Once Upon A Time – Season 6 Finale Recap: Happy Endings & A Beginning

I don’t believe I have ever, ever felt this kind of trepidation about a freaking TV show. If I were the type to care about my nails, I’d be pissed at how I’ve chewed them to ragged nubs, but damn. This season finale is like a ticking time bomb and I’m not sure where the shrapnel will hit. But we press on, and begin our evening in what looks like The Enchanted Forest, where a young father is running from something evil.


He bursts into a home, where he urges a young girl to wake up and bring the book – the story book, to be specific. He tells her to get to safety and share the stories. She vows to protect the book with her life, and goes. The door bursts open and Dad grabs his sword.

Forward now to the rooftop of Granny’s,  where Henry is slowly waking up. There’s no trace of the wedding party. The clocktower is intact, and life looks otherwise normal. He runs into Archie, who has reverted to his cursed self, and learns that his mother – Emma, that is – is in the mental hospital.

Nurse Ratched brings Henry in to see her, and oh, look – there’s the apprentice! Wait. Didn’t he die?


Emma refuses to believe anything Henry is saying. She thinks the last years have been a psychotic delusion and she wants to forget it all and get well so she can be with Henry again. He shows her the page he wrote with the runes on it, explaining to her that they hold the secret of how to win the final battle.


Big surprise! Fiona (a.k.a. the Black Fairy) is mayor, and Henry’s adoptive mother. He plays dumb for her, and she confiscates the story book. Before he leaves, he whispers to Emma that whatever Fiona wants her to do, she shouldn’t do it. Emma eyes Fiona warily, especially when Fiona insists that Emma take her medication. I’m loving Fiona, here. She’s got a seriously creepy Dolores Umbridge sweetness to her. Sooo darkly icky.

Snow, meanwhile, wakes up in the Enchanted Forest with David, baby Neal (Wow! They actually have baby Neal!), Killian, and Regina.

Killian begins seething instantly, and they come to the realization that they’re all stuck in a realm away from Emma, as she prepares for her (gasp) final battle. Some viewers of the show were drinking every time they heard the words “Final Battle”, but you would have needed a drink about this size for that:


In Storybrooke, Fiona and Archie are discussing Henry’s story book obsession with Emma. Fiona suggests that Emma might want to go back to Boston, and take Henry with her. She also tells Emma to burn the book, to demonstrate that she’s embracing reality now.

Emma balks – she knows what the book means to Henry, and she doesn’t want to crush his dreams. Fiona looks into a mirror on Emma’s wall as she makes her putrid suggestions, and it turns out the mirror that connects to Snow’s castle via magic. She’s taunting them, letting them know what she’s done to Emma.

Into Snow’s castle walks Zelena, who escaped OZ with the mad hatter’s hat – he had a bunch of them, don’t you know? Sure he did.


Zelena had to escape Oz because it’s disappearing. As the savior’s belief fades, so will all the realms within the book. The final battle is for Emma’s very soul, for her belief in magic, and that belief is the only thing that will save them.

Back to Storybrooke, and a close up on a vehicle at curb level and what turns out to be Fiona’s leg. Damn, I was hoping for a cop car door and Sheriff Graham. A girl can dream, right? After all, he was dead, too.

Fiona heads into Gold’s to check on “her boys”, and we learn that Rumple has lost Belle.  Gideon is apparently pretty bitter about it, too, blaming her for abandoning them. Rumple refuses to believe that’s what happened. He finds Belle’s copy of Her Handsome Hero, with it’s loving inscription, and tries to use it to sway Gideon’s opinion, but he’s not on board.


Back inside the hatter’s hat, people of all realms, including Jasmine and Aladdin, are pouring through the portal doors as refugees from their disappearing realms. It’s clear we’re in a race against time. Killian has a theory as to how to get to Emma. Regina waves him off, choosing to head back to her own castle, so he takes off on his own.

