And they lived happily ever after.
As one story came to an end on Once Upon a Time, another one began.
But first, let’s address the Black Fairy’s curse and the Final Battle that almost erased all the realms of stories, and everyone in them, from existence.
As the Black Fairy’s curse was cast upon Storybrooke, we were taken back to season 1, it seemed. Except this curse was much more dangerous than the Evil Queen’s curse, almost feeling like it was done “properly” this time around… like a new and improved curse.
While Henry’s memory remained untouched, the others weren’t so lucky, especially Emma Swan, who was committed to a mental institution for her fairytale delusions. When Henry comes to visit her, she’s adamant that he not hinder her progress by once again spewing stuff about magic, her parents being Snow White and the fairytale book. Henry knows that this is all part of the curse with the Black Fairy wanting Emma to forget her family once and for all so she could be the lonely orphan with no hope who would go on to lose the battle.
The Black Fairy stuck by close enough to ensure her plan by becoming Henry’s “mother” in this new world. Oh and the Mayor, another play from Regina’s OG curse. Since she’s a fairy that basically created dark magic, I wonder why her curse didn’t affect Henry. Did she intend to keep him awake to keep up the challenge for herself? Because as we know from experience, Henry is really good at making his mother believe again.
Well, he was better the first time. Despite breaking Emma, OG red leather jacket and all, out of the hospital and showing her the rooftop where she just married Hook, he was unable to trigger her memories. He decided to steal the storybook from his “mother” so that Emma could read through and remember something but the Black Fairy realized he was awake and pushed him down the stairs.
When Emma got wind of his accident, she realized that Henry wouldn’t stop believing this nonsense unless she herself gave up on it and burned the storybook. She ignored all of his pleas and tossed the book into the fire, watching Hook’s picture burn. And still nothing. True love prevails? I think not. Then, she packed up all of her belongings and went back to her empty apartment that she called ‘home’ in Boston.
Henry realized that the Black Fairy was on her way to defeating them but promised him and his family would take her down. That’s when she told him the unfortunate side effect of Emma losing all hope; his family, who were sent back to the Enchanted Forest with their memories intact, would seize to exist.
Back in the Enchanted Forest, Hook, Snow, Regina, Charming and Zelena figured out that the Final Battle was for her soul, her belief, and her hope. Their mission was to find their way back to Storybrooke to help her remember but it wasn’t going to be easy. Jumping from a magical realm to a land with no magic required powerful magic, which they did not have. Hook and Charming teamed up to climb a beanstalk, just like Hook and Emma did way back when. When they successfully reached the top and stole the bean, they awoke the dragon, which caused the whole beanstalk to collapse on their way down.
Hook was uninjured but Charming was nowhere to be found. Snow, who felt that something was wrong with her man, went to go find him while the pirate went to go find Emma. But with every moment that Emma stopped believing (cue Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’) the magic became less powerful. By the time he reached the castle, the bean’s magic had fizzled out. Even Regina and the Evil Queen combined couldn’t conjure up the necessary power. As the smoke of doom closed in on them, the Evil Queen made the ultimate sacrifice to buy them some time, redeeming herself in the process. Even villains can turn good, an important lesson that was carried through this episode.
Even with Emma gone, Henry knew he couldn’t give up on Operation Cuckoo’s Nest and decided to become the substitute saviour, taking on his mom’s responsibilities of killing the Black Fairy all by himself. Someone has to do the hard work after Emma just skipped town. As he was about to march into the “Mayor’s” office, Emma appeared out of nowhere to assist. She didn’t believe just yet but she read his makeshift storybook and realized that whoever this woman he was talking about, it was the kind of woman she wanted to be. “I believe,” she told him as they walked blindly into the Final Battle.
I say blindly because they didn’t know that they were actually going to take on Gideon, not the Black Fairy. Remember those visions Henry had and those weird symbols he drew? Well, it was an ancient language, one she recognized. So she waltzed into Gold’s shop while he was out looking for Belle (obviously he didn’t believe those photoshopped pics), who was made into a frightened peasant in this new world, to steal back her powerful fairy wand. Once she deciphered the code, she realized that darkness didn’t stand a chance against Emma, she needed to use light.
