Once Upon A Time is on its final rush to the season two finale. Episode 20, The Evil Queen puts the final pieces in place to begin what promises to be a roller-coaster ride to the finish. There are a lot of story threads hanging due to the very gutsy agenda the showrunners had for this season. Kitsis and Horrowitz have promised us closure and resolution, though I’m sure there are a few question/challenges that will be left to set up season three.
Life has gotten in the way of my writing, so I will try to take advantage of it. I’m going to change my approach in my write up this time. Rather than doing a detailed episode review, for this week’s analysis I want to consider those different hanging story threads. Time and space permitting, I will also provide some thoughts on what we may see as we wrap up. This will post on Sunday as a “ramp up” for part one of the finale.
The first big – I’d go so far as to say glaring – storyline that has been on hold has been that of Mulan and Aurora. In the first third of the season, it appeared as if these two characters and the Enchanted Forest were going to be the focus of the season. It appears that the Enchanted Forest still exists, but the kingdom was devastated by the curse. There is also this little matter of a wraith hanging out there. However, with Emma and Mary Margaret returning to Storeybrook, that entire plot has been put on hold. Since, each season generally matches a calendar year, I wonder how Aurora and Mulan have done on their quest to rescue Prince Philip. Surely they have made some progress, however I doubt they have succeeded. I think the wraith is going to be something important in the finale and this will be what converges our heroine’s paths.
The next storyline that appears on hold has been that of Dr. Whale. He only figured prominently in two episodes, however they raised some very important questions for the show. We find the Whale is actually Dr. Frankenstein and that he’s from a Land Without Color where science rules supreme. Whale has no connection or loyalty to the people of the Enchanted Forest other than his interactions with Rumple and Regina. He certainly has an agenda; restoring the dead to life, particularly his brother. He also seems to have a rather disdainful opinion of magic. His greatest motivation now is to return home. Henry did raise one important question regarding Whale: what other Lands may be represented in Storeybrook? I think we’ll see that very, very soon.
One somewhat more minor thread that has hung for me has involved Ruby. For starters, I’ve really missed the character this season. Beyond that, though, what we saw of her backstory did introduce and entirely new group of characters into the story. I have to ask if we will be seeing the “People of the Moon” (my name for the werewolves) again? Other than Ruby, were any of them brought to our world? Were they left in the ruins of the Enchanted Forest as “monsters?” As I said, a minor point but one that I think would be very interesting to follow.
The final hanging storyline that I wanted to bring up is Regina’s redemption. So much effort was made in getting the audience to invest emotionally into a Regina that has renounced her evil ways that it is hard to believe that they would simply drop the plot element. Indeed, the writers not only seemed to drop the line, but using the Cora thread went to an immense effort to reverse it. The way the season has been structured, this has been clearly planned, but it has been a big risk by the writers. It is very emotionally draining for the audience and has the risk of giving the idea that the showrunners are not sure where they were going. The Evil Queen episode, was an extremely important episode in this regard. It shows us that the writers really do have a direction in mind and that the issue is that Regina really is that screwed up. Indeed, we see the level of abuse she was victim to in the whole Cora arc.
That said, even as twisted as Regina has been made, considering some of her acts I have to ask is there really any redemption possible for her? Many of her actions can be put into the category of the high intrigue of aristocracy. Some into the wars of kings. But the slaughter of an innocent village? I think it is asking too much for an “Oh, I’m so sorry,” to be enough to wash away that crime. It also makes me wonder a bit about Snow? She’s lost some touch with reality if she’s that quick to withhold justice where Regina’s concerned after seeing something like that.
The Regina thread really needs some sort of resolution – or at least direction – in my opinion if the show hopes to keep fans emotionally invested. And I’ll give one idea how that could happen shortly.
Then there is one over-riding theme for the whole season. The importance of family – the need to not be alone – has really driven all these threads.
Not listed in my “hanging” plot lines is the current arc with Greg and Tamara. It’s not hard to see how everything has been moving to this point throughout the season. The real question is how does this play out and who is involved. Their focus on the importance of Science makes it real clear that Dr. Whale is going to have some connection. However, I tend to waffle on whether he’s the one pulling their strings, if he’s going to end up helping them or if he will end up using his Science to beat their Science. Still, an organization that is based on Science’s superiority over Magic simply screams The Land Without Color.
As I’ve said before, that’s a lot of balls to have in the air at once. In twenty episodes only two key plot points have been resolved; the search for Baelfire and The Queen of Hearts. However, looking at it in a big picture perspective as I have done in this article it is not so hard to see all the threads coming together.
Here is one take on it.
- Tamara is from the Land Without Color and/or she and Greg are taking their orders from them. Whale is going to play a key role either as an agent helping Greg or a source of information for Operation Praying Mantis.
- Because of the curse, his being an outsider and having the most important part of his soul ripped from him (his son), Greg’s father is the wraith. The Tamara theory was always self-described as crazy. This I think has a real possibility. This is where Aurora and Mulan will intersect back into the story.
- We will find the war that Rumplestiltskin prophesied is a war between Science and Magic. (Someone needs to remind the writers of Clarke’s 3rd Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic). This can also serve to bring our missing favorite characters back for more than a walk-in as the scope expands again.
- The beans will be used to evacuate Storeybrook, presumably to a place where there still is magic so that people will keep their memory. Hopefully, they will think to keep one bean so they can grow more. Perhaps they will use Hook’s ship to get the people out since Neal can sail it. Hmm… Can anyone say Neverland?
- There’s an old saying in storytelling. You don’t show a bomb unless you’re going to use it. I think it will be used and that it will be done by Regina. However, I think the circumstances may be a bit of a surprise. If they do not want to throw away all the character development invested in her, then one way would be for her to trigger the doomsday device herself once the town is clear. We would, of course, be left with the impression that she sacrificed herself. Naturally, there would be some reason that she survived; perhaps that cuff? I said early in the season that the only way the people will ever truly forgive the evil Regina has done is some sort of selfless, sacrificial act. This would be it.
- Rumple and Belle really do not need to be finished up completely this year, though it would be interesting if she gets her memory back at the end of this season. It would be a good setup for the next.
- Likewise, if the Land Without Color really is behind this, there is clearly some means of travelling between Lands based upon Science.
- Finally, I don’t think that Storeybrook will disappear for good. The town is too ingrained in the story. Can you see Once Upon A Time without Granny’s diner, Gold’s shop or Snow and Emma Loft? Even with Doomsday an episode or two away, I’m sure some aspect of the town will survive.
This is only one scenario. I’m sure others could be thought up just as easily. I’m also fairly confident that whatever the writers come up with, it will be different than what I’ve described. The point is, the writers have asked a lot of the fans this season and there are many ways they can bring it all together at the end. Two more episodes and we will all know.
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