‘Once Upon A Time’ S4 finale recap: The quill is mightier than the sword

Emma captures how we all feel during the epic Season 4 finale.

Wow! “Once Upon A Time” delivered another epic season finale. “Operation Mongoose Part 1 and 2” played out like a dream fairytale film. These two episodes had everything we could’ve hoped for and then some. Our favorite fairytale characters pulled a creepy role reversal as Heroes and Villains swapped places in an alternate universe created by the Author. When everyone in Storybrooke gets trapped in Isaac’s terrorizing tall tale, it is up to Henry to find his family and save the day. Get ready for a squee-filled gush-fest!

Our World, 1966: “Time to take on the most important job in all the realms.”

Isaac Heller is trying to sell a color TV to a couple when his manager intervenes and pulls him aside. Selling merchandise is like telling a story, he explains. Unfortunately, Isaac doesn’t tell the kinds of stories people want to hear. That’s why he is a failed writer and now, a crappy salesperson. Ouch! Way to kick a man when he’s down. Of course, Isaac’s luck is about to change.

He receives a letter from Star Publishing and is called in for a meeting. He arrives at the office to find only a single desk. Suddenly, the Apprentice appears with a job offer. They are interested in Isaac’s work, but first, he must choose a pen. Isaac carefully eyes the assortment before he picks up the old-fashioned quill topped with what appears to be a mini sorcerer’s hat. As Isaac touches the pen, something magical happens. The flash of light indicates that Isaac is the right man for the job. The Apprentice opens a door and Isaac can see the Enchanted Forest, meaning that he, indeed, believes in magic. The rest, as they say, is history…or history re-written.

Storybrooke, Present Day: “THE END”

Team Heroes has regrouped in the library and they are freaking out over Rumple and Isaac’s re-write. How can they be stopped? In walks August with a solution. (Yay! He’s back.) He shows them a sketch of the Apprentice and Hook instantly recognizes the poor old man he trapped inside the Sorcerer’s hat back when he was under Rumple’s spell. Emma and the others have forgiven him, but his spellbound transgressions still weigh heavy on his heart.

The gang frees the Apprentice from the hat and Hook is apologetic through every second. The guilty and remorseful look on Hook’s face when the Apprentice locks eyes with him is heartbreaking. Poor Hook! But there’s no time for wallowing or grudges. The Apprentice sprigs into action: they must trap the Author back in his page ASAP. So the group splits up. Hook and the Charmings take Henry home to retrieve the page and key, while the Apprentice, Emma and Regina head over to Gold’s shop where Isaac has been working away on his new tale of Heroes and Villains.

Rumple is still crippled by his blackening heart. He is scrunched up on the ground and wonders why Isaac is so eager to help him. The Author explains that they have something in common. No matter how hard they try, their efforts are never good enough. Life keeps beating them down. They can’t get no satisfaction. Isaac is sick of it. He will make sure the villains get the happy endings they deserve.

Here’s how the book works: Isaac cannot rewrite the past. Instead he will create new stories beginning from this moment on. He will find his own personal happiness in this world. Everyone else will be transported back to Fairytale Land with no memories of reality. All they will know is the lives Isaac has created for them. Except for Emma and Henry. As the Savior, Emma can be sent back to her birthplace, but her memories remain intact. Henry was born in this world, so he’ll remain here. Glad the logic of it all is clarified.

Before finishing the book, the Author offers to ease Rumple’s pain in this new life. Magic cannot bring back be the dead, but Isaac can erase Rumple’s memories of Baelfire so that his heart doesn’t ache from the loss anymore. In another heartbreaking moment, Robert Carlyle moves us with Rumple’s sincerity. Rumple does not want to forget his beloved boy. Instead he asks Isaac to alter his memory of how Bae died. In these new memories, Rumple will have done right by Bae. His son will see him as a hero until the very end of his untimely passing. Awww. This why it is so hard to hate Rumple. Nonetheless, his actions are about to cause some serious pain.

Regina, Emma and the Apprentice are storming towards when Isaac wraps up his piece de resistance. The determined trio are blown back as he prints “THE END.” Suddenly, life as they know it has been altered.

