Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 11 Review: Swan Song

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Who do you really want to be? That was the question at the heart of Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 11, and it was answered in ways I never expected. 

Like much of the first half of Once Upon a Time Season 5, the winter finale was a rollercoaster ride, although I was grateful there were a few less time jumps than we’ve been subjected to recently.

This installment left my head spinning for different reasons.

Fighting the Dark Ones - Once Upon a Time

We’ll start with Killian’s back story and how his father not only abandoned him and Liam but sold them into servitude in order to escape the law. That’s pretty cold. Perhaps Hook’s pirate ways came easier because the first person he looked up to was such a selfish man. 

Hook’s fight between good and evil is comparable to Regina’s. They’ve both done horrible things, although Regina may win out on sheer numbers, yet their inner goodness appears to eek out a win right when it counts.

Just when all appeared lost, Killian couldn’t stand to see Emma suffer. He loves her, and she reminds him of the man he truly wants to be. 

The scene where he dies…where Emma has to kill him at his own request as witnessed in this Once Upon a Time quote was heartbreaking…

Let me die a hero. That's the man I want you to remember. Please.


Emma and Killian fought through so much to be together and were only allowed a few fleeting moments of happiness here and there before he died in her arms. It was completely unfair, and yet I couldn’t stop watching. 

Emma and Killian are perfect for one another. They are both heroes at heart.

Along the way there were a couple of things that surprised me in this episode.

First, Regina banishing Zelena to Oz seemed like a complete 180. On Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 10 they all agreed to try and co-parent. Now Zelena told them she was taking the baby. Couldn’t she have just waited for them to leave for the Underworld and then taken her baby without a fight?

I know that having Zelena gone makes it easier for Regina and Robin to be one big happy family, but I was just beginning to enjoy Zelena, so I’m hoping she’s not gone for good. 

And would someone finally name that poor baby already?!

Second, there was Snow deciding that she’d rather have dinner at Granny’s than look for a way to break the Underworld curse that was coming. I get that she wanted to spend time with family, but they just left Emma behind to look for a solution on her own. That hardly seemed fair. 

Third, I thought Emma was fooled by the Henry ruse rather easily, especially since she knew Hook was trying to get Excalibur away from her. Why would she simply hand the sword over to a version of Henry that simply appeared in front of her out of the mist?

But none of those issues compared to Rumplestiltskin, who had me completely fooled. 

I read the expression on his face as he watched Belle drive out of town as one of heartbreak, as though he knew he was doing the right thing by sending her away in order to save her. 

Apparently I was wrong. He had another plan all along, and as much as I hated it, it did make sense. 

Rumplestiltskin has always been drawn to power. If he wouldn’t give it up to save his son, and he wouldn’t give it up after Neal died, it shouldn’t come as a shock that he’d do everything he could to get it back once he saw an opportunity.

Because time and time again, he's proven that's the man he is.  

Now he is the Dark One of all the Dark Ones, which could have intriguing consequences for all of Storybrooke. 

The downside is that it turns Belle back into his clueless dupe once again, and that’s not fair. Even though Emma made a deal not to reveal his secret to Belle, how long will she be kept in the dark, especially since everyone else in town seems to know the truth? 

Of course everyone who knows is headed to the Underworld to save Hook. The downside for us all is that we have to wait until March to get our answers. 

Check back later this week to see what our Once Upon a Time round table team thought of the winter finale and keep an eye out for our Once Upon a Time Mid-Season TV Fanatic Report Card. If you can’t wait until then, you can watch Once Upon a Time online here at TV Fanatic.

Swan Song Review

Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (108 Votes)

C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.

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Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 11 Quotes

We should all be scared. This is death itself. This is a fight we can not win.


Regina: And you think we'll find Hook just sipping rum by the sea. He's not exactly a pirate any more.
Robin: Once a pirate, always a pirate. Take it from a reformed thief. Old habits die hard.