Okay, Once Upon A Time. That really, really wasn’t what I expected.
Kudos to you.
Not just for putting the Evil Queen story-line to rest in the best possible way, but for giving Outlaw Queen, or a version of it, some measure of the happy ending they deserved. And oh, yes, for not dragging out the secret story-line for so long that it just felt like just drama for the sake of drama.
Here to discuss the episode with me are Fangirlish writers Sarah, Beata and Charles. So, let’s get into the emotional roller-coaster that was “Page 23”
What were your overall thoughts on this episode? Rate the episode on a scale of 1 to 10.
Lizzie: I’m going to say 8, maybe just because I was so glad with how they tied up some story-lines. I was particularly happy to see that the “answer” to defeating the EQ was in accepting that Regina wasn’t all good so the EQ couldn’t be all evil, I was thrilled Outlaw Queen got some measure of happiness, and though the Captain Swan breakup-of-sorts was heart-wrenching, I was really, really happy that they didn’t drag out the secret for 3 or 4 episodes while Emma was wearing that ring. Heck, I was even glad for Gideon’s dastardly plan, as it introduces some measure of consequence and it puts Emma in a position to accept what I think she knows, deep down. Hook would never leave her willingly.
Sarah: I’d give the episode a 7.5 honestly. It was an emotionally wrenching episode in some ways, and heart warming in others that I truly didn’t expect but gladly was happy to see. Colin & Jen tore my heart out during Hook & Emma’s argument but it was completely true to the characters at the same time. The EQ/Robin & Regina scenes caught me by surprise but I liked more than I thought I would.
Beata: I’ll give it a 7. It wasn’t the most exciting episode, and I’m tired of the Regina flashbacks that don’t offer much new information, but overall I really enjoyed the way it progressed the character arcs. The Hook and Emma breakup broke my heart, but I’m sure it’ll all be worth it in the end.
Charles: 7.5. It might seem low but I thought this was a very solid episode. I was glad the Evil Queen/ Outlaw Queen story arc ended in the way it did. The Hook/Emma scene while painful was extremely well-acted by both Colin and Jennifer. Nemo and the Blue Fairy’s guest appearances were also a very lovely positive for the episode.
This episode showed, once again, a contrast, between two “villains” on the road to redemption – Hook and Regina. His main issue is fear, hers hatred. What do you think about both their journeys to redemption? Did the revelation that the person Regina hated the most was herself ring true? Did Hook’s eagerness to run away? How far do you think they are to that sought-after peace?
Lizzie: I have – and I will continue to be, very critical of the Hook-kills-Charming-Sr story-line, because I think there were better ways to make the characters learn the lessons they are learning from this. That being said, I can now understand what the point was. Hook is fighting his fear that he’s not good enough for Emma, and his fear sometimes clouds him to the fact that it’s not up to him to make decisions for Emma. Leaving was, in a way, his way to spare her. And the fact that he recognized that, at the end, is a big thing.
Regina’s issue, on the other hand, has always been that she hated herself so much that she couldn’t even see herself clearly. Taking a long, hard look at yourself is hard when you’re scared of what you’ll see. It’s only in acceptance that you can move on, that you can be better, and Regina’s gotten to a point where she can sort of forgive herself enough to look into that mirror and see who she’s always been and what steps she needs to take to be better. Her revelation helps the EQ, because the EQ is part of her. And, at the same time the EQ’s happy ending helps Regina see that she can also have that. Anyone can. You’re not tied to any destiny – you can make your own.
Hook and Regina both confronted issues this week, and both learned their lesson. Are they there? Not quite, but they’re that much closer. Hook still needs to fully forgive himself. Regina still needs to own up to all she did – including Graham (and give those hearts in the vault back, for crying out loud!). But I’ve got high hopes that they’re journeys are finally taking them to full-fledged-hero territory.
Sarah: Their journeys to redemption have been captivating to watch for so many reasons but considering they’re two very different people it’s been true to both their character’s respective pasts and lives. Honestly both Regina and Hook’s redemptions have been touching and completely real in so many ways I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to see watched them come so far throughout the course of the show. Regina’s revelation was unabashedly honest (and true to be specific haha) in demonstrating how much she’s learned not only about herself but how far she’s come from her days as the full blooded EQ of the past. Hook’s desire to run was hard to watch but not entirely surprising since after everything he’s experienced it was just too easy for him to fall into that old formerly lifelong habit. Whatever happens next I think that peace they’re both looking for is literally right around the corner and I can’t wait to see how it goes for the both of them.
Beata: I think this episode did a really good job of pinpointing just what was holding back both of these characters on their paths to redemption. Deep down, neither of them fully believe they deserve it. Hook is afraid that his new family will reject him if they learn about his past, and Regina is so horrified by her own actions that she can’t accept that she might be worthy of redemption. While Hook’s problems are mostly about acceptance by other people and Regina’s are about herself, in the end they both need to accept that they’ve changed. I think they’re close. Regina took a huge step this week, when she realized that she can’t take all the darkness out of herself, and Hook really needed Emma to remind him that the stuff he did in the past doesn’t matter as much as his honesty.
