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Once Upon a Time - The Price + Siege Perilous - Double Review: "What They've Became"

The Price

The season premiere started off with plenty of promises for an intense, fun and inventive season of Once Upon a Time. One of the things that made the 4th season finale so memorable was the heroes and villains role reversal, and to a degree this season is keeping in that theme with the reversal of the roles of Emma and Regina: once an evil queen and the major villain of OUAT, Regina is now taking the role of the savior. Once the savior and hope of it all, Emma is now the dark one, the big bad of the season (or of season 5A at the very least).

It feels like the show has been able to find yet another path to keep things fresh: while the new villains and plot points were always done in creative and unique manners, it did feel like the show was sticking with a formula: have Emma beat a big bad every season (or half season). Now, the show has shuffled the deck and plays the cards differently, allowing for the viewers to have a refreshed view on the show. But is it working? So far, I’d say yes.

Regina’s quest for happiness and road to become a hero was one of her main character arc during season 3 and 4, an amazing development that led to the complex heroine character we have today. And while it seems happiness is finally within her reach with Robin and Henry on her side, her past still haunts her and she wonders if she can ever leave it behind and become the fully fleshed savior she wants to be, and more importantly, the one she wants everyone to believe she can be. The episode points out to a clear yes, but the road is just beginning.

As much as I have loved Emma and Regina’s friendship, this re-ignited rivalry between the two of them as they switch roles is just an amazing treat: Jennifer Morrison is having lots of fun as the Dark Swan while Lana Parrilla keeps proving that she does outstanding work leading the drama on the show with her conflicted nature. The doubts that Regina portrays and try to push onto Emma causes one of the most interesting exchanges between the two of them:

Emma: You want to save Robin Hood? You want everyone to believe you’re the savior? Then step up and do what needs to be done!
For long, Regina has been guiding the blame towards others, even while recognizing her cruel deeds that has been a character flaw that has been kept and brought up from time to time, and by being called out Regina is finally able to confront it and undergo her savior evolution.

Her sacrifice to save Robin from the Fury is noble, but the “Guardians of the Galaxy” rip off with everyone holding hands to make sure Regina doesn’t die feels both silly and cheesy to say the least, and not in the way OUAT usually makes it work (and why the hell did Arthur rushed into helping?). What would be interesting though, is that the Fury actually took a little bit of life of everyone, making their life span shorter, but that’s yet to be seen or explained (if ever).

Another strong moment worth mentioning is Regina’s visit to Rumple’s: she is crying as she tells him off for creating the evil queen, for leading her on the path of darkness, as she says she is going to prove him wrong. It’s a very strong moment both acting and story wise, as both actress and character showcase how much damaged Regina is and how much she wants to course correct.

Now the flashback on Camelot was pretty slow paced, and I’m slightly uninterested on them, to be honest. I’m much more eager to see Dark Swan and Savior Regina in Storybrooke figuring out their new roles, but we are due to see Emma’s transformation into the dark one, and so far so good.

Merlin is trapped in a tree (as the legend go) and Regina is taking on the savior’s mantle so that Emma doesn’t have to use dark magic to free him. We can see that this is already messing up with Emma, as being the savior has been part of her identity pretty much since season 1; even when she didn’t believe it, she was always called that and she became one, so seeing Regina taking up the mantle it’s a strong hit. She understands why, she even thanks Regina for doing what’s best for her, but still it hurts, and it is obvious that it is changing her perception of herself.

And while trying out to figure out how to free Merlin, what’s the best time killer on Camelot? A ball, of course. It’s sweet to see Regina bonding with the Charmings as they teach her how to dance (did Regina seriously not know that?) and their reassurance that she can be the savior shows how far they have came and how much closer they have become through the series.

Henry is given something to do with a teen crush, which hopefully won’t translate into teen angst territory later on, but hey, at least now we know that Henry listens to Yazoo’s “Only You”, which makes him a much more likeable character (extra cool points to OUAT for triggering a Fringe flashback on my mind, twice).

Finally, things get more interesting as Regina is discovered by Percival (by the way, what a way to kill such a potentially cool character! His story is amazing!) and he tries to kill her, but ends up wounding Robin instead (who, is always at the edge of death on this show). At this point Regina is so desperate that she asks (but does not command) Emma to save him which magic, which she does. And even though she doesn’t want to admit it yet, the power feels good, as the image of Rumple tells her; slowly, but surely, she is giving in to the darkness.

Both the flashback and present day Storybrooke do a pretty good job on portraying the new status quo of the show and how we got here: the flashback sets the ground for how it all came to happen and the present day storyline shows us just how much these dynamics have changed. Emma has been fully consumed by darkness now, but she still wants to have it all: she still wants to have Henry by her side, and Hook as her boyfriend.

Talking of which, it’s nice to see Hook not letting himself be fooled by Emma and see him so desperate to get her back. Their relationship felt very natural and nice on season 4 and it’s come to a place in which Hook is being constantly tested as the temptation of having Emma as it is right now shows up at every corner, and it’s an interesting place for the character to be.

All in all “The Price” have its share of faults and flaws, but it mostly gives hopes for what it seems a very promising season 5A. The new dynamics are fresh, the storylines are clicking, and it just has some kinks to work out: some pacing issues, the saccharine and cheesiness of beating the Fury, some dialogue worth improving, but as a whole, a strong episode altogether.

Grade: B+

Siege Perilous

Siege Perilous has plenty of stuff going for it, but overall I didn’t like it as much as the previous episode. By now you know I’m a hardcore Regina fan, and a… um, not so much of a fan of David/Charming, so the bias is pretty clear. However, to the credit of this episode (and to the amazing retooling season 4 did with David), the Charmings didn’t feel as bland as they did back in the day, and it feels like David is getting some real character treatment this time around, so that’s something worth recognizing.

