After what feels like an eternity (but in actuality was only about three months), it's just about time for the premiere of Once Upon A Time Season 5B. When last we left our motley crew, they were just on their way to the Underworld — that's actual hell, or perhaps more of an eternal purgatory for unrested souls, if that was unclear — in an attempt to save Hook. My feelings about the spirit of this mission aside, it does seem as good an opportunity as any for some family bonding time, and the gang's all here: Snow, Charming, Regina, Henry, and even Robin is game. It seems like the first episode wastes no time in throwing us right into the thick of things, either, dropping us right into the Underworld action pretty much immediately.
Save for the painful CGI job they've done on Hades' (played by Greg Germann) hair, hell isn't exactly what you're probably expecting. There isn't much in the way of flames or pitchforks, sure, but that doesn't mean it's not a dark and dangerous place to be, full of old faces, many of which will likely be less than happy to come face to face with the new arrivals. So what can we expect from Once's Underworld? Here are a few clues:
It's Almost Identical To Storybrooke
"It reminds me of when Marty McFly goes back to his old neighborhood; it’s just different and torn down, and there’s graffiti everywhere. Storybrooke doesn’t look the same at all," Lana Parrila tells Entertainment Weekly. It could be rather poignant to see their homes turned into their worst nightmares, but I'll be interested to see the explanation for this. Does the Underworld present itself differently to everyone depending on who they are? Is Storybrooke really that much of a hellhole?
It's Going To Have A "Film Noir" Feel
"All we know so far is there’s a lot of smoke. Visually, what I understand is that there’s going to be a more film-noir feeling and something darker, with more contrast in what you’re seeing," Jennifer Morrison reveals. Where there's smoke, there's fire, so this one makes a lot of sense, really.
I'm getting some Walking Dead visuals from Josh Dallas' description, which is: "The place is [filled with] burned-out cars, the clock tower is smashed on the ground, and there are zombies walking around everywhere. It’s hell. It’s absolute hell." Well yes, I do think that's the point.
Everything Will Be Eerily Familiar
The little changes made to the Storybrooke sets will be enough to make them into the Underworld while still being recognizable to longtime fans. As executive producer Steve Pearlman explains, "The concept in the diner is that there are other patrons there, but we’re playing with the idea that everyone that’s in the diner is there not for any kind of social reason, not because they enjoy the food, it’s just what they do. They have to eat, and they’re eating for sustenance only. It’s little touches like that that our loyal viewers will notice that are slightly off. In Regina’s office, we thinned out a lot of the knickknacks and we put urns, noticeably dead flowers where they would normally be live flowers, we put black apples instead of red apples." Sounds good to me!
Storybrooke Is Basically A Hellmouth
Taking a page from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it seems that Storybrooke has been built right on top of the Underworld, so it's not all that far away — it's been there the whole time. "What we will eventually find out by the end of the 100th episode is that underneath Storybrooke is the Underworld where Hades is living. He’s in this cavern where the steam is emanating from," Pearlman reveals.
It's A Pit-Stop On The Way To Hell
According to Dallas, the Underworld is "the weigh station on their way to hell. Once they get there, they’re going to discover that possibly some of these people can be saved and brought out of there, because maybe they’re misplaced in this world." Not necessarily new information, but good to keep in mind. A whole lot of people could get to carry on with their journey after the Storybrooke crew visits.
Hades Is Scary, And Not Just Because Of That Hair
"He’s as scary as anybody can be. He’s a serious contender for the ultimate villain," Dallas says. I guess we'll have to take his word on that.
Tune into the Once Upon A Time Season 5B premiere on Sunday, March 6 at 8/7c on ABC.