ABC

The Strange Case Of Once Upon A Time

A mostly satisfying season finale wraps up some loose ends and sets up next year's villain, because these characters just can't catch a break.

  • Previously

    Remember Camelot? No? Well, Henry had a crush on a girl named Violet there. And in this half-season, Rumple put a pregnant and sleeping-cursed Belle into Pandora's Box for safe passage from the Underworld, Killian died and came back to life, Robin died and stayed that way, and Rumple got his hands on a piece of the Olympian Crystal.

  • Snapshot

    Gee, Regina, I'm Sorry Your Boyfriend Got Killed By A God

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  • Awkward
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    Tetherball

    Situation: Regina puts her feelings and suffering aside, and she and Zelena magically CSI that he used the Crystal to cast a tethering spell to harness all of Storybrooke's magic. They figure (correctly) that his goal is to wake Belle, but worry about what he'll do with his power afterwards.

    What makes it awkward? Emma suggests that Regina sit this one out, which Regina does not take kindly to. "When you're upset we follow you to Hell, but when I'm upset I get a time-out."

    How is order restored? "You don't want my help? Fine. I'll fix this on my own." Regina poofs away. Henry overhears, and Emma sends him home to hide. It's Henry, so order may not be restored for long.

  • Meeting Time
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    Should Someone Who's Utterly Useless Without Magic Be Blaming Magic For All His Problems?

    Who called the meeting? Henry.

    What's it about? Henry does not, in fact, go home; he stops by the pawn shop to rob the safe, and texts Violet to ask her to join him. He explains to her that magic is the source of all his problems. "It's always magic. Always. Magic turned my mom into a Dark One. It took away the man my other mom loved. And now I think it's going to tear my parents apart. I used to think there was light and dark magic, but it's all bad." He shows her the dolls that used to be Geppetto's parents, the sleeping curse needle, and a snow globe with a real village in it.

    How'd it go? Violet tells him her mother died because of magic, so she's with him. He asks her to come with him, and she agrees, so Henry is no longer the stupidest character on the show. He takes the Author's pen, telling her he's about to break his promise to only use it to record what happens, then writes "The Olympian Crystal appeared in the Author's hand." It does, and he explains that with all of Storybrooke's magic tethered to it, they can take it out of town and destroy it.

  • That Quote
    "Come with me. On a road trip. It's like a quest, but on a bus. Which is like a horse, but with wheels and seats."
    - Henry -
  • Plot Lightning Round

    Don't Let The Magic Door Hit You On The Way Out

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    Regina shows up at the loft looking for Henry. She received a text from Henry saying he's going to "destroy the source of all of our problems." (Emma did too but she didn't notice. Good parenting!) Gold arrives to report that he's lost the crystal and they put two and two together.

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    Emma's not a complete idiot. With Henry's history of running away, she's put a tracker on his phone. She and Regina follow, despite their earlier fight. (Isn't the town still cursed? Is Dopey still a tree? How can any of these people leave at all?)

    2016-05-16-ouat-portal

    The Camelottians, Merry Men, and Merida are very concerned about being able to get home without magic. So Zelena opens a portal for them to leave before Henry can do anything. Huh, that was an easy and unceremonious goodbye to a whole bunch of characters! Sorry about your dead husband, Guinevere! (Only Robin's first kid gets any kind of farewell scene, giving Zelena a feather from one of Robin's arrows to give to Regina, before going off to live with the Merry Men in Sherwood Forest.)

    2016-05-16-ouat-trash-fire

    In Boston, Regina and Emma discover Henry's phone on a bus without him. He placed it there as a decoy! FINE, he's smarter than I give him credit for. In frustration, Regina tosses the phone in the trash and it catches fire. "That's new." "How is that even possible," Emma asks. "We're in a land without magic." Because Henry is too, with the Crystal. Emma puts the fire out, and they realize that all of their magic works.

  • Place Of Interest
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    Land Of The Untold Stories (But We Don't Know That Yet)

    Zelena tries to close the portal and it...fights back? Zelena, Snow, David, and Hook get pulled through. "Well, we're certainly not in Storybrooke anymore," Zelena says. I see what you did there.

    They're on some sort of woodsy estate, which we'll later learn was once a hospital. But they don't know where -- or when -- they are, just that it's not Storybrooke, or the Enchanted Forest, or Oz. And Zelena's wand broke, so they're stuck. They hear the sound of scissors and walk towards it, emerging from the woods into a garden, where a gardener is taking cuttings. He tries to run when he sees them but they grab him. "I'm not supposed to talk to strangers." We soon learn why, as a man appears and shoots the Storybrookers with some sort of electrical device.

