‘Once Upon a Time’ Season 5 Episode 19 Recap: Sisters

Once Upon a Time Season 5 episode 19 Lana Parrilla
Lana Parrilla in ‘Once Upon a Time’ (Photo by Jack Rowand / ABC)

ABC’s Once Upon a Time season five episode 18 introduced a touching love story, but episode 19 titled ‘Sisters’ centered the action around two sets of warring siblings. The title should have been ‘Brothers and Sisters,’ as David’s forced into dealing with his evil twin who’s holding a massive grudge. The sisters at the heart of the story are, of course, Regina and Zelena, but in this episode a huge secret’s revealed about their very first meeting – something that’s surprisingly never been talked about until this episode.

The focus was on the siblings and the continuing bizarre love story between Hades and Zelena, with most of the Storybrooke gang getting limited use in this particular episode. Barbara Hershey returns as Cora and Victoria Smurfit’s back as Cruella, but Henry (Jared Gilmore) was completely absent from this episode, Emilie de Ravin’s Belle had a two minute scene, and Snow’s off in the normal Storybrooke so Ginnifer Goodwin’s temporarily out of the picture.

The Recap:

Hades (Greg Germann) takes Zelena (Rebecca Mader) for a romantic date in a graveyard, complete with a picnic basket and a shovel. A fire burns in an open grave while the two sip wine. They look out over the Underworld version of Storybrooke and Hades promises he’ll take her to the real thing once his heart beats again. He doesn’t care about anything but a future with her. Zelena reminds him her sister and her do-gooder friends wouldn’t want to share Storybrooke with Lord Death and the Wicked Witch, but Hades wants to leave them in the Underworld while the two of them live a merry life in the real Storybrooke. And, Hades reveals he’s actually written all of their names on tombstones now so they are all stuck down there for eternity! Hades kneels at Zelena’s feet and asks if she’ll “make chaos” with him. Awww, how romantic.

Regina (Lana Parrilla) confronts Zelena once she returns home from her date, with Regina admitting she spied on Zelena’s date using a magic mirror. They argue over lack of privacy, Zelena not saying no to Hades’ chaos question, and what’s best for Zelena in the long run. Zelena points out Robin (Sean Maguire) used to be a thief but he’s changed, but Regina points out Zelena wants to redeem the god of death. That’s definitely comparing apples to oranges, but Zelena doesn’t care. Zelena tells her to knock it off; she knows Regina doesn’t care about her and that she never wanted a sister.

Flashback to the Enchanted Forest and Regina playing with a doll while Cora (Barbara Hershey) apologizes for not having time for her. Regina really wants her to play, but Cora is just too busy. Then after Cora leaves, Regina spots a key sticking out of a lock in a drawer. She opens the drawer and the box inside and removes a wand. Dancing with it, she points it at her doll and declares, “You can be my sister.” She’s knocked out after casting the spell (which doesn’t work) and Cora and Henry rush in, with Cora apologizing for not taking the key with her. Now Regina can’t wake up until someone in her family who hasn’t harmed her uses magic to wake her up.

Back in the hellish version of Storybrooke, Regina tells the gang Zelena’s in love. Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) says they have to stop her and Regina asks if he means to kill her. Hook says he’ll do what it takes, but Regina warns any action will get messy. David (Josh Dallas) suggests they just keep Hades and Zelena apart, but Regina says the only person who can put a stop to their love is their mother.

Over at Gold’s shop, Rumple (Robert Carlyle) tends to Belle (Emilie de Ravin) who’s currently in a deep sleep. She can’t hear him but he tells her he’s going to do things his way and that means he’ll be using dark magic to save their baby.

Deep in Hades’ prison, Cora’s being punished with hard labor when she finds Hook’s hook among the wheat she’s supposed to be milling. She uses it to cut off her bracelet, enabling her to do magic again and escape the guards. Hook’s there to greet her, she returns his hook, and they both head off to help Regina.

Many years ago in the land of Oz, Cora spies on a young Zelena as she’s collecting wood for a fire. As she’s watching, Zelena performs magic, making the wood stack itself. Her father sees it happen and yells at her to never use her powers. He picks up a switch and is about to hit her when he freezes. Cora did it and Zelena is amazed, asking her if she’s a good witch or a bad witch. Cora laughs, says she’s a good witch (oh that Cora, what a kidder!), and tells her her powers are a gift. Cora asks for her help and Zelena agrees to go with her.

Back in the Underworld, David comes face to face with his twin brother James. He demands to be called Prince James and David really wants to talk, but James is pissed because David stole his glory. James tells David he’s going to pay, knocking out his brother so he can take over his life.

James (pretending to be David) shows up at home with groceries, and Emma shows him a photo that James identifies as from a birthday. It was from an anniversary…nice try, James. Emma doesn’t seem to care that he misidentified it and off they go to rendezvous with Robin.

Regina apologizes to Cora for not rescuing her sooner. She also tells Cora Hades has written their names on tombstones and that he’s planning on escaping to Storybrooke. Cora’s confused because Hades can’t leave, but Regina reminds her he can if he restarts his heart with true love’s kiss. Zelena can do it and Cora’s surprised Zelena is even in the Underworld. Cora tells Regina Zelena’s in danger because Hades can’t be changed by something as “simple as love.” So, how do they stop Hades? Cora says they have to make Zelena forget Hades ever existed.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Cora returns to Regina with Zelena in tow. She kicks Henry out of the room and is about to read Zelena the instructions on how to revive Regina, but Zelena begins without needing Cora to read the spell. Zelena’s wanted to use her magic to save someone and the spell just came to her. When Regina wakes up, Zelena introduces herself.

