The most recent episode of Once Upon A Time, titled “Is This Henry Mills?” focuses on exactly what we wanted it to – and expected it to focus on – HENRY. This whole season has focused on Henry’s journey since leaving Storybrooke for a grander adventure. In it, we see him learn a lesson that he was at home all along. Home isn’t a place – but the people you love. The people that love you back. It took a curse and a lot of pain to drive this point home for Henry.
What also got explained in this episode – the timeline of this season. How can Henry, Regina, Rumple, and various others can be gone from Storybrooke for such a long time without Emma, Hook, Snow, Charming, and the rest leaving to find them? It’s a question many a fan has asked since the beginning of the season and has turned many a fan away from watching this “rebooted” season. Well, the writers answered that question – and while I’m still confused by it – it has been answered. I’ll go into detail later – but honestly – I didn’t expect to get an answer.
It felt like this part of the plot was added in after the massive critique by avid fans asking how Emma, Hook, Charming and Snow would sit back and not look for Henry, Regina, and others once they didn’t return home after a certain amount of time. This fan is glad we got the answer – despite still being a little confused by it.
There’s many things happening in this episode and it can be difficult to keep up. I feared this after the last two episodes didn’t really push forward to breaking the curse. That the episode in which it actually breaks – YES WE HAVE A BROKEN CURSE – would feel busy and rushed. There’s massive pay off here. Happy endings and such – and some not so happy as well. So, this review is going to be used to help keep up with it all.
So – let’s start where everything left off.
WHERE WE LEFT OFF
When “Flower Child” ended, we saw Gothel using Tilly to help with her mission. By manipulating Tilly – we see this ancient ritual manifest and it’s anything but good. There’s a storm brewing – one Regina likens to the great flood in the Bible. Gothel only says that it is much, much worse. She calls it a “cleanse of the Earth.”
To make matters worse, Henry’s belief is completely gone. All the pain and agony of his cursed memories have crushed his belief – thus not allowing for the curse to break when Henry and Jacinda kissed in the previous episode. As previous seasons have noted, belief is the key to breaking any curse on OUAT. It took Emma all of season one to believe that these stories were real. That these people were fairy tale characters – and these were not just stories in a book. It parallels that to the letter – as I believe the writers wanted it to. They even put in a reference to Emma touching the book and finally believing what Henry was telling her. I love that they went all the way back to the original curse and parallel this journey to Emma’s in season 1. This concept I’m all for.
The only good part is Facilier did cure Henry from being poisoned. I feel like it’s a little bit of a let down to have this build up of Regina doing it – to have it not pay off and let Facilier do it. Seriously, this is not the character I wouldn’t want to hinge Henry’s life in the balance of. Yet, here it is.
So, we have a storm of biblical apocalyptic proportions brewing outside, a vengeful witch and the boy with the heart of the truest believer with no belief. It sounds unbearably hopeless. How do you get from this to a broken curse in an hour? I’ve seen this show pull off many things, but I’m surprised to say some of the elements of this one were not expected. After seven seasons, and many predictable plot lines later, that I can say I’m surprised by. It’s not all cut and dry as you may think it is. I’m very pleased by this.
So, where does this go? How do we get to the curse breaking? Well, follow the journey of this review.
HOW DO WE GET THERE?
How do we get from doom and gloom to a broken curse and happy endings? It’s a lot – so buckle in readers. I have a lot to explain.
I think the first thing here is Regina.
Regina is so done with this curse. She’s willing to do anything and everything to get Henry’s belief back now that he’s been cured. She has no magic. Only person who does is Gothel and she isn’t sharing.
So, Regina is trying to harness anything from the storm to try to restore Henry’s belief in magic. This is where Rumple comes in. I know I was harsh on Rumple – and usually am – a few weeks ago. I had every right to be. He selfishly took the last magic Regina had for his own personal use. Messing up curing his own grandson of being poisoned.
It hit a nerve with me, as it did Regina. Rumple came to grovel and apologize to Regina about the situation. Should she have not forgiven him so fast? Honestly, I can’t say. For plot purposes, we really need Rumple and Regina working together to save someone that is family to them both – Henry.
Rumple is now coming to terms with the idea that he may never make it back to Belle and that he needs to embrace what family he has left near him. His only blood relation in this realm is Henry. This is the only reason I can see for Regina to forgive Rumple for his selfish deed. Because she is desperate to help Henry, and one of Henry’s only other blood relatives is Rumple – in this realm. They have a common goal here – get Henry his belief back and break this damn curse. All I can say – it’s about time.
So, we now have a new understanding between two characters who are the oldest friends in this show. Two characters with a common goal. Where does it go from here?
Well, Rumple – who is also without magic at this point – does what he can with what he has and makes a memory potion to try to get Henry to wake up. When Regina tries this, it fails. Henry still has lost his belief and, if anything, is farthest from believing the woman in front of him is his adoptive mother.
So, how in the world does Henry get his belief back? I know I keep saying this, but it’s pivotal to the story. It seems hopeless. Lucy is yelling at him, “I wish you never grew up!”
When Henry finds his adoption papers in his bag – placed there by Regina who had shown them to him at the bar – he questions things. There is a phone number and he calls it.
Now, this is where this gets crazy. When someone answers on the other side, it’s a younger Henry (portrayed by Jared Gilmore). Now, how in the world can Henry call his younger self? It’s something that many of us wish we could do when times get bad. Call our younger version and give advice to prevent something from happening.
Yet, this is fiction – this can happen on a show like OUAT.
