Last Rites Review | Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 21

We all have the capability to change.


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 21: Last Rites

As Once Upon a Time careens into its two-part finale, “Last Rites” follows the tradition set up within Seasons 3 and 4 where it ties up the main thrust of the arc before jettisoning us to something new for the final outing. While this episode does succeed at giving a weighty and dramatic conclusion to Hades’ storyline, it does feel slightly rushed and that his evil plans could have progressed further, and involved more characters, than it ultimately did.

One of the more frustrating elements of the episode was seeing Regina and Zelena, who had just made amends, once again warring with each other. I suppose it’s understandable that Zelena would be reluctant to side with Regina over Hades, but it would have been a nice subversion for the show to go down. However, guessing Zelena’s motivations right until the last moment was undeniably tense, even though nobody realistically expected Regina to be killed off. As if they’d have a show left after that!

That major event of the episode, I suppose, was probably Robin’s death. It feels undeniably harsh to off him in that way, without any sort of afterlife and just ceasing to exist, but I can’t help but feel it’s just another way to get angst out of Regina, which isn’t needed at all. What’s more, Robin’s death just doesn’t pack that much of a punch. He’s largely been absent from the show since his introduction to the main cast. He had far much more to do when he and Regina first started dating, but amidst the Dark Swan storyline and journeying to the Underworld, he’s been glorified furniture. He definitely had potential, but I severely doubt if anyone is especially shaken by his demise.

I hope that the finale doesn’t go down the route of toying with Regina descending back into evil. I feel like she’s come far too far emotionally to backslide in that way. It’s barely been a question for a season or so. Fortunately, the loss that Zelena and Regina now share seems to have brought them closer together, as well as the fact that Zelena vanquished Hades in order to protect her sister. Hopefully this relationship is given far more breathing room than Robin and Regina’s moving forwards.

Another element that feels like furniture setting for later, as well as undercutting the finality and impact of Robin’s death, is Hook’s highly predictable return to the land of the living. From a cynical point of view, as soon as you see Hook in the episode, you know that he’s going to be brought back. There wasn’t quite enough build for him to genuinely end up on Mount Olympus and disappear from the show forever (though if he had been greeted by Neal there, it would have made for a much more captivating scene).

The fact that Hook’s return seems pretty much inevitable also makes Emma’s storyline this episode feel somewhat redundant. The Charmings are insistent that she takes the time to properly feel the grief that she should feel, but it seems indulgent for the audience when we know that it’s not going to last. Not to mention that there was no form of this sort of mourning period for poor Neal either. It didn’t resonate emotionally, and felt slightly forced. So too, I admit, would be pretending that Hook hadn’t been left in the Underworld, but I felt like it was a bit too on the nose, not to mention how much of a punch in the face it will be for Regina when Hook and Emma turn up reunited once more while she has to endure the permanent loss of Robin. It’s so unfortunate as, comparatively, Regina really had done nothing to Hades. I’d be doubtful if she doesn’t pin the blame on Emma at some point, and she’d be right to, but I hope that that ill will doesn’t last long. Their friendship is one of the more touching relationships in the show.

As a final beat to the episode, Rumple has the Olympian Crystal, having retrieved it from Hades’ ash pile. Quite why Regina and Zelena didn’t think to actually check here can probably be put down to their grief, but the fact that nobody thought to even clean up after themselves is slobbish at best. Either way, now Rumple owns this immensely powerful weapon and is intent upon reviving Belle, so that can only mean bad things, though with the number of times that Rumple turns evil and then goes back good again and nobody actually holds him accountable for those actions, I’m not greatly looking forward to a finale with him as the agitator.

The grand culmination to the Underworld arc was slightly underwhelming. After so much build up, it felt too rushed, and involved too few of our cast. A great sacrifice for one of the main cast was perhaps needed, but they picked the easiest character to get rid of, and it will likely have minimal impact on the programme. Moving into the finale, I honestly have no idea what to expect from the final two-parter as we head towards season six.

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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