‘Once Upon a Time’ season 5, episode 12 review: ‘Souls of the Departed’ a great Lana Parrilla showcase

Souls of the Departed -100 episodes ago, a show premiered on ABC in “Once Upon a Time” that did a few magical things. It presented you with some of that fairy-tale flair that viewers of all ages still crave, but it also did more than that. It gave you an opportunity to see some great storytelling anchored by interesting characters and a premise that was incredibly strong: A town full of people from other worlds who were oblivious to their true identity.

As much as we’ve enjoyed the past few seasons at times, there has still been something a little missing here and there. Specifically, parts of the past eleven episodes have felt rudderless; while we knew we had the Dark Swan story, at the same exact time it was not entirely clear what the purpose was. The time frame was confusing and the whole story really just felt like a half-measure. We’re glad to be in the Underworld now, even if none of the characters are beyond the desire to save Hook.

The most remarkable thing that the series has done to date in regards to this story is that they have made matters just about as simple and straightforward as they could possibly be. The Underworld is for people with unfinished business, and if you complete said business, you leave; meanwhile, if you do something wrong you can get punished further by being sentenced to the show’s version of Hell. By the way, the take on Heaven and Hell here was moving and rather outstanding. Much of it was told through the story of Cora and Prince Henry. She operated as a sort of liaison to who turned out to be Hades, whose objective seems to be to keep everyone in his world as long as possible. We don’t know his particular motive for this yet, but he’s scare enough that we don’t need everything spelled out in some sort of ridiculous manner just yet.

Cora ultimately tried to use Regina upon her arrival as a means to enforce her own agenda, which was in turn Hades’ as a part of a deal they struck. However, she went against that and continued to show she had turned over a new leaf. She helped show the Prince that what she had learned from him, as told via flashbacks, had actually stuck around in her head. Henry’s scene of passing on, coupled with him meeting the younger Henry, may be one of the strongest scenes on the show in years. Lana Parrilla was brilliant handling the weight of the 100th episode, giving us so much tenderness and showing the character’s evolution.

Did we wonder where in the world Robin Hood was at times in here? Definitely.

The upcoming episodes feel structured almost in a way similar to the first season, where there is an endgame but in order to achieve it, our heroes must help people along the way. We love this. It brings back familiar faces, gives you some nostalgia, and also it gives us a chance to focus on almost everyone. Rumpelstiltskin’s clearly not a fan of all this, but that makes some sense given that he’s been forced to deal with Peter Pan.

Other than the case of the missing Robin, the only other thing we didn’t really like was Hades’ blue hair. It looks cheesy, and it was the one example tonight of the show trying to be too much like the Disney movies. It doesn’t need that, since this really had us choked up and thoroughly entertained all its. 100 episodes in, and “Once Upon a Time” still showed it had some magic left. Grade: A-.

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