You know how in most Disney versions of fairy tales, true love is the cure to all ills? Once Upon a Time is the opposite of that because true love makes everyone on this show—whether they’re involved in it or not—miserable.
Spoilers for “Swan Song” follow.
If I were ever on the fence about love, Once Upon a Time would be exhibits 1-1000 for the prosecution. People in stable, reasonable relationships are no fun, so everyone has to suffer. Remember that this whole show started because Regina lost her true love to her mother’s ambition and Snow White’s youthful tongue. And that’s why everyone has to be in Storybrooke.
Mary-Margaret and David’s true love has caused no end of trouble for the world, although they’ve thankfully settled into background stupidity rather than forcing it upon everyone. And seriously, seriously, Rumple and Belle have somehow managed to develop a relationship that is more psychologically suspect than in the original Beauty and the Beast.
I want to be upset about the “death” of Killian. Of course, I can’t be, because everyone Emma’s ever been with on this show has died. Who remembers the Huntsman in season one? How about Neal? At this point, being in love with Emma is a guarantee of doom.
I also don’t have time to mourn because Emma immediately gathers everyone together for a trip into the Underworld. Or is it Hell? See, the show has its ancient Greek afterlife and its modern Hell all confused. A character even points it out, only to be told there’s not much difference. UH YEAH THERE IS. There’s a huge difference between going to deal with Hades—who is a pretty fair dealer in mythology, all things considered—and Satan. It’s especially sloppy since Charon, the ferryman to Hades, is actually right there. So we can all guess what’s coming. I’m betting on Emma having to lead Hook out of the underworld without turning around.
HERE’S THE OTHER THING I LOVED ABOUT THIS EPISODE: Nothing turned out to have any lasting consequences. Hook sacrificed himself so that he could choose what kind of man he wanted to be. (Seriously, that motif was repeated so much, I started drinking every time.) But, of course, he didn’t actually destroy the darkness. Rumplestiltskin had enchanted Excalibur so he could take all the dark power of all the Dark Ones into himself. AWESOME. Hook’s sacrifice is in vain. All the time this season spent turning Rumplestiltskin into a “hero”? Pointless. Belle coming back to him now? Run girl! Emma and Hook were prepared to sacrifice themselves so the Charmings, Regina, Robin, and Henry didn’t have to go to the Underworld. And then, of course, they all just follow Emma into the water.
The show says it’s an exchange of one soul for another. There are a lot of Dark Ones and only six living people standing here.
Love is the poisonous sap running through the tree that is Once Upon a Time. At best, you and your true love get to be in love while you are threatened with death on a daily basis. At worst, your true love is the reason that’s happening. And nothing, good or bad, has any real consequences. I’m kind of hoping Regina’s banishment of Zelena sticks, only because she’s been doing nothing to the story for a long time now. Just swanning in, casting a spell, making innuendo (this week’s was “withered knob of that sad old man”), and then bouncing out again. I am so tired.
Also, back in the past, Hook killed his father for using him as payment in exchange for getting off a ship, and leaving his father’s new son an orphan. That’s going to come back, I bet, but not in any meaningful way, because Once Upon a Time. In conclusion, enjoy this moment of old evil Regina getting out of a coach. Just like any normal person would:
See you in the spring, when the show, and I, go to Hell.
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