  • Place Of Interest
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    Vancnewyork

    Regina realizes that if they have magic, they can do a locator spell (with blood -- neat/ew). They figure out Henry's in New York, which makes sense since he's only ever been three places in his life, and he's not in the other two.

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    Henry tells Violet that Neal was working on finding a way to destroy magic. They're there to find his journal, which "has to be" in his apartment. Uh, kid, your dad's been dead a long time, you think his New York City apartment is just sitting there? (I mean, it is, because TV, but this is supposed to be a land without magic.)

    Gold also makes his way to Manhattan (via what appears to be the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, from Maine, which is technically possible but makes very little sense), Force-choking a clerk on his way in rather than paying his toll -- guess he forgot his "KWIK-EPass."

  • Alert!
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    Pop! Six! Squish! Uh-uh! Cicero! Lipshitz!

    Alert Type: New Big Bad Alert.

    Issue: David and company come to in a cell, "not like any dungeon I've ever seen." It's called steampunk, Snow, go on Tumblr. The bars are enchanted.

    Complicating Factors: Another man we haven't seen yet, called The Warden, comes to see them and accuses them of being spies for the Dark One. Hook gets too close to the bars and the Warden chokes him. Snow, trying to get him to stop, says they just want to get home and explains about Rumple and Belle. The Warden can't believe the Dark One has found love, and it's enough to make him drop Hook. But not to let them out.

    Resolution: Later, the gardener comes to see them, offering to help them if they'll take him back to Storybrooke with them. He says he was a doctor before the Warden took control and "ruined everything." He'll take the wand to the hospital lab and fix it. Zelena reluctantly hands it over.

    Spoiler: Is it weird that the gardener-who-used-to-be-a-doctor would have access to this room?

  • Alert!
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    Lana Parrilla's Emmy Reel

    Alert Type: Evil Queen Alert.

    Issue: While Emma checks Neal's laptop for Henry's search history, Regina finds a Robin Hood book she gave Robin when he left Storybrooke. There's an unsent letter inside, addressed to Regina. In it, Robin tells her he's proud of her for opening her heart to love and letting it change her, and says she'll always be the heroine he fell in love with.

    Complicating Factors: Emma apologizes for being so wrapped up in how Regina would react to Hook that she wasn't there for her about Robin. Regina confesses that the reason she got so angry is that Emma was right: The Evil Queen is inside her, always in danger of coming out. "It's exhausting. I'm constantly at war with my instincts. Like with Hook? My first impulse was to rip his throat out. Because it's not fair that he survives and Robin doesn't. But I didn't. Because now I know that's wrong. Much as I want to give in to evil, I don't. So I do good. And I hate every moment of it. It's complicated. I know it's right but it always leads to loss for me.... But I know the Evil Queen can't return so that's how it has to be."

    Resolution: For the viewers, this is a nice acknowledgement that Regina can never really be redeemed, and she knows it (we'll just ignore all those people who went to "the better place" this season). For Regina, there is no resolution, and that's the point. "Now I have a curse. The curse of knowing the difference between good and evil and I'm caught between them. ...This is my fate. I'm trapped."

    Spoiler: Wellllllll, maybe not entirely trapped.

  • Awkward
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    Multiple Times Upon A Time

    Situation: Henry brings Violet to the "rare reading room" at the "Midtown Library," because Neal's journal said he had an appointment there.

    What makes it awkward? The journal didn't say why he had an appointment, so I guess they have to read all the books? Plus, there's a whole shelf of books identical to Henry's on the outside, but with different stories of other worlds. He flips a page to a picture of where the other half of the episode is taking place.

    How is order restored? Henry, frustrated, is ready to give up on reading when Violet spots a cup in a case that looks just like the Holy Grail, only black. She figures Neal never noticed it because he'd never been to Camelot. (Wouldn't it have been in one of the books? Never mind.) Henry smashes the case and places the Grail on a table next to the Crystal. They're drawn to each other. "This will destroy magic," he declares. How, I wonder. "What do we do next," asks Violet. "Whatever it is, it's not safe to do here." Oh so you guys don't know either? Cool.

    How is order destroyed again? Rumple, having eavesdropped outside the apartment, meets them at the door and magics them to sleep.

  • Alert!
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    You've Got To Hyde Your Love Away

    Alert Type: New Big Bad Alert, Part 2.

    Issue: The gardener-who-used-to-be-a-doctor repairs the wand, but the orderly, Poole, catches him and asks what he's doing there. He says the Warden asked him to repair it, so Poole thinks he'd better ask the Warden himself. The gardener begs off: "You know he doesn't like to be disturbed."

