When 'Once Upon a Time' first started it was highly addictive and made the most of a truly great and creative premise. Really loved the idea of turning familiar fairy tales on their heads and putting own interpretations on them and the show early on clearly had clearly had a ball. Watched it without fail every time it came on and it was often a highlight of the week. Which was why it was sad when it ran out of ideas and lost its magic in the later seasons.
The first four seasons had a few ups and downs, like blips in some of the writing, effects and characters that are not as interesting or as well used as they could be, but were on the most part very solid. Many episodes being good to fantastic, with interesting spins on characters, great character interactions and performances and compelling and emotionally involving back-stories for most of the characters. So was expecting a good deal from Season 5 and "The Dark Swan" didn't disappoint at all. All the episodes between that episode and "Devil's Due" ranged to me from decent to brilliant, before reaching disappointment with "Our Decay" and especially "The Brothers Jones" and then picking up somewhat after while still a variable step down in quality.
"Only You" from personal opinion was a very good episode. Not one of the show's best or of the season, but one of the better episodes of the second half of Season 5 and refreshing after the uneven Underworld arc which came to a close in the previous episode "Last Rites". Not perfect and could have been even better than it was but the emotional impact, character development and character interaction make it very well done.
There is parts that are a touch corny and don't always flow.
But really the only real fault with "Only You" is the character writing for Henry, which is all over the place and will admit to actually feeling frustrated by him and his actions rather than relating to them.
However, there is lots of evidence of forward momentum and character development advancing, the characters true to personality and not distorted or going round in circles. One learns a lot and things are made clearer. It doesn't get over-stuffed or jumpy, making it not a difficult episode to follow.
What really makes "Only You" is the character development and interaction. One really feels for Regina, whose grief doesn't veer into soap-opera territory or cliché and makes her a relatable and conflicted character. Jekyll and Hyde make promising first impressions and the dual personalities are handled sympathetically and suspensefully. Love the character exchanges throughout.
Much of the acting is strong, Lana Parrilla especially is splendid and makes Regina rootable in a way that's very moving. Robert Carlyle is similarly riveting, he has fun with Gold and has the right amount of charisma, gravitas and shadiness. Hank Harris and Sam Witwer demonstrate great potential and Jekyll and Hyde are very distinct in contrast.
Furthermore, "Only You" is a very handsomely mounted episode visually, the settings and costumes are both colourful and atmospheric, not too dark or garish and never cookie cutter. It is photographed beautifully too. The music is haunting, ethereal and cleverly used with a memorable theme tune.
Writing has the right balance of humour, pathos, mystery and intrigue mostly, with less soap and camp that has been seen in some of the Underworld arc. This aspect has come on a long way since when 'Once Upon a Time' first started, much more complexity and nuance, or at least at this point on the most part.
Summing up, very good. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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