ABC’s Once Upon a Time finally returned after its season five midseason break with the show’s 100th episode titled ‘Souls of the Departed,’ airing on March 6, 2016. Oncers were left to worry about the fate of fan favorite Hook after season five episode 11, and episode 12 found Emma and the Storybrooke gang journeying to the Underworld to try and bring him back. The episode featured the return of familiar characters, many of whom had been leaked prior to the show’s midseason premiere but one in particular took fans completely by surprise. Episode 12 was an emotional roller-coaster, setting up the remainder of the season and introducing a new big bad who’ll be taking on our heroes and trying to thwart their mission in the Underworld.
Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 12 Recap:
Emma (Jennifer Morrison) wakes up in her VW Bug with Neal (a welcome reappearance by Michael Raymond-James!) in the back seat. She asks if she’s dreaming and he says she’s not. “Think of this as a long distance call from an old friend,” says Neal. He wants to know how Henry’s doing and she tells him Henry’s fine, asking if this visit from means she’s made it to the Underworld. No, she’s not there yet he explains and warns her not to go because it’s hard to get out of, telling her it won’t end how she thinks it will. Neal says he’s not in the Underworld because he doesn’t have unfinished business and that he’s someplace where he’s happy. But, he adds, Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) is definitely in the Underworld. She says she has to try to save Hook, and Neal says he loves her – always has, always will. Awwww!
Emma wakes up again and this time she’s with her mom, dad, Regina (Lana Parrilla), Henry (Jared Gilmore), Robin (Sean Maguire), and Gold (Robert Carlyle). They emerge through a fog to a desolate, destroyed version of Storybrooke that’s actually the Underworld, with Gold explaining that everyone there is dead and trapped because they have unfinished business. Just then Emma sees Cruella drive by.
Back in time, it’s the Evil Queen’s birthday and she’s in the forest searching for Snow White. She meets with some of her subjects and one brave young woman presents her with a blueberry pie. Silly girl, doesn’t she know the Evil Queen prefers apple? Queen Regina tells them the only present she wants is Snow White’s heart on a plate. One of the villagers says he knows where Snow is and Regina demands the information. That’s when Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) shows up with the dwarves and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), and the Evil Queen leaves, telling her she’s lucky it’s her birthday and she’s feeling benevolent.
Back at her castle, Queen Regina vows she’ll never give up until she has Snow White’s heart. And in comes yet another character we’ve missed for seasons… Regina’s dad, Prince Henry (Tony Perez), tells her that Cora will always have a hold over her as long as she’s on such a vengeful quest.
In the Underworld, the same villager who told the Evil Queen he knew Snow White’s location tells Cora (Barbara Hershey) Regina is now in the Underworld. Snow walks into the diner and asks the blind witch (Emma Caulfield) behind the counter about Hook. In strides David, roughly kissing Mary Margaret – only he’s not David, he’s James, David’s twin brother! He sends a message to David through Mary Margaret that there’s a new sheriff in town. Emma and Gold arrive and Gold assures them all Hook is definitely there because he died a Dark One. And in walks Henry with a key to Room 8. Henry’s been looking for his dad and Emma tells him Neal’s in a better place but doesn’t say how she came about that bit of information.
Out on the street, Robin and Regina spot the guy from the forest who has apparently been stalking her. He tells Regina someone wants to see her.
Back in time, Queen Regina is counting the reasons she hates Snow White. Prince Henry turns to Sidney Glass (Giancarlo Esposito) in the Magic Mirror and tells him he must do something about his daughter. He asks for Sidney to summon “her” and, wisely, Sidney is definitely not into calling her forth but reluctantly does so anyway. Cora shows up in the mirror and says Regina won’t be happy until she crushes Snow White’s heart, so they must help her do so. Cora steps through the mirror after Regina’s dad leaves, saying Regina needs her help.
