Once Upon A Time: A Land Without Magic

The Lead up:

I’ve been a delinquent reviewer, but here are the major things that have happened on Once Upon A Time leading up to “A Land Without Magic”.

-Katherine came back from the dead and Mary Margaret was cleared of all murder charges. The set-up stank of Regina, but Sydney conveniently copped to abducting Katherine and setting up Mary Margaret.

-In a FABULOUS reveal, August is unveiled as Pinocchio – the once wooden puppet. When Geppetto found out about the Evil Queen’s curse he was distraught over the fate of his newly human son and arranged for Pinocchio to be transported to our world in the very same magical wardrobe tree meant for the saviour. He had to blackmail the blue fairy, promising that seven-year-old Pinocchio would watch over Emma and lead her to her destiny in her 28th year, but Pinocchio wasn’t a good boy in the modern world. He travelled, partied, indulged in pleasure and ignored his promise to his father. Now he’s slowly turning back into wood, desperately trying to make up for lost time and get Emma to embrace her role as saviour.

-Emma threatens to sue for custody of Henry, but she starts to wonder whether her battle with Regina is only hurting her son. She eventually decides to call a truce and leave town, on the condition that she be allowed to visit Henry whenever she wants. But Regina isn’t satisfied with a partial win. She needs to destroy Emma completely to protect her son AND her evil curse. She enlists Jefferson’s (Mad Hatter) help to retrieve her magic apple from fairytale land. She bakes it into a tasty turnover and presents it to Emma as a peace offering. When Henry sees the turnover he FREAKS and grabs it from Emma’s hands. He takes a huge bite, sacrificing himself to keep her alive. He immediately keels over.

“A Land Without Magic”

Wow. What a finale this was! They really pulled out all the stops to close out the season. EVERYONE came out to play, they ripped back all the curtains to expose the truth, and a killer twist was introduced for Season 2. So let’s get to it!

Emma rushes Henry to the hospital where a hysterical Regina meets them. The doctors can’t figure out what is wrong with him. Magic doesn’t exactly show up on medical tests. Regina is completely devastated when realizes that Henry ate the turnover meant to plunge Emma into an eternal sleep.

In her panic, Emma grabs Henry’s fairytale book and is hit by a powerful surge. She flashes back to the faces of Snow White and Prince Charming telling her she’ll be safe. She finally believes. Regina breaks down and admits the truth – that she IS an evil queen and that Henry has eaten a poisoned apple, but she has no more magic left and she can’t help him. Rumpelstiltskin, aka Mr. Gold, may be their only hope!

While Emma and Regina are on a desperate search to save their son, we flash back to Prince Charming’s quest to save his sleeping sweetheart. Regina still has him locked in her castle, but with the help of the heartless (literally, not figuratively ‘cause he turns out to be quite the softie!) huntsman (guest appearance #1) he’s able to escape. Aww … I didn’t realize how much I miss Jamie Dornan! Charming’s relief is short-lived when the Queen uses her magic mirror to zap him into the middle of an infinite forest. He runs around in circles for a while until Rumpel shows up with a solution. He’s somehow stolen Charming’s ring, which could lead him right to Snow White. The closer Charming gets to Snow White, the brighter it will glow, but it won’t lead him anywhere unless Rumpel gives it back. And he’ll only do that for a price. Of course. Rumpel has managed to bottle True Love and he wants to protect his valuable potion. He’s placed it inside a golden egg and needs Charming to hide it in a very specific place.

Back in Storybrooke, David tries to approach Mary Margaret one last time. He sings the same old song ‘I’m so sorry I believed you cut out my wife’s heart’ – which doesn’t sound any less harsh the more he says it. David has decided to move to Boston unless his true love can give him a reason to stay. She doesn’t.

Emma and Regina beg Mr. Gold for help and he reveals the secret of his dark curse. When he created it, he placed a single drop of his True Love potion on the parchment, and that’s why Emma is the bright light who can break through the dark magic. “True Love is the only magic powerful enough to transcend any realm.” But it’s a classic Good News/Bad News situation. The good news? Rumpel only used a tiny bit of his potion and saved the rest. The bad news? It will be a TEENSY bit difficult to retrieve it. Mr. Gold picked one hell of a sadistic hiding spot. Regina gets it right away and she’s horrified, but no one clues Emma into what she’s about to face. Mr. Gold presents her with her father’s sword and tells her she’s the only one with the power to recover the potion.

Regina leads Emma into a strange building and opens up a secret elevator. Emma must go down solo while Regina stays and operates the elevator. Of course she doesn’t want to trust that crazy bitch, but she doesn’t have much choice. “The only reason you’re not dead is because I need your help to save Henry. He dies, so do you.”

