Once Upon a Time: 62 Iconic Moments

Once Upon a Time has had no shortage of beautiful, profound, funny, exciting and poignant moments since the series debuted October 23, 2011. With the show coming to a close I thought it was time to celebrate its conclusion with a look back at some of the show’s most iconic moments. What makes an iconic moment? There are a myriad of things but when it comes down to it, these are moments that I think of when I think “what is Once Upon a Time?” They are the moments that embody its finest themes, most breathtaking visuals, the sweet and heart wrenching, the moving and adventurous- the moments that truly defined the series. All of the gifs were made by the lovely and ever talented Ashley at @cptnswan_ouat  on Twitter and captainswanouat on Tumblr and here she was able to capture all of the richness, beauty, wonder and emotion in her creations. She was one of the first fandom people I ever followed and such a beautiful person. She is also an amazing photographer and you can check out her photos here. Without further ado these are 62 Iconic Moments, seen in chronological order. Yes I know that seems to be a random  and arbitrary number and that may seem like a lot and trust me, I had to eliminate some for fear of going completely overboard. But I couldn’t list everything. So, these are the moments to look back on that I truly believe will be remembered as the most iconic of the fairy tale series.

1. The opening shot of Charming riding on his horse and then awakening Snow with a True Love’s Kiss (“Pilot”)
It was true love at first sight as we saw Prince Charming on his mighty steed. The moment that started it all was absolute magic, and one that unsurprisingly was revisited many times throughout the series. The score, the magic of the real snow that began to fall, the soft performances from Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas, this moment set the tone for the series in a beautiful way and gave us the first instance of the steadfast and iconic line “I Will Always Find You.”gif-01agif-01b

2. Emma makes a birthday wish on a Cupcake, and Henry shows up at her door, and they head to Storybrooke (1×1 “Pilot”)
The start of a truly beautiful journey, we saw right away that this strong woman was also very lonely and longed for more, and her wish comes true when the son she gave up for adoption appears just as she blows out the candle. A sweet and vulnerable moment with a hint of magical fate. And when Emma’s drives her bright yellow bug into the gray, sleepy town, it’s a beautiful metaphor for the magic and color, she is literally and figuratively bringing to Storybrooke.gif-02agif-02bgif-03

3. Charming sword fights with baby Emma in his arms (1×1 “Pilot”)
Prince Charming will protect his family with his dying breath, and that was almost the case as he fights off the Evil Queen’s guards with his daughter who was born merely moments before in his arms. It’s equally heroic, impressive and filled with emotion.gif-04.gif

4. The Dark Curse envelops Regina and Snow and Charming (1×1 “Pilot”)
As the Evil Queen stands for what she believes is her victory and Snow cradles her husband, the moment is powerful and intense both emotionally and visually.gif-05

5. Henry watches Storybrooke clock move for the first time (1×1 “Pilot”)
Emma deciding to stay in Storybrooke was the beginning of her journey as the Savior, causing the clock to move for the first time in 28 years, and Henry’s smile realizing that things are about to change for the better was not only sweet, but the first instance of one of the show’s most prolific themes: Hope.gif-06.gif

6. Once Upon a Time is great at characters introductions, especially establishing shots that show a sense of style and confidence. These are the best and most iconic. 

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Emma Swan

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The Evil Queen/Regina Mills

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Captain Hook/Killian Jones

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August Booth

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Zelena Mills

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Elsa

7. Charming catches Snow in a net (1×3 “Snow Falls”)
Isn’t he a real Prince Charming. It may not have been love at first sight for these two, but the snarky rapport between them was a sheer delight. It’s playful and funny and a sign of their amazing chemistry, and shows that the Charming’s line “I Will Always find You” began in a much different context, making it all the more meaningful when its altered to a sign of love and hope. It’s easy to understand why actors Goodwin and Dallas always keep this episode at the top of their list of favorites.gif-08.gif

8. Snow tries on Charming’s Mother’s ring (1×3 “Snow Falls”)
This was the first moment that true love sparked between them and the look on Charming’s faces as she puts on this ring says it all. He fell in love in that moment, and so too did she, but it took a while for them to admit these feelings. Such a lovely, important, and iconic moment.gif-09.gif

9. Emma gives Ashley wise and inspiring advice (1×4 “The Price of Gold”)
One of not only the most profound quotes from Emma, but also the entire series, this speech of Emma’s lays out inspiring truths that we all should endeavor to follow. We get to decide who we are and should never let anyone say otherwise. The choice is ours.gif-10

10. Rumplestiltskin catches Belle when she falls off the curtain in his castle (1×12 “Skin Deep”)
A sweet moment of rare vulnerability for the Dark One. We see both of their hearts begin to stir in this classically romantic moment.gif-11.gif

11. Rumplestilskin’s Dark One curse is nearly broken with True Love’s Kiss (1×12 “Skin Deep”)
We see how powerful true love can be when Belle’s kiss begins to turned Rumple back into a real man. He stops it moments later, but for an instant it was lovely to see.gif-12.gif

12. Ruby discovers she is the wolf (1×15 “Red-Handed”)
Once of the first and still best twists to a fairy tale the show has ever done, this moment is not only iconic because it was completely unexpected and unique, but also because of the emotion and drama behind it. Discovering who you are and feeling terrified of it leads Ruby to a beautiful journey of self discovery and acceptance of her true self, and learning that you can save yourself that the show did often, and most especially well with the Red Riding Hood character.gif-58

13. Jefferson lays out some truths to Emma about the reality of the world and magic. (1×17 “Hat Trick”)
In an truly underrated episode, Jefferson may be a little mad, but here is completely lucid about the reality of people, their expectations and unwillingness to believe. And it’s not only a great turning point and iconic moment for the series, but a fine metaphor about faith and belief in the real world.gif-13

14. Rumple let’s Baelfire go through portal (1×19 “The Return”)
The moment everything went wrong for the Dark One. This heart wrenching moment Rumple let’s his fear and unwillingness to relent power and magic was the catalyst for his entire storyline. Not only iconic but one of the most important plot and emotional moments of the series.gif-14
15. Snow eats the poison apple/Henry eats the poisoned apple turnover (1×21 “An Apple as Red as Blood”)
The paralleled poignant moments not only are reminiscent of the original Snow White film, but are so moving because they were done to help those they love the most. Self sacrifice and protection and hope, both are framed and shot in the same angle with is brilliant in its aesthetics.gif-15agif-15b

16. Charming and Emma fight Maleficent the dragon (1×22 “A Land Without Magic”)
Emma takes after her father in many ways and in true fairy tale form, one of these became having to fight a dragon to save a loved one from a sleeping curse, or so they thought. The cross cutting between the two was so well done, and these moments were not only adventurous but show the lengths these two heroes will go to for their family.gif-16agif-16b
17. Emma saves Henry with True Love’s Kiss and breaks the curse on Storybrooke (1×22 “A Land Without Magic”)
Iconic, beautiful and extremely touching, this is such a profound moment for Emma and the series as a whole as it shows the power of mother’s love for their child, and the power that Emma possesses in her very being. She is the savior and she awoke the town form it’s long sleep with her belief and love. Between Emma and Henry and Snow and Charming beautifully reunited, it’s such a powerful moment in meaning, and evocative in its visuals performances and musical score.gif-17

18. Magic comes to Storybrooke (1×22 “A Land Without Magic”)
One of the first of the show’s powerful montages, the end to the first season concluded with a cloud of purple magic enveloping the citizens of Storybrooke, and it was a wonder to behold. The image of Snow and Charming in particularly clutching each other as purple smoke approaches them is emotional and yes, iconic.gif-18

19. Snow and Charming, memories restored, reunite with Emma (2×1 “Broken”)
I am sure many a tear was shed when Snow and Charming knowingly embrace their daughter for the first time since she was born. The family was reunited and it was sweet and moving, and Henry breaks up the emotion by calling Charming “Grandpa.” It was truly perfect!
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20. Lancelot officiates Snow and Charming’s wedding (2×3 “Lady of the Lake”)
Their wedding in the “Pilot” was beautiful and grand, but this one was about them- quiet and simple and about their love that they share they will remain eternal and true. It is made even lovelier by not only the fact that this is the last thing Charming’s mother sees, and she passes away at peace and overjoyed for her son, but also that the water they drink breaks the curse on Snow, making Emma’s existence possible.gif-20

21. Rumplestiltskin and Captain Hook sword fight (2×4 “The Crocodile”)
What is more fairy tale adventure than a good old classic sword fight? And one between the Dark One and Captain Hook is an amazing one indeed, in the episode that introduced the Captain Hook character and his rivalry with Rumple.gif-21.gif

22. Emma and Hook climb the beanstalk (2×6 “Tallahassee”)
The beginning of their beautiful journey began with a precarious climb up a beanstalk to retrieve a magical compass. Plot wise and visually it’s so fairy tale fun and lovely, but emotionally and metaphorically we see that these two are beginning to climb the walls that are surrounding each other’s hearts as they connect and can sense important truths about one another, their past loves and the ways they guard themselves. It’s a climb toward a future together.gif-22

23. Rumplestiltskin and Neal reunite (2×14 “Manhattan”)
A reunion that was a long time coming and the entire reason Rumple set the curse in motion, when father and son finally reunite it is wrought with tension, heartache and a sense that no matter how each is feeling in this moment, their relationship, strained as it is, is not impossibly repaired. It’s a sad moment indeed, but a memorable one.gif-59

24. The family boards the Jolly Roger and follows Henry through a portal to Neverland (2×22 “And Straight On Til Morning”)
Season finales should pack a punch and leave you wanting more, and the end to Season 2 definitely delivered on that regard. The family all joining together to save Henry is iconic enough but ending the season seeing the Jolly Roger sinking into the whirlpool portal with a whoosh and a dramatic musical score was amazing, making the audience ever so eager to see what happens next.gif-60

25. Emma and Hook’s first kiss in Neverland (3×5 “Good Form”)
A challenge, a moment of feeling good, and a relief of sexual tension, the first kiss between the beloved couple was not only sexy, passionate, and as the script said “lusty and hot,” but also deep and meaningful as we saw a combination of what makes them such a great match- a powerful attraction, playfulness in their flirtations, and an undeniable deep connection and awakening of feelings they never thought they would feel again, and that no one else could bring out in them. There was no going back from this point on. They couldn’t handle it and neither could the audience.gif-23

26. Hook vows to win Emma’s heart (3×7 “Dark Hollow”)
How many hearts were unequivocally stirred by Killian’s vow to win Emma’s heart without any trickery but because she will truly want him? Despite her walls still being up you can see the affect he has on here as his vow is sincere, heartfelt, confident but also an ever so vulnerable moment for the pirate captain, who had fallen in love with this amazing woman and wants her to know that he cares for her, is willing to fight for her, but that ultimately the choice to be with him will be hers. It’s deeply romantic and significant in its meaning.gif-24

27. Rumplestiltskin sacrifices himself and kills Peter Pan (3×11 “Going Home”)
A moment of heroism, Rumple sacrifices himself to save everyone from Peter Pan and it’s a truly powerful moment for his character and the series. He found his strength and his courage when he needed it and it’s both powerful and heart breaking. He believes this is his end so most especially to save Belle and Neal, he kills his own father and with his dagger and they disappear in a burst of magic.gif-25

