ONCE UPON A TIME Season 5 Finale Recap: The One That Didn’t Work

once upon a time

Well, that was a bit anticlimactic, wasn’t it?

Last night’s ONCE UPON A TIME had the potential to be pretty awesome, but something didn’t quite work during the two-hour season finale and the episode just fell kind of flat. Maybe it was the fact that it relied too much on Henry when it shouldn’t have, or maybe it was the script that didn’t really work… I don’t know. The only good thing that came out of it was that, for once, it didn’t end in tragedy and Emma and Hook were actually together and not suffering. So, silver lining and all that.

Henry, though, was on full on teenager mode, and decided that he had to destroy all magic, no matter what, without thinking of the consequences. Classic teen stuff, right? So he sets off on a quest with Violet and ends up in New York, at his dad’s old apartment, following clues from his journal about how to destroy the source of all the misery in his family. And I get what he was trying to do, his heart was in the right place, but come on, Henry. You can’t just destroy something that is deeply rooted in pretty much all members of your immediate family because bad things happened. That’s not how life works. Deal with it.

But he is pretty set on it, which causes Regina and Emma to go after him to try and stop him. After all, Storybrooke was built with magic, so what’s going to happen to the town once magic no longer exists? Regina is also fighting against herself, so that she won’t let her Evil Queen self take over in her grief. Emma is super worried – with good reason; we all know how the Evil Queen is – but Regina is kind of offended that she would even think that. It takes a while for her to admit that she actually is afraid that she might revert to her evil self.

Meanwhile, the Charmings, Hook and Zelena get trapped in another realm. That’s where we meet next season’s villain Mr. Hyde and the good Dr. Jekyll. Now here’s the thing. This could have been really good. I really can’t put my finger on what exactly didn’t work, but this part of the story just kind of dragged. To make a long story short, the doctor was working on a serum that would separate the good and evil in him  – which is how Mr. Hyde is now running amok in Storybrooke, saying he is the king of the world, after making a deal with Gold.

That is also how Regina decides to separate herself from the Evil Queen. She takes the Queen’s heart and crushes it, so they all think that she is gone for good. So the gang returns to Storybrooke, Henry kisses Violet, and life goes on. Except they have no idea that some form of the Evil Queen lives on and she is alive (?) and well in New York City.

Now let’s talk about why this finale didn’t work. It felt like they didn’t really know which direction they were going to, so it was decided last minute. They had to introduce a new fairytale and it seems like they wanted to bring the Evil Queen back, so they probably thought, hey, why not go with both? The problem here was, they had just wrapped up Hades and it just felt like the new storyline wasn’t entirely thought out. Maybe if they had used last week’s episode as the season finale, things would probably flow a little bit better. It was a sort of cliffhanger, but it had already tied some loose ends from the entire season, so it would work great as a finale.

What we were treated to last night was an episode that seemed to drag on for hours, with no super exciting action and a poorly developed storyline. I don’t know. I hope they use the summer to really get into it and develop this into a better product. Otherwise, they just might lose viewers.

ONCE UPON A TIME is set to return this fall on ABC.

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