Killian finds the beanstalk, and plans to climb it and hopefully find a magic bean. David shows up, and he’s not entirely sure this is a good idea. This sends Killian into a lovely seethe, where he schools David about the nature of love. Just watch the clip. Killian’s speech is one for the ages:

Oh God, what a beautiful moment. Some people get really lucky in love, and they have no idea what it’s like to have the despair of feeling like you’ll never find love for yourself. And hearing Killian call Emma “wife” – oh, it just does something to me. Anyway, David tells Killian to calm his raging love boner, because he’s there to support him. They climb the beanstalk together.

Back in Storybrooke, we see a lovely callback to season three (or Terminator 2, whichever you’d rather), with Emma doing chin-ups in her cell. Henry shows up to to break her out, proclaiming it “Operation Cuckoo’s Nest.” They should have at least let the Chief throw a water fountain out a window or something to help them out. Missed an opportunity, there.


Henry takes Emma to the rooftop of Granny’s to remind her of her wedding day. Emma gets brief flashes of Killian and her family, but it’s not enough to convince her as she doubts her own mind. Emma tells Henry she’s going to Boston to lay low, and Henry agrees to help her leave if she waits until dark.

He heads back to the Mayor’s office and finds the story book but it’s too late. Fiona steps in and she’s wise to the fact that he’s not under a curse. She pushes Henry down the stairs just before Rumple shows up and asks Fiona to re-open the investigation into Belle’s disappearance.

He’s firm in his belief that Belle would never abandon her child. Fiona confesses to him that she’s been holding back some information. Belle is living happy, traveling the world, and she has proof in some badly photoshopped pictures. Rumple appears shaken.


Fiona finds Henry’s gibberish sheet in the story book and coos, “Oh Henry, what do you know?” She then confronts Emma at the hospital, telling her that Henry stole the book and even shows her doctored video footage of him falling (and not being pushed as he asserts) as proof of Henry’s delusions – which are somehow all Emma’s fault.

Henry demands that Emma touch the story book and is dismayed when she does and it does nothing to her. We get another callback as Emma tells him that “Just because you  believe something doesn’t make it true.”

“That’s exactly what makes it true,” he says (yet again). Emma is still unswayed, and leaves with a smugly smiling Fiona to burn the book.

Meanwhile, in Regina’s castle, she and Zelena are looking through her potions cabinet only to find most of her stuff is gone. In strolls the Evil Queen, who escaped the wishverse realm since the villagers were out to get her for murdering the Charmings. She’s brought Robin along and now they’re stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. She agrees to lend a hand and help them get back where they belong.

Over at the top of the beanstalk, it looks like someone is in residence in Anton’s castle. Killian and David are fighting over who’s going to climb the table and look for a bean – a rather silly and pointless fight just so we can hear David say a goofy line. I loved it. Killian’s face is priceless:


“I’m gonna trust my son . . . in law.”

Sure enough, there’s a magic bean plant, and Killian grabs the bean just as the floor begins to shake and a dragon swoops down at them, blowing fire. They run like hell for the beanstalk, and I’m clapping with glee because Lilly! Except it’s not. The dead get to come back, but not her. Whatever.

Over in the rest of the universe, realms begin to shake as Emma stares into the furnace (with a gloating Fiona over her shoulder), and she tosses the book in. Pages flip and she sees Hook’s face as the book crumples in flame. Darkness begins to take over the realms.

And away we go to the second half, folks. So far, I’m not hyperventilating and I’m ready to jack-smack Emma. Where’s her damn backbone? Even before she was the savior, Emma treated everyone with a healthy dose of cautious cynicism. Why is she just rolling over for Fiona Umbridge? I don’t like it. Not in character, even if she is cursed. Oh well, onward.

We once again see the little girl from the opening of last episode, wandering the forest with the story book. She finds the remnants of her home and her father’s battered sword. Tiger Lilly appears to take her and the book to safety, vowing to reunite the girl with her mother. She also reminds the young girl to never lose hope.

On to Storybrooke now, where a ridiculously gooey Fiona presents Henry with the plateful of ashes that used to be the story book. He vows to stop her, and Fiona tells him it’s nearly too late. The realms are disappearing due to Emma’s lack of belief.