In the Underworld, Cora and Regina hug. Cora says she wants Regina be happy and Regina says in order to be happy she has to find Hook so they can leave. Cora tells Regina she has to do what’s best for her, and if she won’t do it for herself, she’ll do it for her daughter. Cora warns her to take Henry and “her thief” and leave immediately. Regina asks what would happen if she stayed, and Cora says she’d have to do what’s best for her child. She takes Regina to a pit of fire and says if Regina doesn’t return to Storybrooke, she’ll send someone she loves into the flames. “Go home or there will be a cost. Someone will suffer,” warns Cora. “Who?” asks Regina. “Your father,” replies Cora.
At his shop, Gold sees the tea cup with a chip and the spinning wheel which is spinning on its own. In a flashback, Gold explains why he has to go to the Underworld to Belle. Returning to now, Gold walks through his shop and opens a safe on the wall. Just then in pops Peter Pan (Robbie Kay), taking Gold by surprise. “Oh, come on, son! Don’t be like that. Aren’t you glad to see your dear old father?” asks Peter. Peter tells Gold to keep looking around the shop for what it is he needs, but in the Underworld this is Peter’s shop. Peter offers Gold what he’s looking for, saying there are no strings attached. Peter misses the world and Gold tells him he can’t go back. Peter says he can if he trades places with a living soul and maybe one of Gold’s party won’t make the trip back and Peter will take his place.
Regina tells Mary Margaret, David, Henry, and Emma that Cora has threatened to throw her father into the fire if she doesn’t leave. David says they won’t leave until they find Hook, but Emma thinks Regina and Henry should go because she’s worried about their safety. Gold shows up with a potion that when poured over Hook’s grave, will raise Hook long enough so that he can tell them where he is. Gold gives the potion to Emma and leaves, saying he’s not staying in this world any longer than he has to.
Back in time, Regina’s dad meets with Snow White, telling her the war cannot continue, but both Prince Henry and Snow have been tricked! Cora grabs Snow’s heart and Regina’s father begs Cora not to take it away. Cora doesn’t listen, sending Snow away under a spell that will keep her from remembering what happened.
At the graveyard, Emma and the gang find Killian Jones’ marker and pour the potion over it. An image of Hook appears but it flickers in and out. He can’t hear Emma and he’s obviously in poor shape. Hook’s suffering and they only have half an hour to retrieve him before the boat sets sail. Emma wants them to leave but her parents won’t. Still, Emma insists Regina and Henry have to leave or else her Regina’s dad will suffer.
Back in time, Queen Regina is pissed and hates her birthday cake and presents. In walks her mom and Regina wants to know how she got out of Wonderland. Cora presents Regina with Snow White’s beating heart. “Crush it and she dies at last,” says Cora. Regina doesn’t believe her and Cora demands the Magic Mirror. Cora asks Sidney to show them Snow White and they see her, along with Robin and the dwarves, toasting the Queen. Regina grips Snow’s heart and in the mirror Snow suffers but it’s not Regina’s action; it’s from Jiminy Cricket emerging from inside her dress. Someone switched the heart and as Regina crushes it, a man in the castle falls dead.
Regina’s dad gave Snow back her heart, and Regina wants to know why he doesn’t want her to be happy. He dad warns her that if she killed Snow she’d be dark forever. Regina tells her dad he betrayed her and he says it doesn’t matter, Snow lives and Regina still has a shot at redemption. She grabs the box from him and uses her magic to make Prince Henry small, placing him in the box.
In Storybrooke, Regina pours the potion over her dad’s grave. He appears and they hug while he tells her he forgives her and that he loves her no matter what. Prince Henry says Cora’s using threats against him to make Regina leave but he wants her to stay. Regina doesn’t want to cause him more pain, but her dad says he wants her to spread hope and do the right thing. He won’t have died in vain if she stays and helps her friends.
