1. We have a new mission: Operation Firebird. Can everyone in the Underworld be saved?
Teresa: I think so. Regina basically proclaimed herself the Savior when she said she came back to help everyone. I believe that the gauntlet was thrown down. Operation Firebird is a go! The only caveat in my opinion is that all can be saved, who choose to be saved.
Amy: With the Underworld being a stop over on your way to a better place or a worse place, I feel like that means that not everyone can be saved. Some of those with unfinished business are on their way towards a very, very, hot destination. I do adore all the mythology that came in with this episode and I can't wait to see Operation Firebird take flight!
Lori: Do they want to be? It seems like Cora has learned from her mistakes, had the right intentions but made the wrong choice as to how to go about doing it. Like Henry Senior, she is thinking only about Regina's safety, not her own self, so I think there is an opportunity for her to go on to a better place as well. Peter Pan seems like his usual selfish self, so maybe he just hasn't learned yet...but does that mean that he can't?
Joanne: I don't think everyone can be saved. I do think that Hades will do his best to keep every soul he can in his realm.
Francesca: I don't think all the souls in the Underworld can be saved unless they come to terms with their regrets and find forgiveness.
2. What are your thoughts on the Enchanted Forest flashback and its ramifications on Regina's character arc?
Amy: I really enjoy that we finally got to see how Henry Sr. got into the box in Season One. I thought it was a great tie back to things we've seen in the past. As always I am in love with Regina's Evil Queen wardrobe. The sort of mirroring between Emma's birthday in the pilot and Regina's birthday here was also very clever. The single candle, the wish.... very cool.
Lori: I loved that Regina was re-united with her father and that they both had closure. I think it was one of the finest stories of Season Five so far.
Joanne: The Enchanted Forest flashbacks gave us a taste of Season One and the Evil Queen's flair. It also showed us how far Regina has come in redeeming herself. She is not that woman anymore. I loved her tender scene with her father before he moved on and at his graveside. She wanted his forgiveness so much from all the terrible things she did and the things she had him do in her vengeful pursuit of Snow White. She finally had an opportunity to talk to him again and gain that forgiveness she so desperately needed. To me, that symbolized her unfinished business and now she can move on to a better life.
Francesca: Loved, loved the Enchanted Forest flashbacks and why we all fell in love with Regina as the Evil Queen! Again back to to core cast and the feeling of magic from Season One. I also liked how we got more of the backstory with her father and mother and how he ended up in Wonderland.
Teresa: I adored the flashbacks. The great memories of the characters which grabbed our hearts were at their best. It was especially a delight to see Snowing back in action. I've also been waiting for more interaction with Cora, Henry Sr. and Regina for quite some time. I believe that the contrast with Regina's past and her closure with "Daddy" was a significant step towards not only her Happy Ending, but all of the characters' Happy Endings. She started it all by casting the original curse, and not she can now undo it.
3. We finally saw Once's version of Hades. Did he live up to your expectations?
Lori: Yes, he seemed very sinister and vindictive. I was not a fan of the blue hair though. I didn't think it was necessary.
Joanne: I thought he was very creepy and a proper villain. In mythology, he is a greedy person and territorial. Hades came across as very clever, knowledgeable and devious. I think he is a master manipulator trying to get everyone else to do his dirty work. I'm pretty excited to see how the story line plays out with Hades.
Francesca: Not a fan of Hades, in my opinion it is Disney again selling Disney (Hercules) movie. A new bad guy that gets airtime and how the other Hercules characters come into play with the new story line.
Teresa: He actually exceeded my expectations. I was rather skeptical of another guest being featured, especially after 5a's being left in limbo for goodness knows how long. Hades however seems like he fits in with the journey of the core characters, rather than visa versa. He came off as cleverly evil. I liked him. Kudos to his appreciation for fine wine and music!
Amy: Honestly he was better than I expected. I was already pretty excited for Hades, but was curious how they were going to play him. He seems like he's going to really be devious and remorseless. I love it.
4. Hades seems like he enjoys tailoring punishment to people's past situations or actions. What do you think he has in store for Hook?
Joanne: I'm not sure what Hades has in store for Hook, but Hook killed his own father and stole another man's wife. (He also punched Belle and I still haven't gotten over that yet.) I think that he may have to face his father again and Rumple as well. Hook may be in a labyrinth to keep him away from Emma.
I do like that Hades has tailor-made the punishments to fit the crime. Pan has to dress as an adult and be a business man, Cora is the Miller's daughter again, the Blind Witch is cooking gingerbread for everyone and not cooking children. Hades has quite the sense of humor when it comes to punishments.
Francesca: Not sure what he would have as a punishment for Hook, but I did like it when he turned Cora back into the Miller's Daughter.