In the Underworld, Cora and Regina collect water from a spring fed by the river of forgetfulness. One drop should make Zelena forget Hades, and Cora tells Regina there was a spring like this back by their estate in the Enchanted Forest when Regina was a child. Zelena’s mad at Regina so Regina’s not sure how she’ll get her to drink water, but Cora thinks she’ll let them in if it means Zelena will finally get to meet her mother.

Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and James, who’s acting weird and clearly doesn’t know everything going on in his brother’s life, meet up with Robin in the woods. Robin has his baby and Emma and James give him the grocery bag full of supplies, including diapers. Emma also gives him the update on Regina and Zelena, and Robin wants to help but Emma tells him to stay and take care of his daughter. James then slaps a magic-binding bracelet on Emma and pulls a gun on Robin. Emma figures out he’s actually James and then Cruella drives up, wondering why everything the gang does has to do with meeting in the woods. She slugs Emma in the face for killing her and Emma asks Cruella what she wants. It’s simple: she wants out of this dreadful place. Since Henry won’t do it, she’ll have to have Hades help her. She’ll get him to do that by using Zelena and Robin’s baby as leverage. Robin shoots James in the chest with an arrow, but it can’t hurt him because he’s already dead.

Once Upon a Time Season 5 episode 19
Rebecca Mader, Barbara Hershey, and Lana Parrilla in ‘Once Upon a Time’ (Photo by Jack Rowand / ABC)

Zelena’s at home staring at the dead flower Hades gave her when Cora knocks on the door. Zelena immediately recognizes her as her mother, and although Zelena tries to remain strong she lets Cora in.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Regina and Zelena are playing dress up. They’re in makeup with tiaras and Cora’s dresses, having a good time and just being kids when Zelena spots the box that used to hold Cora’s wand. She opens it and Regina’s immediately suspicious – it’s sealed with blood magic and only a relative should have been able to open it. That’s when Regina figures out Zelena is really, truly her sister. They grab the box and run to ask Cora if they’re sisters, but Cora overheard the whole discussion.

Back in the Underworld, Zelena asks if Cora is there because Regina wanted her help. Cora lies and says she’s not helping Regina and that Zelena is only trying to fill the whole in her heart Cora made when she abandoned her as a baby. Zelena claims to be over all that but Cora doesn’t believe her. Cora knows Zelena wants to know if she regrets her decision to give her away, and Cora says of course she’s sorry. “I thought it would be the best for you…for me, and I was wrong,” admits Cora. Cora tells her she can’t leave the Underworld because both Zelena and Regina are her unfinished business. Cora offers to get Zelena water and gets a glass from Regina who’s hiding in another room. Zelena seems touched by everything Cora said, but it turns out she knew Cora was actually faking her apology. Zelena knows there’s something in the water and she knows Regina is listening in. Zelena screams at them about never caring about what happened to her.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Regina and Zelena find Cora and ask about the box and why Zelena could open it. Cora tells them they’re sisters and Regina wants to know why she didn’t tell them. “If she’s my sister, shouldn’t we be a family?” asks Regina. Regina really wants a sister but Cora’s disappointed she would want a sibling. Cora tells her she can only depend on herself and sometimes that will mean she has to make hard decisions. Regina points out that Zelena saved her life, but Cora says if people find out about Zelena then any chance of Regina finding a good husband will be out the window. Regina doesn’t care about that – she just wants a sister to love. The guards come and haul Zelena away, with both girls screaming. Regina yells, “Don’t worry, Zelena. No matter what she does we’re sisters and nothing can change that. I will find you! I promise!” Cora says that’s not going to happen because she’s going to make both girls forget this ever happened.

In the Underworld, Zelena prepares to take down Regina, telling her they’ll never be on the same side. Regina prepares to fight back when Cora says, “Enough,” extinguishing the flames in Regina and Zelena’s hands. Cora says they should hate her, taking their hands and allowing them to learn the part of their history that Cora had wiped away with magic. Both Regina and Zelena are crying after being able to relive their shared memories. Cora thought love was weakness and admits she was a fool. She points out that Regina is so strong that she stayed in the Underworld to help her father and her friends, that strength came from the people she loves. Cora then speaks to Zelena, telling her she’s incredibly sorry for everything. Zelena wonders if it’s too late for her to find love, and Cora says it’s never too late for family.

Meanwhile, James and Cruella are prepared to kill Emma and Robin by shooting them and throwing them off the docks. Just in time David shows up and slugs his brother. Hook gets the gun while Cruella runs and hides, leaving brother to face brother. They circle each other and David tells James he can help him move on and find some peace. James says killing David is his unfinished business and when Emma tries to help, David tells her he’s got it. They’re fairly evenly matched until James whips out a concealed knife. David still gets the better of him as he launches James into the river. “Despite everything, he was my brother,” says David, regretfully.

Zelena and Regina accompany Cora to see if she can cross into the light like Regina’s father was able to do. Cora says no matter what, knowing she brought the two of them together is all the peace she needs. Cora hugs Regina and then embraces Zelena, and everyone is crying. She tells them she loves them and heads across the bridge, not knowing what awaits her. As she walks over the fires of Hell, a flame engulfs her but then a bright light appears and she heads toward it with a huge smile on her face. Regina tells Zelena she has another love to find, and she sends Zelena off to find Hades.

Hades sets out a romantic dinner for two at the diner and Zelena watches him from outside. Rumple stops her before she enters the diner, telling her he wants to talk about the sleeping curse she gave Belle. Zelena reminds him they have a deal, and Rumple tells her he’s got another deal that he wasn’t going to take until she gave that potion to Belle. Up walks Peter Pan and Rumple introduces him to Zelena as his father. “I hear you’re wicked. Well, I’m much worse,” says Pan, throwing a bag over her head.

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