Review – Once Upon a Time S06E17 – Awake

Once Upon a Time
Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time S06E17 “Awake”

Once Upon a Time can be a fantastic show. I am hard on this show is because I know it can be better. Part of the reason why it makes me so mad is because I truly love it, or well most of it. After a few lackluster episodes that made me want to pull my hair out and endlessly questioned my devotion to this show, there comes “Awake”. This was truly a phenomenal episode in every way.

Snowing look for a last resort to break the curse due to their fear of Emma facing the final battle alone, meanwhile Killian Jones gets an unlikely ally in Neverland, and for once, everything works out in our heroes’ favor. This episode is what happens when Once Upon a Time focuses on the right characters. It felt like season 1 all over again, and trust me that’s a good thing.

(ABC/Jack Rowand)

I Will Always Find You

Is it a bit of a retcon that Snowing woke up before the 28 years? Yes it is but for the first time in the show’s history it’s a retcon that actually works in it’s favor. Through all the seasons, the drama, the pain and the joy one fact remains, Snowing is still one of the most beautiful stories in the show. They’re the reason most of us started watching in the first place. We wanted to see Snowing’s story. This episode was a reminder of how pure their story still is and Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin are magnificent in it. The montage was a clever way to send us back to the time of the curse, it gave more of a sense that the characters were remembering it. The show took us back to long before Emma arrived in Storybrooke, ten years after the curse was in place. We see a Mary Margaret who is just trying to be nice to everyone but not really getting a good response, then she crashes into Regina.

Regina of course makes it her mission to make her miserable, the flowers she was taking for John Doe (Charming) were ruined, Regina makes a biting comment and walks off having made sure Mary Margaret’s day was ruined. Mary Margaret still gets a flower for John Doe and when she puts it next to him, he wakes up. But it’s not David Nolan that wakes up, it’s Charming himself. It’s a wonderful scene because you have a freaked out Mary Margaret and then you have Charming telling her he loves her more than anything. The Snowing theme is back in this scene and Mark Isham kills us once more with his genius and with how gorgeous the score is it hits every single one of our emotions. It feels like going home.

Charming asks Snow what happened to their daughter, as the last thing he remembers is putting her in the wardrobe. They manage to escape the hospital but Snow has to stay back and pretend to be Mary Margaret so Regina doesn’t suspect. Then we get an amazing scene of Charming going into Gold’s pawn shop, of course the other man is under the curse so it’s hilarious considering Charming does not believe him one bit. He even threatens him with a sword in typical Charming fashion. It isn’t until he mentions Emma’s name that the dark one wakes up, as we know that was his failsafe in the curse. He explains that he and Snow can use the flower to reunite with Emma as it reunites true loves. And there is no truer love than Snowing and Snowing’s love for their daughter Emma.

Rumple figures out it’s only been ten years and tells them that if they go to Emma now she’ll never fulfill her destiny and everyone will remain trapped forever. Snow and Charming use the powder to find Emma and their faces when they open the door are heartbreaking. Charming can’t believe how beautiful his little girl is while Snow realizes that they can’t get her right now. It’s heartbreaking and Charming takes some convincing but they agree to go back under the curse because as Snow says “We have to believe she’s strong enough to grow up without us”. It’s heartbreaking, it’s poignant, it’s the same emotions we got seeing Charming put Emma in the wardrobe in the pilot.

Always Darkest Before the Dawn 

Our heroes are still reeling from the reveal of the final battle. Charming is deeply worried that his daughter will have to face the final battle alone (especially with Hook stuck in another realm) so he and Snow undertake the mission to break their curse. Regina’s plan doesn’t just fail it weakens their hearts to the point where both of them will be asleep by the day’s end, making everything a time-sensitive matter. They see the same pink flower behind Snow and Zelena is the one that realizes what it is, a poppy flower. And that it pops up in spots where there is great evil.

In their search, they find a field full of flowers and realize this must mean the black fairy is in Storybrooke. And of course the Black Fairy has her dramatic entrance in front of Emma and Snow and it’s an incredible scene. Jaime Murray is truly a sight to see in the way she portrays the Black Fairy. She taunts Snow and Emma and gets Gideon to destroy all the flowers and he does, all except one. It’s just enough potion to wake them up but in that moment something else happens.

While all of this has been happening Killian has been on the run from the Lost Boys in Neverland. He gets captured by Tiger Lilly and we find out she knows a lot more than we think she does. It’s a hilarious scene with a lot of bickering and a great rapport between Colin O’Donoghue and guest star Sara Tomko. She knows about the savior and about the Black Fairy and needs Killian to get a wand (that looks like driftwood) to her. She doesn’t believe he’s in love with anyone until Killian realizes they’ve been arguing about the same person, Emma. He shows her the ring that he still carries in his pocket and that’s what convinces her, then they work together to get into Pan’s camp to find a way to get Killian home.

Killian manages to cut off his shadow and is about to use it to get back to Storybrooke when the Lost Boys crowd him and he realizes the wand is more important at the moment so he sends his shadow away with the wand as he and Tiger Lilly are captured by Lost Boys.