Teresa: I think that Hades will have the punishment fit the crime. Maybe he will have Hook truly experience what it's like to be one of his past victims. Hook has a lot to atone for (as other characters do). And like Joanne, I have not recovered by how brutally and physically violent he was with Belle. He not only punched her into unconsciousness, but shot her in the back! Not to mention how awful he was to Emma--"The Dark One Curse made me do it"-- I don't buy. Or rather, I buy it as much as I buy it with Rumple. That is, like the addiction it has been described as, one with the curse must suffer and truly hit rock-bottom before recovering. Why was Hook so comfortable and quickly evil in 5b? That's what I want to see. I want it messy with Hook. Big time! One can only go completely into the ashes to rise like The Phoenix.
Amy: First of all, Hades gets ALL the points for making Cora into a Miller's Daughter again. If I could give him a round of applause in person, I totally would...lol. Hook's punishment is difficult to figure out. It seems that the thing he would hate the most is to be separated from Emma, which he already is, so I'm not sure what more Hades has in store for him.
Lori: Hook seems pretty beat up. Perhaps his punishment is physical due to all his wrongdoings as a pirate. Or perhaps it's simply a better lure for Emma.
Francesca: I had two favorite moments, the scene with Regina's father and Henry when he forgave her and his soul was able to go to heaven.
And then the scene when the clock moves and Regina turns and smiles, brings it back to Season One where hope begins.
Teresa: Hands down the scene when Henry Sr. goes into the Light after meeting Henry. Cried like a baby! Second: the beautiful scene with Neal and Emma at the start of the episode.
Amy: I adore that Neal's "better place" is his younger days with Emma. The yellow bug, the roller coaster, the popping up in the back of the bug, all just really nice to see. I was also over the moon impressed with the Lana Parrilla and Tony Perez scenes. Every moment with Regina and her father in the Underworld was gold.
Lori: It's a tie between the prologue with Emma and Neal and Henry's ascent to a better place. I also loved that Henry got to meet his namesake.
Joanne: I loved the scene with Neal and Emma in the yellow bug by the amusement park. It was reminiscent of their first meeting. I suspect he hijacked her subconscious to warn her. His appearance was meant to be a "revelation", which was the sign on the roller coaster. A Heavenly messenger sent by the gods to warn her.
I was also crying with Regina's scenes with her father. They were very well performed. There was such love, tenderness and forgiveness in the scenes. It was beautiful.
Teresa: This ......
Regina: This is your grandson.....Henry.
Henry: Thank you, Grandpa, for believing in her like I do.
Henry Sr.: Thank you, Henry, for being there when I couldn't.
You take good care of her.
Amy: "Operation Firebird? Like the car?"
Joanne: "What can I get you? do you want gingerbread or children? Just kidding. The gingerbread's actually not bad." -The Blind Witch.
Regina:"I hate her pasty complexion. Her insufferable sincerity,
and her puny army of sweaty little child beasts!
Henry, Sr.: I believe they're called dwarves.
Regina: I don't care what they're called. They're disgusting!
Francesca: "Blueberry not bad, I prefer Apple... lucky for you I am not here for the pie."~Regina
Amy: The clock being at 8:15 and ticking, the single candle on the cake, the yellow bug, all these call backs to the pilot were really nice to see. I loved the episode and felt like it was a very strong piece in the Once line up. We also talked on the podcast about Storybrooke actually being a copy of Underbrooke and Regina being the new savior in this Underworld. I'm totally on board for that!
Lori: I also like that every time the clock ticks someone has left Purgatory. Time has begun to move again for them. It's a nice throwback to Season One.
Joanne: Hades seems more concerned with getting Regina out Underbrooke than anything else. He's more threatened by Regina than Emma. I think she is responsible for many of the souls being in the Underworld and she has the power to release them. I think Operation Firebird will involve Regina making amends to the souls she is responsible for, releasing them to the next world. Hades is not going to like that. I liked how the clocked ticked when a soul was released just like it ticked when Emma choose to stay in Storybrooke.
I'm also worried that Pan has something up his well tailored sleeve. He is going to try to manipulate the situation somehow to make it back to the real world.
It was great seeing Henry meet his Grandfather Henry. I just wished that Henry could have seen Neal as well.
Francesca: I really did like this episode. We are finally back to the core cast and a few of our favorites from Cora, Neal to Peter Pan. The CGI with the mirror's hands gripping Cora back into Wonderland and taking her father with her; a great scene again brought it back full circle.
Teresa: I was a little cranky about the "Groundhog Day" of using Belle as blackmail. Enough already. We've been there. And I really hope there will be a progression of Rumple, not a regression. Again, been there, done that, and it's not the complex man who intrigued us in Seasons 1-3. IMHO there's still a great character there and a magnificent actor to portray him. Let's see something Higher and Beautiful! Something with Henry, his grandson!
Bravo to Tony Perez for a great performance!
Overall, I believe this was a strong episode; strong because it focused on the characters we already know and adore. The emphasis on family and redemption . . . When Once goes there it never goes wrong.