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TV Review: ‘Once Upon a Time’ Season Three Finale

I have mixed feelings about tonight's two-hour Once Upon a Time finale. Most of the double-episode I found overly straightforward and simplistic. The point of the finale seems to be three-fold: proving to Emma (Jennifer Morrison) that home is with family, and little to do with geographic location, giving loads of screentime to "CaptainSwan," or the relationship between Emma and Killian Jones, AKA, Captain Hook (Colin O'Donoghue).  Maybe I miss the complexity and nuance of Once Upon a Time's early days; something that has been absent in this latest demi-season. It says something when the most subtle, complex moments happen towards…

Review Overview

Reviewer's overall score

Summary : The season finale is a mixed bag, but a wasted opportunity to do a "consequences of time travel" narrative really well.

User Rating: 2.45 ( 27 votes)
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I have mixed feelings about tonight’s two-hour Once Upon a Time finale. Most of the double-episode I found overly straightforward and simplistic. The point of the finale seems to be three-fold: proving to Emma (Jennifer Morrison) that home is with family, and little to do with geographic location, giving loads of screentime to “CaptainSwan,” or the relationship between Emma and Killian Jones, AKA, Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue). COLIN O'DONOGHUE

Maybe I miss the complexity and nuance of Once Upon a Time‘s early days; something that has been absent in this latest demi-season. It says something when the most subtle, complex moments happen towards the end with Rumplestiltskin’s (Robert Carlyle) decision to take the “forgetting potion,” that will make him forget the knowledge that although he knows he and Baelfire will reconcile, his son will die.

At the end of last week’s episode, Rumple uses his dagger to kill Zelena, having tricked Belle (Emilie de Ravin)  into thinking she has his powerful magical weapon. There is no heroic agenda here to rid the world of the Wicked Witch, for he tells no one, keeping secret both the murder and the fact that he has lied to Belle, essentially betraying her trust in him. We know this should come back to haunt him next season, but given how on-the-nose the series has become, I wonder if it will ever be mentioned again, even as Belle and Rumple marry (in one of the episode’s most emotional moments as it underscores a montage of transitions for the people of Storybrooke).

A year ago, I would have speculated that Belle and Rumple’s wedding, blessed by Belle’s father Maurice and laced with language about how much Rumple has grown and how much he owes to Belle for making that come to pass, has formed the basis for a meaty story arc for season four. I would imagine it flavored with moral dilemmas and difficult decisions and internal struggles for both Rumple and Belle. But now, I would doubt it, as the characters have both become supporting players in the grand scheme of a story headlined by Emma and Hook.

I like the finale’s arc: proof to Emma that her home is, indeed, in Storybrooke, and proof as well that Killian Jones is devoted to her. But to get there, they take the most straightforward route through the time-travel narrative. It is so cut and dried, so on-the-nose that I found my thoughts wandering through much of the episode. I love the idea of time travel and using to further the Once Upon a Time narrative. The notion that some fundamental law of magic has been broken and time travel is now possible is fascinating. Of course there will be consequences, as we know from an entire body of literature. One small change can eradicate history, start wars never intended, let loose beings never envisioned.

It’s been done, and done so very much better. And I guess that’s why the finale so disappointed me. There were few surprises, and little complexity. Yes, the idea that Maid Marian has come back to destroy Regina’s (Lana Parrilla) first real chance at happiness since the Death of Daniel is compelling, and I loved the idea that Emma, like her mother Snow White causes Regina’s pain. But I feel so much more could have been done with it.

From the moment we see Maid Marian as the prisoner, we know exactly what’s going to happen. It’s telegraphed immediately just as we see Regina and Robin find themselves and Regina open up to him. We know the jostling of history by Emma and Hook will be put to rights. But how much more intriguing would it have been if this story had bigger consequences. I suppose I expected more from the series.

I admit, I’m a Rumple fan, and this should be no surprise to my regular readers. I’m not even necessarily a RumBelle fan, although I like the pairing. But I hate what the series has done to the character. After relegating him to prisoner for the entire second half, only to have him reunited with Belle, and then turn around to betray her trust in such a fundamental way (for whatever reason) just doesn’t set right with me (as I said last week). It destroys the character for me. Yes, he is flawed and has a streak of darkness in him, but he doesn’t think twice about this betrayal. And while he might be justified in getting his revenge on Zelena, it seems gratuitous to me, with little thought of what the action does to the character of Rumplestiltskin. To me, I think it was a way for the writers to get rid of Zelena, full stop.

