Well, folks, we’re in the home stretch now, and rather than things being emotional or wrapping up the various loose ends of the ever-winding story line that is Once Upon a Time, the twists just keep on coming. Honestly, would we have it any other way at this point?
Let’s walk through what wrinkles the penultimate episode of the series had to offer and what it might mean for the endgame ahead.
Once upon a time, Henry Mills was not such a blessed beau as he is now. One flashback to the wish realm, as he rode valiantly to rescue the princess from her otherwise eternal slumber but was beaten to the job of slaying the dragon and left loveless once more, reminds us of as much. But now that the Hyperion Heights curse has been lifted — well, for everyone except Alice and Hook — he is free to enjoy is re-found family.
Back in wish world, though, Rumple laid the foundation for something very sinister to follow the young hero throughout his later days. He offered Henry a chance at true love and a castle and all the wonderful things his heart desired … but, as always, there’d be a price. Henry knew better than to make a deal with the dark one who preys on such desperate souls and vowed, “I’ll find my happy ending the right way.” Meanwhile, Rumple muttered a promise to the contrary.
Flashforward to now, when everything seems hunky dory for Henry & Co., they make a collective cupcake wish to make up for lost time. Although they have nothing to ask for — ’cause, ya know, everything they could possibly want is right there, d’aw — they each blow out their candles to keep Lucy happy, and poof. Lucy and Ella are gone, and Rumple’s there to antagonize Henry instead. He’s sent them back to the wish realm, he reveals, and won’t let them return to Hyperion Heights and Henry until he’s obtained the Dark One’s dagger. Rumple has to stop Gold from giving the source of both of their power away to the Guardian — “love has poisoned him; love is a weakness, and he’s infected” — and he did warn Henry that true happiness would be out of reach without his help.
Regina also gets some swell news when she goes to visit Facilier and finds his place wrecked, with Gold locked behind a fake fountain fixture, with the news that not only is her lover done for, but her worst enemy has joined their realm to ruin everything.
Henry barrels in to to alert Regina and Gold to his missing persons case, and they formulate a plan. They won’t give up the dagger, as Rumple wishes, because they “don’t negotiate with villains.” Instead, they’ll fight magic with magic by returning to the wish realm. Captain Hook has an idea up his sleeve, so to speak.
They go through the portal and find themselves separated. Rumple’s already anticipated this move and sent Hook and Gold to Gold’s former home, a place that’s full of terrible memories, like the moment he used a mallet to injure himself out of wartime duties. Meanwhile, Regina and Henry find themselves in Rumple’s castle, warned by a locked-up Peter Pan that they’ll not come out of this place alive. They’re willing to take their chances.
Hook takes Gold to his old and unfortunate stomping grounds as well, remembering a time not so long ago when he too was existing under a cloud of depression and disappointment and only survived it to thanks to a friendly neighbor. That’s when he summons Ariel to ask her for some spare squid ink. She’s upset to see Gold standing there, unaware there’s a version of the Dark One that isn’t a terrible mass murderer and whatnot, but our mer-friend acclimates pretty quickly, gives them the goods, and sends them both good cheer in taking down the Crocodile on behalf of everyone.
Henry and Regina ignore Pan’s warnings and proceed to search the place for Ella and Lucy. Instead of finding them, however, they run into Cruella de Vil, who’s laid a trap hoping something tasty (or at least fun to wear) would come scampering into the castle on her watch. She takes a shine to Henry but is so insulted by his rejection that she challenges him to a
dogfight duel. Henry easily disarms her, and puts her back in her cage as they command her to speak — pun intended — up as to the whereabouts of Henry’s family. Luckily she hasn’t eaten or skinned the ladies; instead, they’re down in the dungeon awaiting rescue. But there’s a catch…. (Recap continues on next page)