1. Regina is now split in two. Has this changed who she is? Or just the compulsion to do evil? What does this portend for free will on Once?
Sam: It's an interesting question. How much can a person really change? Can you really absolve yourself of bad behavior by saying that person is not the person I am now? Keeping this in the realm of fiction, which we must remember, Once Upon a Time is fiction, I'm going to say this separation makes sense. It would be a terrible shame for Regina to lose the redemption she's earned in the last few seasons. The literal separation of her Evil Queen personality works for me and here's why: I think it's pretty clear that if not for the manipulation by Cora and Rumple when she was young, Regina would not have become Evil. Remember: Evil isn't born, it's made. I think the Evil Queen was not really a natural part of Regina's personality, although she did surrender to it and live it to the fullest for some time. The selfless, rational, loving Regina that we've come to know in recent seasons is who she would have been without the meddling by Cora and Rumple.
Joanne: We will always have free will. Just because Regina has rid herself of her evil side, doesn't mean that she can't make bad choices in the future. I think splitting Regina and the Evil Queen is a great plot device. It will move Regina closer to redeeming herself in her own eyes. The core characters seem willing to forgive and forget what Regina did in the past as the Evil Queen, but Regina doesn't seem to be able to forgive herself. By dividing her into two separate characters, the writers allow Regina to battle it out with her evil side. I also think that Rumple might use the Evil Queen to help him get Belle back. When Regina offered her magical services, she said that she was his best student. He contradicted her and said the Evil Queen was his best student. He needs her not Regina because Regina had gone soft.
Amy: I was torn by this plot point. The Evil Queen isn't, or wasn't a different person, she IS Regina the same way all of us have things in our past that we regret, they are part of us and our journey. I will say that I AM excited about seeing more Evil Queen. I love Regina best when she's full on Fairytale wardrobe and destroying happiness...lol. The Charmings tried in the past to pull all the evil from Emma and put it into Maleficent's child in the past, and we saw how badly that turned out. I'm curious to see how this plays out and if the two Reginas are going to be completely black and white, good and evil, or if we'll get any shades of gray.
Ashley: This bugged me. The thing about Once Upon a Time that a lot of people love is how it shows us that good and evil isn't as simple as black and white. This is a show where the good guys steal babies and the evil-doers nurture them. So for Regina to pull out all her evil, that just doesn't sit right with me. I don't know if and how it will change her in the upcoming season, but I do know that one of the things that makes Regina some people's favorite is her complexity and how she's overcome and dealt with her evil urges. I hope that we see that Regina has to exist with the Evil Queen and they are reunited.
Lori: I am not keen on the "double" aspect. However, I do see it as a ramification of Regina trying to take the easy way out and get rid of her "evil" side. I know she was struggling to find the hope in her future, but she has to realize that you can't erase aspects of yourself. Just like you can't erase grief: it becomes a part of who you are and you need to deal with it. I think she has to learn how to embrace the Evil Queen part of her without succumbing to it. The only way I see this plot point being resolved is through reintegration, so I'm not really tantalized by it at this moment. Also, I've seen some people asking how the EQ could come back after having her heart crushed. I think we need to remember that this is a personification of the Evil Queen, a manifestation created by a potion, and not a human being, and therefore cannot be killed in the usual ways.
Zach: I'm not sure how I feel about this. After all, it wasn't some mysterious entity that committed the atrocities of Regina's past, it was just Regina; she wasn't under a spell or a curse or authorial influence, she was aware of what she was doing, so the shift from one person, with a dark side and a good side, to two separate people is a bit jarring. She still had plenty of sass for Hyde when they met in Storybrooke, so where does the line between Regina and the Evil Queen fall? Where does one start and the other begin?
