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#OnceUponATime Season 6 finale, Episode 21 & 22 "The Final Battle" Recap & Review.

With the fate of Once Upon A Time’s renewal hanging in the balance, showrunners and writers Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz knew Season 6 had to have a finale that could also serve as the series finale if necessary. This is a delicate art that only a few shows have managed, but the Once Upon A Time crew did it beautifully. The episode ends on an extremely intriguing note that definitely serves its purpose to get viewers excited for Season 7! (More on that later).

For those who follow spoilers (like myself) going into this episode was the equivalent of walking into a really dark room by yourself; scary, and unknown. Going into this episode different news sites as well as some of the cast had already announced they wouldn’t be returning for the new season. These cast members included Emma (Jennifer), Snow and Charming (Ginny and Josh), Zelena (Rebecca), Emilie (Belle), and Young Henry (Jared). So for more than half the cast, this WAS the series finale (although we will be seeing them at least a little bit in Season 7). That being said, going into this episode was really scary not knowing who was going to live and die out of these cast members. On that note, let’s dive into the recap!

The episode begins in the Enchanted Forest with our new cast member Andrew J. West (Who we find out later is actually older Henry). He runs into a lair after being chased by something (Someone?) and makes sure his daughter has the Storybook and tells her to protect it and spread the stories. His daughter runs and he’s left to fight whatevers been chasing him as the screen cuts out.

Back in Storybook, we pick up where we left off at the end of the Musical episode with the curse being cast. The setting is the rooftop where Captainswan’s wedding was held. But somethings wrong. There’s no decorations, no music, no Captainswan, no ANYONE. Well, except Henry. He wakes up (very Season 4 finale-esque) and sets off to find his family of course! But one problem, his family doesn’t remember anything he’s talking about. Actually, no one does. The Black Fairy’s curse has basically reset everyone into thinking they’re back in the first curse; with a few minor changes. The biggest of which being that The Black Fairy is now in Regina’s place as the Mayor of Storybrooke, and Henry’s mother (I know, creepy right?). Also, Snow, Charming, Killian, Regina, and Zelena have all been sent back to the Enchanted Forest (which isn’t going too well, but more on that later.) Henry finally finds Emma! She’s in Storybrooke Asylum! (?!) Henry tries to bring her the book and convince her that everything he’s telling her is true, but Emma’s convinced she imagined everything Henry’s telling her. The Black Fairy ends up confiscating Henry’s book and sending him off.

Elsewhere in Storybooke, the new Mayor goes to visit her son and grandson, Rumple and Gideon. It seems their memories are also affected by the curse. We find out that Belle’s no longer around in this curse, but apparently in a tragic way. (We get more details later!) Flash over to Henry who’s breaking Emma out of the Asylum, he takes her to the rooftop where her wedding was held to try to jog her memory. She does begin having flashes of the wedding, but she’s still not convinced. She says she wants to leave town and Henry agrees to help her. He tells her to meet him back on the roof after dark.

Back in the shop, Rumple shares a book with Gideon that Belle intended him to have (Her Handsome Hero-of course) Gideon isn’t interested though. In this world Belle abandoned them. Rumple tries to tell Gideon that Belle truly loved him, but he’s not interested. When Rumple brings up Belle’s whereabouts to Fiona, she shows him some (SUPER PHOTOSHOPPED) images of Belle seeing the world.

Back to Henry, he tries to steal his book back, but the Black Fairy interrupts and all charades are cut, they both know the truth. He tries to run away from her, but she uses just a bit of magic to push Henry down a whole flight of stairs! Ouch! The Black Fairy tells Emma about Henry’s “accident” and twists the story to make it sound like his “delusions” are causing him to hurt himself and others. She tells her burning the storybook is the only way. (TERRIBLE idea). We find out the “Final Battle” isn’t a real “fight” it’s a battle for the savior’s BELIEF. Once Emma completely stops believing, the Final Battle will be lost!

Now let’s finally get to what everyone ELSE is doing while Emma and Henry are in Storybrooke. The gang is back in the Enchanted Forest. Zelena wastes no time (as usual) and gets one of the Mad Hatter’s Hats to take them from portal to portal. With their first journey, it becomes obvious that as the Black Fairy becomes closer and closer to winning the Final Battle, the realms become destroyed. They completely disappear. The gang bring as many people from the realms back to her castle as she can. (Including Aladdin, Jasmine and the Agrabah gang.) While Regina works on her plan, Hook decides to climb the beanstalk to try to find a bean to open a portal to Emma. David tells Hook he’s coming with him and doesn’t take no for an answer. While Regina works back at the castle we quickly find out that Regina #2 has been living at her castle! She joins in to help them save the realms.

