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Once Upon a Time – Devil’s Due – Review

I feel as though this half of the season is moving slower. It’s well paced, don’t get me wrong, but season 5B seems to be taking its time to tease out the lore of Once Upon a Time. Again in this episode the flashbacks provide a way of filling in the blanks for long time fans. In this episode we learned how Milah met Hook and what finally motivated her to leave Rumple. Also, there was a bit in there about why Rumpelstiltskin as the Dark One was so obsessed with getting a baby from young Cora. I appreciate learning these facts even though I don’t find them a hundred percent necessary. Like I’ve said before they are almost like treats for long time viewers. The Underworld bits from “Devil’s Due” moved rather slowly and I was quite surprised Hook was rescued not only this early in the season, but within the first half hour or so of the episode. What “Devil’s Due” provided most was curiosity for its audience. Where is all this going, why is Hades so focused on our heroes, and how will everyone leave the Underworld? Or more importantly, will everyone leave?

The episode begins right where we left off, with Hades trying to command Hook to condemn three of his friends in exchange for the souls that had already been released from the Underworld. Hook is still defiant, so the Lord of the Underworld switches tactics and dangles the pirate over the River of Lost Souls. He’s less interested in getting Hook to do his bidding and more invested in punishing everyone. I appreciate that Hades is trying to stamp out the hope he sees in Hook’s eyes, what with hope being the antithesis of the Underworld. Our heroes’ very presence and meddling brought hope to that realm and have begun to throw things out of balance. Perhaps Hades is worried about losing his grip on the Underworld. Also, I got a strong “Pirates of the Caribbean” vibe from the trip down the River of Lost Souls. I mean the Disney Parks ride, not the movie, what with the “keep your hands and feet inside at all times” line and the writing over the entrance to Hades’ inner sanctum, which can also be found on the ride. This quote is from Dante’s Inferno, so double points to Once Upon a Time for including it.

While Hook dangles like a worm on a… hook over the deadly river, Emma and our heroes are still devising a plan to rescue him. Rumple had been out of action, hiding in his shop, but unbeknownst to the rest of the Storybrooke crew, the shop was officially bequeathed to him by Peter Pan. Also, Rumple used his voodoo to cook up a crystal ball and was startled that it showed him Belle of all people. The significance of this comes out at the end of the episode and I have mixed feelings about it. Rumple rejoins the rest of our heroes, who learned from Megara some details of Hook’s imprisonment. However the Dark One scoffs at their plan to go in swords blazing. No, Rumple has a sneakier way of gaining entrance, one that requires the help of an old friend.

Soon we find Rumple confronting Milah, whose task in the Underworld is to keep children safe as a crossing guard. Very fitting for a woman who abandoned her child. She is skeptical about helping Rumple and even more disgusted when she learns who Emma is. It is rather funny how Rumple nonchalantly introduces Milah to the woman who has been with both her son and her former lover. One of my favorite running jokes in Once Upon a Time is just how twisted the Storybrooke family tree has become. When you take a step back and look at how everyone is related you can’t help but laugh. On the same note, one of the show’s main themes is family and we’ve seen these characters grow closer and closer as the seasons have gone on. Dysfunctional, yes, but they are all ultimately bound together which makes it so hard to see some of Rumpelstiltskin’s actions in this episode.

Emma, Rumple, and Milah find the entrance to the Underworld in Emma’s dream house. Again, the details in the Underworld are magnificent as we see the cradle and mobile from Emma’s lost childhood, parked in the front hall. Only here is it dusty with neglect and covered in spider webs. There is something so haunting about that tableau just sitting in the middle of the foyer, waiting for them. Milah, Rumple, and Emma descend into the inner heart of the Underworld. Milah is keen on helping as she wants to see Hook again. I really enjoyed Milah’s characterization in this episode. She was never the best, most thoughtful person and had made many selfish choices, but you can see that her time in the Underworld has caused her to reflect on her decisions.

This would be a good time to talk about the flashback portion of the episode. The Milah in these parts strongly contrast to the woman we see helping Emma. Milah is disgusted with Rumple and here we see just what pushed her to finally abandon him. Aside from meeting a dashing young pirate who tells tales of far off lands where women are treated like royalty, Rumple loses Milah because he makes his of many deals and promises his future second child in exchange for medicine to save young Baelfire. At first I saw Rumple’s actions as logical, but hearing Milah’s side of things, of how her future has already been decided for her, I realized just how wrong Rumple’s actions were and sympathized with Milah. It’s very interesting how complex Once Upon a Time has made this side character. On one hand Milah abandoned her responsibilities and family making her a disreputable character, and on the other she felt trapped in a cage by the actions of another and sought her own happy ending.

