For a show that spent an entire season treading water – having Mary Margaret and David together, then not together, then together, then not together – Once Upon a Time wasted no time changing the story arc of the show in the opening minutes of the show. And forever changing the show at the very end and in a way I did not see coming.
That’s right. Within 6 minutes, Emma had picked up the book and completely believed. Then she kicked Regina’s ass and learned Mr. Gold is really Rumplestiltskin. She was even fighting a dragon by the half hour mark.
As someone who went into this finale afraid that either Emma still wouldn’t believe, or wouldn’t until the final minutes, it was a very, very pleasant surprise. Just as they learned while working on the show Lost, the creators/writers of Once Upon a Time decided to have big things happen in the finale, and more importantly, they paid off storylines from all season long.
For instance, the love potion turned out to be a way bigger deal than we thought. I had been so focused on the fact that Regina was all out of magic in our world, that I forgot that Rumplestiltskin had been working on his own.
Belle of course made her return. And it was a very touching moment to see Mr. Gold truly happy in our world for the first time.
Even little story moments got shout-outs. We caught but a glimpse of Snow White’s glass coffin at the end of the episode that was all about Jiminy Cricket, but we saw it again in the pit where Emma fought the dragon. (That must mean she was technically in Fairy Tale world, no?)
In addition, unless my eyes deceived me, I spotted Mary Margaret in our world wearing her ring from Charming on her right hand when she was reading to Henry in the hospital.
Other favorite moments:
• It was pretty much spoiled ahead of time, but the return of the Huntsman was still great, especially because it made perfect sense for him to help save Charming.
• I loved the symmetry of the two dragon fights, even if I wanted to laugh – not in a good way – at Emma trying to shoot a gun at it. Luckily the CGI wasn’t as terrible as it had been in other episodes.
• Even though I was pretty sure they wouldn’t kill of Henry, the way he was resurrected by Emma was a nice touch.
Two parts I didn’t like: Emma trusting Mr. Gold with the egg even though she knew he was Rumplestiltskin. And the fact that we saw everyone “waking up” except August—is he now a real man again? Or is he still Pinocchio?
Now, let’s talk about those final ten minutes or so. I was convinced that while it was likely Emma would know her true nature by the end of the episode, I certainly was not prepared for everyone to know. I figured that would take at least a few seasons, and that most of next season, Emma would spend time “waking people up.” Instead, now everyone knows.
The creators instead, went in a different direction that I definitely did not see coming. I also thought that once the townspeople woke up, they would spend at least a season or two trying to get home to Fairy Tale land. Now, it appears, however, that next season they will be dealing with the fact that magic has now come to our world.
While watching the show throughout this season, I often felt the Fairy Tale land plots were way more interesting than what was going on in our world. (Tonight and the pilot being the exception.) Next season, however, looks to make our world a lot more exciting now that magic is in play. For a show that I initially loved, and then just kind of liked, I now can’t wait for next season.
Alan Danzis is a lifelong TV watcher, especially of serialized dramas. In his top five list of all time, you’ll find The Shield, The Wire, Deadwood, Lost and Friday Night Lights. (He’s not sure where Mad Men and Breaking Bad go yet since they haven’t finished airing.) But his favorite thing to watch are the sci-fi shows, like Battlestar Galactica, anything British and sci-fi, and shows with vampires. He even put up with Terra Nova, because, well, it had dinosaurs and time travel–you had him at just one of those things. If you can stand his nerdy interests, you can follow him on Twitter at @adanzis.
Full Disclosure: Alan Danzis works at Ketchum Public Relations, which is his day job. His opinions here are his own and do not reflect the opinions of Ketchum, nor the clients Ketchum works with. His BuzzFocus.com writing is wholly unrelated.