Once Upon a Time Season 6 Episodes 21 and 22 – TV Review
Don’t cry for me because I’m fucking free. Free of OUaT, finally.
Well, of OUaT in its present form.
Season 7: God, why?
TL;DR The Black Fairy’s curse world is basically just Storybrooke as it was originally, minus all the main characters; the Final Battle is for Emma’s belief in magic (because of course it is); Henry is the fly in the Black Fairy’s ointment; the rest of our heroes wring their hands in the Enchanted Forest as all of the realms crumble.
What is behind that tiki door?
So it’s time to stop having fun and time for the final battle. And, with the great main cast mass exodus for next season’s retool, OUaT’s last hurrah, really. Henry awakens in Storybrooke, bizarrely unaffected by the Black Fairy’s curse, which as it turns out has pretty much reset Storybrooke to the non-magical place it was when Emma first arrived. However, Emma has been put into a mental hospital due to Henry’s insistence that she believe in fairy tales; the Black Fairy is the mayor, and Henry’s adoptive mother; and the rest of the main gang have been booted to the Enchanted Forest. Henry tries his best to make Emma believe, but she’s like nah. The Black Fairy is also unimpressed with his schemes, and roughs him up a little bit. Using Henry’s “injury” as further fuel for Emma to stomp out his wild tales, the Black Fairy goads Emma into burning the Once Upon a Time storybook to confirm her lack of belief in magic. Meanwhile in the Enchanted Forest, Regina, Snow, David, and Hook, watching the events in Storybrooke through the Magic Mirror, worry about what they can do to help. And they also discover, thanks to Zelena crossing over from a now-erased Oz, that all the realms of story are evaporating. David and Hook strike out recklessly to climb the beanstalk to look for a portal bean, while Regina and Zelena team up with Queenie, who left the wish realm to live here with Robin, instead, to find some kind of solution. They don’t. Oh, and in Storybrooke, Gold appears to also be under the effects of the curse, living a working life with his adult son, but with Belle having apparently left them.
Do they expect us to believe that?
Really, this episode is just a waste of time while the true finale warms up for the second episode of yet another of OUaT’s gruelling, double episode finales.
At least we have Queenie and Regina on screen together?
Why I hate this episode:
If only they did anything interesting with that screentime. Alas.
Really, my major problem with this episode is the fact that the Black Fairy’s plan, the Final Battle, is just to make Emma stop believing in magic. Like, that’s it? So lame. Although, not entirely unexpected for OUaT. But still.
And why did she leave Henry in tact? I guess she uses him as a motivator for Emma to give up her beliefs after Henry is “injured” when stealing the storybook. But, like, I’m pretty sure the Black Fairy could have thrown Henry down some stairs, cursed or not.
I also don’t appreciate the Black Fairy taking Regina’s place as mayor and adoptive mother. She’s no fucking Regina, honey. Step off.
Aladdin and Jasmine are shoved back into things for a last minute cameo as refugees from an evaporated Agrabah. Who cares? Give us a cameo we care about. Like Lily and Maleficent. Hell, I’d settle for August popping back up. It’d be atonement for not attending the wedding.
Oh, and speaking of Maleficent, a dragon attacks Hook and David inside the giant’s house when they steal the magic bean. But that dragon isn’t Maleficent. And why is there a dragon in the giant’s house, anyway? What was that all about?
But it’s not all bad:
Hook and David are on their way down the beanstalk when the Enchanted Forest starts falling apart due to Emma’s disbelief. I mean, we know OUaT isn’t strong enough to have this danger be meaningful, but I still appreciate the image in my mind of Hook and David plummeting hundreds of metres onto the hard, unforgiving ground.
I also appreciated the callback to how Emma and Hook first bonded when climbing the beanstalk all the way back in Season 2. This double episode finale/series finale could have used a bit more of those.
However, we do get a pretty amazing one with the Mad Hatter’s interdimensional lobby hat. Zelena brings it with her from Oz and the gang enter it and everything. Now that’s a callback.
I was happy to see Queenie return (I should have known they wouldn’t get rid of her). Even if she’s still all soft and mushy and she doesn’t actually do anything. What she does do, though, is play with her giant fake ponytail. So that’s something.
I also enjoyed her explanation for being in the Enchanted Forest: because in the wish realm, everyone thought she murdered Snow and Charming, and Henry was trying to kill her. She’s got you there, Regina. And Queenie brought Robin with her (he does not cameo onscreen), so it’s nice to see those kids are making it work.
The Black Fairy shoving Henry down the stairs gave me life.
Oh, and Emma doesn’t irrationally believe in magic just because Henry says so. Which is a pleasant surprise in the world of OUaT. Sadly, it’s only for the moment.
TL;DR Emma actually does believe, after all; Gold reveals he wasn’t cursed, and kills the Black Fairy, defeating the curse; but not her heart control over Gideon, who is compelled to kill Emma; Gold and Emma, in the face of defeat, heroically make unselfish choices, which wins the Final Battle and everything turns out fine; the season ends on a groan as an adult Henry is beset by a mystery child with a Once Upon a Time storybook.
Let’s get ready to make all the same mistakes. Again!
