This Once Upon a Time review contains spoilers.
Once Upon A Time: Season 5, Episode 2
This week, ice cold dark one Emma is back and she’s….buying property? Jennifer Morrison’s acting choices while playing Emma as dark this season are strong, strong, strong. They are also a bit at odds with the hair and makeup choices made by the design team. Putting Emma in a sleek black trench coat and spraying old-people white hairspray on an updo doesn’t really do service to the isolated, hurt, and vengeful portrayal Jennifer Morrison is delivering.
This might seem like a strange thought to start a review with, but I stand by it. The entire episode hinged on the missing six weeks in Camelot and how whatever happened there turned Emma into a curse-wielding dark one. She anchors the episode. We are all watching her just as closely as the rest of the town of Storybrooke is watching her. All the more reason to rethink her character design and maybe not have her pick a house for herself that’s like a reject from of HGTV’s House Hunters? Sure, it’s got a creepy door to an even creepier basement in it, but they’ve set the bar for villainous decor high. We know they can do better! Observe Regina’s entire mayoral suite, right?
The new curse Emma has leveled against the town turns anyone who steps over the line…into an apple tree. As far as curses go, this was subpar. I was sitting there chanting, “Explode, explode, explode, oh please, please, please explode.” Sadly, no one exploded. But a badly animated flying titty-fury monster came and tried to drag off Robin, so that was fun! If last week was about Emma grappling with becoming the dark one, this week was about Regina grappling with her new self-imposed identity as the town’s savior — and the insecurities that flood her when she realizes the ramifications of this immense responsibility.
We still aren’t clear on what exactly when down during the entire six week span the crew was in Camelot. I mean, we know that Henry and a young faux-medieval maiden named Violet danced at a ball to some hip ‘80s beats, and that Emma was forced to use her dark magic to save Robin who leapt in when Percival got all stab-happy on Regina’s reformed ass, but the viewer’s left with the feeling that there’s a lot more awful where that came from.
Regina and Emma’s relationship is the one to watch this season. The show’s ad campaign is playing up their role-reversal, with Emma as “bad” and Regina as “good”, but as is often the case, the truth is much more complex than that. There was little doubt left in anyone’s mind tonight I’m sure that whatever drove Emma fully into the darkness, Regina was a contributing factor. These two balance each other, they are great dramatic foils. But as they grow closer, they become more similar, which means that they lack the objectivity their enmity once allowed. No doubts (other than Regina herself) that she can save the town. But the town seems universally convinced of Emma’s frailty. It’s an interesting turn.
Best Moment With Emma’s Red Leather Jacket:
When — after needlessly and crueling waiting a week — Regina decides to turn Emma’s red leather jacket (and also Sneezy) into not-stone anymore.
Best Death and/or Maiming:
Gotta be David straight-up murdering Percival. Though, the titty-fury maiming Robin in the present was pretty good too.