28. Regina stops Pan’s curse, Storybrooke disappears, and Killian shows up at Emma’s door 1 year later (3×11 “Going Home”)
A dramatic, powerful, heart wrenching moment, the score and the meaning of this scene was truly one of the greatest of the series. Many tears were no doubt shed as Emma and Henry drive away, their memories of their loved ones gone, as Regina does what she needs to do and sends them all back to the Enchanted Forest in a cloud of magic. As this curse envelops all of Storybrooke and we see the town line disappear as a melancholy version of “Emma’s Theme” plays, the show made an important and indelible shift. This was bold and extremely poignant. And when Killian knocks on Emma’s door one year later, the excitement and drama was palpable and the show would never be the same again!gif-26agif-26bgif-marianneproject26c.gif

29. Hook swears on the name of his love, Emma, and his lips are cursed (3×17 “The Jolly Roger”)
” I Swear on Emma Swan”- it is such a poignant moment for Hook’s character as he finally says out loud what he feels in his heart for Emma after a year of trying to push down his feels, and makes mistakes while trying to be like his former dastardly pirate self, but finding himself feeling empty. His heart was broken without Emma and Zelena exploits his love by disguising herself as Ariel, to get him to reveal his feelings and curse his lips. It’s heartbreaking to watch, but made so dramatic and moving by this surprising twist and O’Donoghue’s performance.gif-27

30. Regina and Robin’s first kiss (3×18″Bleeding Through”)
Even without her heart Regina decided to follow her developing and strong feelings for Robin and throws caution to the wind and kisses him. The attraction was there from the beginning and is evident here in this first passionate kiss between the soulmates. But this was more about attraction, and bathed in firelight they share a romantic moment of true connection and fervor. gif-28

31. Snow gives Charming half of her heart to save his life (3×19 “A Curious Thing”)
Before sacrificing his own heart to enact the dark curse, Charming tells Snow “we’ve always shared one heart.” And then moments later they prove it. Snow’s heart the love the she feels proves strong enough to revive her husband in this romantic, deeply moving and beautiful moment for the couple and the entire series. And the fact that Regina is the one to help them after having to hurt them for so long is especially poignant.
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32. Regina defeats Zelena (3×20 “Kansas”)
One of the best moments for Regina’s character- she defeats her sister with light magic proving that your power not only comes from within but you can choose to change if you truly want to. You can learn to and begin to make up for past mistakes. Light magic proved more powerful than dark, in this penultimate moment of Season 3.gif-30

33. Emma and Killian share a waltz at King Midas’s Ball (3×21 “Snow Drifts”)
For the first time in her life Emma felt like a fairy tale princess and part of her parent’s world but also recognized that Killian was someone she could completely give her heart to in this undeniably sweet and romantic fairy tale moment. A glittering ball room, sumptuous costumes, a sweet waltz, the aesthetic beauties were matched by the deeper meaning of seeing Emma get to experience something so special for the first time, share it with someone who makes her feel special and cherished. And the looks in their eyes are lovely as she has found a real partner who knows what he’s doing- not just on the dance floor, but with her heart.gif-31

34. Emma says Storybrooke is her home and call Snow and David Mom and Dad (3×22 “There’s No Place Like Home”)
It’s such a lovely moment to see Emma get her magic back by realizing that Storybrooke is her home. After all the pain she went through, she realizes just how much her parents mean to her and that where she belongs is this sleepy little town. That is lovely in itself but as she embraces her parents and call them Mom and Dad for the first time in a moment of happiness instead of fear, it’s a turning point for her character and her relationship with Snow and Charming.gif-32gif-33

35. Killian says he traded ship for Emma (3×22 “There’s No Place Like Home”)
Once of the most romantic moments to ever grace the screen, the mystery surrounding what happened to the Jolly Roger and how Killian was able to reach Emma in New York City was revealed to be even more meaningful than we could have imagined. Killian gave up his home to bring Emma back to hers, because he loves her and it was the right thing to do, but also just to see her again, never knowing if she would ever return his feelings. And in this moment her astonishment is beautiful and realization that their feelings for each other are deep is evident in the unbridled kiss they share. There was not magical curse to break, but it was a moment of True Love.gif-34.gif

36. Montage of the happy couples (3×22 “There’s No Place Like Home”)
Once Upon a Time does montages really well, and this one of the two most iconic and happiest of the series as it shows all of the couples delight in their love, all in different stages of a relationship: Emma and Hook at the start, being tender, passionate and sweet, Snow and Charming, content and at peace with their new baby, Rumple and Belle, emotional as they wed, and Regina and Robin, joyful and delighting in simply being together. Combined with the gorgeous musical cue, this scene is simply beautiful in every way.gif-35agif-35bgif-35cgif-35d

37. Rumplestiltskin and Belle dance to “Beauty and the Beast” (4×1 “A Tale of two Sisters”)
One of the sweetest, happiest and loveliest moments for the couple, on their honeymoon the two donned costumes very similar to the animated counterparts and danced to a beautiful instrumental of the classic song. It’s one the Disney-est moments of the series. gif-36.gif

38. Elsa helps Emma accept her magic (4×8 “Smash the Mirror)
It’s a poignant theme to accept every part of yourself and when Emma accepts her magic as part of her, she learns to control it, and does so with the help of a true kindred friend. There are many parallels between Emma and Elsa, and many wonderful moments in Emma’s journey, and this one both beautifully and visually in meaning was one of the most powerful.
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39. Montage of the characters preparing for the Snow Queen’s spell (4×9 “Fall)
Another gorgeous montage in true Once Upon a Time fashion. Beautiful montages are often the mix of score, visuals and story that can bring forth lovely results. This montage was very dramatic and aesthetically filmed in such a dynamic way as we see every character ready for the spell that’s about to befall them. It ups the drama in an amazing way.gif-38agif-38bgif-38cgif-38dgif-38egif-38fgif-38ggif-38hgif-38igif-38j

40. Regina and Robin part at the Storybrooke town line (4×11 “Heroes and Villains”)
Heartbreaking to say the least, Regina and Robin had to part so he could be with Marian, both having to sacrifice being together for the good of other. As sad as it was to watch, it is shot in such a beautifully melancholy and romantic way as they hold hands and he steps backwards across the town line, Storybrooke and Regina, disappearing from Robin’s view with a single tear falling from his eye. It is heart wrenching but unforgettable.gif-39

41. Emma and Regina use magic to fight the Chernabog (4×12 “Darkness on the Edge of Town”)
These two women possess such powerful magic individually so it’s a no brainer that when they both use their magic together, it’s even more powerful and it’s a great demonstration of former enemies coming together for the greater good. But it’s the image of them both, in their individual style blasting their magic at the Chernabog in unison that was a great iconic moment in imagery. gif-40bgif-40a

42. Killian tells Emma she’s his happy ending (4×15 “Poor Unfortunate Soul”)
Once Upon a Time is all about happy endings, but for Emma and Killian, both had so much sadness in their lives that finding someone who can be yours is overwhelming. And in this tender, vulnerable moment both are overwhelmed in emotion, Killian admitting what he is so afraid to lose, and Emma that she could possibly mean so much to someone she equally cares for. Between the tender performances, the softness of the scene, and the single tear that Emma sheds, this moment is exquisitely iconic. gif-41.gifgif-41b.gif

43. Robin Hood rides a horse in streets of New York (4×18 “Heart of Gold”)
The kind of scene that could only happen in Once Upon a Time, the combination of classic heroic fairy tale moment with the loud and crowded modernity of New York City was wonderful both in concept and for the character of Robin to show off his heroism in classic fashion.
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44. Henry becomes the new Author (4×22 “Operation Mongoose Part 2”)
When Henry picks up the magic quill and is chosen to be the next author of the illustrious book of fairy tales- an honor only bestowed to those truly worthy, Henry gets to be the hero he always wanted to be. But what was special was that this came from within because of the person he is, and because of that Henry saved everyone and returned things to how they were meant to be. It’s possibly the best moment for his character.
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45. Emma becomes the Dark One 4×22 (“Operation Mongoose Part 2”)
One of Emma’s most heroic and self sacrificial moments, and truly on the most powerful of the series, Emma tether’s herself to the darkness threatening to snuff out the entire town and everyone there, saving everyone’s lives. But not before asking her parents to be the heroes they are and find a way to get the darkness out of her, and telling Killian she loves him for the first time- offering a sense of hope for her loved ones. This intense and dramatic moment as the darkness engulfs her showcases the strength of this Savior, and the look she gives Killian before she disappears showcases the strength of this woman. And as she disappears and all that remains is the Dark One’s dagger with her name engraved upon it, we were left with the most powerful season finale cliffhanger of the series.
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46. Emma and Killian kiss in the Middlemist Field (5×4 “The Broken Kingdom”)
The most idyllic, fairy tale beautiful scene of the series, True Love proved more powerful than the darkness plaguing Emma. By trusting Killian with her burden, the images of Rumple disappear, leaving just the two of them, feeling peaceful and happy in a field of gorgeous Middlemist flowers, a symbol for the way love and hope springs eternal. As they passionately kiss and the camera pans up to see the couple surrounded by thousands of flowers, we witness an exquisite image of love in its purest form. gif-45.gif

47. Emma frees Merlin (5×5 “Dreamcatcher)
One of the most intense, powerful and iconic displays of magic, Emma controls both light and dark in an amazingly captivating ways as she frees the illustrious wizard from his prison. The visual effects, the score, the performance of Morrison which includes looks of satisfaction and power, made this scene incredible. gif-46

48. Emma fights back against the Darkness and says “I am not nothing!” (5×7 “Nimue”)
Emma Swan went through an incredible personal journey over the course of the series and once of the moments important moments for her, and indeed the entire show was this moment when Emma fought back against the darkness and Nimue’s taunting that she needs the power or she would simply go back to being “nothing.” As a person who struggled with feeling like enough, Emma punched back and declared that not only is she not nothing- but was never nothing. For anyone who has ever struggled with dark thoughts and low feelings of self worth, this was a profound and inspiring moment of a woman who had finally learned her value and that she is worthy simply by being herself.gif-64.gif

49. Emma turns Killian into a Dark One in the Middlemist field (5×9 “Birth)
One of the most unexpected and heart wrenching twists of the series, this scene was also beautiful in its intimacy of emotion. While Killian clinging to life, the couple share a moment in the place where their love had proved stronger than darkness, Emma fraught with fear of losing him, Killian wiling t die if it means she has a future. Its romantic, it’s heartbreaking, it’s captivating, gorgeous and powerful visually, musically and in terms of storytelling and authentic performances. It’s truly iconic. gif-47.gif

50. Killian’s makes the ultimate sacrifice (5×11 “Swan Song)
All it took was seeing Emma in pain for Killian to overcome that darkness that was consuming him and be the man he always wanted, and could be- a hero. Killian asks Emma to do the heartbreaking and unthinkable- kill him with Excalibur to save everyone and, as they believed, destroy the darkness forever. He sacrifices his life in this gut wrenching moment and the last thing he sees is the image of his beloved Emma restored to her glorious Savior clad in her iconic red leather jacket. This image, the contrast of light and dark, the raw emotion and the sight of Emma sobbing over her true love, are things the audience will not long forget.gif-48agif-48bgif-48c

51. Emma proclaims the Charming family motto “I Will Always Find You” as she and her family march towards the Underworld to save Killian (5×11 “Swan Song”)
This quote has become synonymous with Once Upon a Time, the Charming Family, and the strength that True Love can give us. It was beautiful and remarkable enough for Emma to decide to march into literal Hell to save the man she loves. It’s even more special to hear Emma proclaim the words that are iconic in itself. It further solidified that the love they share is eternal, as Morrison says, become brave enough to love completely with no walls up, and that Emma has truly embraced her family’s sense of steadfast belief and hope. gif-49

