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REVIEW: Once Upon a Time 5×21 “Last Rites”

Written by Alex Reale

There we go, Once Upon a Time! That’s how you bring the show back to good form! You take some risks! You up the ante! Last night’s episode, “Last Rites”, was definitely a highlight of this season. It’s episodes like this that make me appreciate the show for what it’s worth. The only thing I’ll say is that I wish it was the overall season finale. This would’ve been a worthy conclusion to the entire season; however, it looks like there’s a lot more in store for our favorite heroes next week. (major spoilers ahead!)

We’re finally back in Storybrooke! While I enjoyed the eerie, daunting atmosphere of the Underworld, I’m happy that the show finally returned to good ol’ Storybrooke (that orange tint was starting to get annoying…).  But even though our heroes are back in the Overworld, it doesn’t mean that their business is finished. In fact, they may have a whole new set of challenges to face now that the Lord of the Underworld has free reign in the land of the living. What’s his first order of business? Speak to King Arthur! Yeah, one of the first people Hades encounters in the Overworld is the douchey king of Camelot, having escaped from his imprisonment. At first, you think they’ll work together seeing as they have a common enemy in the Storybrooke heroes, but then Hades kills off Arthur like it’s nothing.

Who was in charge of looking after Arthur anyway? None other than Merida! Yes, Merida returns to the show, and she’s just as charming as ever! She was undoubtedly one of my favorite characters from the first half of the season, so it was great finally seeing her come back to Once Upon a Time. Too bad she didn’t get to do much this episode besides getting yelled at for letting Arthur escape. I wonder if she’ll become part of the main cast in the next season? I’d love to see her stick around Storybrooke, though I wouldn’t be surprised if she leaves by the finale to attend to matters back in DunBroch.

We head to the Underworld where we see a confused Arthur trying to gain his bearings at the diner. Who does he encounter down there? Hook! Will the two clash in an epic Underworld battle? No. Instead, they decide to team up to defeat Hades. An unlikely partnership, but I don’t mind it. I’m actually glad that King Arthur had a chance to redeem himself, even if he was a complete prick in the first half of the season.

Arthur and Hook work together to retrieve the missing pages from Henry’s storybook, which should contain information on how to kill a god. During their mission, they both nearly end up falling into the River of Lost Souls, but Hook and Arthur demonstrate their heroism by saving one another at the last minute. Just as they retrieve the pages, a portal opens up to Mount Olympus. Hook explains that their unfinished business has been completed, meaning they can move on, but Arthur says that he’s going to stay behind. According to a prophecy, he was meant to repair and rule over a broken kingdom. He believes that kingdom is the Underworld, not Camelot. This was a bit of a unique curveball that really spiced up the show’s lore. King Arthur becoming Lord of the Underworld? I like it! I’m wondering if the season finale will include him fighting Cruella and the Blind Witch over control for Underbrooke. Or maybe we’ll get a cliffhanger that features the three of them forming an alliance to reign over Hell and to possibly lead an assault on the Overworld.

Back in the Overworld, the Storybrooke gang is desperately searching for Hades and Zelena. Robin Hood and Regina head to the latter’s home, but not before they have a chance to say how much they love each other and how they want to be together. I knew at this moment that their fate was sealed and that one of them was a goner.

Hades holds an Olympian Crystal, a weapon so powerful that it can kill a god. Now, when we say “kill”, we don’t mean send them to the Underworld. An Olympian Crystal can completely eradicate someone from existence. There’s no moving on. There is no Heaven or Hell. They simply disappear. Guess who gets blasted with the power of the crystal? Poor, poor Robin Hood, who selflessly throws himself in front of the crystal blast before it can strike Regina. At least he got to die a heroic death…

It’s a little funny how the showrunners pretty much invented the crystal as a way to permanently remove characters from Once Upon a Time. I mean, in the past, there was always a way to bring someone back. Now, if you’re dead by the Olympian Crystal, you’re dead. There’s no coming back for Robin. If they find a way to bring him back by magical means, I’ll be livid.

The episode’s climax is when Zelena gets her hand on an Olympian Crystal and must choose between using it on Regina or Hades. I hate when this kind of stuff happens in shows and movies. There’s a standoff where a person can choose between killing one person or killing the other. You think they’ll go and kill the good guy, but at the last second, they instead kill the villain. It’s so damn predictable. I knew Zelena was going to kill Hades. I guess this was her way of gaining redemption. I still don’t trust her… Watch Zelena double-cross the heroes again by the season finale. I’m getting ready to once again say, “I told you so!”

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Let’s not forget about Hook. Our one-handed hero enters Mount Olympus, where he meets the one and only Zeus. I thought for a moment that the episode would end with a somehow-resurrected Hades unleashing the Titans in an all-out assault on Mount Olympus. How awesome would that have been? I guess that shtick has been done too many times already (God of War, Disney’s Hercules, etc). I would’ve loved to have seen the Titans make an appearance on the show, but then again, I highly doubt there would be room in the budget. I’d be concerned about how the Titans would look on Once Upon a Time seeing as this show is usually so terrible with CGI.

The episode’s ending bothered me a bit. There’s a funeral for Robin, and then Emma stays behind to pay her final respects to Hook. Lucky for her, Hook manages to return to Storybrooke. He just pops up behind her. It’s really that simple. He says that Zeus sent him back for some random, arbitrary reason. That’s it? After all that, Hook is able to come back to life at the drop of a hat? A part of me assumes that it’s not really Hook, and maybe it’s Hades in disguise, but they already did something like that two seasons ago with Peter Pan and Henry. Did the showrunners just want to bring Hook back for the sake of bringing him back? No. It shouldn’t be that easy.

The episode’s big conclusion revolves around Rumplestiltskin approaching the ashes of Hades and retrieving a piece of Olympian Crystal. Remember what I said about how Rumple is possibly going to be the big bad in the future? Well, now that he has the power to kill a god at his hands, I’d say the Storybrookers should really watch their backs from now on.

Next week’s finale will be a two-hour, two-episode conclusion. I’m hoping they can close off the season properly and not rush everything all at once. It’s great that Hades is gone, but this whole big thing with Rumple (and possibly Regina, according to the previews) feels like it could turn into a cluttered mess if it’s not done right. As always, we’ll just have to be optimistic!

Final Grade: A –

+ I’m glad someone major finally died, and it might actually be permanent this time!

+ I was happy to see Merida return!

+ King Arthur got some proper closure on his story.

– So Hook can return to Storybrooke that easily?

– The Zelena-Hades-Regina standoff was predictable.

– We all saw Robin’s death coming from a mile away.

Extra Thoughts:

– What will happen to Regina going forward? Is she going to spend some time mourning Robin’s death, or will she move on by the next season?

What did you think of the latest episode of Once Upon a Time? Are you sad about Robin’s fate? Let us know 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!