Once Upon A Time, now in it’s 101st episode, has a lot to prove. I know that’s kind of a cliche way to begin an episode review, but it’s true. After Season 5A proved to be the strongest string of episodes since the first few seasons, they really have challenged themselves to continue with quality content. 5B officially kicked off with last week’s 100th episode, and while entertaining, was still a bit of a novelty. So “Labor of Love” needs to prove to fans that the quality remains at a high level. I’m not sure it did.
This week on Once Upon A Time: Trapped in Hades’ lair, Hook frees a young girl, Megara, to get a message to Emma. Henry and Robin go on a side mission, and encounter Cruella De Vil. Snow White calls on the help of her friend Hercules to help them find Hook. In the flashbacks, Snow White revisits her first meeting with Hercules and how he impacted her.
Okay, so let me start by saying that I love the underworld premise. It’s a great way to parade old characters into the fold for a bit, and still focus on a new story. They don’t have to continually discover new lands and new mythological characters (Disney or otherwise) to tell compelling stories. I really appreciate the way that (so far) the flashbacks play in to the story, too. Bailee Madison is just the right age, now, to rejoin the show for the teenage Snow story. Though Ginnifer Goodwin is finally back from the sidelines and I love it!
The Hercules story was a wonderful start to this season. Greg Germann is a fantastic Hades. He just feels like the right fit. I love that Hercules and Meg weren’t incorporated into the show for the rest of the season, too. It can get a little old when the show gives you 9 episodes of Elsa and then she goes away forever. So I’m very appreciative that Hercules and Meg had an arc, and it ended, and it could re-open if there was an organic way in which to do it. It was very Season 1 of them to work this way.
This show was once (no pun intended) very different. I’ve noticed just recently (okay, it first popped into my mind during this episode) how crowded the show has gotten. What really drove it home for me was the scene at Underworld Granny’s with Hercules and Meg, while the others just stood in the background. There’s a lot of characters standing around and not being involved on this show. Now, this episode was actually pretty good about that, so maybe this criticism is more with the show as a whole, but I’d love to see more one-off stories like Hercules that play into the larger mythology, much like the early seasons.
Bouncing off of that previous point, what exactly was the point of Henry and Robin’s little side-quest? I didn’t think it was necessary to the episode. I almost forgot it happened. Largely, though, I’m glad that they’re not reaching around and showing us what’s happening in real Storybrooke, or trying to bog it down more with more characters. Keeping things within the underworld realm for the time being is a smart move, and by and large is working really well for the show.
What’s Hades beef with Hook, anyway? Was he being held because he was trying to escape? I’m not sure that’s 100% clear. But, it sure is interesting. I’m going to keep watching. It turns out I liked this episode more than I thought, even at the beginning of this post. I guess that’s why I do this! This turned out to be a pretty solid episode, and I’m excited to see where things progress.
What did you guys think? Did you enjoy the episode? Let us know!
Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC
Once Upon A Time Season 5 Episode 13: "Labor Of Love"
Snow White enlists Hercules’ help to defeat an enemy in this week’s strong Once Upon A Time.