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Once Upon A Time -- The Fall Finale
I refuse to call it the Winter Finale when it's not even Winter yet.
Before the show started, I saw Lee Arenburg who plays Dumpy and is a writer on the show tweeting and praising to the heavens the performances of Megan Ory, Josh Dallas and Gennifer Goodwin, and I'm like, "What did they do that was so great? Pretty much nothing." In Dallas' case he laid on a couch like a dead fish for 95% of the show. Didn't see him tweeting that Lana Parilla and Robert Carlyle did a great job and they were the highlight of the show. If the writers are bragging up the actors who play some of the weakest characters on the show that are constantly hogging all the airtime, I don't think it bodes well for the future of this show. I guess it explains why they pretty much screwed over Mulan to prop up Snow White and make her look good. Favoritism over good and fair writing.
In this episode, Cora earned her place among the best characters on the show. Up until now Cora has been pretty much all evil, but the writers showed she had a speck of good if extremely warped and twisted feelings for her daughter. A great villain isn't all black, they've got to have some speck of white in them. She now joins the ranks of some of the best characters on the show. Needless to say there is no Charming family member in that rank.
The back story begins with Hook sneaking into the cell Belle is being kept in. Seems once Belle got tossed out by Rump Regina had kidnapped her. Hooker claims he's there to rescue her and tries to trick her into telling him how to kill Rump. When she won't cooperate he punches her in the face. I fail to understand why a great number of females are fangirling over this heavily mascaraed crud.
Anyway, Regina comes in and offers him a deal. Before the curse is enacted she needs her mother to be killed. She'll take him to the new land of Storybrooke where there is no magic and Hook can kill Rump, and he agrees to the task. However, it seems obvious Regina had no intention of letting Hook kill Rump. If Hook had gone to Storybrooke he would have had no memory of his past and he wouldn't have remembered wanting to kill Rump. In a strange way, Regina was actually protecting Rump, little that he knows it.
Regina explains her mother is trapped in Wonderland where she's the Queen Of Hearts there and I'm fist pumping the air because I called it last year right after the episode aired. I was so thrilled that I called it correctly. It just seemed obvious because she had the same kind of vault of hearts that Regina has. Now if only I'm right that Jefferson is actually Bae, my world will be complete.
Regina still has Jefferson's hat from the time she trapped him in Wonderland and she sends Hook there with the dead body of the guard he killed. But when he arrives at the Queen's Court and tries to rip out her heart, he finds nothing in her chest. Well, we all knew she was heartless.
Earlier, Regina had put a spell on his hook that would allow him to remove one heart from someone's chest. I was glad for this bit of the story, because I was complaining about how Hook could remove Aurora's heart when only someone with magic powers can do that. Now I know he could only do it once because Regina enchanted his hook.
Cora explained that she removed her own heart and has it hidden somewhere so no one can kill her. I do like a clever villain. She also reveals to Hook if he goes to Storybrooke he won't remember who he is and that he wants to kill Rump, so he teams up with her. He brings Cora back to FTL and tells Regina she's dead. The plan is for Cora to rip Regina's heart out. Only Cora changes her mind.
When Regina comes to visit what she thinks is Cora's dead body, she reveals that even after everything her mother did to her she still loves her. That she has to have no weakness for what she's about to do when she enacts the curse and her feelings for Cora would weaken her. Instead of ripping Regina's heart out as planned, Cora lets her walk out the door.
As the curse is enacted, Cora uses a staff the makes a dome-like structure that looks like the book cover of Stephen King's Dome to come over them to shield them from the curse. She says they'll be frozen for 28 years and won't even notice time stopping. She reveals when Regina loses everything they'll go to Storybrooke and Cora will be there to help Regina pick up the pieces while Hook gets his revenge on Rump. Cora says Rump won't be a match for Hook since it'll be a land without magic. Cora. you've really underestimated Rump. You and your Boy Toy will be in for a big surprise.
In present day Storybrooke, Regina and Rump team up to stop Cora from crossing over to their neck of the pond. She doesn't want to harm MM and Emma, but Rump says they can't take the chance of Cora getting through. They go to the Dwarfs mine and Rump uses all the diamonds there to power the magic wand he got when he whacked Ella's fairy god mother. You can't know how that scene thrilled me:
1. Dumpy can't force the other dwarfs to slave away in the mines being fairy slaves all in the name of his beloved Charmings.
2. The fairies won't have any magical power.
I also loved Rump saying no one even missed the dead fairy he killed to get her wand. God love his fairy-hating heart.
