Review: “Once Upon A Time” Season 6 Winterfinale

The time has come: ABC’s beloved TV-shows are one after another starting their nice and long winter nap ’til March 17. For TV-show lovers, December is not filled with joy and love, but with agony having to wait three months for a new episode.

And now, the long winter nap just hit “Once Upon A Time”.

The winterfinale of the 6th season was unique. Of course, every episode is a “one of a kind”, but as many OUAT-episodes share the same pattern, only a few really stand out with their storylines and the actors’ performances.

Attention: Spoilers ahead!

In the 10th episode of OUAT’s 6th season, the slow-paced cat-and-mouse game which has been going on between the Evil Queen and the Snow-Family including Regina finally speeds up: the Evil Queen uses Aladdin (who’s the new genie) to grant Emma’s wish, never to have become the Savior. This leads to Emma vanishing from Storybrooke and reappearing in a dreamland where she fulfills every imaginable stereotype of the Princess. Humble, sweet and obedient: That’s not how the viewers know Emma. Regina joins Emma in her dream and uses all her darkness in order to wake her ex-enemy up and bring her back where she belongs – to reality. However, just before leaving the utopia, Regina herself gets hit by an illusion: Robin Hood is alive and well (and back to being a thief). Therefore, Emma and her miss the chance to travel back to Storybrooke and remain in the literally fantasy land.

Meanwhile in Storybrooke, David tries to prove his manhood by being all brave and aggressive while actually only making a fool of himself (like always). He achieves next to nothing – at first. But then, the Evil Queen gets what she deserves and transforms into a caged cobra snake…but not by the one who granted her wish, Aladdin. Instead, the viewers get to witness the arrival of the Hooded Figure who’s responsible for the Evil Queen’s fate.

Again, parallel to that storyline we have Rumple desperatly trying to find his son and finally coming to his senses that controlling Belle might not be the best way to win her back…a nearly Rumple/Belle-reunion takes place, when the Hooded Figure interrupts the romance originating from the tragedy that their son actually got abducted (!) and reveals itself: it’s the adult version of the Beauty and the Beast’s son, Morpheus.

And now, we have all those bits and pieces hanging in the air – frozen – until next March. But until then, let’s break down some aspects which might make the wait not feel that long.

First: Jennifer Morrison’s performance as Emma was brilliant in this episode. Once again, she shows how great she can really portray her character. Along OUAT’s seasons, we’ve seen a tough, a vulnerable, a hurt, a happy, a dark and now a princess Emma. Morrison, whose character stands at the core of the show, is still able to demonstrate new layers of her role which not only makes the show worthwile, but also keeps her in the center of interest.

Second of all: To get to see Regina truly being a hero and saving Emma from a dream she might not wake up from by herself, valorizes her a lot. Coming from a place where Regina and Emma were the greatest enemies, it’s amazing to see how the show was able to let the characters evolve so much that they became not only friends, but in fact family. Also, even though in the first season it was fun to see the Evil Queen, now, it just seems to be a relief to finally see her gone as Regina is much more interesting to keep as a character.

Last, but not least: Let’s talk a little bit about how the 6th season is still pretty chaotic. We have to many storylines, too many characters and not enough action. As I already explained in my review of the 6th season’s premiere, that makes it difficult to follow with where the show is heading. We have characters stepping up which we actually don’t want to see like David or Jasmine (just a brief remark: at first, she proposes David to wake up Snow but then decides to use her wishes to get back to her home? I mean, who does that? And I thought Aladdin only had three wishes to grant? Why did they put this unnecessarily painful scene into the episode?); and there are characters which we do want to see, but don’t get enough screen time, just like Hook or Zelena. I think those aspects really put the show in a bad place because in the long term, viewers won’t be able to keep up with dozens of plotlines playing out – especially when it’s about figures nobody really wants to see.

So, OUAT’s “game” is still going strong with Emma Swan and Regina standing at the core of the show and thus keeping it alive. But, unfortunately, with so many characters around and a wrong prioritization of some plotlines, ABC’s fairy tale mystery drama series has lost some quality, which on the other hand makes it easier to take a break from and let it sleep ’til March.

My tip for you little ducklings: I wouldn’t count on a faster paced 6B, though the great acting of Morrison and Parrilla do make up for it.