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REVIEW: Once Upon a Time 5×02 “The Price”

The Once Upon a Time train keeps on chugging along at a solid pace. Tonight’s episode, “The Price”, was another fun hour filled with magic, charm, horrible CGI, and Regina’s pantsuit obsession. Although I was slightly disappointed that the episode was Merida-less, I still enjoyed myself all the same since since we got to learn more about King Arthur and Camelot, and we saw more of Emma’s transition into the Dark Swan. (spoilers ahead!)

With the Dark Swan now reigning over Storybrooke, nobody feels safe. The dwarfs attempt to leave, but they notice that the curse prevents them from crossing the city border (poor Dopey gets turned into a tree just a few seconds after stepping over the town line). While everyone is dealing with the fact that they’re being held hostage in their own town once again, Mary Margaret, David, and Regina find out that they have bigger problems on their hands: as it turns out, when Emma cast the curse, King Arthur and the residents of Camelot were also transported to Storybrooke. Dun, dun, dun! How will they ever get back, and how will the Storybrookers ever discover what happened during the six weeks in Camelot?

Here comes the twist: it’s up to Regina to be the Savior. That’s right. Regina and Emma Swan have officially swapped roles as the evil dictator of Storybrooke and the Savior. Unfortunately, nobody believes that Regina has it in her to be the Savior like Emma was. You kinda feel bad for Reg since she’s tried so hard for the past couple of seasons to prove that she’s not that bad. She’s proven time and time again that she is capable of doing good deeds once in a while. Too bad nobody has faith in her.

This parallels what happens in Camelot. When the group first arrives in the royal court, they don’t want to tell King Arthur and his men that Emma is the new Dark One. Instead, they just say that Regina is the Savior, and that she is capable of saving Merlin. Oh, did I mention that Merlin is encased in a tree? It’s not that unusual if you’ve read some of the Arthurian tales, but if you’re new to the whole King Arthur and Merlin mythology, it might have come as a shock. Merlin is magically stuck in a tree, and only the Savior can rescue him.


In Camelot, Regina tries harder and harder to get used to being a light-hearted heroine who isn’t hatching some devilish scheme or using dark magic. During an honorary ball, she dances graciously with Robin Hood and basks in the glory of being heralded as the Savior of Camelot. Unfortunately, Percival, one of King Arthur’s knights, is unhappy with her presence. He reveals that she was responsible for torching his village as a young boy and that he is now out for her blood. Percival attempts to kill Regina, but accidentally stabs Robin Hood through the gut before being skewered by Prince Charming.

Once again, I felt bad for Regina. It’s like she can’t escape her past at all, no matter what she does. You can tell she’s trying her absolutely hardest to leave her wickedness in the past, but it keeps coming back to haunt her. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s driven to becoming the Dark One in future episodes because she thinks that’s what people expect of her.

Don’t worry – the team saves Robin Hood thanks to Emma using her dark magic. But hey, what’s the number-one rule of Once Upon a Time? All magic comes with a price. In this case, the price is rather deadly, and it’s going to follow the protagonists all the way back to Storybrooke.

Flash-forward to post-curse Storybrooke. Robin Hood gets kidnapped by this black demon thing called a Fury (drawn from Greek mythology). Regina finds out that the only way to stop the Fury is to pay the price by giving a life. She stands over Robin’s body and boldly defends him against the beast. As the Fury attempts to draw her life-force from her, David, Mary Margaret, and Grumpy stand by her side and hold her hands. This overwhelms the Fury and defeats it, saving Robin’s life.

This cheesy scene with the hand-holding was incredibly similar to the ending of Guardians of the Galaxy where the Guardians use the Infinity Stone to defeat Ronan. They even had the same number of people holding hands! Whoa, if you think about it, Grumpy is almost like Rocket Raccoon; they’re both little, lovable smart-asses, and they both even have friends who are trees! My God, the parallels are uncanny. But on a related note: what was the point of bringing Grumpy into the scene? I can understand David and Mary Margaret, but Grumpy was just a random character that they threw in. You’d think maybe Henry or someone would’ve joined in for the hand-holding…

Of course, I can’t leave this review without a comment on Emma, the Dark Swan. Is there really anything else to say besides the fact that she’s fantastic? I’m so impressed with Jennifer Morrison‘s ability to flip-flop from her previously light-hearted, good-natured, jolly persona to this intimidating, haunting, ghostly character. I can only imagine what the show would’ve been like if SHE was cast as Regina from the get-go (not that Lana Parrilla isn’t doing a great job).

The end of the episode got me thinking. We learn that Emma has a locked door to the cellar of her new house in Storybrooke. Deep down in this cellar is Excalibur, the magical sword, embedded within its stone. Emma wants to pull the sword out so that she can combine it with the Dark One’s dagger, thus allowing her to fully snuff out the light in the world. The only problem is that she is unable to extract Excalibur. She needs to find someone who can. But who will do it? Will it be Regina, the newly appointed Savior? Or even Henry, the new Author? Hell, they could throw a curveball and have Grumpy do it seeing as the writers like to make him a main character all of a sudden.

I’m already anxious for the next episode, and I’m even more anxious to learn more about Merlin. I’m assuming that we won’t actually see him in action until the second half of the season. Until then, I’m perfectly fine watching the growth between Emma and Regina and their roles as the Dark One and the new Savior.

Final Grade: A –

Jennifer Morrison is still killing it.

+ There’s a cute bonding scene with Henry and a princess named Violet where they listen to some fun music and get to know each other; this also makes me wonder if Violet will turn out to be a main character in the future.

+ I’m loving the incorporation of Arthurian legend into the show; keep it coming!

– The recycled trope of not being able to leave Storybrooke without something bad happening is getting kinda old.

– One of Regina’s biggest qualms about the ball at Camelot is that she can’t dance. Really? An evil queen gets iffy about dancing? It’s like something I’d hear in an after-school special.

– The Guardians of the Galaxy hand-holding shtick was a bit cheesy, even for this show.

Extra Thoughts:

– I caught a glimpse of an article online that discussed whether Merlin was the first Dark One. What if he’s the only one who can truly banish the darkness?

– What the hell happened to Will Scarlet?

What were your thoughts on this installment of Once Upon a Time? Was it worth paying “The Price” to see this episode? Let us know how you felt about the episode (or my corny puns) in the comments or on Twitter!

About the author

Alex Reale

From a young age, Alex knew he was destined to be a writer. He also harbored a deep infatuation with superheroes and comics. Luckily, he was able to combine these two passions through his role with A Place to Hang Your Cape, where he works as Junior Sidekick and Social Media Hero.

When he’s not writing for AP2HYC or working full-time as a content manager for a small business website, Alex is diligently at work on other creative projects including a fantasy novel collection and an independent comic series.

You can find Alex's first book, Dodger's Doorway, on Amazon!