For the 2nd season in a row, I found Once’s season finale slightly underwhelming. Although introducing some exciting new chess pieces for next year and beyond, the plot to save Storybrooke felt while necessary for a climactic season finale, unsurprising. Nevertheless it had enough layered character moments to be worthwhile.
“And Straight on Till Morning” is highlighted by another strong flashback. The episode if belonging to anyone, is Hook’s. Hook and Bae’s pseudo-father and son relationship illustrates how selfishness has impacted his life, most notably taking Milah and the damage it did to Rumple and Bae’s lives. Milah’s abandoning was also selfish and she paid for it with pain and regret first, then her life. For the hate Hook has for Rumple, it masks he blames himself as much for her death. When one of his schemes in present day finally goes perfectly, the news of Neal’s apparent death is enough to wake him to that killing everyone in Storybrooke as collateral damage for the sake of revenge on Rumple, is not the right way. As Snow points out elsewhere in the episode, there are other ways, even if harder and longer. Hook wasn’t prepared to cement his selfishness, just like Regina wants a fate that goes beyond pure evil. For the moment both have redeemed themselves, but the flaws that led to their mistakes are bound to rise again. Likewise Snow found some redemption for her killing of Cora by saving Regina for the umpteenth time, but the dark in her heart built up over a lifetime, is still there waiting. Rumple is also on team good guy for now, the Neal news and Belle’s return waking him up to that saving family in Henry, is more important than saving himself from an undoing. This coming right after one of his darkest moments, a thread from sending Henry flying into a deadly rock. Right now Snow and Regina, Hook and Rumple are aligned on a common mission, but only for now. The anger and pain inflicted in each other’s feuds, will not be washed away easily on the Jolly Roger and beyond.
Emma calling Snow and Charming mom and dad is a nice moment, though her and Regina stopping the magic trigger felt a bit hokey in writing and visual execution.
The episode’s big revelations were saved for the end, with the reveal of Peter Pan as a big bad and that he’s known about Henry for hundreds of years. Hopefully Peter's villain if one, is written and acted with complexity on Cora’s level. Tamara and Greg appear to get orders from a Home Office, which presumably has a line to Neverland. I’m betting on Wendy running that Home Office on Peter’s side. This would also make my theory last week about Wendy working on Neverland’s side when she returned to London, more likely.
Now that it’s over, it’s safe to say Season 2 of Once Upon A Time is one of my favorite television seasons to date. Its characters and their complexity, emotions, decisions and histories, make it the magic hour.
By Julien Rodger