Once Upon a Time Brings Back the Magic and Time Travel

first_imgStay on target You can tell we’re getting to the end of Once Upon a Time because the show is just doling out the reveals left and right. If there were another season in the fall, you could see some of these stories being saved for that. I don’t think anyone involved with the show expected another six seasons, but there are enough stories being juggled here for two or three. It’s easy to imagine a version of this season where Victoria Belfrey and Drizella remained the villains until the end. Then next season would be Gothel and Facilier, and the final season would be the real Dark One/the redemption of Rumplestiltskin. But that’s not the realm we’re living in. We only get this one epilogue season, so it’s all happening in these last remaining episodes.Even if there was going to be another season, this would have been the right time to do away with the curse. There are two episodes left in the season, which means now is the time to get everyone on the same page for the coming two-part battle. Most of this episode focuses on Regina and Lucy trying to get Henry to believe. He started to at the end of last week’s episode, but after kissing Jacinda didn’t break any curse, he’s gone back to his boring adult ways. He’s still in love with Jacinda and wants to be a parent to Lucy, but in this world. Where there’s no magic. There may be a different actor playing him, but Henry can still be the most annoying kid sometimes.Jared Gilmore, Lana Parrilla (Photo: ABC/Jeff Weddell)Speaking of which, the flashbacks in this episode are all in Storybrooke with young Henry (hey, it’s Jared Gilmore!) about to graduate high school. We only see him, Regina and Granny in all these scenes though. Kind of like they could only get the rest of Storybrooke back for a short amount of time, and had to choose their episodes carefully. These scenes start with Henry receiving a sweet classic car for graduation, which comes with the expectation that he’ll stay in Storybrooke for college. Storybrooke has a college? How? Who teaches there? Does the rest of the country know about it? Not that it matters, because he doesn’t want to go there. He wants to go out into the world, move away and possibly study film at UCLA. So Regina has to learn to let go.Fortunately, that doesn’t turn into a big fight that lasts the whole episode. With as much as her character has been through, you’d hope she’d be so understanding by this point. She accepts that her little boy is growing up, and it’s time for him to leave the nest. She doesn’t even freak out when he gets into a minor scrape in his new car. Scratches and dents are part of life, she says. She gives him applications to prestigious universities all over the United States, including Madison because… he likes cheese. You know what? I’ve heard of worse reasons to choose a college. And Henry gets into every college he applies to because he’s such a good writer. What a little asshole. But the poor baby is having doubts. He tells his mom it’s because he had to lie in his college essays (because nobody’s ever done that before), but really it’s because he’s nervous about leaving home.Lana Parrilla, Alison Fernandez, Andrew J. West (Photo via ABC)In Seattle, most of the episode falls into a pattern. Regina tries something to get Henry to remember who he is, it doesn’t work, he gets annoyed. First, it happens with a memory potion from Weaver, but that plan didn’t work with Zelena in San Francisco. Why would it work now? For some reason, Regina doesn’t try headbutting Henry’s memory back, even though it’s worked every time before. Not that I think it would this time, I just think that would have been really funny. Next, she digs up Victoria Belfrey’s grave to get her hands on the second storybook. The one that Henry wrote after becoming The Author. The thinking is, since touching the storybook brought Emma’s memories back way back when, it’ll work for Henry too. Only it doesn’t. He touches the book, and feels nothing. He starts yelling about how he is an adult who only believes in the real world. Like adults do.He does make a good point though, and this is where the episode drops its biggest reveal on us. If all that stuff is true, where are Emma and Snow White and Prince Charming? Why aren’t the heroes trying to find them? Somehow, that question makes Regina realize that the heroes don’t know they’re missing. The curse didn’t just send them all to a fake neighborhood in Seattle that, given the few geographical clues we’ve seen, should be in the middle of Lake Union. It sent them back in time. Yep. Those flashbacks with Henry’s graduation aren’t