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Once Upon a Time – Ruby Slippers – Review

What can I say, I was very satisfied by this episode. I spoke at length about my feelings toward the first same sex relationship on Once Upon a Time here, but to summarize my stance, I feel the audience was given a sincere portrayal of a queer relationship in a fairy tale setting. Both women got a happy ending and their story wasn’t hung up with angst or coming out like so many LGBT stories are. Their friendship progressed sweetly, with many moments that caused me to smile. And, refreshingly, Ruby and Dorothy were as physical with each other as any of the other couples on Once Upon a Time and were accepted without question. There was no sensationalizing of their union, both in universe or within the show promotion. Lately in television gay women have been getting killed off left and right, so to see two women in love, happy, and alive is a welcome sight. I had been rooting for Mulan and Ruby to fall in love, but I feel that the warrior helping Ruby come to terms with her feelings was better for both characters, and it means that there isn't a lone pair of gay women on Once Upon a Time. There's community established now. Mulan was thoroughly affected by losing her chance with Aurora and the more I look at it the more I think it would have been a disservice to her character for Mulan to bounce back so quickly.

While I am normally a fan of the “slow burn” kind of romance despite everything happening in one episode the pacing with this couple didn’t bother me. I feel if the romance was dragged out the writers would have wrongfully been accused of queer baiting by anxious fans. And speaking of the writers, they did really well connecting the audience emotionally to Ruby and Dorothy, but their work isn’t over. I’ve seen the phrase “token” thrown around quite a bit regarding these two women and that is not fair. They’ve only had one opportunity to be on the show; neither this season nor Once Upon a Time as a whole is over yet. It’s up to the writers to prevent tokenism from happening by continuing to develop their relationship and we have to give them a chance to do that. Ruby and Dorothy won’t be in every episode; you can’t expect that with the volume of regulars and guest stars Once Upon a Time has. However, I truly hope and believe we will see this pair again and think that the first LGBT couple on Once Upon a Time was treated the same as any other couple on the show. They weren’t “gay characters”; they were characters who happen to be gay, which is rare on television.

The focus on Ruby and Dorothy was really the main event of this episode, as it should have been, but there were fantastic scenes between the other characters as well. I’m interested in seeing where Zelena’s storyline will go. She seems to be going down the same path as her sister Regina, with bumps and hurdles to match. Only instead of Cora setting Zelena back, its Hades whose warped sense of love and affection took a turn from darkly cute to creepy in this episode. Creepy in a “murdering old ladies for fun” kind of way. We are continuing to get scenes between Regina and Zelena that are short but extremely satisfactory. I miss the sisterly sass between these two, but if it means they can be a family, however begrudgingly, I’m more in favor of that. They can only snipe at each other like children for so long before it becomes boring. What I enjoyed the most was the remorse Zelena showed for her actions, her understanding that she can’t be evil and have time with her child. That’s progression. I wonder what her new found union with Hades will do to the conscience Zelena is growing. I really am invested in her story now, wondering which will win: Zelena’s desire for romantic love or her desire for familial.

I will say, it was very odd to see Belle and Zelena actually sit down and have a chat though. I don’t recall the pair ever being civil to each other, which made it fascinating to watch, especially since they actually had something in common. However, I’m not sure how I feel about Belle putting herself under a sleeping curse to save the baby. While I know the actress had to take time off due to her real life pregnancy and that sleeping curses are a running thing on Once Upon a Time, I just found myself watching that moment and in my head asking Belle, “what are you doing”. It was interesting that Belle felt her father and not her husband would be the source of her waking kiss, so we’ll see how that plays out. Another absence had to be explained, and I felt this was done a bit better, was that of Snow White. Ginnifer Goodwin obviously had commitments to the Disney movie Zootopia and its press tour, so her absence was required but done in a way that called back to previous episodes, namely the spell placed on Hook’s hook and Snow White’s desire to get back to her infant son. Switching places with Charming didn’t feel cheap and I was actually surprised by their methods of getting around Hades’ tombstone rule.

I enjoyed “Ruby Slippers”, mostly because of Ruby and Dorothy’s story, but also for the great scenes between all our characters. Even that small tiff in the street between Cruella and Charming made me smile. We are nearing the end of the fifth season now and I don’t know what it is, the introduction of Zelena’s story, the fact we wrapped up the search for Hook, or the noticeable emphasis on so many combinations of characters having sincere emotional moments together, but I am more drawn to this half of the Once Upon a Time season than I was before. With a sixth season announced, this is the time when the writers will begin planting seeds for the next season and I’m not sure where they can go from here but with changes our characters are undergoing, I’m interested to find out.

Tune in next week for “Sisters”!

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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