TV Recaps

‘Once Upon A Time’ Episode 12 Recap: A Look Into The Underworld

ABC’s hit show Once Upon a Time returned last night, Sunday, March 6th, with its 100th episode, and I could not be more pleased with their execution. I have to admit, I was slightly worried at first. The underworld plot is a genius one, and there are so many places they can go with it. But I was afraid that they would only be bringing it in for the 100th episode, and then changing to a different plot. Thank Hades they didn’t! It looks like our heroes will be stuck in the underworld for quite some time. Horrible news for them, but wonderful for us! That being said, let’s jump right in and talk about what the underworld had in store last night.


I will only be reviewing the Underworld portions, not the flashbacks.



The episode begins with Emma waking up in her Bug. Oh, how we all love that car. And who is in the backseat but Neal! She can’t believe he’s there, but soon finds out they aren’t in the Underworld. Not yet. After some brief catching up, mainly about Henry, Neal warns her not to go any further.

neal emma

“This won’t end the way you think it will,” he warns her. But, as he suspected, she can’t turn back. She knows she can save Hook, and I think we all know that even if she can’t, she would die trying. It was a short visit, but it was nice having Michael Raymond-James back on the show, and knowing that Neal is happy, and in a better place.

Unlike where our heroes are going. But Neal’s return poses a question. He was able to get a message to Emma. Does this mean that others can as well? Could we expect a visit from, dare I ask it, Graham? Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?


Rumple leads our heroes into the underworld, complete with hellish-red hues and a broken clock tower for an eerie, distorted reality feel. Regina’s suggestion as to why it may take the appearance of their beloved town in Maine makes the most sense, that Storybrooke and the dark curse were actually based on this place (or perhaps vice versa, as Robin points out), but Rumple’s opinion wins out. These questions are pointless right now. I’m sure all will be revealed in due time.

Rumple explains to the gang that everyone here is dead and trapped because of unfinished business. Many here are trapped because of our main characters, like Cruella herself. This leaves the writers open to countless possibilities and plots, which is extremely exciting.

While everyone gets their bearings, a man from Regina’s past looks on and reports back to the one and only Queen of Hearts, Regina’s mother, Cora. Talk about long time, no see.

cora regina

Regina catches the man following them, and goes to her mother. Cora begs her to leave the Underworld. And while she may believe her mother has good intentions, we know better. Cora never does. She tells Regina to grab Henry and Robin and take the boat out of here. She tells her that those “friends” of hers are not truly her friends. And if Regina refuses to leave, her fate will be to go to someplace worse. Not only that, but if she stays, there will be a cost, and she threatens her father. Regina is left with a massive choice to make.

Meanwhile, Snow enters Granny’s diner, and it is more than a little different than the one we’re used to. The Blind Witch is behind the counter, offering treats such as gingerbread, or some children! How delicious.

And this is where I must point out the acting ability of Josh Dallas. And by that, I mean his insane talent. James walks in, and Snow mistakes him for David. Only after a long and deep kiss does she discover it’s his twin (and evil twin, at that).

snow james

I’m truly impressed with Josh’s acting. It isn’t as if the clothing is all that different, so I can imagine it would be difficult wrapping your head around this new character. But he portrays James brilliantly. The way he moves, even the subtle nuances, the way he speaks, everything is so different from David and I was thoroughly impressed with that. And, let’s be honest, some of us love a little bit of a bad boy.

Again, this plot can go anywhere and it’s going to be really intriguing to see where it takes us. And the fact that Snow and David didn’t tell Emma what took place is interesting, and could possibly lead to some drama/problems down the road. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, Rumple has had enough. There’s only one way to get things done, and that’s his way. And let’s be honest, when it comes to magic, and dark places, Rumple certainly is the most knowledgeable. He heads over to his shop, or at least, what is his shop up above. He sees not only the chipped teacup, but the straw doll from when he was a boy as well. We flashback to Storybrooke, only a day ago, when Rumple says goodbye to Belle. This stirs mixed emotions in me. On one hand, Rumbelle is adorable. On the other, Rumple has lied to Belle a ridiculous amount of times, and is lying again to her now. It’s hard to love Rumbelle as much now as we did back in the earlier seasons. But back in the underworld, when Rumple makes it to his safe, who should interrupt him but his father, Peter Pan himself.

