‘Once Upon A Time’ Panel: “Souls of the Departed”

Hello, Oncers! We’re back. This IS a post-episode panel. We have stuff to talk about! That’s, of course, good news. We’ve missed our show. I’ve missed it. But, on the flip side, that also means pain is coming our way. Because, what other way would Once Upon A Time receive us?

For this episode, the landmark 100th of the series run, the pain was mostly Regina/family related. Not much shippy stuff here, people. (Unless you want to count that heart-wrenching scene with Emma trying to call on Hook. Which, okay, fine, we’re counting. Because it broke our hearts). Otherwise, though, it was Regina and her father, Emma and her parents, and a Henry and his grandfather in this episode. I personally, really enjoyed it. Could have done with a bit more balance – less flashbacks, more present stuff, but I was ready for little to no Hook as these heroes embark on a journey to find him. And I still have high hopes for this arc. High, high hopes.

Joining me today are Cat, Sarah and Charles, as we recap the best and the worst of “Souls of the Departed.” So, let’s begin!

The episode opens with the re-appearance of Neal, who warns Emma to not go to the Underworld. During their brief conversation, Emma states that, had she known she could do it, she would have gone after Neal too. Do you believe she really would have, or do you think she was just saying what he wanted to hear?

Cat: I think that line was the writers saying what Neal fans wanted to hear. It felt like fanservice and not going by the reality of the situation. To me, it diminished the huge leap of faith in True Love that Emma took to go after Hook. Saying that she would’ve gone after Neal doesn’t make sense — would she have thought she could split her heart with the guy who she was hoping was really dead back in Neverland? Hardly heart-splitting True Love material there. I understand she would want to save him for Henry’s sake, but I think that line was a bad idea that came from a desire to please Neal fans, much like Snowing naming their son after him when they barely knew him. I think Neal and Emma had reached closure already in the episode where he died — his scene should have been with Henry or Rumple, who still lack closure. They could’ve had a vision/dream in the boat as easily as Emma.




Sarah: I’ll be honest when I first watched this scene and heard Emma say that I immediately thought, “I don’t think so.” Thinking about it now, I realize despite her quest to the underworld she never expected to see Neal, which granted I understand her focus was and still is saving Killian. In my opinion she said it more for his benefit, than as something she would have actually done. I don’t think Emma was lying per say, but actions speak louder than words and if she was going to try and save him from death she would have found a way. Neal was her first love and Henry’s father that loss and his memory will always be a part of her and while I’m glad they honored him by having him appear I think the story stands for itself in that Killian is the one she loves and trying to save now. Honestly I would have preferred Neal have a scene with Henry, but that is my two cents on Baelfire.

Charles: I think Emma would have but I think her main reason would have been for Henry.  When we see later on when they are in the diner, Emma tells Henry that she saw Neal and told him he was alright. For Emma, the only person she loves more than Hook is Henry and I know she would do everything possible to help Neal just for the simple fact that he is Henry’s father regardless of what her feelings would still be for Neal. (Personal opinion : While I do think a part of Emma will always care and love Neal, her TRUE LOVE will always be Hook)

Do you think the Underworld looks like Storybrooke or does Storybrooke look like the Underworld? What’s your explanation for the similarities?

Cat: I’m actually spoiled about this, so I don’t feel like I can comment!

Sarah: I think that Storybrooke looks like the Underworld, since Hades while it’s not clear the specifics of his life or how long it’s been in the OUAT universe, has probably been around a lot longer than the 30 years Storybrooke has been in Maine. Why the Underworld would be fashioned like a town, I’m not sure except it just might be something Hades designed to give his domain the look of an actual place where you could have a “home”, but instead it’s just a constant reminder you are stuck here with no choice because of all the souls who died with unfinished business. If Storybrooke was indeed designed after the Underworld, it’s probably because it was part of the Dark Curse and therefore made to mimic a place where there are “no happy endings.” I don’t know how it’ll be explained, but that is my best theory right now.

Charles: The reason I believe the Underworld looks like Storybrooke is because of the inhabitants there. When we get there we see that it is rough shape and very dark , a lot like the people who are stuck there (James and Cora are two examples). Also noticing characters like the Blind Witch as the operator of Granny’s diner there is sort of a mirror mirror image as well to our bright and sunny Storybrooke.

In this episode we saw Snow and Charming fully supporting Emma, and we saw her accepting their support without even thinking about it. Did you like it? Do you think it’s warranted? Are they truly in this place in their relationship?

