Once Upon a Time heads to the Underworld in the series’ 100th episode, “Souls of the Departed,” and pretty quickly, the question is posed: will everyone make the return trip?

The Underworld is a place for the dead with unfinished business, and as is almost immediately pointed out, for most people there, that involves someone from the group. The stage is soon set for multiple reunions, but not all of them are welcome.

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The Underworld looks just like Storybrooke, and Regina has a possible explanation: when she conjured the town with the dark curse, whoever created that curse had to get their inspiration from somewhere (or, as Robin suggests, vice versa).

It’s Regina’s Birthday, and She’ll Terrorize If She Wants To

In flashbacks to the Evil Queen’s reign in the Enchanted Forest, Regina wants just one thing for her birthday (and it’s not blueberry pie): Snow White’s heart. Her father would rather she give up her quest for revenge (and just blame her mother), but he makes a big mistake: turning to the Magic Mirror to connect the long-distance call to Cora and thinking that she’ll see reason.

Instead, Cora uses Henry’s plan to try to talk to Snow White to get her heart, wrapping up what she sees as the perfect gift for her daughter. However, when Regina decides to test out her present, it’s one of her guards that dies. Henry switched out the hearts, in hopes of keeping her from turning dark for good. That just gets him locked up in one of her boxes. But when Regina banishes Cora back to Wonderland, her mother takes the box with her father with her.

Advice from an Old Friend

Right off the bat, Once Upon a Time addresses what’s happened to Neal. He’s not in the Underworld, but that doesn’t mean Emma doesn’t get a moment with him to let him know that their son’s okay.

Instead, he’s moved on to a better place, he explains when he warns her not to go through with her plan to rescue Hook: “Once you get there, it is not an easy place to get out of.” He knows she’s going anyway, and with an “I love you,” he climbs out of her yellow bug and leaves her to wake up on the ferry.

Later, when Emma realizes that Henry went to see if he could find his father, she assures him that he’s in a better place.

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Reunited and It Maybe Feels Sort of Good?

As the group splits up to search for Hook, Mary Margaret stops in at Granny’s to find that it has a new menu, courtesy of the Blind Witch: gingerbread and children. She’s surprised when David joins her in new clothing, but after he kisses her and comments, “I see why my brother likes you,” she realizes this is James. (She should’ve seen that coming.) The real David walks in as his brother leaves.

Regina, meanwhile, finds herself summoned to the mayor’s office, where Cora is waiting for her. Regina is her unfinished business, her mother claims, and it’s too dangerous for her to stay. When Regina protests, insisting that she promised she’d help her friends, Cora tells her they’re holding her back. She should do what’s best for her.

In this case, it’s taking a boat with Henry and Robin that Cora has arranged for her in an hour. And if she stays? Sometimes, a mother must do what’s best for her child, even if it’s reprehensible, Cora says before explaining (with a demonstration) that most can only leave the Underworld in two ways: to a better place or a worse one. If Regina doesn’t leave, someone will suffer: her father.

In a move that should surprise absolutely no one, Mr. Gold goes off on his own, to his store to collect an item they need. However, someone’s standing in his way: Peter Pan. “Just because you sired me, that doesn’t make you my father,” Mr. Gold tells him. (Is it just me or does it seem appropriate to anyone else here that “sired” holds connotations of vampires given this family? Or is it just because I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I’m thinking that?)

Peter Pan offers him what he wants: no strings, just a gesture of good will. But he does want something. He misses the world above, and all Mr. Gold would have to do is leave one of his friends behind so that he could take the place of the living soul.

Where’s Hook?

Emma thinks that Regina should get on the boat, but Mr. Gold interrupts the discussion with a way to find Hook: an ale to communicate with the dead. All they have to do is pour it over his grave and ask him where he is. (Everyone in the Underworld has a grave.) If it works, maybe they can find Hook before the boat leaves and no one will have to decide.

Unfortunately, it can’t be that easy. When Emma pours it on his grave, Hook flashes in and out, and he looks awful. He’s bruised and bloody, and he can’t hear her before he disappears.

With half an hour to go before the boat leaves, Emma tells Regina to take the boat. Otherwise, it’s very likely her father will suffer the same fate as Hook. But first, Regina has a stop to make: her father’s grave (with the ale), to apologize and promise that his suffering won’t get any worse. But he wants her to stay. Her friends need her, he argues. She’s finally put vengeance aside to be a hero, and he refuses to stand in the way of that. Let him see her do the right thing.

And so when Regina and Henry find Cora, who’s about to send her father off to a worst place, Regina tries to stop her. But to their surprise, after Cora leaves, a path appears before the older Henry — to a better place. His unfinished business was Regina. For so long, he had let Cora get in the way of who she really is, the biggest regret of his life. Now she’s free, and he’s never been more proud.

New Storybrooke, New Operation

Everyone regroups in the middle of the town/Underworld. Since the dead there have unfinished business, probably with one of them, why can’t they try to help them? Operation Firebird, Henry decides. As they walk away, Regina sees the clock tick forward.

As for Cora, she takes the elevator in the library down to see Hades, who informs her that the clock ticking is a soul leaving his domain. And he hates that. For her failure, her punishment is to return to what she once was: a peasant.

Once Upon a Time season 5 airs Sundays at 8pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Meredith Jacobs

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

If it’s on TV — especially if it’s a procedural or superhero show — chances are Meredith watches it. She has a love for all things fiction, starting from a young age with ER and The X-Files on the small screen and the Nancy Drew books. Arrow kicked off the Arrowverse and her true passion for all things heroes. She’s enjoyed getting into the minds of serial killers since Criminal Minds, so it should be no surprise that her latest obsession is Prodigal Son.