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REVIEW: Once Upon a Time 5×19 “Sisters”


I can’t say I’m surprised about yet another filler-y installment for this week’s Once Upon a Time. We’ve got a couple episodes left, so they’ve got to find something to pad the season until the finale. Anyway, “Sisters” was great for providing backstory on some major characters, and the excellent performances by half the cast boosted the episode’s quality. I just wish we could get to the finale already. Do we really need four more episodes to close out the season? “Sisters” honestly could’ve been the penultimate episode. (spoilers ahead!)

As you can guess by the title, this episode revolves around the relationship between sisters Zelena and Regina. Zelena is still wary about getting involved with Hades, who is desperately trying to win her affection over. Now, the question is whether he truly loves her, or if he’s simply attempting to woo her in an attempt to grab true love’s kiss, thus allowing him to exit the Underworld? With Greg Germann‘s terrific performance so far, we don’t really know yet. Hades comes across as charismatic and sweet when he talks to Zelena, but we’ve all seen his evil side more than once. This could just be one giant facade, or it could be genuine.

Regina speaks with Zelena when she finds out about her involvement with Hades. We’ve been watching the two sisters interact on the show for a long time, but we never really got to see the relationship develop on screen. In this episode, thanks to the appearance of Cora, we finally understand the real underlying bond between the two women. In a flashback sequence, we learn about how a young Regina once accidentally used Cora’s wand to cast a spell, which backfired and knocked her out. Cora sought out Zelena (living in hiding under an alias) to use her magic to revive her (since the spell could only be negated by a someone who DIDN’T cast the spell in the first place – yay convenience!).

After Regina was revived, she and Zelena developed a strong friendship, unaware of their sisterhood. However, when Zelena managed to open Cora’s wand-box (which could only be opened by someone of the same blood), the truth came out. The two shared a brief moment of joy before Cora comes along and takes Zelena away. On top of that, she wipes the girls’ memories so that they never remember meeting.

In the present, Regina recruits Cora to help her stop Zelena from falling for Hades. Lana ParrillaBarbara Hershey, and Rebecca Mader knocked it out of the park with their performances this week. It’s hard to convey such a strong sense of family with other actors unless you’ve spent a lot of time on-screen together, and they’ve all managed to accomplish such a feat. Only one thing bothers me: Zelena.

I’ve said it many, many, many times before how I don’t trust Zelena. She’s turned on the heroes in multiple instances, yet they keep going back to trusting her. I know that Regina is trying to embrace her sister despite all her shortcomings, but come on! It’s obvious she can’t be trusted. She’s about as shady as Rumplestiltskin. These two characters are the biggest double-crossers in the Once Upon a Time-verse, but people are so eager to keep giving them more chances. It’s maddening! What are the odds that they end up together at the very end of the series? They honestly deserve each other.

Cora was shady in the past as well, but she at least redeemed herself by the end of the episode by confessing her sins to her daughters and helping them come together once more. At the conclusion of the episode, she walks off into the light and ascends to Mount Olympus. Cool. Now I’m curious about whether a character’s ascension means they’ll disappear from the show completely. Cora is the first semi-major character to have “moved on”, so it makes you wonder if she’s gone for good. Maybe we’ll get an episode in the future featuring Mount Olympus? Then again, that would probably be way too similar to this season’s Underworld theme. It’s a shame since I’d like to see people like Cora or Hercules come back at some point.

On the other side of the episode, trouble’s a-brewing with the rest of the heroes and David’s evil twin brother James. David is knocked out, allowing James to assume his place in the gang long enough for him to throw on a magic-negating cuff on Emma. They all venture to the docks, where Cruella and James plan to “execute” them, until David arrives to save the day. I don’t give enough credit to Josh Dallas on this show. I love any actor who can portray their own character and then turn around and convey a completely opposite character in the same episode. Dallas knows how to alternate as the humble David and the cocky James without missing a beat, and for that, I applaud him.

There’s a short fight scene between the two brothers, and for a moment, I was worried they would pull that cliche moment you see in countless movies where the twins are mixed up and the hero has to decide which one is the real one. Luckily, we avoid this shtick, but I got frustrated at one point where Emma tries to help with her magic, only to be stopped by David, who says he can handle it on his own. Ugh! I hate when they do this! Swallow your pride and just let them help! I hate the whole “no, I can do this myself!” routine. David should’ve allowed Emma to just magic James out of there, but no – he wants to handle it himself. He eventually does win the fight after tossing James into the River of Lost Souls, but still. It could’ve been over with much sooner if Emma stepped in.

Oh, and I love the part where Cruella tries to make her escape, which consists of her running and hiding behind a nearby stack of crates. And the heroes just let her go! Did they actually catch her by the end of the episode, or did she truly escape? If it’s the latter, I’ll be pissed.

I loved the episode’s ending. Rumplestiltskin shows up to confront Zelena, who had inadvertently forced Belle to put herself under the sleeping spell. How does Rumple plan to stop the evil witch? He’s recruited his father, Peter Pan! It’s like fighting fire with napalm. I’m excited about how Peter Pan will handle Zelena, but I can’t help but think about how this will turn out negative in the future. Will Peter Pan become the grand villain once again?

There were some great performances here and there throughout the episode, but ultimately, they couldn’t make “Sisters” more than just your average installment. I think I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: I’m about ready for the season to end.

Final Grade: C

+ Great performances from most of the cast.

+ I enjoyed the fight scene between David and James.

+ Loved that ending!

– Another filler episode.

– Cruella Deville just runs and hides behind a bunch of crates, and they just let her go?

– More convenient magic.

Extra Thoughts:

– I’m curious about how big of a role Peter Pan will play in the finale.

What did you think about “Sisters”? Are you tired of Once Upon a Time‘s filler episodes yet? Tell us your thoughts 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!