Cat: I loved their support of Emma. It’s been a long time coming; I feel like the Snowing/Emma relationship hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves the past few seasons, especially Snow/Emma. They’ve too often felt like they cared more about what’s going on in Regina’s life than in Emma’s. They know that Hook makes Emma happy, so they should help her preserve that happiness. They’re always all about hope and not giving up, so that should definitely extend to their daughter and her True Love. I’m still pretty sore that they gave up on her as Dark Swan so quickly in 5A and didn’t bother to ever go talk to her. So I’m thrilled to see them supporting her now!

Sarah: I loved how supportive Snow and Charming were during the entire episode of Emma. They didn’t even think twice on staying with Emma until they were all able to rescue Hook and bring him home. I truly believe its warranted in that in Camelot when Emma needed their support the most they completely gave up on saving Killian which led to the entire situation of Emma feeling the only chance she had of saving the man she loved was with dark magic. They weren’t going to make that mistake again, especially as its now very clear they consider him a part of the family, and the Charming family ALWAYS finds each other. Part of me does wish they had talked about what happened in Camelot more, but plot movement doesn’t always allow for these conversations to happen onscreen so I can let it go in the fact that Snow and Charming were amazing to Emma and I can’t wait to see how everything plays out.

Charles: I think it was definitely needed for Emma to have Charming and Snow on her side. Whether it was warranted, that’s tougher to say. I know it was hard to get over Emma as the Dark One but as they always say “Emma is their daughter.” They will never give up or stop fighting for their daughter so I can understand them being 100% behind Emma. As for whether I liked it or not, I did. For the first half of the season, Snow and Emma were usually on opposite sides and I missed seeing their relationship on the show.  I really liked seeing Charming and Snow standing up for Emma and proclaiming they would not stop until Hook came back with Emma and the others.

From Hook brief’s appearance, we can tell that he’s been tortured. Why do you think the Underworld is worse for him than for others? And, what do you anticipate Emma will have to do to save him?  

Cat: Were the previous Dark Ones returned to the Underworld? If so, I would imagine they’re pretty darn ticked at Hook for ruining their get-out-of-the-Underworld-free plan. They would want to make him suffer for that. Or maybe Hades is mad at him for cheating death for several hundred years! Hades probably doesn’t like late deliveries. I’m sure there will be a lot more to Emma saving him than just splitting her heart. I could see her having to undertake some tasks that Hades sets forth a la the Labors of Hercules from mythology to win his freedom from the Underworld. She just better not look back too soon, unlike poor Orpheus!

Sarah: The only reasons I can think of Hades putting Killian in his prison and torturing was one, he died a Dark One and therefore gets punishment for wielding dark magic or two and more likely of the two, Hades knew full well the second Emma decided to go to the Underworld and decided to lock him away and keep her from saving him, as he said himself “Do I look like I like to lose anything?” Mind I could be completely wrong, but I do think Emma isn’t going to be able to just simply share her heart, as romantic and amazing as that idea is. I think she’s going to have to make a deal with Hades to face trials or “labors” of some kind, and if she passes she can save him, if not she’s stuck there.

Charles: Hook did look like he had just been in  a brutal UFC fight hadn’t he? My thought is that he is being tortured as some sort of punishment we will find about later. As for what Emma will have to do to save Hook, if you go back to 5A it was all about sacrifice and secrets.  Not sure what Emma will have to sacrifice or keep secret to save Killian but I can definitely see her doing everything possible to save him.

Regina had a chance to bail, save herself, save her father, and yet she stayed. What do you think about that decision and what does it say about Regina’s journey so far?

Cat: It shows that she was finally able to make the right decision without getting something out of it personally. That’s been a long time coming for her, as she has been inherently a selfish character. And she didn’t stomp around, complain and insult everyone while doing the right thing, so that’s a huge step in the right direction for her! (I still really want to see her sincerely apologize to Snow, Charming and Emma, though.)

Sarah: I think it was the clearest moment I’ve seen display how far Regina has come since the pilot and frankly in general as a character. In the flashbacks we see her so consumed with vengeance and heartbreak her father’s love can’t reach her heart enough to make her see her happiness could never come from crushing Snow White’s, literally in this case. Making the decision to stay and put her friends and family first instead of worrying only about her personal happiness and in essence self-preservation she was so keen on for many years, shows her journey of how she’s capable of making the choices she refused for so long. To choose to put others, people she cares about in varying degrees, before herself, that understanding her personal happiness won’t matter if it’s at the expense of others, and that she feels strong and secure enough in her relationship with everyone there she’d risk staying even when the life of her father one of her strongest supporters in life was at risk. Simply put, I loved everything about Regina’s scenes in the present day and I’m so glad we’ve gotten to see her come so far over 100 episodes.




