Once Upon a Time – S06E2122: The Final Battle
Goodbyes are tough, they are difficult and painful we never know what to say. This is the end of the road, the end of an era so to speak. As we told you a few weeks back Jennifer Morrison is not returning for season 7 so this is it. I personally find it slightly ridiculous for the show to continue without it’s main character so I will not be watching season 7, or writing about it. This is probably the hardest review I’ve ever had to write because I do not know how to say goodbye to Emma Swan, but I’ll try because she deserves her happy beginning, and this is it, her Swan song, so to speak.
It’s the End
If this were a regular finale and not the closing of this part of the story it would have failed a bit, but looking at it as so gives it a little more weight. In a way it is kind of like the finale (the show was renewed for a seventh season but it won’t be the same show we’ve come to love) because it’s been described as the closing of this particular book while Season 7 will be a soft-reboot.So we’re going to be looking at it as not just a season finale because otherwise, you’re stuck with a really good first hour and a slightly choppy second half with a very underwhelming defeat to the bad guy. Let’s talk about that bad guy for a bit, shall we? As amazing as Jaime Murray is as Fiona/Black Fairy it’s pretty clear to me that when this was first thought of as the finale the intended bad guy was Regina. Which would have added to the emotion and book end the show perfectly.
I think my biggest problem with the finale was the lack of screen time for Emma, The Charmings, Belle, and Henry, especially the first two. This was supposedly Emma’s story right? Why didn’t we see more of the characters who were having their final episode? We got some amazing Emma and Henry, and Killian and Charmings scenes but nothing with Emma and her parents? Also, we didn’t really get a scene with Emma and Killian talking despite the fact that they just got married. We did not need to see two Reginas (one is bad enough) and that screen time could have been put to better use.
As beautiful as the finale was I felt the characters that were leaving deserved more.
Now for the actual story. The first episode in the two hours was truly beautiful and supposedly set up everything perfectly (I said supposedly because while the emotional side of me loved both halves of it, the logical one thought they were likely written by the two different people because there were a lot of good ideas but little follow through).
This finally basically takes us back to the beginning, to the point in the story where Henry has to make Emma believe again. I’m not the biggest fan of the mental hospital trope I’ll admit but I appreciate the meaning behind it. We find out that the final battle isn’t a battle itself but rather a battle for Emma’s very soul. This episode makes a lot of call backs to previous episodes but the most obvious ones are clearly A Land Without Magic (Season 1, Episode 22) and Tallahassee (Season 2, Episode 6).
We find out that Emma has to believe again as the Black Fairy connected her belief to the actual Storybook, and as the savior’s belief fades so do the realms of story. Meaning Henry has to get her to believe before they loose everyone they have ever loved.
Emma believes she has been in the mental institution for 2 years, ever since Henry ate the poisoned turned over. The first scene we see off her is her drawing a beautiful swan which is representative of how far she’s come in the series, she’s no longer that lost ugly duckling, she is a beautiful swan filled by family and a man she loves. She just has to remember that. Fiona takes the book from Henry and so Henry tries to find another way of making his mother believe. So he takes her to the rooftop where she just married her true love in the previous episode.
It’s a truly glorious scene where Henry acts as basically a stand-in for every shipper when he describes how beautiful the wedding was. When Emma stands in the point where they said their vows she gets flashes of the wedding and flashes of Killian’s face but she doesn’t trust herself with them. She tells Henry she has to leave Storybrooke and start a new life so Henry gives it one last shot.
Since we’re dealing with the Black Fairy here, and Murray’s menacing performance, Henry ends up in the hospital again with a broken arm and all of Emma’s progress goes out the window. She ends up burning the book but almost hesitates when the book turns to Killian’s face. She thinks being in Storybrooke is hurting her son and although she truly loves him believes she has to leave to save him. We get a truly heart-wrenching scene from Jennifer Morrison and Jared Gilmore before the former leaves Storybrooke to go back to her old life in Boston, something she promised to do all throughout season 1 but never did.
Back in Boston, we get to see Emma’s old apartment. She is considering going back to work when something falls out of her bag. It’s a new storybook, one Henry made specifically for her. It talks about her story and how she struggled with belief and everything she’s been through in the last 6 seasons of the show. It’s complete with drawings from her son and something ignites in her.
Adventure to Save the World
Meanwhile in the Enchanted Forest the rest of the Charmings and Regina wake up in Snow and Charming’s castle. Most specifically the exact place where Charming and Snow had their wedding. Regina quips that the Black Fairy brought them from Captain Swan’s wedding to Snowings. Killian isn’t paying attention to her as all he wants is to get back to his wife.
They find out the realms are disappearing when they see Zelena. Everyone from the different realms are coming from Jefferson’s hat to the Enchanted Forest for refuge and Regina takes them all back to her castle. We see Aladdin and Jasmine there and get a callback to Arendelle and the season 4 Frozen Arc. Killian Jones is not there for waiting out the storm, he’s going to fight for his wife no matter the cost.