When Gold returned from his mission to find Belle, he was angry at his mother. Thankfully he revealed that he never trusted her before the curse but now, he was sure she only thought about herself. She wasn’t aware her son was also awake but when she realized he was, she tried to explain that once Gideon defeated Emma, she would have powers beyond anyone’s belief; powers that didn’t abide by the rules. She promised that he would be able to be the Dark One and also have the family he’d always wanted, she even promised to bring back his loved ones from the dead.
Gold pretended to fall for it and once she was in his embrace, told her the one thing we all know is too true in the world of fairytales – magic always comes with a price, dearie. Then, he used her own wand to kill her and it was almost like she was Voldemort, crumbling into grey dust of nothingness. See ya later bitch.
When she died, her “curse” was undone, returning everyone’s memories and bringing Emma’s family back home. You would think that the orders she gave Gideon would also be undone but I guess it was just in the cards for her to fight the final battle, no matter what.
It was time and everyone met in the town square, just like in Emma’s visions. That’s when they realized that there really wasn’t an out – if he killed her, he killed the light and if she killed him, she brought a darkness out of herself, also snuffing out a light. So how does lightness prevail when no matter the outcome, darkness always wins? Hope, Regina told Emma. When the moment comes, she’ll know what to do.
As Gideon approached, Emma truly believed in that. In goodness. In hope. In family. In being the savior. In being the light. And then it occurred to her – she had to sacrifice herself for the good of the world. She dropped her sword and as Gideon drove his through her, a bright light emitted. As Emma fell to the ground, he disappeared.
Was Emma gone for good? Henry remembered something we all need to if we’re ever trapped in a fairytale and want to wake someone – true loves kiss. As he knelt to give his mom a peck, she flickered her eyes open and then, it was all over. The final battled had been one. When they opened the storybrooke, the phrase “when both good and evil did the right thing, faith was restored.”
So what now? Well, everyone went on to live their happy beginning. Emma and Hook enjoyed being married finally and she even made him town Sheriff. Seriously, driving around with a siren in a beetle… could they be any cuter? Henry went to school happy to have both mom’s alive and getting along. Snow and Charming moved out to the perfect little home with their son and she went back to teaching.
Best of all? Gideon returned to his baby form and Rumpel and Belle finally got their perfect little family back. During the Final Battle, Rumpel tried to do the right thing and save both his son and Emma by finding Gideon’s heart and telling him not to go through with the kill order. He failed but the fact that he defeated the darkness in himself and stood up to “Rumpelstilskin” one last time assured Belle that he was finally the man she always knew he could be.
Then, they all sat down to a family supper at Granny’s and well, lived happily ever after. It would have been the perfect series finale… and in a way, it technically was.
The episode’s cold open showcased a bit of what we can expect in the season 7 reboot. We saw a man, presumably an older Henry, with a girl named Lucy in the Enchanted Forest, telling her to keep the storybook safe as he prepares for battle. In a later scene, Lucy meets Tiger Lily with the book and finds her father’s sword – noticeably the same one Henry used to help Emma in the final battle. She’s worried her father died and she didn’t stay around to help him fight but Tiger Lily assures her that visions reveal they will meet again. But first, she has to get the book back to her mother, possibly Violet?
We then see Lucy on a modern day train in Seattle, reading the Once Upon a Time book with the painting of Emma and her friends eating their “last supper.” She arrives at an apartment, knocks on the door and the same gentleman we saw in the flashforwards opens it. “Are you Henry Mills,” she asks the clearly confused man before hitting him with the “I’m your daughter” line. Feels familiar? It should because this was some serious season 1 Deja Vu. I guess the apple doesn’t fall from the tree right?
There are a few questions that arise here: Why is Henry in Seattle and not Storybrooke? Does Storybrooke not exist anymore? How does he not know he has a daughter? Does he still believe in magic? Is he under another curse? What happened to Snow, Charming, Emma, Regina, etc? Who is his “family that needs help?” We know Emma will not be returning next season and seeing as this is an older Henry, things are definitely going to get a fresh coat of paint.
Thoughts? Were you satisfied with the finale? Would you change anything? Do you think it should have ended without a season 7 continuation?