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Once Upon a Time Season Finale Recap: ‘Operation Mongoose’

“The power to change reality is only outweighed by the cost.”

The finale of Once Upon a Time’s fourth season began with an origin story we never saw coming. Yes, we’re talking about the mischievous Author who, according to the flashback, used to be a television salesman during the late 60’s. After failing at selling a color TV to a hard to please customer, Isaac (a.k.a The Author) heads over to a publisher to finally get his face on the back of a book. But, little did he know, he finds an empty office save for a single desk where the Sorcerer’s Apprentice is sitting. After the Apprentice lays out several quills and tells him to pick one “to show what kind of author he’s going to be,” a confused Isaac ends up choosing the “right” one and is swept off to the enchanted forest to be the next Author.

While the introduction is interesting, it doesn’t really tie into the rest of the episode aside from the thematic revelation that he was once a good guy from earth who was eventually corrupted and became a villain. Speaking of villains, the rest of the episode takes off where last week’s left off. Lily finally met her mother Maleficent, was unimpressed with her, but eventually agreed to stay in Storybrooke to learn how to be a scary “dragon bitch” from her draconic mama. Rumple’s heart is almost completely dark which means that the last bit of what makes him human is going to die and leave only the dark one behind. Regina figured out that since part of Lily’s darkness came from Emma, her blood could also be used for the author’s ink. With the ink in hand, she planned to have her sister Zelena–who is pregnant with Robin Hood’s child–written out of the story forever but ended up changing her mind because all she needs to be happy is to “feel at home in the world.” Dissatisfied with her decision, the Author vanishes and reappears at Rumple’s side to start penning Heroes and Villains, which gives villains their happy ending.

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So what does Heroes and Villains look like? Well, after everyone in Storybrooke vanishes except for Henry, he tracks down the now best-selling Author at a book signing, and the two get sucked into the new book. If you’ll remember, season three’s grand finale saw Emma and Killian (Hook) get teleported to the Enchanted forest as well. This time, however, the magical kingdom Henry gets sucked into is drastically different. Snow White is now the Evil Queen, heartbroken and bitter after Regina took her one true love James (Charming’s twin) away from her. Charming is her own personal hunter who she controls with his heart. Rumplestilskin is the Knight in Shining Armor and father to his wife Belle’s child. Hook is a wimpy member of Captain Blackbeard’s crew. As for Emma, well, Snow locked her away in a tower guarded by Lily who, like her mother, can easily transform into a dragon.

Phew! The forest has certainly been flipped upside down. Anyways, once Henry makes it to the mysterious land full of people who don’t remember him anymore–except for Emma, which we’ll get to in a moment–the Author pops up behind him and ties him up in the path of an oncoming ogre. Before he leaves, he tells Henry that he has until the bells chime to revert everything back to normal. Just as the beast is about to make a quick meal of him, Rumple shows up, shining armor and all, and slays the baddie. With the dark one now on the good side, he tells Henry to run along and find his family and then heads home to his wife Belle and their new bundle of joy.

Henry uses his paperback copy of Heroes and Villains to locate Regina, who is now living as an outlaw in the woods. Donning Snow’s bandit get-up, it appears the duo have completely swapped places. Though she doesn’t believe what Henry is trying to tell her, and most importantly doesn’t even recognize him, Henry continues to try to convince her, showing her a future passage in the book as proof that what he’s saying is true. After she throws the book in the fire, Henry tells her that the only way to get things to go back to normal is if she and Robin Hood kiss–because you know, true love’s kiss heals everything. To his dismay, however, Regina tells Henry that the infamous man in tights is her competitor. She later tells him that Robin is set to be married to Zelena and that his real mother Emma was locked away in a tower by Snow long ago.

Meanwhile, Isaac returns to where he left Henry to see if the ogre finished him off. When he sees the beast lying dead on the ground, he realizes he made a mistake and that the boy is now on the loose. While he’s hunting for Henry, Grumpy and his merry band of dwarves capture him and transport him to a much darker version of the Charmings. A few bad jokes later, he convinces the pair that he’ll write Snow a happy ending if they kill Henry–which is a bold-faced lie because he lost his powers after he broke the rules and crafted his own happy ending.

