History has quite a way of repeating itself...
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Well, guys, this is it: six seasons of magic all leading up to one gigantic final battle. And if you’ve been following the news at all, it’s a lot to handle. Tonight we say goodbye to Emma. Well, Emma and Henry. Oh, and Charming and Snow. Well, Emma, Henry, Charming, Snow, and Belle. Also Zelena. ESSENTIALLY, tonight is a goodbye to the show as we know it, and you can bet that some of those characters don’t live to see their happily ever after. But it’s two hours, so let’s dive in.

All’s Not Well in the Enchanted Forest

We start out in the Enchanted Forest, where a man, an elder Henry perhaps, has run into a lair after being chased. He makes sure his daughter still has the Once Upon a Time storybook and tells her to protect it. She insists no one will ever believe the stories, but he’s confident that someone will. So his daughter runs, and he is left to fight the beast that has broken in his door.

A Family Affair

Henry wakes up on the same roof where the wedding happened, but bad news: No one remembers. Actually, no one remembers anything. And Emma is in a Storybrooke insane asylum (which looks oddly similar to the one Libby was at in LostWE HAVE TO GO BACK, anyone?). And even worse, Mayor Regina is now Mayor Fiona, and Henry is her son now. Black Fairy snags his book from him and dismisses Henry, who hugs Emma with the reminder, “Whatever she says to do, don’t do it.” Of course, she pushes Emma to take that medicine she’s given.

Elsewhere in Storybrooke, Fiona goes to visit Rumple and Gideon, and it appears that they don’t have any understanding of what’s going on either. That’s when we find out that Belle is gone from this world, too, and apparently in a tragic way. But we don’t get the details on that… not yet. We flash over to Henry, who breaks into the asylum to get Emma out. He takes her to the rooftop to remind her that she’s the Savior. Emma isn’t having it at first, but then she starts having flashes. It really does look like Henry is in charge of changing everyone’s minds again. Lord help this boy. Even with the flashes though, Emma isn’t convinced. She wants to leave, so Henry agrees to help her after dark.

Back in Rumple’s shop, Rumple shares a book with Gideon that Belle intended for him to have, but Gideon isn’t interested because Fiona has been more of a mother to him than Belle ever was. In this world, Belle “went to the store and never came back.” Harsh, B. Rumple tries to convince him how much Belle loved him, but he’s not interested in that story.

Henry jumps into action and snags his book back, but he’s interrupted by the Black Fairy, who reveals that they both know what’s actually going on. He tries to run away from her, but then she uses the eensiest bit of magic to push Henry down a flight of stairs. Yikes, guys.

Inside That Black Fog

Of course, Emma and Henry might be in Storybrooke, but Snow, Hook, Charming, and Regina end up back in the Enchanted Forest. Fiona has torn them apart, and she has Emma just where she wants her. She’s taken Regina’s original plan and really amped it up. She lets Emma know that she’s Henry biological mother, but by giving Emma that information, she’s only given her enough to continue pushing on. It’s enough to keep Emma from questioning anything else, including the separation from the rest of her family and the Final Battle she’s yet to fight. And Fiona has a plan anyway: burn the book, which seems like a terrible idea.

And that’s all part of the Final Battle. It’s not a war in the way you’d first think. It’s a fight for Emma’s belief, her hope. And right now, Emma is losing. Trying to come up with a plan, Zelena hops into action with one of the Mad Hatter’s hats, which takes them from portal to portal. And when Zelena takes the heroes on their first journey, they quickly discover that the Black Fairy is destroying all the realms… and every person in them.

Regina brings a ton of people from every realm back to her castle, including Aladdin, Jasmine, and the people of Agrabah. She’s determined to figure out how to break this curse, but Hook has plans of his own. He goes into the forest to find a gigantic beanstalk. David is hot on his trail, but Hook is determined to follow through with this plan. So they both jump in and climb that beanstalk. Back at her castle, Regina works on a potion with Zelena, but she’s missing most of her supplies. Of course, she figures out quickly that the culprit is the Evil Queen. Yes, the girls are back together now. Again. We catch up with Diet Evil Queen long enough to find out that she’s still mostly doing good, and she joins the fight to save the world.

