Once Upon a Time: Swan Song
December 7, 2015 10:10 AM - Season 5, Episode 11 - Subscribe

Hooks plan unfolds as the Dark Ones return from the Underworld, and Emma looks for a way to stop them. An old connection between Hook and Regina is revealed.
posted by Bulgaroktonos (16 comments total)
I have Thoughts, but first of all "I had a vial of magic."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:11 AM on December 7, 2015


1) The Rumple switcheroo was dumb, basically reset everything they've done with the character, and seemed to serve no function except allowing the writers to return to writing a Rumple they've already written. Hands down, no question for me, the worst part of an episode that was also kind of silly.

2) Hook's motivation never made any sense and the culmination of that also made zero sense. I given up trying to understand the logic of how magic works, but a season that spent a lot of time building up Excalibur and why it existed and what it could do, the ending didn't really take advantage of any of that.

3) The Hook flashback was pointless, and if I were inclined to address continuity, I'm sure it breaks some sort of coninuity.

4) Regina banishing Zelena made zero sense, but I enjoyed it, and some of the "we're all going to die" character moments were actually nice. I'm honestly excited for them to have an excuse to bring back all the dead characters they want to. I don't actually hate this show, but this half season was mostly a mess without the usual redeeming features.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:41 AM on December 7, 2015

So disgusted with the Rumple 'twist'. No setup, and retroactively ruins his whole arc for the season so far. And are we going to have to sit through another round of Belle finding out the truth, leaving/trying to leave Rumple? Ugh.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:52 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

posted by twist my arm at 7:10 PM on December 7, 2015

Was it my imagination or did it look like half the cast had bad colds while filming this episode? Hook especially looked kind of puffy and sickly but Emma too and Josh Dallas seemed to be trying to cover up his pallor with a bad fake tan.

Also yeah this episode was damn nonsense and I'm both irritated by it and kind of glad it's just out of the way so that now maybe we can start the next half-season and actually do something with it. Incidentally, I am 100% with Lily Sparks that there should be more people in Storybrooke; it's basically just a bunch of people who are related to each other and the occasional dwarf now. I feel like we haven't even seen Granny in forever and what about, like Gepetto and everyone? There used to be a real town and now there isn't, it's just the same group of people flitting between the library, the clock tower, the docks, the abandoned street, and the one room where like 2/3s of the characters live.

Frankly my theory for this entire season is that one of the producers bought stock in a company that makes material for those ugly Dark One cloaks and didn't tell anyone but kept insisting on more Dark Ones so every time someone is revealed in one of those cloaks they get like $50 or something (NB despite my grandfather's best efforts I don't really know how stocks work). This would also explain why none of the Dark Ones stalking the town actually DID anything (except wear cloaks! It all holds together!), which was disappointing for me. I found the image of a town overrun with old Dark Ones compelling and then it turns out it was basically a promo shot and NOTHING HAPPENED.

God this episode was disappointing, and frankly so was the whole season. There were twists that meant nothing to me because they didn't make sense, stuff was established only to be dropped, characters behaved completely out of character (exception: Belle aka Stockholm Syndrome Barbie came back to Rumple as soon as he was evil again, should have realized he was evil when she turned up), stuff just got dropped kind of randomly (like whatever is going on with Arthur? Do we even know or care? Nope!), continuity got stupider (oh yeah totally buying that Regina and Hook have had this thing Of Which They Will Never Speak, definitely, nice work on that one writers it didn't feel tacked on at all), mythologies about, e.g., Excalibur were created and hammered home only to be ignored completely later, and even previously established stuff that was pretty firmly entrenched in the show (all magic comes with a price, you can't just stop being evil and become a hero, &c.) was contradicted stupidly for no reason, and frankly the whole episode was representative of the whole season in that it was a stupid waste of everyone's time that threw in stupid twists that retroactively made the entire show less good. Ugh.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:34 AM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

i started watching this show because emma, regina, snow, and rumple (you guys covered rumple--but they've been dicking with him forever so i'm not surprised at this specific bullshit here. i am surprised that this specific bullshit happened simultaneously with all the other bullshit). snow who is boring and not there, whose dumbness is a plot device (whoops, tricked by zelena) and who, completely out of character, gave up fighting this episode.

regina who is the beating heart of the fucking show, the most developed and only consistent character, whose screen time mainly came in 5x02 and 5x05 and was otherwise benched just like she was in S4's stupid frozen arc. 3rd in screen time (bc aforementioned 2 eps) after emma and, tellingly, hook.

and emma. emma whose DO arc was actually a hook arc, who along with regina are totes fine with bringing henry to hell to retrieve a dbag who tried to kill them all in the first place. some tumblr post i can't find-- they're buffy/spike pretending like they're buffy/angel (as interpreted by a 13yo who loved twilight). there ain't no more bounty hunter or foster kid or savior or mother left in her, she's a girlfriend now. that's what she does.

tumblr roundup of my feelings:

"Now when they first set up the Emma as the Dark One arc there were a few things I was expecting:

1) Emma and her parents – I was expecting some well drawn out, well thought out and well developed confrontation between Emma and her parents...