We find ourselves back at the beanstalk, just like the one Emma and Killian climbed during their first adventure together. They didn’t know each other back then and they were both emotionally closed off to the world, Emma was focused on Henry and getting home while Killian was focused on getting his revenge. It was a beautiful callback to see how far they have come since those days in season 2. Charming finds him and there’s a hilarious comment about how if he wanted to sneak out he should have made sure there were no munchkins around as they are easily bought. Killian replies he wasn’t trying to sneak out just needed to get to the beanstalk fast as he believes there may be a bean on top.
Charming is clearly worried about Killian getting hurt climbing it but Killian bites back this isn’t his first beanstalk. Killian bursts into one of his speeches talking about Emma and how they fought for their love,“With Emma, it was our first adventure together, my moments were less than chivalrous then, granted it was hardly love at first sight but things changed, we changed, look we made each other better. Emma and I were never a predestined love story guaranteed a happy ending. We fought for our love and we won.And you, you of all people should understand that.”
You can feel the emotion coming from Colin O’Donoghue and the love and reverence that Killian feels for Emma. You see it in the frustration in not being able to be there for his wife and his need to be back with her. Especially knowing she is alone as he promised never to leave her.
It’s one of the best scenes in the entire finale as it calls back everything these two have done to fight for each other. Starting out with each other and their complicated feelings, then came Pan taking Henry, then Neal’s reappearance, the forgotten year, him finding her back in New York and bringing her to Storybrooke which lead to fighting Zelena. That’s just before they got together officially. They got stuck back in time and seeing her parents fall in love and finding out Killian had given up his home for her made them take that step.
Then they got together and had to deal with the Queens of Darkness and Rumple’s power-hungry self which led to Emma being consumed by the Darkness. They got through Camelot and both of them being dark-ones to when Killian sacrificed himself for the town. Then they got through hell literally as Emma went into the Underworld for him and he ended up getting brought back by Zeus. They were finally in a good place as they moved in together and the tremors appeared and Rumplestiltskin was a threat again and so was the Black Fairy. Gideon’s separated them and they had to fight their way back to each other which lead to Killian’s proposal and finally their wedding. So yes it’s safe to say the two of them have fought everything, even death, to be with each other.
Charming also sees that and Killian’s speech is reminiscent of one of Charming’s best quotes back in season one “True love isn’t easy but it must be fought for because once you find it, it can never be replaced.” Charming know how much this means to Killian and how much it will mean to her daughter to protect her husband so he goes along with it and they climb the beanstalk together. When they reach the top they find things are different from the last beanstalk. They find a table filled with food where the bean probably is.
Since this is a giant’s lair everything is slightly huge. We get another great scene where they argue about who is going to get it. O’Donoghue and Josh Dallas have a great rapport which will be sorely missed. Charming calls Killian his son…in law and it’s just as hilarious as you think it would be. But it also serves a purpose, this is the man who way back in season 3 said Killian wasn’t trustworthy and here he is entrusting him with the most important part of the mission. This was our final Captain Charming adventure and it calls back the first Captain Swan adventure and it’s a wonderful way to come full circle.
The Final Battle
Killian gets the bean but as they are going down the beanstalk the world starts falling apart and they both fall from the beanstalk. We get another callback to season 1 as Snow senses that Charming is in danger just as he sensed when she bit the poisoned apple. This sends Snow and Jasmine to look for Charming but all she finds is Killian under a beanstalk. There’s a great moment when he calls her “mommy” but then shows them he has the bean.
Like I said earlier this is where things start to fall apart, narrative-wise. Snow tells him to go back to the castle while she looks for Charming but considering they’re on a time-sensitive mission that makes no sense. Since once he is back in the castle the bean no longer works as Emma has stopped believing. We should have gotten a scene where Killian uses the bean after being found by Snow, which would take him either to Storybrooke or to Boston. It would have gone with the theme of calling back earlier scenes as it would callback the season 3 finale where Killian shows up in her apartment in New York. And it would have been enough to keep the Captain Swan fans happy, plus it would have followed through with the clues from the first half of the finale, with Emma seeing their wedding and his face when the book burned.
Snow goes to look for Charming and finds him underneath a beanstalk unconscious. She kisses him awake just like he did back in the season 1 finale. Some might say this scene is slightly ridiculous because he wasn’t cursed just unconscious but I still truly loved it, plus I’m a sucker for those cinematic parallels.The scene is intercut with the scene from the season 1 finale/the pilot and is truly a work of art. We even get a callback to their exchange, you found me, did you ever doubt I would? They get back to the castle and as we know Emma burned the book so everything seems dire.