    Complicating Factors: Poole grabs him, hurting him in the process, and forces a potion down his throat. "Like I said, it's time to see the Warden." The gardener/doctor transforms (painfully from the look of it) into the Warden, who, in fact, does not seem happy to be disturbed. Or to be injured. He throws Poole across the room. "You know the rules. No one hurts Dr. Jekyll. Except me."

    Resolution: The doctor hasn't been brave enough to come down here for some time, so Hyde (I'm just going to go ahead and call him that) reasons that he must think the prisoners can really help them if he risked it. Hyde wants out of this land too, so he's going to let the doctor carry out his plan with one slight change: They'll all go to Storybrooke.

    Spoiler: Dr. Jekyll still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

  • Plot Lightning Round

    The Greatest Story Ever Untold

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    Henry throws a hissy about how magic ruins everything. It's almost sweet, because mostly he's worried about losing Emma and Regina, like they've lost so many others. He doesn't reveal that he has the Grail, and Violet plays along. Regina tries a locator spell on Gold, but her magic is gone.

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    Hyde uses the wand to open a portal. He explains to Poole that he's "taking something that will give us the power we need."

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    Gold checks into a hotel. He places Belle's box on the bed (phrasing), when suddenly there's a tremor from a portal opening. Torn between grabbing the box and the crystal (though it looks like he could easily grab both), he goes for the crystal. The portal opens right under Belle-in-a-Box, which then falls into Hyde's hands.

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    The next morning, Jekyll wakes in a strait jacket to find a taunting note from Hyde and a seemingly drunk Poole. The wand is gone, but the cell key is there. He frees the others.

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    They all head into town, which Snow observes is "like all the realms at once." "You're closer than you think," says Jekyll. "This land is a refuge, filled with outcasts from all over. Each forced to flee their problems, each finding safe haven here.... The reasons are as varied as the populace." The Land of Untold Stories. Ah, yes, Jekyll and Hyde, that great untold story.

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    Emma gets a text from Granny telling her about the portal incident. (Regina: "Again??")

  • That Quote
    "I still have a fist. Gold still has a nose."
    - Regina -
  • Family Matters
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    Find Your Grail...On Second Thought, Don't

    Who's causing a family crisis? Rumple, followed by Henry.

    How? The Gozerian storm cloud over his hotel clues everyone in to Rumple's location, so Regina shows up in Gold's room, claiming she's working alone. She offers to help him wake Belle. "Looks like you could use the help of your best student." He points out that his best student is gone, "buried under layers of tasteful cotton and good intentions." She says she's willing to let the Evil Queen out to help Zelena. The Zelena news clues Rumple in to the fact that the Sorcerer's Wand was used to make the portal, so while he wasn't buying Regina's evil act (especially when Emma snuck in to steal the Crystal), they really can help each other.... By which he means he can swipe a stray hair of Zelena's off of Regina's coat and use it for his locator spell, then kill Regina and Emma.

    Which relatives have a problem with it? Henry, who bursts in and aims the Grail at Rumple. It sucks up his fireball. Then he turns it on the Crystal and it sucks the power out of it.

    Who has a problem with that? Rumple and Regina explain to Henry (who, to be a little fair, wasn't fully up to speed) exactly all the ways in which he is a dumbass. He's now trapped David, Snow, Hook, Zelena, and Belle-in-a-Box in some other land, and possibly destroyed Storybrooke, a town literally made of magic. He storms out and Violet follows.

    Whoops! Now what? Rumple says that one person may still have magic, and they'll have to work together. Regina goes with him and Emma goes to find Henry.

  • Fight! Fight! Fight!
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    Jekyll vs. Hyde

    Jekyll brings the gang back to his old apartment and shows them a serum used to separate the good and the evil in someone. It's missing an ingredient: the flowers he was cutting on the day they met him. Poole appears, having followed, and doses him with the original serum. Snow recognizes the story they're in. Zelena throws a fireball but Hyde just absorbs it.

    Hyde injects himself with the new serum. He and Jekyll separate. Hyde is about to kill Jekyll, but the gang comes back to save him. Killian pulls him off with his hook, Zelena zaps Poole, Snow knocks Hyde out with Poole's zappy gun, and David...comforts Jekyll.

    Winner: Jekyll, with an assist.

  • That Quote
    "Everyone sees their worst self differently. Some as a mirror image, others as a literal monster. However the mind conjures it."
    - Dr. Jekyll -
  • Plot Lightning Round

    A Wishing Well Of Crocodile Tears

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    Emma finds Henry at the fountain in front of the library because when they lived in New York it's where she'd always take him when he was upset. She'd give him a penny to throw in the fountain to wish his problems away. He mopes that that worked because he didn't know magic existed for real. He's suitably upset about having ruined everything.

