:
Not featured. This week we were alllllll about the Annie-Lennox-esque crepe makeup that Nimue donned. Reptilian contact lenses: So hot right now.
Best Death and/or Maiming:
If there aren’t roughly 500 GIFs of Snow being gut-kicked and falling over backwards than the internet is simply not doing its job.