Once Upon a Time Season Finale Recap: Something Bad Is Coming

The following recap, by the very definition of the word “recap,” contains spoilers from the season finale of Once Upon a Time.

Wasn’t it Huey Lewis who once sang of the power of love? But more on that in a minute.

The first season finale of ABC’s Once Upon a Time — and make no mistake, there will be a Season 2 — was everything the pages of TVLine told you it would be. “Crazy-bananas” (to quote cast member Josh Dallas, who certainly is no Pinocchio). “Severely intense,” as exec producer Eddy Kitsis put it. And yes, it left you, in its final 60 seconds, thinking, “Holy, holy, holy s–t.”

The plotting of the episode was thrilling, tight and danced around no loopholes, addressing the elephant in the room — Henry’s grave state, how he got there and how might he be saved — and then introducing something a lot bigger than an elephant, in another room.

RELATED | TVLine’s Renewal Scorecard: What’s Coming Back in the Fall? What’s Toast?

From the top….

Emma and Regina arrive at the hospital frantic over Henry’s fate, yet Dr. Whale is at a loss to treat the boy knowing not what felled him. And it is while rummaging through Henry’s book bag — and laying hands on the his storybook — that Emma, already ever-so-slightly suspecting that magic is afoot, “flashes” and becomes a believer.

Cue throw-down in the storage closet with Mayor Mills aka the Evil Queen! Magically delicious.

Once that tussle is out of the way and Regina cops to her true identity, the two ladies — sharing an agenda — visit Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin to see if he has access to any magic that could save Henry. As it would turn out, Rumple while back in fairytale land socked something away “for a rainy day”: a flask of “true love” potion, which he encased in a jeweled egg and charged Charming with placing inside the belly of the beast — aka Maleficent’s monstrous alter ego.

Thing is, Maleficent, when the Queen laid down the dark curse, was transported to Storybrooke in that form, and now dwells way, way, way below ground. Emma is the only one who can fetch the egg, and she is lowered via elevator to the cave, where she at first unloads her pistol into the dragon, to no avail. (Had to try, right?) She then decides to make use of the sword provided by Rumplestiltskin — one that belonged to Charming — and hurls it through the air and smack dab into the beast’s soft spot. Biff-bam-kablooey, the critter is defeated, its egg-cellent stash revealed.

Alas, Emma then gets a bit daft and, when the ‘vator stalls near the top of the shaft, lobs the egg to Rumplestiltskin — who promptly flits away with it, having bound and gagged Regina above. But before the ladies can chase the imp, they get pinged by the hospital. Henry didn’t make it. He’s passed on. He’s no more. Dead parrot and all that. However….

In bidding her boy goodbye, Emma plants a kiss on his forehead, and just as with Charming and Snow way back when in a realm far, far away, Henry is revived by true love. Not only that, everyone in Storybrooke realizes their true identities, cuing up a glorious, open-the-tear ducts reunion between Mary Margaret’s Snow and David’s Prince Charming. All is good!

‘Cept something bad is coming….

You see, Jefferson aka Mad Hatter, desperate to be reunited with his daughter, infiltrated the hospital ward where Regina/the Evil Queen keeps her most valuable captives. He found Belle and sent her to Mr. Gold with the message that Regina had locked her away. Rumple was gobsmacked to be reunited with his love, who alas had no recollection of their fairytale romance, but promised that he would protect her, as asked. And to that end, he took the “true love” vial, pinched from Emma, and brought it to the well that August (now back to 100-percent wood, sad) first showed us a few weeks back. And by dropping the flask into the waters below — waters that have the power to restore that which has been lost — Rumple conjured up a cotton candy-like smoke that crept along and then enveloped Storybrooke.

Magic is coming to the Maine burg, Rumple told his visibly worried love, and with magic comes power — something Regina, heretofore sobbing in Henry’s bedroom, seemed to appreciate as she gazed out the window and smirked.

