ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 6, Episode 15 (A Wondrous Place)
The next six episodes feel like a run of tying up loose ends. A Wondrous Place finally concluded the Aladdin and Jasmine arc (and did a good job of it, I might add), making Jasmine into a heroic character as well as giving us a chance to see Ariel again. We find out that Ariel has been living happily with Prince Eric, and thus has had her “happy ending” so to speak; by the end of the episode, Aladdin and Jasmine are happy together in a restored Agrabah.
Also resolved is the misunderstanding between Hook and Emma, but Hook is still trapped in the Enchanted Forest as part of Gideon’s plan. Overall, this was an interesting episode that felt a bit rushed, shuffling a lot of characters offstage so that we don’t wonder about them anymore and can focus on our lead characters.
Episode 16 (Mother`s Little Helper)
Really could have been titled “The Giant Spider” – seriously, that is the most vivid portion of the episode. Finally, the Black Fairy reveals herself and manages to use Gideon to get herself to Storybrooke. Rumplestiltskin and Belle realise that their son is being used as a pawn, but can do little about it.
It was important to have some backstory about Gideon’s childhood and the hold that his grandmother has on him. Without this episode, the characters of Gideon and the Black Fairy would feel much more one-dimensional. We truly get to see how awful the Black Fairy’s realm is and how much of a diabolical villain she is. Does this excuse Gideon’s behaviour? Not entirely, but it gives it context. The fact that he is not any worse it testament to his inner strength of character. Whether or not he will be redeemed is yet to be determined, but it shows that he has the capability for it.
Episode 17 (Awake)
This episode basically concludes the story arc for Snow White and Prince Charming. We learn and/or remember how many sacrifices that they have made to help others throughout the series, including not escaping the cursed Storybrooke to be with their daughter, instead leaving her so that she would be able to help them and others in the future. In return, they are awakened from their alternating sleeping curse by having everyone whom they have helped, including their family and former enemies, drink the same potion to dilute it among so many of them.
Self-sacrifice is an important theme of this episode. Most of us do not have the luxury of knowing anything about our future. Certainly, if parents knew what trials and horrors their children might face in the future, they would do everything in their power to stop them from happening, but these same trials might be necessary for a greater purpose. The same with our own selves. Conversely, it would sometimes be good to know what the future held – that the same trials and horrors we have to face will lead to future good, giving us the courage to keep going.
Episode 18 (Where Bluebirds Fly)
Having resolved the Charmings arc, it is time to resolve Zelena’s. The Black Fairy tries to make use of Zelena’s unstable power and tries to separate Zelena from her sister. This ends up backfiring as Zelena realises that the only people that care about her are her family in Storybrooke, so she sacrifices her power to help them. Her power is like her security blanket that she finally burns, allowing herself to be vulnerable and unable to protect her daughter with magic, but trusting in her family to keep them safe.
This was a lovely resolution to Zelena’s storyline, but does make me wonder how they could really keep her character around much longer. Either she would escape to live a mortal life outside of Storybrooke, or she will be killed in the final battle.
Episode 19 (The Black Fairy)
Finally, we find out what happened to Rumplestiltskin’s mother! Unsurprisingly, considering that one of the themes of this series is that evil is made and not born, the Black Fairy did not start off as a diabolical character, or even as a fairy. Instead, in her madness to protect her son from his appointed fate, she made herself into his enemy, and then promptly cut him off from that fate – although he was instrumental in creating the saviour who would battle her, so he still had a role in fighting her. Instead, she turned into a villain hell-bent on separating children from their mothers just like she was separated from hers. Brilliant twist of a depiction of maternal love!
Of course, not only is this in itself tragic, but the Black Fairy completely forgot her love for her son’s father. She gave no thought to abandoning him. While Malcolm isn’t exactly sympathetic, knowing the villain he too would later become, I still felt very sorry for him. He genuinely loved his wife and wanted to have a family with her, but without her, he grew to hate their son. While we don’t know if he ever found out what happened to his wife and that she did not care about abandoning him, if he ever did, it would only make his villainy worse. Retroactively thinking of all his appearances in previous episodes, I understand what the writers were going for: even with all of his hatred toward his son, a part of Malcolm (later Peter Pan) did want that family that he lost. Being such a self-serving villain, however, he constantly had the wrong idea about how to get it.
As does Rumplestiltskin…
Episode 20 (The Song in Your Heart)
Finally, we come to the musical episode! In terms of music, it was better than I expected. The songs were worked into the plot well and the story felt like a joyful retrospective on the series: the Charmings as the saccharinely sweet couple with the power of True Love; Regina in her Evil Queen glory; Captain Hook as a pirate hell-bent on revenge; Zelena as a whiny but powerful witch; and the background characters being their usual fun selves. Emma realises that she can defeat the Black Fairy and decides to stop running.
The episode concludes with a wonderful wedding that would have served as an excellent finale for the series…except that the Black Fairy still has one more dark curse up her sleeve. Without that added little plot, this could have served as a series finale. Apart from Rumplestiltskin, Belle, and Gideon, (and the Black Fairy), everyone’s storyline has been resolved. Emma and Hook are together; Regina and Zelena have reconciled; Snow and Charming can finally raise their son knowing their daughter is at peace; and Henry is perhaps finally able to have a normal life. The other characters are in good places, wherever they are.
Leaving me wondering how they are going to undo it all in the finale…