Although if I had to pick an ABC show to get a two-hour season finale tonight I would have picked "Once Upon A Time" over "Revenge" (though I'll admit I haven't seen the "Revenge" finale yet, so that's admittedly unfair), I have to say the possible destruction of Storybrooke and the attendant twists created some solid cliffhangers. Some are mentioned below. So, you know, spoiler alert.
While I thought the disabling of the trigger was a wee bit too easily averted (I never thought for a minute Regina was in any real danger, did you?), I was glad to get an episode devoted to Hook's backstory. We've long known he had a sweet, mushy center (running off with Mila and later dedicating his life to avenging her death was a good hint), it was intriguing to see how closely his relationship with a young Bae mirrored Regina's with Henry.
Just as in previous episodes Regina was so often thrown from her determination to do the right thing for Henry, like a dieter confronted with an evil box of donuts, it only took some stubborn rejection on Bae's part for Hook to turn him over to the Lost Ones. I kept wanting to refer to them as the Lost Boys, but obviously, different thing. Less eyeliner and hair product for these bad guys.
Given how much we'd seen of Hook's soft side once he discovered his new crew mate was Bae, I was a bit surprised he'd actually turn him over. Granted, it was probably more humane than just letting him float around in the ocean, but like Regina, when Hook's feelings are hurt he acts out with punishing force.
Still, we knew Hook couldn't be as bad as he wanted to be in the present, especially not after hearing about Neal/Bae's "death." It may have been predictable, but just as I expected Emma to realize he didn't really give her the magic bean, I didn't mind seeing Hook's ship return to port, either. I also didn't mind seeing Neal/Bae wash up on the beach next to Aurora. I'm pretty sure no one ever believed he was dead except for Gold, Charming, Snow and Emma. I'm not even sure Henry bought it when Emma gave him the bad news. Neal/Bae simply has too many stories untold at this point, and he's too integral to the plot to disappear for long.
While we knew Peter Pan's shadow wasn't the merry creature Wendy had assumed him to be, it seems that Peter Pan is shaping up to be a serious bad guy for season 3, even though we didn't even see him in season 2. I admit that I love the idea of Peter Pan as a villain, because this could definitely go very, very dark (not too dark, of course -- ABC is linked to Disney, after all). Still, there is something unnerving about a refusal to grow up, and it's one that's been explored in theatrical adaptations (and to an extent in J.M. Barrie's own work). This is rich terrain, and Horowitz and Kitsis are smart to explore it.
Speaking of kid stuff, Peter Pan's clearly been looking for Henry since the Victorian age or well before that, plus Tamara and Greg see him as a bigger get than all of Storybrooke. We know Henry must hold some power we'll learn about soon enough (I'm guessing being Emma and Neal/Bae's spawn makes for some awesome magical powers, though). I realize we probably needed Henry to become more integral to the action -- this season, he was mostly a pawn for Emma and Regina to argue over -- but I'm not eager for all roads to lead to Henry. He's a cute kid, but I'm not keen about him taking center stage away from the grown-ups. Then again, that sounds like a perfect fit for a Peter Pan themed season.
A storyline that was too quickly wrapped up (why "Once" could have used that extra hour, grump, grump) was Gold's decision to turn Lacey back into Belle, then leave her behind in Storybrooke with the possibility of never seeing her again. It was sad, it was poignant, but damn it was quick. A number of emotional moments had to play out at lightning speed to squeeze in all the plot that needed to be wrapped up this season and set up what's to come. I understand, but I feel as if I need to watch the episode again at a slower speed, just to catch everything.
Gold had a rough episode, didn't he? I wasn't sure that it made complete sense for his character to just accept that Neal/Bae was dead (or feel guilty enough to die for this completely unproven event). Gold is more tenacious than that, though with Hook popping in and out of the attempts to save Storybrooke he couldn't get too involved, I suppose. Moments like this bubbled up quite a bit during the finale, of course. Gold had to call out the dwarves for busting into his shop just as the town was about to cave in, as it seemed ridiculously convenient that they'd just then sorted out how to return a fairytale character who's lost his memory back to his factory setting. Still, it resulted in bringing back Belle, and I can live with that.
I knew that there was no way Greg and Tamara would be killed off this season, but I'll admit I wasn't thrilled to see them hop into a portal with poor Henry. The idea that they're going to fairytale land puts a whole new spin on what "the home office" might really be, and makes their hatred for magic quite a bit murkier.
The good news about Greg and Tamara continuing into next season and Peter Pan emerging as a Big Bad is that Regina has a little room to give in to her good side. After all, she'll be on board with Emma, Charming, Snow, Hook and Gold in running to Henry's rescue. I'm not so sure about Gold, though. At the beginning of the episode, we saw him unraveling Henry's swing. Even though he's directing the mission thanks to his magic and he has the memory of Belle's tearful goodbye to keep him on the straight and narrow, I'm not betting on it sticking.
What did you think of the finale? Are you excited to see Peter Pan next year? What do you think Henry's secret is?