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Once Upon a Time – Sisters – Review

Season 5b of Once Upon a Time just seems to be getting better and better. We only have a few episodes left until the finale and there’s been a deep sense of satisfaction that has grown with each episode. “Sisters” in particular is the culmination of seasons’ worth of development within the Mills family. I am so glad to see Regina and Zelena finally at a point where they can truly be a family together. I do hope they hang on to the snark they occasionally flung at each other, but it’s refreshing to see these characters no longer openly hostile and at odds. I do want Zelena to remain aloof, to not get a full redemption so easily, but the idea of the sisters working together is appealing. I look forward to what these recent developments mean once our heroes get out of the Underworld, and hope Once Upon a Time focuses more on character moments further exploring the twisted family tree all our character share, as opposed to new threats crashing in to Storybrooke again.

I’m finding the budding relationship between Hades and Zelena more interesting now because I’m no longer sure I approve of it as much as I once did. Hades has proven that he still has his edge despite his feelings for the Wicked Witch and his steps to show his love for Zelena teeter over the brink from sweet to scary. Part of me wants Hades to leave the Underworld and be with Zelena, while the other part wants them to have a sort of Persephone-like arrangement with Zelena splitting her time between Storybrooke and Underbrooke. I have more faith now that Zelena will not be swayed by the Lord of the Underworld and continue on her path towards heroism, but with Rumple “doing things his own way” and bringing Peter Pan in the mix, we’ll have to wait to find out what will befall Once Upon a Time’s newest couple.

Speaking of Peter Pan, one of the things I’ve noticed with season 5b that I truly appreciate is how all of the former villains who were brought back for the 100th episode have continued to show up on the show. They weren’t merely paraded out for cameos during the momentous episode; they actually factor in to the plot and play a large role. I especially enjoyed how this episode used James. Josh Dallas did quite well playing both brothers and the scene in the woods where James confronts our heroes while Cruella pulls up complaining about the woods was simultaneously hysterical and tense. Once Upon a Time has done a great job of utilizing its Underworld cast. Also, I’m really glad to see Robin Hood back in the picture as well and hope he doesn’t disappear again this season.

The scene where Zelena finally confronts Regina in the farmhouse, only to be stopped by Cora was the stand out moment in this episode. I loved the fury Zelena portrayed, kicking aside her chair, while Regina went from exasperated to defensive. All the while, Cora was silently trying to decide if she wanted her daughters to hate her even more should she reveal what she had stolen from them. The moment Regina and Zelena realize what they once had was beautiful. It showed that these two women who both thought themselves unworthy of love, did have that, they just didn’t know it. I feel that Zelena may need more time to heal, but Regina’s character arc has reached a healthy, stable point. The flashbacks were fine in “Sisters”, obviously there to show the audience what Cora had stolen from the girls. The actresses playing young Regina and Zelena were great and worked really well together.

I am surprised that Cora was able to go into the light at the end of the episode. If any character on Once Upon a Time deserved to go to the “other” place, it was her. However, Cora did get a bit of a redemption back in season 2 before she died, and while she remained ambiguous throughout her time in season 5b, it can be seen that she has been trying to do what’s right in her own twisted way. I never fully trusted her, not even in this episode. Cora didn’t always make good decisions, but when she had her heart she made them for the right reasons. Heartless, Cora lost sight of that, so having regained herself while in the Underworld, it made sense that she continued to be ever so slightly cutthroat and manipulative, only now she knew when not to cross the line. I commend the writers for not removing Cora’s sharpness and ambition, even when she was trying to make things right.

“Sisters” was well paced and balanced the action of James and Charming’s confrontation with the more character-focused discussion between Zelena and Regina quite well. I don’t think either plot took away from the other with the more physical aspects of James and Charming’s battle allowing for nice breaks between the emotion and dialog heavy drama between the Mills women. It also gives the audience a nice contrast between the two sets of relationships as well as something to think about in regards to the character development. A few seasons ago it would have been Regina and Zelena trading blows on the docks, and in fact it almost came to that in this episode. And maybe, if James had had more time to get to know Charming, they would have been the ones talking out their problems.

Like I said, we only have a few more episodes in this season, so I expect next week to be action packed. I can’t wait to find out what Rumple has in store for Zelena and how her capture will affect Hades. Will his temper get the best of him or will he seek help from our heroes? With so little time left, I hope we don’t rush into the finale, but on the other hand I’m just about ready to leave the Underworld behind and return to Storybrooke.

Tune in next week for “Firebird”!

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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