It’s been a whirlwind of a year on Once Upon A Time. We’ve traveled to the Underworld and back; we’ve lost heroes…and everyone knows by now that a season finale usually ends with the introduction to a new world or a new set of heroes. After almost six years, what can Once offer that’s new and different in the world of fairytales?
Ah, good ‘n’ evil! (If you get that reference, sing along with me.)
We start off the hour with a smartly dressed but upset Regina, who is mourning Robin at Granny’s, along with the town. Henry is approached by Violet (remember Violet, the almost-girlfriend?), who redeems herself by telling him how worried she was when he went to the Underworld. Man, teenage make-ups…so easy. While everyone is mourning, Rumple brings Pandora’s Box to the clocktower, promising Belle that he’ll wake her up. But since her father refused to help, he needs more power. Enter Hades’ crystal, which Gold tethers to Storybrooke so it can absorb all the magic. In hindsight, this is clearly a GREAT idea.
While Emma is attempting to offer Regina words of comfort, everyone realizes Gold has done some powerful magic, which makes Hook (who has been waiting outside out of respect for the situation because, remember, no one knows he’s back) rush inside. Regina is rightfully pissed Emma of all people gets her happy ending AGAIN while Regina loses everything she loves AGAIN, but right now there are more important things to deal with, like Rumple wanting all the magic in Storybrooke. The group goes to the clocktower to investigate, and Emma tries to get Regina to sit this one out, much like her family tried to get Emma to stay behind when she was distraught over Hook. Regina is pissed because “when you’re upset, we follow you to hell. When I’m upset, I get a timeout.” Look, she has a very valid point. (Emma then tells Henry, who overhears his parents arguing, to go home and stay out of this. Which is not helpful, either.)
Henry meets Violet in Rumple’s pawn shop and tells her magic is a problem. It’s a terrible dark thing, it killed his mom’s lover, and it’s going to tear his parents apart. Say it with me: All magic is bad! Violet gets on board by saying her mother died from magic, and Henry asks her to go with him on a road trip. “It’s like a quest on a bus.” Which is actually kind of accurate, and I wish I had used that excuse when I was road-tripping in 2009. Anyway, apparently they can fix it. How? Operation: Mixtape. They’re going to DESTROY MAGIC. He takes out the author’s pen and writes himself as having the crystal.
Regina interrupts the group’s recon session by alerting them that Henry is gone. But fear not! Henry has texted his parents exactly what he’s doing, and Rumple shows up to confirm that. They soon realize this is very, very bad. Because the crystal is tethered to Storybrooke, if Henry destroys it, he destroys all magic. And since Gold is intent on finding Henry and giving him hell, they have to find him first. Regina sets out to do just that because she just lost Robin and can’t lose her son, too. But Emma shows her up: SHE’S the 21st-century mom who put GPS on his phone, which is actually smart considering how many times Henry runs away. Where does the phone show him going? Boston, which is a great road trip in the yellow bug for Regina and Emma…that we obviously don’t see. I imagine it’s as magical as that unseen 18-hour drive in a VW bug from Bucharest to Germany in Captain America: Civil War, though.
NEXT: It’s the feeling of being Edward Hyde
Zelena can, actually, still use magic, so she manages to open a portal using the sorcerer’s wand to send people back to Storybrooke. Everything is going great until…she tries to close the portal and it doesn’t close but goes haywire, bringing them to not the Enchanted Forest but a strange land they don’t recognize. They meet a groundsman who seems worried and hesitant to help them and for good reason: The heroes are immediately taken hostage by a strange man only known as “The Warden,” a.k.a. Jacob (Sam Witwer), who hates Rumple. Meanwhile, Emma realizes Henry’s pulled the classic running-away trick. He’s not in Boston, where he ditched his phone on the bus. (They do realize after throwing the phone into the trash that magic has found its way to the real world, though.) Because of this, Regina can prick Emma’s finger and use her blood to find Henry on a map, which leads them to New York — where everyone goes to destroy magic!
Regina and Emma find Neal’s old apartment, as well as a heartbreaking letter from Robin to Regina hidden in an old book. The letter — which details Robin telling her she’ll always be the heroine he fell in love with — leads to a genuine heart-to-heart between Emma and Regina. Emma apologizes for not being there for Regina when she needed her because she was too wrapped up with Hook, and Regina tells her how she wishes she could be absolved of the Evil Queen but knows she always has to grapple with darkness. Regina is constantly at war with her instincts and can never have redemption. Just suffering. Basically, it’s a lose-lose situation.
Henry and Violet end up in the New York Public Library, where apparently you’re supposed to go destroy magic. Henry finds a bunch of storybooks that look exactly like his, except he doesn’t recognize any of these characters or places. (One of them, obviously enough, is where our heroes have landed.) Henry gets upset that he can’t find a way to destroy magic, but then Violet notices a replica of the Holy Grail. The Grail originally started magic…so maybe this one would end it. Turns out, yes, that’s a correct assumption, but before they can do anything, Rumple shows up and knocks them out, stealing the crystal back. (Henry valiantly tries to fight him but doesn’t get far. It’s kind of funny.) Regina and Emma find their son, asking why on earth he would want to destroy magic, and Henry tells them how he’s worried it’s only going to be used for bad things.
Back in the strange realm, the groundsman comes back to help them but on one condition: If they leave, they take him with them. Done. He can repair the wand in his lab, but he needs to take Zelena’s wand to do it since he can’t steal the things he needs because Jacob will get suspicious. “This is a bad plan,” says David. Yes, yes it is. Unfortunately, as Snow points out, it’s the only plan they have. The groundsman repairs the wand in his lab with no problem until he’s found and forced to take his own serum. The serum that turns him into…hey, it’s Jacob! Otherwise known as Mr. Hyde. We’ve finally introduced Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Who wants to get to Storybrooke. Why does everyone want to just get to Storybrooke?! (I know, don’t answer that.)
