Sunday, May 20, 2018

Once Upon A Time 7x22 Review: “Leaving Storybrooke” (The End) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“Leaving Storybrooke”
Original May 18, 2018

Oncers, the day that the storybook closes one last time is upon us. After seven years and 156 episodes, it’s time to say goodbye to our beloved fairytale characters. It wouldn’t be a proper farewell without the original cast coming back as special guest stars to bring everything full circle. Over the past seven years, I have been lucky enough to watch every episode of Once Upon A Time and watch new and old fairytales come to life in a way I have never seen before and will likely never see again. The way that creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz were able to beautifully craft a narrative that combined reality and fantasy was truly captivating television. For the first few years, you never quite knew who a character was, both personality — and identity — wise. They created new stories in their vision to showcase the powerful messages of hope, belief, and the true magic in reality. And while we now have to turn the last page of this story, these characters will forever live on.


The series finale opens where the penultimate episode left off: Alice and Robin arrive in the Rollin’ Bayou food truck in Storybrooke. They immediately run into Granny, Archie, and the dwarves, who think that they are intruders telling false tales. I don’t blame them for not believing the crazy story, but they find someone who just might be able to help them. Alice and Robin think that Regina is pulling up in her car, but it turns out that Zelena and five-year-old Robin are in the car. After Robin gets the shock of seeing her younger self and her mother, she convinces Zelena that they are real and need everyone’s help to stop Wish Rumple. They plan on using a magic bean to get back to the Wish Realm, and it is a clear point when the audience doesn’t get to see the travels.

In the Wish Realm, Henry, Rumple, and Hook appear in the snow globe and are reunited with Ella and Lucy. Rumple reveals that Wish Rumple used the author’s power to do more than he bargained for and stripped Rumple of his immortality and powers. With Rumple no longer being the Dark One, he is pretty much useless in the fight against his other self. Just as Rumple calls Hook his friend as they are trying to break out of the snow globe, Maui’s fishhook (from Moana) appears out of thin air and allows them to break the glass. The group is free and reunite with Alice, Robin, and Zelena. Robin and Hook run off to find a way into Wish Henry’s palace, and Robin asks Hook for his blessing to propose to Alice. It is a very happy moment when Hook gives her his blessing. A not-so-happy moment also occurs when Rumple takes some alone time to have an emotional breakdown about not being able to get back to Belle.

Meanwhile, Regina is being held hostage by Wish Henry, who is still hellbent on killing her as revenge for the deaths of Wish Snow White and Wish Prince Charming. Regina tries to talk Wish Henry out of his murderous ways and tells him how this isn’t the person he is. Of course, this fails miserably and ends with Regina being shackled in the cave prison that held Rumple for many years in the Enchanted Forest. While Regina is being held prisoner, she has a very real dream in which she shares a tender moment with her Robin. It was really nice to hear Robin give Regina a speech that embodied the spirit of the series. My favorite line of his was when he told her, “Your life is proof that no one’s path is set.” This is a core point that the series made time and time again, as the four main villains throughout the series all became heroes in the end.

Regina eventually snaps out of her dream and wakes up in the cave prison with Robin’s red feather in her hand. Interpret that however you will, but that wasn’t quite a dream sequence. Out of nowhere, adult Henry comes to free Regina, but is thwarted by the palace guards in the classic black full body armor suits. Henry decides it’s a good idea to fight with his fists while the guards attack with swords. Right when it appears that Henry’s fate is sealed, an arrow comes flying from the back of the cave and takes out the guard choking out Henry. Two guards go rogue, take out the other guard, and then take off their helmets to reveal that they are none other than Snow White and Prince Charming! These two made quite an entrance that put an instant smile on my face.


