‘Once Upon A Time’ S2 finale recap: Holding out for a hero

S2 Ep 22
Hook and Baelfire surprisingly share a past. (Photo credit: ABC)

After an impressive second season full of fascinating new characters, surprising twists and endless heart-stopping moments, the ‘Once Upon A Time’ finale lived up to expectation and kept Oncers on the edge of their seats.

“And Straight ‘Til Morning” gave us another look at Neverland in fairytale flashbacks featuring Captain Hook and Baelfire, which provided some very interesting insights on ‘OUAT’s’ popular pirate. There is much more to Hook than meets the guy-liner coated eye. Meanwhile in Storybrooke, our fairytale favorites face their greatest challenge yet. Everyone must work together to prevent Storybrooke’s self-destruction. In the finale, we discover which one of our resident baddies has a change of heart and does the right thing. We also find out who Greg and Tamara have been working with at the “home office” and we learn their true endgame.

Neverland (How cool is it to see that now?!): “I can change, Bae. For you.”

Picking up from where we left off in “Second Star to the Right,” Captain Hook continues to hold Bae in the cabin of his ship. He questions the boy about his identity. When he discovers that the boy is Baelfire, he welcomes him aboard his ship and cheekily says, “It’s a pirate’s life for you.” (Guess we’ll have to wait until season three to hear the “yo-ho, yo-ho” that usually accompanies the classic phrase.) Smee is puzzled by Hook’s decision to keep the boy on board because Peter Pan has his Lost Boys scouring the land for the one that got away. Hook explains to Smee that Bae is crucial in his revenge against Rumple, so when the Lost Boys show up searching the ship for Bae, Hook protects him. The Lost Boys warn Hook of the consequences one faces if he lies to Peter Pan. Apparently, Peter very painfully rips your shadow from your body, if you cross him. Ouch! After “Second Star” it seemed like the creepy Shadow was Peter Pans darker alter ego, but as this episode unfolds, it becomes clear that ‘OUAT’s’ Peter Pan is quite the villain. After the boys leave, Bae resurfaces from his hiding place and admits that he is surprised by Hook’s selfless actions.

Bae begins to feel safe on Hook’s ship and gradually opens up to the charismatic pirate. As Hook teaches Bae how to sail, he reaches out to the boy by revealing some surprising personal information about his upbringing. It tuns out Hook and Bae have more in common than we know. Hook’s father was a fugitive who abandoned his son as a young boy, since this strikes a chord in Baelfire, he finally tells Hook about the Dark One. Bae even reveals that the dagger is the only thing in the world that will be able to kill his all-powerful father. Just as it seems the two have begun to bond over their abandonment issues, Bae finds Hook’s portrait of Milah.

Rightfully enraged, Bae confronts Hook and accuses him of killing Milah and tearing his family apart. Hook calmly explains everything we learned in “The Crocodile.” The family’s downfall was Rumple’s doing. Milah and Hook were in love, so Rumple killed his wife to punish Hook. The cavalier captain earnestly tells Bae what Milah had planned for their future. She wanted to take Bae away from Rumple and become a family with Hook. He assures Bae that the two of them can still live the life that Milah wanted for them. But Bae wants nothing to do with Hook. He sacrificed himself to the Shadow to protect his real family, the Darlings, so Bae demands to go back to London. Hook explains that there is no way to leave Neverland, which is a very dangerous place. Bae doesn’t care; he would rather fend for himself than stay on the ship with Hook.

Later, Hook pleads with Bae. Revealing his sensitive side, Hook says, “I can change, Bae. For you.” Well, that’s something Rumple never promised Bae. Nonetheless, Bae doesn’t believe him and accuses Hook of only caring about himself. With those callus words, Hook reverts to his spiteful ways and hands Bae over to the Lost Boys. As Bae is taken away, he yells at Hook, “You hate my father so much you don’t realize you’re just like him.”

Storybrooke: “Magic always has a price…I’m prepared to pay it.”

As the scene is set in Storybrooke, Rumple watches Henry play on the tire-swing at the park and he magically starts unraveling the rope. We hold our breath for a moment, wondering if this might be a dream, but it surprisingly is not. Luckily, the Charmings show up in the nick of time. Unfortunately, they bear some bad news. In the background Emma tells Herny about Neal’s assumed death, while the foreground focuses on Mr. Gold’s reaction to the heartbreaking news.

