‘Once Upon a Time’ Season Finale Delivers Mother Lode of Magic: Recap and Review

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"Once Upon a Time" usually focuses on the origin and backstory of its popular fairy tale characters without doing much to advance the modern plot, but the fast-paced season finale restores the magic and gives Season 2 a compelling twist. In the mother of all episodes, Regina reveals a surprisingly soft maternal side while Emma realizes the power of true love and discovers the identity of her birthparents. Rumpel ruins the happy ending and conveniently opens an interesting new story arc.

Regina Loves Henry

With her sly grin and conniving ways, the Evil Queen usually treats her adopted son Henry like an object she keeps only to hurt his birthmother. Her punitive approach to motherhood and impeccable power suits make it hard to believe she ever hugged a sticky grade-schooler or lovingly kissed a boo boo, but the season finale reveals a softer side of mommy dearest. She truly feels guilty for inadvertently poisoning Henry and broken-heartedly weeps when he returns to Emma. As the terrifying purple fog rolls into Storybrooke, her telling smirk hints that her frosty heart is still full of darkness and ready to spread malevolence in Season 2. The only thing more frightening than an evil queen is an evil queen driven by a broken heart.

Emma Accepts Magic

Skeptical Emma suddenly has an Oprah-worthy aha moment when she touches the storybook and sees flashes of herself as an infant with Snow and Charming. After an entire season of denial, is it a contrived solution? No, because Henry's illness leaves her receptive to any possible cure, and she is driven by true love. Between August's proof, Henry's pleas, and Regina's poison apple, Emma had to accept the fairy tale reality.

The Magic Returns

When Emma breaks the curse, the fairy tale characters remember their other lives and David reunites with Mary Margaret. A confused Belle even manages to find Rumpel/Mr. Gold, but Rumpel immediately ruins the potential happy ending by bringing magic into the world. The greedy creature has a dangerous gleam in his eye, but he also has a sympathetic side, like all the show's supposed villains. Does he plan to use magic for something sinister or does he simply need it to find his son?

Season 2 Predictions

The biggest disappointment was that Emma did not interact with Mary Margaret and David after finding out that they are her parents, but there will likely be a pivotal reunion in the future. The perfectly balanced season finale advanced the story enough to begin a new chapter while leaving some major questions for next season. Is August human again? What does the purple haze mean to Regina and the townsfolk? Will Rumpel avenge Belle's imprisonment?

With unexplored questions, like the identity of Henry's father, and an endless supply of Disney characters, "Once Upon a Time" can continue to surprise and entertain fans in upcoming seasons

Watch the entire season finale of "Once Upon a Time":

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