‘Once Upon A Time’: It’s another twist on Oz for the season finale

Well, when I talked to Ed Kitsis and Adam Horowitz about the season finale of “Once Upon A Time,” they promised that the episode would play like a movie. I just had no idea the movie was going to be “The Wizard of Oz” with a dash of “Cinderella” and a smattering of “Back to the Future thrown in. 

For the most part, it was a fun capper to an uneven season, one that even delivered a twist when we learned that the girl Emma saves from execution is Marian, as in Robin Hood's Marian. It was a little wrenching to realize that Regina, robbed of true love a second time, is likely to revert to the heartless witch of season one, but I guess  there was simply too much happiness in the air to wrap up the season. Consequences!

Initially, though, there don't seem to be too many for Emma and Hook during their Neverland portal ride. Rumplestiltskin not only believes their story of time travel, he's happy to help. While he still looks like Rumplestiltskin he certainly isn't acting like him — he's more of a Fairy Godmother in this episode than a pre-Belle beast. 

But I guess his out-of-character behavior was a sacrifice of logic worth making in order to create a sweet adventure for Hook and Emma and a character arc for our cranky savior. It's hard to believe that the only lasting change made during this trip back in time is the rescue of Marian, as I was pretty sure they'd return to the present to find flying cars or people with fins or something, given how much running around and poking their noses into the action they did in the episode.

Yes, Rumple cast a glamor spell over Hook and Emma when they crashed King Midas' party, but you'd think that red dress alone on Princess Leia would at the very least had people talking for days. I guess it was as close as we could get to the ruby slippers, though, so I'll give it a pass. 

Really, whatever quibbles I had with the episode were mostly forgotten in the last twenty minutes. The final act was a reminder of all the things we like about this show, each of the storylines advanced just slightly — the relationship between Rumple and Belle made legal, Emma finally understanding Hook's dedication to her isn't a ruse (and rewarding him with an epic make-out session), most of the inhabitants of Storybrooke crammed into Granny's diner for a friendly potluck celebrating Prince Neal.

The moment when Rumple pulls Emma back from the portal and begs to know the future as it pertains to Bae was one of the more bittersweet from this season. I think for everyone who has rooted for Hook and Emma to couple up, it has always been with the understanding that Neal will necessarily hold a part of her heart — even in death. The idea that Rumple would accept a personal sacrifice — his son — so that Bae could die a hero was surprisingly effective. While Rumple didn't seem himself through much of this episode, and even this decision seemed to come without as much internal conflict as you'd expect, it was a nice bookend to Neal's story. 

As promised, we saw nothing of the Wicked Witch of the West in this episode — but we did see a new fairytale character. Was that Elsa the Snow Queen? It certainly looked like her, and I'm a little impressed that “Once” is diving into such a recent release for its next storyline. But hey, with a hit like “Frozen,” why wait to capitalize on that Disney property? Mush, mush!

What did you think of the season finale? Are you excited that Emma and Hook are likely going to be a couple next season? Were you sad to see Robin Hood reconnect with Maid Marian?