Once again, Robert Carlyle steals the shows with his genius performance. This man is magic on-screen. David and Mary Margaret woefully explain what happened and they are taken aback by Gold’s tearful response. Rumple takes the blame upon himself, saying, “They didn’t kill my son. I did.” They tell Gold about the failsafe and are worried about Storybrooke’s future, but he doesn’t care. Rumple is ready to die to atone for his sins. He painfully utters, “Magic always has a price…I’m prepared to pay it.”

Meanwhile, Tamara and Greg don’t hesitate to get the job done. They take the black diamond failsafe to the mine and prepare to activate it. Hook looks on in amazement because he cannot understand how they put their trust in a mystery man. Tamara and Greg explain that they are willing to die for their cause. Is Hook willing to do the same? They activate the failsafe sending shockwaves throughout the town.

The Charmings get home just as the first wave hits and Regina confirms their worst fears, but she adds more bad news. There is no way to stop the failsafe once it has been activated. On the bright side, Henry was born in the real world, so he won’t die. However, Emma does not want her son to be left all alone like she was as a child. Emma immediately berates Regina. This whole thing is her fault, so it is her duty to fix it. Hook appears in the middle of the chaos and admits that although he helped Tamara and Greg, he certainly does not want to die and is willing to help Team Charming. The best that Regina can do is magically contain the ticking bomb and buy the others enough time to find the remaining beans so that they can open a portal and escape Storybrooke before it blows up.

Before they set out, Regina says goodbye to Henry. In one of her sweetest and most sincere moments to date, Regina promises she will not let Henry be alone. With tears in her eyes, Regina hugs and kisses Henry, saying one last “I love you.” Hook scoffs, “Things we do for our children.” In response, David looks Hook in the eye and promises to shoot him in the face if he crosses them again. With that said, Team Charming & Co. tries to save Storybrooke.

Over at Mr. Gold’s shop, the Seven Dwarves scramble to restore Mr. Clark’s memory before their world ends. The Blue Fairy gave them a potion. If you use the potion with an item they hold dear, it will restore their memory. Gold walks in on them rummaging through his shop and accuses them of looting, but Grumpy points out that it isn’t theft if it originally belonged to them anyway. Gold doesn’t understand why they would awake their friend only to tell him that they are all about to die, but Grumpy disagrees. He tells Gold that he left a second potion for Belle. She helped Grumpy find himself years ago and he would like to return the favor. Grumpy urges Rumple, “Don’t let her die as Lacey.” In the midst of this chaos, Gold has an important decision to make.

Meanwhile, Hook and David close in on Tamara and Greg. As scuffles ensue, Hook manages to swipe one of the beans off of Greg. David is ready to run after Greg and Tamara, but Hook insists they “live to fight another day.” David takes the bag containing the last bean from Hook and they head back to the others. Back in the mine, Regina is exhausting all of her power in an effort to slow down the failsafe.

Emma watches as the failsafe gradually sucks the life out of Regina and realizes that her tender exchange with Henry was her way of saying goodbye. In another wonderful performance from Lana Parrilla, Regina admits to Emma that this is her final act of redemption. Similar to Rumple’s reaction, Regina takes the blame for causing this chaos and she is willing to die for what she has done. She tearfully tells Emma that she does not want to exit this world as the Evil Queen and pleads, “Let me die as Regina.” Soon we discover that this is not the only thing Regina and Rumple have in common on this day.

Back at Gold’s shop, Rumple tells Lacey about Neal’s death and her reaction isn’t very comforting. As they toast to the end of the world, Lacey uses Bae’s cloak to wipe up the spilled scotch. For Rumple, that was the last straw. He brings out shattered Chip and magically restores it. He pours the Blue Fairy’s potion into the cup and gives it to Lacey. Immediately we can see that Belle is back. Rumple apologizes, “I’m sorry, I didn’t want to wake you up to die, but I need you.” Belle cuts his apology short because she understands, Rumple lost his son. Apparently, Belle retains Lacey’s memories too, which may be a little awkward in the future. For now, this reunion is bittersweet and tragically beautiful. While the love-birds rekindle their romance, the rest of Storybrooke has convened at Granny’s and are getting ready to use the last bean.

