Once Upon A Time season 2 finale review: And Straight On Till Morning

Review Kylie Peters 13 May 2013 - 06:45

Once Upon A Time ends an uneven season with a cracker of a finale. Here's Emma's review of And Straight On Till Morning...

This review contains spoilers.

2.22 And Straight On Till Morning

Take a few minutes to meditate after the season two finale of Once Upon a Time - your blood pressure’s probably up. The show is firing on all cylinders, rocketing between plots and characters fueled by raw, devastating emotion. The frantic yet strangely balanced combination of action and drama makes this finale a heck of a ride. Despite too many characters and some too-convenient plot points, And Straight On Till Morning is a thoroughly entertaining watch that makes viewers regret the end of even a season as uneven as this one has been. 

It’s astounding that so many characters with such deep-seated issues could all get their few minutes in the spotlight in a single episode. Structurally, the finale is really a bunch of characters’ individual stories woven together, along with a plotline about the impending destruction of Storybrooke that becomes almost incidental in the episode’s storm of feelings. It is best discussed, then, via those individual character threads.

Let’s start with Rumple. Robert Carlyle puts on a spectacular, heart-wrenching performance when he learns that Bae/Neal is “dead.” He blames himself, and moves seamlessly from guilt and penitential sacrifice to redemptive cooperation with Emma and co. Not so seamless, though sure to please Rumbelle fans, is the abrupt end of the Lacey storyline when she drinks a potion to restore her memory. This solution reverses the entire plotline, revealing it for a pointless drama-monger. It does provide a cute Grumpy moment, though, and lots of kissing. Rumple/Belle kissing, not Grumpy.    

The hackneyed villain-sacrifices-herself-for-redemption plot is surprisingly not terrible in the hands of Lana Parilla. Best line of the episode: “Everyone looks at me as the Evil Queen, even my son. Let me die as Regina.” It doesn’t even matter that it’s obvious from the beginning that she is not going to die. After constant relapse and so much revulsion from the people of Storybrooke, it’s great to see her move forward and get a little love, especially from Henry.

The anti-climactic solution to the destruction of Storybrooke/death of Regina issue comes when Emma uses her latent magical powers to join with Regina and stop the unstoppable trigger from destroying the town. Nobody seems concerned about why or how Emma is able to do this; she just puts out her hands and poof, everyone’s saved. And I’m sorry Swan Queen fans, but I’m pretty sure the canon answer is not true love between Regina and Emma. It’s probably that Emma is destined for unprecedented God modding powers or something lame like that.

It’s okay that the trigger climax kind of sucks, though, because the Neverland plotline more than makes up for it. Honestly, Hook playing dad could make up for just about anything. Since his introduction, Hook’s main role had been to be pretty, with supplemental roles of impersonating Jack Sparrow and conveniently stabbing people in the back. Finally, this week he takes on some of the emotional depth of fellow semi-villains Regina and Rumple. His plea to Bae that they become a family is brilliant, as is his characteristic betrayal of the unreceptive Bae. More please!

Young Bae/Neal’s flashback story really blossoms this week after last week’s slow but potential-filled beginning. He’s a cute kid, and his acting is hit-or-miss but his young age earns him a pass. The character is certainly well-written this episode, with a painful complex of emotions toward his mother, father, and Hook, all of which he responds to in a realistic fashion for a boy that age. It will be interesting to see how his story progresses now that the Lost Ones have him.       

Now that the main characters are all getting along, the role of villain falls squarely on the ill-equipped shoulders of Greg and Tamara. These two continue to astound with their boringness, and it was rather disappointing that they didn’t bite it this episode. Rumple hints that Belle and the other Storybrooke citizens may have to deal with Greg and Tamara’s magic-killing coworkers next season, so here’s hoping the two of them are just Grunt #1 and 2 for somebody much more intimidating.

Meanwhile, Emma and Co. have followed Greg and Tamara into Neverland, so the threat of the lacklustre baddies’ continued presence looms over season three. Luckily, we have a new set of Neverland villains in the “Lost Ones”—not Lost Boys, which is a perfectly acceptable change when you’re turning little kids dressed into forest animals into a group of men so intriguingly creepy. The main Lost One, the guy who does all the talking, has a perfect face for this role, angular and snakelike but weirdly handsome. Maybe Snake Man will do us all a favor and knock off Grunt #1 and 2 in the first episode of season three.

Then of course there’s the shadow, who is apparently Peter Pan and is not only kidnapping children, but looking for a specific boy: Henry. It was hinted a while back that there’s something special about Henry, but that got lost beneath all the Emma/Regina fighting over him drama. Bringing it back up made for a great end-of-season surprise, and the mystery over Henry’s role ramps up the anticipation for season three. The idea of an evil shadow Peter is intriguing, especially the bit about how if you piss him off he rips your shadow from your body. I’m not sure what’s so bad about losing your shadow, but that sounds thoroughly threatening. 

Miscellaneous observation #1: The episode ends on a cliffhanger plot-wise, but in an oddly congenial fashion for the usually antagonistic characters. How long can this last? It makes for a nice diversion from the old evil-Rumple/evil-Regina plotlines, but it could quickly become boring. Meanwhile, Hook has suddenly decided he doesn’t want to kill Rumple because… all the cool kids are being good guys now? I don’t get it at all. 

Miscellaneous observation #2: Why are Snow and Charming still here? Do something interesting or get out! 