52. Emma and Killian say goodbye in the Underworld (5×20 “Firebird”)
If their scene in the Middlemist field from “Birth” was their fairy tale heartbreaking moment, then this moment was their all too real heartbreaking moment- and even more dramatically so. Despite being in the Underworld, this felt like a real goodbye. Raw, emotional, tender, the farewell promises were selfless and a beautiful depiction of True Love, while the goodbye kisses, including one on Emma’ hands, which they held onto until the last possible moment made this moment intimate and authentic- making it a truly iconic moment for the couple and one of the most profound of the series. gif-61bgif-61c

53. Robin Hood sacrifices his life for Regina (5×21 “Last Rites”)
The one death that myself, and many fans could never get over, Robin Hood was a true hero and this moment, as heartbreaking as it was only further proved the kind of man he was. He was brave, passionate and selfless and here he sacrifices his life for the woman he loved. He did not even hesitate to jump in front of Regina to save her. It’s the kind of moment that breaks our hearts and reminds how quickly everything can change. His life was lost that day, but Robin will live in our hearts always.
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50. Killian’s life is restored and he is reunited with Emma (5×21 “Last Rites”)
Symbolically and emotionally exquisite, Killian returns to Emma and as they embrace and kiss, completely overcome with emotion to be back in each other’s arms, the soft rain falls down upon them, a symbol of life renewed. Unencumbered joy, beautiful colors and music, and true love abound, is there anything more glorious than love overcoming even the greatest of obstacles. gif-50

49. Emma tells Killian she loves him for the first time in a peaceful situation with a wedding dress seen in the background (5×23 “An Untold Story”)
It was a tremendous moment of growth for Emma to tell Killian she loves him in a moment of peace and normalcy and what made this moment so lovely and iconic was this display of growth, affection as we’ve never seen as he lifts her into his arms to kiss her, so happy to hear these words because he knows what this means to her, and especially as it was one of the sweetest forms of foreshadowing of the series as a wedding dress was perfectly centered in a shop window behind them, signifying that marriage was soon to be the next step in their story. gif-51bgif-51

56. Killian reads Emma the storybook and kisses her hand (6×7 “Heartless)
Swoon worthy in its romanticism, beautiful in its simplicity, Killian reads to Emma her story to help calm her shaking hand, and build up her confidence. It’s sweet and lovely but iconic as it brings in the storybook, who Emma is (the product of True Love), and the beauty and interweaving nature of two love stories. Ending with a tender kiss of the hand, Emma is left with a sense of hope, belief in herself, and the feeling of being truly cherished.gif-marianneproject52

57. The town breaks Snow and Charming’s sleeping curse (6×17 “Awake”)
Symbolic, and touching, the curse on Sow and Charming was finally broken when the town each drank a bit of their curse, falling into a quiet slumber, but diluted enough because so many were sharing it. The family that exists both by blood and with the one they created in the little town of Storybrooke is indelibly bonded and seeing everyone give back to the people who gave up so much was very moving. Moreover, the circular nature of life is visually seen in a beautiful way when Show and David awaken from their curse with everyone asleep encircled around them. That image of their loved ones surrounding them is symbolic of what this show represents: love, faith, sacrifice, family, and a willingness to do anything for those we care about, and in a way that is circular- boundless and has no end. gif-63a

58. The Musical Episode: Snow and Charming’s Song “Powerful Magic”, The Evil Queen’s “Love Doesn’t Stand Chance”, Killian’s Song “Revenge is Gonna Be Mine”, Zelana’s “Wicked Always Wins”, Emma’s Song “Emma’s Theme”, (6×20 “The Song in Your Heart”)
The entirely of the musical episode of one of the most iconic of the series, but these songs (along with the wedding song which will be discussed as well), have a true specialness about them. Snow and Charming’s song was perfectly sweet and delightful and optimistic- it’s so Disney and so them. Ginnifer and Josh are so perfect together! Zelena’s was such a fun “Defying Gravity” kind of moment and maybe the best kind of iconic moment for her character, while the Evil Queen’s really felt sassy and so her. Killian’s pirate jaunt about revenge is also so indelibly him; a bit saucy but tinged with heartache underneath. And Colin performed it amazingly! And like Snow and Charming’s you can’t help but sing along and smile. And Emma’s song is such a beautiful culmination of her journey from ugly duckling to a swan savior, filled with power and beauty and gorgeously performed.gif-marianneproject53agif-marianneproject53bgif-marianneproject53egif-marianneproject53fgif-marianneproject53c

59. Emma and Killian’s Wedding (6×20 “The Song in Your Heart”)
The entire musical episode was a delightful but if was the final song and final scene that was the most beautiful and iconic as if was not only the culmination of a beautiful love story with Emma and Killian’s wedding, complete with profound marriage vows, exquisite performances, and stunning visuals. But also, their song “A Happy Beginning,” is not only a sweet duet about their love and how they are everything to each other, but also a celebration of the couple and indeed everyone and all the beautiful things the show embodies. It’s a musical masterpiece about true love, family, hope and the ability to overcome anything, leave your scars behind and pass the dark clouds to find the stars. Hope and love springs eternal. gif-marianneproject54gif-marianneproject53d

60. Emma’s Final Battle with Gideon (6×22 “The Final Battle Part 2”)
It was always Emma’s destiny to be the Savior and it was long journey of self discovery and overcoming her past to reach the point in the Final b=Battle where she fully understands and accepts what this means. She was incredibly brave and fierce in this moment, and her speech about who she is and that while light will not destroy but simply create more light, her face of resilience and resignation, courage was a wonder to behold. The image of the light bursting from this amazing woman was long forgotten and her journey and what the show represents was gorgeously encapsulated in this poignant moment. She is light. She is hope. gif-marianneproject55agif-marianneproject55b

61. Happy Endings Montage (6×22 “The Final Battle Part 2”)
In one of the most glorious montages of the series, this was all about what the show embodies: love and family as it highlights all of the characters and their happy beginnings. Their moments of peace and happiness after a such an arduous journey, they found the light and the places they belong. It’s emotional affecting, sweet, and truly profound made special by the emotive and gorgeous musical score, culminating in a final scene of the entire extended family at Granny’s. This was not an ending; It was simply another beginning to their happily ever afters, with the image becoming yet another image in the storybook. Though for many reasons, this could have concluded the series, regardless, it’s beauty and perfection will indelibly live on forever.gif-marianneproject56agif-marianneproject56bgif-marianneproject56egif-marianneproject56dgif-marianneproject56fgif-marianneproject56cgif-marianneproject56g

62. Killian’s touches Emma’s pregnant stomach before they leave through portal (7×2 “A Pirate’s Life”)
Another happy beginning for the iconic couple- it was bittersweet to say goodbye to her son, but she is doing what a good mother does and letting him find his happiness, while she and her husband are preparing for the birth their own child. The happily married couple are expecting a baby and with joint hands over her pregnant stomach and tears in Emma’s eyes, the couple return home to continue to live their happily ever after with hope that family will all be together again. gif-marianneproject57

And that concludes this list of the most iconic moments from Once Upon a Time– the ones that I believe will be the most remembered, revered, and looked back upon as the imprint of the series. I suspect that one scene in particular will be added to this list when the finale airs, perhaps a few more, but until then, let s celebrate these moments and remember what made us love this show about true love, storytelling, family and hope.

 

 

Once Upon a Time Series Reviewers/Writers Roundtable

With Once Upon a Time winding down, one of the few ways I thought to celebrate was the include my fellow writers in a roundtable of questions about our favorite characters, moments and more from the series. During the heart of the show, these writers and I felt a sense of camaraderie and friendship and shared many similar feelings, so it’s no surprise that when it came to answering these questions there were some definite similarities. But all in all there is also a lot of variety and above all else fun.

The roundtable includes myself, and writers Katie, Gissane, Maii, Lissete and Meredith. Each answers the questions include their handles and where they wrote about OUAT. Also, myself, Lissete and Maii recorded a podcast (I am contemplating doing more in the future) to discuss our answers as well as those who couldn’t join us. Listen below for that and then read on to our more thorough answers that explores what we consider the best and our favorites of this series.

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Emma Swan is unanimously our favorite character

Name: Marianne
Twitter Handle(s): @Marianne_P81, @The_Girly_Nerd
Where you wrote about Once Upon a Time: The Nerd Machine, The Girly Nerd

1. What made you first watch OUAT and when did you start?
I have been a immense fan of Disney and fairy tales my entire life, so this was literally the show of my dreams. I wanted to watch from the moment I saw the show advertised. I would have watched the show regardless, but also being a big fan of Ginnifer Goodwin from many of her films, seeing she was playing Snow White was an added bonus. She was the only one in the cast I knew of before I began watching, which was the day it premiered in 2011. And it was love at first sight.

2. When did you start writing about the show and what inspired you to do so?
I began writing Once reviews from The Nerd Machine mid season 3 and did a review of that first half of the season. Then I did another for the second half. I began weekly reviews in Season 4. I find OUAT to be a very inspiring and positive show, showcasing themes and content that I connect with on deep levels beyond the pure joy and entertainment I get out of the series. I love writing and wrote a great deal about film and fairy tales in college, and after for some online and periodical articles (ie a review on the film Tangled). My Master’s Thesis was about Family in Fairy Tales and fantasy, which I loved working on (it was also hard work), and it had been a while since I had written anything substantial. I was already a writer for The Nerd Machine on a periodic things and I was going through some changes and this felt like this was a good opportunity to get back into writing more often. I was also inspired by Katie’s reviews on Nerdy Girly Notes and wanted to join her on the fun.

3. What are your favorite arcs/storylines? Rank the seasons.
I thought The Dark Swan arc was amazing with its complexities, twists, beauty and drama and so much focus on Emma and her and Killian’s relationship and love for each other. Likewise both the Wicked Witch and Neverland arcs were fantastic- well paced, well balanced, great romance and drama and emotion. I also loved the Frozen arc for the focus on Emma and the way they perfectly integrated the Frozen characters into the story, and loved the entire first season for its mystery, introduction to all the characters, Snow and Charming’s love story and Emma’s journey of believing and breaking the curse.
Season Ranking: 3, 5,1, 4, 2, 6, 7 (Season 4 and 1, and Season 2 and 6 could probably be tied)

4. Top 3 favorite main characters.
Emma Swan, Killian Jones, Prince Charming/David Nolan. Snow White comes close to them.

5. Choose 5 iconic episodes, not necessarily favorite episodes. These are episodes you think define the series. (2 part season finales can count as 1 episode)
1. Snow Drifts/There’s No Place Like Home
2. The Song in Your Heart
3. Pilot
4. A Land Without Magic
5. Operation Mongoose
Special nod to Going Home, Birth and Snow Falls.

6. Are your 5 favorite episodes the same? If not which would you switch out?
There definite similarities but my 5 favorite vary slightly. These are:
1. Snow Drifts/There’s No Place Like Home
2. The Song in Your Heart
3. Birth
4. New York City Serenade
5. Pilot
Special nods to Operation Mongoose, Fall, Good Form, Going Home, White Out, The Apprentice, A Land Without Magic, Snow Falls, The Other Shoe.

7. Who are you favorite guest characters/actors and favorite recurring characters/actors? 
Guests: Cruella (Victoria Smurfit), Elsa (Georgina Haig), Anna (Elizabeth Lail), Ingrid (Elizabeth Mitchell), Kristoff (Scott Michael Foster), Arthur (Liam Garrigan), Tinkerbell (Rose McIver), Merlin (Elliot Knight), Peter Pan (Robbie Kay)

Recurring: Granny (Beverly Elliott), Ariel (Joanna Garcia-Swisher), Archie (Raphel Sbarge), August (Eion Bailey), Jefferson (Sebastian Stan), Dr. Whale (David Anders), Grumpy (Lee Arenberg), Ruby (Meghan Ory)

8. What are some moments you think are underrated?
– Snow and Charming in the Netherworld was really romantic and so “them” but I loved that a the last minute they gave that little twist that they couldn’t touch. It upped the drama for the arc for certain.