Meanwhile in Storybrooke Henry is all set to fight the Black Fairy using his grandfather’s sword, the same Emma used in the first finale. Of course, he doesn’t get far as Emma has come back from Boston thanks to the book he made for her. I think it was the actual moment when Emma won the battle. She believed without actually believing. It would be easy just to wake up from the curse and remember and go kicking Black Fairy’s ass. No, this test was the most difficult Emma had ever had. It’s not always important in what you believe but in who you believe. Emma believed to Henry (and maybe believed in herself) and this was the right choice. She passed the test successfully and got everyone’s happy ending/beginning back.
Of course that is my personal opinion as the show gives us another which is Rumple killing his mother and that apparently breaks the curse but I like my version of it because it gives Emma an active role instead of giving someone else all the credit. Everyone is back in Storybrooke but the reunion isn’t long as Gideon is trying to kill her. Emma goes to fight him as she repeats the savior mantra “I’m fighting for the people I love. Ultimately, I am a hero. I am hope. I am light. And light cannot destroy darkness, it can only create more light. I will not kill innocents. I will do what all Saviors must, I will give hope… no matter what the cost.”
A Happy Beginning
In letting Gideon stab her she makes a sacrifice. She will not hurt an innocent life even to save herself, making her different from the likes of Rumple and Regina, and it turns out to be the key. Henry kisses her in the forehead a perfect parallel to their scene in the first season finale and Emma wakes up. We get a final group hug as the book shows up again. Henry reveals the final battle has been won and that’s the end of the book. When they ask what now Snow launches into a final speech about hope.
“Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a powerful thing, but living with that kind of belief? That’s the most powerful thing of all…That’s hope…So you ask ‘what now’ Now we get to keep going on. We get to keep doing what we love, with the people we love. An ending isn’t happiness, being together is.”
That is basically the core belief of the show and why I personally choose to have this be the series finale because in my mind it is. This is what made me love the show this idea that all we need is hope and people we love to be happy. Because it’s true you don’t need an ending as long as they are all together they will be happy. The clock chimes and we get to see a gorgeous montage of the realms being restored. We see all the realms the show has traveled to from Agrabah to Arendelle, with a special appearance from Sven, and from Neverland to Wonderland.
Which brings us to the finale montage, the Charmings living in a farmhouse with a welcome mat and Wilby the dog, Emma and Regina dropping Henry off at the school bus where Violet waits for him and Snow going back to teaching. Emma and Killian in the bug as Killian puts on a deputy badge mutters something and they smile at each other as Killian puts a siren on top of the bug. All of them at dinner in a scene very reminiscent of the last supper with Emma in the middle surrounded by her family and rumple.
This is where I leave them. They are starting their happy beginning and they are at peace. Emma Swan is at peace and she’s happy and that’s all I ever wanted for her.
Regina Mills: She brought you from your wedding to theirs
Killian Jones: With Emma, it was our first adventure together, my moments were less than chivalrous then
Charming: Yeah I seem to recall you trying to kill her and snow
Killian Jones: Granted it was hardly love at first sight but things changed, we changed, look we made each other better. Emma and I were never a predestined love story guaranteed a happy ending. We fought for our love and we won.And you, you of all people should understand that
Emma: Some honeymoon huh?
Killian Jones: Our story began on the beanstalk and I’ll be damned if it ends there too.
Charming: You found me
Snow: Did you ever doubt I would
Charming: truthfully the beanstalk that fell on me gave me pause
Killian: So you’re going to trust all our fates to a pirate?
Charming: No I’m gonna trust my son…in law
*We’re not mentioning how freaking ridiculous it was that Rumple got a happy ending and to sit with the rest of them at Grannys… Like this is the man who literally not 24 hours earlier betrayed all of them, he refused to help Henry save the rest of his family and spent an entire season being abusive and terrifying Belle, something he never apologized for. So we’re just expected to sit back and get him get everything without consequences?
*Speaking of Belle that show has done her so dirty but this episode takes the take and she was barely in it? First she gets called a bad mother who abandons her child (she would never) and then she gets stuck with her abuser because it’s his “happy ending”. Not to mention the lack of screen time for what was Emilie de Ravin’s last episode.
*There was a hilarious moment at the beanstalk where you can see Colin O’Donoghue’s cast for his broken foot.
*I know it might not seem like it but I truly did enjoy the finale, well most of it and no I did not mention the scenes leading up to season 7 because this review is about closure.
*Emma Swan came into my life in a point where I sorely needed her and she helped me in more ways than I could possibly describe. It’s hard to think of the idea of no more Emma Swan, maybe it’s why it took me so long to write this, because I didn’t want to say goodbye. But this isn’t goodbye because if I ever feel down or like I don’t matter I can just sit back and rewatch my favorite Emma episodes, and remember what she taught me.
*Thank you to Jennifer Morrison, Josh Dallas, Ginnifer Goodwin and Jared Gilmore you made watching the Charming family grow a truly wonderful experience. And thank you to Emilie de Ravin and Rebecca Mader for giving your everything to the amazing characters you got. I wish you all the best in your upcoming projects.
Images courtesy of ABC.