Ruby Slippers Review | Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 18

I understand what it’s like to feel like you don’t belong anywhere.


Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue, Jared S. Gilmore, Rebecca Mader, Sean Maguire, and Robert Carlyle.

Season 5
Episode 18: Ruby Slippers

Seeing Ruby really reminded me of how far Once has come since its origins. Much as I complain about its storylines lately, it has really hit a creative stride since starting Season 3, but it is truly a massive shame that Ruby didn’t have more of the spotlight in her short time in the main cast.

Ruby lights up the screen whenever she’s featured, mainly due to the talents of Meghan Ory. She makes Ruby seem so earnest. She’s good without being nauseating, and she has enough of a steely determination to not make her feel limp or frustrating. This episode also helped make Ruby’s quest to find her kind much more believable. When it was previously introduced, it seemed like the creatives clutching at straws as to where she had been for the past couple of seasons, but this episode really helped contextualise and explain it.

Having said that, Ruby’s journey coming on a collision course to the Underworld due to a spurious connection with Zelena on her short trip back to Oz didn’t entirely make sense. Ruby ostensibly pursued Zelena so that she could find out what had happened to Dorothy, who had disappeared. As it transpires, though, Dorothy was just in Zelena’s palace, which is sort of where one would expect her to be, and she was lying on a dais when Ruby returned, which sort of rendered her journey kind of pointless.

What’s more, I am confused by Dorothy’s entire storyline. Back in “Our Decay”, we saw her back in Zelena’s original reign of terror, yet she doesn’t seem to have aged a day, nor changed her clothes, since that time, despite there being several curses in the intervening time.

Ruby and Dorothy’s love story, while a landmark moment for LGBTQ+ representation on Once Upon a Time (where nearly everyone is white and straight), was a bit rushed. I read that this is mainly due to Meghan Ory’s schedule preventing a longer appearance, but it honestly would have worked better as a multi-episode arc. Both actresses sold the chemistry believably, but it’s jarring to see the pair confess their undying love to each other after only having one solo conversation together.

Other parts of the episode felt like they were repeats of moments in other episodes. Snow and Charming suddenly deciding that it was urgent that Neal couldn’t hear their voice – even though they had only discovered the way to communicate with him a few episodes before – seemed bizarre, especially since they’re planning on taking on Hades anyway. If speaking to Neal meant that much to them then they shouldn’t have come to the Underworld. The fact that Snow gets panicky that Hades could attack and they wouldn’t know is also a mite bizarre, as Neal is hardly going to be able to yowl down the phone at them that Hades is after him: he’s an infant, for Christ’s sake. Yet again, the Charmings were faced with the idea of leaving, and fought against it, only to have Emma encourage it and then, finally, Snow finds her way back to Storybrooke.

Elsewhere, Regina yet again reached out to Zelena to persuade her to come to the side of good. She’s had this conversation with Zelena before, and though Lana Parrilla and Rebecca Mader sell the scene, we’ve seen this countless times. We’ve seen it between Regina and Emma, with Snow and Regina. It goes on and on. The idea of redemption and coming back from your past mistakes is so pervasive throughout the series that these scenes can get somewhat repetitive.

Belle going into a sleeping curse was a nice next step for her character, not to mention a convenient out for poor Emilie de Ravin who probably has heat exhaustion from number of loose coats she’s had to wear. She might have gotten away with it if she hadn’t leaned against Zelena’s counter and betrayed her ginormous pregnant bump. The fact that she stands up to Rumple and insists that her father should wake her up from the curse was wonderful, though she seems to be conveniently forgetting the time he tried to lobotomise her by sending her over the town line in a mine cart.

Finally, Zelena and Hades committing to each other was, somehow, quite sweet. Even though they were toasting over the prospect of Dorothy’s staying asleep forever, which seems a little harsh considering she’s literally never done anything to Zelena other than exist, it was nice to see Zelena being vulnerable. I am worried as to what this means for Zelena once the Hades storyline is out of the way, as I’m just in no mood to see much more arguing in the show.

“Ruby Slippers” is entertaining enough. Dorothy and Ruby’s love story is good, and refreshing, but jarringly fast paced, and little forward movement is achieved in the Underworld storyline. With only a handful of episodes left in this season, fingers crossed Team Charming find a way out of the Underworld soon.

You can watch Once Upon a Time Seasons 1 – 7 on Netflix. It is also available on home media and other digital platforms for purchase or rent.

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