– Anna and Kristoff pledging their love thinking they’re about to drown had me drowning in feels. It was so poignant and romantic.

– Emma showing Killian her box of childhood mementos was such a meaningful step for Emma and their relationship. It’s quiet and simple but incredibly profound.

-Emma and Killian reuniting in the S4 finale. It was so sweet the way she hugged him and tackled him down onto the bed, and that moment had such beautiful tension with their close ups and smiles and anticipation of those three little words.
-Ingrid’s sacrifice was so beautifully done- it was emotionally performed and it was the most I ever felt for a character that wasn’t a main one. And the musical cue used just added to already really profound moment.

– As a whole I think “Hat Trick” and “In the Name of the Brother” were such a unique and amazing episodes that are very under-appreciated.

9. Who are your favorite couples both major and minor?
For the major couples Captain Swan is not only my favorite couple on the show but also one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve ever seen. Their relationship is so well developed, healthy and realistic, while their story is profoundly beautiful and epic and the perfect blend of fairy tale romance and grounded realism. Snow and Charming come in a close second for many of the same reasons. I think their story and relationship is lovely, and pure and so fairy tale perfect. For the minor couples I adored Anna and Kristoff. Their rapport and banter was simply delightful while also showcasing their deeper connection. It felt like they had leapt off the Frozen film and into OUAT.

10. What are your favorite friendships?
I have such a soft and special place in my heart for Killian and David, aka Captain Charming. That development is so great and these two men played off each other so well. I always wanted to see more. Emma and Elsa were a lovely and deep friendship that I am so grateful they showed as we saw such support, sweetness and true kinship with them. I also loved Ruby and Snow and Emma and August, both caring and supportive relationships who wanted the best for their friends.

11. Are there any characters you wish you’d seen on the show?
I will always be bewildered and disappointed that they gave their Captain Hook the name Killian Jones and never used the character Davy Jones. You have a pirate with the last name Jones, and that never comes up? Whether it would have been his father, uncle or other kind of relative I think that was a big missed opportunity. I also wanted Flynn Rider, but the way they did Rapunzel on this show, Captain Swan remains the purest iteration of that couple as far as I’m concerned. I think it also would have been funny if perhaps as someone minor, Mary Poppins was in Storybrooke as a nanny. Lastly, I also think it would have been hilarious if we saw Herbie the Love bug drive by, since the show’s most iconic car was Emma’s yellow bug. Her car could have been Herbie’s True Love!

12. Are there any characters you wish they’d done differently?
Hands down Hercules and Meg. I know OUAT didn’t always do characters exactly like their counterparts, but they were so different and in not a good way. They lacked all the depth, and Meg especially lacked the sass and tenacity I was looking forward to and I was disappointed it did not play out that way. There were so many story parallels between Hercules and Meg and how Emma was braving the Underworld to find Killian and they did not come to fruition in the way it could have.

13. What moments did you want to see that they never showed?
My choices for this are a combo of things I really wanted, things we know were scripted but were deleted, and things that happened off screen. Unsurprisingly they are mostly Captain Swan related.
– The deleted scene from “Heroes and Villains” which went:
Emma: You know I’ve never really done this?
Hook: Held my heart? You’ve done it longer than you know.
The scene as shown was too short but this was a made a big difference.

– The deleted scene from “A Tale of Two Sisters” which had such great flirting:
Emma: I’m not avoiding you. I’m dealing with things.
Hook: Actually, I’m a pretty important thing you’re not dealing with.
Emma: You’re pretty full of yourself.
Hook: It’s my charm. Now shall we discuss the events of last night, or better yet continue with them—

– I ALWAYS wanted to see a flashback of Killian trading the Jolly Roger to Blackbeard for a magic bean and outrunning the curse. There were times they could have flashbacked to this that would have been really meaningful.

– In “The Apprentice,” I loved Emma and Killian’s date but they cut from them at dinner to him walking her to her door, with her wearing his leather jacket. I wanted to see more of their date, particularly him giving her his jacket. That could have been a equally sweet and sexy moment.

-I wanted to see some kind of love scene or bedroom scene (albeit a tame one) for Emma and Killian, especially their first time together. They really missed the boat with never showing this once. I love the “Couch” scene and “Pancakes” scene but there should have been more for who became the show’s central couple.

– I also wanted more sweet domestic moments for Captain Swan and them finding out she was pregnant and the birth of their child.

– Lastly, although I loved the unique way they showed Emma and Killian were True Love, I always wanted a TLK for them. I thought the couple really deserved an magical auspicious moment such as that.

14. What moments do you think were the most romantic, saddest, and funniest?
Romantic: Emma and Killian in the Middlemist field, Killian says he traded his ship for Emma, Snow and Charming finding each other in the S1 finale, Killian returns to Emma in the cemetery, Killian reads Emma the Storybook, Snow splits her heart and revives Charming, Killian vows to win Emma’s heart, Killian reveals Emma is his happy ending, Emma and Killian’s wedding vows, Snow and Charming’s True Love Kiss in the Pilot, Anna and Kristoff in the trunk, Snow and Charming in the Netherworld.

Saddest: Emma and Killian saying goodbye in the Underworld, Robin Hood’s death, Emma chained to bed giving up Henry, Emma saying goodbye to everyone at the townline, Emma having to “kill” Killian with Excaliber, Snow giving up Emma right after giving birth.

Funniest: Cruella, Ursula, and Rumple driving up to the drive-thru of Mr. Clucks in Cruella’s car- hilarious on so many levels. Snow and Charming arguing under the Snow Queen’s spell, Charming teaching Henry to drive, so many of Killian, Cruella, and Granny’s one-liners, and when Snow, who had lost her love and sweetness tells a dwarf after breaking their mug, “You’re lucky it’s not that mug you call a face!”

15. What moments do you remember where you had a really emotional or visceral reaction, and ones where you simply thought “I love this show!”
I had a strong visceral and emotional reactions to the very intimate, heartbreaking moments for Emma and Killian in S5, particularly when Emma saves his life and turn him into another Dark One in the Middlemist field and when they saying goodbye at the elevator in the Underworld. The latter especially, because it was so quiet, deep and felt so incredibly real, really affected me. Lots of real life ugly sobbing. I was also affected by the image of Snow in the mirror crying after Charming takes baby Emma away in the Pilot, and the image of Emma chained to her hospital bed, crying and unable to even look at Henry after giving birth. These are so heart wrenching. Emma also sobbing when she thinks Henry is dead- the image of little pale body,a nd that somber music just killed me. And when she kissed him and he woke up and she broke the curse I really lost it.

As far as “I love this show” moments early on I felt that watching the Pilot and Snow Falls, and I began to feel that even more in S3, especially the S3 finale which I think was the absolute peak in storytelling. And when I watched “Going Home” I vividly remember sobbing as Emma was saying goodbye to everyone and Storybrooke disappeared, and I literally leapt from my seat and yelled out “Hook” when he showed up at her door. It was such a range of emotions and I will never forget that, especially since that was a midseason finale and we had to wait months to see what was next!

I had a similar reaction to “Swan Song” when Emma was marching towards the Underworld to save Killian and she says the Charming Family motto, “I will always find you.” I already knew this couple to be a True Love everlasting pairing, but both for Emma’s character, and the couple I was so overwhelmed with hearing her saying what the original True Love couple- her parents always said and stood for. That’s magical to me!

Lastly, and probably the most significant was for the musical episode. It was everything I dreamt of. But in particular the wedding and even more specifically “A Happy Beginning” is a pristine example of everything I love about this show. It was so incredibly joyful, celebrating love and family, and the song is absolutely perfect. I literally cannot count the number of times I have watched this scene since it aired, and I have listened to the song even more. I know anytime I want to smile or cheer myself, just listen on pop on this scene and all will be right with the world.

16. What were some of your favorite costumes?
I thought all of the costumes in Camelot were absolutely gorgeous, especially Emma’s White dresses, and Killian’s quilted jacket and red vest. But the costumes for Snow, Charming, Regina, Robin, Zelena, and Belle were all beautiful. I also loved Emma’s ball gown and Killian’s Prince ensemble from the S3 finale, Emma and Snow’s “adventure” outfits from the musical episode and Operation Mongoose respectively, Elsa and Anna’s dresses, Belle’s blue dress, Emma’s gown from Charming’s dream, Charming’s hero ensemble from NYCS, Cinderella/Ashley’s ball gown, as well as the main costumes for Robin Hood and Mulan. I also never met an Emma Swan leather jacket I didn’t like and loved the pink dress she wore for her date with Killian.

17. What are your favorite musical themes or cues? Favorite songs from the musical episode?
Musical cues/themes: “Wedding in the Woods”
“Snow and Charming’s theme”
“Emma’s Theme”
“Emma and Killian’s theme”
“Sky Sailing”
“Ingrid’s End”
“True Love”
“Happy Endings Suite”
“Emma’s Theme/Charming Family Theme”
“Storybrooke (peaceful 6 weeks) Theme”
Musical Episode: “A Happy Beginning,” ‘Powerful Magic,” “Revenge is Gonna Be Mine”, “Emma’s Theme”

18. Which guest star casting do think was spot on perfect?
Georgina Haig, Elizabeth Lail and Scott Michael Foster as Elsa, Anna and Kristoff, Victoria Smurfit as Cruella, Joanna Garcia and Gil McKinney as Ariel and Eric.

19. If you could pick any props to take from set what would they be?
Even though I made my own Captain Swan one, I would love a real copy of Henry’s storybook. I also would love Excalibur with Emma and Killian’s names engraved on it.

20. Would you rather live in Storybrooke or the Enchanted Forest?
Storybrooke. I need modern conveniences like medicine, electricity, internet and television. But I would hope there were ways we could visit the Enchanted Forest on occasion for special things like a ball.

21. What show would you do a crossover episode with (doesn’t have to make sense or be current)?
Psych. I just think this would be so funny and entertaining. Emma and Juliet would get along great, two badass woman sheriffing around town. Lassiter would probably get annoyed at everyone and I think he, Killian and David would share in that- equally exasperated at the constant monsters and such. And Shawn and Gus- they would probably spend their time screaming and running away from everything and checking out every single restaurant in town. I can picture them ordering a million things off the menu in Granny’s right before going into the psychic hijinks, and Emma would probably no doubt be able to see right through Shawn’s facade, but not spill the beans. It would be really fun.

22. What other show would you think it’d be fun to put the OUAT characters into?
The Office. I think it would be hilarious to put these fairy tale characters into such a mundane and ordinary setting. Bonus if they were in their EF costumes, and Emma was the only one who wasn’t. Can you imagine the talking to the camera moments? Classic.

23. Pick two favorite quotes.
“True Love isn’t easy but it must be fought for. Because once you find it, it can never be replaced.”

“When I win your heart, Emma- and I will win it- it will not be because of any trickery. It will be because you want me.”

Bonus: “People are going to tell you who you are your whole life. You’ve just got to punch back and say, no this is who I am.”