To illustrate that, Killian and David are struggling on the now-violently shaking beanstalk, and Killian falls. A moment later, the whole beanstalk collapses. Snow realizes something’s wrong – she felt her joined heart leap as David fell. Jasmine summons the flying carpet and together they find Hook (who calls her mummy – so freaking cute), but there’s no sign of David.

Snow sends Killian to get Emma as she continues to search for her husband. After walking the length of the beanstalk she finds David’s body, kissing him back to life.


Back in our realm, Henry is still insisting that Emma believe but it’s falling on deaf ears. She’s leaving Storybrooke and that’s that. Just up and abandoning her son. She kisses Henry goodbye and drives off to Boston in the yellow bug because she is Emma Milquetoast and runs out on her kid.


Then we see Emma back at the Boston apartment (which is apparently under the same magic spell as Neal’s New York apartment, with no one living in it and perpetual utilities), staring at a composition book that slid out of her bag. Henry has  rewritten the story book, complete with his crude drawings.

Over in the Enchanted Forest, it turns out Killian’s adventure has been for naught. The magic bean is turning black because Emma’s lack of belief is sapping its power. Zelena suggests that Regina and the Evil Queen team up – perhaps the two of them can recharge the bean together. As everyone heads for the safety of the center of the castle, the Evil Queen plans to use her magic to hold off the darkness so that Regina can have time to activate the bean, even though it will surely kill her.

Back in Storybrooke, Henry arrives in Gold’s shop. He knows Rumple is awake, and it turns out Rumple has been pretending since he doesn’t trust his mother. He knows Belle is in Storybrooke and is determined to find her. Rumple tells Henry that he’s on his own, so Henry asks for a magic mirror, and David’s sword. Henry uses the magic mirror to let everyone in the other realm know he’s going after The Black Fairy himself.


Henry heads down main street with the sword in his hand as everyone in the other realm holds hands and faces the gathering darkness.

Suddenly, Emma shows up! She found Henry’s makeshift book. She’s not sure she’s the savior, but that’s who she wants to be, and she’s willing to believe. We see the turmoil stop in the other realm at her pronouncement, and everyone’s huddled on a bit of crumbling castle.

Across town, Rumple has enchanted Belle’s copy of Her Handsome Hero, and it leads him to a house, where a terrified Belle lives as a recluse and doesn’t know him. He explains what’s happened, and vows to make the Black Fairy pay.

The Black Fairy shows up at the shop demanding her wand, and a clueless Gideon has no idea what’s going on. “Despite what your father thinks, I still have your heart,” she says. It turns out the runes Henry scribbled are an ancient language, long-lost to time and she needs the wand to transcribe it. She touches the wand to the paper, deciphering the key to winning the final battle.

Rumple walks in and tips his hand, revealing that he’s awake. Fiona begs him to let her finish this. She’ll have unchecked powers – not even the laws of magic will apply to her. She would be able to force Belle and Gideon to love Rumple, and even bring back the dead, promising to reunite him with Baelfire.

Rumple reminds her that all magic comes with a price as he hugs her, then takes the wand from her. She lets him know that she’s commanded Gideon to kill the savior and not even her death can stop that. He doesn’t give a flying rat’s ass, and turns her to dust a la Voldemort, breaking her dark curse.


Belle runs in to find that Rumple has now officially murdered both his parents. He’s also determined to save his son. Rumple and Belle head to the mines to find Gideon’s heart.

And there’s Gideon, ready to take Emma down the second she gets her memories back. They meet in the mayor’s office, but before they can start fighting, Henry knocks Gideon over the head with a fire extinguisher, giving Emma enough time to seal him in with a protection spell – but it won’t hold him long.

They race out into the street just as everyone poofs back into town. Emma reunites with Killian, remarking, “Some honeymoon, huh?”


It turns out the Black Fairy has planned this well. If Gideon kills Emma, darkness takes over. If she kills him, it’ll darken her heart. Which is already darkened after she killed Cruella in season four. But this will be dark-dark or something. Like, double-extra dark.

The point is, no matter what, darkness wins. Regina pulls her aside to remind her there’s always a way around. She encourages Emma not to give up hope and to trust herself. Then Gideon shows up and puts his sword to Snow’s throat.