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With the new knowledge that his mother is somewhere in the book, Henry seeks help from Hook. Though he claims to have never wielded a sword before (what kind of pirate are you?!), Henry tells him that in his other life, he is a skilled swordsman. He convinces him to take the Jolly Rodger to where his mother is being kept prisoner, and they free her. Unlike the rest of the folks in the book, she remembers her son as soon as he walks through the door and she tells him that Rumple’s punishment for her was that she was going to remember everything but have no magic to do anything about it.

As they are speeding away from the castle, Snow and Charming catch them and are unconvinced by Emma’s claim that she is their daughter. Since they clearly have plans to murder both her and Henry, Hook takes up his sword and attempts to fight them off. Unfortunately, despite his valiant effort, he dies at the blade of Charming. After witnessing the traumatizing death of her true love, Emma and Henry head back to have a chat with Regina. Emma gives her a spiel about taking a chance on love and reveals that she just watched her leading man die. When she finally convinces Regina to break up Robin’s wedding with Zelena, the trio to heads to the church where the soon to be wed couple is preparing to say their vows.

Just as they are about to go in to the church, Rumple shows up and says he can’t let them ruin everything. Emma duels with him so Regina can crash the wedding. Unable to make her way up to the alter, Regina remains in the doorway stupidly smiling at Robin who smiles back. Meanwhile, Emma was no match for Rumple and now Henry is fighting him. Despite his sword training with his grandpa Charming, Henry is about to die when Regina jumps in front of him and sacrifices herself for her real world adopted son. Robin and Zelena are finally wed and the bell starts to toll as Regina lies dying in the road. Luckily, Henry is drawn to the Author’s quill which he is then able to use to fix everything (using Regina’s blood as the ink). Yep, that’s right. He is the new Author.

When the characters wake up back in Storybrooke, both Regina and Hook are still alive, Zelena is still pregnant and locked away in a cell, and Rumple is nearly overcome by the darkness. In a sweet conversation with Belle, he tells her that he wishes his happy ending with her had been a reality. She tells him that he could have had it if he wanted to and that he could have been a good person. With the last bit of his humanity about to die out, he tells Belle to get as far away as possible.

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Henry and the Apprentice have a conversation about his new role as the author. When Henry ponders whether or not he’d be able to bring back his father Baelfire, the apprentice reminds him that he won’t be able to bring back the dead and that “the power to change reality is only outweighed by the cost.” Henry then snaps the quill in half and remarks “nobody should have that much power.” To that, the Apprentice mentions that maybe they’ve finally found the right person for the job.

Later on when everyone is celebrating, Belle shows up and tells everyone that Rumple is about to die and that all that remains will be the dark one. Frightened, they rush to his body and have the Apprentice attempt to pull all of the darkness out of his heart and stash it in the Sorceror’s hat. It seems to work for a minute until the black matter within escapes and enters the Apprentice. Emma then uses her magic to pull it out of him but then it escapes and disappears into the night.

The Apprentice explains to them that long before any of their stories began, The Sorceror battled a great darkness which he later tethered to a person who could be controlled with a dagger (origin story of the dark ones) in order to contain the evil. He tells the heroes that if they want to destroy it once and for all before it ruins everything, they’d need to get a hold of the Sorcerer  who reveals to be Merlin.

The heroes head out into the night in search of the darkness when all of a sudden it comes out of nowhere and tries to attach itself to Regina, Not wanting her to lose her happiness after everything she’s been through, Emma steps up to the plate and says that they need to tether the darkness to a person just as the Sorcerer had and that she volunteered to attach it to herself. Though her parents reject, she tells them that will be able to find a way to pull the darkness out of her again. Emma then steps forward and lets the darkness consume her. The episode ends with a dagger falling to the floor revealing the name Emma Swan inscribed on it. Alas, Emma finally went dark and this writer couldn’t be more excited for next season.

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At the end of the episode we were left with several new plot paths with characters we already know and love. First off, Henry is now the author. With the Apprentice dead, and his mother the new dark one, it will be interesting to see what he does with this new power. Secondly, Rumple was close to death before the Apprentice cleansed his heart and shoved it back in. Now that he isn’t the dark one, what is going to happen to him? Will he survive and start a normal life with Belle? Last but not least, Emma is now the dark one. Considering she already had a great potential for evil, what is going to happen with her new powers? It’s exciting to see the show’s writers using a character we already know as the next big bad for season 5. The second half of this season was reminiscent of the glorious first season and it’s got me wondering where we’re headed next.

So what did you think of the final episode? Are you excited to see Emma’s dark transformation? Let us know in the comments below.

Images via Give Me My Remote

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