More than a Show, More than a Game: The Hits & Misses of Season 7 of Once Upon A Time

At first thought you may not think that entertainment and sports, or specifically television and baseball have that much in common. But truly there can be many similarities found: collective joy and sorrow, dedication and passion from fans on multiple levels and in various ways, and many differing opinions. People have their favorite characters or players and there are often standouts that “put people in the seats.” One major difference is that I think is that feedback is more easily welcomed and mistakes can be corrected in television more so than in baseball. But importantly, we see in both it is truly a team effort to have the most success and it takes having all the right people in place to achieve that to the highest degree and create the perfect blend of natural chemistry and hard work and planning. Take people away from the team and suddenly it can all change in drastic ways.

As someone who always focused on the positive and has given Once Upon a Time deserved high praise, it felt unnatural to feel anything but, so I sought a way to express honest thoughts about this season’s issues. Using baseball as a metaphor is a way of sorting out everything with comparisons many may find helpful, and if I may be so bold, the writers themselves could understand. And while I’ve always had complete and utter faith in the writing, many recent storytelling choices have splintered that faith somewhat. I never thought that would happen and I am about the easiest person to please with very little I ever find fault with in most of what I watch, especially OUAT. But just as some things we’ve seen I never thought would happen, and in a one case repeated, it’s left me with feelings akin to Shoeless Joe Jackson, “Say it so, Joe” moments.

One thing that I feel needs to be said is that for countless people, baseball is not “just a game,” and Once Upon a Time is not “just a show.” As J.M. Barrie said in Finding Neverland “just” is a “Horrible candle-snuffing word.” They are not just anything. Both can become truly significant parts of our lives in ways that cannot be measured or replicated. Hours and years spent dedicated to loving, analyzing, sometimes complaining, but more often relishing in the joy it brings us. And if we see what we love go down unpleasant paths it can be very difficult, so the old age verbiage of “don’t like, don’t watch” I find to be short sided and even cruel. Is it true sometimes we need to step back? Of course. But overall, to just give it up, I don’t think that’s necessarily right either. Would you have told those fans of the Red Sox or Cubs to just stop watching their favorite team and not hope that they could finally be the team they dream of. Or perhaps even more analogous, tell the fans whose team who had won the World Series the previous season, and are now suffering in the standings, to just “shut up and be grateful” because they’d already won and to no longer hope they can find that magic again? And the thing is, for me personally I am grateful. I will always love this show and find it amazing in ways I cannot properly express. It’s brought so much into my life. That is why there is a struggle for myself and I believe many others. Are there lines of criticism? Absolutely. But the dialogue and hope should not be extinguished.

After the first episode of Season 7 aired, I likened it to returning to a favorite restaurant only to discover most of the menu had been changed, and while you still may enjoy some meals, it would never be quite the same. But now with half the season over and many writing choices being egregious, comparing to baseball feel more accurate. Whereas the first 6 seasons were World Series caliber in every regard, I don’t think Season 7 would even make the playoffs for many of the best players left or were traded, the chemistry is not quite right, with some hits, but more often strikeouts and foul balls. Before the season began I hoped that this would perhaps be like the last seasons of The Office after Steve Carrell departed, where it wasn’t as good, but still retained most of its heart and humor. I knew it would be difficult though, and it’s clear that losing the main character of Emma, as well as Snow and Charming, was too much overall. I had hope that even off screen they and Storybrooke would still at least be part of the story because three cast members were returning, as well as Henry. There had to be some connection remaining. And it’s there but its weak and often at odds with what’s come before. The tagline for the season was “a new book opens.” It did but it still tried to keep the last one there as well, but in odd, misguided, confusing and even heartbreaking ways. They’ve tried to have it both ways and it’s not quite working. The most confounding thing to me is that it can work as we know they are capable of beautiful, well thought out brilliance and it is possible to open a new book while retaining the old one, if they had made some different choices- and ones that could have happened. On a show with magic, the possibilities are much more vast than on other shows. While some may still be enjoying it, many are feeling that opposite, with a sharp decline in ratings. For these reasons, I hope the choice is made to wrap things up, bring back past cast members for the finale and conclude the series with some grace and dignity. Unlike baseball, which is ever ongoing and changing, no show can or should last forever. They all must end sometime. The question is when, and whether all involved in the production can correct the mistakes and make choices that can restore the small hope remaining to conclude with the beauty we know they are capable of and beauty that would give fans and characters the closure and happy ending they deserve to see.

