REVIEW: Once Upon a Time, S6 Ep17 – Awake

This week on Once Upon a Time, Regina tries to break the Charmings’ curse, Emma faces the Black Fairy, Hook gets some help from an old friend, and we witness a sacrifice made years ago by Snow and Charming.

Lots of big developments in an episode that sometimes felt a bit overcrowded. So much happened and there was even for a retcon-ish flashback featuring characters as their season one selves. That part felt a bit off, given how far Once Upon a Time has come since it began. One would think that certain chapters would be closed by now. But apparently there’s always room for a contrived flashback, if only to suit the current storyline’s needs.

Once Upon a Time, S6 Ep17 – AwakeBut the bulk of the episode was spent with everyone trying their best to break the shared sleeping curse that afflicted Snow and Charming. With Emma’s final and possibly fatal battle looming ahead, her parents were determined to be by her side when this event takes place. So Regina (and nice to see even Zelena) tried her best to undo the evil that her alter ego had imposed.

This episode introduced a new magical item that was never mentioned before and that conveniently solved many different problems. The Once Upon a Time writers have this tendency of contriving such magical quick-fixes whenever the plot gets too convoluted. Apparently, the pixie flower only blooms in the presence of great evil. Or maybe just in the presence of the Black Fairy. Because really, there have been so many evil presences in Storybrooke over the course of the seasons that the whole forest should have been filled with these magical flowers. And considering their magical properties and the way they can even open up portals to other realms (remember when the only way to cross realms was to enact a dark curse?), why have these flowers never been mentioned before? Whatever, I won’t overthink it.

In the end, the way to break the curse was for everyone to share it, out of their love for Snow and Charming, who had sacrificed a chance to be with Emma earlier in her life, just so that she could become the Savior. Who knew sleeping curses could be diluted so easily?

Hook continued his adventure in Neverland and his time there led to what I thought the best part of the episode: Tiger Lily. The character only just made her debut on Once Upon a Time and she has already proven to be a compelling and fascinating addition to the growing cast. (And it really helps that the character is played by a Native American actress). Tiger Lily saves Hook from the viciousness of the Lost Boys and also gives him a piece of a powerful wand, meant for the Savior to defeat the Black Fairy. At this point, I’m beginning to wonder what new mythology or fairy tale this wand is from (we’ll find out soon enough, I suppose).

Once Upon a Time, S6 Ep17 – AwakeTiger Lily didn’t get much screen time but already it was revealed that she used to be a fairy and one close to the Black Fairy. And now, she is determined to bring the latter down. Turns out Emma has more people in her corner than she realizes. This whole Never Land escapade concludes with Hook finding his way back to Emma (via pixie flowers). They resolve their issues, all secrets are out, and all is forgiven.

A pretty uplifting episode, all in all. Snow and Charming broke their curse and Captain Swan are officially engaged. Some reasons to celebrate before the fight with the Black Fairy and whatever dire consequences come with Henry’s author powers.

The episode ends with another dark family reunion, with Rumple confronting his mother and warning her that he will reclaim Gideon’s heart. Everyone seems to be talking about the menace and danger the Black Fairy poses, but with the Dark One against her, there is going to be one hell of a final battle.