After seven years, we finally reached the ending of Once Upon A Time with the series finale, “Leaving Storybrooke”. We pick up immediately from last weeks cliff hanger of Wish Rumple trapping our heroes in an enchanted snow globe and Wish Henry capturing Regina with the intention of killing her and becoming the hero he always wanted to be with Robin and Alice arriving in Storybrooke seeking help.
Here we meet that same old familiar main street, along with Grumpy, the rest of the Dwarves and Granny carrying on about their lives until Robin and Alice show up, explain things and running afoul of the locals. They eventually meet Zelena and after some time-travel persuading they are to get her to help them. Meanwhile back in Wish Realm, we pick up with our heroes trapped in the snow globe as Henry reunites with Ella and Lucy while Hook and Rumple desperately try to smash their way out. Elsewhere Regina is confronted by Wish Henry stating his intentions to challenge Regina to a sword fight and become a hero.
Eventually we find out that Wish Rumple’s grand plan was to rewrite the stories ever told of everyone, be it in Wish Realm or in the regular Realm and be rid of them all but he simply just needs Wish Henry’s heart to be corrupted. But in order to stop Wish Rumple, our Rumple will have to make the biggest sacrifice.
Now I bet you’re all are wondering if the finale lived up expectations, and to be honest it was sorta hit and miss. I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that what we were watching was something the show-runners had planned to be a future, season ten story arc — after the Victoria, Gothel and Facilier intended seasons — but had to condense it down to only two episodes since the show was ending. So things felt extremely rushed, especially with Wish Rumple doing things compared to if this was a full season’s story Wish Rumple would have taken his sweet, menacing time with our heroes. This then goes hand in hand with how the returning characters felt wasted as well, like Snow, Charming and Zelena. They barely get anything to do outside of making grand speeches to raise morale. On top of this, there’s massive missed opportunities in character interactions like regular Hook meeting current Hook after so long and even Past-Regina and Past-Henry running into their present incarnations — the later two never make an appearance in the finale. In the end, you can just sense the writers were scrambling to wrap up everything and be done with it.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a satisfying payoff for long time fans in the form of Rumple’s journey in “Leaving Storybrooke” along side Regina’s own fate when it’s all said and done. But those are the only two strongest points out of the finale. Season seven was effectively an epilogue season, where else season six will always be considered the true ending of the series.
Can Once Upon A Time return years later and pick up the final plot thread of how “Leaving Storybrooke” ended, probably but only time will tell now.