Once Upon a Time season 6 episode 21 kicked off the two-part finale event on Sunday night, and it did so with an alternate universe. Apparently, a key component in the final battle was finding a way to ensure that some of our characters looked at the world different. Specifically, in a more cynical manner.
For Emma Swan, this meant detaching her from the world of Storybrooke and putting her back in the place of where she was during the pilot. This is a side of Emma that can be remembered for being reluctant to ever come to Storybrooke, let alone believe much of what was told to her. Henry was thrust yet again into the role of savior-in-his-own-right; without him, there would be no Once Upon a Time as it is now known.
While Emma and Henry were working to find her soul within this universe, the episode also provided opportunities aplenty to explore the Rumpelstiltskin – Black Fairy relationship. In this alternate universe, she was the Mayor of Storybrooke, and still doing her part in order to run part of her son’s life. Specifically, focusing on Gideon with him is the way to pull the strings.
Mayor Fairy also had the book at the end of the hour, which certainly made her all the more powerful since she realized just how capable he was. She put him in a vulnerable spot, and despite Henry landing in the hospital, he still couldn’t find a way in order to convince Emma to become the woman she was. She set out to destroy the book at the end of the hour.
Elsewhere in the episode, part of the fun for this story was getting to see another fantastic team-up for Hook and Charming, two characters who really come from alternate walks of life and have very different journeys. Putting them together helped to reaffirm the relationship that was there; plus, it was a healthy dose of action that a show like this can always use.
This episode set a strong foundation for the finale, but more than that, it did also effectively remind its audience of the show that it was. Given that the finale is the big farewell to Jennifer Morrison and many other cast members, sometimes it’s worthwhile to look back before looking forward.
Could there have been more definite closure to this episode? Sure, but it felt clear from about halfway through that this was meant to be more of an introduction to the finale than something that was meant to stand on its own. Episode Grade: B.
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