FINALLY!! After weeks of lacklustre episodes the events of the two hour finale special were a fantastic return to form. Heroes and villains are pitted against each other as never before when the Author throws a curveball, and Henry is pushed forward to save the day. The show has proven it has a flair for grandeur when it counts and with a fifth season on the horizon, the possibilities seem endless! Welcome back ONCE – where have you been?
First and foremost the Author, tainted by a bad boss experience when selling colour televisions in a former life, was against heroes from the starting pistol. Or starting pen in this case. Unlike the villains we have encountered so far his happy ending prioritised room service and indoor plumbing in the real world, and recognition of his writing. To this end he broke the cardinal rule of ‘Authors’ – you must not write yourself a happy ending – and rewrote ‘Once Upon a Time’, as ‘Heroes and Villains’.
What followed was a slightly surreal experience where everything was literally backwards. Snow White was the Evil Queen, with a guy-linered Charming henchman and a gang of dwarves (although Doc had an unfortunate end in this reality…). Rumplestiltskin was a brave knight, saving the people from ogres by day and returning to a happy family with Belle by night. Regina was an orphaned outlaw, combining Snow White and Zelina’s backstories together to keep Regina quite far from her happy ending. Robin Hood, Regina’s true love, was about to marry Zelina, while Emma was imprisoned in a tower guarded by Lily, and Hook had been demoted to ‘deckhand.’
But the Author had forgotten about Henry. Despite the understandably awkward moment when your entire town is whisked back to the Enchanted Forest, except you, Henry excelled in the situation with carjacking, blackmail and badass sword fighting. His fairytale saavy was rewarded by his appointment as the new Author, allowing him to rewrite the story and save everyone. Even Doc.
The biggest part of the episode, disregarding the heart-ripping, stabbing, slicing and dragons which are also crammed in, was Emma’s transformation. This is broken into three parts. Over the past four seasons we have seen Emma grow as a character, learning to trust, function within a family, not run away and become The Saviour; and ONCE has sent this crashing down as she steps up to save Regina from the Dark One’s darkness. It was a twist, particularly as the season has been playing with the concept of ‘darkness’ and villainy – is there a point of no return? Are you born good or bad from the start? How can you know? It will be extremely interesting to find out where this storyline takes ONCE and Emma as a character; Rumplestiltskin was always a coward and wanted to gather power to keep himself (and Baelfyre to an extent) protected. What will be Emma’s motivation? And will she be able to keep the darkness under control?
With his last breath, The Apprentice pointed the group to the Sorcerer for help, a.k.a. Merlin. Which means folks, we will be venturing off to Camelot at some point with a healthy dose of Arthurian legend. This doesn’t necessarily mean ONCE has left the Fantasia inspiration behind (we’d like more walking brooms please) but it demonstrates it is committed to keep moving forward and encompass as much Disney history as possible. A reference to the classic HOCKETY POCKETY WOCKETY WACK (Higitus Figitus) would also be greatly appreciated.
So a lot of initial pondering about Season Five already coming to mind following that triumphant finale, but the overriding message is… WATCH IT! Thanks in advance.