Once Upon A Time 5×18 “Ruby Slippers” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

A little courage could do wonders.

Episode Summary: Flashbacks to a specific time none of us really know reveal Dorothy’s first meeting with Ruby and Mulan. And when Dorothy escapes to find Zelena, she’s put under a sleeping curse forcing Ruby to use the slippers in order to get revenge. When she ends up in the underworld and tells the heroes what she’s there for, they set out on a quest to find Aunt Em — who’ll be able to give Dorothy true love’s kiss. However, when Hades interferes, Snow comes to the realization that Ruby should be the one doing it, and a sweet conversation gives Ruby the courage she needs. When Mayor Cruella tears down the haunting phone booth, Snow and Charming decide one of them must go back home to their baby. And still having the power to etch names on the tombstones, Killian replaces Snow’s with Charming in order for her to go back to Storybrooke.

Review | Analysis: It’s fair to say that a great number of us made the assumption that Once Upon A Time’s LGBTQ pairing would be between Ruby and Mulan. And while it’s still wonderful to see representation on our screens, if we’re being honest, we’re a bit heartbroken — primarily for Mulan. However despite our sadness, “Ruby Slippers” was an episode filled with beautiful moments. And at the end of the day, if we can somehow see Mulan’s happy ending, we’d be satisfied.

Before we get into our review, we need to take a moment to remind our readers that it’s okay to have opposing opinions. It’s okay if you “ship” the couple, and it’s okay if you wanted Mulan/Ruby instead. It’s okay to be upset and it’s okay to be happy. No matter what you may be feeling, your feelings are justified.

On a series like Once Upon A Time, we need to be used to people falling in love quickly. We need to be used to love being stemmed from hatred. And we need to be used to it being difficult. Perhaps, that’s why we’re upset with the route this episode took — we just needed a little bit more between Dorothy and Ruby. Once Upon A Time has done quick relationships in the past, but the only difference in those relationships is the fact that they’re already established couples: Cinderella/Prince, Eric/Ariel, and Philip/Aurora. When we’re given unique pairs outside of the classic fairy tales we’ve grown with, we need a little bit more to classify them as “True Love.” And that’s essentially the issue at hand here. It’s why we feel it was rushed. It’s a unique story, and it deserved to be presented through multiple episodes.

Dorothy and Ruby had a classic Once Upon A Time hate-filled, assumption-making meeting. And an honest moment shared between them allowed the two women to build trust. It is often said that when you know, you know. Ruby’s feelings are the perfect representation of just that — sometimes love is instant.

Sometimes, despite how scary it is, it’s easy to fall head and heart first. Ruby’s quest to fill the void in her heart was filled in a lovely way only an hour isn’t enough to properly convey that. If they had met prior to this episode, it leaves us viewers with more to imagine. For example, with Mulan and Ruby, since their meeting in “The Bear King,” we had already known that their quest together would lead to profound conversations and life-changing experiences. If that was the route the series had taken, we would’ve seen that their time together despite not being revealed on screen was something of great value. And ultimately, that’s where our frustrations lie.

If they met prior to this episode and shared a True Love’s Kiss in “Ruby Slippers,” it would’ve made complete sense. Since this was the episode they met in, and shared this moment, we’re left a bit perplexed. Additionally, we just aren’t sure when we’ll see them next since they aren’t series regulars.

On another note, let’s give Meghan Ory a round of applause for conveying Ruby’s fears, openness, and unparalleled elation with all the right emotions. Contrary to what we feel about the way the story was told, we cannot deny the fact that their scenes were as cute as pie. We cannot deny the fact that we could see just how deeply Ruby had grown to care.

“What you get when you love someone far outweighs the risk.”

Snow White is a character unlike any other — and we know we keep saying this, but it’s amazing to have her back! (Exclamation necessary.) The friendship between Snow and Ruby has always been one of the most honest, open relationships in this series, and their conversation this week was simply perfect. When Snow realizes just how concerned Ruby truly is, knowing her best friend, as well as she does, she chooses to remind her of the fact that the answer she’s seeking is right in front of her. She chooses to see love.

And she chooses to be open. They don’t need Aunt Em when Ruby’s there. And what this particular scene did beautifully was showcase the way true friends are meant to be — supportive. Snow’s passionate support and happiness gave Ruby the courage she needed to understand that her feelings are not only justified but the fact that risks are worth it. If Snow is comparing this love to her and Charming’s, then Ruby feels less alone. She’s able to be filled with more hope. If she didn’t try, she’d wonder her entire life, and much like Mulan, she’d perhaps gather the courage when it’s too late.

Now despite the fact that we wish it were Mulan instead, we can’t deny the fact that when writers give us female friendships, they’re always magnificent. It’s lovely to see how far Mulan and Ruby have come in their friendship. It’s always been based on honor and integrity, and it was wonderful to see how easy it was for the two women to be open with one another. Mulan made it incredibly safe for Ruby to open her heart, and the support she showcased played a massive role in Ruby feeling more at home. And in the end, she knew she’d found what she was looking for because those closest to her could see it, too.

The cinematography in this series never fails to disappoint us. A big round of applause to director Eriq La Salle and director of photography Stephen Jackson for the gorgeous True Love’s kiss scene. It was a superb choice to have Snow be there because once upon a time, she was in the same position surrounded by the dwarfs she adores and Charming kissing her. Oz has never looked more beautiful in this series. And Dorothy surrounded by a large number of people who adore her was a lovely parallel.

