The sixth season of Once Upon A Time, true to form, started immediately after the end of last season’s finale. Mr. Hyde has brought hundreds of characters from the Land of Untold Stories that our main characters will now have to deal with. Belle is under a sleeping curse. Regina and the Evil Queen are two separate entities. Emma and Hook want to have a bit of time to themselves…
Well, to start with, Belle is woken from the curse, but the kiss of true love is from a very unexpected source. She proceeds to leave Rumplestiltskin for her child’s good, rather than falling for his charms again. Rumplestiltskin accepts defeat – at least for now.
Unlike in previous seasons, Mr. Hyde is easily defeated and imprisoned (although it remains to be seen if he stays there). He has served his purpose to bring a whole load of new characters to Storybrooke (many of whom do not want to be there) and to generally be creepy and sow the seeds of doubt in Emma’s mind.
The Savior focuses on Emma, who begins having strange, paralyzing visions. These visions herald her own demise at the hand of a hooded figure, and both Mr. Hyde and an Oracle confirm that she will die this way, unable to save her family. There is a bit of realism to this plot, since all of the trauma that Emma has been through would undoubtedly take a mental toll on her, particularly when she is stressed. It is also the case that eventually, you cannot save everyone. Emma has been called a savior, and we learn that others have been called such before her, but one of the unfortunate side effects of being a savior is that one is constantly drawn to saving others. Emma is mortal – it is inevitable that she will die, and likely by a particularly strong villain. It is even likely that her family will be present and they will be in Storybrooke. While they are their current ages in her visions, that is not a guarantee that this vision will come to pass anytime soon – although Emma thinks it is. Perhaps the writers want us to think so too?
A Bitter Draught has the Evil Queen revealing her continued existence to Regina and focuses on the evolving relationship between Regina and Snow White. The Count of Monte Cristo shows up in the present, controlled by the Evil Queen and still determined to kill Snow; in the past, we learn that he was contracted to do so by the Evil Queen, but was prevented from doing so by Rumplestiltskin and fled to the Land of Untold Stories to prevent his love interest from dying. Thanks to Mr. Hyde, the love interest is now gone, and the Count is an empty shell. Regina is unable to help him and ends up having to kill him to save her stepdaughter. The Evil Queen taunts her about this, leading Regina to question her heroism.
Unfortunately, to be the hero is exactly what Regina did, because she used killing as the last resort. Just because it is the last resort does not mean it is unwarranted. She tried to take another course of action, but that did not work.
These first two episodes set up the main storylines for the season and we are apparently in for a run of episodes featuring one-off stories, similar to the first season. This should be a refreshing change and hopefully there will be more development for the main characters. We can also meet many new characters and see more stories without getting too bogged down in them.