In some ways, I think what’s happened is that the creators have written themselves into a corner. They’ve come full circle, redeeming the Evil Queen, making her heroic and a good guy. They’ve done the same with Rumple, bringing him back to much of what he’d been before the dagger, but with the benefit of experience and love. He, too, had become heroic. So, where, then, to go with them, if not to do a reset? Regina’s will happen with the return of Maid Marian, and Rumple’s with the betrayal that taints his marriage to Belle.

And then there is the wild card, which escaped through the portal in Rumple’s cellar (BTW–tell me how that portal managed to be in his castle?) and into Storybrooke. Of course it is the Ice Queen, come to do mischief. She is the next villain to do battle against Storybrooke. Undoubtedly, Emma will once again prevail (or if she’s popular enough, make her into a good guy).

The finale wasn’t all disappointment for me. There were many things I enjoyed during the two hours. I did love that Snow and Charming named their son Prince Neal. It was a sweet gesture, and it clearly touched Rumple. I really liked the parallel of Snow screwing up Daniel and Regina’s relationship and Emma screwing up Regina’s budding relationship with Robin Hood.

I did enjoy the Princess Leia and Prince Charles monikers. Clever. As I mentioned, I believe one of the episode’s most poignant moments was when Rumple decides to take the forgetting potion. He needs so much to know, but fears the harshest consequences of changing history through time travel. I adored the Belle/Rumple wedding. Belle looks lovely in her 1930s vintage white and Rumple completely dashing in a tux.

I’ve thought a lot since the airing of the episode about whether I’ll continue writing about Once Upon a Time next season. There is a lot of brilliantly written, powerfully acted stuff out there, from Game of Thrones to Hannibal, Fargo to Turn, Penny Dreadful to Sleepy Hollow (and next season’s new Fox treatment of ITV’s Broadchurch, called Gracepoint, and starring David Tennant). I’ve not quite decided, but it’s increasingly hard to write more than a simple recap. The meat of Once (and the delight of writing about it) has always been in exploring the gray area between good and evil, right and wrong, nobility and stubbornness. I’m finding less and less depth these days to plumb. The jury is still out for me about next season. I’ll do a re-watch over the summer and decide sometime after Comic-Con in July.

In the meantime, I’d love to know what you thought about the finale. Good or bad? Agree with me or disagree? Are you sticking around for season four or calling it quits? Let us know in the comments below and please vote in the poll at the top of this article!

Tune in tomorrow night for this week’s Let’s Talk TV Live on Blogtalk Radio where we’ll unpack the Once Upon a Time season finale and more!

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • WML

    I watched the first five minutes and the last ten minutes of the show. When they relegated, seemingly permanently, the Rumbelle romance to a lie, I was worst than furious. And then, they relegated the Robin/Regina romance to an unfortunate interruption of the Robin and Marion tale? Pathetic. Way to go, OUAT overlords. Treat your two best assets like they are there to serve the almighty Emma and Hook. Please. This was a continuation of last week’s disastrous episode. A show that shows a distinct disdain for continuity does not merit unbridled love. In this case, I have no intention of watching the rest of the two hour special.
    Unbelievably condescending. That’s what OUAT has become. Naming the baby Neal, instead of keeping the real Neal alive. For what? To satisfy the legion of Hook lovers and those who want to stand in Emma’s shoes? When did OUAT become a teenage girl fantasy show? PATHETIC.

  • Heidi

    Yes, this season has primarily focused on the Hook/Emma storyline; however, we quickly forget that season one was all about Mary Margaret and David. That storyline sizzled and then basically fizzled once they regained their memories. They are a total snoozefest all season with her actually being pregnant. Same will happen with Hook/Em or ANY hot romance once it has been consummated (Meredith Grey/Sheppard, Bill/Sookie, etc). It’s the nature of the beast, art imitating life. And let’s keep it real…Neal wasn’t very appealing from day one on the show, both physically or emotionally. I think his character overstayed his welcome, same as Brody from Homeland.

    • WML

      I disagree. The writers never developed the potential of the Neal character. They are mesmerized by the pirate and made a mockery of the show while pursuing their boyhood swashbuckling fantasy.

      • heidi

        Really? I thought we viewers spent WAY too much time in NEVERLAND. Talk about a boy’s fantasy. Idk, I think the fact that they took the ultimate bad guy-Hook-and somehow gave him redemption, appeal, etc, took a lot more thought than writing whatever they wrote for Neal. Again, I think the actor is just not appealing to begin with, so it was tricky to get past his whispery gravel voice. I don’t think it comes down to piracy, I think it boils down to sex appeal. Neal was not sexy. His death was cheesy though, I’ll give you that.