The Hits and Misses

When examining the hits and misses of Season 7, employing this baseball window is indeed a useful tool. The thing that I think is important to note is that some- not all, but some- of what can be enjoyable, for me, is merely on a surface, superficial level. The season thus far as a self contained story has some great moments. It’s when you look at the big picture of connecting it with the rest of the series that issues arise. So when examining things closer, the enjoyment dissipates, revealing significant issues with plot choices and holes, contradictions and retcons, and out of character behavior which are at odds and even undermine the integrity of the characters and their stories from the past 6 seasons. The question to me is, do the writers realize this and don’t care? I never want to believe that. I think there are good intentions but for some strange reason choices that are quite out of touch. It’s like the batter is misreading the signs from the coach.

The first couple episodes are sort of like a baseball game that is nothing write home about. It’s a low scoring game. Not much happens, there’s little excitement. It’s pleasant enough but there aren’t any huge plays or home runs or things like that. Not even sure if the team you’re rooting for wins- maybe, but it’s not that great of a game. Just one of those menial ones. But after that, they definitely become a more mixed bag. The best of these were “One Little Tear,” “Wake Up Call,” “Pretty in Blue” and “Greenbacks” because they were the most interesting and importantly, overall did not undermine anything to any great degree. The episodes meant to be final ones for Morrison and DeRavin, “A Piarte’s Life” and “Beauty”, on an episode level were lovely and emotional. But they also had deep seated, big picture issues- it’s very much a push and pull. And overall, so many of these episodes became like games with few hits, missed opportunities, with only superficial enjoyment that makes the efforts to retain what they’ve done in the past made feel hollow.

– The performances and characters themselves for some of the cast- specifically O’Donoghue, Parrilla, Carlyle, West, Kane and Cox are solid hits- doubles, even triples, performance wise. In fact, I believe the actors elevate the material. Nothing is quite at the Home Run status of past seasons, and that is why these hits never score- but that all is due to the storylines.

– The Henry/Ella pairing is a single/double that never scores. They are sweet, but the chemistry is lacking, especially compared to what we’ve seen with other pairings. But despite this, their relationship to some degree is actually of the things that really deserves to be in the “Hit” category because of how they relate to each other, and the story of how they came together is what we love about OUAT. It’s what comes after that the problem arises.

– Little things throughout episodes also solid hits, mostly single and doubles: Tiana’s tenacity and warmth, Ivy’s demeanor, Henry’s sweetness and warmth, Rogers’ heart, and Regina and Zelena reunited are the ones that stand out.

Looking at some general things and episodes on an “at bat” level:

Hyperion Heights is Strike 1. Unlike Storybrooke which had a unique, mysterious, out of time fairy tale quality despite being in the real world, Hyperion Heights is prosaic, dreary and even boring. There is nothing particularly special about it and it feels like we could be watching any other show. Being in a larger city was fun for a few episodes here and there but the novelty has worn off. Not to mention that without Storybrooke, you are without it’s array of colorful characters at your disposal that brought so much to the series such as the Dwarves and Granny. Moreover, it was completely realistic for Henry to wander about the little town unattended. Lucy wandering around this Seattle adjacent city, not so much.

– Unexplained Magical Retcons, Plot holes, etc. are a Foul Ball/Strike 2. MacGuffins, Plot holes and retcons have surely happened on the series before; And sometimes it’s fine. It’s the nature of a show like this and called a suspension of disbelief. This why they do get a piece of the ball. It goes foul and counts as a strike because in the past these also felt insignificant and did not change things that much, and never felt so glaring or contradictory on any kind of significant level. But when there are many and ones that change things from season’s past on a higher level, one cannot help but not only keep noticing them but find them alarming or upsetting because it shows a lack of care or forethought. How does Henry never run out of gas for his motorcycle in this other Enchanted Forest? Why do stories from the alternate realms like Cinderella and Rapunzel appear in the storybook? Shouldn’t it just be the ones from S1-6? Why do portals no longer appear on the ground you jump into but rather upright in the air that you step through? This is a big one because of one of the show’s most iconic moments- Rumple letting go of Baelfire. And how do these portals seem to appear out of nowhere and at specific times or spontaneously as we saw with Henry and Alice. It makes no sense, is never explained and contradicts greatly what we’ve seen before.