Total KO for Henry

In Storybrooke, Henry is being wheeled off in an ambulance. The Black Fairy confiscates his book and seems devastated, well, for as long as she needs to. Rumple walks up to the scene of the accident and decides that’s the right time to ask if she’ll reopen the investigation into Belle’s disappearance. The Black Fairy doesn’t like that idea at all. But she decides to pass on pictures of Belle in exotic places around the world. Granted, these are the most Photoshopped images I’ve ever seen, but they’re enough to convince Rumple.

In the hospital, Henry wakes up and tries to reveal who Fiona truly is, but it doesn’t seem to work. Even when she holds the book, Emma doesn’t see any images, and she’s beginning to feel guilty for Henry’s troubles, so she decides to go ahead and destroy that book, just as Fiona suggests. Fiona opens up a conveniently placed furnace, and Emma drops the book in. But as the pages fly open, she sees Hook in them and realizes that she might havemade a mistake.

Fiona literally serves the pages of that book to Henry on a platter. She explains that his family is all but dead, which is not a very nice thing to say to your son, but that’s all a facade anyway. Henry escapes the hospital to find Emma, who is packing up to finally leave Storybrooke for Boston. She tells Henry that there’s nothing to believe, and it’s a dark time. Emma heads to the town limits, and that yellow bug scoots right over the town line, which can’t be good.

So Emma heads back to Boston after the longest trip away ever, but she notices that Henry slid a new story into her bag It’s the story of, well, the first six seasons of Once Upon a Time, and if she doesn’t get it together, that story’s going to be erased, too. Back in Storybrooke, Henry heads to Rumple’s place to discover that Rumple is awake as well. He’s working on magic to find Belle because he knew Fiona was lying. Henry asks for help, but Rumple isn’t interested; he’s only looking for Belle. Henry asks if Rumple will at least give him one (or two) things that could help.

Getting Those Beans, the Magic Beans

Hook and David finally make it to the top of the beanstalk, where they have to climb a table to lock in that magic bean. The furniture is so big they’ll have to work together. Hook asks if he’s really going to trust their fate to a pirate, and David says that Hook isn’t a pirate… he’s his son. GUYS, how great is that?? On the table, Hook manages to use a gigantic knife to slice open the glass holding the beans. He grabs one, but they’re greeted by a dragon that comes in through the fireplace. As Hook and David escape the beanstalk, that book is burning up. The Enchanted Forest is burning up with it, and things aren’t looking so hot for the Savior, the heroes, or anyone with magic, really.

David hangs off the beanstalk and grabs on to Hook as he begins to fall, but Hook slips out of his grasp and starts to crash. David’s not doing so great, either — and Snow senses it. Snow, Jasmine, and Regina go into the woods to find David, but they discover Hook (with bean!) under a pile of vines. David is nowhere to be found. Snow sends Hook on his way to find Emma and make her believe.

Once Hook gets back, he discovers that bean isn’t strong enough on its own; Emma’s lack of belief is sucking the magic out of everything. But if the Evil Queen works with Regina, they may have enough magic to send Hook back. Meanwhile, in the forest, Snow finds David, and it appears that he didn’t have as soft a landing as Hook did. But Snow gives him a kiss, and per usual, David wakes up.

Into the Future

Tiger Lily ends up coming upon that little girl from the beginning of the episode. It appears that Possible-Adult Henry is gone, and she protected the book. Tiger Lily tells her she did great, but she can’t lose hope, and she has to protect that book.

A Final Battle Worth Fighting

Still in Storybrooke, Henry sends a message to everyone listening at the Evil Queen’s castle — he may not have been able to make Emma believe, but he’s still going to fight, and he’s going to take on the Black Fairy alone. He whips out that sword and heads off. It’s a tough moment for the team because they know the end is near, so in the castle, the Evil Queen offers to risk herself to give Regina the magic she needs to get that magic bean to work. But as the magic continues to swirl, the Evil Queen’s sacrifice doesn’t seem to be enough.

Meanwhile, Henry goes in to take out the Black Fairy, but he’s stopped by — Emma! She’s returned to help. Emma isn’t convinced that the story is about her, but she knows it’s who she wants to be. She believes. In that moment, the castle is ruined, and it seems that the realms are gone, but at the center of the castle, all our characters remain with just a small bit of their world left because Emma believes.