Henry wakes up to a deserted town, but he still the key to the door. He knows the Author has succeeded and frantically searches for his family. He drives a car out of town and stops at a nearby diner. (Looks like Grandpa Charming’s life lessons are really paying off. Driving and eventually swordplay come in handy. Way to go, Henry!) He shows the waitress photos of his family and asks if she’s seen them. She gets on the phone and claims he’s a runaway. (Reality check: that makes no sense. Why would he be searching for his family if he ran away from home? Come on!) While her back is turned, Henry spots Isaac’s book. He grabs a copy and high-tails it over to Isaac’s big book-signing event.

This is where “Once Upon A Time” pulls a “Supernatural” move and goes gleefully meta on us. Fans of “Heroes and Villain” have shown up in cosplay as their fairytale favorites and one fan-girl even gives Isaac a “Long Live Regina” button (shout-out to Evil Regals!). When fans ask about the fate of their favorite characters, Isaac snaps that they’ll have to wait for the sequel. What?! That doesn’t sound good. The Author sure has this planned out for the long run. Just as we begin to fret, Henry confronts Isaac.

Henry wants Isaac to change the book and reaches for the quill. (For the first time, a light bulb goes off as Henry goes for the pen: What if he’s meant to be an Author? It makes perfect sense! He’s always been tied to the storybook. More on that later.) The Author broke the cardinal rule. He wrote his own happy ending. His magic quill doesn’t work anymore. His book cannot be altered. Our young champion, Henry, refuses to give up hope. His family is trapped in that cursed book and they need his help. Henry uses the key to unlock a door in the book. Zap! Henry and Isaac get sucked into “Heroes and Villains.” This is SO awesome!

Fairytale Land, “Heroes and Villains” Edition: “This is my story and no hero gets a happy ending.”

Isaac explains that they’ve appeared in the last chapter of the book. Once the bell tolls, the story will be over and his work of fiction will be permanently set. Henry doesn’t have much time to save his family. As if things aren’t hard enough, Isaac makes matters worse for the kid by chaining him up and leaving him as ogre bait. Ugh! Isaac is the worst!

A gigantic ogre approaches Henry when a knight in shining armor appears and saves the boy’s life. Phew! Henry is surprised to discover that his hero is none other than Rumple. In this version, he is a notorious Ogre Slayer who always saves the day. Well played, “OUAT.” Everything went downhill for Rumple when he acted like a coward during the Ogre Wars. This is his chance to do what he should have done from the start: grow a pair and be a hero. It is a good twist and Carlyle sprinkles just enough of old Rumpy’s sing-song-y lilt in there to keep a hint of the Dark One’s unique mannerisms alive. We are eating this up!

Henry makes a clear getaway, much to Isaac’s disappointment. Both set out on their separate missions: Henry to find his family and break this spell. Isaac to secure his happy ending by acting like a full-blown villain. Seriously, what kind of monster repeatedly tries killing a child?! For shame, Isaac!

Henry finds Regina living in the woods and openly tells her the whole truth about “Operation Mongoose”. He’s her adopted son, the book is proof, and he needs her to break this curse with True Love’s kiss. We learn that Regina has become the new Snow White. She wears the same outfit, is a wanted bandit, accidently caused the death of the Evil Queen’s True Love, and is desperately trying to get out of town before she gets killed. It is a straight-up switcheroo for these two ladies.

Surprisingly, Regina kind of hears Henry out instead of totally blowing him off. At least she does so at first. She laughs at the thought of being Robin Hood’s True Love, since they’ve been rival thieves. He always makes it to their target before her, which is really annoying. If she ever met Robin, she’d punch him in the face. That’s the spunky Regina we all love! She has one more job before she leaves town and she can’t afford any distractions. When she grows tired of Henry’s tall tale, she tosses the book into the fire. Not cool, Regina! After he salvages the map inside, she suggests that Henry searches for his birth mother instead. Then she sets out to get her big score.