24. If you could write the final scene of the series, what would it be?
Emma, Killian, their child(ren), Snow, Charming, their son, Henry, Ella and Lucy, Regina and other friends and loved ones all celebrating Emma’s birthday. They are all happy smiling and clapping as she blows out her candles. She kisses KiIlian and their child, hugs Henry and her parents. The family is together again, happy and at peace. It would also be nice if they incorporated the storybook again, perhaps with an narration of Emma or Henry reading how they all lived happily ever after, and we see another illustration and the book closes. Then either fade to black or a final shot of the clock or Storybrooke sign, mirroring the way the Pilot ended.

25. Last question- the Blue fairy, shady or not shady?
I don’t think she’s evil or a villain but she is totally shady, I feel like she holds back and is not forthcoming about a lot of things. So while ultimately I still think she is good, she is shady enough where it wouldn’t surprise me if they revealed her to be some mastermind in the end.

cs date

Captain Swan is our favorite couple

snowing tlk

We all adore Snow and Charming as well

Name: Katie Kawa
Twitter Handle(s): @nerdygirlnotes
Where you wrote about Once Upon a Time: Nerdy Girl Notes (nerdygirlnotes.com)

1. What made you first watch OUAT and when did you start?
I started watching OUAT on New Year’s Day 2012, when ABC aired a marathon of the first 7 episodes. I love all things Disney and fairytales, so the show was always tailor-made for my interests, so the second ABC gave me a chance to really get hooked, it was all over for me—in the best possible way.

2. When did you start writing about the show and what inspired you to do so?
I started writing about the show on my old LiveJournal in early 2012, but my first official post about it at NGN was a review of the Season One finale. I started regularly posting about the show starting in Season Two. I knew from the moment I began watching it that this was exactly the kind of show I wanted to write about. The show’s themes of hope and the power of belief resonated so strongly with me that I knew I could spend an eternity writing about it, and I was so inspired by the complexity of the female characters we were introduced to right away in Season One that I never wanted to stop analyzing them and their relationships with each other and with the men who love them.

3. What are your favorite arcs/storylines? Rank the seasons.
I’ll start with ranking the seasons (from least favorite to favorite): 7, 6, 2, 4, 5, 1, 3

There will always be a special place in my heart for the initial arc of Season One in terms of how it developed for Emma and Henry and Snow and Charming because it emphasized truly excellent storytelling in both the past and present stories and showcased how important all kinds of love would be on the show. I also adored the Neverland arc because of how strongly it focused on my favorite characters and their relationships with each other, and you can count me among the proud few who really loved what they did with Season Four’s Frozen storyline. Finally, although the Dark Swan arc was very different than I expected it to be, the brilliant work it allowed Jennifer Morrison to do makes it one of my all-time favorites.

4. Top 3 favorite main characters.
This is going to be SO PREDICTABLE for anyone who knows me, but oh well. 😉

3. Regina: Watching how Regina developed from a villain to a character I actively root for was one of the most rewarding things about watching OUAT over the years. She wasn’t always likable, but I came to love that about her. She was one of my favorite characters to write about because she was complex and layered in a way I never would have seen coming in the pilot. She was deeply flawed and incredibly frustrating at times, but she was also a character capable of immense love and true growth. Her acceptance of her happiness as being independent of a man remains one of the highlights of the show for me, and I’ve loved watching this woman learn to define herself as a hero on her own terms.

2. Snow White: It wasn’t always easy to see the Snow White I first fell in love with in later seasons of the show, but when she appeared, I was reminded of why she was my first favorite and will always be my OUAT “spirit animal.” Snow represents the idea that you can be soft and still be strong; you can have a gentle heart and an iron will. She made me see that hope can be a source of true strength and that belief isn’t about some faraway stories or magic; it’s about having faith in the people you love and in yourself. She’s the kind of leader I hope I am, the kind of mother I hope to become, and the kind of person I try to channel every day.

1. Emma Swan: Emma Swan changed my life. It’s as simple and as profound as that. I’m a stronger, happier, braver, and better me because she existed and because I found her when I did. She is one of the most inspiring characters I’ve ever discovered in my many years of media consumption, and her story never fails to make me cry just thinking about it. She had a villain’s backstory filled with loss, abandonment, and deception, but she lived a true hero’s journey of self-definition, bravery, and belief. Her strengths, her weaknesses, her highs, and her lows were all relatable; she was a Disney princess for young women living in a world where it’s all too easy to become cynical. She taught all of us that you don’t have to be perfect to be the hero of your own story—all of you have to be is yourself.

5. Choose 5 iconic episodes, not necessarily favorite episodes. These are episodes you think define the series. (2 part season finales can count as 1 episode)
1. “Pilot” (1.01): I’ve never seen a pilot do a better job of establishing not just characters and plot, but also tone and themes that would carry through the whole series.
2. “Snow Falls” (1.03): The epitome of the show’s flair for epic romance and twisting beloved fairytales into something more modern, fun, and empowering for women.
3. “A Land Without Magic” (1.22): The episode that showed all this show can be when it’s firing on all cylinders and the one that set the standard for curse-breaking, True Love’s Kisses, and emotional twists (with Emma’s love for Henry being the one to break the curse).
4. “Snow Drifts/There’s No Place Like Home” (3.21/3.22): Fun, romantic, filled with references to pop culture and other fairytales, and an essential piece of the show’s mythology, the “Captain Swan movie” is a fandom favorite for a reason.
5. “The Song in Your Heart” (6.20): The musical episode we all asked for combined with the wedding episode we all needed—a truly magical moment in the show’s history.

6. Are your 5 favorite episodes the same? If not which would you switch out?
My favorite episode lists changes almost daily, but I think that list is pretty close. I might swap “A Land Without Magic” and “The Song in Your Heart” for the perfect one-two punch of “Going Home” and “New York City Serenade” in Season Three, but it’s so hard to choose!

7. Who are you favorite guest characters/actors and favorite recurring characters/actors? 
Guest Characters: I adored all the Frozen characters, especially Ingrid. I’ve loved Elizabeth Mitchell from her days on LOST, and the depth and humanity she gave to Ingrid created one of my favorite single character arcs in the show’s history. I also really loved Cruella because Victoria Smurfit is such a gem of an actor and brought so much campy brilliance to that role.

Recurring Characters: RUBY. I think the loss of Meghan Ory from the show doesn’t get talked about enough. Ruby was such a great character who was at the center of some wonderful female friendships, and losing her as a regular face on the show was a huge blow. I also smiled every time we saw Granny, and I have to put a vote in for some of Season Seven’s new faces, with Alice and Tiana being particular standouts.

8. What are some moments you think are underrated?
I know a lot of people don’t like to talk about the Neal/Emma stuff because it’s too painful to think about that part of her past, but the confrontation between Neal, Emma, Henry, and Rumple in the apartment in “Manhattan” is probably the single best acted scene the show ever did; it floored me when it first aired, and years later, I find myself still thinking about it.

I also could talk about Ingrid’s death scene all day in terms of underrated moments. Elizabeth Mitchell brought so much to that role, and the amount I cried when she died took me by complete surprise. It was such a beautifully executed scene to culminate a beautifully executed arc, and it was one of the most emotional death scenes the show has ever done; it just doesn’t get talked about a lot because she wasn’t a main character.

9. Who are your favorite couples both major and minor?
I’ll start with the current season: I’m loving the way the show has been developing Alice and Robin’s relationship. It’s everything I’d wanted them to do in terms of an LGBT romance for so long, and the two of them are adorable together.

And then, of course, there are the original OTPs for so many of us: Captain Swan (Emma/Hook) and Snowing (Snow/Charming). From the pilot onward, Snow and Charming owned my heart. They rekindled my belief in fairytale love stories, and they will always remain the gold standard for me (both onscreen and off). And if Snowing helped me believe in fairytales again, Captain Swan helped me believe I could have one for myself someday. They were a new kind of fairytale about two broken people learning to believe in love again, and along the way, they made so many of us believe, too. Those two couples gave us so many classic romantic moments, allowed us to shed so many cathartic tears, and inspired so many of us to write about them. They’re huge parts of the show’s legacy—and rightly so.

10. What are your favorite friendships?
Snow and Ruby will always be my favorite—even though we didn’t get nearly enough of it. They were supportive of each other, genuinely loved each other, and helped each other become better people by believing in them. I will also always have a soft spot for the epic bromance between Charming and Killian, the beautiful friendship between Emma and Elsa, and the “enemies to reluctant co-parents to friends” dynamic Emma and Regina developed over time.

11. Are there any characters you wish you’d seen on the show?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Rapunzel’s husband this season was named Eugene or Flynn, right? If that’s the case, that’s one of the only characters I really wanted to see but never got: a quality version of Flynn Rider. I also would have liked to see what they could have done with Moana because she’s already such a powerful female character.

12. Are there any characters you wish they’d done differently?
I didn’t like either of the show’s versions of Rapunzel. She was either too boring and passive or a villain—neither of which I wanted for one of my favorite Disney princesses. I also still wish they would have given Belle more of a backbone throughout instead of just in a handful of moments. The show never seemed to know quite what to do with her after deciding to make her a regular character, and I wish she would have been more developed from the start because she’s such an iconic character played by such a great actress who deserved better writing than she was given in most cases.

13. What moments did you want to see that they never showed?
I would have liked a traditional True Love’s Kiss between Emma and Killian and to have seen the moment Emma told Killian she was pregnant because I’m a sappy shipper. I also would have liked more scenes with Emma talking to her parents as the seasons went on. Emma and Snow had such a great dynamic in Season One, and I wished we could have seen that come back a little more clearly in later seasons.

14. What moments do you think were the most romantic, saddest, and funniest?
Most Romantic: Charming and Snow’s first True Love’s Kiss (the perfect way to kick off the show), the entirety of the “Captain Swan Movie” (especially the kiss at the end), Killian’s “When I win your heart” speech, and Charming’s “What’s 28 years when you have eternal love?” line.

Saddest: Emma stabbing Killian with Excalibur, Snow and Charming giving up Emma in the pilot, Emma’s reaction to finding out Henry “died” before breaking the curse, and Emma and Henry having to leave everyone behind in “Going Home.”

Funniest: Rumple and the Queens of Darkness at the drive-thru. Nothing will ever be better than that.

15. What moments do you remember where you had a really emotional or visceral reaction, and ones where you simply thought “I love this show!”
The entire musical episode was like that for me, a reminder of everything I’ve ever loved about the show. And in terms of emotional reactions, the amount I cried when Emma and Killian said their goodbyes in the Underworld during “Firebird” was bordering on ridiculous and was on the same level as my wrecked reaction to Snow and Charming’s goodbye before splitting his heart back in Season Two. In terms of happy reactions, nothing will beat the giddiness I felt seeing the sneak peek of Emma and Killian’s first kiss and the pure joy of Killian showing up at her door at the end of “Going Home.”

16. What were some of your favorite costumes?
Emma’s red leather jacket—because I love when costumes mean something, Regina’s backless blue dress and red velvet dress from Season One, Snow’s white coat/tan pants outfit from “Lady of the Lake,” and Emma’s pink first date dress.

17. What are your favorite musical themes or cues? Favorite songs from the musical episode?
I always tear up whenever I hear Snow and Charming’s theme, and the way Emma’s theme was used in the musical episode to give even more importance to an already beautiful piece of music was brilliant. And I will never stop singing “Powerful Magic” and “A Happy Beginning.” Both songs feel straight out of a Disney movie or theme park in the best possible way. (Also, I will use this answer to just say JOSH DALLAS’S VOICE. We’re not ever going to be over that, are we?)

