Once Upon A Time 5×22 “Only You” and 5×23 “An Untold Story” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

Episode Summary: Gold uses the Olympian Crystal to save Belle and tethers all of Storybrooke’s magic to it, but when Henry runs off to New York in order to destroy magic, Gold, Regina, and Emma must change course in order to stop him. After they send the Camelot folks back home, Snow, Charming, Killian, and Zelena are taken through the portal to the Land of Untold Stories.

Review | Analysis: Once Upon A Time from the very beginning has emphasized the importance of choice. There’s great power in all of us and it is the ability to decide where we go once we’ve been hurt. While it’s never easy to choose the hard path, it’s almost always the right one, and this show rightfully presented us with both the difficulties and the ramifications. It also reminded us of the importance of forgiveness. Essentially, life and art are one and the same — nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy, but in the long run, it’s always the best choice. “Only You” and “An Untold Story” dealt with choices and the power of hope beautifully reminding us all of why we fell in love with this show.

To be quite honest, I’ve never been a fan of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Why? Because I’m a child when it comes to stuff like this and I’m downright terrified of Hyde. The idea of more than one person dwelling in a single body is horrifying to me. But I suppose kudos to Sam Witwer for the terrifyingly realistic performance on top of the already frightening tale? And the makeup department? A+.

However, it’s what the introduction of Jekyll and Hyde means for our heroes in Storybrooke that’s even more terrifying. And frankly, it’s a bit confusing, but we’re certain the payoff will be great. “We are both” has been the root of the series since the curse broke, and while some have branched away from their Storybrooke counterparts, it doesn’t mean that part of them no longer exists.

As much as Snow’s more in tune with her bandit side now as opposed to Mary Margaret, it doesn’t erase the 28 years she spent as her. Mary Margaret is a part of Snow White — whether she chooses to listen to that part or not is the key to maintaining her identity. And in similar ways, the same goes for Emma; just because the memories in New York were based on lies, the one year she and Henry spent together is very real. The memories they made are theirs — they’re real. That part of her that got to raise and spend time with him on her own is very real.

That is why Regina splitting herself from the Evil Queen seems silly, and as we learn in the final moments of the episode, it doesn’t work in the way planned. This very storyline authenticates the very foundation of what this show’s built on: hope and choice. There’s good and evil in all — it’s why Regina was able to “kill” the Evil Queen even after she had split that part of her away. They are not two separate beings. They are one. And as Regina finally acknowledged this week, she’s always had a choice. She could’ve chosen to forgive Snow. She could’ve chosen to let it all go. She could’ve chosen not to cast the curse. She could choose each and every day whether or not she wants to make the honorable choice or the wrong one. She could choose hope — to believe that no matter how bad things get, there’s always a silver lining. And perhaps, that’s what season six will focus on — helping Regina understand that they are both. It’s always going to be a constant battle that she’ll have to learn to live with because the past can only define us for so long until the present starts paving our future.

We often go back and forth with Regina a lot. We can acknowledge that her character’s come a tremendously long way, but it’s always frustrating to us as huge Emma fans that she’s often belittled by her. Emma had every right to be concerned for Regina, and in the same way, Regina was concerned last week. Life isn’t fair. And of course, any normal person would be perplexed if their love died while another’s returned from the dead.

But what we wish Regina would acknowledge or at least come to terms with is that Emma suffered for 28 years because of what she’d done. It’s no one’s fault but Regina’s that she had to grow up as an orphan. She had to grow up believing no one loved her and they never would. But being who she is, Emma’s chosen to forgive. Just as Regina recognizes she could have.

Though we’re frustrated with her tone of voice particularly, we’re thrilled that Regina’s finally acknowledged the fact that she’s always had a choice. She’s done unspeakable things as the Evil Queen. And that acknowledgment is a great start to truly fighting the Evil Queen. She’ll always be inside of Regina just as she’ll carry the things she’s done, but the choices that are made today matter more than the ones in the past. Everyone’s capable of change, redemption, and forgiveness. We believe that season six will essentially be the battle between learning how to control the darkness while it resides inside of her. Because, unlike Jekyll and Hyde, Regina and the Evil Queen are the same people — she even says so during her conversation with Snow. And with the help of her friends, this will be a fascinating journey.

There are a number of plot holes on Once Upon A Time we’re often okay with excusing (timelines, portals, etc.), but some things will always be frustrating. And that’s essentially the biggest complaint we have with this episode — it didn’t feel like a finale. Perhaps we care a bit too much, but it’s left us feeling as though certain things were a bit rushed. It all comes down to the fact that we still feel as though Robin Hood’s death served very little purpose. Plus, it wasn’t “grieved” as much as we would’ve liked it to be. Understandably, we needed to be introduced to Jekyll and Hyde, but if we’d got an entire season with them, it would’ve been a bit more satisfying if it hadn’t taken up as much “space” in the finale. We just wish we got a bit more time to fully grasp that this character’s gone. And that would mean dedicating an episode to remembering him while celebrating the life he lived.