The greatest of these are the sudden knowledge of The Guardian and no longer needing a heart to cast the dark curse, just the blood of someone who has. The Guardian would have been most helpful to Emma during the Dark Swan arc, and why can’t True Love’s Kiss break the Dark One curse as it began to in “Skin Deep” before Rumple stopped it? It was clear in “Beauty” Rumple finally was ready to give up his power. As for casting the curse, it is stretching it that novice Drizella knows more than Regina, and that Regina sensed nothing ominous in the years leading up to it. It feels like mere plot convenience which takes away from the story they are attempting to tell because it punches holes in what you’re watching. And somewhere Snow and Charming are crying over now what seems like unnecessary trauma of crushing Charming’s heart and splitting Snow’s.

– Using Alternate Realms and Versions of Characters and Making the Wish Realm Real is another Foul Ball/Strike 2. I think it’s significant to note that in using alternate realms and versions it fundamentally changes the original concept of the show. This concept was that there was a land filled with all the characters we know- or thought we knew. All the stories we know are not the real stories and these were what really happened. Having multiple versions of the same characters may be reflective of how many fairy tales have different versions, but in the Once Upon a Time universe it contradicts the original concept making it feel like an attempt to continue no matter if it makes sense with the universe they created.

Going back to the Wish Realm and changing what it was is clearly their way of keeping a “Hook” on the show without separating Emma and Killian’s or taking away their happy ending. Those intentions are good and I appreciate them. But the thing is there were other ways to do so that could have kept original Killian on the show. Last season this realm was created as a wish to trap and punish Emma. Now it’s been changed to a parallel universe with the same concurrent history that at one point deviates and Emma no longer had to be the Savior. It is the same but twisted. And now that means that a very real Snow and Charming were murdered, Belle was left to die in a dungeon and Henry was left alone seeking revenge against the Evil Queen. It also presents a slippery slope of potential lands. Are there now two Neverlands, Two Wonderlands, Two Land’s without Color etc.? It is too confusing and diminishes the specialness of the stories we watched, which I find very, very sad and hard to accept. The reason this is not a complete swing and a miss is for the potential that have set up for an endgame (whether they realize it or act on it remains to be seen). But I have chosen to have hope.

– The Timeline/Ages are Strike 3. This is a big swing and a miss in a crucial situation leaving many fans dumbfounded. It’s true that recently the timeline of the show became more vague, using phrasing like “Many years ago,” and at times the ages were not perfect; for example Neal and Robyn seemed too close in age. But the timeline still did make sense and could be followed fairly easily, while the reason for a child being grown and around the same age as their parents as we saw with Emma and then Gideon was clear and explained. The former was the initial concept of the show and the latter served a purpose and was later set right when he turned back into a child. But now the timeline and ages make little to no sense at all. At least 8 to 10 have passed for Henry and yet his family has not noticeably aged at all. Robyn was a baby and is now 25, but Lucy is only 8. Alice was born around the same time as Emma and should be 30ish at least but is only in maybe her early 20s. And Hyperion Heights is set in 2017? Nothing has been explained and the one mere attempt was Regina making a quip about not being here to “discuss timelines.” That is not clever or funny. It’s just lazy. And I know they can do better. The timeline also presents one of the biggest grievances with the season- which I will discuss in the “Eighth Witch” points. 

“A Pirate’s Life”
– Emma and Killian’s Happy Beginning is a Triple. After all they went through the couple being able to have a quiet and happy life in Storybrooke, expecting a baby is beautiful, well deserved after an arduous journey. But there is a reason it’s not a Home run. We should have seen more of this life.