Some wonderful and much missed sass is delivered. Rumple is definitely not happy to see Pan of all people, and Pan can’t help but wonder why. Shouldn’t he be happy to see his ‘dear old dad’? To which Rumple responds that just because Pan sired him, does not by any means make him his father. It’s that messed up father/son relationship that help remind us why Rumple is the way he is.

Down here, this is Pan’s shop. He makes the rules, not Rumple. But he decides to be generous, and gives Rumple the potion he’s looking for. Free of charge, no deals or favors expected. He calls it a gesture of good will, from father to son. But we know that Pan isn’t done with his son, nor likely is Rumple done with his father. Pan would do anything to get back to the world above. And what a great twist for season 6 that would be! One that I would absolutely love to see.

Rumple brings the potion to our heroes, giving them the instructions and leaving them to their work. As everyone in the underworld has a grave there, all they need to do is find it, pour the potion over it, and simply ask Hook where he is. But when they find the grave and use the potion, it doesn’t hold. They can see Hook, but he can’t see them, he has no idea any of them are there. And he looks like he could use some good news.

I have to admit, I cried when I saw his face. Hook is my favourite character on the show, and seeing him so bloody and battered was actually cringe-worthy. Emma can barely hold it together, and Regina and Robin block Henry’s view, not wanting him to see Hook like this.

When the spell breaks completely, Emma is distraught. Will she ever find him? Does he think she doesn’t care? She can’t stand the thought of anyone going through the torture and suffering he’s going through, and so she tells Regina to leave. To save Henry and herself, and get on that boat. Or her father will very likely be subjected to similar suffering.

Regina takes the potion and steals the show by summoning her father. Lana Parrilla shows yet again how talented of an actress she is, and breaks down in tears. The scene is beautiful, heartbreaking, and moving beyond words. Her father forgives her, and truly wants the best for her. He wants her to stay, to lose this hold that Cora has on her, and to be the hero she truly is. To give hope and strength to her friends and family. And he gives her the strength she needs.

Cora tries to destroy Henry, but disappears before she sees his fate. Henry is true, he is good. And his unfinished business was Regina. He needed to see her embrace herself, and destroy the hold that Cora had on her. Seeing that, he could finally be at peace. Little Henry finally meets the man he was named after, in one of the most touching scenes of the show. He thanks him for believing in his mom, like he does. And there’s a passing of the torch, in a sense, with Regina’s father telling Henry to look after her. It’s a beautiful and tear-jerking moment that stole the episode.

Regina and Henry return to the others, explaining what has just happened, and they realize that they could save everyone in the underworld, and bring them all peace. Rumple warns them that there is no reason to save these souls, as they are wretched beings who do not deserve it, and he refuses to take part. As we know, he has a bigger problem on his hands. And with a tick of the clock, signalling the departure of a soul from the underworld, Operation Firebird begins.

The episode ends with our first look at Hades, who rules, of course, underground, underneath the library. He sits in a circle, which five different streams surround. One grey, one green, one yellow, one blue, and one red. I can only assume that this is fire, water, earth, and air, but what is the fifth? Spirit? Death? Or something yet unknown to us?

Honestly, it was really enjoyable to see Cora have to answer to someone. Down here, Hades rules, and Cora must obey him. And to see him turn her back into a miller’s daughter was such a satisfying moment, and one that she most certainly deserved. He so far seems pretentious, but in a very comedic and awesome way. In only a few minutes, Greg Germann has already captured my attention and I know that he has a lot of potential with this character. While the blue hair was a little cheesy, it’s nothing more than what we’ve grown used to  from the show’s green screen effects. But we aren’t watching Once Upon a Time for its special effects. We watch it for the beautiful and heartbreaking plots and the incredible characters.

This season is going to be a good one. There are so many possibilities and new characters to come. And there is a hint of a possible death. Pan wants to get out of the underworld, and I’m sure he isn’t the only villain who wishes to do so. And if this is the case, will someone need to stay behind? Will one of our heroes perish here in the underworld? Will we perhaps meet our new villain here, trapped in the underworld? Only time will tell. And I for one cannot wait.

‘Once Upon A Time’: Labor Of Love Indeed
‘Once Upon A Time’: Is This The End Of Captain Swan?
‘Once Upon A Time’: The Biggest Storybrooke Moments From The Other   Shoe

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