'Once Upon a Time' season finale preview: recaps, relationships, and spoilers

Recaps: Season 4A

Note: Each brief recap is linked to a full one.

This season has been one heck of a ride, and a little bit more cohesive than last year’s two arch format. We began with the episode “A Tale of Two Sisters”, which introduces Elsa into Storybrooke, followed by “White Out,” which establishes her bonding with Emma. “Rocky Road” introduced us to the ice cream shop Any Given Sundae and Sara/Ingrid the Snow Queen. It also delved into the Robin Hood and Regina relationship with the freezing of Marian, and Snow White had her first town meeting, which was not much of a success.

In “The Apprentice”, we learn of the sorcerer and why Dark Ones have been so obsessed with gaining his power...this turned out to be much more important than it initially appeared as he has been the central theme behind the scenes for the rest of the season, and will be in the finale. We also get to see Emma and Hook’s first date.

Another key player that we didn’t necessarily anticipate seeing again in such a pivotal role, was Lily. We got to meet her in “Breaking Glass”. Giancarlo Esposito has a brief reprisal as Sidney, who is set free by Ingrid, and Snow is lured away from Prince Neal, who she is deathly afraid of loosing. Can you blame her? I mean after sending Emma away, and Zelena kidnapping Prince Neal once already.

The episode “Family Business” deals with the relationships between Ingrid, Anna, and Elsa. We also got to meet Belle’s mother and an evil Bo Peep. Rumple and Belle’s marriage is explored while Emma and Elsa discover that all Ingrid really wants is to make them her family. Ingrid’s original family, her relationship with her sisters, is revealed in “The Snow Queen”. In Storybrooke, she is caught by Emma and Elsa, which leads to the unleashing of Emma’s true power. The two hour special “Smash the Mirror” explained how Elsa ended up in the urn, exhibited Robin Hood and Regina’s uncontrollable attraction, and furthered Hook and Emma’s relationship as he attempted to save her from Rumple’s deceptive plan to help her get rid of her powers.

After a holiday break, Once Upon a Time returned with “Fall”, which detailed the coming of Ingrid’s Spell of Shattered Sight. The following episode, “Shattered Sight”, detailed the chaos caused by the spell, including a tantalizing fight between Snow and Regina, and provided closure for Ingrid as she learned that her sisters really did love her. She reversed the spell, sacrificing herself in the process.

In the midseason finale, “Heroes and Villains”, Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff go home, Belle banishes Rumple from Storybrooke, Regina has to send Robin Hood out of town in order to save Marian’s life, and Henry finds a library full of empty story books.

[new page = Recaps continued]

Season 4B

The first episode of the second arch, “Darkness on the Edge of Town”, shows Rumple in The Enchanted Forest summoning Maleficent, Cruella, and Ursula in order to get the dark curse, and in the present, using Cruella and Ursula to regain entrance into Storybrooke. We also learn that Snow and Charming have a secret that Cruella and Ursula know about, one they don’t want shared!

In “Unforgiven”, we see Snow and Charming in the past learn that Snow is pregnant and that the child will have the potential for the greatest good or the greatest evil. In Storybrooke, Maleficent is resurrected, Belle gets together with Will, and Snow asks Regina to go undercover to learn Cruella, Ursula, and Rumple’s plan. Regina does go undercover, and her excursions with the evil trio begin in “Enter the Dragon” where , against her better judgement, she ends up kidnapping Pinnochio.

“Poor Unfortunate Soul” explains Ursula’s past and how she and Hook are connected. In the end, Ursula gets her happy ending, no rewriting or hurting anyone necessary. “Best Laid Plans” details how in the past Snow and Charming stole Maleficent’s egg/child so that Emma’s potential darkness could be averted to it/her and it’s all the result of the author’s writing. In Storybrooke, Emma finally learns her parent’s secret, and Rumple reveals that Lily is Maleficent’s long lost child.

In “Heart of Gold”, Zelena makes her return as we find out that she has been charading as Marian all this time. Cruella’s back story is explored in “Sympathy for the Da Vil”, and after kidnapping Henry, she meets her demise at the hands of Emma. Dark or not dark? That is debatable.

