once upon a time

once-upon-a-time-a-pirates-life

Emma (Jennifer Morrison) returns for flashbacks of Henry‘s (Andrew J. West) adventures in an episode that gives us two different Captain Hooks (Colin O’Donoghue) and reveals the one trapped in Hyperion Heights may not be the one viewers have gotten to know over the show’s previous seasons. Meanwhile, back in the real world, Rogers (O’Donoghue) is tested by his partner as Henry’s appearances make Victoria Belfry (Gabrielle Anwar) increasingly uncomfortable.

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once-upon-a-time-hyperion-heights

Set years after the Sixth Season finale, Once Upon a Time returns by plagiarizing itself as a young girl named Lucy (Alison Fernandez) shows up on the doorstep of an adult Henry (Andrew J. West) claiming that Cinderella (Dania Ramirez) is her mother, Henry is her father, and an entire city of fairy tale characters is in danger. The Seventh Season premiere, missing a good chunk of the show’s core cast, is a lukewarm reboot for the show lacking the magic of the original. Not only are Emma, Snow White, Prince Charming, and others missing, but even the town of Storybrooke has been replaced with a Seattle borough known as Hyperion Heights.

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With most of the core cast gone, can Once Upon a Time recapture its magic with a new (yet very familiar story)? Here’s a first look at what’s in store for the show’s Seventh Season.

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once-upon-a-time-the-final-battle

Once Upon a Time closes out the show’s Sixth Season with a two-hour finale ominously entitled “The Final Battle.” While Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin), David (Josh Dallas), Hook (Colin O’Donoghue), and Regina (Lana Parrilla) awake in the Enchanted Forest, Henry (Jared Gilmore) remains in Storybrooke but things are slightly different than he remembers. Emma (Jennifer Morrison) is a mental patient, the Black Fairy (Jaime Murray) is the town’s mayor (and his adopted mother), and no one is interested in his tales of magic, curses, or fairy tales. Returning to the themes of the show’s first season, Emma’s “final battle” isn’t a war with magic or swords (okay, she will get to swordfight before all is said and done) but a battle for belief. At stake, should she falter, all the realms of story… including the one where her family remains trapped as the realms slowly go dark one by one.

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once-upon-a-time-the-song-in-your-heart

Music comes to Storybrooke with “The Son in Your Heart,” which allows most of the cast to burst into song in flashbacks to the Enchanted Forest and Emma (Jennifer Morrison) to find the strength to stand-up to, but not defeat, the Black Fairy (Jaime Murray). Despite the extravaganza, the big music moment doesn’t save the day or vanquish the villain, but only buy our heroes a few more moments to be together before the next big curse. It makes you wonder why the hoopla wasn’t saved for the finale, and certainly makes you question the Black Fairy’s logic of ruining last week’s swerve of making everyone think Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) had killed her. Rather than using the element of surprise to take down the Savior, the Black Fairy announces her presence to all her enemies. As for the Dark One, the noticeable absence of both Belle (Emilie de Ravin) and Gideon (Giles Matthey) makes it rather convenient that no one is on hand to call the villain on his latest bad choice.

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once-upon-a-time-the-black-fairy

“The Black Fairy” is, like much of the past couple of seasons, both intriguing and frustrating. After six seasons to be able to make a revelation about a major character is a huge accomplishment. The latest episode not only reveals the origin story of the Black Fairy (Jaime Murray) but also a rather important piece of information about Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) and his destiny. As in a previous season where the show separated the Dark One from the dagger and toyed with the idea of making one of the show’s major villains into a hero, “The Black Fairy” reveals the man he was always meant to be. And then, after such a set-up, the show once again shelves the possiblity for truly interesting character growth as Rumpel chooses the dark path once again (this time against his own best interests).

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once-upon-a-time-where-bluebirds-fly

Zelena (Rebecca Mader) is the star of “Where Bluebirds Fly” as the episode’s flashbacks give us a look back to her time in Oz and her friendship with a young boy who would grow up to be the Tin Man (Alex Désert) along with her first encounter with the Cowardly Lion. In Storybrooke, the Black Fairy (Jaime Murray) goads the Wicked Witch into rushing into a foolish mistake. The Zelena’s attempt to destroy the fairy unintentionally provide the Black Fairy with enough dark magic to make all her plans come true.

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once-upon-a-time-awake

As Once Upon a Time inches closer to the final battle, “Awake” returns to the events of the show’s First Season reveal an undisclosed truth about Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and David (Josh Dallas). Revealing that the pair had recovered their memories before the Savior’s arrival in Storybooke, while the new scenes don’t over-convolute the show’s continuity too much, they do raise some red flags about why such events were never disclosed under now.

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once-upon-a-time-mothers-little-helper

There are four storylines at work in “Mother’s Little Helper.” While Hook‘s (Colin O’Donoghue) attempt to return to Storybrooke by making a deal with Black Beard (Charles Mesure) leads him even farther astray, two parts of the episode center on Gideon (Giles Matthey) and the Black Fairy (Jaime Murray). Making peace with the Savior, or appearing to do so, Gideon sends his pet after Emma (Jennifer Morrison) hoping to gain the power to kill the Black Fairy before she can break into this world. Sadly, his efforts only confirm that the Savior’s final battle is about to begin. Meanwhile, the episode gives us a few flashback scenes into Gideon’s childhood explaining his relationship with the Black Fairy and delivering a twist concerning his current motives. Turning Gideon into a pawn certainly changes things, especially as tensions rise between the Savior and Gideon’s parents.

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once-upon-a-time-a-wonderous-place

While Regina (Lana Parrilla) and Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) attempt to cheer up Emma (Jennifer Morrison), who wrongly believes her fiance fled Storybooke of his own free will, Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) finds himself trapped in the Enchanted Forest aboard the Nautilus. Hook won’t find his way home by the end of this episode, but his attempt to do so will provide some closure for other characters in an episode that offers the return of several familiar faces. With the help of both Hook and Ariel (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), Jasmine (Karen David) and Aladdin (Deniz Akdeniz) will face off against Jafar (Oded Fehr) one final time and the princess will save Agrabah.

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