Meanwhile, Isaac falls into a trap set by the Evil Dwarfs in the woods. They take him to the Evil Queen and he seizes the opportunity to win her over. He’s hoping she will help eliminate his problem. After gaining an audience with the merciless Snow White (that just sounds so wrong!) he proves his value by claiming to know who she really loves. In another twist, nasty Snow loved David’s jerky twin brother, James. After he died, Snow took Charming’s heart and made him her puppet, Huntsman style. (You have to love the new snarky spin on the Charmings’ romantic mantra. “I will always find you” takes on a whole new meaning. Again, very well done!). Isaac knows Regina’s plans, so Snow can finally get her revenge and kill her nemesis. Oh yeah, while she’s at it, she can also get rid of the out-of-this-world kid causing trouble. Fast forward to the moment of truth.

Regina sets out to rob the royal carriage when she’s shockingly confronted by Evil Snow. It’s the intense clip we’ve all seen: Regina pleads with Snow to forgive her and move on with life. Revenge only ruins lives and ends in tragic loss (just ask Amanda Clarke). Does the Evil Queen really want to hold onto such profound hatred? Yes, she does.

Snow punches her fist into Regina’s chest and is about to crush her heart when Charming makes a suggestion: perhaps they should hold off on killing Regina until after she gives them some scoop on Henry’s whereabouts. Brains and good looks. Yup! Charming is the total package. Snow removes her hand, wipes off the goo (love the acknowledgement of how gross it is to stick your hand inside somebody, ewww!), and menacingly asks about Henry. In the midst of the inquisition, Robin Hood rides in and rescues Regina. Yay!

Robin takes her to his tavern, where Regina learns his identity. As he tends to her wounded hand (hey man, it’s just a scratch), Henry’s words are on her mind. Robin is her True Love and the attraction is clearly mutual. Regina is about to get all smitten when Robin drops a bombshell: he’d like her to take over his business and lead his Merry Men because he’s settling down soon. And by soon, he mean that very day. Robin is set to marry Zelena that evening and thieving isn’t conducive to a family life. Oh, come on! Regina really can’t get a break. Curse you Rumple, Isaac and Zelena!

Regina is flattered, but declines his offer. She wishes them both the best and rushes off in grave disappointment. Suddenly Henry pops up, thinking that all is well. Regina explains how she is not destined to find True Love or happiness. She is upset at Henry for giving her hope. Again, she tells him to buzz off and find his real mother. So Henry asks about Emma.

Emma claimed to be the Savior, so Evil Snow locked her away in a tower like Rapunzel. The tower is on an island in dangerous waters and Emma is guarded by one of the Evil Queen’s Black Knights. Regina warns that Henry’s rescue mission will be very risky, but the young hero doesn’t care. He sets out to save his mom with a little help from a familiar face.

Meanwhile at the Evil Queen’s castle, Snow holds a round table with the mean Dwarves and cranky Granny. They failed to capture Regina and they must pay the price. Snow heartlessly kills Doc. What?! (Ginnifer Goodwin is a fantastic actress, but she is too adorable and sweet to be an Evil Queen. It just doesn’t look right at all seeing her be so cruel. That’s a compliment because it is better to be cute than nasty.) She warns them not to let her down again. Uh oh, this will not end well.

Elsewhere, Henry finds Hook on the Jolly Roger and he asks the Captain for a ride, except the kid is in for a big surprise. This is not the badass Hook we have grown to love. He’s got the guy-liner and leather, but none of the swagger. As Henry pleads with a puzzled Hook for help, Captain Blackbeard saunters on board and mocks his deck hand. Is Hook up to the challenge of fighting his Captain and reclaiming his ship? Henry’s all for it, but Killian cowers in fear. What the hell? Rumple and Isaac made him a weakling, albeit a hilarious one.

Hapless Hook appears to be a lost cause, so Henry takes matters into his own hands. He knocks Blackbeard overboard and tells Hook to commandeer the Jolly Roger. But there’s a catch. Hook doesn’t know how to sail the ship. Really?! Luckily, Henry does because he had a great teacher. Awww. So sweet! We are officially putty in your hands, Team “OUAT”.

They make it to the island and Henry disarms the guard by pretending that Hook is bringing him in as a new prisoner. Once the guard is knocked out, Henry runs up and frees Emma from her restraints. She explains how this was the worst punishment possible. She has knowledge of the truth, but remains powerless in this world because Rumple and Isaac took away her magic abilities. They are so cruel!