– Choosing to use Wish Realm Hook, instead of the Hook we’ve known is a pop fly. Whether it’s an out depends on perspective. On one hand, they get a good piece of the ball and it looks good and like it make go out of the ballpark. This is all due to O’donoghue’s performance and the character still having Killian’s qualities because he is merely a copy (it also leaves some hope in my heart if the writers have the courage to acknowledge it). But examining deeper it could be an out alas because there were superior options: a clone that could re-merge with him, time travel or time jumps which would mean little to no separation, and choosing to show him coming home with the rest being all flashback. The entire series began with such a thing with the True Love’s Kiss between Show and Charming and what led to that being the story. They could have done the same because contrary to popular belief, knowing an ending, or at least relatively knowing where its heading, does not diminish its power. Shocks and surprise twists are not always needed and we expect happy endings on a show like this.

Moreover, this could be an out because having an alternate Hook takes away the established connections and therefore a lot of the investment and emotion. Henry and Rogers are not step father and son- merely allies and friends. The history is not there. Rogers and Weaver do not truly have a long past with each other but with the other versions of themselves, so any long awaited alliance audiences would have loved to see is not really seen at all. Can it still be poignant? Yes, but not in the same way and not as deeply.

– Having so little Emma and not knowing anything about her and Killian’s child is a Strikeout on its own. There may have been a limit on time but not on content. They could have written anything. And I cannot understand this choice not to show this at all. We should have seen some of their lives together such as finding out about the pregnancy, happy moments, or the birth of the child. The main character and lead actress for 6 seasons deserved that and so did the fans. Things like this should not be up to the viewer’s imaginations. But in Morrison’s final episode (and original Killian’s) they were merely cameos with so little having to do with them. There were some truly lovely moments that will be cherished, but as a whole this is the kind of at bat that is a wasted opportunity that leaves runners on base, missing a scoring opportunity. And they didn’t even try to swing at the ball. The just watched it go right past the heart of the plate and if they had swung it could have been a home run just like the past episodes about this beautiful couple have always been.

“Beauty”
– Seeing so much Belle in her final episode, her happiness with her son and her husband is a double. The character got much focus and this was lovely to see and DeRavin was wonderful.

– The “Up” montage in this far off realm was in one sense a double and in another sense a walk. It was extremely sweet, beautiful and emotionally affecting. The performances were from DeRavin and Carlyle wonderful and believable. It was the kind of thing I actually hope to also see for Emma and Killian (minus the sadness of course) which leads to the big issue. We must forget much of the past between them and just accept what is happening to her.

– Seeing Belle die onscreen, aging rapidly away from her family and friends is a pop out. They get a piece of the pitch, but no matter how beautiful, it is also so difficult to watch this character not only pass away but live out her days in isolation with her husband and only seeing her son on occasion. She was happy and chose this but as an audience member to know that she never again saw her father, her friends that became like family, aging quickly while no time has passed for them, is rather sad and depressing.

– Making Rumple suicidal is a pop out as well. Perhaps I am misinterpreting things but it seems as if Rumple wants to find the Guardian so he can die and be reunited with Belle in death. Understandable? Yes. But he would be leaving his son parentless. Considering throughout the series most of his motivators were about getting back to his first son, why would he not want to not live as long as he can with and for his second?

“Eloise Gardner”
– Choosing the have Wish Hook in a “romantic” scenes, first flirting with Tiana (thankfully some scenes were cut) and then seen kissing and sleeping with Gothel disguised as Rapunzel is Strike 1. It’s a big swing and a miss. This may be another Hook, and in the flashbacks in a time before he would have met Emma (and one should exist in this realm), but to see this so soon is jarring for the audience and for many extremely unpleasant to watch considering what we have seen in the past. He is a pirate. We have seen him flirt and know he obviously was engaging in sexual encounters but we NEVER once saw it even before him and Emma were even close to being a couple. We never even saw him kiss Milah. And now that Emma is no longer on screen and he’s “different” you suddenly do, when we have just witnessed a 5 season long love story. Like I said jarring. Also completely unnecessary. We know he had a daughter. We know how babies are made. But we need not see anything. It wasn’t much, but at the same time TOO MUCH. As far as the present day with Tiana, the only thing I can say is it feels so misguided to even tease the idea of pairing him with someone an episode after Emma’s departure, different version or not. It goes against their True Love/Soulmate theme. Thankfully they seemed to have nixed the idea, but that they even considered it- it’s like the writers were cursed. I still have hope they will do right. That they considered it does make me doubt. But anyone other than another Emma would be insulting and wrong. Plus O’Donoghue is capable of so much. Forcing a romantic story would suggest shallowness on the writer’s and the audiences’ parts.