Once Henry realizes that they are letting Regina die to save themselves, he acts like the perfect little hero and insists that they try to save her too. Mary Margaret and David admit that their grandson is right and running away would be taking the easy way out. Grumpy shows his support for the Charmings, saying that Snow White and the Prince always led them to do the right thing. They plan to throw the failsafe into a portal using the bean. It’s risky, but it’s the right thing to do. Hook thinks the risk is too great and says they are being foolish. During their disagreement, Hook also learns that Bae is gone and it seems to affect him in an unexpected way. In that moment, they give Hook a choice, he can join them or continue to be alone. Once again, Hook chooses to do what is best for numero uno and walks away. With Hook gone, the others rush over to the mine and try to save Regina.

David opens the bag to get the bean and realizes that Hook still has it (Duh! Why didn’t he check the bag?). Cut to Hook on his ship with the translucent magic bean in hand. Will he go back for the others? How can they stop the failsafe without a portal? Storybrooke is falling apart, vines are wrapping around buildings, there’s panic in the streets and underground the Charmings embrace each other in a loving family hug.

Henry breaks away from the Charmings to hug Regina. He says he loves her and she apologizes for not being strong enough to stop the failsafe. That’s when Emma realizes that she might be able to help. Emma joins hands with Regina and together, they stop the failsafe and the diamond goes back to black. Unfortunately, in the midst of all this heroic hoopla, Greg and Tamara kidnapped Henry.

Greg and Tamara came to Storybrooke to destroy magic, but they found something even more important: Henry. The Charmings and Regina track Greg and Tamara to the pier, but they cannot stop them in time. The deceitful duo opens a portal and they jump into the great unknown with Henry in their grasp. Emma rushes to jump in, but David holds her back. Gold and Belle show up at the pier and sadly, Rumple says there is no way to cross worlds without a portal. Cue the cavalier captain’s return!

Hook sails back to shore and offers his help. With Hook’s ship, Gold’s magical guidance and the magic bean, they will be able to track down Henry. In another heartbreaking scene, Rumple asks Belle to stay behind and look after the people of Storybrooke. He will cloak the town to protect them from the outside world and knows that Belle will give everyone the comfort and strength they will need. Gold explains, “The boy is my undoing, but he’s also my grandson.” Belle passionately kisses him and sobbingly says, “Baelfire would be very proud of you.”

In a quick cut-away, ‘OUAT’ shocks us again with another twist: Neal has landed on the shores of the Enchanted Forest, where Mulan, Aurora and Prince Phillip have come to his aid. Who else assumed Neal would have been in Neverland? Definitely didn’t see this one coming. But wait, there’s more…

As the second season closes, Rumple boards Hook’s ship and asks if the pirate is done trying to kill him. Hook calls a truce and they go about their business. Gold conjures up the globe Cora gave him, pricks his finger on the spindle and his blood shows them where they need to go. The Charmings, Regina, Hook and Rumple are all headed to Neverland.

The final scene is another Neverland flashback. The Lost Boys have brought Bae to Peter Pan, but they have the wrong boy. A drawing reveals that the boy Peter Pan wants is Henry. Cue collective jaws-hitting the floor.

Can you believe it, Oncers?! So many delightful surprises: Belle is back, Hook is sticking around for season three, Regina and Rumple are now good guys, and Neal is alive in the Enchanted Forest with Prince Phillip & Co.