Emma says they must urgently leave the island before the guard catches up with them. She runs into Hook on their way out and it is love at first sight for the shy pirate. Adorable! The puppy dog looks he gives her are reminiscent of their time together in Neverland when he kept vying for her affection. It’s like “As you wish.” all over again, except this time Emma is all in.

They start sailing away when we finally understand Emma’s need for speed. The guard protecting is actually Lily! She morphs into dragon mode and starts flying out of the tower when Emma shoots her down with a cannonball. Awesome! Another clever twist. It seems like Lily and Emma will always be thrown together. Once they are safe, Emma grabs Hook’s flask for a swig of rum, but discovers goat milk instead. Turns out he’s deathly allergic to rum. Poor Hook!

After they are on shore, Emma gets a much needed wardrobe change. Then she gives Hook a little romantic lesson in swashbuckling. Once he goes through the motions, his instincts will kick in. As she cozies up to him, Hook can sense that they have a special relationship in the mysterious reality she’s speaking of. He’s actually a little jealous of the other Hook. Loving it!!! It’s kind of like the time Hook punched his past self out before he made a move on Emma. Too cute. This finale is ridiculously awesome!

All seems to be going well until Evil Snow & Co. arrive. Hook tells Emma and Henry to run off and save the day. If anything happens to him, he’ll die knowing that he will soon return to a better life with Emma. Sigh!

Hook and Charming start their swordplay. The first strike stings and almost knocks the sword out of Hook’s hand, but then he gets his groove back. Just when Hook is back in good form, David takes a cheap shot and literally stabs him in the back. Noooo! Hook can’t be dead! Can he?! Emma and Henry are heartbroken. They need to fix this story now more than ever before. Hook’s life depends on it and God knows who else will be struck down during Operation Mongoose.

Let’s take a brief moment to reflect on/gush over Hook here: You have to admit, after seeing the more tone-downed and modern-looking Hook, the old-fashioned attire was a pleasant change. It really ads to the illusion. Maybe it is because pirates are the rock stars of the sea. They are the only men who can make guy-liner and leather look so cool. Plus, Colin O’Donoghue delivers a delightful and heartfelt performance with brilliant comedic-timing. At times he even came off a bit like Cary Elwes in “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” and “The Princess Bride.” That is high praise, Sir. Basically, we fell in love with Hook all over again. Well done, Colin! Carrying on…

The Author pays Rumple a visit at his happy home. RumBelle are living a charmed life full of wonderful children and wholesome True Love. The Ogre Slayer is a revered and honest man who can do no wrong, especially in Belle’s eyes. Unfortunately, Isaac bursts Rumple’s happy bubble. When Belle leaves the room, Isaac informs Rumple of Bae’s real death. Rumple was a coward who let his boy down even in death. Isaac coldly states, “You’re really not a hero.” Oh burn! If he wants to preserve the happy life Isaac has created for him, the revered knight must do something villainous in nature. He must kill Regina before she jeopardizes their happy endings.

After Isaac leaves, Rumple has a heart-to-heart with Belle. She has faith in him because he always makes the right decisions. Rumple’s hand trembles as she hands him a cup of tea. The cup falls to the floor as he wrestles with making this difficult decision. Belle picks it up and cheerfully says that it is just a chip. Squee! Rumple can’t give up this kind of happiness and he is willing to make a dark mark on his heart to keep this new life. Yikes! Elsewhere, Emma and Henry find Regina packing up her belongings and they win her trust.

Swan Queen’s bond is stronger than ever. In a powerful, moving and wonderfully acted scene between Jennifer Morrison and Lana Parrilla, Emma opens up to Regina and bares her soul. Emma confesses that her True Love just died and she regrets never telling him that she loved him because she was too scared. She doesn’t want Regina to make that same mistake. Regina and Robin share a profound connection, she can tell he sensed it too. She has nothing to lose by acting on their True Love.

It’s amazing to see how well Emma and Regina understand each other. Their relationship is one of the best developments on this show. Parrilla and Morrison have nailed every scene they’ve shared this season. They give us some serious goosebumps in the finale. SO good! With that heartfelt chat, Emma convinces Regina to join in their efforts to secure their happy endings. Here we go, Oncers! Time to hold our breath and hope for the best.