So we pick up where last episode left off, as Emma, having burned the book, leaves Storybrooke. Henry, though, refuses to give up, and demands Gold, who he has determined is not cursed, help him defeat the Black Fairy. Gold, however, is too busy looking for Belle, who he does find. But she’s agoraphobic and crazy. But before Henry can do something foolish on his own, Emma suddenly shows up, willing to believe for his sake. Meanwhile in the Enchanted Forest, Hook survives his fall from the beanstalk, with the magic bean in tact, while David is found dead by Snow. A quick, unearned True Love’s Kiss that parallels the pilot saves him, but even with Regina on the case, the bean won’t activate. The curse swallows up Queenie as she does her best to buy time, but it is only halted by Emma’s belief in the present. Meanwhile, the Black Fairy, angered by Emma’s return, barges through Gold’s shop to find her fairy wand, revealing in the process that she kept Gideon’s heart. She finds her wand and when Gold shows up she rants about how she will have all the power when the Final Battle is won. Despite offering to bring Baelfire back to life, Gold murders the Black Fairy, which breaks the curse, and returns the rest of the gang to Storybrooke. The fun isn’t over yet, though, as the Black Fairy has compelled Gideon to fight Emma to the death. If he wins, then darkness wins the final battle. And if Emma kills him, then she will darken her heart, also resulting in a Final Battle loss. But none of that matters, because Gold, upon finding Gideon’s heart and being egged on by Head Rumple to let him kill Emma, selflessly orders Gideon to stop. It doesn’t do anything, but then Emma also selflessly chooses to allow Gideon to kill her, and this results in some magical bullshit about how good and evil both did the right thing and now everything’s swell. Gideon creepily turns back into a baby, the Enchanted Forest and all the story worlds are restored, and everyone gets their happy ending. And then a little girl with a storybook who has been bookending these episodes shows up on an adult Henry’s door claiming she’s his daughter and his family needs his help.
Just let it die, ABC. Are your fairy tale movies really in that much need of promotion?
I mean, this episode is quintessentially OUaT. It’s mired in idealism and stupid magical third option resolutions. So it’s hard to fault it for being exactly what it is.
Wait, no it’s not.
Why I hate this episode:
Why the fuck was Gideon so pivotal to the Final Battle? We only met him this season. The Vampire Diaries at least had the sense to sub in legendary legacy character Katherine as the final episode’s villain. Who gives a shit about Gideon? Even Belle, the queen of obstructive idealism, considered giving up on him a while ago. OUaT should have taken the hint.
And why doesn’t the Black Fairy’s death eliminate his heart control? I feel like it should have. Also, why doesn’t Gold explicitly changing his orders via his heart not eliminate his heart control? Isn’t that how it works?
Also, the magical bullshit when Gideon impales Emma but then all that happens is a burst of light and a fountain of garbage writing spewing forth is not a satisfying conclusion to the Final Battle. Weak all around, Once Upon a Time. At least Henry’s speech in New York last season had some earnestness to it. This “oh you were stabbed but it’s cool because whatever” is pretty crap.
Crappest of all, though, is that Regina is merely a spectator for the finale. How fucking insulting.
Snow’s True Love’s Kiss of David is presented like it’s some epic, sweeping echo of his kissing of her in the pilot. But it’s not. Because there’s a difference between using a magic kiss to cure a magic poisoning, and using a magic kiss to cure a fall that should have left David a bag of broken bones inside a pulverised meat suit. Fuck off.
Emma returns to her apartment in Boston after several in-universe years. Who has been paying her rent while she’s been locked up in an asylum?
Oh, and Belle ends up back together with Gold. That girl ain’t got no self-respect, baby.
But it’s not all bad:
At least she’s barely in the episode.
Rubbish plot aside, and grading on an OUaT quality scale, this episode is a weak send-off. But not an infuriating one. Sure, Regina should have been given more to do. But she and Queenie do get to pull off some heroics in the Enchanted Forest before it nearly collapses, while every other character cowers and cries. In a world without Emma, Regina is the star. Which bodes well for Season 7.
After the Final Battle is won, Queenie is restored in the Enchanted Forest, and she receives a marriage proposal from Robin. So her return wasn’t a total wash.
And regarding the final battle, I liked the symmetry of the good/evil choices thing. I just wish it had been Regina instead of Gold. And any plot device other than Gideon.
Jaime Murray never brought the Black Fairy to the hammy heights she deserved (and it is hard to compete with Queenie, you know), but she huffs and puffs to an acceptable extent in her final appearance. And Gold just straight-up murdering her was impressively pragmatic for OUaT.
The montage of the restored realms is mercifully short, and only comprised of establishing shots. Part of me was hoping we might get some cameos from the denizens of Arendelle, Neverland, Wonderland, and Agrabah (well, we already saw Aladdin and Jasmine). But that would have just eaten up more time and budget. And at the end of its very tired, frayed rope, OUaT clearly didn’t have any of those to spare.
Oh, and I’d like to leave on an image of Regina, the saving grace of Once Upon a Time. I believe this show can live on without Emma. And Snow. And David. And Zelena. And the rest. But I wouldn’t watch another fucking second if Regina wasn’t coming back. Let’s be better, Season 7.