Once fans, what did you think of the Season 1 finale? Quite edge-of-your-seat, crazy-romantic and then haunting, no? What do you think Season 2 will entail, with magic in play in quaint Storybrooke? And are you excited to follow the Snow/Charming story back in fairytale land, as they aim to take back the kingdom, together?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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193 Comments
  1. Kelly says:

    The Gold and Belle reunion scene in his shop was amazing. It was very beautiful. The chemistry and emotions made me tear up. RC and EDR rock. I hope they write more for Belle. I really hope he doesn’t choice magic and power over his son and his true love.

  2. vissy says:

    I loved the finale but I can’t believe they really went there, breaking the curse and making Emma believe in one episode, I thought that the whole curse breaking thing would have been the main focus of the second season, understanding how to get there and how to do it, while Emma adjusted to the discovery she just made (I mean discovering that the parents who you thought abandoned you are actually Snow White and Prince Charming can be a little traumatic!). I really don’t know what they’re going to do now, and I can’t understand what is that Rumple wants to do…he wanted to go into the real world to find Bae…maybe now that he is not stuck in Storybrooke (they shouldn’t be right?) he can use magic to locate him and reach him…or maybe he just wants to make Regina pay…I guess we’ll see. I don’t see him putting magic over Belle or Bae this time, I think that magic is just what he needs to get his happy ending, not the happy ending per se.
    I am sorry we didn’t get to see the family reunion between Snow, Charming and Emma, not even an hint to it, I was expecting Charming to answer to Snow’s “You found me” “No, SHE found us”…well I guess we have to wait September (or October?!) to see that.

  3. One of the worst shows on television. Worst season finale ever. Never thought I there would be worse show than LOST. But this it.

    • Ann says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I’m sure there’s a point?

    • wolfenstein says:

      If you think it’s the worst, why do you watch it? Why take the time to post about it? Go watch something you enjoy, and take the OUaT hate with you.

      • Yeah, I am never ever gonna watch this Cartoon Network show again. But the writers of this better, bow before and lick the feet of Eric Kripke and take classes from him to learn how to write a good story and character arcs. I am surprised these guys got Emmy and Golden Awards in the past. This is, nothing but a clear proof that, these awards are rigged. So, I will stop trusting these awards too, for highlighting the worst quality shows on Television.

        • jen says:

          the team of horowitz/kitsis and eric kripke are all brilliant sci-fi writers….the next generation. i prefer h & k,as theirs deals with romantic fantasy/hope . eric kripke(especially with “supernatural”)”s too scary for me…i start jumping at shadows,getting all paranoid. each to his own.

    • greysfan says:

      You bitter person. Love the Once haters i really do.

  4. Ann says:

    Amazing episode! Can’t wait to see all the reunions – especially the Charming family – and to see what that purple snow is all about. Is Rumpel bringing magic to Storybrooke or resetting the curse? He said that the water under the well has the power to bring back what was lost so I’m hoping it’s magic and not bringing the curse back but the clock did stop again, didn’t it? So much info to sort through!

  5. Julie (@CDNspnFAN) says:

    Loved this season from the first moment I set eyes on the premiere in the fall. This season finale did not disappoint! I am so happy that they didn’t keep running around the bush about the curse and that everyone remembers. (I did wanted a scene with Emma and her parents though… lol!!)
    The special effects have gotten so much better than the first episodes and I hope that next year the network will have even more faith in this show and will allow them to have some extra allowance money to get those SE.
    I cannot wait until the fall. I am so happy that this show is coming back!

  6. Linda says:

    Am I only the one who got a little misty when Snow and Charming finally recognised each other in Storybrooke.

  7. JohnB says:

    I really get the Swan Queen thing now. All the Regina and Emma scenes were fantastic and they have so much chemistry! To HoYay was strong in this one. Wanna see more of this frenemy thing between them next season!

