ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 6, Episodes 21 & 22 (The Final Battle – Parts 1 & 2)
If this was how the story had ended, it would have indeed been satisfying. But true to the fact that every story has a happy ending if you stop it at the right place, the book ended on a note of hope – the adult characters were in their right minds and the young characters were safe to grow up. Everyone was a happy family – but since time marches on, the story cannot really end. It just picks a nice place to stop.
For how hyped it was, the final battle was not so much physical as it was mental and spiritual. The themes of the series have always been belief, hope, and love – in that order. The first one – belief – has often been set aside in favour of the latter two because it is essential to appreciating the story. However, without belief, this is simply a nonsense story about fairy tale characters.
The Black Fairy’s plan is thus to make Emma believe that it was indeed all nonsense. In doing so, the rest of main characters will be obliterated from existence and the Black Fairy thinks she will able to have supreme power. I am not sure if her plan would actually have worked, but she did not count on Henry’s determination or her own son’s desperation. Henry tries to take on the Black Fairy himself, even if Emma refuses to believe him; Rumplestiltskin realises that his mother double-crossed him by separating him from Belle and insists on getting her back and freeing Gideon from the Black Fairy’s stranglehold. Like grandfather, like grandson – resulting in the Black Fairy’s demise and Emma’s willingness to give credence to Henry’s story.
Unfortunately, the rest of the cast gets shoved aside as they try to help both themselves and Emma, but are ultimately trapped. It led to some excellent character moments – Charming and Hook going on one last quest together; Snow not letting her husband get left behind; Regina working with her Evil Queen counterpart to try to magic their way back to Storybrooke; and gradually everyone realising that they are doomed, with the Evil Queen sacrificing herself to give the others more time to escape. Had these scenes been cut, the main plot would have been unaffected – but the audience needed these scenes. Otherwise, our favourite characters would have been trapped in a book for over an hour. For all their being heroes or villains, they were powerless to save themselves.
Not only was Emma’s belief tested, but also Rumplestiltskin’s. He was tempted first by his mother and then by his own dark conscience to give in to his lust for power, but he was able to throw off this temptation. He believed in his own inner strength and trusted that doing what was right for Gideon and the greater good would also be what was right for him. He did not know what the outcome of his actions would actually be, but he knew that he had to try.
The actual physical sword battle, such as it was, was fairly short. Emma realised that she could not kill Gideon, even in self-defense, and so she sacrificed herself. Again, she had no knowledge that she could be revived or that Gideon would be redeemed through her actions, but she did so anyway.
The story briefly picked up twenty years later – promising new adventures and more stories. After all, twenty years is a long time! There will be lots to catch up with.
But for now, pass the rum, lasagna, and cinnamon cocoa, and put the book back on the shelf.