And, so it ends.
When the episode is fresh it’s always hard to reflect back on the entire season, to try to connect the dots. So I’m not even going to try. In a week or two, I can look back. For now, I’m going to focus on the two-hour finale, and only that. And that was …well, frankly, a tad anticlimactic, all things considered.
It was to be expected, really. The big bad was already dead. It was almost impossible to top the mid-season finale in terms of pure angst. A lot of Season 6 set-up was needed. And, so we were left with a very interesting episode, with a touching message, that still, for some reason, didn’t quite feel like a season finale.
Not a bad episode, no. Henry played hero, villain and teenager, all of them convincingly, Rumple was as Rumpleish as ever, and Regina and Emma reluctantly teamed up and proved that even if they’re not exactly BFFs, they’re still family of sorts. And family takes care of their own.
So, let’s get into it.
GOOD VS. EVIL
The episode was at its best when it tackled the thorny issue of good vs. evil, specifically, how to fight against the bad parts of yourself. Regina doesn’t want to be the Evil Queen, not anymore, and yet, a part of her feels like Robin’s death is just …well, karma. The universe taking it out on her for daring to be happy after having caused so much misery. And though, in a way, it’s easy to relate to how she’s feeling, in the world of Once Upon A Time, karma doesn’t really apply.
Just ask Rumple.
And yet, what made the Regina moments in this episode particularly relatable was not that they made sense within the context of the show (they didn’t), but that they made sense within the context of real life. We all deal with loss in our own way, and yes, we often tend to make loses about US. Regina doesn’t mean to be selfish by saying that Robin’s death is about the universe taking it out on her, and yet, grief is mostly selfish. Healing, letting god, accepting …that’s about the person you lost. Sorrow, however, is not.
In the end, just as Once Upon A Time clearly proved by making the bad side of Regina take physical form, it all comes down to choice. You decide who you want to be, and you decide which side of you is in charge. No one can make this decision for you. You have to make it yourself.
THE ROBIN HOOD CONUNDRUM
The episode was at its worst, however, when it failed to give any sort of convincing reasoning as for why Robin Hood had to die. Yes, Regina’s despair was very well written and acted, and yes, it led to a wonderful moment of self-awareness that’s been at least five years in the making, but considering that this man had been introduced as the “love of Regina’s life” and not merely a tool for her self-improvement, the road the choose to take the story seems more like making good of a bad thing than actual planning.
And that’s a damn shame. Not just for Sean Maguire, or for the fans of Robin Hood and Outlaw Queen, but for the show in general. How are we ever going to trust these writers with completely and blind faith if they’ve already proven they’re not in control of everything?
There’s only one answer: We can’t. And that’s scary.
ANOTHER CAPTAIN SWAN CAVEAT
I get it, Captain Swan fans, I do. You’re frustrated. Sometimes I’m a bit frustrated too. The payoff didn’t seem to be enough for a season of unbearable angst and separation. And yet, a little time might offer the perspective this moment sorely lacks. We not only got true love confirmation from our favorite couple, we also made it to the end of the season with both of them alive, in the same realm, and as together as they’ve ever been.
But, of course, we wanted more. We yearned for more. And that’s because Once Upon A Time has taken care to set up Captain Swan as the centerpiece of this story. An unburdened and totally free “I love you” might be a HUGE step for Emma Swan, but it’s not for us. We wanted a proposal. We wanted a wedding. Hell, at the very least, we wanted them moving in together, and yet none of that happened.
This, of course, doesn’t mean it won’t. It doesn’t mean the writers are playing games with us. As I’ve said before, this just means that they’re looking at a much bigger picture than we are. Will we get a Captain Swan wedding next season? I don’t know. It probably depends on whether it’s the last season or not. Will we get one period? Yes. Absolutely. The writing’s on the wall. The wedding dress is on the shop behind them. The writers might have well hired sky writers to spell out CAPTAIN SWAN IS ENDGAME. This is it.
We might just have to adjust our expectations on the timing.
- Even if the show hasn’t had a chance to be as consistent with this as I would have liked, I very much enjoy when they focus on the Snow/Regina relationship more than on the Emma/Regina one. Snow/Regina have a lot of history together, after all.
- While we’re on this subject, I know some people want to paint Regina and Emma as BFFs, but they’re clearly not. They’re just two women who love Henry, and who still have to work to find common ground. Maybe, at some point, they can be, but they’re not there yet.
- I’m still waiting for someone to write me that Regina/Hook as siblings fic. Though, if you haven’t started, I’d really like it if you added Zelena to the mix as well. Their interactions in this episode were delightful.
- I’m done talking about Rumple. Just make him the one big bad once and for all, so I can at least spend the hiatus cocooned by the notion that he’s gonna bite it at the end of the arc.
- Robin’s letter was too damn short. If you’re going to write a goodbye letter, make a long one.
- Emma admitting her mistake in dealing with Regina was almost as big as Regina admitting that the Evil Queen is still alive within her, and the only thing separating her from that is that she now knows the difference between good and evil.
- And, also, Rumple admitting that he’s all about power, first and foremost.
- Violet is staying! I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. I still think there’s something shady about her.
- There are two types of moms, the one who is proud her son had his first kiss, and the one who rolls her eyes. Henry has them both.
- The Captain Swan wedding foreshadowing as subtle as an anvil, writers. Though I do hope Emma doesn’t pick that dress. I’d like her in something more princess-like.
- Remember in S1, when it was hard to make portals? Remember? Nah, me either.
NEXT SEASON, ON ONCE UPON A TIME
No trailer. No spoilers. Nothing. We’ve entered the dreaded hiatus. And though this is still time for reflection, not time for speculation, let’s do a bit of the second thing, before we close the curtain on this season for good. What is coming, on Once Upon A Time?
A battle of good vs. evil, I’d wager. We know what the Evil side of Regina and Hook looks like, but what would the evil side of Henry be like? Or the good side of Rumple? Also, if everyone has magic, how does Mr. Hyde expect to just rule the town?
Finally, we end with our top wishes for Season 6 of Once Upon A Time:
- A strong and courageous Belle who finally sees Rumple for who he is and takes her baby and runs far, far away.
- A Captain Swan wedding.
- More Ruby Slippers.
- Family FEELS.
- More focus on the core characters than on the guest stars, please.
See you next season, Oncers! Or, better yet, see you before that, when it’s time to over-analyze everything that comes out of San Diego Comic Con. For now, tell me, what did you think of this season (and this episode) of Once Upon A Time? Are you happy? Angry? Frustrated? Disappointed? React in the comments below!
Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC. It is currently on hiatus.