With Regina free, Snow and Charming call a meeting for everyone in the famous War Room for one last session. All of our characters that we have seen in the Wish Realm this episode thus far gather at the table to discuss Wish Rumple’s plan of creating new storybooks that contain individual stories of personal hells for each character. Wish Rumple wants to use Wish Henry to power the books and trap all the characters in the least happiest places for each of them, which isn’t a terrible plan.

Snow gives the most wonderful quote of the night during this scene, which also perfectly sums up the series: “They need to be reminded not to lose hope. If Rumple succeeds, he thinks everyone will be lost for good, but I don’t believe that. Charming and I have always been able to find each other, and I refuse to believe we are the only ones. With love in their hearts — with hope — anyone can do it. They just have to believe that no one would be able to pull them apart forever.”

At this point in the episode, the scene changes to Regina meeting Wish Henry outside the castle gates to try yet again to talk him out of getting his revenge. It works just as well as the first time, and Wish Henry starts a sword duel with Regina. The choreography was a lot of fun to watch, as was this mother-son moment. Regina tries to talk Wish Henry down for a third time and actually manages to break through when he disarms her and goes for the kill. Regina is set to sacrifice herself for him, which is enough for Wish Henry to stop.

Meanwhile, Wish Rumple has appeared in front of the rest of the group and tries to enact his spell to send them all into their new storybooks. To prevent Alice from flying into her book, Hook manages to get to her and grab her hand. Since his spell has yet to be broken, saving his daughter means imminent death for Hook, who is more than happy to give the ultimate sacrifice for his daughter. However, at that moment, Wish Henry gives up his fight with Regina which stops Wish Rumple’s spell. In the end, it is Rumple who makes the selfless ultimate sacrifice and rips his heart out to give it to Hook so that he may live. The move is preceded by a great speech about what it means to be a changed person and how he has evolved. Rumple proves his hero status by giving his life for Hook’s, which gives his blackened heart a clean slate. Rumple’s sacrifice also kills all the other versions of himself, so he saves everyone in the process.

When the series first started, I never thought I would say that I would shed a few tears when Rumple died. The emotional moment only gets worse when Regina gets to the room moments after Rumple dies and says goodbye to him. Then, the emotions hit overdrive when Rumple reunites with Belle in the afterlife in one last tear-jerking Beauty and the Beast montage that is beyond perfection and words. Just knowing that Rumple was able to find redemption and his happy ending is enough for me.


With Wish Rumple (and regular Rumple) dead and Wish Henry turned good, the only thing left is to get everyone back home. Regina has an idea that might be crazy enough to work: she wants to create another curse, but instead of crushing the heart of the person she loves most, she wants everyone to give up a tiny piece of themselves to create enough magic to bring all of the fairytale realms together. The plan is bonkers, but it brings every realm and character together into one giant, new realm. And everyone gets their happy ending. Regina gets the best ending when Zelena and the Henrys surprise her with a celebration party and coronation.

All of the characters are gathered in the Enchanted Forest’s church — which is where the series started — for the final scene. Snow White and Prince Charming, with little Prince Neal at their side, declare that everyone has decided Regina should be named Queen of the new realm. Regina is overcome by emotion and with the fact that everyone has finally accepted her, but for the right reasons this time. Right before accepting the crown, Emma and Hook bust through the doors, carrying their baby daughter Hope. Emma and Regina share one last moment together that helps bring the series full circle. Regina accepts the crown, followed by a beautiful montage of the highlights of the series.

While the montage rolls, Regina says, “I refuse to believe there won’t be more adventures, more love, more family. And yes, there will be more loss because that’s just a part of life. And in the end, we can get past it all with hope.” That’s how the story ends, with happily forever after written all over it!

I couldn’t be happier at the way Once Upon A Time wrapped up, even though it is a bittersweet moment. From all the fans, I would like to say thank you to Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis for writing/creating the perfect finale and a wonderful series and thank you to ABC for allowing this show to air for the past seven years. It has been a pleasure to watch, cry, and embrace Once Upon A Time and bring some hope and magic into my life.

The End.


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