This review contains spoilers! Proceed with caution.
Unlike the last double episode of Once Upon a Time, this one was a lot more cohesive as it followed one main storyline. All of the characters’ actions tied into the use – or misuse – of magic, and all of the consequences that brings. The show has always centred on spells and curses, so this finale was a nice insight into the morality behind the protagonists’ powers.
‘Every time it looks like we could be happy, magic just comes in and wrecks it’ – Henry
This past season has given Henry a larger storyline as the Author and highlighted that he isn’t that chubby-cheeked kid from Season 1 anymore. Of course, entering adolescence means that he’s become much more rebellious as per the stereotypes. But seeing as it’s Henry, he only ever rebels when he believes it’s for the greater good. He had a point about magic bringing suffering (the heroes seriously can’t have two seconds to themselves before some new villain appears) but trying to destroy it altogether was a drastic step. On the plus side, it finally gave Henry and Violet more screen time together. Their quest was nicknamed ‘Operation Mixtape’ (can I say adorable?!) and mostly consisted of them holding hands while strolling around New York. Another plus: it looks like Violet will be sticking around considering her dad is actually from Connecticut. This in itself is an intriguing bit of backstory that I hope the writers expand on.
Rumple was willing to strip away all of Storybrooke’s magic if it meant saving Belle (which is the exact opposite of what she would want him to do – get it together Rumple). Emma and Regina tried to intercept his plan, but ultimately it was Henry who put a stop to it. We’ve heard countless times that ‘all magic comes with a price’, and apparently no magic does too. And the price was that Snow and Co. were trapped in another realm for good. The solution to this problem was a little too easy in my opinion, not to mention overly sappy. Rallying the support of a random crowd and throwing some pennies into a fountain was all it took to restore the crystal. This scene served its purpose in that it brought Henry back to being the Truest Believer, though I expected something a grittier from a season finale.
‘Robin would want [Roland] to grow up in Sherwood Forest’ – Zelena
Speaking of unsatisfactory scenes, I felt that the aftermath of Robin’s death could have been handled with a little more tact. It was great to see Regina expressing her grief in a healthy way, however the whole situation with Roland was less than ideal. The writers jumped at the first opportunity to get rid of him, and their motives are glaringly transparent: they just don’t know what to do with him now that Robin is gone. Sending Roland back to Sherwood Forest isn’t what his father would have wanted at all. Sure, the Merry Men are his family, but so are Regina and Robin Junior. Separating Roland from his almost-step-mother and his half-sister was a poorly conceived plan. And now that his son is out of the picture, Robin is at risk of becoming a mere footnote of the series.
Half of the extended Charming family got sucked into the portal that Roland and the others went through. Except instead of landing in the Enchanted Forest, they were spat out in the Land of Untold Stories. Though the gardener was a suspicious character right off the bat, the revelation that he was actually Doctor Jekyll (as in Jekyll and Hyde) was a shock. It played quite nicely with this week’s theme, with Jekyll and Hyde representing the good and the bad in regards to magic. Jekyll eventually disposed of his evil alter ego by drinking a potion that split him into two entities (this scenario reminded me a lot of Dark Charlie from Supernatural). But there’s no escaping your demons; Hyde simply followed him to Storybrooke. He’s taken over Rumple’s position as the town’s Resident Shady Character, which spells trouble for the other townspeople.
‘The Queen is back’ – Evil!Regina
Let me start by saying that I am not happy with this new Evil Queen storyline. The finale placed emphasis on Regina’s struggle with her dark past, and that was all incredible stuff. Watching hergrapple with guilt and regret, with the feeling that she deserves to lose everyone she loves, was one of the highlights of the finale because it conveyed such raw emotion. Once is often at its best when it’s dealing with complex issues such as this. What wasn’t incredible was when Regina thought that drinking Jekyll’s potion would fix her problems. This was such a painfully bad idea that I couldn’t bear to watch it play out. The show spent an hour and a half talking about why magic isn’t always the solution, and then had one of its main characters turn to magic as a solution. Unsurprisingly, the plan backfired. Evil!Regina is now on the loose and wreaking havoc. This was an unnecessary turn of events, since the whole point of internal conflict is that it stays internal.
Admittedly I had some issues with the direction this finale took, but overall it was a good ending to a great season. After years as a part-time villain, the signs point to Rumple going all out in future episodes. Between him, Hyde, and Evil!Regina, the coming season will be jam-packed with plot. And with this many Big Bads set up, we’ve got a lot of speculating to do this hiatus. Time to roll up our sleeves and get down to business!