2) Emma and Henry – ...At its heart this show is about family and it would have been, you would think anyway, paramount to have Henry be at the forefront of this arc too and show him struggling to deal with Emma’s actions and the consequences.

3) Regina and Henry – We’ve had a few scenes but nothing much. Regina, I mean where has she been?! ...It had great potential for Regina and Henry to work together in a continuation of Operation Mongoose to save Emma. What did we get? No seriously, what did we get?

4) Regina and Emma – At its core this storyline is about sacrifice. It was a great extension of trust for both women. Emma sacrificed herself for Regina to save her, to give her hope of a happy ending and fulfil her promise. At the same time it was a great leap of faith for Emma to trust in Regina to save her... this arc had a great potential to see this relationship blossom even further and yet it seems to have been shoved to the background as an afterthought."
Once Upon a Time Logic

Emma: I can't let my family and friends go to hell.
Emma: *Brings her family and friends with her to hell.*
"...all of the PR leading up to the new season, as well as the first few episodes, led us to believe that this season would finally be returning to its roots and focusing on these two strong women and their relationship. but really, it all just turned out to be about hook. the dark one? that was hook. the savior? also hook."
sorry for screaming the same thing repeatedly. i agree with everything you all said but the reality is, Mrs. P's accurate list of stupidity aside, i'd still watch the show if it gave me the core characters being themselves every episode. but if you screw over every character WHILE WASTING LANA'S SKILLS AND FACE and put it all on a no-longer-fun-to-watch foundation of plotholes, i don't know what i'm watching for.

oh i had a hard time coming up with a positive, i had spoiled myself on purpose and half-watched despondently. i guess when regina turned on the wand. that's it.
posted by twist my arm at 7:16 PM on December 8, 2015

"Now when they first set up the Emma as the Dark One arc there were a few things I was expecting:

Look if you or anyone thought the show would be that sensible you really can't be trusted.
posted by jeather at 7:53 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

emma whose DO arc was actually a hook arc

I hadn't put my finger on it but this is absolutely true and yeah, one of the big problems with this season. The whole thing turned out to be a way to make the show about Hook (and now everyone is going to Hell to find him because he's obviously the most important person in the world/cast) which is just shitty. I've liked Hook in the past (and even had a crush on him) but making the show about him is both unfair to the other, better characters who have been well-developed and puts too much pressure on his character which isn't strong or consistent enough to carry the show.

Also, yeah, there are all these good relationships that just don't even seem to exist anymore. Even Charming, who is a delightful dope, isn't really a part of things anymore, nor is Snow except for the occasional Being a Dopey Nitwit cameo. We get a lot of Hook's relationship with Hook, some of Hook's relationship with Emma, a bit of Stockholm Syndrome Barbie's relationship with Rumplestiltskin, and less and less of Emma's relationship with Regina, topped off by virtually no relationships with Henry or anyone else in the family. It's a shame and I totally agree with this:

i'd still watch the show if it gave me the core characters being themselves every episode. but if you screw over every character WHILE WASTING LANA'S SKILLS AND FACE and put it all on a no-longer-fun-to-watch foundation of plotholes, i don't know what i'm watching for.

