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There are spoilers in this review. Duh.

I’m very ambivalent on this show and especially on this finale. There are some things they did extremely well in the episode, although I think that is mostly because they have fantastic actors to lean on. There are some things that highlighted the weakest aspects of the show at the same time. One of the big missteps in this second half has been the Author, in my opinion. I found the idea of him intriguing at first, but he’s been a really big let down as far as characters go. There’s also this annoying “villains don’t get happy endings” thing pounding at us, while they show very clearly the heroes don’t get them either. Then there’s Rumplestiltskin, who was a great character for the first few seasons, but has become a stone around their neck they just can’t seem to get rid of. I’ll talk about this more later. Previously on Once Upon a Time, Isaac the Author agrees to help Rumple write his happy ending, but he seems to be going a little rogue with that idea. Charming and Snow made a deal to give Maleficent’s child all of Emma’s darkness, and she grew up to be Lily, Emma’s childhood friend. Zelena the Wicked Witch pretended to be Marian and she is pregnant with Robin’s child, so her sister can’t really get vengeance on her at the moment. Everything’s about to change because Isaac has his quill and his own vision of things.

So Isaac has a flashback of sorts, although it’s basic and boring. He’s trying to sell things and his boss is hard on him, and it leads him to resent people who are like his boss. Later on he says that’s why he hates the Charmings, but it’s a comparison that just does not fit. Maybe if they were more clear on the parallels with those two, it would work. He was given the pen by the sorcerer’s apprentice, or the pen was chosen for him. Clearly he wasn’t fit for the work. He’s changed everything and swapped everyone’s roles. It’s now in a new storybook called Heroes & Villains, and he’s become very wealthy and famous. Henry was the only person left in the town, and he managed to find his way to Isaac and threatens to put him back into the page with the magic key if he doesn’t turn everyone back. He refuses, but Henry opens a door into the book anyway so he can save everyone. They both get stuck inside. In this world, Rumplestiltskin is the ogre slayer and valiant knight, living happily with his wife and child. Regina is a hero … but not that happy of one since she’s hiding from evil queen Snow White. Snow was in love with James, Charming’s twin brother, and Regina got him killed. None of them know who Henry are.

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Henry tracks down Regina after reading the book and wants her to find her true love Robin, believing that true love’s kiss will fix everything like usual. Isaac says once these bells go off, the book is done, and they can’t fix anything. The bells end up being the wedding of Robin and Zelena, despite the fact Robin and Regina meet and have instant sparks because ~true love~ exists. She refuses to get in the middle of their wedding, so Henry goes looking for the savior, for his mother Emma. He meets cowardly, soft spoken Hook and they steal the ship. Emma does remember everything, but she’s chained down and has no magic, a punishment that was either Rumple or Isaac’s doing. Whoever it was, that’s cold, son. Lily’s the one guarding them, but they manage to escape. Hook and Emma flirt and he finds it in him to be brave and bold when attacked by Snow White and Charming. Emma has to see her boyfriend, or this version of him, die, and she realized she never got to say she loved him. Determined to stop the wedding now, they nearly do, but Regina goes to save Henry instead. Because that’s what heroes do! See he’s being attacked by Rumple who despite being a hero in this world, still thinks murdering a child or innocent woman is okay. Because he is awful and has always been awful.

Henry realizes his true calling as the next author and uses Regina’s blood to fix everything. They all go back to where they were, and Isaac’s in jail.Henry decides having the power to change things is too much, so he breaks the pen. Rumple’s dying and Belle begs them for help, and I’m like “LEAVE HIM TO DIE PLEASE WHY ARE WE STILL HELPING HIM.” The sorcerer’s apprentice takes the darkness out of his heart, which just made me want to scream, because now he has a pure heart so what, it’s okay what he did before? Fury. The darkness starts looking for some place to go, and goes after Regina, but Emma willingly becomes the Dark One to save her friend. So the end of the season has Emma become the Dark One, whatever that may mean, and for some reason Rumplestiltskin gets to live with a pure heart and I hate it so much. Grrr argh. What this means for next season is anyone’s guess. Emma chose to be the Dark One for a noble reason, so because she’s not a cowardly bastard like Rumple, maybe she’ll be able to control it better. I think you can guess where some of my frustration is going. They’re going to find Merlin next?