Charles: Regina’s hatred of herself rang very true with the Regina we’ve seen over the years on the show. She hid it early on with her hate of Emma and the Charmings but hints of it has always been there. Self-hate is a very awful thing but also a very human thing to have. Her journey is still going to her and letting go of all that hate will be just another piece of it. As for Hook, I’m less sure. But when we are worrying and panicking, sometimes we go back to old habits. He’s fighting that instinct as he was about to leave Nemo’s ship when Gideon showed up and trapped him. As for how close they are to peace, I think they have it. They just need to embrace it more instead of worrying of losing it.
Regina defeated the EQ in this episode by basically recognizing that, if she wasn’t all good, the EQ couldn’t be all evil. How do you feel about Regina’s journey to self-acceptance? Do you think every character can be redeemed?
Lizzie: I will admit I was deathly afraid that Once Upon A Time wasn’t going to get here – that they were going to go for the easy solution, like they tried to do with Rumple a few seasons ago. I’m glad they didn’t then and I’m glad they didn’t now. Redemption isn’t about banishing the bad parts of you, it’s accepting that no one is 100% good or 100% evil and that we all have the power to choose to be better. It’s all about the choice, every day. And I’m proud of Regina for getting to this point, for making the right choice, for not being selfish and allowing the “evil” part of her to get the happy ending and for really trying to be a better version of herself. She’s come a really long way, and I think she’s proven that you’re not tied to your past and you can be a hero if you try.
As for whether everyone can be redeemed, easy answer is yes. If it’s about choice, then everyone can make the right choice. Does that mean everyone will? Of course not. Rumple, for example, has made both wrong and right choices, but when it comes down to it, he’s always chosen power above love, above goodness, above family, even. He’s got reasons for this, yes, but reasons only take you so far. As Regina and Hook proved in this episode, you can always come back. But you have to want to. And that’s always been missing from Rumple’s story.
Sarah: It’s been a winding road for Regina, some of it I’ve really enjoy and other parts just didn’t come across very well to me but I fault the writing for that more than Regina herself. Self acceptance has been the longest battle for her because it’s the one part of her life she’s struggled with for longer than I can imagine. Overcoming it has been one of the best parts of her story and while I may have loved to hate her in the beginning I have nothing but love for her now (even when at times she drives me crazy). I think any character that is allowed the chance to make the choice to change can be redeemed (aka jury’s still out on Rumple) but Regina’s no longer the person who views other people’s happiness as a detriment to her own. Whatever happy ending is in store for her she’s earned it.
Beata: This is one of those situations where I was really worried about the direction the writers were taking things, and now that they’ve backed out of it I’m super relieved. I hated the idea of separating one’s good and bad sides, because nobody is 100% good or 100% evil. Thinking it’s possible to just remove all the bad from her character is exactly the opposite of what Regina needs at this point in her story. She will always have to live with the darkness, the knowledge of what she has done in the past and is still capable of doing. As for whether every character can be redeemed? The only one who’s truly unredeemable is Rumple, in my opinion. Rumple knows that what he’s doing is wrong, he’s made plenty of halfhearted attempts at redemption (almost all of them for the purpose of getting someone else to like him), and yet he keeps falling back into his old habits. I don’t think there’s any forgiving what he’s done. But everyone else, at this point in the story? Sure.
Charles: Regina’s arc over these last few seasons has been bumpy but also one I’ve enjoyed seeing. I root for her and not just because she was one of my favorite characters on here. I root for Regina because I believe she deep inside she is a good person. She cares about her family and friends through thick and thin. As for can every character be redeemed, yes I believe so. Even ones like Rumple and Gideon. What they do to get those redemptions is the important thing to me.
Describe your feelings about the Outlaw Queen happy ending of sorts with one gif:
Outlaw Queen got a happy ending – of sorts – with the EQ and wish-realm Robin getting a chance at a fresh start. Did you expect this? Do you like it? Does it in any way make up for the way the writers wrote off Robin or would you rather they hadn’t brought him back?
Lizzie: Expect it, no. Like it? Yes. More with every second. I think it’s a nice – if imperfect way – to give a story-line that began with so much promise in Season 3, a kind of a fitting ending. It doesn’t really make up for how the writers mangled the OQ story, and Robin in particular, but it’s one of those …better this than nothing things.
That being said, boy, did Robin get cheated out of any character development that was all about him. Every single thing he ever did or say in this show was about Regina. He was the stereotypical damsel in distress, except he was a guy. And that’s a writing failure.
