Once Upon a Time 100th Episode: Review10th March 2016
Well, Once Upon A Time is back, and back on form. Arguably the best episode since Heroes and Villains (the Season 4 finale), Once returned to what it does best: The Charming family against the world (and probably a new scenery chewing big bad).
Episode 100 picks up where the the mid-season finale left off, with the Charming family plus Regina, Robin Hood and Rumplestiltskin venturing into the Underworld to save Hook after his tragic sacrifice in Swan Song.
If you’ve seen any promo’s for 5B, you’ll know that the Underworld looks an awful lot like Storybrooke, a fact which is thankfully picked up on almost straight away, if not explained. Unfortunately, it’s not the only thing that isn’t explained either – like how the inhabitants of the Underworld, many of whom have been dead for years in the story, seem to know exactly what’s going in the world of the living. Do they have Netflix in the Underworld? Luckily, some of the confusing plot elements seem to be tantalising hints for the rest of the season.
But as well as setting up the new story arc, the 100th episode plays tribute to the show’s past as well, with brief appearances from a ton of the shows alumni.
Neal shows up early in the episode, and Emma’s former love finally gives her some closure as well as hope for finding Hook. Given the fan base’s divided opinion on Neal, I think even haters will appreciate that his brief appearance didn’t take away from Emma and Hook’s love story, while hopefully his supporters can take it as a final farewell.
Peter Pan (brilliant acting by Robbie Kay) makes an all too brief appearance, but given that his brief scene with Rumplestiltskin was full of vague threats towards the rescue party, it seems likely that he’ll make a return later in the season.
Cora is back as well, both in the present and in the Regina-centric flashbacks, and Barbara Hershey’s performance does show up how lacklustre some of the last season’s villains were (Maleficent, Ursula, Isaac, I’m looking at you). The flashbacks are also a much appreciated nod to the first season, and the first episode in particular – both in terms of Regina’s character development and plot – like how Henry senior ended up in Wonderland in Hat Trick. It also shows what a phenomenal actor Lana Parilla is, as the difference between the hammy villainess Evil Queen and quiet heroic present day Regina is truly impressive.
On the whole, the episode worked well – giving a fitting tribute to the last 99 episodes, as well as a nice glimpse at what’s to come – including a brief look at Hades (Greg Germann). It’s a relief that his CGI flame hair only makes a brief appearance, and that it doesn’t look as terrible as in the promos. He’s a bit more restrained than James Woods (from the 1997 Hercules) but there are definitely some elements of Woods’ Hades in there. He looks like he might be a really fun villain, with some of the full-on madness that made some of the past big bads so popular). Hook and Emma are both oddly absent from the episode though, given the reason they’re in the Underworld in the first place – other than a heart rending scene reminiscent of Doctor Who’s Doomsday, they have little screen time. Hopefully, we’ll see more of Emma and Hook next week, and looking at the sneak peek, it looks promising.