– Choosing to have this storyline involve “Rapunzel” is a like a Foul Ball/Strike 2. I think the writers thought they were being clever or honoring the parallel we’ve always seen between Emma/Killian and Rapunzel/Flynn but it doesn’t really and the result is not what they thought it’d be. It actually feels more like a slap because we saw those similarities with Emma, and seeing a Hook put into the story is not at all what most would want to see. And It’s like someone caught that foul ball, but it really stung.

– Making this encounter a rape by deception storyline is Strike 3 for many reasons. It’s a vile story choice to make AGAIN. This was not necessary. There were other ways to have him have a daughter that did not have to involve him being raped. The lack of acknowledgment that this is what happened by the writers is beyond problematic. And the argument that this is simply what villains do, that they needed to show her being truly evil holds little weight. Again there are other routes that could have been taken.

It didn’t even have to be his biologically. It have been like Jean Valjean in Les Miserables where he takes in the child of a friend who died. There were options before them. But this route- They may not being condoning what happened and of course recognizing that what she did was wrong but not calling it what it was defending the story choices as  was the only one or necessary choice is a big miss. It wasn’t. This is a I cannot believe you swung at that pitch situation. And please don’t mistake me comparing a game to the very serious situation of rape as me trivializing it. I do not. On the contrary, issues like this should be handled with care and proper attention and recognition. That is the understandable issue many are having. But all these issues could have all been avoided if they chose another story path.

– The scenes involving Wish Hook/Rogers and Alice/Tilly are a bit difficult to define. On one hand I would say it’s like getting a hit. Seeing him being a father, giving up everything for her, singing to her is sweet and nice in itself. But we could also look at the batter getting on base because they were hit by a pitch. Sure you got on base but it was forced. This is because as sweet as these moments can be, like getting hit by a pitch they are also a painful reminder of things many wanted to see with Original Hook and we never did. We still can though and not having Morrison available is no excuse. Why the writers thought the audience would delight in seeing an alternate Hook with his child instead of the Killian we know with his and Emma’s child is mind boggling. It feels like a strongly misguided attempt to give the audience some semblance of what they wanted to see. We wanted to see Emma and Killian with their child but instead we see an alternate version- and not Emma’s child. They teased the audience in episode 2 with a 24 karat Gold Necklace and then gave us a gold plated one. If we had or were seeing both, it would improve this and take the sting away considerably. Then all would be good. We should and still can see Original Hook with his child. And if we don’t. Well that runner will never reach home plate and score.

Moreover, it is not just seeing one and not the other, it’s the implications that Alice has “replaced” Emma as the significant motivator in the Captain Hook Storyline. Then it’s like the runner is thrown out trying to steal second base. He’s on base because the concept of the story is nice- A father doing anything for their child. Once Upon a Time has done this in spades. He is thrown out because the issue lies with the undermining of the original tale as well as Emma’s, and even her family’s, significance in his story. It took Killian years/seasons to redeem himself and give up his revenge. Now this Hook does so in a single episode? Do I not believe he’s not capable of it? No. But why undermine the power of what came before? Killian trading his ship for Emma is such a profound, iconic moment in the series. And now this Hook quickly and without much thought gives it up to Smee. In Killian’s wedding vows he told Emma she did something “NO ONE else could,” she showed him “that a heart filled with love is the most precious treasure of all.” Do these words mean nothing simply because we are seeing an alternate version? If he’s meant to be almost the same it should not. If he were an actual completely different version like the way Cinderella is, it would be different. But he is literally a copy of the Hook we’ve known and loved for 5 seasons, so it’s not the same as her. And no this does not mean I think of him solely as Emma’s love interest and not his own character. But it’s like they took the character and basically started all over again without those who came to matter so much to him, except perhaps Henry. The only thing that takes the sting out of this is that there must be an explanation as to how he became the man we saw in “Wish You Were Here” and “A Pirate’s Life,”- the bumbling man who was still willing to be ruthless. Because his heart was poisoned and he gave up? It seems clear that it was only after Emma healed him, that he’s maintained that goodness, unlike before? That is the one silver lining that gives me hope that all Emmas will remain important in all Hook storylines but in various way that show how they important to each other.