Sarah: Out of everything I thought they were going to do with the EQ this season, I will say this qualifies as one of the most creative twists they’ve done on the show over the past six seasons haha. I didn’t expect it at all, mostly because I never imagined they’d bring Robin back in the first place albeit in an alternative way (sort of it’s weird honestly.) I still wish they had never killed him off in the first place, but I couldn’t help but really liking the EQ getting a second chance with Wish Realm Robin. It felt like a risk to bring Robin back at all but I’d say it paid off since smiling was the only thing I was doing watching this Robin have a drink with the EQ.
Beata: Once again, poor Robin was handed a story-line that revolved entirely around Regina. While I think it was a nice way to give Regina some closure and wrap up the Evil Queen’s story-line in a way I definitely didn’t see coming, I feel like Robin, as a character, got cheated. I wanted a bit of closure for him too, and I didn’t get that at all.
Charles: I didn’t quite expect this with the Evil Queen getting the happy ending here with Robin but I think I liked it. I still don’t know if it was the best idea to bring in Robin only for a few episodes but can’t change that now. Personally, I hated how Robin’s story ended so to see this and a nice finale to Outlaw Queen puts a little smile on my face.
Captain Swan broke up – or at least, Emma gave the ring back to Hook. Later, when he’d decided to come back and fight for her he was trapped by Gideon and unable to return, with the result that Emma now thinks he left. Did you see this coming at all? Is it a better storyline than just dragging out the secret? Do you think Emma can get over her fear of being abandoned for long enough to realize Hook would never leave her?
Lizzie: No, I didn’t see it coming at all, so kudos to once Upon A Time for that. It is a far superior story-line than just the secret, and though I still wish they’d dealt with David’s father differently, I understand the lessons they wanted the characters to learn from this. Hook needed to forgive himself, to stop trying to make decisions for Emma just to spare her feelings. She’s an adult and she can make her own decisions, and her decision is that she wants to be with him. He’s got to respect that and, if he wants a happy ending, if he wants to make her happy, he needs to put the past behind him, for good.
Emma also needs to learn a lesson, though, and I think her time will come next episode. She needs to learn to trust that Hook will never leave her, not willingly. Emma has been abandoned so many times that her default setting is to think that everyone will abandon her, that she’s not worthy of happiness. She needs to break out of that and realize that Hook has proven time and time again he won’t, and that loving someone means trusting them to always be there. If he’s not – it was not his choice.
I think she will – just as Hook did. This was just meant to be a temporary roadblock, and even though I hate that OUAT felt like they had to do that, even Gideon sending Killian away on the Nautilius beats the secret story-line.
Sarah: I don’t think I’ve ever been so pissed at a villain on OUAT like that when Gideon sent Hook away. I expected painful angst, but this is truly evil in the well written character angst. Bravo Adam and Eddy for breaking my heart in a way I didn’t see coming (and cried over.) As much as I was upset in the moment this is a far better angst driven storyline than dragging a secret out. It leaves Emma in the position that she’s been in before, that someone she loves has left her. As much as we the audience know that absolutely isn’t the case it lets Emma confront this full on and I fully believe she will know, not just figure out, deep down no matter how many fights they have or how bad things may seem Killian would never choose to leave her. As her father once said “True Love isn’t easy, but it must be fought for because once you find it, it can never be replaced.” This isn’t like anything in the past because this is the *real* thing for both of them and it’s the ultimate obstacle I know Emma will overcome before reuniting with her true love future hubby pirate. (I’m so happy that I can type that I can’t even say haha.)
Beata: I’m still figuring out my feelings about this, to be honest. On one hand, I’m upset that the writers decided to break up Captain Swan just for the sake of creating drama and keeping them apart for a while longer. But on the other hand, I think this will be good for them in the long run. I understand why Hook kept the secret from Emma, and I understand why Emma was mad at Hook for doing that, and I think they both have a little bit to learn before they get married. Hook needs to realize that he can be a hero. Emma needs to realize that Hook would never abandon her. I think this arc will help both of them get over what’s holding them back, and the payoff when they reunite will be worth it. I’m also really glad the writers decided to address that issue right away, instead of dragging it out and making it a bigger deal than it really is.
Charles: First off, boooooo screw you Gideon. Okay so I thought this was a better idea to do than have Hook hid the secret over and over again. It led to a heartbreaking but really well done scene between Hook and Emma. I’m glad Hook was coming back and I think once he escapes he can tell Emma that. Hell, even have Nemo with you so he can tell her that too. As for Emma’s fear of abandonment, that something that never goes completely away sadly. That thought will always pop back up in times like this. I know she believes in Hook all the way,no doubt in my mind of that. But fears like that are always hard to shake from you.
Snow’s approval clearly meant a lot to Hook. Give us your reaction to that scene in one gif:
Agree? Disagree? Want to participate in one of these round-tables in the future? Share with us in the comments below!
Once Upon a Time airs on Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.