Emma gives Regina another brief pep talk before sending her into the church. Back in Storybrooke, she promised to ensure Regina’s happy ending and she is upholding that vow. Not only that, but she thrilled to see it happen in person. Sadly, the tender moment is interrupted by Isaac and Rumple’s sudden appearance.

Rumple scoffs at the “Dearies.” (Well, that settles it. Bye-bye heroic Rumple.) Emma tries to hold him off, while Regina rushes to the church. She opens the door and her eyes meet Robin’s as he struggles to make his vows with best man Will by his side. Adorbs! Outside, Rumple uses magic to knockout Emma, so Henry picks up her sword and carries on with the joust. As Regina lingers in the doorway, her attention is torn between Henry fighting in heated battle with Rumple and Robin about to say, “I do.” Henry has learned well from Grandpa Charming and holds his own against Rumple for as long as he can. Once Regina sees that Rumple is about to strike Henry down, she bolts over to protect her son and steps in front of Rumple’s blade. Noooo! Regina can’t die too! Rumple’s mission is accomplished, so he disappears back to his happy home. As Regina falls to the floor and bleeds out, the wedding bells toll. Is there still time to undo this treachery?

The Hood wedding party stumbles onto the tragic scene as they exit the church. Robin kneels beside Regina and holds her hand. He wants to help and promises that at the very least she will not die alone. Zelena screams out in frustration. This was supposed to be her day! She runs away when her skin turns green with envy. (Smooth way of squeezing that in there too. Nice!).

Isaac taunts them, so Emma punches him in the face. (Finally! He so deserved that smack down ages ago. To his credit, Patrick Fischler has done an excellent job this season. He has made it really easy to hate Isaac.) She tells him to fix it, but The Author can’t, even if he wanted to. Henry sees Isaac’s quill roll onto the floor and runs to grab it. The quill glows in Henry’s hand. Our boy has the magic touch! Looks like that hunch was right. Henry has become the new Author. Uber awesome! Of course, buzzkill Isaac claims that Emma’s blood must be used to activate the magic, but he is wrong. The rules have reversed in this world. Only a true Hero’s blood will work. Regina sacrificed her happiness to save Henry’s life and became the Savior of this world. Henry dips the quill in Regina’s blood and writes one sentence to undo all the harm Isaac has caused. Phew! Way to go, Henry!

Kudos to Jared Gilmore. We haven’t seen enough of him this season, so it was wonderful to watch Henry be the great Hero in this finale. He’s been a charmer from the start of this series and he’s really coming into his own as he grows-up before our eyes. Bravo!

Storybrooke, present: “I love you.”

Everyone awakens in the spot they were left in, except this time Henry is beside Regina. They all happily hug each other and then Emma rushes home to see if Hook survived. “OUAT” gives us a nasty scare until Hook calls out from above. Thanks God! He just went upstairs to find Henry. Emma jumps on him, sending him flying onto the bed. She leans in and has something important to say, but she chickens out. Again. Emma is still too afraid to admit she’s in love with Hook, so she just thanks him for sacrificing himself back there. Of course he did, Love. Hook is a survivor. He’s not going anywhere. Let’s hope it stays that way.

The Author wakes up in Gold’s Shop and we see that Rumple is even closer to death. Isaac takes Rumple’s car keys and bolts, nearly knocking Belle over on her way into the shop. Belle storms in, ready to give Rumple an earful for all the suffering he has caused, but that rage turns into worry when she realizes the dire state he is in.

He’s barely holding onto the last bit of love in his heart. Teary-eyed, he again apologizes to Belle for his failures. Belle assures him once more, she knew what she was getting into when she married him. He could have been a good man and they could have shared a happy life together. Why wasn’t her love enough? Good question! It must said again that Carlyle and Emilie de Ravin are magical together. RumBelle scene tug at our heartstrings every time. They always deliver spellbinding performances. Rumpy tells her to go be happy with Will, but she doesn’t love Will. Why can’t Rumple realize that he has always been her one True Love? Maybe because Rumple has serious issues, but he’s not the only one.