Like, fine, make the show about MacGuffin after MacGuffin. Every Dark One ever has wanted the Sorcerer's Hat? Fine. Every Dark One ever has wanted the author's pen? Fine. Every Dark One has sought Excalibur? Fine. Whatever. MacGuffin away if you must, I don't really care, but for God's sake stop flat-out ignoring the characters and relationships that made the show worthwhile. I enjoy the crazy nonsense and plots that can't be explained because they're too convoluted and ridiculous! This is something I like! I enjoy trying to update my roommate's girlfriend on the two weeks worth of plot she missed by being like "Well, it makes sense once you realize that the Stone of St. Balderdash was part of the necklace worn by the Pink Fairy who it turns out is actually Princess Guinevere's half-twin from a different realm so it can only be wielded by someone who has collected the tears of a centaur which means..." Like, I love that shit! The more stupid and convoluted the better! It's great and tons of fun IF it's backed up by real emotions and relationships among the characters about whom I actually do care and instead the show is substituting increasingly-predicable twists for time with the characters and, in fact, dropping stuff that could be good. Maleficent and Lily! I am SO INTO that! Are we EVER going to learn about them? Emma's got a baby brother and he's actually being raised by her parents because she was the Savior who allowed that to happen and she loves him and is excited BUT he's going to grow up with the family she didn't. Can we address THAT please? How do her parents cope with their guilt towards her while expressing their love for the first child they actually get to raise? These are interesting questions! Let's address them! No wait let's take the total remaining cast (Emma, her parents, Lana Parilla, Henry, and like sometimes Leroy maybe, plus Belle and Rumple) and march them into Hell to save Hook. That sounds like much more compelling drama. Well done friends.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:46 AM on December 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh god. Oh god I just watched this and seriously the only thing that kept me from full on yelling at my TV was the thought of coming to blurble and twitch here. What. The. Fuck.

Look, I love Hook as a character and am a sucker for guy liner and could even be prepared if the entire season were about Hook in a consistent fashion. But this is not that. I could be okay if Hook's plan was to get Emma to hate him so he could draw out the dark ones and then kill himself somehow and she would not grieve him, which is what I saw coming early on this episode.

What I cannot fucking buy is an Emma who he loves enough to want her not to die, but hates enough to want to kill her whole family including the son he's been bonding with as a father/uncle figure with for a year. I cannot fucking buy a Hook who just wibbles into a sacrifice just so we can have the feels about seeing him die at Emma's hands and in her arms. I cannot buy the unendurable bullshit of the revolving death wheel that this show is engaging in just to fuck with us.

Moving on to the other bullshit of the Gold switcheroo, it doesn't even make consistent sense in timeline. Gold has this plan hat depends on Hook putting all the darkness in, but why would he think that Hook was going to do that? As far as he had reason to believe, Hook was sending them all to hell. And why send Belle off otherwise and look conflicted about it? Argh argh argh why would you do this to us, show? Why?
posted by corb at 12:15 PM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh god, and I can't believe I forgot how Regina gets to be "Yes, I truly have changed and am a hero. I would rather send the mother of my boyfriend's baby to another world, leaving him to be raised by fairies and a seven year old, than let you ever see your child again - the child I thought five minutes ago was going to save you."
posted by corb at 12:21 PM on December 9, 2015

Alright mostly for twist my arm's amusement, I present the notes I was taking during the Hulu commercials, unedited until I could no more.
Alright suspicious that hook knows about the breakup already
Alright I am also really uncomfortable with the whole "my loved one died when they did this bad thing" way of avoiding moral complexity

This over abundance of dark ones is kind of overwhelming enough to make any defeat seem ridiculous

Uh did this test thing happen in the show? It's been so long
Ugh they aren't made of darkness that is the fucking point ugh I could be driving trucks through these plot holes

Oh actually I love rumple with belle

Oh I suddenly feel like they are setting up a bait and switch, where either rumple or more likely hook takes all the darkness

I swear to god if one more person says "her best chance" I am going to scream

This is not okay, Regina.
I do not trust this father fucker

Oh god nothing but angry screaming

Show runners fuck you so hard this is some bullshit

Oh god this is some cobbled together bullshit I can't even

And why would gold be okay with letting her tell everyone else? And they can erase memories and agh agh agh wait are they all going oh for fucks sake nooooo
posted by corb at 12:35 PM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh god, and I can't believe I forgot how Regina gets to be "Yes, I truly have changed and am a hero. I would rather send the mother of my boyfriend's baby to another world, leaving him to be raised by fairies and a seven year old, than let you ever see your child again - the child I thought five minutes ago was going to save you."

Yeah, Zelena and Regina have sometimes a good and interesting relationship but all of this was stupid. Really stupid. I wasn't a huge Zelena fan until someone in our house, probably not me, doesn't really matter who, whatever, was watching this cast panel from Comicon and the actress said the thing she loves about Zelena is that Zelena, despite being obviously the worst, clearly thinks she's absolutely delightful and that everyone really likes her and maybe even envies her and watching her in that light I've really enjoyed her time on screen because yeah, she is SO UNPLEASANT, like, not just evil but unlikable, but she clearly thinks she's great. I mean I'm glad she's clearly going to be coming back because obviously that tornado won't keep her away for long but God this whole season was so stupid and I really, really hope next season is better.