On the other hand, I think it's a very clever storytelling device because it keeps the Evil Queen alive without flashbacks, and we've covered so much of the past over the last five years that we need a new format or the show will get stale. Not only that but the personality separation will allow Regina to express her thoughts and feelings while confronting her past in a more creative way than hearing a voice-over as she writes in a diary or something similar, and we may get answers to the questions I posed above as a result. Plus: splitting Regina from the Evil Queen allows for a visual representation of her struggle, something necessary for the medium of television, and it will play into the duality motif of the show, so I love that aspect of it.
Teresa: I don't really think this has changed who she is, because the Evil Queen to me is a part of Regina, a bad part of her, but still her. While she was molded by those who manipulated her, she was the one who made the decisions during her reign. I am a firm believer in free will, so it is to me problematic, because separating her into "two" implies that maybe Regina was never responsible for her previous actions. On the other hand, like Lori, I think perhaps the story could go with Regina accepting all of herself, relishing in her triumph over it, and rejecting magical solutions to her inner conflict. They never seem to work on Once, as Rumple's continued failures show.
2. Now that Storybrooke belongs to Hyde, what will he do with it? What are some of the untold stories that we hope to see?
Sam: It certainly opens a lot of possibilities! I think some American folk tales would be cool. I'm a little curious as to how much power or hold Hyde has over the characters who are from the Land of Untold Stories. Is he the Rumplestiltskin of this land?
Amy: This is probably what I am most excited for. It seems we are opened up to a ton of new literature and stories which will interact with our core characters. I like the idea that they have come to Storybrooke because I feel like that will facilitate more story time for our core bunch. I don't know if that was Aladdin and Jasmine, or perhaps Ali Baba that we saw in the episode, but PLEASE let it lead to bringing Jafar back in!!!! I'm excited for all the possibilities. I think Hyde just wants to be a dictator and rule over something, so Storybrooke seemed a good choice.
Joanne: What was Rumple thinking giving Storybrooke to Hyde? I'm excited to find out his reasons and where he went too. I have know idea why Hyde wanted to bring his untold story characters to Storybrooke, but it really does open up a variety of different types of stories outside of the fairy tale realm. I'm looking forward to maybe some Arabian Nights, Captain Nemo and Gothic Horror stories like The Mummy or Dracula.
Ashley: I really don't know a good answer for either question and that's what excites me. Hyde's motivations and intentions aren't made clear, so he could have anything up his sleeve. The potential that his presence and plots bring have breathed a bit of fresh air into Once Upon a Time for me. Honestly, I'm more excited by the potential of guessing which untold stories have turned up in Storybrooke than predicting. I want it to be like when we were all trying to figure out who Dr. Whale was back in Season Two.
Zach: I'm with Ashley on this one, I'm not sure I can answer either question and that's the best part of this development, along with the fact that we'll soon be back to our first season roots with having to guess different characters' identities. I'm hoping the stories we saw in the different storybooks, like Paul Bunyan, Gulliver's Travels and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea aren't just Easter eggs, but potential one-off episodes for the upcoming storyline. There are so many options now, I can't begin to choose what I want to see, but the possibilities of far off places, daring sword fights, magic spells, princes in disguise are all so magical, and I'm ready!
Lori: I cannot tell you how excited I was to see the secret library room (in the New York Public Library no less) and the multiple Storybooks. This is what I've been waiting for since Jefferson's speech in "Hat Trick"! I'd love to see more classic adventure stories, which is what I think we will be getting based on the market scene - more Robert Louis Stevenson, Jules Verne. Weren't those stakes in the cell with the heroes? If we had Shelley's Frankenstein, maybe we could have Stoker's Dracula!
Teresa: I can see Hyde having a full-throttle Operation Chaos with his reign over Storybrooke. A new way to have villains get their happy endings. This could be fun! There is no particular story I wish to see--I am still mostly interested in seeing the stories of the core characters-- but the possibilities certainly do leave a lot of room for some fresh material if balance is maintained.
3. There was a parallel with Rumple going for the crystal instead of Belle, and the moment when he let Bae fall alone into the portal. Could this be foreshadowing for S6? Where do you think Rumple will go from here? What will become of Belle and the baby?
