‘Once Upon A Time’ 5×16 Review “Our Decay”

Well, that was …not at all what I expected. Or maybe it’s just that I had such low expectations of this episode to begin with. When you don’t expect much, anything you get seems like a wonderful gift. And, trust me, I wasn’t expecting much from an episode that, at first glance, seemed to be all about Zelena and her love affair with Hades, of all people, and Rumbelle. Especially when the episode was called “Our Decay”

Shows what I know.

If Once Upon A Time does one thing right it’s casting. Rebecca Mader is so good as Zelena that the showrunners keep shoehorning her into storylines where it doesn’t even make sense for her to be in, and we keep letting them. Robert Carlyle is totally believable as both good Rumple and bad Rumple, which is why we forgive him when he flip-flops from one to both.

Sometimes, the actors save the storyline. I expected this to be the case tonight. And yet, it really wasn’t. They added to the magic, though. Of course they did. They made me enjoy an episode that featured precious little of my faves. And that’s always a good thing.


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Being backed into a corner was probably good for Rumple’s personal growth. You see, at this point, Rumple had no choice but to be honest with Belle. One hundred percent honest. Will that get him the girl? That’s debatable, but at least what happens from here on out we won’t be able to say Belle is a victim anymore. No, now she knows that Rumple can’t ever change – won’t ever change. The question is, does she want to be with a villain?

That’s a harder question to answer than we might have thought. Rumple is right, Belle didn’t fall in love just with the “man behind the beast” – she fell in love with him, warts and all. It’s just that, in her heart of hearts, Belle always believed she could change him. She could make it so the beast disappeared and the good man was the only thing left. Now Rumple has confronted her with the truth – he is both, and he will always be. What does Belle do with his information?

She buys time, of course. A decision like this can’t be made lightly. But the season is almost at end, and Belle will have to make a decision. Is love, and a family more important than being a hero? Is she willing to give up that part of herself? O

I’d say no, but maybe the answer is not as clear-cut as this. Either way, it’s finally time for Belle to take the reins of her own destiny. Whatever happens from here on out, it’s finally, finally on her.


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I’m of two minds on this. Half of me thinks there’s no way Hades can truly love Zelena, and the other part was so caught up in the performances in that last scene that I’m almost shipping them.

All right, maybe I’m not of two minds on this. Maybe all of me thinks that Hades honestly loves Zelena, or at least, he thinks he does. He needs true love to come back to life, and this is probably the first woman he’s even liked in ages, so if he needs to convince herself (and her) that this is true love to get back to life, so be it.

Of course, true love doesn’t work that way, but how would Hades know that? For that matter, how would Zelena? She doesn’t exactly have much experience with being loved, which is why, despite the fact that she clearly wants to, she can’t trust Hades.

Hades won’t turn on her, though. It’s not in his best interests to do so.  Not if he truly wants a …


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And here you thought this wouldn’t come up.  The importance of what Hades tells Zelena about true love being able to restart a dead heart will most likely not come into play in their disturbing love story, but it’s sure to play a role in how this season ends. This was not a throwaway line, no. Snow and Charming are confirmed true love. So are Robin and Regina. So, if you want a truly epic true love kiss to close out your fifth season, who’s the most likely candidate?

I don’t have to spell it out for you, but I will: It’s Captain Swan time.

First of all, it makes sense. This whole season has been about how much Emma loves Hook and what she’s willing to do to save him (become the Dark One, travel to the Underworld), and what better way to close out the arc than with Emma actually saving him with her love. Second, although we’ve known about Hook’s love and what he’d be willing to do for Emma for quite a while, it wasn’t until recently that we finally saw Killian accept that Emma feels the same way about him, that he deserves happiness. Now, for the first time, Captain Swan is on the same page – fighting for their future, together. Not just hoping or dreaming, but fighting.

But even more importantly, there’s this – writing, whether it’s a book, on TV or in movies, is half instinct, half feeling. We can say Emma and Hook were planned from the start, but I like to think they were a possibility from the start, and then Colin O’Donoghue and Jennifer Morrison took over and Captain Swan went from possibility to probability and, finally, the inevitability. Their story only ends one way on a show like this, with happily ever after. But this is not the end, not yet.

Now, I might seem like I’m contradicting myself. If this is not the end, why give them a true love’s kiss? Precisely because it isn’t the end. The next step of the journey for Emma and Killian is not proving to each other or the world that they are in love, no, is figuring out how to be together, how to be a family. And for that they have to get out of the Underworld – for that the show has to end the silly are they or aren’t they question. (Not that anyone really doubts it)

So, TLK, we’re coming for you. They’re coming for you. It’s going to be glorious.

Other things to note:

  • How exactly did Zelena get back from Oz? Or is this not important? No need to concern ourselves with logic and things like that?
  • I know this is Once Upon A Time and all, but even for a show about fairy-tales, the time-frame of Hades falling in love with Zelena was a tad fast.
  • Henry’s teenager years are sure to be a blast if he has to contend with two nagging mothers and Robin and Hook kind of just smiling through it all and letting him get away with it.
  • Why didn’t Zelena just heal herself when she got her magic back?
  • Where did Regina’s hat come from?
  • Does baby Charming even grow?
  • Considering the Charmings named their baby Neal I wouldn’t be surprised if Robin ends up naming this kid Marian.
  • “I hate to be the one to offer optimism” – no you don’t Hook. Don’t lie.
  • Gaston in the promo! Pretty Gaston. Can we keep Gaston?


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

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