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    Rumple tells Regina he can't partition off his bad side because he likes the darkness. Like him, the Evil Queen is who she is. "And the more you keep her locked inside, the more you're going to suffer." They visit a shop in Chinatown run by a man known as The Dragon, who's definitely not a cultural stereotype at all. "I'm afraid I'm not in the business of helping hearts filled with such darkness," he tells Rumple. "But you, you I will help. I see a noble battle deep inside your soul, Regina. And with that, I will do my best to aid you. It is imperative you win. For all of us." WE GET IT.

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    Everyone else joins them and the Dragon shows them the others in a Pensieve, but is unable to open a portal. But he tells them all there's more that they can do. "Just because the boy destroyed Storybrooke's magic doesn't mean there isn't any in this world.... There's magic anywhere if you're willing to see it."

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    Henry remembers making a wish at the fountain right before Hook came to take him and Emma back to Storybrooke. He's convinced the fountain is magic and was all along, they just have to believe. He takes them all back to the fountain to make a wish. "I wish we were reunited with our family." They all do it. The crystal glows, but it's not enough.

  • Alert!
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    Do You Hear The People -- Shut Up, Henry

    Alert Type: Clap If You Believe Alert.

    Issue: Henry climbs onto one of the library lions and declares to the "People of New York City" that his family is in trouble but they can all help, "with magic."

    Complicating Factors: Would you believe none? Because I don't. Look, I can get past this being Vancouver (at least they got a lion for the "library"), but not one person on Fifth Avenue would stop for this bullshit. But this is a fairy tale, so they all do, throwing their hard-earned change in the fountain and making apparently unspecified wishes.

    Resolution: Hyde has awakened and tracked the others to a dead-end alley in the other land, where coins start falling from the sky. Moments later, a portal opens up. Everyone, including Jekyll, very trustingly jumps right in. Hyde doesn't make it.

    Spoiler: In New York, the crowd applauds, thinking it was a performance. They don't really believe in magic. Not permanently anyway.

  • Meeting Time
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    Hydey-Ho

    Who called the meeting? Rumple.

    What's it about? He apparently slipped through the portal in the other direction, and he demands Hyde return Belle-in-a-Box. We still don't know how, but these two appear to have met before.

    How'd it go? Hyde says he can help wake her. Having been the Warden to so many from so many lands, he's picked up a few tricks.

  • Fight! Fight! Fight!
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    Regina vs. Evil Queen

    Regina tells Snow, yet again, that to keep the Evil Queen at bay she has to open herself up to a life of pain and suffering. She refers to the Evil Queen in the third person before correcting herself. I wonder if that's significant, Dr. Jekyll??

    In fact it is. Snow grabbed what was left of Jekyll's second serum, and now she offers it to Regina. Sure, because removing a huge chunk of your personality is always a great idea. Regina asks to be alone, but Snow and Emma insist on staying and helping.

    Snow injects Regina, who goes Full Shatner before splitting in two. Emma magics some chains onto the Evil Queen and tells Regina to destroy her. The Queen taunts her that she's too weak, but Regina says she's not, rips out the Queen's heart, and crushes it. The Evil Queen very dramatically turns to dust.

    Winner: Regina, sensible outfits.

  • Wrap It Up
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    Back in Storybrooke, Henry apologizes to Violet for making her miss the trip back to Camelot. But she reveals that her dad isn't actually from Camelot, "it's just a place he wound up in. He's originally from here, this land. From a place called Connecticut. He never felt at home in Camelot. He always said he was glad I was born there, because being a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's court is no great shakes. I don't know what great shakes are, but I do know that I like it here." Ow ow ow I hurt myself rolling my eyes. Henry kisses Violet.

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    Emma tells Killian she loves him. She wanted to say it "when we're not in the middle of a big battle or one of is facing death." Aw.

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    Regina tells Henry she feels free now that the Evil Queen is gone, then destroys the Crystal, returning magic to Storybrooke. Hyde appears, claiming to own the town, having traded it with Gold for "some information." He's brought some friends, but we won't get to see them until next season. "I've been looking for a place like this for quite some time. A land where all the world's lost and forgotten stories can play themselves out."

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    The dust that was the Evil Queen flies to Chinatown, where it reforms and rips out the Dragon's heart. Have these people learned nothing? You don't leave magical ashes just lying around! Enchant a Dyson or something! Oh well, if it means more Evil Queen drag outfits next season I am here for it!

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