  8. Sarah says:

    Umm…WOW!! The finale was epic! I honestly thought they were going to drag the curse and Emma believing for a few more seasons. So glad they went all out because it was one of the best TV finales I’ve ever seen.

    Now the hard part is waiting for Fall….

  9. Lambsilencer says:

    Great finale!

    Now, just one thing for next season: Make Meghan Ory a regular, STAT! :)

  10. Em says:

    Loved it. Now I don’t want to wait until Fall to find out what happens next.

  11. Julia Th says:

    Great finale! But still there’s one question: what about August? Is he now again human or does he stay wooden (which I think would be very, very sad)

    • Lucy says:

      If magic has come to the real world surely he would either be instantly real again or if all else fails they will be able to find the magic to make him human again. This is what I’m hoping at least!

    • jen says:

      wow…wasn’t that scene between emma and him awesome? and i’m still getting calmed down over that so well-acted showdown in the woods. i loved the whole episode but felt totally numb when he turned into wood (sort of oh-oh deja-vu repeat of graham happening here). so my hopes aren’t high for his recovery. he may have been a bad boy but if it weren’t for him,henry would have given up and emma wouldn’t have had the confidence to take that final leap of faith in herself.

  12. I would have voted for E = Epic had you gone with it! The only season finale that tops this one so far this year was Fringe which was just mind-blowing-ly good!

  13. Mikael says:

    I don’t think Emma believing was all that rushed. She was devastated over what was happening with Henry, and her focus was on helping him, not processing everything she had just learned. I think now that Henry is ok, she will be able to stop and process everything and realize just how weird the whole situation is.

    • Templar says:

      I agree. Henry has been feeding her the information for months. The penny finally dropped and it all fell into place. Makes sense to me.

  14. Cassandra says:

    EPIC!

  15. Volcfom says:

    I don’t know… I liked the episode and the juxtaposition of the real world and fairy tale land story lines, but I think it was all too easy. I would have liked the “remembering” to take more than 30 seconds for everyone. I’m definitely sensing a “reset” in Season 2, which would be a cop-out. The problem about having no news of a renewal is that the season finales are treated like series finales. Too much gets tied up. That said, I’ll still be watching next year.

  16. Flora says:

    I enjoyed watching Emma slam Regina into those shelves so much I rewound and watched it again. I just wish she through a couple of punches into her face for good measure.

  17. Amy says:

    I didn’t expect everything to change so dramatically. I think the finale was super exciting and I kept thinking, “I can’t believe this is on network television.”. It is so much more creative and interesting than a stupid Bachelor show or the umpteenth talent competition. Dang the reality show curse that is upon us!

  18. BrianR says:

    Using magic Rumple runs for congress and Regina runs for governor while Emma, Snow and Charming try to stop them.

  19. Louis says:

    I went to Comic-Con last year and sat inside a fairly small set of rooms for the very first “Once Upon a Time” symposium during which we got to see the premiere episode months before it aired. i was among a fairly small number of people but this year it appears they will need the HUGE hall like LOST used to get….

  20. Kim says:

    Did they ever say how Henry came to know everyone in Storybrook were the fairy tale characters? I know MM gave him the book, but what led him to figure it out?

    • Templar says:

      The book tells of magic and spells. He’s a sharp kid, it can’t have escaped his notice that he’s the only child in town who is growing up. All of the others stay the same age. He found his birth mother on the internet, he had to see new cars on there, but none in town. Parallels of townspeople that related to characters in the book. etc.

  21. Amy says:

    I love this show, but it kind of annoys me that Charming cries in almost every scene he is in….

  22. Isabella says:

    I think i might choke on gobsmack after all that awesomeness

  23. Polly says:

    kinda sorta disappointed by this finale, for 2 reasons mostly:

    1) to me there was too much stuff crammed into one episode. having a longer episode or a two parter would have helped, imho.