“The Eighth Witch” and beyond
– Henry and his new family not returning to Storybrooke is one of the biggest Strikeouts of the Season. This is something that makes a significant difference in the story and leaves a lasting negative impact; it’s possibly the season’s biggest issue and the one I don’t know how the writers can excuse or correct. Lucy was born, their threat was all but taken care, or so they believed. And yet they stayed there happily living their lives for 8 years! And the only explanation I can muster is becasue they need them to stay to go with the plot they wanted. But Henry has always been about family- and that family being all together in Storybrooke- their home. Him wanting to expand his horizons, find himself and his story is understandable. But to leave for years and never return? Emma gave him something precious- the same chance he gave her. She told him that he should not come home (even though it hurt deeply) until he found his story. Well as soon as he and Ella were together, or at least when Lucy was born and Drizella “defeated,” as far as it should be concerned his story was found. And yet I repeat they stay there for 8 YEARS! This is completely out of character for Henry, and for Emma, and the Charmings to be okay with being apart for that long and missing all that time with him and his child. Perhaps Storybrooke’s time moves slower, but for Henry that time has assuredly passed and you can’t get that back. This is tragic and a heartbreaking story choice that completely undermines the show’s steadfast theme about the importance of family. It should be noted how little Henry has even mentioned his family in Storybrooke; leaving another heartbreaking cloud over this story. Has he completely forgotten his family besides Regina? In Hyperion Heights any mention or nod is merely from Henry’s book, and that okay because they are cursed. But Henry has not mentioned Emma once in all these episodes past 7×2 in the Enchanted Forest, and there was only 2 brief mentions of the Charmings. Perhaps the writers feel like this is enough and that this is honoring them. And it’s true that it’s better than nothing. But I still believe more would make sense, especially in the mid season finale at Lucy’s birth and later birthday. The lack of it is glaring. How could the writers believe this to be okay?

-The potential of another love interest for Regina is a strike out as well. Although we have not seen it on screen yet and the character/relationship may end up being nice on the surface, after Robin who was her soulmate, anyone else won’t truly live up. How can anyone compare with a soulmate? Why not restore Robin’s soul? Anything is possible on this show. At least this would maintain their themes. Sadly I fear it’s too late.

– That small sliver of hope I have is like having a great batter on deck but unsure whether they can truly deliver. There are many things that can happen if the stars can align and the writers have the fortitude to choose to do so, including following through on some things they have set up or not properly shown- whether they realize this is unclear. If the show is wrapping up there are some scenarios that I believe would restore my faith, correct some of the issues and give fans and the characters the proper and beautiful closure they so deserve.

– The Dream (but least likely scenario):
There is one scenario that some may not like but I imagine many would because it would erase every single issue with S7- that all of this has been Henry’s dream or an attempt at writing as the author. The new and alternate characters are not real. Belle isn’t dead and Rumple’s Dark One curse is broken by True Love’s Kiss. Robin Hood’s soul is restored and he comes back to Regina. If Henry leaves home, it’s brief and for college, and if they want Ella to remain he can bring him home with her as a girl he met at school. The only truth that remains is that Emma and Killian are having a baby. Of course the chances are of this happening are slim. But one can dream.

The Next Best Dream (And Hopefully) More likely scenarios and Theories:
-These scenarios are ones I believe should and I hope come to pass for symmetry, closure, satisfaction, and maintaining the integrity of the story and characters from the past six seasons. And this is my humble and formal request to the writers out there if they honor me and see this to please realize some of the issues at hand and follow through on things established both this season and from the past that would preserve the beauty and honor what you all have created that has brought immeasurable joy to fans around the world.

