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Once Upon a Time - Souls of the Departed - Roundtable for the upcoming 100th episode

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As the beloved 5 year old fantasy drama, Once Upon a Time, is about to air its 100th episode, the show’s 2 reviewers, Ashley Benson and Pablo Troncoso, decided to approach the episode’s preview in a different manner than usual: instead of just publishing a standard preview a roundtable was made, with questions that covers different areas of the episodes, expectations, performances, delivery and thoughts for the future, to try give you, the loyal readers, a wider point of view to approach the series landmark that is the show’s 100th episode.

Without further ado, here are the questions and the show’s reviewers answers:

Did “Souls of the Departed” live up to your expectations as the 100th episode of Once Upon a Time, and important landmark for a series?
AB: I believe it did. Part of me wanted a two-hour episode to further explore the Underworld, but the writers used the hour format every well. Everything was well-paced and tight, yet left us wanting more, a perfect introduction to this half of season 5. Also, the guest stars were well used. Often when you bring in former cast members for special events like this, it can be jarring to throw them into the plot after their individual stories wrapped up, but each cameo served a purpose and opened more doors for character development with our main cast.

PT: I think the episode does a good job of celebrating the start of season 5B along with reminding us that the show has gone for 100 episodes now. The plot move forwards and the characters take their first steps in readying their quest to recover Hook, but it also takes its time to remember that the show has a past, that 99 episodes have gone by and everything that has happened is important. In a way, it feels as if Once Upon a Time was trying to relive every single season so far with, and as thus it truly feels like a landmark for the series, as the show self reflects on its history while moving forward. It’s not only a look backwards, but also a compromise to keep working on these characters and their stories. So yeah, it did live up to my expectations.

What are your thoughts on this introduction to the Underworld?
AB: I love the way it looks, the Underworld is incredible eerie and hostile. I thought it was very smart to see Storybrooke used in such a way, not just from a production stand point, but a story-telling one as well. Obviously, it’s easier to use established sets and locations, but more than that it’s more engaging to the viewer to make an underworld we haven’t seen before, instead of the usual fire, brimstone and river Styx we’ve seen so often in popular culture. Long time viewers have created an emotional connection with this town in Maine, so to see it as a dangerous place causes viewers to be on their guard, just like our fairy tale heroes. Regina and Robin have an interesting exchange about the nature of the Underworld that I hope is further explored as season 5b progresses. Rules have been established for the Underworld and I want to see if they are upheld and how they might be thwarted by our heroes.

PT: While some people may think it is convenient for the show to just use an eerie version of Storybrooke (and it actually is convenient, since it saves some budget costs), I think it’s also a smart way to approach the unfinished business everyone has had in their time on Storybrooke. The sky is red, the clock tower is destroyed, every symbol of hope is dyed in hostile lights or outright destroyed, representing how the fairy tale characters connected to this town or the enchanted forest or any realm find it hard to achieve peace or to grasp hope. And that’s what makes it so compelling: our heroes are essentially trapped in a darker version of their town, in which hope seems all but lost, so now they are they ones who must bring it. I think it makes for a good setting.

We are introduced to Hades in this episode, what do you think of Once Upon a Time’s interpretation of him?
AB: Without giving too much away for our viewers, I think he is dangerous and I enjoy his portrayal. Greg Germann makes the character his own, and I admit I was skeptical at his casting, but after seeing the 100th episode, I want to see more of this character and his plans for our heroes. If Once Upon a Time excels at one thing it’s creating a villain that you want to see onscreen all time. I do hope this character isn’t over used; from what we’ve seen, less is more when it comes to this villain.

PT: I won’t give much away, except that we get to see Hades for just a little chunk of time. It’s hard to make much out of that, but Greg Germann actually gave a good first impression. There’s a malicious vibe to his character that totally fits Hades and, as Ashley said, he makes the character his own, with his own mannerism and a recognizable way of speaking that sets him apart from other villains the show have had. I think he is having fun playing Hades and it shows; hopefully the writing team will give him good material to shine.

How do you feel about the flashback portion of this episode?
AB: It was a little flashback heavy. We spent a lot of time in the past rather than the Underworld, and I’m surprised on the whole that this is a Regina-centric episode, though the flashbacks provide some answers to questions posed all the way back in season one. This just makes me want to see the Underworld explored more.