“Lily” is all about her last run in with Emma as a child, and Emma finding her as an adult. Emma almost kills her, but Regina talks her out of it. Then, in New York, it is revealed that Zelena is pregnant with Robin’s child. This, of course, leads straight into “Mother”, which shows Lily and Maleficent’s reunion, Emma’s forgiveness of Snow, and Regina’s realization that she doesn’t have to eliminate Zelena to have a happy ending. However, everything is left hanging when the author whisks himself away to Rumple and begins writing a new book: Heroes and Villains!

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The estranged couple meet for real at the end of “Lily.” Rumple returns Belle’s heart, but admits that he’s not worthy of it and that he will leave it to Will to protect. This is a precarious place to leave off, as we know that Will eventually reunites with his true love, Anastasia and Rumple has no real plans of giving up on her. However, it would appear that he thinks that his relationship with her can only be restored by having the author rewrite the story book. Indeed, the previews indicate that Rumple will become a heroic knight and Belle even calls him a hero...so, we know they’re together. But somehow we also know that this alternate reality will somehow be quelled. What then?

Outlaw Queen

At the end of “Mother,” Regina realizes that she can have a happy ending, because she already has all she needs to be happy, and Robin is part of that. This is a very healthy place to be for her, and Robin seems very content with her declaration. But, the previews show a topsy turvey world where Regina is the bandit instead of Snow White, and Robin Hood appears to be a nobleman who will marry Zelena. Will they meet in this alternate universe? Will their true love win through the lies of the author?

Captain Swan

Hook seems to have become Emma’s anchor, and helps her to see the best in herself and others. It’s ironic considering that he’s been so eager to end the lives of those that have hurt him in the past. It’s also fitting since Emma has been his savior and the thing that has kept him on his good path. It is unclear what Emma’s role will be in the new Enchanted Forest as she is seen fighting alongside Regina (Swan Queen shippers hope they’ll have more than a friendship here), but also in a tower looking rather crazy. Hook is not really shown in the previews, so his role is even more ambiguous, but we know he will play one.


It’s true love. What else is there to say? But, in the new story book preview, Snow is the Evil Queen, and when she comes across Regina, she confesses her hate is due to the death of her true love, James. Now, if you don’t remember, James was Charming’s twin brother, and not a very nice guy. Don’t worry, Charming is around, but he works for Snow. She controls him with his heart. It’s kind of odd though, considering she’s shown holding a whole heart and we know he only has half. It seems to me that if the author can’t bring back the dead (a fact we learn in the latest preview), that he wouldn’t be able to rebuild Charming’s crushed heart, or turn each half into a whole. Anyway, this is a similar situation as Regina and Robin Hood as I wonder if true love can break through, and Snow will eventually see Charming as her true love.

Regina and Snow

I wonder if the role reversal will strengthen their relationship. It seems to me that it would give each of them the unique perspective of the other. Regina feels Snow’s regret and desire for forgiveness and reconciliation. Snow will experience Regina’s loss of true love and the anger it sparked. Perhaps she will also gain an understanding of how her mother and Rumple fan the flames of that anger. I’d like to see good come of this.

[new page = Spoilers and interviews]

1. According to Spoilers Guide, the finale will center around Henry. There is still the fan theory that he is the sorcerer reborn and he just doesn’t know it yet. hmmm.

2. According to Hypable, someone is going to die, a fact corroborated by Horowitz. The sorcerer will be introduced and his role explained, and we’ll find out more about the author.

3. In a TV Line interview, Horowitz and Kitsis reveal that there is a top secret scene in the finale, and that season 5 will be more like season 2.

4. Colin O’ Donoghue shared with US Weekly that "They’re not really going to make an easy time of it, Hook and Emma," the actor spilled. "Just when they think they’re going to have time for themselves, something happens. Always something happens in Storybrooke! Hook, he really wants to try and make [the relationship] work so he’s going to do whatever it takes to make that happen!" I guess we already knew that, but it makes me wary that somehow something will go wrong or that Emma won’t want to make things work.

4. In another interview with Horowitz and Kitsis, Once Upon a Fan quotes Horowitz as saying, “I think that we would say we’ve set up set up some questions about the nature of the book you see on the show, and we intend to answer those questions and talk more about the mythology of the book and the author. All that falls under that umbrella."

5. Finally, here are some script teases shared through Twitter:

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Carissa Shuman

Carissa is a writer, editor, and artist with a love for science and science fiction.

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