Once Upon a Time Season 4 Episodes 22 and 23 – TV Review
So Once Upon a Time is doing a double episode finale again.
I feel like Henry: strapped to a cart and struggling to be free.
Well, at least now I’ve got a couple of months off before Once Upon a Time returns for an exhausting season 5.
What Disney movies are out next year that it can sponge off of?
TL;DR The Author sends everyone into his bizarro version of the storybook; Henry must go into the book to fix things; he tries to ally with a disbelieving Regina, but faces opposition from the evil Snow White and Prince Charming; and the Author, who is trying to kill him.
Because getting Regina some pash action with Robin will break the storybook. God, I wonder what would happen if they had sex?
So we start off with a little flashback to Isaac‘s pre-Author life, when he was a struggling writer. The Apprentice, somehow in our world, summons him to the task of Author. Back in the present, the Author finishes Heroes and Villains, and everyone in Storybrooke vanishes. Except Henry, as he was never an element of the story. Henry tracks down the Author, who is living his own happy ending of a successful writing career (being the author of Heroes and Villains, natch), and uses that magic key to suck himself and the Author into Heroes and Villains, where the rest of our heroes are trapped. Isaac unwittingly hints to Henry that a deviation from the laid-out happy endings of the villains in Heroes and Villains will break the storybook, so Henry teams up with Regina (who, in this iteration of the story, is a righteous bandit like Snow White) to get her lips on Robin’s. Apparently the only villain the Author didn’t lay a happy ending out for is Regina. Fucking rude. The Author, meanwhile, is captured by the evil queen’s forces. The evil queen being Snow White, with Prince Charming as her heart-ripped underling and consort. The Author convinces Snow and Charming to hunt down Regina and Henry. The episode ends with Regina saved by Robin, but ultimately failing to initiate True Love’s Kiss, and getting pissed off at Henry for giving her hope.
And Emma still exists in this universe for some reason, despite not being in the book. We just can’t get rid of her, can we?
Honestly, I didn’t think that an episode with Henry as the major protagonist could be any good. But I don’t think there’s a character who doesn’t benefit from the Heroes and Villains switcheroo.
Regina is still fierce as a bowhunting bandit, and she fills out the costume better than Snow ever did. Likewise, Snow gets some much needed cool points in her evil queen garb.
And Rumple gets to be powerful, but still pretty.
Why are we trying to destroy this reality, again?
Why I hate this episode:
Why in the hell did the Author not give Regina her happy ending in Heroes and Villains? Didn’t he say just last episode that Regina has been dealt the worst hand, and he’s a fan of hers? So why didn’t he give her a happy ending? He actually does the opposite, and writes it so that Robin marries Zelena, which is about as far from something that would make Regina happy as you can get.
He makes a remark to a fan of Heroes and Villains in the real world that Regina might be seeing some better luck in the sequel. But that’s not good enough.
We actually don’t get to see many of the villains’ supposedly happy endings. We see Isaac’s, as he makes himself a rich and famous author in the real world. And we see Rumple’s, who has become a white magic-wielding champion of the people, married to Belle, and with a new baby. But that’s about it. Regina, as mentioned, gets the opposite; we don’t see Maleficent; or Ursula. Weak.
Likewise, the heroes are supposed to be getting unhappy endings, but Snow is large and in charge, if a little discontent. Turning Snow into Queenie isn’t an unhappy ending. Queenie was awesome. And she did end up getting a temporary happy ending when she enacted the original curse.
Which brings us to Emma, who somehow remains in Heroes and Villains, even though the Author didn’t write her into it. Something something she can’t be erased. Just because, I suppose.
Regina and Robin are rival bandits, but she doesn’t know what he looks like? So she’s never seen a wanted poster for him?
If the Apprentice is a character from the storybook world of Once Upon a Time, why is he in charge of choosing the new Author for all the realms of fiction?
Henry tries to prove to Regina that his tale of a different world (and her being his mum) are true by showing her a paperback copy of Heroes and Villains that came through with him when he used the magic key to enter the master copy of the book. Regina is frightened by the knowledge within, so burns it immediately. Goddamn, that’s obstructive.
Isaac’s super power inside the world of Heroes and Villains is that he knows exactly what’s going to happen. Because he wrote it, remember? Yet he leaves Henry to hopefully get killed by an ogre, forgetting that Rumple the Ogre Slayer turns up at that point in the story. Fucking idiot.
Oh, and Snow’s backstory in Heroes and Villains is a photocopy of Regina’s backstory: she was in love with James, Prince Charming’s evil twin, and Regina’s failure to keep a secret led to his death. That’s lovely, but isn’t the point of Heroes and Villains to have the villains triumph over the heroes? It looks like the Author just wrote Snow and others as villains the whole time. Which means they were never heroes in the first place. So the premise doesn’t hold up.