Joanne: The parallel was the first thing I noticed about the scene. As he waffled between the crystal and Belle, I kept yelling at him to choose Belle, but he didn't listen. It was like he dropped Baelfire into the green portal all over again, and you could see it on his face. He knew he made the wrong choice yet again. He is so addicted to power. He just can't help himself. Hopefully, the information that Hyde gave him will help release Belle and baby from the sleeping curse. It will be interesting to see how he overcomes this obstacle to his love and happiness.
Amy: I feel like Rumple is back to making those desperate choices we saw in earlier seasons. He is once again not thinking things thru and just grabbing at whatever seems like it will save his child and Belle. It's very much like "Desperate Souls" and even though he has SO much power right now, he's blinded by his goal. I wonder what Hyde told him, and where Rumple has gone to find what he needs to wake Belle.
Sam: Rumple, Rumple, Rumple. I just sat there shaking my head as he chose to save Power instead of Love. I guess in his point of view, only Power will help him bring Belle back, so to lose Power is the same as losing Belle. It's an interesting contrast to see how Regina chose to separate from her dark tendencies and Rumple chose to embrace them as just another part of his true self. I have no idea where Rumple has gone to try and recover Belle, but I do look forward to seeing whatever he does.
Zach: When I first saw this happen, I was irritated. Like, really? You chose power over the one you love? Again? You gotta be kidding me! But over the last few days I've realized that Regina's redemption arc over the past few seasons has left us without a character we love to hate, and Rumple has become that person now. He was always a twisted little imp but now he's gone beyond any of his past misdeeds. As far as Beauty and the Babe, I think they'll be fine, but first there's the matter of what Hyde told Rumple in regards to waking Belle from the sleeping curse. If true love's kiss won't work, what will? And which new character from the Untold Land holds the key? I can't wait to find out!
Ashley: I don't know if this was strictly a parallel since when Bae fell in the portal, Rumple reacted out of both fear and his desire to keep his power. In the finale, Rumple hesitated, but he wasn't afraid, he just chose power first. I think it might be a good thing if Belle took even a further step back from Rumple, baby or not. There need to be consequences for him.
Lori: Same old Rumple. He went for the crystal when he felt a portal opening, just like he let go of Bae to grab the dagger. I have no clue what he's going to do, but he always keeps my interest.
Teresa: I'm thinking this parallel is maybe a way to revisit Rumple's S1-3 motivations. Bae's untimely death cut that potential short. Perhaps new choices with Rumple's baby and Belle will be a way of completing that beloved "untold story."
4. What are your thoughts on Henry's pivotal role in the season finale?
Amy: I can't lie, I was SO annoyed with Henry...lol. Like, look there whippersnapper, you are a little young to be making a decision like this for the ENTIRE WORLD, heck WORLDS!! It was just a bad decision and I get that he's a teenager and kind of blinded to the bigger picture by all that has happened to him and his family, but aye yi yi! Jared Gilmore did an amazing job though, It was nice to see Henry back on a mission.
Sam: Being a fifteen year old boy is hard enough without all the extra craziness that Henry has to deal with. While Henry does get sidelined by the rest of the heroes, I think it's important for us to remember that he's really the one who started it all by bringing Emma to Storybrooke. This is not the first time we saw Henry try to destroy all Magic, he did in Season 2 as well. Both times it turned out this was not the best solution.
Zach: Henry is the heart of the show and I'm always happy to see him take a leading role in the plot. He has great power and responsibility now that he's an Author and I'm glad he used it in a way that he felt was right, even if it was technically a betrayal of his mandate. He's not a child anymore and his assertiveness was needed, especially in the face of Emma treating him like a child. (Really, Emma?) Having said that, destroying magic was a monumentally foolish thing to do, but like Emma and Snow before him, he wasn't thinking of the consequences of his actions. Sure, it led to some problems, but ultimately he fixed them himself, he didn't depend on anyone for a solution, and I love that.