18. Which guest star casting do think was spot on perfect?
Elizabeth Lail was the perfect choice for Princess Anna, and I feel the same way about Victoria Smurfit as Cruella. I also can’t go without mentioning how wonderfully Joanna Garcia Swisher embodied the innocence, spunk, and joy of Ariel.

19. If you could pick any props to take from set what would they be?
I’d want a copy of the story book, but I also wouldn’t be opposed to taking one of Emma’s jackets or Snow’s engagement ring.

20. Would you rather live in Storybrooke or the Enchanted Forest?
Storybrooke! I’m not ashamed to say that—while the clothes would be amazing in the Enchanted Forest—I need running water, electricity, and the internet. Also, I hear Granny makes a great lasagna that you can only get in Storybrooke. 😉

21. What show would you do a crossover episode with (doesn’t have to make sense or be current)?
I’m having lots of fun right now imagining the Timeless crew winding up in the Enchanted Forest. I also always wanted a Castle/OUAT crossover because a world filled with fairytale characters would have made Richard Castle so excited, and I always wanted Kate Beckett and Emma Swan to be friends.

22. What other show would you think it’d be fun to put the OUAT characters into?
I’d love to see them on a game show of some sort—they’d make a very entertaining episode of Family Feud.

23. Pick two favorite quotes.
“People are going to tell you who you are your whole life. You’ve just gotta punch back and say, ‘No, this is who I am.’” (Emma Swan)

“Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing.” (Snow White)

24. If you could write the final scene of the series, what would it be?
I think it would be a lot like the final scenes we got at the end of Season Six, to be quite honest—little slices of what “happily ever after” looks like for all these characters. But I’d want it to end with Emma’s birthday and her blowing out a candle surrounded by her parents, friends, husband, and children—finally realizing the wish that started it all.

25. Last question- the Blue fairy, shady or not shady?
TOTALLY SHADY.

elsa and anna

The “Frozen” characters were among our favorite guest stars

ariel 3

Ariel is another popular favorite guest star

Name: Gissane Sophia
Twitter Handle(s): @GissaneSophia | @MGcircles
Where you wrote about Once Upon a Time: http://mgcirclesmedia.com

1. What made you first watch OUAT and when did you start?
I was intrigued by it when the promos were coming out, but I actually thought it was going to be a scarier twist on classics, which bummed me out cause I was a huge fan of Ginny Goodwin’s rom coms. But then one of my closest friends watched the first two episodes and loved them, so I took her recommendation and gave it a try. And here we are seven years later. Lol! I’m so glad the good characters get their happy endings.

2. When did you start writing about the show and what inspired you to do so?
Season 3. At this point I had started writing reviews for a little show called Graceland, and I had missed writing essays (weird, right?) so I figured I’d put that longing to use with TV and add on more shows to my list. I knew I wanted to write after I realized that the season two finale left us with such an intriguing cliffhanger and I kept wanting to talk about it with people. I’d write little metas here and there on my Tumblr for fun so bringing my media study and English degree into it turned out to be one of the funnest decisions I’ve ever made.

3. What are your favorite arcs/storylines? Rank the seasons.
I love the first season so much, it’s got such a special place in my heart for a number of reasons, but I also really loved Neverland and Frozen. In order of favorites, one, three, four, two, five, six.

4. Top 3 favorite main characters.
Emma Swan.
Killian Jones.
David Charming & Snow White (They’re equal to me. They’re one. Don’t make me choose. I refuse.)

5. Choose 5 iconic episodes, not necessarily favorite episodes. These are episodes you think define the series. (2 part season finales can count as 1 episode)
Pilot (Naturally, it started it all.)
Snow Drifts | There’s No Place Like Home
Nimue
Snow Falls
Hat Trick

6. Are your 5 favorite episodes the same? If not which would you switch out?
Yes, for the most part they are. I like a couple of other episodes here and there, too, but those get to me.

7. Who are you favorite guest characters/actors and favorite recurring characters/actors? 
The Frozen actors hands down with Ariel following very closely behind. I love Granny and Ruby, too. They’re a huge reason why season one was so special and I wish we got to explore their stories a little more.

8. What are some moments you think are underrated?
I don’t know if it’s underrated per say, but the scene where Hatter reunites with his little girl always gets to me – even in gif form, the second I see it, instant tears. He was such a fun character to explore and I wish we got to see more of their dynamic because truly, there was nothing he wouldn’t do for his baby girl and it would’ve gone gorgeously with the them of the show. And then there’s the whole thing with The Snow Queen’s redemption arc, my God was that a beautiful scene. It’s definitely in my top episodes, maybe in my top 5, but it’s so hard to choose really. “Shattered Sight” was so special, I never could’ve imagined that episode ending the way it did. It was one of the most beautiful episodes to date and I remember bawling my eyes out to it. Ingrid was so special, and I wish we got to her a little bit more after her memories were returned. That entire storyline was just utter perfection. Also, again, I don’t know if it’s underrated, I really loved “Sisters” and everything that happened in that episode with Zelena and Regina. It was such a beautiful showcase of both their hearts and what could be if they set their differences aside. It really got to me as I watched it.

9. Who are your favorite couples both major and minor?
Captain Swan (Emma Swan and Killian Jones)
Snowing (Snow White and Prince Charming)
Kristoff and Anna of Arendalle
Outlaw Queen (Regina Mills and Robin Hood)

10. What are your favorite friendships?
Snow and Emma
Emma and Elsa
Henry and Emma
Killian and Charming
Anna and Elsa
Henry and Charming
Snow and Ruby
Regina and Zelena

11. Are there any characters you wish you’d seen on the show?
Flynn Rider.

12. Are there any characters you wish they’d done differently?
Quite a few to be honest, and I feel like it could be a can of worms we don’t want to open up, so maybe it’s best not to get into it. Let’s just say that there’s a particular (minor, not major or recurring) character that the fandom really idolizes and that character has always been one of my least favorites for a number of reasons.

13. What moments did you want to see that they never showed?
Emma’s birthday round 2. It’s essentially how I always imagined the show would end bringing everything full circle beautifully, but woe, here we are. And I’d love some more domestic moments between the Charming family, if the show had turned into comedy instead with our favorites trying to figure out the ins and outs of our world, it would’ve been perfect.

14. What moments do you think were the most romantic, saddest, and funniest?
There are so many of these, first kisses, true loves kisses, familial reunions, anything related to them commenting on our world.

15. What moments do you remember where you had a really emotional or visceral reaction, and ones where you simply thought “I love this show!”
Emma’s fight against the darkness in “Nimue”. That was such a remarkable showcase of what it truly means to fight back against the negativity in our heads and it was so inspiring to watch it.

16. What were some of your favorite costumes?
I always loved Regina’s dresses – they’re so gorgeous. And Snow’s bandit costume too. Anything in “Snow Drifts | There’s No Place Like Home” was stunning. There are seriously so many. Eduardo Castro is next level amazing.

17. What are your favorite musical themes or cues? Favorite songs from the musical episode?
Snowing Theme, and the original, opening theme always get to me. I think I loved “Emma’s Theme” most from the musical episode.

18. Which guest star casting do think was spot on perfect?
Frozen. Hands down. Hatter and Ariel a close second.

19. If you could pick any props to take from set what would they be?
Probably a mug from Granny’s diner. I’m a huge mug collector so that’s definitely something that is on my level. Also, if I could borrow any of the costumes, then yes definitely, sign me up.

20. Would you rather live in Storybrooke or the Enchanted Forest?
Storybrooke for sure. It’s such a quaint, adorable little town. And I loved getting to experience it a little bit when I visited Steveston in Vancouver.

21. What show would you do a crossover episode with (doesn’t have to make sense or be current)?
Fun fact, or perhaps, a not so fun fact, I really really don’t like crossovers, they stress me out so none.

22. What other show would you think it’d be fun to put the OUAT characters into?
I feel like this rings similar to crossovers, but if I have to choose then maybe Stranger Things.

23. Pick two favorite quotes.

“People are gonna tell you who you are your whole life. You just gotta punch back and say, “No, this is who I am”. You want people to look at you differently? Make them! You want to change things, you’re gonna have to go out there and change them yourself, because there are no fairy godmothers in this world.”

“True love isn’t easy but it must be fought for because once you find it, it can never be replaced.”

Basic, I know, but damn do those two get to me.

24. If you could write the final scene of the series, what would it be?
It’d be Emma’s birthday, whatever year she’s turning, at Granny’s perhaps with every single one of her loved by her side as she blows out her candles after everyone’s sung happy birthday to her.

25. Last question- the Blue fairy, shady or not shady?
I’m definitely indifferent on her. I never thought about it or cared too much. So probably not shady? I don’t know.

charming horse

We all thought the “Pilot” was an iconic episode

cs dance 4

But the Season 3 finale “Snow Drifts/There’s No Place Like Home” is unanimously our favorite episode

Name: Meredith Loftus
Twitter Handle(s): @MeredithLoftus (@ouatfandomblog)
Where you wrote about Once Upon a Time: ScreenSpy.com

1. What made you first watch OUAT and when did you start?
My sister (Emma) & dad watched the series premiere on my sister’s birthday (October 23rd), and the next day they told me I should watch the show. About 5 weeks later, a classmate of mine told me she was watching it and loved; so after class, I went back to my dorm room and proceeded to watch the five episodes that have aired so far. I was hooked.

2. When did you start writing about the show and what inspired you to do so?
I didn’t start writing about the show until about halfway through Season 4A. During Season 3, that’s when I started to really fangirl over the show and became active on Twitter. I kept up with BTS news from a few accounts; I read reviews from Nerdy Girl Notes, MG Circles, and The Nerd Machine. I was so inspired by the reviews I was reading and so fascinated in theorizing what they were doing on the show that I started my own fan blog, OUAT Fandom Blog, where I used to write theory posts. A couple weeks into running the blog, ScreenSpy was looking for contributors to write reviews for shows, and one of the shows that needed reviews was OUAT. I reached out to them, sent them a link to my blog, and within a couple of days I was all set to start writing for them.

3. What are your favorite arcs/storylines? Rank the seasons.
The best story arcs on the show were definitely the first season and the third season. I would rank it: 1) Season 3, 2) Season 1, 3) 4B, 4) Season 2, 5) 4A, 6) 6B, 7) Season 5, 8) 6A. I have not watched the latest season. I stopped watching after the Season 6 finale.

4. Top 3 favorite main characters.
Top 3 favorite characters are hands down Emma Swan, Killian Jones, and Snow White/Mary Margaret Blanchard.

5. Choose 5 iconic episodes, not necessarily favorite episodes. These are episodes you think define the series. (2 part season finales can count as 1 episode)
The iconic episodes of the series are 1×01 Pilot, 1×03 Snow Falls, 3×11 Going Home, 3×21-3×22 Snow Drifts/There’s No Place Like Home, and 6×22 The Final Battle Part 2.

6. Are your 5 favorite episodes the same? If not which would you switch out?
The above are my favorites except I might switch out 6×22 for 3×17 Poor Unfortunate Soul which is a personal favorite of mine.

7. Who are you favorite guest characters/actors and favorite recurring characters/actors? Ariel is hands down my favorite guest character. I was worried when they announced that she was coming on the show because Ariel is my favorite Disney princess and I wanted to see her character done correctly; thankfully, my fears were quickly diminished in her debut episode. Joanna Garcia-Swisher is a perfect Ariel and had such a great dynamic with every character she interacted with. Plus, when Ariel is in an episode, I could always count on great Captain Swan and/or Killian Jones moments in it.

