I will be the first to admit that I had my doubts. Outside of a daytime soap, I’ve never seen a show put so many threads in play at once. Essentially, Kitsis and Horowitz planned a season where the success or failure of the show rested entirely on how they pulled of this finale.
Not only did they pull the necessary plot elements together, they gave a very important sense of closure to the season. They also left elements set up for the third season. Impressively, part of this was put in place as early as episode one this year.
It seems that I did pretty good in my predictions. If you’re not familiar with these, I would suggest perusing my write-ups through the second half of this season; especially Cricket Games and Beyond and The Evil Queen. I may have not been 100% on the small details, but I certainly was spot-on with regard to themes and direction of the story.
- The Diamond of Doom was used.
- Belle has her memory back at the very end. It looks like it is a setup for one of the arcs of next season.
- The beans would have been used to evacuate Storeybrook, and gee, Hook came back to offer his ship in that service. Unfortunately for my prediction it proved unnecessary. Storeybrook did suffer devastation, though the disabling of the “failsafe” undid all the damage.
- The book of spells came out and was back in use.
- Mulan and Aurora are back in the story. (Not quite as predicted, but back)
- Neal is NOT Peter Pan. I’ve fought this theory a long time, and even when it began to look like it was so, I was begrudging in that regard,
My predictions on the coming War and on the connections to The Land Without Color were not really addressed, but I still think they are valid and reflect what we will see in season three.
The biggest part of my predictions throughout the season, though, have involved Regina. If you could give a one-word summary for the theme of season one it would be Belief. The one word for season two would be Repentance. We saw this first theme in Emma’s journey through disbelief through believing in magic. Later, in this season we find that she also happens to be quite powerful. Powerful enough that together with Regina, she is able to save Storeybrook.
In this season, the Repentance story is carried primarily by Regina. Though there are some secondary elements that fall on Mr. Gold, it is Regina that carried the weight of the theme. Trying to do what is good simply for Henry’s approval is simply insufficient for repentance considering the depth of her crimes. As expected, she fell away from the good path under her mother’s influence and through the flashbacks of the season we see not only her inner desire to do what is right but the delusions with which she has cloaked herself to not see the horror she has become. Repentance for someone with her path would truly require something extraordinary. We get this and its summed up in this line:
“Tell him [Henry] that in the end it wasn’t too late for me to do the right thing. Everyone looks at me as the Evil Queen. Including my son. Let me die as Regina.”
Jesus teaches us that “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” [John 15:13, NASB] Finally, at what seems to be the end of it all, Regina has finally come around to true, unconditional, agape love. She offers her life very literally unknown, alone and in the dark so that the people who hate and fear her can live. And she does it because it is the right thing to do. In that moment she finally became the Queen. It was one of the most powerful moments I’ve seen on TV and certainly the most powerful moment of the series.
What I am waiting to see is how she reacts when she learns the risk and sacrifice the townspeople made in response to her life-offering. I also hope this puts to rest the repentance issue with Snow’s heart. Her taking the lead to save Regina is more than payment for her sins. Anything else in a repentance arc is simply going to seem weak after the performance that Lana gave in that moment. I’m sure there are still going to be temptations. There will certainly be conflicts with the rest of the family. Remember, though that Sanctification is a path filled with both ups and downs.
It is also my hope that we now have Rumplestiltskin more-or-less back and less of the Dark One. I’ve been leaning towards the idea that much of his actions since Lacey has been based around trying to get Belle back. What tipped me to that was watching the pain and the “I can’t tell you” look on his face when he was confronted by Neal in the earlier episode. While Lacey admittedly brings out the worst in Rumple, it’s just as obvious that he’s ashamed of that. Slicing the rope swing was the final piece for him, I think. You could see the expression of “What was I thinking.” I believe that, as much as the loss of Neal, led to his despair unto death decision. He is seeing now, a second chance for redemption in rescuing Henry even though he believes he will not survive the mission.
There are a few more general thoughts that come to mind from this episode that I think are worth noting.
First, it hit me that even though Emma thought she was lying about Henry’s father, the truth is he really is a hero. Not only his sacrifice for Emma at the bean portal but also with the Darling family. I suspect we will find more heroism in his backstory through season three.
Second, in the last moments of the story that not only do Aurora and Mulan return, they have Philip with them. At first, I thought they might have been in Neverland, as well, but on rewatching they were clearly in the Enchanted Forest. It is a pretty safe assumption – confirmed by Kitsis and Horowitz – that we will get the story of his rescue next season. Having them find Neal does give resolution to this chapter of the story. So while they didn’t really close this thread, it is clearly set up to be a central part of the story in season three.