Miscellaneous observation #3: As a side note to the ending, we learn that Bae/Neal is not dead (shocker). He is found in the Enchanted Forest by Mulan, Aurora, and Phillip. Does this mean we’ll have present-day Enchanted Forest scenes in season three, too? So, present-day Storybrooke, present-day Neverland, past Neverland, present-day Enchanted Forest, and past Enchanted Forest? Maybe the root of the problem with the writing of this show is that they don’t know how to exercise moderation.   

Last week it was officially announced that ABC has renewed Once Upon a Time for a third season. They also announced Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, a stand-alone spin-off planned to run for thirteen episodes. There isn’t much solid information on either yet, so keep an eye out over the summer. 

What did you think of the finale? The season? What are your predictions for season three? We’ve got a long wait, so get theorizing! 

Read Kylie's review of the previous episode, Second Star To The Right, here.

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I think that Henry and little Bae are in the same time line somehow. Remember, time runs differently in Neverland. If you think it's confusing now wait till Henry gets to meet his father as a little kid.

That Emma was able to help Regina makes sense, if you think about the beginning of the second season, when they send the wraith back to the Enchanted forest. Regina still didn't have magic, but when Emma touched her, the portal opened. So Emma has somehow magical power and can enhance it if someone else is already using magic....

Is it just me or does anybody find it strange that Phillip is back? They didn't even show how he was revived!

I would suspect knowing Once Upon a Time that they will show us how they got Philip back way before they bother to show us if Neil is all right!

Ooh, interesting idea! But now that Hook has followed Henry there, would that mean there are two Hooks?!

(If so, I have no complaints about this...)

I assumed this was back in time before he died.

Also intriguing is why Rumple has to leave Belle in Storybrook. If you want to cast a spell on the town, I'm sure that the blue fairy is the obvious choice to make, not BELLE. But again, it's more dramatic and romantic if we leave Belle behind, I guess.
Next time you want to leave your true love behind, Rumple, think a better excuse, please.

I hate Greg and Tamara so much. Their zealous obsession with getting rid of magic reminds me of the cruel adults who tell other people's children that Santa isn't real. Every time they're on screen, I think "Go play dominoes or something! Nobody wants you here!" It is so much more cruel when these loser-villains get lucky and kidnap a child for their holy mission than if someone like Cora murdered a whole a batch of kids.

The episode when Emma and Snow got back to Storybrooke, Aurora told Mulan that Cora had a way to bring back souls from the Wraith, and they ran off to rescue Phillip. No doubt they'll work that into the plot. If you can rescue souls from nothingness, you can open portals to other worlds —whoosh—

Yeah, I thought that was weak too. I wonder if this means we will get more or less Belle next season? If she is essentially in charge of Storybrooke now, then we could be seeing a lot of her. Then again, they could just ignore Storybooke for a while now that all the main characters have left it. A lot of fans think the showrunners are determined to ignore Belle for some reason. I don't know about that, but they do seem to push her to the sidelines a lot.

I like the idea that Emma augments other people's powers! Still, and this is possibly a pet peeve of mine, but I hate it when characters say something is "impossible" and then proceed to do it. If they say it's impossible then it should be! Either that, or at least have them find some creative loophole to get around it. otherwise I feel sort of cheated, like the writers are stirring up drama with fancy words like "impossible" and then failing to deliver. But as I said, this could just be my own storytelling preferences here.

I guess it is because, as they re-state all the time, she makes Rumple happy and good. And Rumple is not interesting without his dark side, so... they push the light to the sides.

Or maybe they are a couple too complicated for their standards, after all, they are the only couple who has serious things to overcome and needs to have an adult conversation now and then. Who knows.

I'm just wondering......... When the tall blonde talking "lost one" says "Of course we will, it may take time but, Peter Pan never fails", it's in response to the question "Do you think we will be able to find him?"........ Am I the only one who took that as maybe the blonde guy was saying HE is Peter Pan? He did seem to be in charge, and what with the rejigging of the characters Disney origins, what if they are going with Peter Pan as a bad guy twist? It would certainly be an interesting way to go, and it isn't his shadow, it's just a shadow that's his boss! Anyone else think that?

We're assuming that Neal is in the Enchanted Forest because Aurora/Mulan/Phillip found him... What if they're in Neverland. too? Cora told Aurora that Phillip's soul was trapped in another world, what if that world was Neverland?

I was not that impressed with that episode as the reviewer, to be honest. There's this supposedly great thread with that diamond thing that cannot be stopped, only stalled. Except it totally can be stopped in 30 seconds.
Then there's the thing with Hook stealing the beans via the olde switcheroo and him coming back to save the day. That was so incredibly ridiciously predictable. Same goes for the "reveal" that Henry's dad is not really dead. Who would have thought?
I also didn't like the convenient discovery of the cure for the amnesia. Well, that was at least lampshaded.
I thought the episode was entertaining, but whoever thinks that this is great television has probably missed out on a lot of good shows in my opinion...

And on the subject of Rumbelle, let me say that I'm annoyed as hell about the "resolution" of the Lacey story. While Rumbelle are an uber-cute couple, their story is actually dysfunctional as hell--it's basically a combination of Stockholm Syndrome and the beginning stages of a domestic violence scenario.

How on EARTH does sweet, soulful, compassionate Belle overlook the fact that Rumple beat a man, if not to death, close to it, right in front of her eyes?

They could have made something really interesting out of her dealing with that (AND her own guilt in egging him on). Instead, they drop it like a hot potato, like much of the rest of the subplots leading up to the season finale.

Ha, you actually kind of convinced me to like it less! Good points all. But alldespites the issue I still really enjoyed it so...that's pretty impressive I guess...?

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