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Once Upon a Time – Firebird – Review


I really enjoyed this episode even though several things went wrong for our heroes. There’s just such a sense of weight and consequence now as we wind down the season that I can’t help but be thoroughly invested in finding out what will happen next. Seeing another chapter of Emma’s past was welcome; for as much focus as the show gives her, we still know so little about what makes the savior the woman she is today, and in “Firebird” we got another glimpse of that. I’m also both pleased and disappointed that Hades proved to be a despicable as he was in his introduction episode. I look forward to the future conflicts this will bring in Zelena.

I think the most powerful moments in this episode were those between Emma and Hook. While hope is not lost, it was refreshing to see them actually fail at a heroic quest. The thing I appreciate most is the “why” behind how our heroes’ original plan failed. We got a logical answer as to why splitting hearts couldn’t resurrect Hook and a reminder to just how long they have been gallivanting in the Underworld. Their separation at the elevator was one of the most emotional scenes in season 5b. It struck such a chord because instead of a frantic, loud farewell filled with panic, we see two people who know they were living on borrowed time. Hook and Emma, in some part of their minds, knew it was already over, but their good bye at the elevator was the actual acknowledgment of this out loud. There is a finality and quiet acceptance even though the pair doesn’t want to let each other go. I don’t think this is the last we’ll see of Hook though. I appreciate the inclusion of the mythological stories surrounding the Underworld, particularly because they haven’t been given a Disney slant, so knowing that there is a bit more to the Orpheus myth gives me hope.

I have to say I’m happy Hades is still a jerk. I had been very leery about trusting him and finally gave in and believed that he wholly had pure intentions, and then it’s proven that he is willing to screw over our heroes. I never liked the idea that Zelena could “change” him. Other villains grew from their experiences and changed themselves. And this proves that the threat and unease Hades brought to Once Upon a Time was serious, that he is actually a problem that can’t be easily dealt with. While it will be difficult, I’m looking forward to the tough times Zelena has before her, dealing with a True Love that is wholly murderous. Zelena has Regina’s ultimate trust now, even despite Robin’s objections, so will the witch throw that away in favor of remaining with Hades? This tangled family tree is paying off now as we have questions of loyalty and what version of “family” do our characters see as most important.

The flashbacks in “Firebird” gave us more of an understanding of Emma Swan and where that jump from adolescent criminal to bail bonds woman came from. Jennifer Morrison plays young Emma so well, giving her this immaturity that doesn’t result from silly young girl mistakes, but from unchecked passion. It’s the lack of control that comes with youth. I loved the shot-for-shot redo of the pilot in Emma’s escape from Cleo, as well as how Cleo’s clothing mirrored Emma’s current style. You can see how much of an influence this woman had on the savior, possibly this was the only positive female role model Emma had growing up. And it’s interesting to note that Cleo is essentially who Emma would have been had Henry not showed up at her door step. The armor would have stayed on and Emma would not have found the peace she did with her family. I do like the comparison of Emma’s leather jacket to her “armor”. It’s something fans have been saying for years now, so to see it acknowledged on screen was satisfying.

I also don’t believe that Cleo is really dead. I would love to see her show back up in season 6, hunting for Emma in Storybrooke. Once Upon a Time sort of hinted at the idea of what would happen if the rest of the world discovered magic back in season 2, but it would be nice to see it explored more in depth. It would benefit Once Upon a Time if they stayed in Storybrooke for an entire season instead of going off to yet another land. I enjoyed the Underworld, but grew tired of it quickly. Longtime fans want to see fairy tale characters deal with everyday problems, so see the results of these tangled relationships trying to all work out.

Cruella continues to be absolutely hysterical, stealing every scene she’s in. Can we just have her haunting Storybrooke so she can pop up again every once in a while? I am a big worried that henry just left The Book and the new pages sitting on a shelf in enemy territory, so to speak. There was a reason the camera lingered on that shot for so long.

As much of a scumbag as Hades proved himself to be in this episode, Rumple proved the opposite. I was so ready to be anger at the choices the Dark One made, but he actually did the right thing for once. It may have been a bit of a selfish gamble, his methods may have been quite dark, and his intentions were primarily for the good of Belle, however we’ve seen the Dark One do worse with less care. He didn’t have to make sure things turned out ok for the heroes or even for Hades and Zelena. I think Belle’s influence is getting to him a bit. Rumple is still ruthless, but it’s a relief that he hasn’t entirely screwed over our heroes again.

We are one episode away from the season finale and it actually seems like the stakes are still quite high. Rumors of a major character death continue to swirl and I have to say, I’d be very disappointed in Once Upon a Time if it joined the ranks of so many other shows that have been killing off major characters recently. Though, we’ve seen death isn’t very permanent on Once Upon a Time. We can only wait until the final episodes air to have a reaction though.

Tune in next week for ‘Last Rites”!


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)



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