        • Heidi

          I couldn’t stand him on True Blood either lol.

          • Lexi

            You weren’t supposed to like him on True Blood..he was a serial killer after all. His Cajun accent was dead on though. Even true Cajuns have said they couldn’t tell that he wasn’t.

          • heidi

            No one knew it was him till the end, so he was supposed to be likeable. Accent was great. Not a fan of the gravely voice. Nails on chalkboard to me.

          • WML

            MRJ is a better actor than the OUAT overlords allowed him to be. He was underused and his character was underwritten. Tallahassee was a great episode and MRJ was very responsible for making that a success. I was looking forward to MRJ and RC playing off one another. But what do the overlords do? They knock Neal off and relegate Carlyle to a supporting role. Not the best of decisions, OUAT overlords!

        • WML

          The show, for me, was not about romance. It was about hope, sacrifice, redemption and love. That people fell in love because they saw in others what others did not see (Rumple and Belle, Robin and Regina) made it compelling. Not the silly romantic fantasy that inspires so many Captain Swann shippers.

          • Heidi

            Excellent point. That definitely kept me tuned in too. I guess the tigress in me just wants Hook. I don’t know why he’s always chasing Emma anyway she’s cold. I think they wasted a great storyline with Zalena. She could’ve been fleshed out more. That was a storyline that could have addressed redemption and love. Not to mention possible love triangle with Rump/Belle.

          • heidi

            And I think you’re right…its jumped the shark this spring. It has one or two seasons left. I’m just thankful OUAT Wonderland was iced.

          • WML

            You mean Kill Alice? If I didn’t know better, I would have thought they really wanted to cast Uma Thurman as Alice. The Knave of Hearts, however, will be jumping realms right into OUAT.

          • Heidi

            Haha, yes Uma straight out of a Tarantino flick. Wonderland is a particular taste, very surprised they thought people would want to be in a perpetual trippy state of mind. Not me.

          • WML

            It was a disaster, a harbinger of the disaster that befell OUAT in the later half of season 3. While the first half was too long, it was full of great performances, especially from Carlyle and Robbie Kaye. Zelena started off fine and Rebecca Mader was fine. All the Hook/Emma stuff, however, was an example of writers being out of touch with their own show.

          • Heidi

            Lol to OUAT Wonderland! Yes, it felt like two completely different shows this year post winter break. To watch Rumple in a cage for second half was wasting Carlyle altogether. Hook and Emma…yeah, ok…they essentially killed off Neal to make it “ok” for Captain Swann (great moniker) to set sail. BUT I think that the writers responded to viewers’ reaction to that episode where Em met Hook and he took her to the giants. Idk if anyone thought Hook would have the affect he did in that episode. I’m really hoping they punch it up more with Belle/Snow/Charming. All 3 were once so pivotal and are now just sideline characters. I’m actually getting annoyed watching Belle enter a scene. Why hasn’t she had any serious screen kissing time with Rumple? The age thing? idk, but I find him attractive.

          • WML

            Adam and Eddy disappointed me in the later half of the season. What happened to the Wizard? The Oz thing was a travesty. Little attention to continuity and detail. They may have responded to a vocal few who wanted the Hook/Emma romance, but in so doing they will find that they have alienated a significant portion of their fan base. At this point, I am not that keen on the upcoming season, as it will probably continue with the marginalization of Rumple/Belle/Red/Regina in service to the pirate and his lass. What was one a great show has devolved into something that has promises no happy endings, just promiscuity and lack of character depth. If you get the idea that I hated the final episodes, that I am not a Captain Swann fan, that I appreciate great story writing and acting, you are not wrong. I am happy for the Hook/Emma shippers. The show, for me, however, is beginning to be can miss TV.

    • Pajarito

      What is a shame, because Neal, this important reason and origin of the show, was eliminated because he was not HANDSOME!??, when his weight was in the RELATIONS with the main characters, not being just a love interest; he was son, father and reason of origin of the show…but the handling of the character TALKS LOUD about what is becoming the show: pretty faces, weak writing and a mexican novela.

      • WML

        And Robert and Lana are too talented to put up with this rubbish. Basically, the OUAT producers are saying that only the handsome and the beautiful are worthy of attention. The slightly older or the more common looking can go fall off on the wayside. They have no import to the show. The show has lost its soul. What was once a show about family, loyalty, betrayal, penitence and repentance, sacrifice and redemption has devolved into a show of pretty faces. totally devoid of conscience and soul.