But it’s not all bad:
Snow has never been as fun as she is when pretending to be Queenie. She fell in love with James because he was cruel, like her. And when he died, she ripped his twin brother’s heart out and forced him to be with her. That’s mean, baby. It suits her.
And being a mind-controlled sex slave and enforcer is the closest Charming can get to being Graham. And that’ll have to do.
Regina makes the stupid mistake of burning the book, but she is otherwise as fantastic as the Regina we already know. She’s a successful bandit, she looks great, and she has some flirtation with Robin.
It’s just a shame that Robin is getting married to Zelena. Today, in fact. Regina’s heart flutter is brutally put to a stop once Zelena comes in and lies all over Robin. Regina blasts Henry for giving her hope of finding her true love. It should be a matter of record that I am okay with Henry taking the blame for anything they’ll throw his way.
Henry proves to be pretty resourceful when dealing with the sudden disappearance of everyone he knows. He drives a car to a diner and asks the waitress if she’s seen any of them. It’s there that he notices the paperback of Heroes and Villains chilling in a book stand, so he tracks the Author down to a big book signing event. Henry threatens to lock him in the door storybook page again (which is what our heroes were rallying to do before the Author sent them all into Heroes and Villains) if he doesn’t bring them back, but apparently using your Author powers to grant your own happy ending causes you to lose the magic of the pen. So Henry just jumps into the storybook to rescue his loved ones himself. Admirable.
The Author is unluckily sucked in, too, so he knocks Henry the fuck out and leaves him for an ogre to murder. The Author gets the best line of the episode, which he chants to himself when returning to the scene of Henry’s hopeful death: “Please be dead.” It’s what we’ve all been saying for the past four years.
When Henry tells Regina that his biological mother is a Saviour, Regina says she’s heard rumours of a woman known as the Saviour being locked away in an island dungeon by Queen Snow. At least Emma’s unhappy, you know?
Oh, and August appears early in the episode to tell the gang that he met the Apprentice once, and that the Apprentice is the one who gave the Author his powers. He shows them a sketch of the Apprentice, which Hook recognises as the guy he sucked into the magic hat that one time. Good continuity nod.
TL;DR Henry rescues Emma, and they unite with Regina to save everyone; Henry ends up becoming the new Author and fixes things; in Storybrooke, the gang uses the Sorcerer’s hat to suck the darkness out of Gold; but the darkness, the essence of the Dark One itself, attaches itself to Emma, instead.
Fucking finally. She killed Cruella for nothing, you know.
So Henry takes the hint about Emma, and teams up with a wimpish Hook to rescue her. They do, outrunning and outgunning dragonfrom Lily in the process. Queen Snow and Charming catch up, though, and Hook sacrifices himself so Emma and Henry can get away. Aww. They meet up with Regina, and convince her to mash face with Robin at his wedding (which is taking place right now) to restore the world. Rumple, however, has been hired by the Author to prevent this, and he faces off against Regina, Emma, and Henry at the church. Regina ends up shielding Henry from his sword, and Henry takes up the Author’s pen and uses Regina’s blood to undo Heroes and Villains. Back in Storybrooke, the gang celebrates their victory (though everyone is a bit awkward, because they can remember what they did in Heroes and Villains), but then Belle informs them that Gold is dying, and the Dark One will soon be loose and untethered. The Apprentice leads the gang in using the Sorcerer’s hat to suck the darkness out of Gold’s heart, leaving Gold alive. But the darkness escapes out into Storybrooke. To end the season, Emma sacrifices herself to the darkness, becoming the new Dark One in the process.
So Emma ended up turning dark after all. Just not in the way she was supposed to. Oh, well.
I’ll concede that it was a satisfying enough ending. Bizarro Regina got to be heroic, the Author stuff gets tied up sufficiently, and even Emma gets to be useful for once (without being a Deus Ex Machina).
But it still kind of stings that we’re going to be seeing a fifth season of Disney Ads: The TV Show, yet Revenge is ending with a whimper.
I’m bitter like that.
Why I hate this episode:
The solution to Heroes and Villains is disappointing. Regina is supposed to kiss Robin, thereby using True Love’s Kiss to undo the book. But she chooses to save Henry, instead. I was expecting Henry to then kiss her on the forehead or something as the real True Love’s Kiss (Once Upon a Time is a fan of that one), but that didn’t happen, either. No, the solution is for Henry to randomly get his paws on the Author’s pen, be suddenly chosen as the new Author, somehow justify Regina’s blood to qualify for ink, and then write a single line to undo the entirety of Heroes and Villains. What?