Back in time, Cora wants to know where Prince Henry is. Regina tells her he’s in the box and Cora’s impressed with her daughter. Regina still doesn’t like her mother and in pops Sidney and the Magic Mirror, sending Cora back to Wonderland. The portal will seal once she’s gone, says Regina, and she’ll never be able to come back. Unfortunately, right before she goes through the portal, Cora snatches the box containing Prince Henry and takes it with her.
In the Underworld, Cora has Regina’s dad ready to toss into the flames. Regina says she didn’t come back just for her friends and she’s not leaving. Cora tosses Prince Henry into the flames, telling her one day she’ll understand. Regina is heartbroken, crying, but then her dad emerges from the flames unscathed. He doesn’t know what’s happening when suddenly he sees a pathway to a beautiful light! He’s risen from the Underworld and can now pass on to a much more peaceful place. His unfinished business is done, Regina’s free of Cora, and he’s a proud dad. Regina introduces him to her son, Henry, and Henry thanks his grandfather for believing in his mom like he does. Prince Henry thanks him back and tells him to take good care of her. Regina’s dad tells her he loves her and to never forget who she really is as he passes into the light.
Outside, Henry and Regina walk down the street, hugging, and meet up with the group. They figure out that every soul in the town has unfinished business and can be saved. Gold says they’re delusional and wants no part of it. Emma warns him that he has to help or else she’ll tell Belle he’s back to being the Dark One. Gold says their agreement was to find Hook and leave and if they get distracted, then he’s out of there. Gold walks away and Henry asks the group, “So, who’s ready for Operation Firebird?” Once Emma clears up that he’s talking about the mythological bird and not the muscle car, the gang heads off down the street. Regina’s all smiles as the clock ticks off one minute.
But, we haven’t seen the last of Cora. She steps into an elevator and descends. She steps out and sees Hades (Greg Germann) in the middle of a pedicure. He’s disappointed in Cora for not making Regina leave, telling her she completely failed at her mission. Every tick of the clock means a soul has left his domain. He brings up Zelena and reminds her she gave her up so she could claw herself out of her peasant life. He transforms Cora back into a ragged miller’s daughter because she failed at getting Regina to leave. He sends Cora away, looking smug as his hair comes alive with blue flames.
Souls of the Departed Review:
The real highlight of ‘Souls of the Departed’ was the unexpected appearance of Michael Raymond-James as Neal in a scene that reminded Oncers why we miss seeing Raymond-James on Sunday nights. There’s real chemistry between Jennifer Morrison as Emma and Colin O’Donoghue as Hook, but there’s also something special about scenes featuring Morrison and Raymond-James.
The return of Prince Henry provided some of episode 12’s most emotional scenes as he spoke of his undying love for his daughter and his unwavering belief that she’s a good person. The torch was officially passed from Prince Henry to Regina’s son Henry as Regina’s #1 cheerleader. The episode also finished up Prince Henry’s storyline which had been left dangling.
There wasn’t much movement on the Hook front, with barely a glimpse of Colin O’Donoghue in this episode. But despite the fact the gang is no closer to finding Killian, at least now they understand that everyone in the Underworld can be saved. And the introduction of Greg Germann as Hades was a fun little twist at the end of the episode, with Germann playing the character with a cool mixture of charm and evilness.
Season five’s 12th episode not only celebrated the show’s past by bringing back a handful of characters but also set the stage for the season’s second half. It appears the remainder of season five will involve the Storybrooke gang helping the current residents of the Underworld finish up their unfinished business. But, hopefully that doesn’t mean it will take more than few episodes for Hook to reunite with Emma and the Storybrooke crew as his presence is definitely missed.
Once Upon a Time Season 5 Recaps:
- Episode 1 The Dark Swan
- Episode 2 The Price
- Episode 3 Siege Perilous
- Episode 4 The Broken Kingdom
- Episode 5 Dreamcatcher
- Episode 6 Bear and the Bow
- Episode 7 Nimue
- Episode 8 Birth
- Episode 9 The Bear King
- Episode 10 Broken Heart
- Episode 11 Swan Song