Once Upon a Time- Midseason Finale Review- (Spoilers)
A/N: Finally posting this, holiday really got busy and put me behind.
The mid season finale did exactly what it was supposed to do, it ended story lines that were complete and left a basically clean slate open and waiting. It also left us in suspense, though being in suspense until March is a bit harsh.
I was nervous about this episode for a couple of reasons. The main one being the bringing back of the curse. I was very afraid that we would end up repeating season one all over again and that would not have been any good, it would have been very boring. I was afraid we would stay with what has worked and end up falling into repeat story lines such as with Regina and Rumple, struggling with their magic versus their hearts. We’ve seen that, we’ve seen it be settled and reach a very satisfactory conclusion for both characters. We have to end those points and move on or things get repetitive and stale. Thankfully they have very good writers who used this episode to nicely tie up all these long arching stories and set us up for something completely new and hopefully very exciting.
The episode was interesting in few ways but what I really liked was while they were trying to determine how to deal with the curse they kept jumping back in time to the real beginning of many of the characters. We got to see how far every one has come, we saw them then and we see them at this moment. It is amazing how far some of them have come.
We saw Rumple after he loses Bae and when he has Belle as a prisoner and hasn’t figure out his love for her yet. We see how he used to be this cold man, with no hope. We saw a man who regretted every decision he ever made, and held on constantly to one thing and one thing only, his son.
Then we snap back and see the Rumple we have today, a very different man. He is strong, his loves his son and Belle with all his heart and he fights for those he loves without thinking about himself in the process. He is not perfect but he is so much different then the man we saw in the very start of the show. The growth and development of Rumple’s character was fantastic. I loved this juxtaposition because it shows us what we have been watching for three seasons now. Rumple is no longer a man who is only worried about himself and only concerned with manipulating those around him. He is no longer a coward, hovering on the edges and clinging onto a past moment with desperation.
The prophecy he was told (Henry being his undoing) was true in what he initially thought and also what I thought. Henry came into his life and began to slowly crack the ice around his heart. Because of Henry and his drive to find the truth he forced Rumple into a situation where he had to change and grow to survive.
Henry helped him become reunited with his son. Henry was the reason he saw how much pain he had caused and how to right any of it he had to stand tall and fight because he needed to help someone else. Henry was the way Rumple saw what true love was like and how important it can be.
Henry made him confront his biggest fear and the catalyst for all his problems, his father. Rumple learned that his father was nothing but a coward who never wanted to grow up. He saw what selfishness and power could do to someone, and he realizes that is the last thing he wants to happen to him.
In the end, yes, Rumple did end up dying. But he died protecting loved ones. He died saving people he used to despise and hate. He died because he knew he had to, to protect the one person who allowed him to begin to undo years of greed and hate. Henry released the love inside his heart. (Though I am not entirely convinced that Rumple is completely gone).
In the end Rumple was right, Henry was his undoing. He did up getting him killed but he died with a heart full of love and with people beside him, people who trusted and cared about him and whostood trying to help hold him up. Rumple died a strong and honorable man.
We also jumped back to a moment with Snow and Charming. It is right as they are preparing to send Emma through the wardrobe to escape the curse. In this moment we see a very worried Snow and a not so worried Charming. Snow has little confidence in this plan and does not like the idea of her daughter going off on her own. While Charming refused to see this as a miserable end.
Snow is a very romantic character. She has these visions of a perfect life, where they have their daughter, raise her and live a life of pure happiness. Like so many of us, letting that idealistic vision go and having to live on with a life we don’t understand and can’t see the good in, is extremely difficult. She can’t see the outcome where things end well, why go in that direction? She can’t understand the idea of this not being the full story.
Charming on the other hand sees things from multiple angles. He sees this as closing one chapter and opening another. The one key thing the blue fairy and Charming tell Snow is she must have hope. As soon as hope is gone, so is everything else. We all know this, once you give up you have nothing to hold onto. You have only darkness and despair and that cannot move you forward.
In the present we see that Charming and Snow are the same yet they also have grown. They both still have grand ideas and visions of life but now they have this unwavering hope that they can never lose. They keep getting pushed around, losing the life they want every time it gets close. But they cannot and will not give up hope. They will not walk away and let life be dark and dreary. This is just one more door closing, but another door will open and they know that with all their hearts.
This hope and desire echoes loudly to Emma and Henry. We saw Henry’s past moment and it was very interesting. We are used to seeing Henry as a wide eyed child full of excitement and unwavering belief. But he was not always like that. Henry was a child who always felt out of place. He knew he didn’t belong in Storybrooke, that he was different somehow. He was a lost child, not sure who he was or what his purpose was.
