Once Upon A Time's winter finale "Wish You Were Here" was the closest thing these eyes of mine have ever seen to televised fan fiction. We've discussed in the past how every "ship" on the show -- the people who root for certain couples -- gets an episode, and we've also discussed how premieres and finales are OUAT's forte and their best way of retaining audience share.
In that sense, the episode seemed to really be wish fulfillment for viewers who root for Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Regina (Lana Parrilla) -- you know, the two women who vowed to destroy each other in the pilot but now routinely risk their lives for each other, make magic every time they touch, and share a son -- all embedded in another crazy alternate-universe plot that was, let's face it, an excuse to get Morrison in some gorgeous fairytale gowns again, which everyone in the fandom can get behind.
Of course, she wasn't the only person who got a fancy new costume this episode. Aladdin's (Deniz Akdeniz) duds also got a serious upgrade since he volunteered to become the genie of the Lamp.
After discovering Emma's new mystery sword can hurt Evil Doppelgangers, the Evil Queen used Aladdin's genie-powers to trap Emma and her sword into a Wish-World where Emma had never been the savior. Seeing Emma vanish into thin air, Regina immediately tracked the Evil Queen down before she could wrestle the sparkling cropped vests and parachute pants off Aladdin and made her own wish.
Meanwhile, we were seeing the softer, sweeter version of Emma that had never had to shoplift microwaved popcorn or bear a child in jail. And Snow and Charming (Josh Dallas), we saw, had been aged up very enthusiastically by the make up department.
Please tell me they got this gem to Michael Raymond-James after filming had wrapped.
When Regina arrived in her princely military jacket, she was of course mistaken for the Evil Queen because, well, she is the Evil Queen, albeit redeemified. When she crossed paths with a humming Emma gathering flowers in the forest, she couldn't get through to her.
Ultimately, Regina figured out the only way to awaken Emma from this fantasy dream world was to put on her tightest leather pants, crash Henry's knighting, and kidnap False Snow and False David. Emphasis on tightest leather pants.
For a season that was supposed to focus on "The Land of Untold Stories" we have gone from rehashing Season 1 episodes to the finale of Season 6 being actually a shot-for-shot redux of the Season 1 pilot. It's like that structure was so strong, that premise was so good, merely referencing it is more entertaining than whatever fairy tale stew they've got cooked up.
Once Upon a Time is becoming the Land of Retold Stories
But I digress. Emma chased Regina to her castle and offered her the key to their Kingdom if she would just release David and Snow. Regina tried to arouse her fighting spirit by ripping her parents' hearts out in front of her, but even their untimely deaths were not enough to awaken Emma's urge to fight.
It wasn't until Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) threw a sword at Regina (who was not going to defend herself against Henry) and Regina's life was endangered that Emma suddenly snapped out of it and became her true self again. Just me or was this scene undeniablyromantic? Or at least, I have never seen a character make a gesture this gallant and dramatic without some romantic subtext behind it.
Just as this basically married couple was about to head home though, False Robin Hood popped up out of nowhere, trapping Emma and Regina in False Fairytale Land indefinitely.
So yes, though bookended by Regina pledging allegiance to Robin Hood, the episode centered on the profound connection between Emma and Regina, and that made some wishes came true last night, a lot of mine specifically because I love their dynamic so much... and I'm actually kind of stoked they have to chill in False Fairytale Land for a while? Seems like a promising premise for the March midseason premiere.
Also promising: the genuinely shocking twist that the hooded figure who fought Emma is Belle (Emilie de Ravin) and Rumple's (Robert Carlyle) son, Gideon! How, you ask? Wasn't he just born, you say? Wow. You're really asking for timeline continuity from this show? Maybe manage your expectations, we have never been fully upon a time since the show started, it's all a time-travel metaphysical mishmash, a web of timelines a stack of calendars and a man made out of sundials couldn't even solve. But here's what's up: Basically the blue Fairy got hijacked by the Black Fairy and left in QUITE a state...
...And baby Gideon got taken somewhere that gave the writers a lot, and I mean A LOT of leeway.
I mean... it's a bit much, but I'm hooked. Nothing like a patented OUAT cliffhanger to reel me in for eight to 12 more hours of madness! Can't wait for the crazy to fire back up in March. Until then, you can scratch your OUAT itch by huffing spray paint and watching Fairy Tale Theater.