Emma descends into a large cavernous dungeon, clutching her sword awkwardly. She surveys the area and leans up against a large rock to get her bearings … or what she thought was a large rock. It’s actually a huge ass dragon!!! What on earth?!?

Back in Fairytale Land, we follow Charming on his own encounter with the beast. He arrives at Maleficent’s (guest appearance #2) palace with the golden egg and she quickly transforms into her dragon form to show him to the door!

There is a fantastic back and forth between Fairytale Land and Storybrooke as Charming and Emma both battle the fire-breathing Maleficent; probably the best transitions I’ve seen in his show. Charming lures the dragon in before shoving the golden egg through an opening in her neck (or gills, or whatever dragon’s are packing). Emma hilariously drops her sword, says “to hell with this” and starts shooting with her Sheriff’s gun. Oh Emma. You’ve still got a long way to go before you qualify as a fairytale princess! As the dragon rages, Charming smashes through a stained glass window and plunges into the ocean. Emma turns and runs, with the dragon hot on her heels, reaching for the sword at the last minute and tossing it into Maleficent’s belly. The dragon explodes into ash, leaving the Golden Egg behind.

Again, I stress how cool these sequences were: two high-octane battles occurring in the past and the present – one depicting the hiding of the Golden Egg and the other the recovery of it. Nice.

Meanwhile … dun, dun, dun. Other players are plotting behind the scenes! Jefferson (guest appearance #3) cornered Regina earlier and demanded his reward for retrieving the magic apple. She had promised to create a new story for him; make him forget Fairytale land and give him a new life with Paige. But with Henry fighting for his life, Regina is not in a generous mood. The apple was meant for Emma and when her own son took a bite she considered their deal null and void.

Jefferson doesn’t appreciate her double-crossing, unfair attitude so he decides to make his own power play. He dresses up like an orderly, sneaks down into the basement of the hospital and breaks into the psych ward to free Belle (guest appearance #4)! She doesn’t seem aware of who she is or what she’s doing there but Jefferson gives her very specific instructions: Find Mr. Gold and tell him that Regina locked her up. So is Jefferson’s play to turn Mr. Gold into a fireball of rage? Err … an even larger fireball of rage?

Charming returns to Rumpel and is rewarded with his mother’s ring. And just for flare, Rumpel poofs him into a lux new suit so he’ll look snazzy for Snow White when he tracks her down. Charming gallops through the land until he reaches Snow White’s glass tomb and lays a kiss upon her ruby red lips. She awakens suddenly and gasps, “You found me.” He responds, “Did you ever doubt I would?” Charming takes his true love on a walk beside the lake where he officially proposes and slips a ring onto her finger. But there’s still the little matter of her psychotic stepmother and his murderous fake father. They’ll have to take back the kingdom to truly be happy! Okay good … I’ve been waiting for an explanation for how Charming and Snow White ended up in charge when faux daddy was still alive. But isn’t it TWO kingdoms they have to take over? Real estate is so confusing in Fairytale Land.

With the golden egg in her hands, Emma is trying to hurry back to Henry, but gets trapped in the elevator on the way up. Mr. Gold yells down to tell her that Regina abandoned her and rigged the elevator. He’s all ‘just toss the egg to me and I’ll help you up’. No, no, no, no, no! This is obviously a trick Emma! Have you never seen a treasure hunt movie!? People always want you to hand over the gold, the chalice, or the magic lamp … so they can laugh maniacally while they bury you beneath the earth for all eternity. But Emma gives Mr. Gold the goods and then acts surprised when he doesn’t reappear to rescue her. Sigh. She manages to scale the distance on her own and finds Regina tied up and gagged at the top.

An urgent call from the hospital sends them both running to Henry’s side, where they discover that he has flatlined and passed away. I was completely swept away by the chaos of it all. They killed the little kid!!! What??? Everyone is sobbing hysterically, Henry is just lying there all tiny and pale … it’s horrible! Can’t Emma just kiss it away or something? True love between a mother and son? Oh wait – yes she can. He’s ALIVE!!! Kiss, Kiss, breathe, breathe! So Emma’s goodbye kiss to her son brings him back to life, which is good, I guess. They shouldn’t really kill children on Disney shows. But can you imagine the BALLS it would take to really off him? And the anger and torment it would bring upon both his moms? I kind of wish they had.

At Mr. Gold’s shop, he is delightfully pocketing his True Love potion when he turns around and looks straight into Belle’s eyes. He’s completely flabbergasted that she’s alive. She hesitantly explains to him that she was told to seek him out, tell him Regina was holding her captive and ask for protection. He embraces her, tells her to trust him and leads her into the woods on a mission.