8. What are some moments you think are underrated?
The most underrated moment happens during 1×05 That Still Small Voice when Archie stands up to Regina after saving Henry from the mine. “Or what? You’ll do your worst? Because I will always do my best.” That line has stayed with me since 2011 because he’s validating his self-worth and conscious without stooping down to Regina’s level.

9. Who are your favorite couples both major and minor?
My favorite major couples have always been the Big Four: Emma/Killian, Snow/Charming, Regina/Robin, and Belle/Rumple. The minor ones I love are Ariel/Eric, Aladdin/Jasmine, and Cinderella/Thomas.

10.What are your favorite friendships? Killian/Charming, Killian/Ariel, Emma/Elsa, Snow/Red, Ariel/Belle, and Emma/Mary Margaret in Season 1.

18. Which guest star casting do think was spot on perfect?
Joanna Garcia-Swisher as Ariel, again in my opinion, is perfect guest casting.

19. If you could pick any props to take from set what would they be?
Can I just take Mary Margaret’s entire loft, decorations and all? That would be amazing!

20. Would you rather live in Storybrooke or the Enchanted Forest?
Storybrooke no question. Modern healthcare matters! Plus, I would love to run the coffee shop in Storybrooke and hang out with the hipster fairytale characters.

24. If you could write the final scene of the series, what would it be?
Honestly, I thought the Thanksgiving dinner in Granny’s at the end of the Season 6 finale would’ve made a perfect ending to the series.

25. Last question- the Blue fairy, shady or not shady?
BLUE HAS BEEN AND WILL ALWAYS BE SHADY!

storybrooke sign

We all would rather live in Storybrooke

Name: Maii
Twitter Handle(s): OfTheDirewolves and Maiqu20
Where you wrote about Once Upon a Time: I wrote for Word of the Nerd and was a part of the Captain Swan Podcast

1. What made you first watch OUAT and when did you start?
I started around episode 4. I liked Ginnifer Goodwin and fairytales plus I was like oh the girl from House (Can you imagine I had a life before Jennifer Morrison? I can’t remember it). Also I thought Josh was really hot so I was like why not.

2. When did you start writing about the show and what inspired you to do so?
I started in s4. Emma Swan. Is that going to be a recurring theme in this questionnaire? Probably.

But honestly I realized I loved analyzing shows and figured hey I’ve got the background for it why not write for something I love. So I sent a few applications and one of them stuck and well considering I’m still writing on it I think we’re doing okay. It might frustrate me at times but I love reviewing my favorite shows and I truly want to dedicate myself to this.

3. What are your favorite arcs/storylines? Rank the seasons.
I know I’m among the few that truly loved the Frozen arc? Mostly because it was about Emma and just Emma with no focus on /that/ character even if the arc had the 2nd shittiest finale in the show. I loved the dynamics of season 1 and the friendships in it. I loved Dark Swan a lot? I’d change a few things about it but as a whole I loved it. Season 2 started out great and then kind of went nowhere before getting back on track. Those of us around from way back when know it’s because Colin had to go break his leg so this one wasn’t really the writers fault.

3B is complicated bc it was well very slow and while I understood Emma’s decisions it was the first time I was privy to the fandom’s prejudice against her (even within our own fandom). So that one sadly has a bit of a strange connotation because it also has one of the most perfect finales ever to exist? Underworld I love the idea behind it, I thought there was too much focus on the Mills women and Rumple. So the CS in it was perfect but it gets points taken for allowing scum like Cora to move on but Milah got to suffer a fate worst than death and never reunite with her son which was all she wanted.

S4B was a retcon disaster. And honestly season 4 as a whole did not deserve Michael Socha. The only redeemable eps were Sympathy for DeVil and Poor Unfortunate Souls. Season 6 was, something. On one side you had beautiful stunning eps like The Other Shoe, Murder Most Foul (without the end reveal), Dark Waters, Heartless, Awake, the first part of the finale and of course The Song in Your Heart. On the other side there’s episodes like the offensive Wish You were here, the dreadful A Bitter Draught, the 2nd part of the finale that went nowhere really, and well the rest of the eps weren’t much better.

Neverland Arc -> Lost in Enchanted Forrest (2A) -> Season 1 -> Frozen Arc -> 3B -> Dark One Arc -> The Dark Days of S2 -> 5B -> 6B -> 6A -> 4B

Now for full seasons? Season 3 -> Season 1 -> Season 2 -> Season 5 -> Season 6 -> Season 4

4. Top 3 favorite main characters.
Emma Swan, Killian Jones and Charming

5. Choose 5 iconic episodes, not necessarily favorite episodes. These are episodes you think define the series. (2 part season finales can count as 1 episode)
A Land Without Magic
Snow Drifts/There’s No Place like Home
Red-Handed
Pilot
Nimue

6. Are your 5 favorite episodes the same? If not which would you switch out?
Snow Drifts/There’s No Place like Home
White Out
The Shepherd
Nimue
Good Form

7. Who are you favorite guest characters/actors and favorite recurring characters/actors? 
I’m gonna be on brand and say Frozen because we all know my thing for Scott Michael Foster. And I loved Cruella a lot.
For Recurring: definitely Ruby and Mulan.

8. What are some moments you think are underrated?
I love Ingrid’s sacrifice I think it’s one of the most beautiful moments in the entire series.
I love “you think I’m interested in Hook? Emma I’m a married man” & Ariel standing up to John and Michael.
Also I can’t think of any because I haven’t rewatched in a while but any Swan Believer or Charming/Emma scene is on this list.

9. Who are your favorite couples both major and minor?
Major Couples are obviously Captain Swan and Snowing.

For minor couples I say Scarlet Queen (for those that didn’t watch OUATIW it’s Anastasia and Will Scarlet) and Red Beauty.

10. What are your favorite friendships?
Emma and Elsa were a truly pure friendship. I also love Captain Charming a lot.
Emma x Ruby, Ruby x Snow, S1 Snow x Emma, Emma x Henry, Captain Book, David x Emma, Charming x Anna

11. Are there any characters you wish you’d seen on the show?
I think it’s no surprise that I wanted Anastasia to come to the main show. I thought her arc was perfect on OUATiW, the relationship with Will was beautiful. But as for characters they didn’t show in either show…. Hmm I would have loved to see Esmeralda, same with Persephone (even if we got Disney!Hades not GreekMyth!Hades), ohh or the Sanderson Sisters.

12. Are there any characters you wish they’d done differently?
Can I say Regina? Because I think she had potential and could have been much better with someone else playing her and if they hadn’t made a mess of her storyline. And of course Robin Hood because I don’t know who that was but it wasn’t Robin Hood.

I wish they had followed through with Will Scarlet’s plotline and that they hadn’t made a mess of Belle’s.

13. What moments did you want to see that they never showed?
Captain Swan Sex. I mean I know they showed something but come on. I would have loved a better Snow and Emma relationship.

14. What moments do you think were the most romantic, saddest, and funniest?
Most Romantic? You traded your ship for me and Charming taking an arrow for Snow.
Saddest? Emma having to kill Killian in Swan Song, their goodbye in Final Rites. Belle’s son being stolen from her.
Funniest? Pancakes! I’m glad we don’t have thanksgiving in our world because that would suck.

15. What moments do you remember where you had a really emotional or visceral reaction, and ones where you simply thought “I love this show!”
My most visceral reaction as anyone who knows me can attest to is Emma’s “I’m not nothing I was never nothing.” Because Emma is the character I’ve related to most in this world and with my life and the things I’ve gone through that was a moment I needed and will forever relate to.

That being said the Neverland kiss, Charming’s speeches “we are both” & “true love isn’t easy but it must be fought for”, and of course you gave up your ship for me? Are also ICONIC.

16. What were some of your favorite costumes?
Killian- I love the red vest of sex (I’m still very proud of having coined that phrase) and the Storybrooke Outfit
Charming’s S1 Prince Outfit
Emma’s Camelot dress and the outfits in the season 3 finale
Snow’s bandit outfit

17. What are your favorite musical themes or cues? Favorite songs from the musical episode?
I am a musical score nerd so I’ll try to keep it simple: CS Theme, Emma’s theme, the snowing theme and the main title.

For the musical episode I love Emma’s Theme, Revenge is Gonna be Mine and Powerful Magic.

18. Which guest star casting do think was spot on perfect?
I wish they had done more with him but Oded Fehr was a perfect Jafar. The whole Frozen cast was perfect as were Jamie Chung as Mulan, Victoria Smurfit as Cruella, Sebastian Stan as the Hatter/Jefferson and JoAnna Garcia as Ariel.

19. If you could pick any props to take from set what would they be?
I would take either the sword that both Charming and Emma fought with or Excalibur with both Emma and Killian’s names.

20. Would you rather live in Storybrooke or the Enchanted Forest?
Can we portal back and forth? I mean the show did throw continuity out the window so should we. Because I’d love to visit the different lands but I need coffee, internet and everything that modern life gives us so Storybrooke is it.

21. What show would you do a crossover episode with (doesn’t have to make sense or be current)?
I’d go with Lucifer because I do think the main couples have a lot of similarities and their worlds both deal with characters from stories in a way.

Also I would pay to watch Lucifer Morningstar flirt with Emma Swan or Killian Jones, or both.

22. What other show would you think it’d be fun to put the OUAT characters into?

Well I really want to say Lucifer again but if we’re talking something different I might go with Timeless or The Royals.. No this is totally not me wanting all my faves to interact.

23. Pick two favorite quotes.
“I’m not nothing I was never nothing, the power you have I don’t need.”

“True Love isn’t easy but it must be fought for because once you find it, it can never be replaced.”

“You traded your ship for me?”

24. If you could write the final scene of the series, what would it be?
Emma’s Birthday

25. Last question- the Blue fairy, shady or not shady? SHADY MCSHADESTER

cruella drive thru

We all laughed at this moment!!

Name: Lizzie
Twitter Handle(s): @lizziethat
Where you wrote about Once Upon a Time: Fangirlish

1. What made you first watch OUAT and when did you start?
I started watching from the Pilot! I’ve always been a fan of fairy tales, and this show seemed tailor-made for me.

2. When did you start writing about the show and what inspired you to do so?
I started writing around the end of Season 3, and it was one of those things where I just had too many feelings that I needed to get out, and I just didn’t know enough people who watched the show, so I started writing to kinda come to term with my own feelings. And one thing led to another

3. What are your favorite arcs/storylines? Rank the seasons.
The first season remains a favorite, because it was magical. I really liked the Frozen arc, that a lot of people don’t like. And I liked the Neverland arc as well. I think those are my top 3. The season ranking would go something like 1,3,2,5,6,4.

4. Top 3 favorite main characters.
It’s sooo hard. But I’m going to say Emma, Charming and Snow.

5. Choose 5 iconic episodes, not necessarily favorite episodes. These are episodes you think define the series. (2 part season finales can count as 1 episode)
“Snow Drifts” and “There’s No Place Like Home” (3×21-22)
“A Land Without Magic” (1×22)
“The Song In Your Heart” (6×20)
“Pilot” (1×01)
“Operation Mongoose Part 2” (4×22)

6. Are your 5 favorite episodes the same? If not which would you switch out?
I’d probably switch out the last two and add “Good Form” and “New York City Serenade”

7. Who are you favorite guest characters/actors and favorite recurring characters/actors?
The Frozen actors! I loved them all. As for recurring, I’d say Ruby? Does she count.

8. What are some moments you think are underrated?
In general, any and all Snow/Emma moments, and there were not enough of those, and any and all quiet moments for the couples. The domestic moments.

