Monday, April 4, 2016

Once Upon A Time 5x16 Review: “Our Decay” (True or False?) [Guest Poster: Julia]

“Our Decay”
Original Airdate: April 3, 2016

In typical Once Upon A Time fashion, this week’s episode doesn’t focus on one timeline. “Our Decay” bounces back and forth between Zelena’s past in Oz to the present in the Underworld, as well as the present in Storybrooke. The writers don’t always make it easy to follow along the multiple storylines, but as always, somehow it winds up making sense by the end. This week’s story focuses on Zelena and Hades’ past. As we get closer to the end of the season, the big question is: what is Hades really up to?


Our story begins in the familiar land of Oz with the return of Zelena and brings us some backstory. Zelena is hatching an evil plot to concoct a time-travel spell to get her revenge once and for all on her sister, Regina. A CGI flying monkey drops a freaky looking Scarecrow into her throne room. Zelena, like all great villains, spews out her diabolical plot in monologue fashion to Scarecrow, whose brain is needed to represent the intelligence component in her spell. Seemingly out of nowhere, Dorothy Gale magically appears with her sidekick, Toto, to save Scarecrow... for now.

The whole scene is ruined by a few factors. First, Scarecrow is beyond creepy as a poorly done CGI character. Once Upon A Time does not usually showcase great CGI, but this was for sure the worst I can remember. If any kids were watching, I’m sure that this Scarecrow would haunt their dreams. Also, Dorothy was totally off. She appeared too old and was outfitted in a weird dress. The overall appearance and attitude Dorothy displayed isn’t the same Dorothy I remember. The writers usually get their character adaptations beyond spot-on, so it was surprising that this aged Dorothy wasn’t the same. The casting seemed totally off, and I don’t see a bright future for this Dorothy in the show.


Even though the episode wasn’t centered on our favorite heroes, they still made their appearances. For the first time, we got to see Henry’s author powers (sort of) at work. Henry’s writing skills seem to be awakened immediately following any event that happens. He appears to not be in control of this power, as he practically sleep-writes without remembering writing anything. Henry’s authorship has been teased many times over the past season, so it will be interesting to see where it goes from here. Hopefully, this is a way to get Henry larger roles in episodes because he is a great addition to the show. He never has enough screen time and could contribute a lot to the overall story.

Henry’s skills were helpful to see what Snow White and Prince Charming were up to in the Underworld, which was sort of crazy. The proud parents decided that they wanted baby Neal — who never seems to be in any episode no matter where it takes place — to hear their voices in the real world. So, they decide to haunt their baby by using a mystical phone booth. I found this the weirdest part of the episode because why would anyone want to haunt their baby? According to Henry, Neal hears their voices, so I guess it was worth it? This seemed like a totally unnecessary part of the episode that could easily have been cut out.


The Underworld also had three new arrivals during the episode after a spell by Hades and Rumpelstiltskin doesn’t go quite as planned. A portal meant to bring Zelena and Robin Hood’s baby to the Underworld winds up bringing Belle, Zelena, and the baby with it. With pretty much every character now in the Underworld, things can get back to being even more complicated!

For all the “Rumbelle” fans, Rumple and Belle have their long-awaited reunion. In a brief moment of memory lapse, Rumple finds himself exposing his two biggest secrets to Belle. With the Dark One and baby contract/pregnancy secrets out in the open, the couple finds themselves at a crossroads. Rumple still wants to figure out a way to keep their baby, but does Belle still want him? After a short confrontation, Rumple basically threatens Belle and tells her to wake up and realize the truth. He wants her to understand that she loves him, both the man and the beast, because they will always be the one and the same. Belle, being her usual emotional self, can’t handle hearing the truth she has always denied and storms off. So, is this the end of Rumbelle or will they eventually make up again after Rumple solves his problem?


Finally, our core story, loaded with lots of incredible points made by the writers! Oddly enough, Zelena and Hades’ backstories are pretty similar. Both are wicked, unloved, want revenge on siblings, and were abandoned in a way. Hades appears in the past Oz to help Zelena with her time travel spell. As always, Hades has purely selfish motivations, as he plans to take the spell for himself and use it to get revenge on Zeus. (On a side note, I totally hope we get a Zeus and Hades showdown by the end of the season because that would be really cool.)

Zelena is originally fooled by Hades’ charm and wit, and quickly falls in line with his plot. But she mistakes Hades' feelings of love for him playing her — which leads Zelena to break Hades’ heart. Zelena finds herself in denial of Hades’ supposed true intentions twice, both in the past and in the present. This is another great full-circle moment, as the past always comes back to relive itself in the present in Once Upon A Time. Zelena makes the same choice twice, which leads me to wonder if her instincts are correct. On the one hand, Hades did seem sincere in his admiration and desire for Zelena, who is not very lovable. However, that is also a part of Hades’ charm that he typically uses to get himself ahead of everyone else. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is only looking for revenge and using Zelena.

Interestingly, I found myself feeling bad for Zelena twice — when she gave up her baby to Robin and when she denied love. Zelena appeared to try to listen to the other characters for the first time in her existence on the show. She showed some character growth, so there was hope that maybe she would change a little.

With Zelena in the Underworld, it will be interesting to see how her and Hades’ story plays out. After a few weeks of the Underworld storyline, I still can’t figure out what Hades’ end goal is. Does he want to rule all dimensions? Does he only want revenge on those who have wronged him? What is his beef with each of the main characters? Hopefully, all these questions will be answered before the end of the season. For now, I’ll have to keep them simmering on the back burner until next week.


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