Dumpy came to slave in the mine with the other dwarfs and started yapping about no one gets away with stealing from dwarfs. It's at this point this little turnip needs to be given a reality check. That mine doesn't belong to you. I doubt you even have a pot to you know what in. You just found this mine and started mining away in it thinking that makes it yours. Since Rump owns pretty much everything in town, he probably also owns the mine. That means you're the thief, not the other way around.
Anyway the dwarfs and DeadHead Red go to tell Henry that Regina is planning to stop their idols from returning to Storybrooke. Of course the brat believes it and rushes out to the well to stop Regina and Rump. Regina agrees to stop the spell and takes all this magic into herself and falls to the ground and does that brat even go to her to see if she's okay? Of course not. That's why they need to end this Regina/Henry thing. The brat doesn't give a crap about Regina. The best thing Cora could do for Regina is rip the brat's heart out of his chest and crush it to bits. With the brat gone, Regina's life could only improve.
In ATCFTL the gang goes to Rump's cell and Aurora traps them inside. That's when Hook and Cora come forward to reveal they have Aurora's heart and she has to do what they say. The dastardly duo get their hands on the compass and prepare to travel to Storybrooke. It's actually a good thing they do, because they wouldn't even have been able to make it back and open the portal if not for Cora. Cora had to restore the lake Prince Pompous destroyed so he could play hero. Once again, the villains have to do the work for The Charmings so they can arrive and reap all the benefits and receive all the praise.
They find a scroll with Emma's name written over and over again with the ink that can get them out of Rump's cell. It takes them forever to figure out the scroll is how to get out of the cell. Of course, it's Snow who figures it out, because in the Charming Family pecking order, she's above Emma. She has to be smarter and more bad-ass than Emma is. Aurora says they must leave her behind and tie her up since she can't be trusted because they have her heart.
They arrive at the restored lake and Mama and Daughter Charming do battle with them. Of course, they easily beat Hook and Cora. Yeah, Emma has never used a sword and she's easily able to out sword-fight Hook. One of the worst thing about ATCFTL is the blatant way all the characters were used to prop-up the Charmings. Then they jump through the portal and climb out of the well.
Then we get another been there, done that moment of Snow kissing Pompous awake while the sycophants gather around them and drool. What ticked me off about this scene is these people look down their nose at Rump and are rude to him, but they think nothing of flooding his store like they own the place. It's why the Charmings and their sycophants are so annoying and loathsome. As they all pranced down the street in all their smug glory I was wishing a sniper with a machine gun would open up on them. I know I'm being harsh but the Charmings and their sycophants are really bringing this show down.
Now that Emma's back in Storybrooke and no longer has to take a backseat to the Snow White propping she has a light bulb moment and realizes Rump could have gotten out of the cell anytime he wanted and she's only a hero because that's what he made her. However, when she tells him how Cora tried to rip her heart out but wasn't able, he tells Emma she has magic inside her because she's the product of true love. Gag me with a spoon. That's the thing that puts Rump far above the smug and overbearing Charmings. They run to him when they need help and then afterwards they look down on him and spit on him, while he never treats them with anything but courtesy and good manners.
Speaking of Rump, this episode really showed how Machiavellian he truly is. I know the writers couldn't have a Charming be anything less than special, but I think Emma had it right, only it applies not to herself but every single one of them. He used them as pawns and moved them around as he saw fit. Uncharming might have been braying when he trapped Rump, but it was only because Rump allowed it to happen. He needed to be in that cell to tell The Charmings their little daughter Emma would be the great savior, so they would send her away to try and save themselves. Not only is Rump the most powerful man in that town, he's also the smartest. He outsmarted each and every one of them and used them as nothing but pawns on his chess board.
Finally, even though they got defeated by the Queen Mother and Princess Charming, Hook and Cora found a way to come to Storybrooke. Hook had a dried up magic bean and threw it into the restored waters of the lake. It opened a portal and at the last few seconds of the finale, Hook and Cora were in Hook's ship making their way to the shore of Storybrooke. Bring it on.
The reason this finale was as good as it was is because it was very light on The Charmings and their butt-kissing sycophants and heavy on Rump and Regina. The Charmings have dominated the first half of the season too much. It's time to start focusing on the more interesting characters in the last half of the season.
I think the best part of this After The Curse Fairy Tale Land adventure has been the evolving of a true friendship between Aurora and Mulan. When things began Mulan was disdainful of Aurora and jealous because Phillip loved her. Over time she began to care for Aurora and at the end of the episode they seemed to become true friends as Mulan restored Aurora's heart to her. Aurora then told her Cora said that there's still a chance to save Phillip, as they headed off on their new quest together. Hopefully with Mama and Daughter Charming gone these characters can finally shine in their own rights instead of being used to prop up the Charmings.
It was a good way to end the show for the Christmas hiatus. Well done.