1. What did you think of Hercules, his flashback adventures with Young Snow White, and the resolution of his story?
Sam: First of all, I have to admit that I never saw Disney's Hercules. Kevin Sorbo is still my Hercules. I liked that Once chose to focus on a younger version of Herc. I agree that this week had a very Season 1 feel to it. The guest characters were fun and relevant and their story was resolved in just one episode. I loved the return of Bailee Madison as Young Snow! It's been so much fun to have her back year after year and watch her grow-up as Snow White. I enjoyed the adventure romance between Snow and Herc. I really liked that when she confronted the bandits he did not step in and defeat them himself, but took the time to teach Snow a way to beat them herself.
It was nice to have Herc and Meg's story wrapped up by the end of the show. This was a great example of the flashback story and the current story working well together. Herc helped Young Snow take a step forward in becoming a Hero, and present day Snow was able to give Herc a boost so he could confront his own unfinished business.
Zach: I rather enjoyed the Hercules flashback and his history with Snow. It was satisfying to see Snow's character made even more relatable with the reveal that she'd had a previous romance with someone other than Charming. In hindsight, it makes complete sense that she would have had a first crush, but we're so accustomed to the Snow White/Prince Charming story that it never occurred to me that she would have liked someone before him.
As sad as it was to see that both Herc and Meg had died, I was happy them ascend to Olympus for their conclusion. I did see some online chatter from people expressing disappointment that their story wrapped up so quickly, but I like that it was over in one episode. It cut down on the number of storyline-dependent characters and kept the focus on the main characters, yet paid homage to the Disney animated movie. It had a vibe like the episodes of Season 1 where characters showed up, played an integral part of the story, and had conclusions that didn't require an extended appearance. I'd rather focus on the characters we've spent five years watching, so I was happy.
Gareth: I really enjoyed his story. I was quite surprised that the character was dead but it gave it that unique OUAT twist on the character. Seeing Snow's crush on him was adorable and I really liked their scenes together. Bailee Madison is a terrific little actress. The way she mimics Ginny's mannerisms and voice is fantastic.
I agree with Zach, Season 5B does have a Season 1 feel to it with the guest stars working alongside our core cast rather than taking over the whole story.. I much prefer this style of storytelling.
Ashley: I liked Hercules, I was surprised to see how well he fit in with the world of Once Upon a Time, but I found his story itself to be a bit lacking, I can't put my finger on why it didn't click with me when I know many fans enjoyed it. It might have been because of the fledgling romance with Snow. We're so used to seeing Snow White and Prince Charming as the example for True Love that it just seemed jarring and out of place that young Snow would be interested in another. It makes sense, but my response was an emotional one. Also, I wasn't a fan of Meg or her inclusion. I love the actress, but Hercules' story could have done without a love interest and it would have been just fine.
Laurie: I think the writers will regret sending him on to Mt. Olympus so soon!! I liked his character a lot and I LOVED the interaction between him and Young Snow. I thought it was great that we got to see Young Bandit Snow (when she first learned her bandit skills). Bailee Madison was great as always and it’s fantastic that the writers can continue to use her for flashbacks as she gets older. I really appreciate the “older” Enchanted Forest scenes - that we are getting to fill in the blanks and the timeline that many of us have wondered about since Season 1. Brilliant idea that Hercules was the one to teach Snow archery, and it was great that she messed up the first time. You can see her growing in confidence and determination, not getting it all at once. Bailee’s smile when she shot the sword out of the bandit’s hand was perfect. I was very surprised that Hercules's story ended so quickly, but I was pleased that he got his happy ending with Meg. So I can’t be too upset but I thought he would have made a cool friend/ally for Henry.
2. Hades presented Hook with the impossible task of deciding which of our heroes living souls will be sacrificed to the Underworld in exchange for souls they help to move on. Who do you think Hook will choose?
Zach: We've seen very little of Hades thus far but I'm already smitten with Greg Germann's performance. The humor of the Disney animated character is still present but it's layered with menace in a very subtle way, and I like that this version of Hades is more rooted in evil than comedy.