Snow gave him the book and his life completely changed. His eyes were opened and he saw everything laid out before him. His heart was ignited and life began anew, exciting and full of hope (there is that word again). Henry became a child of a fairytale, full of wonder and possibility. Something that hopefully he does not lose now that he has no memories. Will his demeanor change now that these key moments of his life are gone?
Emma’s story came to an interesting pause here as well. Emma has always been lost, she never understood where she came from or who she was. She was a woman lost and confused. She had no belief in herself. Nothing that happened to her was ever good. She saw no joy or light in the world.
The Emma we saw at the end of this episode is still scared but not entirely for herself. She got this family and now she has to walk away from them. She has to be strong and she has to find a certain confidence in herself that has never had before. The seasons have all been leading up to this moment.
Emma has to take control and make a massive decision and that is she has to save herself and her son. She now has control and she has to use it. She knows it will hurt but she chooses it to save her son and make the best stand she can make. She is no longer a child, she now a strong and confident mother. But again will any of that change now that she is living a fake life? Did changing her memories change who she is now? Those moment that made her never happened technically so who is she now?
The last character we really concentrated on was Regina. Regina is the absolute best character in this whole series. She is perfectly written and has been given the best story in my opinion. She is the epitome of character development and growth. She has become my favorite because of how real she is as a character.
I love stories that center on taking a “villain” and really showing us who they truly are. Every villain has a story, they all have a reason why they are the way they are. A good villain is one we hate but understand and can sympathize with. They are a character we can look at and say “I get why you are acting this way, you have a right to be upset and angry. But you don’t have a right to handle it as you have.” We see there was another way and we desperately wonder why they choose the path that they choose.
When we first met her, Regina was a heartless witch who created a curse to destroy Snow’s life. She had no heart and hated everyone. We could barely feel any warmth and love from her when she was around Henry. She as clearly the villain and we began this series with no sympathy at all towards her. We liked blaming everything on her and watching her fall.
That image didn’t last too long though. Slowly we saw why she was the way she was. We saw the moment that broke her. Before that we saw that at one time she was a happy, idealistic young woman. A literally heartless mother destroyed all of that for her and she allowed darkness to consume her.
Henry was not only Rumple’s undoing but Regina’s as well. Henry let Regina feel again. She wanted someone to connect with, someone she could care about and love. That was all she ever wanted. She lost her true love, her mother never could love her and father was too weak to love her properly. She never had that one person to hold onto, that one person who meant more than anyone else. Henry put true love into her heart. It took time but eventually that love completely flooded her.
This episode showed how far Regina has come. She knows what he as to do, she knows she is the only one who can save everyone else. She started this and now she has to end it, no matter what she will lose in the process. She lets Henry go, letting him have a life of happiness. She does not fight for her own happy ending, she knows it is too late for her. Henry is the only one who matters now.
I loved seeing this completely human Regina. She has to give her son over to a woman who has been fighting so hard to get rid of this whole time. She now has to accept who Emma is and she has to trust her. She hands over the one person who means everything to her. She is no longer fighting, no longer struggling to force the world to obey her. She is resigned to her fate, she is okay as long as Henry is happy. This is a far cry from the woman who destroyed countless lives because she hated one woman.
It will be interesting to see what happens back in the Enchanted Forest. The Storybooke people know she has changed but no one else does. What will she be like with anger surrounding her again?
The previews showed that we are getting a new villain in this second half of the season, the wicked witch from Wizard of Oz. This tells us two things, Regina is no longer our primary antagonist and also we are stepping into a brand new set of stories. I am curious and a bit nervous how this will play out. The Wizard of Oz is a whole different genre of fairytale then we have been dealing with. We haven’t exhausted the original fairytales yet so it it will be interesting to see how well those stories are integrated into what we already have. I just hope it isn’t like the Dr. Frankenstein storyline that showed so much potential and was dropped without a single word.
“Our story will reveal itself to her,”- The Blue Fairy-This will mean a lot in this second half. Emma is no longer a lost child, she is a happy woman. She will really have to open herself up for her to believe in these stories.
“Stories [fairytales] are a reminder that our lives will get better if we hold onto hope”- Snow- I love this line purely because it sums up why fairytales and stories are so important.
“Villains don’t get happy endings,”- Rumple and Regina- Is this necessarily true? If villains make amends and work to live better lives can they not have some sort of happy ending? And how long is someone considered a villain for? Are these two really still villains?
When and how will Emma and Henry remember their real lives?
Will having a different set of memories affect them in any way?
What will Storybrook characters be like back in their original home? Is that really still their home?
Is Rumple truly dead and gone?
Can Regina begin a new life?
Are we going to step aside and focus less on these characters?
What will happen with Robin Hood and Regina? Can that be her happy ending?
What will happen with Tink now?
What happened to make Hook come back for Emma?
How much of the Wizard of Oz will we see