Hell Week Begins: Once Upon a Time

For me, Hell Week, aka season finale week, began on Sunday with Once Upon a Time. I’ll admit, I had been dreading it. Since its return from the winter hiatus, the show has hinted at and bluntly stated that Emma Swan, the beloved Savior, had the potential for darkness. What?!? No, that just can’t be. Thankfully, that storyline seemed to be resolved through her roadside encounter with Lily. Or so we thought, but more on that later.

I was fangirling over this episode almost from the beginning. The flashback to 1966 seemed a little out of place, but I’ve learned with OUAT that you just have to hang in there. It will all become (mostly) clear. (J.J. Abrams prodigies, Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz definitely learned the art of flashbacks, flash forwards and even the flash sideways while working on LOST.) It was in the next scene, where Isaac meets with the Apprentice that I catapulted into full-blown fangirl mode. While testing Isaac to see if he would be the next Author, the Apprentice mentioned that the last Author had recently died. The Author died in 1966. Since the Author was first mentioned, I had wondered and hoped, but that exact moment and Google confirmed it for me. Walt Disney passed away December 15, 1966. Walt Disney had been an Author! This Disney girl and my mini-me Disney princess were both squealing, much to my husband’s chagrin.

So much happened in the finale and this would be an extremely long post if I delved into all of it. So, I’m just going to hit the highlights, as I saw them.

At Gold’s request, or really, insistence, Isaac, The Author, writes a new story where the heroes and villains swap roles. In his version, these new heroes and villains become the worst versions of their predecessors. Heroes who are syrupy sweet and too good. Villains who drip with evil and the worst of intentions. Rumplestilskin becomes a knight who saves Henry from an ogre attack. Snow White is now the Evil Queen and seems so much darker than Regina ever was, even at her worst.

Hook, who is not a captain, but a deckhand, sacrifices himself to save Emma and Henry, even though he does not remember loving her. As Emma watches Hook die, she realizes she loves him, but never told him. That moment is what pushes her to tell Regina to fight for her true love, Robin Hood.

As always, love and family are huge themes on this show. Regina proves this when, instead of stopping the wedding of Robin and Zelena, she chooses to save Henry’s life by stepping in front of Rumplestilskin’s blade. Just when it seemed everyone would be stuck in this alternate reality created by Isaac’s book, Heroes and Villains, a discovery was made. Isaac was no longer The Author, but Henry was the new Author. With the stroke of a pen, or rather a quill, he undid everything put into motion by Isaac and everyone returned to Storybrooke.

Emma is reunited with Hook and once again fails to tell him her feelings. (Grrr. At this point, my daughter and I were yelling at the TV.)

Everything seemed to be wrapped up prettily with a bow on top. That’s when I checked the time. Twenty-five minutes left in the show. Plenty of time for many, many things to go wrong.

Rumple is saved by the Apprentice, who pulls the darkness from his heart and puts it in the magical hat. Belle and Rumple reunite. Rumple is no longer the dark one. The Dark One’s dagger has no name on it. That’s important, remember it. But, it still seems like everyone will have a happy ending, right? I was so wrong.

The darkness can only be controlled when attached to a human body and was too much for the hat to handle. The darkness escapes and tries to attach itself to the Apprentice. Emma, ever the Savior, uses her magic to stop that from happening. However, it seems that just the brief encounter with the darkness is too much for the Apprentice. In what seems to be his dying words, he tells them the darkness can only be controlled by the Sorcerer – Merlin! Guess who’s coming to Storybrooke next season.

Looking for someone to attach itself to, the darkness finds Regina, who finally is getting her happy ending with Robin. How unfair is that? Regina, who has fought her own battle with darkness, who has come out the other side (for the most part) is about to be taken under again. I should have predicted what happened next, but I don’t think I got it until about two seconds before it happened. Emma, again, ever the Savior, takes Regina’s place, sacrificing herself to the darkness. Just before it takes her over, she FINALLY says those three little words to Hook. The darkness then takes her, metaphorically and physically, leaving behind the Dark One’s dagger bearing the name Emma Swan.

A few thoughts for next season:

I think it will be Hook who saves Emma from the darkness. Snow, Charming, and even Regina will try. But, it will be Hook’s love that actually does it.

Before Emma was taken over, Lily asked her to find her father. He had been in dragon form at the time he and Maleficient, well, you know. So, not even Maleficient knows who he is. Hmmm, her dragon father is mentioned in the same episode as Merlin, the dragon whisperer. This is not a coincidence. I believe that we’ll find out Merlin is Lily’s father before the end of next season, possibly before the winter hiatus.

This was definitely not the way that I wanted finale week to start. I’m now three finales in and two have been more than a little traumatic. Up next on the blog will be my take on The Originals, Agents of SHIELD, Arrow and The Vampire Diaries finales. Next week, we’ll have finales for The Flash and Supernatural. Then finally, this hell that we call season finales/sweeps will be over.

Any opinions or theories about the finale or next season, please share them in the comments.