But no matter the tragedies, on a show like Once Upon A Time, hope is never lost. And sometimes it is found in places where one would least expect. While Emma and Regina are searching for clues in Neal’s apartment (how is it still around!?!), Regina finds the Robin Hood book she had given to Robin, and inside the book is a letter he never mailed to her. If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to make us cry, it’s voiceovers, and Regina hearing Robin’s voice, as she read the letter, shattered us.

Though at the time, it was referencing his departure to New York, it fit perfectly with his death. And that’s the kind of hope Regina needs to hold on to. The belief is that a man fell in love with her in spite of her flaws, and though he may be gone because he was proud of her, she should strive to continuously fight for the good. It doesn’t matter if she could lose because at the end of the day, it’ll always be worth it. It’ll make people proud. And sometimes, no matter how much we lose, it’s enough to know we are loved. Regina may lose everything, but knowing she is now loved can be enough one day.

Additionally, Roland’s goodbye was undeniably the most heart-shattering moment of all. It was understandable that Zelena would send them to Sherwood Forest believing it’s how Robin would’ve wanted it, but to do it without Regina simply didn’t feel right. And again, while we can understand that they were all in a hurry believing Henry was going to destroy all magic and this was the only way the portal could’ve been opened, it felt incredibly rushed. On a happy note, can we take a moment to acknowledge that Raphael Alejandro is going to be a little heartbreaker!? That performance felt so realistic for a child, we broke for him. Kids his age don’t fully understand death and that’s what made the scene feel so realistic. He knew his dad was gone, but really, he has no idea what that truly means. And choosing to give her a little feather from his “papa’s arrow” was poignantly beautiful.

There are a lot of things we wanted to see fully reach closure in the same way that the Frozen Arc did. And that would’ve been a proper goodbye with Merida. When her story was cut short last season, we figured it’d be okay since we’d see her again, but what we really wanted to know is how she felt after it all. It didn’t necessarily need to be a huge declaration but rather a little bit more than what we got. Additionally, while we’re confident in the fact that Arthur will restore the underworld, we wish we could’ve seen a bit of improvement before we closed off that storyline for good.

Emma shouldn’t have to feel guilty over the fact that Killian’s alive — especially after everything the two have been through since 4B. However, because Emma’s meant to restore everyone’s happiness, she’ll always put others above herself; she’ll put their feelings above her own. She’ll take every little thing into consideration because she knows what it’s like to be unhappy, and that’s a fate she doesn’t wish on anyone. But in “An Untold Story”, for the very first time, Emma’s walls were completely down. As she tells Killian in “Firebird,” the reason why she often tells him she loves him in threatening circumstances is that she forgets she doesn’t have to have her walls up with him. She’s so used to pain and hurt that she has fully grasped the fact that their love is eternal.

Emma has come an incredibly long way from the woman we met in the pilot. And though Killian’s burned the bridges and walls she’s built, it’s still been inside of her. It’s been difficult and not because she couldn’t trust him with her heart, but because she was terrified she’d lose him. And losing him would be a lot harder if she fully let him in.

However, during this journey, Emma’s learned to finally and truly embrace the quiet moments. She’s learned to let go of those fears because time is precious and true love is so incredibly rare. When Emma tells Killian she loves him, it’s not because either of their lives is in danger, but because she wants to. She feels safe enough to. She’s choosing to seize a quiet moment and using it to remind Killian just how special he is. But the reason this moment is impeccable isn’t due to the breathtaking lift and kiss, it’s the simplicity that’s to be cherished. There’s magic in even the quietest moments — the most simple declarations.

This is the “I love you” that’ll be embedded in Killian’s soul ceaselessly reminding him of the fact that he’s not only wholeheartedly treasured, but Emma has finally found the serenity within herself to let go of the burdens that often governed her. She isn’t afraid anymore. And for as long as he’s known her, all he’s ever wanted to do is make her happy. He’s wanted to show her the fire within that’ll lead to impeccable success. His innate desire has been to anchor within her and in all, the fact that she’s “bloody brilliant, amazing” — she could do whatever it is she sets her mind to.

The very fact that she’s now bared it all during a quiet moment showcases the profound impact his faith and unwavering adoration have had on her life along with the prodigious growth she’s experienced after opening her heart to him. And perhaps, the most beautiful part of their relationship is the fact that though they’re incredibly strong apart, they’re better, braver, and happier together. In all the most effortless ways, they’ve helped one another grow into the very best versions of themselves, and today, their love stands as an incomparably bright example of how True Love should be: selfless, steadfast, and stirring.

Lastly, we might be the only people in the world wishing Henry actually succeeded in destroying magic. Why? Because then maybe Once Upon A Time could turn into a comedy. Who doesn’t want to see the Wicked Witch of the West trying to build a crib? Or watching Captain Hook try to get the DVD player to work? In all seriousness, it was easy to understand Henry this week. As much as they’ve needed magic in the past, today, it’s done more damage than good. It killed Robin. It’s consumed his grandpa. It’s attempted to consume his mom and Killian. It’s everywhere and the consequences aren’t always fixable. It was sweet to watch him and Violet’s little adventure unfold, but most importantly, it reminded us why we watch this show.

“There’s magic everywhere, if you’re willing to see it.”