Emma and Snow are about to use the dust when they are visited by Killian’s shadow who gives them the wand. He can’t help himself and uses his left hand to touch Emma’s cheek for what he thinks is the last time, before disappearing again. This confirms Emma’s fears that her true love is in danger. Snow finally tells her what we learned in the flashback and tells her to use the dust to find Killian before it’s too late.

This was a moment I truly loved because as Snow says she is putting Emma first. What was probably my only problem with Snow and Charming, especially Snow, was that in their case to always be together and sacrifice for each other, Emma was sometimes left behind. Like during the Neverland Arc and when Snow was desperate to return to the Enchanted Forest. So for me having Snow say she was putting Emma first was really important. As was the admission that they had taken too much from Emma, they couldn’t take Killian as well.

Once Upon a Time S06E17 Awake
(ABC/Jack Rowand)

True Love Always Wins

Emma uses the powder and crosses the door to Neverland where her pirate is in dire need of her help.  She pushes the Lost Boys away and gets her pirate to safety. The look of delighted surprise on Killian’s face is perfect and they cross the door to the safety of the Charmings’ loft. They apologize to each other for their roles in what happened and the drama that came after. And it’s such a breath of fresh air, and part of why I truly love this couple. They love each other but they also know to admit when one of them has messed up. They are equals in every way that matters.

The drama leading up to this episode was ridiculous but I’d go through it again to get an episode like this one, a scene like this one. Emma wants to get him cleaned up but Killian makes a comment that there’s something he’s got to do before he gets thrown into another portal. He wants her to be certain that he will always be by her side and then he gets down on one knee as he asks a very important question. This was the proposal I always wanted. A few reviews back I complained about the lack of emotion in the first proposal but this second one was everything I could have wanted.

From the romantic speech and promising he will never leave her, to her response as she kneels down to be on his level and tells him yes, it’s perfect. I can’t even be unbiased and I’m not even going to attempt it.  Because my girl is truly happy and this couple that I’ve invested so much of my love into, they’re getting their happy ending. I could not be happier. I’ve seen this scene multiple times already and I’ve cried each time. The happiness that both Jennifer Morrison and Colin O’Donoghue radiate in that moment is like no other. The music swells as they kiss and you see happy tears on Emma’s face, you can’t help but feel delighted for her. And I love that the proposal happened with Henry in the room to witness it.

He asks where her parents are and then finds out what happens, Regina comes up with what has probably been her best idea in the entire series. They bring all the townspeople into the Mayor’s office and Regina tells them her plan, and tells them about what Snow and Charming did for them. She asks them to do something for Snowing. The point is to have everyone share the sleeping curse and maybe that will dilute it’s power. The first one to go up is Killian, then Regina, Emma and Henry and there’s a moment of tension to see if anyone else will take it as well. Grumpy is the first one to step up to the plate and the rest follow suite. And yes this does have the desired effect as Snow and Charming wake up at the same time.

It was a truly beautiful scene. I loved the use of the townspeople that were so present during season 1 but faded into the background as time went on. It was truly a wonderful show of compassion and love that makes this show great. Because Snow and Charming really love their people and their people love them.  This show is wonderful at showing all the different kinds of love and they were all present in this episode. The powerful love that comes from friendship, the love that comes from family and of course romantic love. It will definitely go down was one of the best episodes of the season, and maybe even the series.


Charming: I almost didn’t recognize you without the scales

Rumplestiltskin: Dust from that flower has the ability to reunite anyone that shares true love

Charming: Like Snow and me

Rumplestiltskin: And your daughter

Charming: I know she’s fighting for me as hard as I am for her, Emma I know Hook is out there doing the same for

Rumple: Because he has his mother in him, the one that truly loves him

Killian Jones; Swan, I know you face an uncertain future but there’s one thing I want you to be certain of. That I will always, always, be by your side. So, Emma Swan, what do you say? Will you marry me?

Emma Swan: Yes

Tiger Lily: They outnumber us 20 to 1?

Killian Jones: Aye is that all? Then I feel sorry for those lads because they can’t stand a chance


*You know it’s a good episode when I even like the Rumple scenes. I’m so glad someone finally realized Gideon isn’t in control of his heart. Rumple has a mission now and nothing will stop him from protecting his son.

*I really liked the connection that Tiger Lilly used to be a fairy, and that she was close to the Black Fairy but gave up her wings when the Black Fairy fell from grace. I wonder if she and Tinkerbell have talked about it at all

*Emma Swan, who used to be a lost girl and thought she was unwanted now has 4 canon true loves and there’s nothing more beautiful than that. 

*Captain Charming are back on track and I loved that small moment where Charming tells him things are good reiterating what he said in “Murder Most Foul.

*We’re going to get a musical Captain Swan wedding, they’ve got their own poster and everything. This makes me so very happy.

What did you think of “Awake”? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.



Images courtesy of ABC.

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About the author

Maii Trueba

Maii is a 27 year old writer, who can get emotional and protective over certain characters and their stories, also pandas. And don't get her started on A Song of Ice and Fire because you'll never hear the end of it. She graduated in film and has a certificate in Art History so the nerdiness comes out from time to time.

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