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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Once Upon a Time is a land with magic

Once Upon a Time there was a series on ABC. It featured fairy tale characters stuck in the real world. Despite a promising pilot, the next few episodes sucked, driving some viewers away. Then, like a magical spell that takes a little time to work, things began to come to life in the show. Bit by bit, it revealed the charming, fun and whimsy series it could, and deserves, to be. As the first season draws to a close, a heck of a finale proves that Once Upon a Time should get to live happily ever after.

In the fairy tale segments of "A Land Without Magic," Once Upon a Time finally completes the tale of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas). Their reunion in the real world means more, seeing all of the trials they go through in the past, sprinkled throughout this season. If anyone is still doubting that they belong together, given their difficulties in Storybrooke, this should erase that.

"A Land Without Magic" is the title of the Once Upon a Time finale. But the land isn't entirely without magic. Regina (Lana Parrilla) calls upon the little she has left to do away with her foe, Emma (Jennifer Morrison), once and for all. Sadly, this backfires when Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) sacrifices himself heroically to prove to a disbelieving Emma that the tales he tells are true.

And it works! Instantly, Emma believes. Which means that she can see August (Eion Bailey) turning back into wood! She goes to Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) for help, because, while he isn't trustworthy, he is her only chance to save Henry.

"A Land Without Magic" is interesting because it finally makes Regina truly sympathetic, just in time for her to be shunned. Regina's back story has been told, and it's sad, but seeing her as a mother fearing for the life of her son is another thing entirely. Regina and Emma are able to work together because of Henry, who is a true unifying force in their worlds. The boy could also be the key to saving Regina's soul, and by this episode, there is a desire to see her redeemed.

Too bad for Regina her secret identity is exposed. Emma slays the dragon, which is merely a scheme by Mr. Gold, and then wakes Henry with a kiss on the forehead of true love, Happy Potter style, from mother to son. Henry's awakening lifts part of the curse. All of the fairy tale characters become self aware, remembering their past, and who they truly are. Which means Regina had better flee before they string her up, now that she is powerless to defend herself.

Or is she? Mr. Gold's quest in "A Land Without Magic," for reasons still unknown, is to bring magic to Storybrooke. He succeeds, using the egg that Emma retrieves from the dragon. So, while everyone remains in the real world, again, for reasons unknown, Mr. Gold is bringing a little bit of their land into reality. Might Regina make use of this development? This clash of fiction and non-fiction should make for a hell of a second season.

A musing: Is there anyone in Storybrooke who isn't a fairy tale character? What will become of them?

While Mr. Gold's motivations are murky, he does have a new goal now, and that's to keep Belle (Emilie de Ravin, Lost) safe. Angry at Regina, Jefferson (Sebastian Stan, Gossip Girl, Kings) releases Belle, allowing her to return to her beloved, Mr. Gold / Rumpelstiltskin. Will Belle's presence help ground Mr. Gold, and keep him from descending back into evilness? Or will he make the same mistake with her that he made with his son, choosing the dark power over a loved one? Hopefully, his experiences will push him towards the former.

What will happen now? Snow will certainly realize she's a grandma, though she is about the same age as her daughter! And with everyone remembering their lives, and Emma being a believer, there will be a desire to return home. Magic is back, so there may also be a means to make this happen. But will Gold control all the magic, or will some be available to others? It's a huge cliffhanger!


Once Upon a Time has been renewed for a second season, and will return to ABC next fall.

If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter! Catch up with streaming episodes of Once Upon a Time. This article was first posted as Once Upon a Time is a land with magic on TheTVKing.com

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