Charles: To me, Regina has been the character that has grown the most of the course of the series and this was just another example of that now. She considers Emma, Henry,Charming and even Snow a part of her family now. She has shown that now she will do anything for them and this was another example. As much as she would have loved to save her father and mother , she knows that the right thing to do is continue to help Emma try to find Hook. Which just added another part to her journey from Evil Queen to Hero.

What was the most emotional scene of the episode for you?

Cat:  Annoyance is an emotion, right? Because that Neal scene certainly inspired some strong emotions in me! The way that the show has put Neal on a pedestal after his death really rubs me the wrong way. He made Emma wildly unhappy in life, betrayed her multiple times and was never good for her. Their relationship was not positive for her and mostly consisted of him discounting her wishes and feelings in favor of his own. I hate to see what he did to Emma brushed under the rug. So that scene started the episode off with huge, off-putting negative emotions for me, ones that I was unable to shake for the rest of the episode.

In more positive emotions, Henry getting to meet the man he was named after was lovely. It was a moment he would have never expected to have, so it was a true gift. And Emma seeing Hook broke my heart — she was so happy to see him even in his battered state, but that turned to distress when he disappeared. I could feel her heart-deep desperation to get to him.

Sarah: As much as it broke my heart to see Killian battered and tortured appear before Emma, the scene that had me in complete tears was hands down when Regina reunited and was forgiven by her father. I was so happy to see Regina reconcile with her father as I know that was something she believed she’d carry for the rest of her life, and she did for a long time. I’ve always loved seeing Regina and her father in flashbacks through the years and to see him embrace Regina, forgiving her immediately out of an immense love for his daughter was amazing and showcased one of the many wonderful elements of the foundation of Once Upon a Time. He understood and stood by Regina her whole life, and despite her transgressions, he would never sway from that even in death and I will always be happy that Regina found this closure and was able to see him move on to a better place and truly be at peace.

Charles: Most emotional scene for me is no doubt when Regina is saying goodbye to her father Henry Sr. and then when the two Henrys meet.  Lana Parilla was at the top of her game last night in every scene whether it was flashbacks or present scenes with Cora but her absolute best was in her scenes with Tony Perez. It was great to see closure between Regina and her father as he was taken off to heaven (I think?) and also to see the two Henry’s meet with my favorite line of the episode in it.

“Thank you, Grandpa, for believing in her, like I do.”
“Thank You , Henry for being there when I couldn’t”
Teared up at the scene, not going to lie.

What do you want to see in 5B? Share your expectations! 

Cat: After all the angst and pain that Emma and Hook went through in 5A and will no doubt go through in 5B, I need to see some really good, epic, happy payoff for them. All those failed True Love Kiss attempts — narratively speaking, they need to bookend with a successful TLK to pay them off. They’ve created emotional expectations and should fulfill them instead of leaving fans disappointed. I’m still scarred by the lack of payoff to the Hook’s heart arc after the setup there!

I also want to see some closure between our main characters and those who are in the Underworld. Unfinished business will likely be finished on more than a few scores. But I want it to be focused on our main characters instead of guest stars, which is a consistent bugaboo on the show.

Sarah: Expectations wise, I don’t really have any truthfully, but I do have a few things I’m hoping for. For 5B I really hope we get to see more interaction between our characters and others we haven’t seen in a long time by virtue of being in the Underworld. I hope we get to see across the board character development for everyone and for the True Love Armada as well (Captain Swan, Outlaw Queen, Snowing & Rumbelle). I hope we get to see the entire Charming Swan Jones Mills family fight to save the souls stuck in the underworld, and to bring Killian home. I’m excited for the rest of season 5 and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for our heroes and what kind of trouble the villains stir up!

Charles: I’m hoping that Hook and Emma are not separated too long but I fear it might be a while before they are reunited. I would also like to see a episode of just what has been going on in regular Storybrooke while they have been gone. Be interesting to see James mess with Charming and Snow more as that could lead to some awkward moments.  Also for Robin Hood to do anything!

Agree? Disagree? Have your own answers to these questions? Sound off in the comments below!

Once Upon a Time airs on Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.

Lissete Lanuza Sáenz

Co-Executive Editor

Lawyer. Dreamer. Geek. Eternal optimist. Fangirl since the dawn of time. Hates the color yellow, olives and cigarettes. Has a recurring nightmare where she’s forced to choose between sports and books. Falls in love with fictional characters.