– Whatever storylines are coming up and ones that have already been established are wrapped up quickly, and things get explained at least to some degree. Henry and Lucy are saved, the Coven is defeated (all these witches and one from The Haunted Mansion feels like an odd story choice btw). Gothel dies a fiery death. She deserves no redemption. Not every villain does. The mix of new and old characters are more sectioned off because the new and alternate characters really do not belong in Storybrooke. That is not their home. Henry and his wife and daughter are the only ones who should return- and Regina as well since she’s family. Zelena is less certain, but with the way realm jumping seems so easy, her sister is just a portal away for a visit. But all I know is that Wish Hook, Alice, and then by extension Robyn do not belong in Storybrooke. It was weird when the split Reginas were both there. No need to repeat that mistake. Hook and Alice’s hearts can be cured and they see each other whenever they want, and she and Robyn can be happy together. And if that conclusion with his daughter is his happy ending, so be it. But there is another scenario that I truly feel would help make the story choices worthwhile and restoring some much of that faith and integrity, even if we never see it on screen. I do believe Wish Hook has someone else he should find- the romantic love he’s meant for. It’s the woman who should exist, and one of the aspects I feel most strongly about and one I hope the writers realize and follow through with as they have clearly established it in canon. I fear it may be too late to remain pure with their True Love/Soulmates theme with Regina, which I am not pleased with, but it’s not too late for Wish Hook and the woman who should be out there for him- the Wish Realm’s version of Emma.

– Since the Wish Realm is now a concurrent parallel universe, the difference is that the curse was never cast and Emma was never the Savior. But she still existed. The question is what happened to her? The most logical answer is that the Wish that brought our Emma there misplaced this Emma, and possibly even erased her memories. And if the writers make an excuse and say there isn’t another Emma, I will cry foul. A wish could not erase someone who we know to be very real completely from existence. That’s illogical and frankly awful to even fathom. No, the truth of what they have changed to be real must comply, which means the connection between these soulmates remains, especially considering that the happenings from “The Song in Your Heart” exist for these characters as well. Their stories were the same up until a certain point so this Hook’s song along with everyone else’s remained in Emma’s heart, even if she never became the Savior. Perhaps they’ll serve a purpose yet to be fulfilled. The memories of these events were gone but the connection cannot be broken.

The existence of this realm’s Emma and this Hook finding her (and of course finding love with her) would allow the integrity of the stories and that steadfast theme of True Love transcending everything to remain true. In this realm the love remained between Snow and Charming, Belle and Rumple, and even the alternate Robin and Regina, so it should be the same for Emma and Hook. Of course this realm is also like a cracked mirror with sad differences, so preserving this would most assuredly restoring some happiness while not contradicting any previous writing staples. It’s encouraging to see what made such a lasting impact him was Emma healing him, more so than perhaps what came before, proving that their the souls are connected, a soul that exists in every Emma. Moreover, it is possible based on the canon of what we’ve seen. Our Killian said this realm was, as I said, like a creaked mirror, a reflection of the original universe but slightly distorted. Wish Hook also said he searched the realms looking for True Love and looking for Emma, but that it proved futile on both accounts. The problem was that he did not search the Wish Realm but also that he was searching for the wrong version of Emma. Moreover, as with original Emma and Hook, whose lives often mirrored each other, this other realm’s version do as well, but they are flipped which makes sense since it’s a reflection.

