Monday, April 17, 2017

Once Upon A Time 6x17 Review: “Awake” (Clean Slate) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

Original Airdate: April 16, 2017

A missing part of backstory that no one knew was missing takes center stage in the latest episode of Once Upon A Time. Coupled with some tied up storylines, the appearance of town favorites, and special reunions, “Awake” lives up to its name, as this was the first time in weeks I knew exactly what was going on. This episode truly cleans the messy slate this season has conjured up, which should allow the last few episodes of the season to play out easier leading up to the final showdown.


If the history of OUAT has confused you in the past, then you are not alone. After countless curses and endless interpretations of the same stories, it is very difficult to discern what has actually happened and in which timeline. This episode adds to the confusion for about three quarters of its run time, as flashbacks to the time of the first Dark Curse aren’t discernible as true. Thanks in part to Rumple coming to the rescue of the audience, it is revealed that Snow White, Prince Charming, and Rumple all woke up ten years into the curse due to a magic pixie flower. For this section, “awake” refers to characters being aware that they were cursed and knowing their true identities.

In this new secret past, Snow helps Charming escape the hospital after he wakes up from being in a coma. Regina immediately knows that something is up, as she is the only person truly awake at this time. Snow and Charming know that they need to find Emma to break the curse, but Rumple warns them that if they go and reunite with ten-year-old Emma, the rest of the town will be cursed forever. In order for Emma to become the savior, Snow and Charming must make the ultimate selfless sacrifice and go back “asleep” for the next eighteen years. The real question is: is it really selfless to save the town in this manner if they ruined twenty-eight years of Emma’s life?

The flashbacks were very interesting because of the dynamic of only a few characters knowing what was really going on. A mix of dazed and confused town residents and the four awoken characters was the exact parallel to how the audience was supposed to respond to the sequences, before the truth about the time period and the events actually took place was revealed later in the episode. It also helps remind us all that there are so many untold stories left in this story world.


The biggest plot points to surface from the episode are the new beginnings for just about all of the characters. First up, Hook pairs up with Tiger Lily in Neverland to get a piece of a powerful weapon back to Emma. A round of applause goes out to the casting department for casting Native American actress Sara Tomko in the role instead of white washing the role like Warner Bros. did for Pan in 2015. Bringing the Neverland theme full circle, Hook sends his shadow to cross realms to bring the magic stick back to Emma. Yes, the weapon is a stick that apparently is part of a greater wand that may or may not be able to kill the Dark Fairy.

Meanwhile, Emma and Snow have hunted down a pixie flower and plan to use it to break the sleeping curse that is about to completely engulf Snow and Charming. Shadow Hook brings his special delivery just in time, which forces Snow to give up the magic flower to Emma to help her get Hook back. The flower dust allows a portal to open, which makes more sense when watching the episode, and Emma arrives in Neverland in enough time to save Hook’s life. Their reunion came at a good time, because it would have been hard to keep up the charade for much longer. The reunion starts a new beginning for the estranged couple when Hook proposes to Emma, and she very happily says yes this time around.

The happy couple inspires Regina to try another way to break the sleeping curse that has now taken hold of both Snow and Charming. She rounds up the rest of the beloved town folk and spreads the sleeping curse through everyone in order to weaken its power. Everyone drinks from the same never-ending cup, and their bout of good team spirit leads to the curse breaking. It was good to see the supporting characters back again, as they haven’t really shown up much this season. Now that everyone is out of a curse and back together, the series has a clean slate to work with for the rest of the season.


The most surprising realization to come out of the episode is that Rumple was not awake during the entire Dark Curse, as was previously implied. When we first meet Rumple at the beginning of the series, he is definitely aware of who he is and tries his best to blend in to stay out of sight of Regina. The character becomes more interesting when he decides to go back asleep with Snow and Charming ten years into the Dark Curse because he knows he will wake up again when the time is right. For a character that thrives on control, it was different to see him take a backseat approach.

Rumple still knew everything during the Dark Curse, and he displays his omnipotence by putting the Dark Fairy in her place in current time. She somehow underestimates her son, and clearly doesn’t know him well based on the conversation they have at the end of the episode. Rumple manages to figure out that his mother is controlling Gideon through the possession of his heart. I still don’t know how he learns small details, but he must have eyes and ears everywhere, unbeknownst to literally everyone. How Rumple will use the newly uncovered truth is still to be determined. He has the choice to help the good guys, like he currently is, or turn to his birth family and embrace his darkness. Knowing Rumple, the decision will probably be a little bit of both, and the winning side will be whichever benefits him more in the end.


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