Back at the hospital, Fiona shows Henry the pages of the newly burned Storybook that Emma just destroyed. All hope seems lost but Henry runs off to find Emma, just in time to say goodbye before she drives over the town line! Emma ends up back in Boston (the candles from her birthday cupcake are literally still on the counter, it’s like no time has passed.) After a brief conversation with her old Bailbondsmen Boss (who wants her to come back to work) she sees that Henry slipped a new story into her bag- HER story, THEIR story.Back in Storybrooke, Henry heads to Gold’s and finds out he’s “awake” as well. Working on magic to find Belle since he knows Fiona’s lying.

Back in the Enchanted Forest Hook and David finally make it to the top of the beanstalk. The boys maneuver giant furniture, food, and silverware and finally manage to snag a magic bean! They’re then greeted by a dragon which chases them off the beanstalk. As they’re coming down, the Storybook is burning, so The Enchanted Forest is beginning to disappear and things are NOT looking good for ANYONE at the moment.

After hearing the crash, Snow and Jasmine go into the woods to investigate and find the Beanstalk has fallen down! They find Hook first (with the bean), and a very worried Snow asks where David is. No one seems to know and she begins frantically searching for him, after telling Hook to take that bean and get back to Emma and make her believe! Snow finally finds David (Who appears to be dead after the fallen beanstalk landed on him) but in true Snowing fashion (and mirroring the pilot) true loves kiss fixes all!

Back in Storybrooke, Henry sends a message to everyone at the Queens castle and tells them that he’s going to defeat the Black Fairy himself, if Emma won’t. Evil Queen #2 offers to risk herself to give Regina the magic she needs to get the magic bean to work, but as the end draws near, her sacrifice doesn’t seem to be enough. Henry goes in to take on the Black Fairy, But he’s stopped by……………Emma! She’s returned to help him! She’s not sure if the hero he wrote about is her, but she knows it’s who she WANTS to be!

In Storybrooke, Rumple finds Belle. The Black Fairy is starting to lose handle of everything. She desperately wants her wand to help translate some author scribbles Henry’s written about the Finale Battle and commands Gideon to help her, she still has his heart! But then Rumple walks in and drops the bomb that he knows everything. Fiona offers him everything he could ever want, his family together, his power, even Baelfire. But Rumplestilstkin, in true SAVIOR fashion, saves the day and kills his own mother, the Black Fairy. In doing so, he breaks the curse.

Now, the curse is broken and everyone is back. But, she still left Gideon with a final command, to kill the savior.  This leads to our final act; Gideon vs. Emma. Rumple quickly heads to the mines to find Gideon’s heart, but time is running out. The scene is set. The one Emma’s been seeing since 6x01 – her death. In the mines, Rumples having an “angel and devil on your shoulders” battle with himself about doing the right thing, and once again, does the right thing. But discovers he can’t override the Black fairy’s command.

We launch into the big sword fight with Emma delivering a beautiful monologue insisting she’ll always do the right thing and only spread light. Accepting her fate as the savior, she throws down her sword and throws her arms open, Gideon plunges his sword into her, from that point light shoots out of her body and everyone gathers around her body on the street to say goodbye. But Henry kisses her on the forehead and brings her back!

Underground, Rumple and Belle have a beautiful scene where they find Emma’s sacrifice has given Gideon a second chance- he’s a baby again. The Storybook also comes back with a new line “When Good and Evil both choose to do the right thing, all is good. The Final Battle is over”. But there’s no “the end” because ending’s don’t lead to happiness, being together does. All of the realms are restored and we visit some of our favorites for a brief montage.

The final act is a beautiful montage of happy “endings” including the dwarves adding “Queen” to Regina’s Mayor’s Office door, Wish Realm Robin PROPOSING to Regina #2 (SQUEAL), CaptainSwan patrolling the streets of Storybrooke together, Snow and Charming finally get a house big enough for their family (including a farm and a dog!), and Rumbelle have a beautiful dance to “Beauty and The Beast”. In the very end they all have one big beautiful giant family dinner at one long table at Granny’s (A scene I’ve personally been waiting 6 seasons for). And with that, the story COULD very easily be wrapped up. Perfect closure and ending. But is that the end?

NO WAY!

We still need to discuss the little girl and her father from the beginning of the movie. We see her reading a new version of the Storybook on a monorail by herself (Hmm….) She travels into an apartment (Number 815-LOL) and knocks on the door. The man from the beginning of the episode answers and we realize this is a parallel of the Pilot episode! “Are you Henry Mills?”. We find out her name is Lucy she tells her father, Henry that he needs to come on because his family needs him. And that is where Season 7 will pick up!

WOW! What do y’all think? So many ways they could go with that ending! Let me know what you think in the comments below or tweet me @onceuponakayy

Episode rate: 9.5

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Also: I’ll be writing a spoiler guide for Season 7 right after San Diego Comic-Con in July, so stay tuned!