NEXT: It’s all a facade
Rumple goes to a hotel and tries to use the crystal on Pandora’s Box, but Hyde is one step ahead. He’s summoned a portal with the sorcerer’s wand to bring the box to him. A distraught Rumple flies into rage at losing his one true love, and when his rage gives off a ton of magic vibrations, it’s pretty easy for everyone to figure out where he is. Regina goes to talk to him, but Rumple says he needs the Evil Queen. Regina assures him she can go back to the rage and be the person Rumple needs. She knows Zelena and her friends are trapped in an unknown realm thanks to a text from Granny (so tech-savvy in Storybrooke!) because they used the sorcerer’s wand.
While Regina distracts Rumple, Emma tries to steal the crystal. Rumple’s not that dumb, though — he knew Regina could never be the Evil Queen again so easily, but he needed a strand of her hair (i.e. something connected to Zelena) so he could find them. Before he can do anything, however, Henry shows up and zaps away all the magic with his goblet. Even Regina is pissed at her son for basically destroying the one way they had to get the rest of his family home. Seriously, Henry.
The good news is there is someone who has magic in this non-magical world of New York: a man in Chinatown known as “The Dragon.” He won’t help Rumple, but he’ll help Regina, and hey, that’s something. He attempts to open the portal but can’t. Henry to the rescue! There is magic in New York if you know where to find it. And where do you find it? (Say it with me now: Just believe!) Apparently, throwing pennies into a fountain and making a wish is magic if you believe it. All of the heroes follow Henry’s lead and make their wishes (even Rumple), but it’s not enough. And so Henry takes to summoning everyone in the area, asking them to help him and believe by making their own wishes. (Truly, the most implausible part of this whole scene — which left me feeling a bit second-hand embarrassed — is that SO MANY people on 42nd Street would actually stop and listen to Henry, much less follow his actions. It’s like when you always get a cab in Girls.)
Jekyll wakes up and returns to the group, apologizing for not being able to fix the wand. He does get them out of jail, so he gets a point or 10. He leads them outside, and they try to figure out where they are (the Land of Untold Stories apparently, a place for outcasts who probably aren’t people like Snow White or Cinderella; and they’re in a huge blimp that’s flying around the outer world). He shows them the serum he created, which will allow people to split in half — so they can separate the Warden — and is forced to take it by Poole (Arnold Pinnock). Snow at least is smart enough to realize who this guy is once Hyde splits from him, and they end up on the run through the marketplace, ending up somewhere that looks like the Diagon Alley part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. They’re cornered by Hyde, but coins start raining from the sky because, you guessed it: MAGIC! A portal opens and everyone escapes…including Jekyll but not Hyde. Hooray for families being reunited! (New Yorkers are probably unfazed by this moment. I know I would be.)
NEXT: Sympathy, tenderness
Regina takes some time to herself after the whole ordeal, and Snow shows up to provide some comfort (as well as spiked hot chocolate, which is what I would offer). Regina admits she wished away the Evil Queen at the fountain so she could be rid of her but doesn’t even feel better when Snow assures her she forgives her. Snow then tells her about the serum she took from Hyde, the one that can split someone’s other half away from them. You know where we’re going with this: Regina takes the serum, splitting the Evil Queen away from herself. (I love the Evil Queen, you guys.) Evil Queen Regina taunts her other half, saying she can’t destroy her because she needs her. “No, I don’t,” Regina says after wavering for a bit, before tearing out her heart and crushing it. Go Regina!
The group returns to Storybrooke in a happier manner than they had left: Regina feels lighter without her baggage, Emma and Hook no longer feel guilty about their love, Henry finds out the girl he loves is actually more human than she let on (her father isn’t from Camelot; he’s from Connecticut! And Henry gets a kiss!) Regina destroys the crystal once and for all…and then Hyde shows up. How did Hyde get to Storybrooke, you ask?
Well, you see, when everyone else went OUT of the portal, Rumple went in. He found a distraught Hyde, and when Rumple threatened him, he dropped a tantalizing piece of information: He knows how to wake Belle. But all magic comes with a price, and Hyde’s price is that he wishes to make a fresh start of his story in — where else? — Storybrooke. Oh, yeah. And the town. Which is now his. Which is going to make next season super interesting.
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And if you thought we were done with surprises to set up next season, let me assure you we’re just getting started. Who shows up in Chinatown? None other than the Evil Queen, who claims “Regina never should have let me out to play.” And this is a war now. You thought the Big Bad for season 6 was Hyde? Try Dark Regina instead. And yes, I’m into it. Lana Parrilla is one of the best things about this show, and I’ll take anything that gives her a chance to flex her acting chops.
See ya in season 6, Oncers!
Stray Odds & Ends:
- Roland giving Zelena the arrow feather before he went into the portal was heartbreaking.
- Rumple choking out the tollbooth guy when he learns it’ll be $15 to get into Manhattan? My sentiments exactly. (Also, try going across the Verrazano, Rumple. EIGHTEEN DOLLARS. The rage is real.)
- Zelena couldn’t fix her wand with duct tape, which means she clearly hasn’t spent enough time with Miles. (Yeah, that jet flew off the Island. “I don’t believe in a lot of things, but I believe in duct tape” has been my mantra since 2010.)
- Regina on her plan: “I have one. I still have a fist. Gold? He still has a nose.”
- Look, when you live in New York, you’ve seen everything. But I bet you haven’t seen magic coming from inside a hotel room! (The guy got a good tip at least.)