‘Max Wager’ cleverly ties multiple investigations into an important chapter in one of this season’s biggest plots, a plot that just happens to involve a number of key characters in Liv’s life. Things are about to get really complicated.
After ingesting the brain of a man who always knew the right words to say to get people motivated, Liv was able to dish out some hard but galvanizing truths to Major in order to help him get out of his rut. Although, one might argue that she might not have been so gunho about helping the man if she knew what he was involved with elsewhere.
As I discussed in my review of ‘Last Rites’, the new tradition of closing out the season’s second major arc before the finale looked like it was set to continue. While there were no parallel universes, or time travelling escapades, ‘Only You’ and ‘An Untold Story’ were full of unexplored territory for Once, and provided a nice breath of fresh air after the tumultuous events of the Underworld arc.
In order to tie up the many loose ends this season has left dangling to get things in place for the following finale, ‘Last Rites’ took a few liberties to make it happen. Those liberties ranged from confusing to downright silly, but the episode did pack enough of a punch to justify at least some of its flimsy means.
What I like most about the episodes that delve into Emma’s pre-Storybrooke past is that they always provide a welcome change from the usual escapades that are spent trudging around a monotonous green landscape, and show us a world where things are a little less idyllic and a bit rougher around the edges; not unlike Emma herself. ‘Firebird’, while somewhat flawed, gave us some interesting insight into what made Emma so tough in the first place. We also learned how Emma got her jacket. Maybe the second part was a little unnecessary?
Part of what made the opening salvo of the Underworld arc so great was that it was bolstered by strong character beats and interesting dynamics. ‘Sisters’ borrows a lot of that from ‘Souls of the Departed’, and manages to do something much more impactful, largely because what happened here felt earned.
Given how traditional the values of Once Upon a Time are, ‘Ruby Slippers’ went a long way towards taking those dated values apart, and rebuilding them for a modern audience. In light of the prejudicial developments of ‘Her Handsome Hero’, what transpired here was a relief.