Down in the mines, Rumple has found Gideon’s real heart and is about to order Gideon not to kill Emma, when his dark self shows up to talk him out of it. Rumple wars with himself, as the darkest part of him teases and tantalizes.


In the end, he does the right thing. He orders Gideon to stop, but the heart dims and evil Rumple lets him know (with a trademark giggle) that it’s not going to be that easy.

Up on the street, Emma is battling for her life, shouting out empowering lines you will no doubt see on #MondayMotivation memes on Twitter tomorrow.

“I have hope, I have light! I will do what all saviors must! I will give hope, no matter what the cost!” She throws down her sword, sacrificing herself. Gideon apologizes as stabs her but good, and a blinding light erupts from Emma’s core. I half-expected her to fly up in the air and turn in a slow circle, but they left her on the ground.

Emma lies dead in the street, and Henry – in yet another callback – kisses her back to life.


Rumple lets Belle know that he made the right choice but failed anyway. She holds him close and they hear a baby cry. Gideon has been restored to his proper age.

The story book appears in the middle of Main Street, whole and new. “When Good and Evil did the right thing, faith was restored. The final battle was won,” it reads.

They’ve reached end of the book, but Snow refuses to see it as the end. Instead, she uses a callback to paint their new beginning:

“Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing,” she says. “Living with that belief is the most powerful thing of all.”

And with that blinding bit of hope as a segue, we get what we’ve all been waiting for: Everyone’s happy ending.

This dissolves into a love fest at Granny’s, ending with them literally breaking bread in a Last Supper-esque tableau that suddenly appears in a brand-new Story book.


And with all this peace, contentment and happiness bubbling up inside, we move to Seattle, “Years Later.” A bus carries the young girl we saw at the beginning of all this, and she carries the new story book.


She makes her way into an apartment building and knocks on door 815 (yet another callback). A young man opens the door and confirms that he is indeed, a grown-up Henry Mills.

“My name’s Lucy,” the girl tells him. “I’m your daughter. Your family needs you.”

Holy damn. Talk about a reset.

This episode was not without its flaws, and I honestly don’t know whether to call this a reboot when we’re yet again having to convince someone that (a) this is their kid and (b) they need to believe in magic. Overall, though, we had some fun. Love and hope triumphed, and everyone (except Henry, I’m supposing) got their Happy Ever After. For that ending montage alone, I’m willing to give 5 story books out of five.


My scrambled thoughts:

  1. If Rumple could have blown the Black Fairy to hell with her wand and the wand was in his shop, why didn’t he use it before now?
  2. Who is Lilly’s mother? Adam & Eddie have confirmed it is not Violet, and further tell us that Henry and the mystery mom have an epic love story. I’m looking forward to knowing more.
  3. How are they going to have Killian without Emma and Rumple without Belle? My guess is a time jump, to a time before either of them knew their significant others. Maybe Henry has to go back and recreate some stories to get everything back on track? Jen Morrison is coming back for one episode – perhaps a finale? We’ll have to wait and see.
  4. Tiger Lilly is clearly Lucy’s fairy godmother. Does this mean Lucy has light magic?
  5. The Black Fairy translated Henry’s runes to get the secret of how to win the final battle, and then that just sort of went away, didn’t it? Methinks it didn’t, really. And maybe she’s not as dead as we think she is.
  6. This brand new story book – could it be what Henry’s makeshift book has grown into? Maybe he created another alternate reality when he decided to write his own book. Hmmmmm.
  7. I expected the new guy to be grown-up Henry, but did not expect him to have a kid. I have to be honest here and tell you I was on the fence about continuing the blog next season, but damn if they haven’t intrigued me. I’m willing to give the opener a watch to see how the hell they work a show with half the components missing (and my beloved Captain Swan swan-less), and I’ll make my call then.

They could have ended the show with that final montage, and I would have died happy. So if this experiment bubbles over into a fetid mess, at least we’ll always have that. Here’s to season seven – whatever it may be.


4 thoughts on “Once Upon A Time – Season 6 Finale Recap: Happy Endings & A Beginning

  1. Jennifer Morrison said she will be back for season 7 Premiere so there many people who are afraid something will happen to her then.


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