Monday, April 18, 2016

Once Upon A Time 5x18 Review: “Ruby Slippers” (Welcome Back to Oz) [Guest Poster: Julia]

“Ruby Slippers”
Original airdate: April 17, 2016

This week’s episode of Once Upon A Time brings the return of Red Riding Hood, Mulan, Dorothy, and the land of Oz. Plenty of twists and turns make this episode intriguing and disappointing at the same time. It’s very rare that the show is anything less than fantastic, and “Ruby Slippers” misses on many fronts — the writing, characters, and CGI all managed to culminate in one giant, 40-minute mess.


Dorothy’s introduction to the OUAT universe two weeks ago made me less than enthusiastic about the land of Oz. Unfortunately, this episode focuses heavily on Dorothy and her new acquaintances — Mulan and Red — who arrived in Oz to hunt down Red’s pack, as she wants to reunite with her own kind. Upon their arrival, they quickly meet Dorothy and see the return of Zelena to Oz after she is banished there by Regina. In case you forgot what had previously happened, there was a quick clip in the introduction sequence of the episode.

The rest of the flashbacks to Oz show Red and Dorothy awkwardly sharing screentime as they try to save Toto from Zelena. In exchange for Toto, Zelena wants the magic slippers back; she feels that they’re the only way she can get back to her baby daughter. The actresses who play Red and Dorothy didn’t have good chemistry, and every scene felt very uncomfortable. It didn’t help that the actress who plays Dorothy doesn’t portray her well — Dorothy’s attitude makes her unlikable, and that makes her scenes hard to watch.

Dorothy decides to take on Zelena by herself and is tricked into getting her finger pricked with an enchanted needle, which enacts the same sleeping curse that Snow White and Princess Aurora had previously been inflicted with. When Dorothy disappears, Red makes it her mission to hunt down Zelena to get revenge, leading her to the Underworld.


Great news, Oncers! After a big scare at the end of last week’s episode, we learned that Red is NOT dead and just happened to go to the Underworld without knowing where she was headed. Red uses the slippers to track down Zelena, who we know is still in the Underworld. Our heroes reunite with Red, which leads Regina to find out the truth about Dorothy from Zelena. As far as sleeping curses, there is only one way to break them: true love’s kiss.

The search is on for Dorothy’s true love, which Red believes is her beloved, deceased Auntie Em. When Hades learns that the heroes plan to bottle a kiss from Aunt Em to awaken Dorothy, he quickly gets rid of her by slyly putting some water from the River of Lost Souls in her soup. Auntie Em is turned into a pile of liquid soul, which was Hades’ way to show Zelena that he wants her arch-nemesis to suffer for eternity and to suck more hope out of his kingdom.


After some more awkward flashbacks, Red reveals that she thinks that she could be Dorothy’s true love. Regina convinces Zelena to give up the slippers to help correct her mistake of hurting Dorothy. Zelena proves that she is trying to change as she helps both Regina and Belle, but more on that later. Regina gives the slippers to Red to help her get back to Oz.

At the same time, Hades has ruined more hope by having the telephone booths used for hauntings ripped out. This causes Snow White and Prince Charming to worry more about baby Neal. Snow wants Charming to go home to Storybrooke to watch over the infant, but in the ultimate sacrifice, Charming has Hook cross out Snow’s name on her tombstone to replace her soul with his. Remember: Snow, Emma, and Regina are all stuck in the Underworld because Hades put their names on tombstones. The names can’t be removed, but Hook finds a loophole that allows them to change the names. Snow reluctantly goes with Red to Oz and then makes her way back to Storybrooke. This was a great way to possibly write Snow off for a few episodes, as she isn’t needed currently. It has been harder for the costumes to hide actress Ginnifer Goodwin’s baby bump, so this was a great decision by the writers.

Back in Oz, Red finds Dorothy and awakens her with true love’s kiss. The storybook ending is complete as true love conquers all once again. Hopefully, this is the end of the Oz arc because it has been done poorly and is not needed. The CGI during the Oz scenes is terrible, and the show in general needs to put more money into the CGI weekly. I’m not sure where else the writers can go with Dorothy and Oz, so now would be a good time to retire those stories.

In great OUAT fashion, the episode wouldn’t be complete without one last twist. Early in the episode, Belle pays a visit to Zelena to ask for her help in dealing with Hades. Belle wanted Zelena to convince Hades to rip up the contract that gives Belle and Rumple’s baby to him. Belle gets freaked out when she realizes that she may not have all the time she felt she had, as Zelena reminds her that Hades can take the baby whenever he wants by speeding up her pregnancy. In typical Belle fashion, she decides to be super radical and steals the enchanted needle from Zelena.

At the end of the episode, Belle reveals her concerns to Rumple, who shrugs her off, as usual. Belle decides that the best course of action is to freeze herself in time with the sleeping curse. She and Rumple both know that Rumple can’t awaken her with true love’s kiss, since he won’t be the man instead of the beast. Belle begs Rumple to destroy Hades and to get her back to her father after the contract is nullified. Rumple is clearly distressed as Belle pricks her finger and is consumed by the curse. This is another great write-off because actress Emilie de Ravin was also pregnant during filming. Even though her character is pregnant on the show, it was probably easier for her to have some time off, so this was a clever solution.

The final episodes of the season should be very interesting as far as true love is concerned. Rumple will have to decide whether to embrace the man or the beast, and if he wants his child or Belle more. His struggle should unfold nicely, leading to more character depth (fingers crossed!) Zelena and Hades’ relationship heats up at the end as well, which led me to wonder if she took Belle’s advice and is playing him. Hades is truly enamored by Zelena, which could easily turn into his downfall if Zelena decides to become a hero. If not, Zelena will have her happy ending with Hades and the two will destroy the heroes, which... is pretty unlikely given the show has been renewed for a sixth season.

Something big is going to have to happen at the end of the season to keep the show rolling, and will most likely mean the death of at least one major character. Assuming that the Underworld storyline ends at the conclusion of the season, presumably, someone will have to make the sacrifice of staying for the others to leave. Will someone die? Who knows! But next week’s episode may give us some hints at what’s to come.


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