Also I wonder if Greg and Tamara have any idea for whom/what they are working? For a group dedicated to the destruction of magic, they seem to be rather comfortable in its use when it furthers their goals. What is going to happen when they find out the one pulling their strings is itself magical?
Finally, something that really stuck out to me was the reminder of Providence. This episode isn’t the first time Providence is mentioned. Every time it has been mentioned what is significant is the capital “P.” There is a clear sense of the proper noun when mentioning Providence and with all the theological tie-ins with the show, this should hardly be a surprise. More than anything else, it reminds me of the very beginning of Lord of the Rings novel when Gandalf tells Frodo that perhaps he was meant to find the Ring and that was a cause for hope.
No analysis of a season finale would be complete without a few predictions of what we will see in the next season. Some of this has been solidly presented in the episode; some of my other items are certainly a bit more speculative.
In the very first episode of the show, Rumple predicted the Final War. I think that it is now upon us and the first exchanges at least will be the heart of season three.
Clearly there is the rescue of Henry. The Ocea… I mean… Jolly Roger Six have gone off to Neverland. Just as clear, the stakes have gotten even greater. If whatever controls Neverland is enough to scare the Dark One when he has Regina, Emma and the Charmings backing him, then rest assured it is bad. I know a lot of people are expecting me to predict the wraith, but I’m not going there. If Aurora and Mulan were able to rescue Philip, then the wraith doesn’t have that much power, at least compared to what is on Hook’s ship. I think this part will be our heroes bringing the war to “them,” whoever “they” are. One thing I’m sure we’ll see is Emma becoming still more magically powerful. Considering both Rumple and Regina are on the mission with her, I’d say that’s inevitable.
I also expect to see Storeybrook having to defend itself in some regard. You don’t start with a story with a shield or protection such as Rumple gave Belle unless that shield is going to be breached. That’s just the flip side of not showing a bomb in a story unless you’re going to use it. It would be also a terrible shame to just abandon the town and all those characters. I suspect that once Greg and Tamara deliver Henry, they will turn their attention back to wiping out the magical town. I will say that I am going to dearly miss Ruby with the departure of Mehgan Ory for her own show. She has become one of my favorite characters of the series and I’m sure I’m not alone. Hopefully, they will manage to get her back for a few guest appearances at the least.
I still think that this “battle” will involve the Land Without Color. Yes, as I’ve said, I’m hanging on to that theory. I fully expect to see the Lamp Po… er… Home Office next season and also an elderly Eloise Hawk… I mean… Wendy Darling in charge. What the connection is with Neverland, I don’t know yet. However I do expect the writers to have a nice twist there. How Dr. Whale is going to end up involved with this group, whether a member, supporter or opponent, I am also unsure. I can make a case for any of the three. All I am sure of is that it is something that has been in planning since season one when Whale’s identity was one of the big mysteries of the show.
How Neal will get back to his family, I honestly haven’t the foggiest idea. This here was a twist I was honestly not expecting. Perhaps I will come up with some ideas on my planned season rewatch. That he and his new companions will end up in Neverland is obvious. I’m sure we will also be seeing him reconcile with Rumplestiltskin. Will it be on Rumple’s deathbed? Who knows. I’m sure we will see Rumples “undoing” next season, but I still don’t think that is going to mean his death. I do, though, think it will mean the end of the Dark One and its power.
Finally, we have the importance of Henry in this battle. Peter Pan’s boss appears to have been looking for him for a very long time. Why? Henry and the mystery of The Oth… Lost Boys is going to be the big mystery of the first part of the next season. Considering Henry’s parentage it’s not really a surprise that he’s important. I will hazard one guess and that his faith gives him some sort of gift in restoring things. It was his faith that led to the breaking of the curse. It was his faith that led to Regina’s redemption. All could be considered restorative acts. Indeed, there are several Lands now in need of restoration. He may have a role in that. Again, I suspect I will have some more ideas after my season rewatch.
Belief. Redemption. Faith.
It’s a sequence that makes sense.
I think this will have to do it for now. I will certainly be writing a pre-season article before season three starts off. In the meantime, please do wander about the rest of The Christian Geek. There is more to explore and much, much more coming. If you do watch the series again, please leave your comments and theories or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And keep believing!