Once Upon a Time, S5 Ep18 – Ruby Slippers

Ruby and Mulan graced our screens once more in this week’s episode of Once Upon a Time as they took a side trip to Oz during their adventures, and Ruby made a strong connection with Dorothy. Ruby’s presence in the Underworld is explained. Meanwhile, Belle sought Zelena’s help to protect her child and Snow made it back to Storybrooke.

It was great to see Mulan and Ruby again, even if their involvement in the main plot, just like earlier this season when they were both in Dunbroch, felt a bit too contrived. These are two amazing characters who are often under-served by the writers of the show and this episode was no exception. Ruby had a little more to do this time around while Mulan was practically a prop in the background. Ruby also played a large part in helping Snow get back to Storybrooke and had a love story of her own, one that has been hyped by the writers from before the season started. More on that later.

All throughout the episode Zelena seemed seriously reformed, having a heart to heart talk with Regina, and showing genuine regret about her past misdeeds. While not always the most trustworthy of characters, Zelena really does seem to be growing up this season and there may be hope for her yet.

Once Upon a Time, S5 Ep18 - Ruby SlippersBut as expected of an episode entitled “Ruby Slippers”, this one focused on Ruby’s adventures in Oz where she is smitten by the brave and headstrong Dorothy. When Zelena holds Toto hostage in order to acquire Dorothy’s silver slippers, Dorothy, Ruby, and Mulan work together to thwart her. And in the midst of this exploit, they form a strong connection. This led to Ruby realizing that she was Dorothy’s true love and waking the latter from a sleeping curse with a sweet kiss.

As progressive as the writers would like to appear by featuring a LGBT couple, this bit of representation seemed too forced and out of the blue. I had thought that they were setting up Mulan and Ruby, because earlier this season the two set out on a journey together. And that would make more sense, since by now they would have spent a lot of time together already. Granted, the whole love-at-first-sight angle will never be that convincing, even in a Fairy Tale show like Once Upon a Time (even Snow and Charming didn’t start out smitten with each other!).

Once Upon a Time, S5 Ep18 - Ruby SlippersIt was lucky that Meghan Ory has chemistry with anyone she shares a scene with but even so, the love story happened too fast and with very little buildup. While you could understand Ruby’s alienation and need to belong somewhere, not much was known about Dorothy other than her being Zelena’s enemy and having the love of the people of Oz. To pair her up with such a complex and established character like Ruby was a strange choice.

This may just be my bias talking, because I have been shipping Frankenwolf since that one episode back in season two when Ruby and Dr. Whale made a believable connection with each other and bonded over their feelings of alienation and guilt. I still believe that that would have been a more compelling pairing.

And as great as it is that Ruby is getting a well-deserved happy ending, her getting together with Dorothy might also mean that she will be settling down in Oz so we’ll be seeing even less of her than we already do. Now that would be tragic. And it’s really hard to picture Ruby so easily getting separated from Granny.

Once Upon a Time, S5 Ep18 - Ruby SlippersThe theme of the episode was facing one’s fears when it came to love and taking the risk of loving someone despite the potential pain it will cost you, as Snow spelled out to her close friend. So there were other parallels to Ruby’s struggle to admit her true feelings for Dorothy. Zelena may or may not have decided to take a leap of faith and accept Hades’ offer (though part of me thinks she may be playing him since she’s been acting more and more decent in the last few episodes.)

Snow and Charming had to be away from each other after Charming enlists Hook’s help to cross out Snow’s name from the gravestone and replace it with his (all written in Hook’s messy hook-writing). No doubt, they’ll find each other again as they always do.

Once Upon a Time, S5 Ep18 - Ruby SlippersMeanwhile, Zelena helped Belle take some precautions against Hades potentially speeding up her pregnancy so that he can steal her baby (like Dark Swan did to Zelena.) Belle announces to Rumple that she will voluntarily place herself under a sleeping curse to keep her state of pregnancy frozen and safe. She challenges him to bring her back to her father for true love’s kiss once everything is over.

Many suspect that both Belle and Snow’s being out of the action for the next few episodes may be due to the actresses’ actual pregnancies. Once Upon a Time always finds a way to work around such real life developments.

Next week on Once Upon a Time it’s all about siblings as Cora’s daughters have a showdown, as well as the Charming twins: