Image: ABC

Once Upon a Time has written the final page and closed the book. The Final Battle hinted at since the beginning of the show is over, and everyone has gotten their happy endings (including one person who totally didn’t deserve it). Then, why is the show coming back for another season?

“The Final Battle,” the two-part season six finale of Once Upon a Time, went a little differently than I expected. Instead of it being a battle to the death (at least at first) it was a battle for Emma’s belief. As the Savior (copyright every damn episode since the beginning of time), Emma was the glue holding the storybook together, and Black Fairy Fiona’s curse makes it so all the realms would disappear if Emma stopped believing. This slowed the pace a little more than I would’ve liked, making the stakes feel smaller than they should have, but I did like how it played on the conflict of the first season.

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That said, the Black Fairy is terrible at curses—ironic, since she’s the one who made the Dark Curse in the first place. Fiona sends Emma’s family to the Enchanted Forest, fulfilling her promise of separating Emma from the ones she loves. Then, why is Henry still there? And furthermore, why does he remember everything when no one else does? I guess this could be attributed to his powers as the Almighty Author, but it’s never explained. It would’ve made way more sense for Fiona to send Henry away with everybody else, making Emma all alone... doubting she ever had a family in the first place.

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Henry spends a good portion of the first episode trying to convince Emma, who’s gone all Sarah Connor in Terminator 2, that Madame Mayor Fiona has cursed the town to forget everything that’s happened over the past two years. Meanwhile, Rumple (as Mr. Gold) is trying to get Fiona to re-open the investigation into Belle’s disappearance, doubtful that Belle simply ran away... even though I wouldn’t blame her, given how terribly Rumple has treated her. This is because, as it turns out, Rumple was stronger than Fiona’s curse and kept his memories, and he’s pissed that Fiona backed out of their deal to give him everything he wanted. What did you expect, dude? She’s pure evil.

Henry is, at first, unsuccessful in helping Emma regain her memories, and she ends up burning the famous Once Upon a Time book so she can move on with her life, leaving everyone in the Enchanted Forest on the brink of extinction (all, like, 12 of them; the show’s budget hasn’t allotted tons of extras as of late). She relocates to Boston for about a day, magically still retaining her old apartment, then comes back because Henry wrote a secret second book and slipped it in her knapsack (when did he have time to do that while in the hospital with a broken arm?). Henry and Emma go to confront Fiona, but she’s kind of busy getting murdered by her son, Rumple. It was a sad moment, albeit a little anti-climactic, but it did (somewhat) fulfill the prophecy that the Black Fairy would get murdered by Tthe Savior.

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The Black Fairy’s convenient death saves the day, bringing all our main heroes back to Storybrooke and restoring everyone back to their realms—including Evil Regina, who had sacrificed herself to save everyone else, retconning her death so she and Robin could get married. But Fiona had one final trick up her sleeve. Still holding Gideon’s heart hostage, she commanded him to kill Emma, no matter the cost. Apparently he’s “Light” now, so everyone freaks out at the Catch-22 the Black Fairy left them with. If Gideon kills Emma, Light Magic is destroyed... but if Emma kills Gideon, her heart will become dark and Light Magic will be destroyed anyway. What can they do? Umm, just have someone else kill Gideon, guys. It’s not that hard.

But no, this is Emma’s fight, and she and Gideon battle to the death, with some decent fight choreography... something that’s been desperately missed on the show. But Emma, as the Savior, chooses to put down her sword and believe that Gideon will do the right thing. Only psych! He doesn’t—he stabs Emma through the gut, without leaving a scratch on her (including her clothing), seemingly destroying Light Magic along with her. Only double psych! Henry gives her the Kiss of True Love (copyright every other damn episode), waking her up from death and giving everyone their happy ending.

Charming, Snow, and Baby Neal move to a farm, and Snow returns to her love of teaching. Henry’s back in school, along with his girlfriend. Hook and Emma are now co-sheriffs, ruling the town from Emma’s yellow VW bug. And Regina is now Queen of Storybrooke—not sure how that works in a democratic country, but okay. Finally, Gideon has been turned back into a baby, giving Rumple and Belle their son back. I figured that would happen, and I’m really happy it did. What I’m not happy with is Rumple and Belle getting back together. Screw that. He was an abusive monster who threatened her life and well-being on several occasions to get what he wanted. One right choice doesn’t excuse dozens of wrong ones.

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After all our characters get their admittedly amazing Happily Ever After montage, we cut to the season seven tease that we had hints of at the beginning of each “The Final Battle” episode. A little girl named Lucy has escaped a major threat in the Enchanted Forest, thanks to her father’s sacrifice. After meeting up with Tiger Lily, Lucy heads to Seattle with a new Once Upon a Time book, and she goes to find her father to save their family. Turns out... it’s Henry! The Circle of Life continues—or it’s history repeating itself, depending on who you ask.

Season seven is going to have a lot of changes. Most of the main actors are not coming back—some by choice, others by a changing creative direction. The few characters who are sticking around, Rumple (Robert Carlyle), Hook (Colin O’Donoghue), and Regina (Lana Parrilla), will have the show refocused around them, along with an older Henry and Lucy. This feels like a really bad decision that’s going to undo many of our “happy beginnings” promised at the end of this season. Why would they separate Hook from Emma, given all they’ve been through to be together? Why would they take away Rumple’s family again? I’d be lying if I said the cliffhanger didn’t hook me a little bit—but if there’s one thing OUAT is good at, it’s cliffhangers. What they’re bad at is basically everything else.

I’ve watched Once Upon a Time since the very beginning, seen the characters go through hell and high water to finally get their happily ever afters. For the most part, it’s been pretty stupid, but I’ve stuck with it. Now, their stories are done, the book is closed. Granted, it wasn’t the ending I was hoping for, but at least it was an ending. Continuing the story past this point feels like a mistake, one that won’t last past a season.

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Once Upon a Time is a story that should only be told once. The End.

Assorted Musing:

• I love how Fiona also sent Zelena away, even though she and Emma weren’t exactly the best of friends. I think it was personal revenge for that time Zelena hit her with a car.