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There were a lot of things I genuinely liked in this episode. It was fun to see Henry be such a big role. Jared’s adorable and I really like his character. All of the acting was fantastic, and you could tell they were having such a ball playing evil/good versions of the characters. There were some genuinely emotional moments, like Emma telling Regina not to let love slip through her fingers the same way she did, and Regina’s “death.” Also Emma giving up herself to the darkness to protect her friend, that was very affective. I do think the Author was a serious let down. He ended up being a pretty boring character, and the actor wasn’t compelling enough to make him more interesting. He felt more like a plot device, just a way for them to get to everyone being swapped in the story at some point. The thing with OUAT is that it has great ideas, but terrible follow through. The Queens of Darkness as a plot was fun! The execution? Ehh, Ursula’s gone fast, Cruella died, and Maleficent softened up.

Rumple was the only real villain, but apparently they can’t let him go. We’re probably going to have to sit through a season of people saying we should forgive him because he was tainted by the dagger. Did they forget he was a coward and power seeking individual before the dagger? It’s part of what made him get it in the first place. I think the show would be well served to have two characters who are villains (Regina and Rumple) and have one succeed in redemption and one who doesn’t. I don’t want to see him get back with Belle and be forgiven when darkness and power was something he actively chose for hundreds of years. That really put me off. I am interested in what Merlin’s going to be in this one. We saw Lancelot but he didn’t last long, sadly. Wouldn’t it be awesome if everyone in Camelot was a POC like Lancelot? I would get behind that. I am willing to try the first episode of next season, but I might decide by then that it’s not worth it. I’ve lost my love for it over the years, and it’s more frustrating than entertaining now. It has too many characters and they don’t spend enough time with any of the characters or the interesting plot lines they set up. They either drop plots entirely or only do the minimum of making it good before getting distracted by something new and shiny.

They could get it back together, and maybe the low ratings will tell them that it’s time to focus. But I’m not going to hold my breath.

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Comments
  1. [“Then there’s Rumplestiltskin, who was a great character for the first few seasons, but has become a stone around their neck they just can’t seem to get rid of.”]

    No, he’s not. Did you really expect Rumpelstiltskin to achieve instant redemption? Regina didn’t. Neither did the Charmings or Emma. A well written character isn’t someone with a one-dimensional moral compass. Of course Rumpelstiltskin was going to back slide after the Neverland arc. It’s only natural. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And instant redemption for a character is nothing but bad writing.

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    • Dee says:

      I’m against instant redemption. But doing the same storyline over and over “are they going to be evil, are they going to be good” is boring as hell. I would like the idea of Rumple and Regina being two examples of redemption where one of them works and one of them doesn’t. Because not everyone ends up redeemable and I think that’s just as interesting a storyline as someone who IS redeemable.

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  2. [“The Queens of Darkness as a plot was fun! The execution? Ehh, Ursula’s gone fast, Cruella died, and Maleficent softened up.”]

    The Queens of Darkness plot was all about Rumpelstiltskin using them to get Emma to succumb to evil . . . so that he would have a means for the Author to give him his happy ending.

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  3. [“Also Emma giving up herself to the darkness to protect her friend, that was very affective. “]

    I found that ridiculous and unrealistic. When it comes to Emma’s moral compass, this show has always been a cheat. The show runners tend to be vague when she does screw up or do something incredibly immoral. Or . . . they shove it under the rug. And in the case of Emma becoming “the Dark One’, they made her act “noble”. It was enough to make me want to throw up. Considering that Emma was corrupt even before she first arrived at Storybrooke and Season 4B was making a big deal about her slowly giving in to evil, would it have really hurt if she had became “the Dark One” due to a wrong or evil decision? Jeez!

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    • Dee says:

      I was fine with the reason that she did it, but I agree with you it would’ve been more interesting if she became the Dark One for a selfish or wrong decision. I do wish they delved into Emma’s darker past more. In the flashbacks recently she’s painted more as an innocent girl who was screwed over by Lily, but I always liked her better as an edgier character. She was a thief and a grifter, and it does fit in better with the show as a redemptive place for her to be seeking redemption and absolution too.

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  4. […] last I wrote about Once Upon a Time, I was not happy. The Queens of Darkness ended up pretty boring. Rumplestiltskin was allowed to be the bad guy yet […]

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