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REVIEW: Once Upon a Time 5×18 “Ruby Slippers”

Written by Alex Reale

Well, well, well – Once Upon a Time came bounding back this week! I thought this was going to be yet another super-filler episode revolving around meaningless subplots. But I was pleasantly surprised. I may be biased since I was just happy about Mulan and Red returning to the show, but all that aside, “Ruby Slippers” was still worth a watch. (spoilers ahead!)

Last week, we saw that Red was prowling around the Underworld in her wolf form before she was struck down by our heroes. I figured half the episode would consist of the team’s efforts to revive Red, but she regains consciousness rather quickly. Glad we brushed past that conflict so fast! No, I’m not being sarcastic either. I’m happy we didn’t waste time with unnecessary filler. The episode dives into the action right away, revealing what’s been going on with Red since we last saw her and Mulan.

The women had been working to find Red’s pack until they crossed paths with Dorothy Gale and her puppy Toto in Oz. Dorothy is initially untrusting of Red due to her werewolf-ness, but the two spend a better part of the episode coming together and forming a bond. At first, you think they’ll just become really good friends, but as the episode plays out, you find out that there’s a romance brewing between the two.

In the present day, Red explains how she and Mulan found Dorothy in Oz, but she was placed under a sleeping spell (courtesy of Zelena). What’s the cure to a sleeping spell? True love’s kiss. At that moment, I knew EXACTLY where the episode was heading. It couldn’t be more obvious if it slapped you in the face. It’s cute how the show tried to circumvent this obvious plot point by throwing a red herring into the mix. The heroes claim that Dorothy’s Auntie Em would have to deliver “true love’s kiss”, but since she’s in the Underworld, she won’t be able to travel to Oz.

Thanks to the power of convenience and magical artifacts appearing at the right place and the right time on this show, the protagonists come up with a solution: Red will use the magical glass slippers to transport back to Oz with Auntie Em’s kiss. But how is she going to bring the kiss? Easy: her breath! Yes, her breath. Remember a few episodes ago when the Blind Witch wanted David’s breath, expressing how it will make a lot of money on the black market? Just like I predicted, the power of living people’s breath has returned to act as a major plot component. The heroes are going to send Auntie Em’s breath to Oz with Ruby.

But it’s not that easy. Hades shows up and turns Auntie Em into a puddle of water. He then tells the citizens of the Underworld that anyone caught helping the heroes will suffer the same fate. Looks like Emma and co. are on their own again.

Don’t worry. Through a semi-rushed bit of dialogue between Snow and Red, we finally get confirmation on what we’ve known the entire episode: Red has to deliver true love’s kiss to Dorothy. Oh, we totally didn’t see THAT coming from a mile away…

I say this a lot, but I’m going to say it again: I absolutely hate shipping. After the episode aired, I took to Twitter and saw a tremendous amount of people whining about the fact that Red and Dorothy ended up together. Apparently, a lot of people wanted Red with Mulan. To be honest, even I thought the two would develop a relationship. But I would never freak out like some of the people on Twitter. Holy crap! These are fictional characters! Who cares who is dating who? There are people who seem more concerned about fake ships rather than their own real-life relationships. It’s scary. How much you want to bet that there’s a petition in the works for Red to dump Dorothy and go after Mulan?

Speaking of Mulan, she was severely underplayed this episode. I was thrilled to see her return with Red this week, but she’s only around for like five minutes. I feel bad for her on two counts: first, she’s not getting as much screen-time as she deserves, and second, she’s pined for two different women, and then watched them have happily ever afters with someone else. Poor Mulan. I hope she gets her own episode and finds her true love in the future.

I also wanted to point out Hades and Zelena’s role in this episode (and this season overall). I have to say that the chemistry among them is fantastic. They are perfect for each other. Hell, if people shipped Zelena and Hades, I’d be totally fine with it. But then again, I don’t want to see the show turn into a Zelena/Hades-centric mess. Watching these two evil entities banter is pretty entertaining, if a little cheesy.

Something else I found interesting this week was regarding the fate of Snow White. Since David and Snow can not longer talk to their baby (thanks to Cruella ordering the removal of the haunting phone), they decide that one of them will travel to Storybrooke along with Red. At first, we think David is going to go back, but once again, we get the power of convenience and magic to save the day.

See, Snow couldn’t leave the Underworld because her name was etched on the tombstone. However, Killian’s Hook is still enchanted to carve names. We find out that he scratched out Snow’s name and replaced it with David’s, thus allowing her to leave the Underworld to see her baby. It’s a clever little plot twist, but I’m just watching the episode and thinking “really?”. I wonder if Hook’s carving ability will act as a major plot point in the future (Hey, I was right about the breath thing; I could be right about this too).

Also, I’m curious about how Snow will figure into the future episodes of the season. Will the show bounce between her perspective back in Storybrooke and the rest of the heroes in the Underworld? Or will Snow just be out of the picture for the next couple of episodes?

I’m so happy Once Upon a Time was able to bring back beloved characters Red and Mulan without turning this episode into pure filler like its predecessors. Now let’s just hope the next couple of episodes follow suit! We could do without anymore filler for the rest of the season…

Final Grade: B +

+ It was great seeing Red and Mulan return!

+ Great performances from Meghan Ory and Jamie Chung.

+ Awesome chemistry between Hades and Zelena.

– Mulan was severely under-utilized.

– I saw the “true love’s kiss” ploy coming from a mile away.

– More magical plot convenience!

Extra Thoughts:

– I KNEW THE BREATH TRICK WOULD BE IMPORTANT!

– Poor Mulan…

How did you feel about this episode of Once Upon a Time? Are you glad Red and Dorothy found their happily ever after? Let us know what you think 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!