The parallels are actually uncanny when you look at them. Original Emma had a child born in prison, conceived in a situation not ideal, and not with someone who was her TRUE Love. She was separated from her child and then reunited, and after this journey with her child, meeting and falling in love with Hook not only broke down her walls but she helped Hook let go of his revenge. In the Wish Realm, they’re flipped and made darker (a cracked mirror as it were). Wish Realm Hook’s daughter was born in a prison, conceived by rape in most definitely not a love situation. He was separated from his child and reunited and I’m sure all will turn out well as it did for Emma and Henry.  After this journey with his child,  in the end, just as our Emma helped Hook let go of revenge, the Wish Realm’s Hook can help that realm’s Emma  perhaps restore her memories of needed but then help her and Henry let go of their likely quest for revenge against the Evil Queen for murdering Snow and Charming. Unlike our universe, this one does not have the happiness because Emma’s family is gone. But they all could find happiness together. This would preserves the importance of them in each other’s stories and maintain the integrity of the way the show has always presented True Love. And not having Morrison available is not an excuse to not include this for all of this could simply be mentioned in dialogue and happen off screen, and one need only see Emma from the back when he finds her. If we can’t see it on screen, knowing it happens will be enough. This is the best way to keep the indelible “I Will Always find you” intact. The only romantic love for another version of Captain Hook should be another version of Emma. They can find each other and live their lives together off in another enchanted realm, seeing their children whenever they want, free from the hurt they’ve endured. The original Emma and Hook took a long time to find each other and get things right. Why would it not be the same for this Hook and Emma? For the show has always said that True Love is the rarest magic of all, transcending time, realms and even death. These concepts mean something to viewers. It’s one the show’s most beautiful and special attributes. It needs to be maintained. Why  else would you have episodes like “Snow Drifts” and “There’s No Place Like Home” about paths diverging and still arriving back at the same place with Snow and Charming? Why have an episode this season called “A Garden of Forking Paths” if not to explore this idea again. And so far there has not been anything. I’ve always had faith as both a fan and writer who’s spent years analyzing and delighting in the brilliant and intricate work on the show, and believing in these themes are ones that are unbreakable. Let’s hope that remains true.

-Lastly, and most importantly, the biggest hope I have, and the greatest way to bring back that heart and give fans and the show proper closure in a finale is to return to Storybrooke and see Snow and Charming and Emma and Killian with their baby. Henry needs to be reunited with his family. And we should see some of the happy beginning moments for Emma and Killian. A finale with Morrison, Goodwin and Dallas is essential to maintaining the emotional connection and continuity with the rest of the series. Pilots should connect to the end, and ending without those who began the series would be fundamentally wrong. Did we see “endings” for them in season 6? Yes, but it matters not. For the way the story has gone this season I think requires their presence to maintain the continuity of the show. The great hope is that these appearances are proper screen time and not mere seconds or minutes on screen. Of course the dream would be true fruition of the “Captain Swan” passionate and epic adventure that was teased last season and never ended up being what we’d hoped, with a good dose of Snow and Charming and other favorite characters as well. But this may be too much to hope for.

Most especially, I truly feel that seeing Emma and Killian with their child is the crucial way of bringing everything full circle as they are the perfect example of what this show embodies- love, family, overcoming your past and finding courage to move forward towards a sunrise of endless roads of happy beginnings. The series began with a lonely, lost girl all alone on her birthday. Should it not end with the same woman, who was the show’s heroine and main character for six years celebrating again, but now surrounded by her large extended family, including her son who has gone on his own journey of self discovery, found himself, and a new family, but discovered he need not go anywhere but home from now on, coming back to that idea from the episode of “There’s No Place Like Home.” And for the character of Emma herself, the fans of her character, and the show as a whole entity, seeing the ending of her journey with her parents, son, friends, husband and new child would be the most beautiful conclusion to the show. Are there other ways to conclude the series? Most definitely, but one without Emma should not be one of them. What matters is to end with the characters who were the heart of the show giving them and the audience who have lived and breathed this show for years a much deserved happily ever after. Can it truly happen? That remains to be seen. But I hope with all my heart that it can. Can it be like when Dave Roberts stole that fateful base which lead to the Red Sox coming from behind to win the World Series? Can it be like Kirk Gibson hitting that iconic game winning homerun, bringing in the veteran they needed in a crucial moment? I want to maintain the steadfast emblem of Once Upon a Time and hope that it can happen. For if it does, that would be the happiest ending of all.

 

 

2 thoughts on “More than a Show, More than a Game: The Hits & Misses of Season 7 of Once Upon A Time

    • I think you missed some parts because I discussed Beauty and a bit more with his partnership with Rogers, but admittedly yes I discussed him less because out of everyone he is the most difficult to figure out what they exactly are doing with him, So it’s difficult to have a solid opinion on him if that makes sense. I do know that the idea of it ending with both him and Belle dead and Gideon alone is really sad to imagine 😦

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