PT: My first reaction was quite negative, to be honest. The flashback were territory we have seen before, but then I realized the show was just making use of that so we could tie in Regina’s current situation on Underworld with what was going on with the flashbacks. In the end it worked pretty good: once again it is showcased how much Regina has evolved and how our characters are still tying loose ends with their past.

What is your favorite acting performance of the episode?
AB: It's so hard to chose since this is such a heartfelt episode of Once Upon a Time. I love the interaction each character has, whether it's Rumple being shifty and snarky, Regina and Emma working together, or Snow White having an interesting encounter at anti-Granny's. I have to say the performance that did stick out for me in this episode was Henry, played by Jared Glimore. We've seen both this character grow on screen and the 100th episode showcases how much Gilmore has grown into his craft and how Henry has changed from the boy who brought the savior, to the Truest Believer, to a full fledged member of the Storybrooke hero squad. I'm glad he was not left behind on this adventure as I expect great things from this character as the season progresses.

PT: It would be too easy for me to just go and say “Lana!”. Those of you who read my reviews know that Regina is my favorite character on the show and that is mostly because of Lana’s incredible acting chops, which she totally brings during the episode. But I’m not going to take the easy way out when there’s another actress that deserves the same recognition: I’m talking, of course, about Barbara Hershey who is back for this episode. I won’t spoil much, I’ll just say she makes a tremendous work playing a wide range of emotions with Cora from start to finish. She makes the episode intriguing and entertaining, so she deserves lots of praise.

What do you think the fan reaction to this episode will be?
AB: Like I said before, long time viewers will enjoy this episode. There is something for fans of every character, whether the scenes are amusing or emotional. The writers of Once Upon a Time didn’t go for a bombastic approach with this episode, instead they paid homage to the 99 episodes that came before. Some may be disappointed by this, but instead of creating some show-stopping event they seemed to reset the clock so to speak. Characters arrive in a mysterious town and have to learn it’s mysteries to succeed. Personally, I’d rather the 100th episode flow in this way rather than stand out and cause the action of the season to grind to a halt.

PT: I’m worried that the hype for Once Upon a Time’s 100 episode may be too high for it to live to that expectation. That being said, I think the episode is good and most people will have the feeling that they are experiencing all the previous seasons at the same time while also delivering new material to move the plot forward. It’s quite nostalgic, but it’s not stuck in nostalgia, which is its greatest strength. So I believe fans will find themselves amused and a little bit touched, even if it’s not the big epic scale episode they may have been waiting for.

Do you think season 5B will be just as good as season 5A or better?
AB: I think season 5b will be better than season 5a. The stakes are higher, as the audience will see in the 100th episode. There is a lot on the line and our heroes are no longer in the relative safety of Storybrooke. The Underworld has twisted everything about, causing our heroes to have to learn the rules of this new land. They are on their guard, for good reason, and have no allies to rely on, only themselves. And if "Souls of the Departed" is anything to go by, the past, which has a nasty way of catching up with Emma and the gang, will play the biggest role it ever has on Once Upon a Time. Demons are sure to be faced and consequences of past choices will come back to haunt everyone.

PT: I’m aware that people have issues with 5A, and with good reasons: the show asked just too much trust, left some characters undeveloped, sacrificed some other good characters (Merlin) and overall the story was just too convoluted to make any kind of payoff by the ending. But you know? I thought it was fun: flawed as it may have been, S5A had its strong points and it could be poignant when it wanted to. That being said, S5B looks much more simpler, but in a good way: it knows exactly what it wants to do in the underworld and it doesn’t leave the viewers wondering. The feeling of adventure if more prominent and it seems all the characters will be tested, while not betraying their development. That’s why I believe S5B will shine and it’ll have a much warmer reception from the fans than S5A did.

And that's it for now! Thanks for reading our roundtable!
Make sure to tune in for Once Upon a Time's 100th episode this Sunday at 8/7c on ABC! It's a landmark fans should not miss!

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.
Recent Reviews by Ashley B (All Reviews)

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 Supergirl
Recent Reviews (All Reviews)

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