‘Once Upon a Time’ winter finale review: Have a heart

"Once Upon a Time" - CastAs critical as we have been about “Once Upon a Time” season 2 so far this year, you cannot deny the excitement that was in the air during much of the winter finale. Even though the episode was relatively simple, it truly kept its fairytale feel intact as it brought us a simple story about love while also teaching us a little bit about some of the characters in the process.

If there is one criticism that we still have, it is of the misguided message that “good always wins,” which is a crazy idealist way to view the world. Can good win? Sure, but you cannot just say that before first putting forth the effort to go along with it. Good did win this week, but that was because good did not let evil triumph.

Now, let’s try to look at just every game-changing move that happened over the course of the hour.

They’re back… – Thanks largely to Regina’s decision to not kill whoever came in through the portal to Storybrooke (which was prompted by Henry), Mary Margaret and Emma are now back in the Maine town! This provided them to have a joyous family reunion, but it was tainted in a way by Regina quickly realizing how quickly her good deed was forgotten about. She’s still on the outside, and thus largely ignored and remembered mostly for her past actions.

But they are coming… – Captain Hook may be the master of losing out to Emma, but this time around he did have something else up his sleeve in the event that she and Mary Margaret took the portal: a magic bean. Thanks to his shrewd move, he and Cora are set to land on Storybrooke when the show returns, and Regina could have either a powerful ally or her worst nightmare.

What we learned – Thanks to a key scene in Rumpelstiltskin’s prison cell, we found out that even though he did not predict everything that would happen moving forward, he had the intelligence to leave Emma a note in his old cell, and thus threw her into a tailspin as she wondered whether or not she was really in control of any of her actions, or if this was Rumple’s plan all along. Despite what Mr. Gold said, we’re actually counting it as a little bit of both.

What about these two? – Is the story really over for Aurora and Mulan? If so, this is the letdown of the century. Everyone else has already departed this world, and the last we saw of them was the realization that Phillip could be saved. It never really felt like these characters were as fleshed out as they could be, and it is a dire shame.

What did you think about this winter finale as a whole? If you want some scoop as to what is coming up on “Once Upon a Time” season 2, you can do so over at the link here.

Photo: ABC

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