In the present day, while Rumple and Milah wait in the boat for Emma to retrieve Hook, it comes out that Milah’s unfinished business isn’t the pirate, as previously thought due to her willingness to help, but her son. Milah does regret her actions and longs to move on and see Baelfire happy and in a better place. Unfortunately, this will never happen. Hades appears and tempts Rumple with a deal. The Lord of the Underworld is a big fan of the Dark One’s “work” and offers him a way to leave. All Rumple has to do is betray his friends. I’m not surprised Rumple took Hades up on this offer, destroying the boat and flinging Milah into the River of Lost Souls. The latter action was harsh, though wonderfully shot. I would have bet Milah would have been the next soul to ascend thanks to the Storybrooke heroes. No, what surprised me the most was that even though Rumple made the selfish choice as he’s always done, he truly seemed sickened and full of regret at his actions. There might be hope for him yet, but his going back and forth and constantly betraying the rest of the Storybrooke team is starting to wear thin. There are only so many times he can be forgiven.

While waiting for Emma to retrieve Hook, Regina has a bit of a side quest all her own. She manages to track down Cruella, whose lurking about anti-Granny’s gave me a laugh. Cruella being de facto mayor after Cora was knocked down a peg means she was able to provide Regina with very intriguing information about the Underworld headstones. It’s interesting that Cruella being mayor isn’t seen as more of a threat, but given her confrontation with Henry in the previous episode, Cruella’s new position might prove to be a hindrance for our heroes. I suspect she might further paint herself as an ally, then double cross them all in the end. What Regina was looking for was her first love’s headstone. She is relieved that its position signals Daniel has gone to a better place, but filled with sadness that she wasn’t able to see him one last time. And, on the way back, we see that the former evil queen’s magic has returned, as it hadn’t been working well since they arrived in the Underworld. Now, while I am touched and pleased that Regina chose Snow White to come along with her to seek out Daniel’s headstone, this whole side adventure felt out of place. I assume we are building up to something for future episodes and planting the seeds for something big in the finale, but I feel that Regina has made peace over and over again with Daniel’s death, so why do it again here?

Eventually, Emma saves Hook and our heroes gather. With the boat destroyed they have no way of getting home, but hope still remains with this group. First order of business though is to split Emma’s heart to give half to Hook so he can leave the Underworld. Only Emma’s heart can’t be taken. At first I believed this to be some sort of savior-related loophole, but we soon see that Hades had been busy. Making Hook chose which of his friends’ names to carve on the headstones was just a way for the Lord of the Underworld to toy with the pirate. Hades has already taken it upon himself to pick who will stay by carving Emma, Snow White, and Regina’s names on the tombstones. I’m curious as to why he picked these three. Does he see them as the greatest threats or is it because they were the ones who were responsible for those souls moving on?

Later on, Rumple goes to cash in on his deal with Hades. The Dark One destroyed the boat and covered the evidence by banishing Milah, so now he wants to go home. However, Rumple’s past comes back to bite him. That deal he made, the one promising his second born son in exchange for the medicine, the very deal that snapped Milah’s resolve and drove her away, still exists even though Rumple eventually murdered the man he made the deal with. And now that man has signed over the deal to Hades. And Hades, apparently having eyes and ears all over the Underworld, knows why Rumple was so startled to see Belle in the crystal ball. Rumple was using it to try and see his child, only instead of showing Baelfire, it showed his wife. Belle, though unaware, is pregnant with the Dark One’s second child. So, unfortunately, Hades can cash in on that deal whenever he wants and because of this he now has a pet Dark One at his beck and call. Rumple is not to be trusted by our heroes because there is no way he will do anything to lose another child or push Belle away again. At least, I hope there isn’t.

Now, I am not a fan of another pregnancy on this show. I understand the actress was pregnant in real life, but there are also Snow White’s and Zelena’s babies being looked after in Storybrooke. It’s difficult to work with babies on a television show which means you can’t show them often and from a story telling point of view, having the children and not seeing them is a bit odd. It would be interesting to see if when our heroes do return from the Underworld, time has moved on without them and there is a new generation of young heroes waiting for Emma and the rest. However, I believe it was established that time runs parallel in both realms. I have faith in the writers that they will handle this well, but I would have liked if they had wrapped up the Robin Hood/Zelena/Regina baby situation before moving on to this.

Tune in next week for “The Brothers Jones”!

About the Author – Ashley B
Ashley is as serious as a sleeping curse when she says television is her life. Professional event planner, avid movie viewer, convention enthusiast, and resident sass master, Ashley writes reviews for ABC's Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and Galavant, as well as Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. She looks forward each week to the weird and wonderful world her favorite television programs provide.
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