Once Upon a Time, S5 Ep22 – Only You

The two-part season finale of Once Upon a Time began with a random quest driven by Henry due to a sudden and out-of-character change of heart about magic. He runs away again and of course, his two moms are in pursuit. Meanwhile, the rest of the main cast gets sucked into a portal to another realm (again) and meets new characters who will no doubt play pivotal roles in the next season.

So familiar elements all around. But Once Upon a Time has never been known to go off its tried and tested formula, even though this might not be as successful as the writers think. The formula is tedious and even the characters are getting tired of it (Regina’s reaction when she learns about the portal jump.) It’s amazing the show has lasted this long while re-hashing the same themes and plot devices. But the fifth season has ended and a sixth is on its way, so the writers must have some kind of magic on their hands.

Once Upon a Time, S5 Ep22 - Only YouAs with previous season finales, this one was more about setting up the next season than properly concluding its own, so it felt a little disjointed from the rest of the season. This one even felt more out of place than last season’s AU finale, since that at least still had a more tangible link to the whole author-queens of darkness storyline. But since the gang returned from the Underworld and Hades was defeated, that arc seemed to have been resolved neatly in last week’s episode.

Instead, we had Henry suddenly decide that he needed to destroy magic because of how it caused his family so much pain. While it is understandable for him to reach this conclusion, it was very sudden and very plot-convenient more than believable. I don’t think it really works simply as an instinctive reaction to Regina’s sorrow over the loss of Robin Hood. And of course, Henry running away (this time with Violet, who suddenly reappeared for convenience’s sake) caused more trouble than was necessary.

Once Upon a Time, S5 Ep22 - Only YouRumple, as is his role in every season finale, had to step up as the villain of the last episodes since the Big Bad for this arc (Hades) was gone. Again with his choosing more power, via the Olympian Crystal so that he could wake Belle from her cursed sleep. When Henry uses his authorial powers to steal the crystal, Rumple goes in pursuit of his grandson.

Regina and Emma track Henry down in New York and try to figure out what the impulsive young man is planning to do. For a moment, it seemed like the loss of another True Love was about to drive Regina back to being the Evil Queen. Fortunately this was subverted, and the exploration of Regina’s struggle to keep doing the right thing even if it caused her pain and suffering saved the episodes.

Regina’s turmoil over her identity has always been one of the most fascinating aspects of Once Upon a Time, and having her explicitly describe the effort it takes to atone for her past sins was the best part of the episode. The monologue she gave to Emma about how she is constantly at war with herself, fighting against her instincts to take control and seize everything she wants, was a powerful moment that did justice to the character. And it was a testament to how much she has grown since the first season of Once Upon a Time. Watching how Regina moves on from this latest hurdle in her life will be a truly great journey.

Once Upon a Time, S5 Ep22 - Only YouAfter Zelena opened a portal to send the other characters back to Camelot or the Enchanted Forest, Snow White, David, Hook, and Zelena were tossed into a new realm. They were quickly captured and imprisoned by a mysteriously sinister warden after they tried to ask help from a timid gardener. But, as always, nothing is as it seems, and it is soon revealed that their new enemy has a past with Rumplestiltskin because it’s Once Upon a Time so of course he does. To their dismay, the heroes realize that they have a new and dangerous foe to contend with. (Belle also got sucked into this portal because her luck is not the best.)

For what happens next, check out my review for the second part of the Once Upon a Time season five finale.