But it turns out Emma’s kiss was more than just a kiss. It creates a magical shockwave that ripples through the entire town: crashing into Mary Margaret, smashing over David as he drives away and awakening everyone from a haze. True Love’s first kiss broke the curse. David turns around and rushes back into town where he finds Mary Margaret wandering the streets and throws himself into her arms yelling, “Snow!” I can’t bring myself to care about those two anymore – in any land. Regina is all like, ‘Shiiiittt. I’m in trouble!’ And people are already starting to turn on her. Mother Superior sizes her up with an icy cold glare: “If I were you, your majesty, I’d find a place to hide.”

But um, why are they all still in Storybrooke? The short answer is because there’s a Season 2 and they need something to work towards. The long answer is that nobody is really sure. Henry has no explanation and Regina is too busy freaking out to share her thoughts.

Mr. Gold is still leading Belle into the woods when she stops and gasps as the magic washes over her. She remembers her true identity and her love for Rumpelstiltskin. They have stopped at the wishing well; the very same one that August pointed out to Emma. “The waters that run below have the power to return that which one has lost.” Mr. Gold pulls out his True Love potion and tosses it down into the depths. As it hits the water, it creates a purple mist (think Lost’sSmoke Monster, but bigger and much prettier) that begins to grow in size. What exactly has he done? He’s released magic into a world without it. And we all know “magic is power”.

As the purple smoke flows over Storybrooke, the residents become terrified. They don’t know what’s happening, but they know it’s not something good … except for Regina, who stops crying into her pillow long enough to smirk out her window. Things might just work out in her favour after all.

Favourite Scenes:

I really enjoyed the parallel scenes between Henry and his two mothers as he lay unconscious. Emma knelt over him and told him that, “You were right about the curse. I should have believed you.” She carefully placed his storybook by his bed so it would be there when he woke up. Then Regina leaned over Henry as well, equally broken up by emotion. It’s really the one thing that still makes her human – her love for Henry. It makes me wonder why she isn’t able to show him more genuine affection and fulfill his needs. Henry clearly turned to fairytales because there was a hole in his life. He needed a way to explain his mother’s cold nature and his dissatisfaction with reality. Maybe Regina is so full of hatred that she can’t even remember how to behave with people she actually loves.

There was also a fantastic goodbye between Emma and August when she rushed into his apartment to beg for help and found him motionless on his bed. He was rapidly turning back into wood, barely able to breathe, and Emma was powerless to stop it. I’m not sure what she was more broken up about – the fact that he was basically dying or the fact that he was leaving her alone. Emma didn’t know how to act now that she finally ‘believed’. August’s face transformed into solid wood as he uttered his last encouraging words to her.

Favourite Quotes:

Rumpel: (about his True Love potion) “I saved some for a rainy day.”

Emma: “Well it’s storming like a bitch. Where is it?”


So what are we in for on the next season of Once Upon A Time? Will our re-empowered characters be trying to find a way back home while they battle dark magic?

I’m wondering about a few specific issues:

-Just how messed up will these people be??? It seems like they’ve remembered their fairytale identities but they haven’t forgotten who they are in Storybrooke. How will they handle two conflicting sets of memories knocking around in their craniums? If Jefferson is any indication, they’re likely to go a little batty. Seems like the only people who can handle that kind of burden are evil creatures like Regina and Mr. Gold. Imagine you’re walking around town and you suddenly remember that you turned into a wolf and ate your boyfriend? Or that you used to be a magical fairy? Or a CRICKET?

-What is Mr. Gold’s end game? After his last flashback episode, when it was revealed that his son left Storybrooke for a land with no magic, I thought he created Regina’s curse as a way to track down his boy. But yet, he seemed to be rooting for August to break the curse. As the author of the curse, did he realize that breaking it would only bring back the memories but not return the characters to their true home? Could he have actually have had enough crazy foresight that he hid the True Love potion KNOWING that Emma would break the curse and he would bring magic back to a world where it doesn’t belong? AHH – my brain hurts just thinking about it. Where does this bastard really want to be and what is he after?

-What will the format of the show be next year? Will we still have flashbacks to Fairytale Land now that all the characters are self-aware. And what the heck are they all going to call each other? Are they all going to use fairytale names or will they keep their Storybrooke pseudonyms. If the same names are being used for both worlds … these reviews are going to get very confusing!

Photo Courtesy of ABC

One thought on “Once Upon A Time: A Land Without Magic

  1. I really like this show, but must agree…I barely care about the Snow/Mary Margaret/Charming/David storyline anymore. They almost seem a little bland to me. Other characters are far more interesting. Rumpel/Mr. Gold steals the show and Evil Queen/Regina is a deliciously evil character with just a trace of humanity in her. I have enjoyed the creative take the writers have given the old fairytales. Will be interesting to see how they handle next season, now that the curse has been broken.

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