Credit: Jack Rowand/ABC

Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Part 1 of Once Upon a Time‘s series finale. Read at your own risk!

During the first hour of its two-part series finale, Once Upon a Time tipped its cap to long-time fans of the ABC fairy tale drama with a meta joke about the show’s complicated story lines.

After his family is abducted by final villain Wish Realm Rumple (Robert Carlyle), Henry (Andrew J. West) seeks the Author’s pen in order to re-write the story, thus saving everyone from this Rumple’s wrath. Henry approaches the Wish Realm version of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, who first needed to prove Henry is indeed an Author.

Placing his hand on Henry’s chest, the Apprentice can see the story Henry had penned in full, a.k.a. the tale of Once Upon a Time. “That is indeed a complicated story,” the Apprentice quips. “The timelines alone would make one’s head spin.”

The Apprentice even throws in a few self-referential lines that basically address the show’s writers directly. “Only a true author could weave such a tale,” he says. “Every story an Author has ever written lives in his heart. You have done good work — could use a little more romance, perhaps, but maybe in your next book.”

“One of the consequences of the show having had such a long run — seven seasons and more than 150 episodes — is that our characters’ lives, and the stories we’ve told with them, have become, well, complicated,” says executive producer David H. Goodman, who penned Friday’s hour. “We talk about the show’s timeline in the writers’ room constantly. So as we closed out the series, it seemed like a good opportunity to poke some fun at ourselves and tip our hats to the audience. We’re incredibly thankful that they’ve come along with us for such a wild ride.”

Alas, Wish Rumple knew Henry would seek out the Author’s pen. And it’s exactly what he needs to enact his final plans. Twist: He’s not working alone! Wish Rumple made a deal with Wish Henry (Jared Gilmore), who uses the pen to vanquish the powers of the Guardian, therefore ensuring that Rumple would never be rid of the dagger. Their next move? It involves those personalized storybooks seen in EW’s first look series finale photos.

Though the heroes end up locked within the snow globe — while Regina is imprisoned for killing Wish Henry’s grandparents — Alice (Rose Reynolds) and Robin (Tiera Skovbye) may come to the rescue with a few friends in tow. By hour’s end, they procure a magic bean, opening up a portal to Storybrooke! Check back soon for details on their trip!

Once Upon a Time‘s series finale airs Friday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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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