Anyway, yes, back on topic, Regina felt to me early on like a great example of a female character for whom maternal feelings were a strong part of her personality and motivations without her just being a two-d "Mom" character, and I think those maternal feelings have largely disappeared and it's bullshit and it sucks and now she's just boring and inconsistent. I mean she's obviously not because Lana Parilla can make anything amazing but the show is just such a disappointment now and it couldn't be this disappointing if it hadn't previously been good.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:48 PM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, that is definitely part of it! Like they could have done the exact same thing if they'd bothered to go through the emotions of it. Regina is prime perfect to be conflicted over wanting a family with Robin, one that can't be taken away. And as someone who cannot have children herself, watching her sister have the child she wants so much, and wanting the baby but also wanting to be a good person and have justifications to herself..

I think, and this is kind of a longer part of my notes, the show really suffers from its focus on "Are you a good witch or a bad witch?" Regina was bad and now is good, so we can't show her having any selfish emotions, because then that will make her Bad, and she can't be a hero anymore! Gold was having heroic moments but then suddenly he is tempted and All Goes Wrong. Hook can't just have normal anger and bitterness and heartbreak, he has to be cacklingly Bad and then only made all Good with a redemptive moment.

And it's one of the things that is so upsetting, because my favorite characters have always been the ones who walked on the edges. Gold, Regina, Hook, Maleficient, Emma, people who have light and dark inside them. I never loved Snow more than when we were discovering that what she will do for her baby is actually pretty bad.

And so I think one of the casualties of that kind of thing is the deeper feels. They don't seem to know what to do with emotions development right now that's not The Plot Of The Week, and that's enraging, because it could be so. Much. Better.
posted by corb at 1:22 PM on December 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

yay corb you made it! now we can all side-eye this steaming pile of shit together. thank you for your gift, it's an honor.

Look if you or anyone thought the show would be that sensible you really can't be trusted.

*narrows eyes*

listen here canadian...

i meant the writeup was representative of my best hopes (not expectations) for this season, sorry for the confusion. the show has juggled actual development with nonsense in the past to better effect. it wasn't front and center during frozen, snow queen, queens of darkness, lily, the author (a lot of extraneous shit!)-- but it existed.

for comparison, in S4 winter finale belle sent rumple over the town line. that was maybe the only time the show has ever made me "oh shit!!!!!!!" my screen. they've fucked that all up now, but that was a great scene, and not just because carlyle acted the shit out of it.

(and now everyone is going to Hell to find him because he's obviously the most important person in the world/cast)

exactly. with frozen/snow queen we knew when it was done it wasn't coming back. my hope is that, as the object to be saved, hook becomes B story and we follow the fam around for the A story. even as The Reason, they can write around hook-as-focus if they want, we just don't know if they want.

i think it's telling that corb, Mrs. P, jeather, all 3 who started out with general good feelings about hook aren't buying this shit any more than anti-hook ole me. (and i didn't even hate him all season, bickering with regina in the first episodes worked fine!)

I think those maternal feelings have largely disappeared

she really can't help mothering-- snow white, owen (the father and son campers who were there when storybrooke was cursed into existence), henry obvs. the baby hood arc is so uncomfortable but if there's anyone who understands redemption (for zelena) and non-traditional families it's regina and fuck that's been wasted so far.
posted by twist my arm at 1:24 PM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

before anybody leaves i just want to say thanks Mrs. P and Mr. B for restarting ouat on ff. thanks to oh yeah! and others for participating, corb for your last minute unflinching effort, jeather for making me wait.

i um wish it were under better circumstances. condolences to us all.
posted by twist my arm at 1:32 PM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I liked Hook before (something which tma will never, ever let go), but seriously, not THIS much, and not instead of Regina. I like Zelena too, as someone who took over evil villain now that Regina is definitely good.

And great that Regina is now good because if she did more Rumple-back-and-forth I would be, uh, even more irritated. But I don't mind the end of the maternal stuff because the show is creepy-essentialist about family and also the kid who plays Henry is obviously embarrassed to be on this show anymore.

It's just so stupid. I had said earlier that OUAT had learned from Lost, and took the good parts of the structure and dumped the stupid stuff, but I think by now they've run out of good parts, just like Lost! The shows are so similar in so many ways (not just casting).

(I had opinions about this episode but they are at home, I will share more of them later. Mostly they are opinions about how bad the show is.)
posted by jeather at 1:48 PM on December 9, 2015

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