Words cannot quite explain the mixed emotions that this episode of Once Upon a Time has caused. It’s the two sides of the coin, the masks of the theater which show tragedy and comedy, there is not one answer but a million different questions. In “Last Rites” we got the return (hopefully for good) of a beloved character, and we felt the loss of another. And yes, it’s another death in a season of television that seems very rooted in what Community once called “The Darkest Timeline.”
Death Count as of “Last Rites”
By the end of May Sweeps we will have amounted to at least 14 deaths in this television season, and that’s not counting the ones that happened right before May Sweeps. I mentioned it earlier on Twitter, but when one of the shows that makes you the happiest is Game of Thrones (click here to catch up on our Game of Thrones podcast, It Is Known), which isn’t exactly light and fluffy, I feel that there’s something wrong with television. It feels as though all the writers agreed that this was going to be a season for television deaths. And I’ve just got one question for you, why? Death is not something to be trifled with. Death is not something that happens lightly. It completely affects the world around you, and the people around you.
Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow.
I’m all for breaking the myths of death but this is too excessive. We won’t get into the fact that most character deaths have been People of Color (POCs), Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Trans (LGBT), or women because that’s a different matter all together.
Have writers really run out of ideas that they think killing beloved characters is a way to go? Our world isn’t faring the best right now, there’s an intense election year, endless war and death in the Middle East, extreme pollution and corruption in Mexico not to mention the countless problems in South America. Television should be allowed to be our escape. It’s the place where we don’t have to worry about anything but whether Emma Swan will defeat Hades, if the Starks will be reunited, will Iris and Barry finally be together? If what we see on television is just as upsetting as turning on the news is, then what’s the point.
Especially when it comes to Once Upon a Time. This show was built on a message of hope. The hope that everyone deserves happy ending, that families can be reunited, wrongs can be righted. And yet, here we are instead suffering from another death. There are so many ways this could have happened and yet they chose the most upsetting one.
Killed Too Soon
Robin Hood has been treated very unfairly this half season, well if we’re being honest he’s been treated unfairly since the start of season 4. He was never given the chance to grow outside of his role as Regina’s soulmate and spent this episode and the last one being disregarded when it comes to his daughter, and having his soulmate give his rapist (because yes Zelena is a rapist) more respect than she gave to him. The moment he gains a backbone and talks back to Regina, it’s the episode he dies. And while he died honorably saving Regina’s life, it was also absolutely horrifying. He died thanks to an Olympian crystal, which means no Underworld, no moving on just complete destruction. We saw characters that had been as horrible as Cora get to move on to a better place and yet characters who were in essence innocents (like Aunt Em, Robin, and Milah) got the shaft.
High death counts is not what this show is about. Frankly, I wasn’t a fan of this version of Robin Hood. He’s been my favorite character ever since I was a child and having him cheat on his dying wife with her murderer went against everything Robin Hood stands for. Still, his death angered me and made me think he deserved better. The death itself was honorable in a way, because he saved Regina’s life but it could have been easily avoided. Regina could have poofed them out of there and think of a way to regroup instead Hades got to kill him. He never got to name his daughter, never got to say goodbye to Roland.
It seems unfair knowing that a scene between Roland and Robin didn’t make it to air. Sean Maguire did a fantastic job with what he was given, but he definitely deserved more than what he got. And I am kind of scratching my head at the writers claiming they had nowhere to go with the character. He’s still a version of Robin Hood, and he’s got one of the richest literary backgrounds, so if you’re gonna come up with an excuse, at least pick a more believable one. Normally “fringing” is about female characters but this was a clear case of that, there were better ways to create drama for Regina than to kill a character who only wanted to help his friends and his family. I will say this for the death scene, it was hauntingly beautiful, so major props to Lana Parrilla and Sean Maguire.