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SEASON FINALE REVIEW: Once Upon a Time 5×22 “Only You” & 5×23 “An Untold Story”


Well that’s one way to end a season! Once Upon a Time has been hit or miss this past year, and while I may have felt like the show has over-stayed its welcome, I still have to hand it to the writers for demonstrating endless creativity. Tonight’s finale wrapped up the season’s story nicely, and at the same time, it set us up for an ambitious continuation next year. I think I may have a renewed interest in Once Upon a Time thanks to this week’s episodes. (spoilers ahead!)

First, I just want to say that these two episodes should’ve been spliced into one. I know, I know – I say this a lot about various shows, but you have to agree with me here. If you’re going to stretch out a story in order to fill an episode quota, at least make it worthwhile. In tonight’s case, there was no point to split the finale up into two hours. My guess is that it was done to make room for more commercials (The Walking Dead is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to this). I guess I’m just talking to air at this point. Shows are most likely going to keep doing this for the foreseeable future.

I’m already getting off topic…

Rumple is now in possession of the Olympian Crystal, which he plans to use to revive Belle. Our heroes are wary of Mr. Gold having control over such power, so they set off to stop him. Meanwhile, Henry and Violet (reappearing just in time to be a love interest once again in the final episodes) decide to take matters into their own hands. Henry uses his Author magic to steal the crystal so he can destroy it. The two love-struck teens leave Storybrooke and head to New York City. Regina and Emma team up to stop them after Rumple reveals that destroying the crystal could eradicate all magic in the world, taking Storybrooke with it.

In the wake of Storybrooke’s impending destruction, David, Snow, Zelena, and Hook try to save the townspeople by creating a magic doorway that can take them back to the Enchanted Forest. After everyone is sent home, the four heroes are then sucked into the doorway and transported to a new realm called the Land of Untold Stories.

Around the same time they disappear, Henry and Violet discover a magical section of a New York library where there are numerous storybooks bearing the same insignia as Henry’s magic tome. It turns out that there are countless magical worlds, all featuring various fictional characters from other stories.

This brings up an interesting topic that was touched upon in previous seasons. Henry has known that there are worlds that contain non-fairy tale characters. One of those characters lives right in Storybrooke: Dr. Whale aka Dr. Frankenstein! I wonder if this means he’ll come back in the next season to shed some light on these “other worlds”. Also, I’m getting a very Kingdom Hearts feel from this entire concept. Well-played, Disney. Now let’s see Henry wielding an Author Keyblade and use it to defeat some Heartless!

In the Land of Untold Stories, the four heroes are captured by a mad warden and his vicious orderly. They are helped out of their prison by a meek and humble gentleman who seems utterly terrified of the warden. The moment this man said that he was a doctor, a lightbulb clicked on in my head. It was obvious that we were facing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. We eventually discover that these two men are one in the same, but I’m disappointed that I found out the twist so early. I’m curious about whether any other viewers had caught on as early as I did.

Back in New York City, Rumple, Emma, and Regina visit the Dragon (who we haven’t seen for a couple of seasons) to learn about magic in the world outside of Storybrooke. I’m going to be honest with you guys – I completely forgot about the Dragon. I binge-watched Once Upon a Time at the end of last summer, so it’s obvious that I wouldn’t remember every little detail about the show. What about the people who didn’t binge? Are they expected to remember? If the Dragon had shown up earlier this season, then yeah, I wouldn’t have this problem. This little cameo caught me off guard, and I had to do a bit of quick recap to remind myself of the character.

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Henry, Violet, Emma, Rumple, and Regina are reunited, but they have just learned about the other heroes being sucked into the doorway. They have no idea how to bring them back from the Land of Untold Stories, until Henry comes up with the brilliant idea to toss a coin into a nearby fountain and make a wish. It turns out that those wishing fountains really do work. But Henry realizes that their wishes aren’t strong enough. They’ll need the help of everyone in the busy New York plaza to make the wishes come true.

This next scene was hard to watch. Henry gives this big speech to the New Yorkers about the power of magic and wishes. I almost wanted to change the channel because I was cringing so hard. I get that it was meant to be this inspirational scene about hope and magic, but it was executed poorly. I’m just imagining some kid trying that out in real life. So embarrassing…

Luckily, it works for Henry, and everyone starts tossing coins into the fountain and granting wishes. A portal appears, and Hook, Snow, David, and Zelena are brought to New York! Then Henry is all upset because the New Yorkers think it was all this big stunt. Shut up, Henry. Who cares if people don’t know if magic is real or not? In fact, he should be happy that people are oblivious to the existence of magic. Do you really want New York City to be filled with citizens making rogue wishes?

Before the other heroes are saved from the Land of Untold Stories, Jekyll manages to come up with a concoction that will completely separate himself from Hyde, turning them into two people. The evil Hyde is left behind as the portal closes up, but Rumple soon visits him to make a deal.

We can all guess what happens next. I mean, you have the Dark One desperately trying to revive his love, and you have a being made of pure evil Hell-bent on revenge. What does that equal? Another season!

Last week, I mentioned the possibility of Regina becoming the Evil Queen once again, which would lead to her becoming the antagonist for the next season. I was only half-right. Throughout the episode, Regina is struggling with the darkness growing inside her ever since Robin’s death. Thanks to Dr. Jekyll’s potion, she’s able to separate the darkness from her soul and destroy it once and for all. Lana Parrilla championed this episode with her performance, especially in the moments where she has to play both herself and the Evil Queen. Next season, it looks like she’ll be playing double-duty once again since the Evil Queen is still alive and kicking.

The final moments of the episode were outstanding. Hyde mysteriously appears in Storybrooke, announcing that his fellow “untold stories” will be arriving shortly. I don’t know why exactly, but these last few minutes of Hyde’s appearance gave me chills. Something about him is terrifying yet intriguing. I hope we learn much more about him in the next season. I’m sure there will be an entire series of flashbacks dedicated to his background. What exactly caused Hyde to manifest in the psyche of Dr. Jekyll? What’s his ultimate goal? Who’s darker, Hyde or Rumple? Will these two titans of terror clash in an epic battle over the control of Storybrooke?

Looks like we’ll have to wait a few months until we find out!

Final Grade: B +

Final Season Grade: B –

+ Mr. Hyde has potential to be a compelling villain.

+ Solid performances from the main cast, but mostly from Parrilla.

+ I loved the concept around the additional story-worlds. This was touched upon in the past seasons, but it looks like next season will really delve into the lore.

– Henry’s little speech was so cringeworthy.

– These two episodes could’ve been condensed into one.

– I still don’t trust Zelena.

Extra Thoughts:

– Violet mentions how her father Sir Morgan isn’t a fairy tale character, and that he’s actually just “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court“. Bravo, Disney!

– I can’t wait to see what new characters they’ll introduce next season. I spotted Paul Bunyan and Don Quixote in those books that Henry and Violet found. Who else is coming to Storybrooke?

How did you feel about the season finale of Once Upon a Time? Are you pumped for next season? Tell us what you think in the comments or on Twitter!

About the author

Alex Reale

From a young age, Alex knew he was destined to be a writer. He also harbored a deep infatuation with superheroes and comics. Luckily, he was able to combine these two passions through his role with A Place to Hang Your Cape, where he works as Junior Sidekick and Social Media Hero.

When he’s not writing for AP2HYC or working full-time as a content manager for a small business website, Alex is diligently at work on other creative projects including a fantasy novel collection and an independent comic series.

You can find Alex's first book, Dodger's Doorway, on Amazon!