    2) emma believes the story and in a blink of an eye became the unbeatable and unbreakable chosen one?! a little more struggle for her on that side would’ve made her more “real”, to me.

    intrigued however on the “bring the magic into this world” storyline.
    we’ll see how that works out.

    crossing fingers for even more jane espenson penned episodes xD

  24. Sandi says:

    Absolutely the best show on television right now! (my opinion)

    I loved the finale but I agree with the others that I wish Emma’s epiphany had been more of a gradual process. I’m sure the writers had some reason for it to have to get done at the finale, though.

    Other wishes for the show –

    There’s some way to bring the huntsman character back.

    Snow grows out her hair. I know, I know, it’s superficial. I just think she looks so much more “Snow Whitish” when she’s rocking the long hair.

  25. hannah says:

    This is me, being a Rumplestiltskin/Belle fangirl.

  26. cindy says:

    I loved the part where Emma yelled “HEY” at the dragon/witch and then threw the sword at her just like her father did in episode one; when he threw his sword at the evil queen. way cool.

  27. Lucy says:

    I was bawling my eyes out in the season finale, I loved the episode with Rumpelstiltskin and Belle so seeing them reunited was brilliant! Obviously I was also weeping about Henry and Snow and Charming but thats the scene that got me the most. The dragon was amazing, not sure how they can top this amazing series.

    For fans who are craving more fairytale/real life mixes check out the old classic “10th Kingdom” from 2000, yes its very nineties and the special effects aren’t brilliant but its such a lovely story and is hilarious.

    Can’t wait for more OUAT I’m planning on watching the first series again with my housemates when we get the chance! Its definitely an A* show, keep up the good work! =D

    P.s. More Huntsman! He was awesome

  28. Kath says:

    Now that’s how you write a cliff-hanger!

    (And what a great episode for Jennifer Morrison. She must be thanking her lucky stars that David Shore dumped her from House.)

  29. Kate says:

    I loved the finale, I loved that they brought the huntsman back, he was great in the episodes he was in and I felt we didnt get to see enough of him. I loved it when they were showing Charmring and Emma fighting the dragon at the same time. Plus, I just loved the whole season. The Evil Witches costumes were great, the special effects could use some work, but maybe they can clean those up when they relase the blu ray version of the series. I just hope they have a lot of special features and can’t wait for next season!

  30. Sam A says:

    I really hope they bring the Huntsman/Graham back next season! I loved it wen he came on-screen! Totally lit up my screen!

  31. goodwolfe21 says:

    I loved the finale, but isn’t anyone else a little scared that with magic now in play (that can restore what was lost), there is a chance that some of what was accomplished during this episode will be taken away? I am sincerely hoping that they continue the story in some way or another from where it ended…..and not that this newly introduced magic will take back everyone’s memory of who they are or what has happened….these “Lost” guys do like to tease you and play with you a bit…..we’ll see…..

  32. Kathy says:

    One quick question to all. Why doesn’t Regina/Queen ever uses her book of “Shadows” for her spells like she did in the Disney cartoon movie of “Snow White and the Seven Drawfs” ??? Also note in that book “First True Love’s Kiss” will break the sleeping spell. Nothing defines it as lonely being a kiss from a future husband and wife.

  33. onceuponomite says:

    don’t forget…there is a bigger, badder evil lady out there…probably even more so than Manificent….Regina/The Evil Queen’s MOTHER!!!…i don’t believe we ever got a conclusion to her story…last we saw of her was the day of Regina/TEQ’s wedding…

  34. Emma Swan says:

    LOL Emma’s face when Regina walked into the hospital room saying “Where is he? Where’s my son?” I was thinking: I believe, now I must kick-ass. (From Emma’s face when she walked in)

    • Emma Swan says:

      Plus, when she looked at Henry when he woke: *smiling and talking through smiling teeth* I can’t believe I just fought that frickin dragon for nothing!

  35. Natalie says:

    Seriously, I love this show! Why can’t it be on already!!?? D:

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