Joanne: I'm laughing that Henry seemed to have outwitted his parents and grandfather, Mr. Gold. I was a little surprised by his stealing money from Mr. Gold, but I guess he stole a credit card before from Mary Margaret. Henry blames magic for all his family's problems rather than blaming his family for poor choices. So I wasn't surprised that he wanted to put an end to it. He just didn't think things through. There are positive aspects to magic, and he needs to start accepting them.
Ashley: I love that Henry can go on his own adventures now and I understand his motivations to destroy magic. He's grown up seeing magic do terrible things to the people he loves; whenever there's magic, there's danger. However, his methods aren't the best. Destroying magic won't work, but perhaps harnessing it and reining it in with his Author powers would have been better. I do like that Henry gave everyone, Emma, Regina, even Rumple, a piece of his mind and was unafraid to stand up for himself.
Lori: I absolutely adore Henry and I'm so glad he had a big part to play. He showed them all up in my opinion: stood up for what he believed in, admitted that he was wrong, and then worked hard to find a proper solution to fix it. All using the power of belief.
Teresa: I was just so happy to see Henry take center stage! When he is absent, it feels to me like a part of Once's soul is absent. Having him featured--being that teenager, both the good and the unwise with it--stabilized things for me. He is the original mover and shaker of the Storybrooke stage, so it was a welcome return, and I think can keep the story focused if this continues in S6.
5. Favorite Moments.
Sam: While there are many to choose from, the quiet talk between Snow and Regina really stands out to me.
Zach: The Emma/Regina scene in Neal's apartment and the Regina/Snow scene with the spiked cocoa were the best for me, but I also loved seeing all those volumes of the storybooks.
Joanne: My favorite moment was Gold waffling between saving Belle or the crystal.
Amy: I loved the little moments with Snow and Regina and Zelena and Regina. I also loved seeing the marketplace and all the new literary characters mingling.
Ashley: The discussion Emma and Regina have in the apartment where Regina really opens up about what's going on in her head. The music that accompanies this is gorgeous.
Lori: Henry and Violet in the library with the Storybooks and the arcana. Gold in the hotel room.
Teresa: Snow, Regina, and the spiked cocoa! I have missed their interactions. And shout-out to Rumple tipping the terrified waiter!
6. Favorite Quotes.
Joanne, Zach: David: But you can fix it right? Zelena: Of course. Do you happen to have any duct tape?
Amy: "I was fine with running"- Zelena
Ashley: Anytime Henry sassed back his grandpa.
Lori: When Emma told Regina that everyone got sucked through a portal and Regina says, "Again?"
7. Anything Else?
Zach: The music, as usual, was outstanding. The violin solo gave me life. Mark Isham: please, PLEASE put a harpsichord in the music of season 6! It's the perfect instrument for the tone that's been set!
Amy: I am really excited to see what's coming. I feel like this was a solid finale, but it wasn't my favorite season finale. I enjoyed a lot of it and I'm interested just what happens when war comes to Storybrooke next season.
Joanne: I'm excited to see what happens in Season 6. The core characters are finally getting together on the same page and seem more unified going forward. There are two big Bads, one known and the other unknown: Hyde and the Evil Queen. I'm looking forward to all the different untold stories and what adventures they might bring for our heroes. I'm very optimistic for Season 6.
Ashley: Now that it's over, I can say that Season 5 has not been my favorite season. There were some awesome elements, the Dark Swan, all the development with Zelena, and the fairy tale lesbians to name a few. On the whole, however, there was something missing for me in this time out. I'm really excited to see what's in store for Season 6 though, and can't wait until the cast and writers start sharing hints on what's to come.
Teresa: It wasn't my favorite either. Really it has been my least favorite. Season 5 was all over the place and had far too many dead-ends and negations. I prefer a story that is coherent and consistent; finishing what is started and staying true to what happens from episode to episode. It is my wish that the writing tightens up next season and takes on a more positive approach to hope.