Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Once Upon a Time, Season 5, Episode 19: Sisters

Hades considers his wooing of Zelena, which comes with 1950s romantic music which always makes me think of Fallout. A post-apocalyptic wasteland is a curiously accurate comparison to Hades’s and Zelena’s relationship. His master plan is to restart his heart, leave the underworld with Zelena and leave all the heroes trapped in the underworld

Regina is naturally not a fan of this plan and she and Zelena have an amazing sisterly fight. I actually appreciate that there isn’t much snark here, despite both of these characters being epic snarkers, because it’s much more real and raw and emotional without the humour. Regina’s invoking sisterly concern doesn’t win much support since Zelena is convinced Regina never did and certainly doesn’t now want a sister.

With Zelena refusing to listen to Regina and abandon Hades, Regina has to resort to plan B to sabotage their relationship: Cora. Currently imprisoned as the Miller’s daughter, team good guy stages a jail break because they’re sure if anyone can kill true love, it’s Cora.

Cora agrees and plans to use water from the river Leethe, a memory potion, to make Zelena forget all about Hades. And how to get Zelena to trust her? Cora is going to give her what she wanted – a loving, genuinely repentant mother who truly regrets ever abandoning her. It’s potent, it’s emotional, it seems genuine and it is a truly, viciously cruel exploitation of Zelena’s greatest vulnerability. Zelena sees right through it and is furious, outraged and lashes out leading to Regina and Zelena facing off in an epic magic duel

Oh that would have been so very very epic – but Cora is torn watching her two daughter’s fight and quenches their magic. She has a rather excellent speech about how, contrary to her constant insistence that love is a weakness, Regina’s dedication to her friends and family has really shown her how love is an amazing asset. Aww, how twee.

And… just kind of fast. Tell me more about how much of an asset this love is. Tell me about the people who have Regina’s back. Tell me how Regina is far happier and that means way more than simple power. Tell me how Regina now has some powerful and useful friends to have her back which is way more powerful than solitude can ever be. Give me a reason how Cora went from “love is a weakness” to “love conquers all” tell me more, show me more!

She also has another epic reveal – in the past when they were children, Cora did bring child Zelena to help child Regina with a magical wound – showing Zelena’s terribly abusive childhood, her desperate desire to help people and Regina’s own loneliness. The sisters bonded, had an amazing time until Cora stepped in and separated them because love is terribad awful. She then used the memory potion to ensure neither sister will ever remember the other

And with that memory restored the sisters are tearfully reunited. And, again, it’s kind of fast. They went from antagonist to redemption in an incredibly short space of time. And I’m not saying I don’t want this or don’t find value in Regina and Zelena rediscovering a sisterly bond. And I’ve complained all season that I wanted more Regina focus. But this is too fast – if we had more Regina/Zelena moments in the past then maybe it would have worked better but, again, it’s just a bit twee.

Especially when, with her daughters caring for each other, Cora can now move on to a better place. That’s it? That’s all evil Queen Cora had to resolve? And another moment – Regina urges Zelena to go to Hades because she trusts her sister and, yes, maybe her love can change him

Aaaargh – I feel terrible for complaining because I want this. I want this storyline. I want a Regina and Zelena find a level storyline. I want a long, powerful development of the two, of them building a relationship of their snark and love and learning who each of them are, of Regina using the example of her redemption and working on Zelena’s terrible lack of self worth. I would watch that and praise it – but this is too fast

And even with Zelena being kidnapped by Rumple and Peter Pan in one of their terrible plans, it feels like Zelena has been put on a fastforwarded redemption train which is especially uncomfortable when we match that with Regina’s agonisingly long journey. On top of that there’s a glaring point as well – Robin, the man Zelena raped. Unlike the many murdered victims of Zelena and Regina, Robin is there: Robin is a ready accessible victim who has not been consulted at any time with Zelena’s redemption. Emma and Snow White were both deeply involved in Regina’s passage to the light, but Robin is right there and no-one thinks to ask him.

I want this, but not like this… not this fast.

We have a parallel storyline with James and David with evil James trying to kidnap his twin brother and work with Cruella to trade Zelena’s baby to Hades in exchange for a ticket to the living world. This little plan ends up with James being thrown into the evil water of eternal torment along with Gaston.