Considering the pain the villains in Storybrooke had to go through to get some magic ink, it was pretty frustrating for Henry to just be like “Oh, Regina is the Saviour in this world. And not a dark Saviour, a light Saviour. So therefore ink.” Wasn’t the entire point of the corruption of Emma to make the Saviour dark? If light Saviour blood would work, why bother corrupting Emma?
Did Emma and Henry really expect Regina to just waltz up the aisle at the church and plant a kiss on Robin while he’s saying his vows to somebody else? I don’t care if that’s true love. It’s just fucking rude.
Queen Snow’s evil council is a handful of dwarves, plus Granny. And she wonders why they’re not making any progress in capturing Regina?
Hook stupidly turns his back on Charming after knocking him over, which is how Charming is able to stab Hook through the back. Dumbass.
Belle says she still loves Gold, and doesn’t love Will. But she did make sure to hit that, right?
Once back in Storybrooke, Lily shows Emma her little crescent necklace, which is actually a piece of her egg shell. It’s her only clue to who her father is, and she wants to stay in Storybrooke in hopes of finding him. Emma asks why Maleficent doesn’t know, but apparently Maleficent and Papa Lily had sex while in dragon form. Ew.
Oh, and I don’t know why we’re so worried about Emma becoming the Dark One. Gold was only evil because he wanted his happy ending. Emma already has hers. Gold was otherwise a normal, functioning person. So why are we so concerned about Emma? Also, Regina could have totally handled it, so boo on Emma for taking it away from her.
But it’s not all bad:
Regina begs Emma not to intervene, but Emma won’t let Regina’s progress on the path of heroism go to waste, and insists on sacrificing herself. Aww.
The Apprentice fills us in on some interesting mythology behind the Dark One. He says that long ago, the Sorcerer faced off against a darkness that threatened all the realms. At the time, he couldn’t eradicate it, so he contained it in the dagger, although it would need to be tethered to a human host. And that’s how the Dark One came to be. The Apprentice also explains that the Sorcerer is the only one who can destroy the darkness (he must have upgraded his powers?), and that the gang should seek out Merlin. I’m still waiting for Twilight to be the next literary world for Once Upon a Time to tackle, but this should do.
Henry does a pretty fab job of rescuing Emma. He recruits Hook, who in Heroes and Villains is a lowly deck hand under Blackbeard. Henry knocks out Blackbeard, and they steal the Jolly Roger to sail to the prison island. They knock out the solitary guard and rescue Emma. Done and done.
Of course, that guard turns out to be Lily, so Emma and Hook work together to shoot her dragon form down with a cannon when she chases them. What a first date.
Emma then teaches Hook how to sword fight, and gets all “handsy golf instructor” about it. It’s hot sexual harassment.
Queen Snow gets another chance to ham it up when Lily brings her and Charming to Emma, Henry, and Hook. She callously attacks them, ending with Hook dead by Charming’s blade, and Queen Snow trying to incinerate Emma and Henry with a fireball. You tried, baby.
She also murders one of the dwarves to motivate her evil council to stop failing. Grumpy mentions that an effort to find Regina was thwarted by Blue Bitch and the fairies, who used Dark Fairy dust against them. Is that the same as the Black Fairy? We’re still yet to meet the Black Fairy. Maybe next season?
Regina gets best line of the episode when Emma implores her to chase Robin for her happy ending: “My happy ending isn’t a man.” Emma then weasels out of this by saying happy endings need love, so Robin would be part of it. But I appreciate Regina’s girl power sentiment.
Gold is saved by the hat, and the Apprentice uses a spell to put Gold in stasis while he recovers. He might suffer side effects of being separated from the darkness. Cool.
When the wedding party comes out of the church to find Regina dying, Zelena pouts because she gets blood on her dress. I like her priorities. She then runs away because her skin starts breaking out in green.
Snow and David stop the Author from fleeing town after Heroes and Villains is undone. He whinges at them that he became evil because he was downtrodden his whole life. They’re like “boo fucking hoo.” I agree.
Henry snaps his magic pen after returning to Storybrooke, because he doesn’t think he, or anyone, should have that kind of power. I hope that means that all this Author stuff is officially over now.
Oh, and we get to finally realise our dream of seeing an evil Emma. A dream Cruella died for.
Tags: Apprentice, author, Blackbeard, Dark One, dragon, Emma Swan, finale, henry, Heroes and Villains, hook, i just hate everything, ijusthateeverything, Isaac, lily, Once Upon a Time, ouat, Prince Charming, regina, Robin Hood, Snow White, Sorcerer, wedding, Zelena
About ijusthateeverythingSincerity is death.
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