As far as who Hook will choose, I think he will resist assigning graves to his comrades until he has no other option, but when his hand is forced he will choose Rumple, Regina and Robin. The choice of Rumple is a no-brainer, and while Hook has reformed himself a great deal, their history will play a part in his decision-making. He and Regina have had several confrontations and there's no doubt he'll want Henry to leave with Emma, so he'll have that rationale on his side when it comes to the Queen. Robin Hood is the only one who has no relationship with Hook, so he'll be an immediate discard in Hook's eyes.
Gareth: I think he will refrain from choosing anyone for the time being, but if it comes right down to it, Rumple is going to be first on his hit list.
Hades is so dark and delicious. It is such a refreshing change after the somewhat campy villains of recent seasons. This story arc has some seriously dark undertones and I'd love to see the writers push the envelope a bit and give us some real menace and a few fatalities in the process. The main problem in recent years is that you know everybody in the core cast will survive, There can be no tense build up because you know deep down that established Disney characters such as Snow White and Charming are always safe and will come out unscathed however dire their predicament. Time to change the rules and give us a real shocker.
Ashley: I would love for the twist to be Hook beginning to carve Hades' name in one of the tombstones and for the lord of the Underworld to go, "ah ah ah, I don't think so". But truth be told, I don't think he will chose anyone, at least not for this episode. Maybe I'm giving the pirate a bit more credit, but I don't think he'll carve a name in unless he's forced or there's a deal brewing.
Laurie: The first person I think he will choose is Rumple. Given his natural animosity toward Rumple, I can see this being the “perfect” choice for Hook. Also, he might (correctly) assume that Rumple has the best chance of getting out, given that he is the Dark One (or former DO - pretty sure Hook doesn’t know about Rumple being the current DO). Hook would never choose Emma, even though I don’t think he has much hope of getting out of the Underworld alive. He has evolved too much as a character - he will always try to protect Emma, not kill her just so they can be together. So I think if he is forced to choose, he will choose Rumple, Robin and Regina. He doesn’t have strong ties to either Robin or Regina, but he does to the Charmings, Henry and Emma. If anyone else escapes, all bets are off.
Sam: He may sprout silly, blue, fire hair once in a while, but this Hades guy means business! Greg Germann is totally on point as Hades. It's kind of nice to have a male villain again after so many Queens of Darkness. As for Hook, the obvious choice is Rumple. Still no love lost there. I think now that he is free of the Darkness, Hook will do his best to protect Emma and those she loves.
3. Cruella surprised Henry with an opportunity to use his Author's power to rewrite history and clear Emma of her murder. What do you think Henry will do?
Zach: Our gin-soaked glamazon didn't surprise Henry with that opportunity, she surprised me too! I had wondered how Henry's authorship would manifest after he broke the quill, and to hear that the quill was a living magical entity was a pleasant shock to the system. I have a feeling that Hades turned to Cruella for help after Cora's failure, and the two of them are manipulating the situation for their own good. There will be one of two results of this scene: either Henry will keep the secret from his family until it's too late and he's forced to rewrite something, or he'll tell the truth off-screen and they'll form a back-up plan to make Henry a double agent over Regina and Emma's objections. I think the former is more likely because it will give Henry a more substantial story than following his family around looking for Hook.
Gareth: The life force behind the quill is an intriguing concept and I look forward to seeing how that storyline progresses, although it does feel like a "Get out of Hell Free" Card that can be conveniently used when things are dire! Henry is the smartest one in the group. He will be two steps ahead of Cruella unless the writers dumb his character down again in order to make Cruella's blackmail plan work.
Ashley: Well, I think Henry's silence on his reunion with Cruella when he emerged from the office says it all. He's not doing this because he's tricked, he's going to try to outfox Cruella. Henry's heart is in the right place and wants to make sure the savior is pure. But one thing we know is that in the world of Once Upon a Time things are so rarely black and white. I'm interested to see how Henry will work around his family to sneak off and search for the quill with Cruella. And once he has it, who says he'll do exactly as she says?