You are asking WTF? Right? Remember when I said the timeline was explained in this episode. This is part of it. I have a whole section below on this, so let me carry on.
Henry remembers the phone conversation, though. He gets it now. His belief returns and the first person he sees is Lucy. When he tells her to call him dad, you can believe there were tears in my eyes. The payoff is starting.
Now, Henry has his belief back – in some timey wimey plot twist that somehow works. So, he goes running to find Regina. When he finds her, she’s unconscious on the ground due to Gothel. We see Gothel trying to stir up the ritual and storm. However, now people are teaming up against her.
When Henry sees Regina, he runs to her and yells, “Mom!” Her being unconscious scares him. So he lays her in his lap trying to get her to wake because at this point Gothel is just getting stronger by the second. That’s when Henry kisses Regina on the forehead – and the curse breaks. The pulse goes out and the still cursed characters are now figuring things out.
When I say there were things that I did not expect from this episode: this was one of them. The curse being broken by a forehead kiss to Regina – also a season one parallel to how the first curse broke with Henry and Emma. Isn’t is ironic that this time it’s Henry and Regina? It’s like everything is coming full circle, as it should this close to a series finale.
Tilly has been pulled from her trance by Margot, Rumple, and Rogers. She tells Gothel off and says, “You are not my mother!” That she chooses love over hate. That because of this she can stop her once and for all – and she does. With a blast of magic, Tilly overcomes Gothel’s dark magic and turns her into a tree. Stopping her for good.
Thus, our first character of the episode to not get a happy ending.
Now, we have a broken curse – Rogers is no more. He knows he’s Wish Hook. However, that pesky poisoned heart is still in play and he can’t touch his daughter. I guess the next step there is figuring out this cure for him, so he can get his happy ending with his daughter? Please show – don’t fail me now!
Alice is now awake, and she kisses Robin when she sees her – getting part of her happy ending. Can she get her Papa back too?
When the curse breaks, Jacinda and Sabine are locked in Facilier’s storage closet with Drew and they fight their way out. This scene proves how strong and amazing these two female characters are. When confronted by Facilier, Sabine (now aware she’s Tiana) ends up giving Facilier what is due to him and he disappears.
Second character to not get a happy ending.
Tiana is also reunited with Naveen – and I had hoped more from it as there was such a spark – but I’ll take it and hope for a little more in the following two episodes. However – a happy ending none the less.
Finally, Henry is reunited with Ella and they kiss. Everyone is happy it seems.
Well, except for Wish Hook (who has a poisoned heart) and Rumple (who still can’t die).
Wish Hook is getting treatment, so I hope that with magic in the picture someone can cure him, so he can finally be happy with his daughter. He doesn’t deserve this torment anymore. Will he get the payoff he deserves?
His reaction at seeing Rumple when he first awakens – “Crocodile?” – is exactly what you’d hope for. That the rivalry for Hook – in any realm – and Rumple is alive and well.
As for Rumple, I’ve discussed this. Rumple has done many a thing to make not getting his happy ending justified. It almost seems an impossible feat. He’s immortal. How will they reunite Rumple with Belle? Will they at all? The final scene in the episode reveals Rumple is at battle with a much darker wish realm version and more powerful self. The real Dark One that has always been trapped deep inside. The one who just wants power.
The one we’ve seen most of the season is a shell of himself. Reformed. So the question is: Can Rumple defeat the darkness within the wish realm version to find his happy ending? Or is he forever trapped without ever getting back to Belle? That’s the question, isn’t it?
That timey wimey timeline issue that makes your head hurt. The explanation that can still be confusing. Many a fan has spent this season trying to uncover it and figure it out. Trying to question how in the world Emma and Hook, Snow and Charming, and many others are not out there searching for Henry and the others. It’s the big question from many fans – including me. Mainly because it makes no sense. Except that time travel exists inside the world of OUAT. There. It’s time travel.
It’s not like these characters to abandon people they love in another realm. At this point – we are just going to have to accept this explanation and move on.
The way Regina explains it is that they are still in Storybrooke all along – but are also in Hyperion Heights under this curse. That time moves differently in the Enchanted Forest and that is how this can happen. Confusing? You’re telling me. Again, time travel. Sounds to me the writers realized they screwed up the timeline and saw the criticisms of the fandom and realized they needed some explanation that we would accept.
In the episode, we see a young Henry (again played by Jared Gilmore) start his final year of high school, deciding on college (and getting into every single one he applied to), getting the keys to the car. All the typical rights of passage of a teenager. Henry finally realizes both as an adult and a teenager that people around him are his home. That maybe, just maybe you don’t have to go on some grand adventure to find your home. Maybe it’s right where has been all along.
Oh – and there’s an appearance by Granny and her famous grilled cheese.
We finally have belief and a broken curse. Characters beginning to be defeated. Happy endings beginning to happen.
So, where do we go from here? Who knows what the final two episodes hold, but one thing we do know is we have a broken curse and the appearance of characters we’ve loved for seven years. Emma, Charming, Snow, Original Hook, and many others in Storybrooke are coming.
And oh – time travel exists in this show! Still sounds like writers had to explain their timeline mistake with something the fandom would actually accept.
Buckle up for the last two episodes of Once ever! Looks like the payoff we have been asking for is on it’s way.
I’m ready for this emotional two-episode ride. Are you going to join me?
Here is the promo for the first part of OUAT‘s two part series finale, titled “Homecoming”:
Once Upon A Time airs Fridays at 8/7c on ABC.