‘Once Upon a Time’ season 5, episode 11 (winter finale) review: Death defeats darkness

OUATOnce Upon a Time” may officially be a show with no chill. It’s the winter finale, Christmas is only weeks away, and the show on ABC still delivered an episode that probably had you and your family huddling around the closest box of tissues. (Warning: There are MAJOR spoilers ahead. We saw the Canadian feed tonight so it may be several minutes ahead of many U.S. airings.)

As a means to finally extinguish the darkness and also ensure his legacy is something more than a villain and a scoundrel, Captain Hook allowed himself to die. Using Excalibur, he had Emma Swan plunge the sword into his heart, causing it to disintegrate before him. It took a process to even get him to the point where he acknowledged that this was the correct end; specifically, it was a harrowing reminder from Regina of the past acts against his father, and how revenge led him to do something terrible and unnecessary.

We watched Hook die at around the 50-minute mark of the episode, but at that moment, we had a hard time believing that he was actually gone. We just watched “The Walking Dead,” and that taught us to never believe a series regular death. We’re smart to think that in this age of TV, and while we didn’t want to be taught a lesson here, we do hope that at some point a major character actually does die on a show and isn’t revived.

The first 55 minutes were all wonderful, and then we get to the “ugh” part: Rumpelstiltskin is the Dark One, and as it turns out, he actually concocted a way in which to ensure that he got the power back from Killian when he died. This is certainly regurgitation of a familiar story, but we guess a necessary one in order to move the story to its next place: The Underworld. To get Hook back, Emma must travel there … and we have a setup for an epic, romantic second half of the season. We just wish that the road there, especially with Rumple, made a bit more sense given that he seemed to be getting everything back as a hero. Episode Grade: B-.

Assorted odds and ends

1. Don’t you think Regina wanted to say something to Zelena other than “witch” when sending her away? This is a family show, people!

2. Belle certainly took Rumpelstiltskin’s latest lie pretty well … mostly because of the fact that he was selfless towards her for the first time ever.

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