flashbacks. They’re just what’s happening on the other side of the country in Maine. That’s a pretty big bombshell to just drop in our laps, Once Upon a Time.Andrew J. West, Lana Parrilla (Photo via ABC)It turns out to be the key to getting Henry’s memory back, though. Regina slips his adoption papers into his bag, and out of curiosity, he calls the home phone number listed on the sheet. His younger self picks up, and all the memories come flooding back. All triggered by his memory of getting grad advice from a creepy dude who wouldn’t identify his name. He WAS that creepy dude. Henry helps his younger self through his anxieties about moving away, and leads him to a present that almost went forgotten: A magic bean that would allow him to come home. By the way, that advice? Home isn’t a place; it’s the people? Yeah OK, Once Upon a Time. I also enjoyed Thor: Ragnarok. I guess you can’t get too mad at Disney for ripping itself off. That is kind of the premise of this show, come to think of it.The rest of the episode sees Weaver finally bringing Rogers up to speed on what’s really going on. Magic is real, and Eloise Gardner is really an evil witch named Gothel. She’s controlling Tilly/Alice in the Coven of Eight so they can summon a storm that wipes out all of humanity. Yes, we finally learn that’s what Gothel’s goal was. The stakes would certainly have been higher this season had we known that from the start, but it doesn’t matter. It never gets brought up again, and won’t be an issue in the next two weeks. Seriously. Rogers tries to save Tilly, but touching her throws him away. He and Weaver ask Margot to try and get through to her, but Tilly tearfully says she can’t leave. Then, she shrinks all three of them to miniature size.Rose Reynolds (Photo via ABC)So now it looks like all is lost. The spell is going to work. Regina has confronted Gothel with a baseball bat, but is easily outmatched. Thankfully, Henry believes now and rushes to his mother’s aid. He begs her not to leave him, and kisses her forehead. That’s the true love’s kiss that breaks the curse. As rushed as all this feels, this part of the episode really works. Andrew J. West’s emotional scenes have an authenticity to them you don’t always get from this show. It would have been so easy for this scene to feel saccharine and cheesy, but he makes it work. It’s genuinely emotional, which makes this whole climax better. With magic back in the world, Alice is released from the spell, and she, Robin and Hook rush to fight Gothel. Hook puts himself at great risk to hold Alice’s hand, and lend her strength. Margot follows suit, and Gothel is defeated surprisingly easily. I will say though, that shot of her turning into a tree is surprisingly horrifying. It looked painful.So that’s it. Gothel is defeated, and the curse is broken. There are still two episodes left though, so where does it go from here? That’s where it starts feeling like they’re cramming another season or two worth of story int a two-part finale. At first, you think the big bad is going to be Samdi. After all, he steals Belle’s Up-inspired adventure book. Rumplestiltskin goes to get it back, and almost kills Samdi before realizing Belle wouldn’t want him to. So they fight Samdi next week, right? Well, no. As soon as Rumple backs off, Samdi gets stabbed in the back. The Wish Realm version of Rumplestiltskin has come to Hyperion Heights. So that’s the final battle of Once Upon a Time. Rumplestiltskin will have to defeat the darkest version of himself. I’m getting a real Zelda II vibe from this whole thing.Robert Carlyle (Photo via ABC)This episode wasn’t without its problems. The repetition of trying to get Henry to believe wore thing quickly, but was resolved in a short enough amount of time. And then, after so much build up to Gothel’s curse plus the reveal that she wanted to wipe out humanity, that was cast aside way too easily. That should have been the big scary threat for the next two episodes. It’s hard to take whatever’s next seriously if these characters can just solve the end of the world in less than 40 minutes. But for all those problems, this was a seriously fun episode of Once Upon a Time. It was exciting wondering when and how Henry would get his memory back. The build-up to the curse breaking was played up so well, I was enthralled when Henry finally did it. This episode was exciting, emotional, and set us up for a promising series finale. Even if it did cut a few story corners to get there. Once Upon a Time’s Finale Was Everything We Loved About an Imperfect ShowHenry Screws Everything Up Again on Once Upon a Time last_img

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