Not only do some of the sweetest love stories begin with rash judgments and hatred, but so do some of the most awesome friendships. In “Ruby Slippers”, Charming finally admitted to the fact that Killian’s actually grown on him a bit. And Killian once again voiced how guilty he feels that they’re all down there for him, prompting Charming to remind him of the fact that they all had a choice. While they may have been there for Emma, they wouldn’t have bothered if they didn’t care for him too. And in the end, it was mostly hysterical to see Killian’s guilt turn into a gleeful response of “I seem to have that effect on people.” Followed by the two of them making the decision to have Snow take Charming’s place in Storybrooke because if anyone can handle an entire town, it’s her.

Snow and Charming are the epitome of True Love — the one couple we all probably look to as a paradigm of what love should be like. And with each of their goodbyes, they somehow manage to become even more heartfelt. One of the greatest things this series continues to do is writing men who are fervently supportive of the women by their side. Charming’s belief in Snow’s abilities has always been impeccable to watch. And tonight, the duo once again reminded us of the fact that their love is not only everlasting, but it’s selfless and brave. It’s empowering and profoundly strong. Together or apart, they’re with each other and the effect they’ve had on one another plays a vast role in making them exceptionally strong — physically, spiritually, and emotionally. They’ll miss each other, but they can conquer whatever’s in front of them because time and time again, they’ve given each other strength. Their unwavering, immense faith in one another will continue to be a beacon of strength, light, and hope. Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin never fail to turn us into emotional wrecks when sharing profound scenes with Charming and Snow. And seeing the hope reflected in each of their expressions weaved with the colossal desire to hold on as tight as they could be was wonderful.

Once again the series reminded us of the importance of making our choices. Nothing we do can be blamed on anyone but ourselves. As much as Emma probably would’ve loved to have her mom by her side, she’s the kind of woman who’d never want another soul to experience the kind of longing for a family she had. Emma continuously reminding her parents that their job in the underworld is done was beautifully selfless. Of course, fighting alongside them is great, but her baby brother needs them as well. It was such a fragmented part of the episode, but it’s always a wonderful reminder of just how perfectly she’s able to fill a savior’s shoes with her selflessness.

Zelena’s made the choice to give her love with Hades a try. And to be quite honest, this is the biggest surprise thus far. At the beginning of the episode, Zelena made it clear that she’s going to try her hardest not to get into trouble in order for Regina to see an improvement in her. Though the sudden shift isn’t surprising coming from her, as Snow’s said, “love’s scary,” and seeing Zelena take that risk was pleasantly surprising. We still aren’t sure how we feel about Zelena and Hades, but things are taking a drastic turn and we’re excited to see where it leads.

Worth Mentioning:

  • MULAN NEEDS A LOVE STORY. PLEASE GIVE HER ONE. Yes, we want her to be happy so badly, we’re using caps lock. Because Mulan was the first LGBT character that was introduced to us, we’ve been looking forward to her storyline for quite some time now. We want her to be properly represented as well. She’s been introduced as a bisexual woman since season two, and to have her story be constantly sidelined isn’t fair or right.
  • In the normal world, a woman putting herself under a sleeping curse while pregnant wouldn’t exactly keep the baby alive, but of course, on a series like this, it’ll work. And it was fantastic to see that Belle was going to continue fighting for her baby and resisting the darkness. She deserves better and we’re hoping this plan works in her favor.
  • It was also lovely of Regina to ask Snow to check on baby Roland for Robin.
  • It’s also always lovely to see how excited Henry gets when something happy is documented in the book. It was great to see him cheerfully run to his family to show that Snow’s safe with the baby.


  1. What a wonderful review, Giss! You said this to me, so I’m going to say it right back to you: Your honesty is so important. It’s not easy to write what you feel, but you did a great job of highlighting your personal qualms about this episode (which I’m sure made many feel better about having the same ones) with heart. Everything came from a place of continued love for this show, especially for what it can be at its best, and that’s what makes your critiques feel like notes the show would do well to take to heart instead of just unkind bashing. The balance with which you approached this post was admirable. <3

    And I'm with you on the "GET MULAN SOME LOVING 2K16" train. I actually really liked the idea of her and Merida together, and I saw on Tumblr someone suggesting that maybe Shang could be changed to a woman on this show to bring that part of Mulan's story into the narrative in a new way. Whatever they choose to do, I really do hope she gets her own happy ending and finds someone who loves her with the totality we know she deserves. It was beautiful to see her so happy for and supportive of Ruby (that's really the only reason I was okay with them not being the couple in this episode), but now it's her turn!

  2. Mulan definitely needs a happy ending. I want one for her too. It doesn’t seem fair at this point that she keeps on getting sidelined, and I totally understand now Jamie Chung’s comment on twitter awhile back about “following through on promises.” She denied it, saying wasn’t about Once, but I feel like it’s very applicable in Mulan’s case.

    Maybe Adam and Eddy promised that Mulan would have a love story, but they took it in another direction that wasn’t hers. I still have hope for Mulan that she can find her happy ending. We haven’t met Shang yet, and who knows? Maybe when we meet Shang, he’s not a guy but a woman. That would be an interesting twist.

    Overall, I feel like this storyline with Ruby was Adam and Eddy’s way of testing the water; they wanted to see how this one would work first and how the audience would react. If they do revisit doing another LGBT storyline one day and it for Mulan, maybe she will get a happy ending.


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