9. Who are your favorite couples both major and minor?
Snow/Charming, Emma/Hook and Ruby/Dorothy are my favorites.

10. What are your favorite friendships?
Emma and Elsa! And Season 1 Snow and Emma.

11. Are there any characters you wish you’d seen on the show?
I was pretty happy with the characters we got, though I guess I would have liked Flynn Rider and more Rapunzel than we got. Or even Moana, but that’s just too new and hard to incorporate.

12. Are there any characters you wish they’d done differently?
I enjoyed this show, but I think they failed many characters at many points. I wish they’d done Regina’s redemption arc any way other than her splitting herself, they did some things with Hook I didn’t like, but I ESPECIALLY wish they’d done Rumple differently.

13. What moments did you want to see that they never showed?
Just more of those quiet moments they always talked about – not just between couples, but between family.

14. What moments do you think were the most romantic, saddest, and funniest?
I think the end of Season 3 is pretty darn romantic, and I love the wedding song for Emma and Killian, and Snow and Charming’s song, from the musical. I think the saddest moment is probably Snow and Charming having to give up Emma, time and time again, especially in that season 6 episode where they almost went to her when she was a kid. And funniest – well, this show had a lot of hilarious moments, but I think Regina, in particular, had some great one-liners.

15. What moments do you remember where you had a really emotional or visceral reaction, and ones where you simply thought “I love this show!”
I go back to that Season 6 moment with Snow and Charming looking through the door at little Emma, because that gutted me. I really loved the musical too, I’m a sucker for songs.

16. What were some of your favorite costumes?
The Camelot costumes were gorgeous.

17. What are your favorite musical themes or cues? Favorite songs from the musical episode?
I love musicals but I pay 0 attention to musical themes or cues, so I’m just going to say Wicked Always Wins and A Happy Beginning.

18. Which guest star casting do think was spot on perfect?
Elsa! And Anna, really.

19. If you could pick any props to take from set what would they be?
Maybe Excalibur? That’d be awesome.

20. Would you rather live in Storybrooke or the Enchanted Forest?
Storybrooke for SURE. Running water!

21. What show would you do a crossover episode with (doesn’t have to make sense or be current)?
The X-Files. I can just picture Mulder walking up to the town and Scully not buying that they’re fairy tale characters.

22. What other show would you think it’d be fun to put the OUAT characters into?
Anything modern, because they still seem sorta stuck in the past.

23. Pick two favorite quotes.
Emma Swan: People are gonna tell you who you are your whole life. You just gotta punch back and say, “No, this is who I am”. You want people to look at you differently? Make them! You want to change things, you’re gonna have to go out there and change them yourself, because there are no fairy godmothers in this world.

Gold: Maybe you should take a piece of advice from a man who has pushed away every chance of happiness because it was never enough. If it’s within your grasp, if you know where it is and who it’s with, then you should run to it, grasp it and never let it go.

24. If you could write the final scene of the series, what would it be?
Emma, surrounded by her family – her baby, her husband, her parents, and just …everyone in this big extended family, celebrating Emma’s birthday, the way she couldn’t in the Pilot, with people.

25. Last question- the Blue fairy, shady or not shady?
SHADY. FOREVER SHADY.

That’s all of our questions my lovelies. I hope you all enjoying our trip down memory lane discussing all of our favorites from Once Upon a Time. Thanks for reading and listening!!

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We Love Happy Beginnings!

5 Things that Should Happen in the Once Upon a Time Series Finale

As the end of the fairy tale series reaches its final chapter there are certain things each of us wish to see in those precious last 42 minutes of screen time. Despite this final season being a divisive one, I think all will agree that during these past 7 years there were stories and characters that captured our hearts and our imaginations in ways that cannot possibly be measured.

Of course there are certain things many would like to see happen that are extremely unlikely: season 7 is some sort of dream or Henry’s authoring gone haywire to explain away the incoherent timeline and plot holes, Belle didn’t really die, and Robin Hood can be brought back to life to be with Regina. The chances of these happening seem very slim, so therefore the following list are things (many of which are connected) that have a greater chance of occurring. Regardless of how the rest of the season goes, a SERIES FINALE should include those from the many seasons of the show, not just a single one. And there are just some things that really should be in the last episode ever to conclude the current stories and most especially to bring the series to a hopeful and satisfying conclusion- a true happily ever after.

5. Earned and Wrapped Up Season 7 Storylines
The crux of this is that characters get what feels deserved and logical. This means that there should be no redemption for Gothel but an ending fitting such a vile villain, Wish Hook’s heart should be cured so he can be with his daughter again, Tiana deserves her own restaurant, Henry, Lucy and Ella are saved and safe, Regina finds some form of happiness, Rumple is reunited with Belle (and Emilie De Ravin returns) even if that means death, and Alice and Robyn and Zelena and her fiancé find happy endings together. However, I also do not think, as I saw suggested, there should be something as special as a SERIES Finale wedding for these couples who are also guest stars. They just don’t warrant such an auspicious event. The only ones who would are already married (Emma and Killian), or we have not seen this season (Robin and Regina). However, while the main focus of the finale will most likely and should be centered on Henry, if we can see the return of Sean Maguire for a wedding between the alternate Robin and Regina, who got engaged in the Season 6 finale, that would be lovely. Lastly, the Guardian should be a character that is logical and worthy- so not a new alternate character like Anastasia, or one who would not exist had the story not been altered like Alice. The only ones that make sense would be Emma and Killian’s child, being the product of True Love twice over, or Henry who was always meant to be Rumple’s “undoing” and has a pure heart. Whether all of these stories are wrapped up in the finale or simply final episodes remains to be seen, but they definitely should be on the roster.

4. Wish Hook goes in search of Wish Emma
As discussed in detail in this article, the one good thing about the Wish Hook character now being from a parallel universe is that it means there should be another Emma out there that exists for him to find, who was displaced when our Emma was brought into that realm by the Evil Queen’s wish. A wish cannot erase a very real person from existence. She’s out there somewhere. All he has to do this find her. For many reasons, which also includes finding that realm’s version of Henry, when all is settled with his daughter the next thing this Hook should do is seek out the woman who is meant to be his romantic partner, to maintain that steadfast theme about True Love and soulmates, no matter the realm, no matter the version of the character, and fulfill that promise of “I Will Always Find You.” It does not matter that a lot of time has passed or that it hasn’t been mentioned yet. It should happen to complete his story and maintain the integrity of the “Captain Hook” character. Whether we actually see him find his Emma is determinant on whether Jennifer Morrison returns and how much time is available. So, if that is limited, precedent would have to be placed on the appearance of the original Emma, and knowing he is seeking her out would be enough. But if there’s time for both, this would be the perfect ending to his storyline and give audiences the delight in seeing that first spark of True Love again, and the beginning of what would be many adventures together.

3. We See Snow and Charming Again
Although Snow and Charming got their happily ever after in the Season 6 finale, moving to a farm in Storybrooke, raising their son, and living a peaceful life surrounded by family, they also should make an appearance in the Series Finale not only because they are truly wonderful characters, but the Charming Family was very much the family that was the heart of the series and I cannot imagine the show concluding without them. The very first scene of the entire series began with their True Love’s kiss. The final episode needs to include them to help maintain symmetry with the Pilot and especially in connection with the final two things that the finale should entail.

2. Henry and his family return to Storybrooke
It is still difficult to reconcile why Henry and Ella remained in the Enchanted Forest for 8 years after Lucy was born. We cannot get that time back and that’s heartbreaking to me. But to help ease that and end things right, Henry, Ella, and Lucy, and Regina as well, need to return to Storybrooke and their family. Storybrooke is HOME. It always has been on Once Upon a Time, and Henry has always been all about family, so a reunion and meeting between him, Ella and Lucy with his grandparents Snow and Charming, and Mother and Stepfather Emma and Killian, as well as his new sibling, is imperative to ending the series in a way that maintains who Henry is as a character and ending it on the right emotional note.

1. We See Emma, Killian and their Child
In the connection with the previous necessity, seeing Emma, Killian and their child in the series finale is also imperative to maintaining a connection to the Pilot and the integrity of who the series centered on, and what the series has always embodied: love, hope and family. After marrying at the ending of Season 6, we saw very little of their happy life together, and only the news that they were expecting a baby was revealed. We have no idea whether the child was a boy or girl, their name, and didn’t see the birth. With the timeline the way that it is, most likely these things would have to be seen in flashback, and perhaps by now they have multiple children, but it’s difficult to know for sure. But we should see at least one scene of the couple with their baby born out of True Love- a happiness that contrasts the utter devastation Emma experienced when she gave birth to and gave up Henry. More than anything, after such a long journey for Emma especially, the series should end with her, and the family she has found and created. The foundation of the series began with her son finding her in Boston and the start of their relationship. It should end with Henry and his wife and child reuniting with his mother and her husband and child, bringing everything full circle, perhaps concluding with her birthday, paralleling the Pilot where she made a wish that she didn’t have to be alone. Whatever the circumstance, the finale moments of Once Upon a Time should be with the characters that started it all, and the ones that became part of this beautiful family in very much the way the exquisitely moving montage in Season 6 finale did. That would be a true and touching happily ever worthy of the last page of this beautiful and poignant storybook.

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Captain Swan and Valentine’s Day Inspired Cake

Is there any other couple as beautiful and Emma and Killian to be inspired by his Valentine’s Day? Just looks at these two lovebirds on their wedding day…cs wedding

Well, just in time for Valentine’s Day, but truly something you can do all year round, I thought I would try my hand at some Captain Swan inspired cake. Truth be told, it did not turn out the way I was hoping but such is life so I thought I would share what I did, and the results anyway, as well tips and ideas for the future.

Here is what you will need:
A chocolate cake mix or recipe (I used Betty Crocker Super Moist Devil’s Food Cake Mix)
Eggs, Water, Vegetable Oil (All the precise directions are on the back of the box)
Whipped butter cream or any other white frosting (I used Betty Crocker)
Red Food Coloring (mine is McCormick Red Food Color)
9×13 inches Baking Pan
Swan Cookie Cutter
Pirate Hook Arm Cookie Cutter
Heart Cookie Cutter (Mine belonged to my late grandmother)
These are available on Amazon. The Swan here, The Hook here, with a similar heart ones here.IMG_0506

The process was simple:
– Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F
– Grease the bottom and side of the pan to prevent the cake from sticking. Make sure to use a lot. I did not and some of the cake did stick.
– After mixing the cake mix I poured about half of the mix into the pan, creating a thin layer. You can judge for yourself.
– Bake for about 20-22 minutes depending on the oven. The recipe for the entire mix says 30-35 minutes but using only half the cooking time is less.

-Once cooled I cut out the shapes and carefully pulled away the edges. They did not pull away easily. The hearts turned out the best. The Hooks were pretty good, but the swans were very difficult.

– The excess of cake I put all together or you can just snack on it.

– The rest of the cake mix I made into 8 cupcakes, baking for 20 minutes.

The idea was to frost the swans with the white frosting and use some red food coloring for the frosting on the hearts, while leaving the hooks plain. Frosting the hearts was simple, but attempting to frost the swans proved nearly impossible because they were very delicate. These were the results.

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After trying this once I can say that using a soft cake is probably not the best for these cookie cutters. I think perhaps a more substantial brownie or traditional sugar or chocolate cookies would work better. And I think I will definitely try those sometime. Despite everything I did enjoy the project. It may not have turned out as beautifully perfect as the Captain Swan love story, but it was still fun, and the cake tasted delicious! It’s certainly a great treat to enjoy while watching the Captain Swan wedding for the 100th time!

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If you try this out or have any other fun baking ideas let me know in the comments!!

Gif sources: (X) (X)

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.