It’s all about these ridiculously cheesy moments that serve as an escape from our day-to-day lives. Henry’s always been the truest believer and to see him shine in such a defining moment was phenomenal. As it turns out, when Emma and Henry were living in New York, she’d bring him to the fountain every time he was upset in order for him to make a wish. And it’s that very method, along with The Dragon’s and August’s words that inspired the heroes to believe in something bigger. Belief in anything is immensely powerful. Psychologists and doctors have come to find that people have been healed of their sicknesses through positivity. And it is that very belief, whatever it may be in, that makes the impossible, possible.

Additionally, because Henry remembered the fountain’s worked before, he was able to trust it again. In “An Untold Story” we learn that upon realizing his mom was unhappy, Henry made a wish for their family to be complete, and the next day, Killian showed up to take them home. It’s little things like this that remind us of how serendipitously beautiful life can be. And it’s little things like this that remind us that no matter how dark this show gets, tomorrow will be brighter. Henry not only made the choice to believe, but he put himself in the position of a hero, he chose to involve the world. And though they believed it was all some elaborate magic trick, as Emma states for a moment, it was enough. Life can’t always be explained. And this entire thing actually reminds us of a little passage from Robert McCammon’s The Boy’s Life.

“You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn’t realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don’t recall it.

See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves. After you go so far away from it, though, you can’t really get it back. You can have seconds of it. Just seconds of knowing and remembering.

When people get weepy at movies, it’s because in that dark theater the golden pool of magic is touched, just briefly. Then they come out into the hard sun of logic and reason again and it dries up, and they’re left feeling a little heart sad and not knowing why. When a song stirs a memory, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a train passing on a track at night in the distance and wonder where it might be going, you step beyond who you are and where you are. For the briefest of instants, you have stepped into the magic realm. That’s what I believe.”

The number of times that we’ve cried watching this show may be ridiculous to some, but it’s touched us in ways we can’t always explain. We are braver.  And we have learned so much about ourselves writing about these characters. No series is perfect. There are countless flaws in all TV shows. What we may love, others will hate. What we may hate, others will love. But that doesn’t change the fact that we’re still here because this little show has somehow taken us back to a time when we were kids.

Our favorite fairy tales are retold in ways that have become even more epic than when we were children. If anyone ever asks who our favorite couple is, we will shamelessly tell them it’s Captain Hook and Emma Swan (Snow White and Prince Charming’s daughter). And while those who don’t understand may look at us as though we’re insane, we’ll know that these stories, in all their ridiculous, flawed, cheesy glory have brought us happiness. Also, they’ve introduced us to some of the best people in the world.

For an hour each week, we’re all teleported to different worlds. And for that time, anything is possible. Then Monday morning comes and we’re all back at work and reality, but the night before, something’s made us smile. Whether it’s the entire episode or a few scenes, for a moment, we were exposed to magic. And as ridiculous as this may sound, this is why we continue watching Once Upon A Time. It’s why we’ll continue cherishing this show until its final episode. There is always hope. It takes great strength to choose the honorable route and it takes great strength to be vulnerable, both of which are often the themes of these episodes. And the two-hour finale was a reminder of the fact that wherever these characters go, they are stronger today than when we first met them. They are better and braver. And we’re excited to see where next season goes.

Worth Mentioning | Questions We Still Have:

  • Let’s be real folks, the best part of this week’s episode was the Captain Charming (Killian and David) hug. It’s hysterically and yet profoundly incredible how far the two of them have come. The men have gone from hating one another to truly respecting each other. Killian is not only the man who’s tirelessly saved his daughter, but he’s the man who’s saved the entire town. He’s become a hero. And though both men have lost their brothers, in a sense, they’ve gained each other. Respecting and fighting for one another not only because of how important they are to Emma, but because they’re important to one another, too. Killian and Charming are a lot like and this friendship was bound to soar someday. Although Charming will undoubtedly give him a hard time when it comes to Emma and other commitments in the future, deep down we can be certain that there’s no other man he’d be willing to give his daughter away to.
  • Is anyone else craving hot cocoa with cinnamon + rum? Sounds like a pretty fantastic combo.
  • The “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” was an interesting slide-in. We can always appreciate the references the series makes to literature.
  • Did Rumpelstiltskin make it back home?
  • How long will we have to wait until Belle’s been woken up?
  • How on earth is Neal’s apartment still around? Who pays for rent? Why hasn’t it been cleaned out yet?
  • We still have hope that we’ll maybe, hopefully someday see Robin again. Hopefully?
  • How did the dragon come back and what’s August been up to?
  • Additionally, weren’t we supposed to learn who Lily’s father was this season, or did our brains make that up?
  • How’s Macintosh? Did he propose to Merida yet? (Lol!)
  • We’re really hoping Roland and Regina have somehow reunited again. It isn’t fair that he doesn’t get to see his baby sister as often. Frankly, many things about this kid’s life aren’t fair at this point.
  • What questions are you guys still wanting to be answered?

Thank you all for yet another wonderful season. We’ve appreciated each and every reader, each and every comment, each and every reblog, retweet, share, etc. We hope you all have an incredible hiatus, and we’ll see you back here in three months.

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