The main question this episode asks is if David is actually needed, that is what he is doubting as he tries to help out in any way he can. It’s a fair and very much needed question since the show has relentlessly gave the advantage to the magical character, while the non magical ones have found themselves nearly useless for the past few seasons.

One line of dialogue that really stuck with me is when David says “I don’t want to only be remembered as the man who kissed a sleeping princess to break free from a sleeping curse.”. One of the most important things done on season 4 on the heroes front was showing their vulnerabilities, making them more human like. Any time the show decides to give David a moment of insight that actually makes him resemble a human being I’m glad, because it shows that the writers actually want to do some work with the character rather than toss it aside and use him only for plot demands. It’s important we get to know more of him.

Which is why I appreciate every moment we spend with him on this episode, especially the ones when he reveals his doubts. He tells Snow that he feels useless, and she tries to comfort him by telling him he is doing the best he can (not the best pep talk ever). David’s eager to help is coming from a place of doubt and self worth issues rather than just doing the right thing, which makes for a much more interesting place for the character to be than just… well, doing the right thing just because.

Meanwhile, Emma and Hook share the most awkward lunch ever, as Emma tries (and fails) to convince Hook that things between them can still go smoothly, that they can be happy as Belle and Rumple were (though we know where that ended up last season), and thankfully Hook is not buying it.

Even when Emma is putting on a nice show for him the darkness is obvious to both Hook and the viewers: I like that this scene actually highlights the character development Hook has gone through from villian to hero. Just like Regina, his past looms over his shoulder, but it also allows him to see recognize darkness when he sees it, which is going to be key in order to help get Emma back. It’s also a continuous test as he must resist temptation and it’s getting to interesting place, we just need to move from the dating attempt settings to something more intense now.

Back in Camelot, Arthur and David bond a lot as they see they have many things in common (except for the fact that Arthur is probably evil, but more and that later) and it’s nice to see them broing out, giving David an actual friend to relate to, which is important for his character. The only issues with their scenes in Camelot is the pacing issues and the predictability of the events while getting the Toadstool.

The same can be said on Storybrooke: nothing really interesting happens on the front of catching the thief among the Camelot soldiers, not up until Arthur is revealed to be up to no good (first by a warning coming from Lancelot, and then by him giving his soldier poison to drink and vanish, very effective way to dispose a corpse). The chase scene with the car is silly and it doesn’t add up intensity or anything, it just happens (and somehow Arthur gets the jist of driving very fast).

The episode works best when it is developing characters rather than when it’s doing stuff. The execution of the action is both predictable and boring, but the dynamics keep the motors running. And having Emma kidnapping Rumple by the end only spice things up.

There’s lot of ground covered by this episode: David is given the chance to show his fears and doubts and prove to himself that there is something that he can do even when he doesn’t have magic to face threats. It is the exploration and development of his character that make the episode work, as he is allowed to step out of the blandness a become a more relatable character.

Grade: B

Stray Observations:

-Sorry about the delay with these reviews: got caught up on some stuff on my life, but now I sorted it out and they should come up much earlier. I want to keep the nice streak of posting these reviews in time that I had last season!

-“Who’s gonna save us if we stay? You?”
Regina’s death stare activated.

-Snow: “I am not so dressed for this.”

-Zelena: “Take these off or I tell Arthur that you invited the dark one…”
Regina: “What’s that sis? I can’t hear you.”
Regina wins 500 awesome points.

-It would have been more interesting if Emma perceived that both Henry and Hook failed her, but oh well, I guess that would have been a little too much to ask.

-Regina: “These toy soldiers. I could kill them all with a wave of my hand.”
Snow: “Regina!”
Regina: “Well, I don’t mean I will.”
That made me chuckle so much!

-Regina is overly reliant on her fireballs. I would like to see her use some other kind of magic, but it’s her trademark move, so I’ll give it a pass. Although she could’ve grabbed Robin and teleported when she first fought the Fury.

-Snow: “You need to let someone look at you?”
Couldn’t Regina just heal herself with magic? I’ve seen her done that before. Oh well, plot demands.

-Snow: “Maybe you should go for something a bit less evil?”
I laughed, but I also wondered, why did Regina thought that would be a good outfit? I smell fanservice was inserted here.

-Emma: “You know it’s customary to bring a gift for a housewarming. Maybe a nice bottle of wine?”

-Emma: “Something I learned as the Dark One. Your name is on something, hold on to it.”

-How do you figure out someone’s handwriting from a question mark?

-Emma: “You guys are sure you don’t want me to wiggle my nose and get him out of that tree?”

-Regina: “You are occasionally a genius.”
I love the emphasis on occasionally.

-David: “A mushroom.”
Regina: “Toadstool, actually.”
Super Mario flashback!

-Regina: “Dwarfs are your department, I’ll stay on this.”

-Regina’s talk with Zelena about the fate of her baby and her own fate actually brought back the evil queen spark. She may be on the road to savior, but somethings never change.

-I soooo would love to see Snow with a bow and arrow again. It’s been sad that she has been mostly sidelined in battle because she has to take care of baby Neal.

About the Author - Pablo
I'm currently studying Psychology while also writing fantasy books (one already published in my home country, Chile, you can check it out on the facebook icon). I watch many different types of shows, including my favorites Revenge, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time and about 23 more. Currently writing reviews for Once Upon a Time, The 100 and the upcoming Supergirl
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