  • Baelfire/Neal: Congratulations to Michael Raymond James on becoming a series regular in Season 3. It is safe to assume that Neal is alive! Can’t wait to see his adventures in the Enchanted Forest. Fingers-crossed, he’ll come across Robin Hood on his travels. There is still so much to learn about Neal’s past: What happened to Bae in Neverland after he didn’t end up being the boy Peter Pan wanted? Was he one of the Lost Boys? Did he see Hook again in Neverland? Was he ever reunited with the Darlings?
  • Redemption: Henry has been holding out for a hero in Regina and now he’s got even more than he hoped for. Regina, Rumple and Hook have all put their selfish ways aside to do the right thing and help find Henry. The Charmings are forming a new super-group with this tricky trio. They’re turning into the fairytale equivalent of the Justice League or Avengers. Oncers, if you can think of any cool super-group names, start listing them below! How awesome is this new alliance?! How do feel about them working together? Do you trust Rumple, Regina and Hook? Will they turn against each other and cause more trouble down the road?
  • Hook’s history: If Hook’s story about his past is true, then he really does have quite a bit in common with Bae. This is a tricky situation for our dear pirate because Bae represents someone he loves and his mortal enemy all at once. Did you believe Hook when he told Bae he still wanted to honor Milah and be a family? He seemed pretty sincere and it looks like Bae’s harsh words struck a chord with Hook, especially when Emma echoes them years later. When Hook is faced with the decision to be part of a family or continue living selfishly, he ultimately chooses to join the Charmings and help fight the good fight. Does this mean we will see more of Hook’s sensitive side next season? We sure hope so, just don’t let him loose too much of his alluring edge.
  • RumBelle: Wow! RumBelle had a couple of stunning scenes in the finale. Robert Carlyle and Emilie de Ravin are magic together on-screen. You really see Rumple struggle over the decision to bring Belle back in the midst of a fairytale apocalypse. In the end, Rumple couldn’t fool himself any longer by playing around with Lacey. She was too apathetic, even for the Dark One. You must love the way Rumple admits what he does is selfish, but he couldn’t help himself because he desperately needed Belle. The transformation was immediate and Belle seemed to be fully aware of everything that’s going on, so we assume she retains all of Lacey’s memories. That may be awkward for her in the future, but for now, RumBelle made the most of the time they had left together. It is heartbreaking to see them part ways, so quickly after being reunited. Hopefully, they will find a way to be together again soon. Does this make Belle the new head-honcho in Storybrooke? Will she take over as mayor or sheriff while the Charmings & Co. are in Neverland?
  • Rumple’s undoing: Like Belle, we are proud of Rumple for doing the right thing. Perhaps this is how the prophecy comes true. Henry is Rumple’s undoing, but in a good way. After failing Bae, Rumple has finally realized the importance of putting family first. Similar to Hook, Rumple no longer wants to selfishly sail through life alone. Do you think Rumple has sincerely changed? Could he have an ulterior motive for helping the Charmings?
  •  Peter Pan: Ok, so clearly Peter will be the new villain in Season 3. Given the fandom’s fondness for Hook, it makes sense to align our heroes with him and have our favorites join forces against the new bad guy. However, that final scene in Neverland makes Peter Pan even more enigmatic than we ever expected him to be. Peter has been searching for Henry since the Victorian era and probably earlier than that, judging by the amount of Lost Boys he’s collected over the years. This raises several questions: Who is Peter Pan? How does he know about Henry? Was it a prophecy, like Rumple’s Seer? Did Peter Pan travel to the future and encounter Henry? What does he want with Henry? Is it a case of mistaken identity? Does Henry have a fairytale doppelganger? How old is Peter Pan in the real world? When and how did he get to Neverland? How old will Peter Pan look when we meet him next season? Considering the fact that he has been searching for Henry for over a 100 years, this dude has to be pretty old. Initially, you could think that he may not be the young boy we expect to see because the time spent out of Neverland must’ve aged him. Then again, he seems to send his dark shadow out into the world to do his bidding. Maybe he does that so he will never age. What’s the deal with taking people’s shadows? Does it serve a purpose? Can he control other people’s shadows? Is it just a form of punishment? Peter Pan just keeps getting creepier. If you have any thoughts or made any observations, share them below!
  • Greg and Tamara: They wanted Henry all along! How did they meet Peter Pan? Do they realize who they are really working for? How many fairytale characters have they met throughout their various missions for the “home office”? Are other fairytale characters involved in the mission to destroy all magic in the real world? This concept is getting really interesting. Who is the head of this fantasy-world-wide magic killing organization? Is Peter Pan the leader? Does he answer to someone who is even more powerful?

What did you think about the finale? Was it everything you hoped for? What moments surprised you the most? Did you predict any of the big twists? Was there anything you hoped to see that didn’t happen?

Share your thoughts below!

Kudos to the entire ‘Once Upon A Time’ cast, crew, writers and production team for a fabulous second season. They really set us up for what will surely be a brilliant Season 3. We have a lot to think about over the summer. Production will probably begin around July, so we will continue to be on the lookout for new scoop as tiny teasers hit the internet.

New episodes of ‘Once Upon A Time’ will return this Fall on Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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