Elsewhere, the Charmings stop the Author from leaving town. Snow asks why Isaac did all of this. What grudge did he hold against the Charmings? It turns out that this was nothing personal. Isaac simply didn’t like what heroes represent in general. He was tired of being pushed around and wanted to be the hero for once. Ironically, as Snow points out, Isaac had the chance to be a hero, but chose to be a villain instead. Now he’ll have to live with the consequences that come along with giving into such darkness. It’ll be interesting to see his comeuppance. For now, the gang has more important matters to tend to…Like Henry being the new Author.

The heroic young chap gazes at both books, resting side by side, when the Apprentice appears. He felt the magic of the quill course through his veins and that kind of power can be very tempting. The only temptation Henry faces is the desire to bring his dad back. Awww. You can’t blame him for wanting that. Unfortunately, even magic can’t raise the dead. What happened before the shenanigans in “Heroes and Villains” was all real and that kind of reality cannot be altered. Isaac’s book was a work of fiction. Actual events were not documented, they were merely conjured by a power-hungry psycho. Since “Heroes and Villains” was not real, none of the deaths stuck. Hook, Doc, and anyone else who got caught in the crossfire have all come back to life.

The Apprentice also explains how The Author is supposed to write the truth and keep the spirit of loved ones alive by telling their stories. He hopes Henry will not be seduced by the quill’s great power. Henry pauses for a moment and breaks the quill in half. He believes no one should have that much power. Atta boy, Henry! The Apprentice is moved by his gesture and says, “It would seem that, this time, we have found the right person for the job.” Yes, Sir, we have. This is such a brilliant twist and wonderful way to give Henry a greater magical purpose in this fanciful world. If only others had Henry’s moral compass, like Rumple, for example.

RumBelle’s gut-wrenching heart-to-heart simmers as Rumple loses consciousness. The darkness is about to take over and he wants her to run off before he becomes dangerous. During all of this insane intensity, the rest of the town has gathered to celebrate with their loved ones at Granny’s.

Regina says that Zelena is still safely secured and pregnant back in her cell. These love birds are determined to make this unique circumstance work. Will offers to look after Henry while Outlaw Queen takes a romantic moonlit stroll. Yeah man, they’ve earned that much. With that bit settled, we move on to the Charming Family. After seeing what a truly villainous Snow looks like, Emma feels bad for holding a grudge against her parents for so long. And she should. That was a cold shoulder of epic proportions, but at least they are all one big happy family again. As she group-hugs her family, she sees Lily sitting all by her lonesome.

Emma heads over to her dark soulmate and offers some comfort. Lily shows Emma her moon shaped necklace and reveals that it is made out a piece of her egg shell. Oh, well now the importance of it make more sense. But here’s the kicker: Lily has no idea who her father is. Can’t Mal keep track of her bedfellows? You may ask. Well, yes she can, but the circumstances of her conception were “special.” Yup! Dragon Mal got it on with some random anonymous Dragan Stud, so there is no way of knowing who her Dragon Daddy could be. Ha! Well that’s a new one. Thanks for the fun new guessing game, “OUAT.” Lily is hoping to find her father in Storybrooke and Emma says she’ll help her out. Belle suddenly barges in with her own bombshell: Rumple is dying and wholly turning into the Dark One in a matter of minutes, so our gang of heroes high-tails it to Gold’s Shop.

Luckily, they have the Apprentice on hand for this potentially catastrophic challenge. He believes they can pull the darkness out of Rumple’s heart like they did with Baby Emma and trap it inside the Sorcerer’s hat. The only problem is that he isn’t sure if the hat can contain this magnitude of darkness, but it is still worth a shot. Black smoke-y demon-like shadows of darkness dart into the hat in swarms. The Apprentice replaces Rumple’s heart, which is now pure white. (It is interesting that the heart is white, you’d expect one to be born with red heart full of love. Perhaps this just goes along with the Heroes/White vs Villains/Black theme. Whatever the case may be, let’s hope it ends up all red this time around. Rumple better make any dark marks after getting a second chance at True Love and happiness with Belle.) The Apprentice preserves Rumple in a coma-like sate until they figure what course of action should be taken to make sure he survives this radical magical procedure. Sadly, we’ll have to wait to see how or if he awakens next season.