Laurie: He’s not a kid anymore. I don’t think he will fall for Cruella’s scheme, despite her persuasiveness. He might be tempted initially, but I don’t think he will use the quill to get people out of the consequences of their actions (even Emma). Henry is smart and he has seen a lot of evidence of the power of hope. I don’t think he will abandon his values or the things he has learned over the past four years. That being said, I think Henry will be a pivotal figure in Season 5B, so he may go through a lot of these types of interactions with various Underworld residents and will have to grapple with how he wants to handle his
responsibilities as the Author because we know the quill is coming back. Such a great twist that the quill is alive, and, when it was “killed,” ended up in the Underworld.
Sam: Victoria Smurfit is just dazzling as Cruella! I loved having her pop-up and surprise Henry. I'm very excited to see what happens with Henry and his abilities as the Author. Henry has the potential to be the most powerful character of all if he learns how to use the pen. I believe that Henry will try and help Emma, but I think that he's grown-up enough to be very, very careful about rewriting anything.
4. We saw another shift in the relationship between Regina and Snow. How do you think this will play into the choices they make in the Underworld?
Ashley: An amazing interaction! I love that the pair of them basically switched roles, with Regina being the hopeful, optimistic one providing comfort and Snow being the one filled with self doubt. Perhaps this reversal of roles will present itself further when Emma is involved. If the savior has to make a hard choice about Hook, seeing Snow be pragmatic and Regina being the one to cheerlead someone towards their True Love would be a twist.
Laurie: This was one of my favorite parts of this episode. “You made me your friend,” This was such a great line and reinforced the powerful Snow-Regina interactions we’ve seen since Season 3. Regina is actually fighting for Snow and fighting for her to STOP being Mary Margaret! SUCH a welcome change! I have been hoping for this moment since the curse broke. And how perfect that this came from Regina, and not David, which would have been expected. I think that Regina will continue to remind Snow of how powerful her hope is throughout their stay in the Underworld. Snow will respond by growing in confidence (as she did with Hercules) as she casts off what is left of Mary Margaret. This will not be easy for Snow, and I think she will continue to wrestle with it throughout the season.
Sam: Snow and Regina have a long and interesting history together. It's always very satisfying when they reach out to help each other. It was nice to contrast the manipulative Queen Regina in the flashback with the new "Savior" Regina of the present.
Gareth: The scene where Regina talked about Snow defeating her by becoming her friend and never giving up on her was so great. Ginny and Lana are aways fantastic in their scenes together and this one was no exception.
Zach: I'm thinking that we'll see the Fairest of Them All and the Queen Formerly Known as Evil team up with Emma to bring hope to the Underworld and save those poor, unfortunate souls. The Power of Three shall set them free!
5. Favorite Moment
Laurie: When Snow said she didn’t want to be Mary Margaret anymore.
Sam: I actually cheered out loud when Mary Margaret said she wanted to be Snow White again. Finally!
Zach: My favorite moment for character development was the scene between Regina and Mary Margaret. Their relationship has been, and continues to be, one of the best aspects of the show. My favorite moment for visuals/optics was when we saw Olympus. It looked so lush and beautiful, and it was a very hopeful image; if you're going to spend eternity somewhere, that's a good place to be!
Gareth: The scene between Regina and Snow was a definite highlight for me. I also loved seeing Cruella back. She camps it up so well.
Ashley: Snow and Regina's conversation in the creepy abandoned Casa de Charming.
6. Favorite Quotes
Zach, Gareth, Sam: "It's a cold day in hell when I move in with the Charmings," and "You defeated me in a way no one ever thought possible: you made me your friend," both from Regina, and Mary Margaret's "I want to be Snow White again."
Gareth: THE GIN!!!
Ashley: I don't know if this counts as a quote, but i love the way Baliee Madison NAILS how Ginnifer Goodwin says the word "never". It's spot on!
7. Anything Else?
Gareth: Blind Witch needs to be a regular. She's hilarious. I can't believe it is Emma Caulfield behind all that makeup
Zach: I loved the scene in the diner with the Blind Witch!
Ashley: I really enjoy Hades and find him genuinely menacing. Quite surprised because I was not on board with him before the premiere. I'm interested to learn more about the Underworld and its rules.
Laurie: I am really excited about the Rumple/Hades showdown next week!
Sam: I hope we get to see more of Henry as the Author.