In Storybrooke, Rumple has tracked down Belle, and she has no idea who he is. The Black Fairy has changed her. And the Black Fairy is starting to lose a handle on a lot of things. She breaks into Rumple’s shop, and Gideon is completely confused as to what’s happening, but Fiona is looking for her wand, which will help translate Henry’s scribbles. She still has control of Gideon’s heart, and she’s feeling pretty great about her position, but when Rumple walks in, he confirms that he knows what Fiona has done to the town, and specifically to him and Belle.

Fiona tells Rumple that if he’ll just hang in there, her new powers will allow her to bring back the deal, including Baelfire. He could have it all, but at such a dark and dangerous cost: a cost he points out when he says that “all magic comes with a price.” That’s when he grabs her wand and puts it to her throat. She says that she learned from the scribbles that darkness cannot snuff out light… only light can snuff out light. So her death won’t stop the Savior from dying. In that moment, Rumple moves forward and kills Fiona, and with that, the curse is broken and everyone is returned.

But here’s the deal… Fiona is dead, but she still has Gideon’s heart. Gideon is good, but he’s in a pretty precarious situation, so it would appear that if anyone is going to kill the Savior, it’s going to be him, which leads us to our final act: Gideon versus Emma Swan.

Before that, Belle returns to Rumple to discover that he’s killed his mother and that her son is under Fiona’s control. As that all transpires, Gideon is on the hunt to take out Emma. Henry comes from behind and bashes Gideon on the head with a fire extinguisher. They can hold him off for the moment, but time is running out.

Rumple heads down into the mines with a plan to save Gideon. He finds Gideon’s heart, but there isn’t much time, and as the heroes all find themselves back together again, the scene is set. You know the scene… the one that predicted the way Emma would die at the hand of the hooded figure. Regina tells Emma that she will find a way because Emma has always managed to find a way to discover the middle ground between difficult options.

Gideon appears and puts his sword to Snow’s throat, but Emma convinces him to stop, so it’s Emma against Gideon again. Underground, old-school Rumple appears to Gold and tells him to let Gideon finish what he’s started; Gold insists that he has to protect his family, but even speaking to Gideon’s heart, he can’t stop him from moving forward. This is the Black Fairy’s spell we’re talking about.

With that, Emma and Gideon launch into a sword fight. Emma insists that she’ll only spread light, so she throws down her sword, but the spell is too strong. Gideon plunges his sword into Emma, and from the wound, light shoots out of her body. On the street, all the heroes gather around Emma to say goodbye — but when Henry gives her a kiss on the forehead, it brings her back. Because that’s true love’s kiss.

Underground, Gideon’s heart has gone dark, and Gold tells Belle that he wasn’t able to save their son in the way he’d hoped. But as they hug, they hear a cry. Gideon has returned to his baby form. It seems that Emma’s sacrifice has given everyone a fresh start.

And speaking of fresh starts: That storybook that Emma INCINERATED comes back with a new line about how when good and evil both choose to do the right thing, all is good. The final battle is over, but there’s no “The End.” Endings don’t lead to happiness. Being together leads to happiness. All of the realms are restored, even Agrabah, Wonderland, and the Evil Queen’s castle — Evil Queen included. Everyone is okay in their respective world, and through our lens, it would seem that everyone is going to live happily ever… forever.

As Storybrooke goes back to normal, even “Regina Mills, Queen” is etched on her door. Robin shoots an arrow to the Evil Queen with a note that says, “Ready for a new adventure?” Emma and Hook patrol the city for wrongdoings. Belle and Gold dance it out together to “Beauty and the Beast.” Zelena continues to raise baby Robin, and Snow teaches her class. In short, they all return to Granny’s as one giant family, and though the show may be returning for a season 7, it would appear that this special episode could serve as the finale you’ve been longing for. Right? Maybe?

Well, for now. We still have to talk about that little girl from the beginning. She’s on a monorail in Seattle, several years later — a monorail just like the one we mysteriously saw in the opening credits. She’s traveled to an apartment and knocks on it. Her name is Lucy, and guess what? She has her own book with this whole story in it. She says, “Are you Henry Mills? I’m your daughter. Your family needs you.” And here we are, with the whole story starting again.

Episode Recaps

Once Upon a Time

Everything you’ve ever read about fairy tales is true—the residents of Storybrooke are living proof.

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