Rumple seems to be taken care of, but the darkness isn’t finished. It bursts out of the hat and swirls around the Apprentice. It starts forcing itself down the Apprentice’s throat and his eyes turn black like a kind of demonic possession (the visual representation of the darkness was very reminiscent of “Supernatural”). Emma harnesses her light magic to cast the darkness out. Snow and Charming follow the streams of darkness as they fly out in all sorts of directions and began surrounding their town. Emma and Hook tend to the Apprentice as he slowly recovers.

The Apprentice tells a very fascinating story. Ages ago, the Sorcerer confronted this great darkness and realized it had to be harnessed in some way. The darkness was going to overtake the realms and the Sorcerer was left with no choice. The only way he could contain the darkness was by tethering it to a human soul who became known as the Dark One. The Sorcerer is the only person powerful enough to stop the darkness. Unfortunately, he is hiding somewhere far, far away. The Savior is always up for a challenge and happens to be an expert in tracking people down, so she’s game. Who is this mysterious Sorcerer? Wait for iiit…MERLIN.

Goosebumps! We should have known. “OUAT” introduced Lancelot years ago and then dropped the whole “King Arthur” fable. Of course the Sorcerer is Merlin! It makes perfect sense. What will this Merlin be like? Which incarnations will inspire “OUAT” interpretation? Will we see old, gray, bearded Merlin like in Disney’s “The Sword in the Stone”? Or a younger Merlin who hangs with King Arthur like in the beloved BBC/SyFy series “Merlin”? Hopefully they will focus on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It is such a wonderful story and a kickass chick like Guinevere would fit in very nicely with “OUAT’s” showcase powerful princesses. This is very exciting and makes for a brilliant arc in Season 5. Yay!!!

Back to the crazy drama at hand: They can feel the darkness preparing to consume Storybrooke. Emma, Hook, Snow and Charming huddle on Main Street and Outlaw Queen arrives distressing on the scene. Suddenly, the darkness engulfs Regina and begins taking hold of her. Uh oh! Robin runs to her, but the darkness bounces him back. Now they understand why the darkness must be bound to a single person. There is no other way to control it.

As the darkness stormily swirls around Regina, Emma makes a life-changing decision. Regina has worked too hard to finally find happiness and be a hero. Emma keeps her promise to secure Regina’s happy ending. She turns to her parents and says that they cast the darkness out of her once before, so they can find a way to do it again as full-fledged heroes. Then Emma tearfully turns to Hook and says she loves him. Hallelujah!!! Let’s hope she still feels that love when she’s consumed by the darkness. Maybe Hook can help keep her grounded in light before she turns totally evil.

In the episode’s final moments, Emma grabs the Dark One’s dagger and thrusts it into the cloud of darkness. Emma takes one last peek at her loved ones before the darkness completely consumes her. All that remains is the Dark One’s dagger, now engraved with “Emma Swan.” It surely is a chilling sight to leave us with.

Holy moly! What a phenomenal finale. “Operation Mongoose Part 1 and 2” was perfect from start to finish. Throughout the two hours, we were constantly reminded of the little things that made us fall in love with this show. Then the final moments leave us longing for more.

Some ingenious arcs have been set up for Season 5, so it’s a good thing “Once Upon A Time” will return to its current time slot this fall. Rumple has a fresh start, Henry is the Author, Emma is the Dark One, and our heroes must embark on a quest for Merlin, the only person who can stop the darkness. You have to admit, this is all pretty awesome. Right?!

Did you love “Operation Mongoose”? What were your favorite finale moments? Were you shocked by that ending? Are you excited for what is in store next season? What do you hope to see in Season 5? What representation of Merlin should “OUAT” go with? DO you think we’ll meet King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table? Could Merlin’s dragon be Lily’s father? Or perhaps Pete’s dragon? What other Disney dragons are there? Will Henry begin chronicling the adventures he’s witnessed so far? Will Rumple take advantage of his second chance and lead a good life? Do you want to see Rumple become a total Hero like Regina? There really is a lot to love about this finale, so share your thoughts below!

“Once Upon A Time” will return with new episodes on Sundays at 8 p.m. later this fall.

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