Finally, after months of questions and character suffering, the first season finale of Once Upon a Time has come and gone. After last week’s dramatic ending of Henry eating the cursed apple turnover (this show feels ridiculous when I try to explain it), the battle between Emma and Regina came to a head.
Now that Henry’s been cursed, Emma finally sees that the curse is real. She overcomes her fear of being the “savior” in favor of focusing on saving Henry, which means teaming up with and equally distraught Regina. The two demand Mr. Gold’s help, and he admits to having a vial of True Love, the only substance that can break any curse, that he had hidden before leaving the Magical World. Flashbacks reveal that after Charming escaped from the Evil Queen (and a cameo by the late Sheriff Graham as the Huntsman he evades), Rumplestiltskin appeared with an offer. He would give Charming an enchanted ring that would lead him to Snow in exchange for Charming taking the bottle of True Love and putting into the belly of “the beast.” Long-time Disney fans around the world can now rejoice in seeing the return of OUAT’s Maleficent who becomes, as she did in Sleeping Beauty, a dragon. Regina admitted to cursing Maleficent to stay in her dragon form and trapping her beneath the city, sending Emma down a hidden elevator beneath the clock tower on her quest.
Before going off on her dragon-slaying adventure, OUAT ambles a bit to fit in as many returning characters as possible. David tries again to apologize to Mary Margaret, telling her that he plans to move to Boston, but she cannot forgive him for his stupid decisions, leaving him to shed a single manly tear. Emma and Regina visit Henry at the hospital and both apologize to his comatose body. After Emma leaves, Regina is visited by Jefferson who demands what he had been promised: his daughter. But since Emma is still walking and Henry is dying, Regina is not in a giving mood. She calls Jefferson out, saying he doesn’t have it in him to kill her before she also leaves. But he won’t give up that easily. When Henry’s vitals begin to fail, Jefferson sneaks to the basement of the hospital and releases Belle, telling her to find Mr. Gold and explain that Regina had her locked up. Since he cannot seem to kill Regina, he is ensuring a capable person will. Finally, Emma visits August to ask for his help, but he is almost all wooden now. But because she finally believes in the curse, she can see it this time. He tells her once more that he knows she can break the curse before completely turning back into a puppet. Obviously having any sexual tension with Emma in this show will get you killed.
One of the highlights of the episode was the parallel dragon battles. As Charming fought to get the bottle into the dragon, Emma, armed with her father’s sword from Gold, fought to retrieve the same bottle. Of course, Charming has more experience with dragons and finished his task fairly easily. But Emma has some issues, losing the sword and resorting to shooting at the dragon. Finally, she retrieves the sword, throws it at the dragon’s throat, and vanquishes her.
In the Magical World, Charming gets the ring from Rumple, who also acts as fairy-godmother and dresses the prince in the fancy clothes he wore in the pilot episode. Charming then rides off and finds Snow, repeating the kissing scene from the first episode and reuniting the lovers. We get more after the kiss this time, in the form of Charming proposing and the two deciding that they will take back the kingdoms from his father and her stepmother. This is why I love this couple: they are two badasses in love.
After Emma kills the dragon, Mr. Gold tricks her into handing over the bottle. Before She and Regina can race after him, they are both called by the hospital. They arrive too late; Henry has died. Instead of crying over the dead ten-year-old like his mothers did, I got really mad. Why doesn’t Emma’s parental love count as True Love? But I spoke too soon, because a moment later she whispered, “I love you” as she kissed his forehead and lo and behold, Henry woke up! Not only that, but by breaking the curse on Henry, Emma actually broke The Curse: all over town the people of Storybrooke were affected, each remembering who they really were. This included the people in the hospital room, who threatened Regina. The Queen, angry at the broken curse but relieved for Henry, told her son that no matter what anyone said she loved him, before running from the room.
Back in Mr. Gold’s shop, as he is admiring the bottle of True Love, he hears someone come inside. It’s Belle! Even though she doesn’t remember him, she does deliver the message that Regina had trapped her. Of course Gold didn’t seem to hear much of that, he was too busy crying and hugging her, promising to protect her.
As the Curse began breaking over town, we got to see some of our favorite couples reunited. This, of course, included the central couple. After locking eyes across the street and calling each others’ names, Charming and Snow ran towards each other and were finally reunited. It was about time, too. As much as I love Snow and Charming, I hated David and Mary Margaret.
And taking a walk in the woods, Belle finally remembered Rumplestiltskin, the two embracing and declaring their love for one another before Rumple explained that they had something important to do. He brought them to the well with the power to return what on has lost and dropped the bottle of True Love inside, causing purple smoke to rush out of it.
Though the Curse was partially broken and the lovers have been reunited, all is not well. Rumple explains that the purple smoke means magic is being brought into the world, because “magic is power.” As the smoke slowly envelopes the town, Henry and Emma wonder why the townspeople hadn’t returned to their own world while Regina smiles at the oncoming cloud and Snow and Charming clutch each other as the town is consumed.