    • Barbara Barnett

      I agree that happy couples are boring. I’m actually quite curious about how Regina is going to act–trying to be good, but confronted with Emma’s accidental betrayal and the triangle to be. That should fuel at least some conflict. As for the other bit of conflict, I think (Rumple and Belle and the dagger), I think that was really contrived, out of character and makes little sense, given how far Rumple has come. The Hook/Emma conflict will be banter, which the show needs, but I don’t like that Hook’s history is being dismissed and too quickly.

  • My 2 Cents

    I cannot believe we were robbed of going to Oz!!! Wicked witch collected courage, heart and brain for nothing? And why wasn’t Dorothy wearing ruby slippers instead of the gold ones? Trademark issue? The show would have been great in Oz for a few episodes. Way better than boring Never land or same ole enchanted forest.

    • MLM

      MGM owns rights to the red slippers. The original slippers were silver.

    • Barbara Barnett

      Yeah…a entire half season devoted to collecting courage, heart and brains for really nothing. The silver slippers are canon, however. I do believe Oz was really wasted. Instead of delving deeply into what started out to be a compelling story, they paid lip service and gave us the Wicked vs. Evil trope, which really turned out to be much of nothing.

  • Pajarito

    I suspected since the suddenly apparition of “loves” what the series was going to become and what public was aiming. About Lana and Robert, I think that is so much talent to have a soap opera with them. I’m a Rumbeller and I just can think the worst, at the intention of the writers to put the marriage under the premise of a betrayal, and is just related at diminish the liking of the public for the pair, and with the consequence of damaging without necessity, what was a beautiful and tragic history by itself. The wedding was just a pacifier to fans and damaged more than helped.
    There is too the damage to Rumple character, because for me he was the one “full of love”, his main reason and only end was in the love for his family, so then the lie was an “again, that was 2 seasons ago, do you remember that you took your life for love a day ago??”
    Like Dearie, I don’t understand why this comebacks after Pan. I don’t see the point. Right now what I wanted to see not who he was, I know that perfectly well by now, I want to know who is gonna he be now that his REASON of existence for so many centuries is dead, and he is no THE FATHER anymore. At same time how this was gonna affect his relationship with Belle and some interaction of them like the couple that supposedly they are.
    What is related to Emma, for me is sad. I had barely love for the character, but the love that I had was related at the Emma they sold me in the first season, and now I’m worried about the message to the young girls, because she is the principal main character and last message of the show, and is ending with a character that first apparition was gloat about “steal and share womans with his crowd”, who has physically hurted womans, who uses innapropiate sexual comments…but he is so handsome!
    I’m gonna begin to watch the next season just for Rumple, Belle and Rumbelle and like Robert fan just keep supporting his work, but I hope that he runs far far away soon if what I see this season is gonna be the end of the amazing character of Rumplestilskin the Dark One.

    • Barbara Barnett

      I do believe they have diminished both Regina and Rumple, and I think the reason is they sort of wrote themselves into a corner. After Rumple killed Pan, I wondered where they could go with his character? Send him backwards? But what about Belle? What about Neal’s sacrifice? Neal gave his life for the best in his father, not the vengeful Dark One, but Rumple, the good father that Neal speaks of in the finale.

      So, I wonder if the death of Zelena will be the end of it. A secret to be buried with the dagger. Rumple will never use it again (he believes), but…

      But I really did not like the premise of his and Belle’s new marriage to start out with betrayal.

      • WML

        The writers are acting like a bunch of young girls eager to get their hands on the Beib (that’s Hook for you and me). An apalling development and reflected in the quality of the final episodes, which are surprisingly bad (except for the Espenson penned “A Curious Thing”). The overlords have now put themselves in a corner. How does Rumple redeem himself for his betrayal of Belle? He never really learned what love is all about, if this is what he has become. They made OUATs great Byronic hero a NOTHING. A schemer. A fraud. Pathetic.

        The writers are facilittating a transition to a Hook and Emma centric OUAT. If that’s the case, no thanks, Adam and Eddy.

  • MLM

    As of right now, I’m saying quits.

    I say this for two reasons; I don’t like the Hook/Emma dynamic that the show is focusing on so much at the moment. It is a slippery narrative since he has stalked her, made rape-ish jokes to her, left her to die (twice), yet decides he loves her and even though she has said “No” on numerous accounts, the show portrays his persistence as romantic. I don’t call it romantic, I call it a misdemeanor. Again, slippery dangerous narrative for a show that has a predominantly female audience, lots of them teens/tweens.

    My second reason is Emma, herself. I get that she is complicated, that she has walls, that she has been through a lot in her life. What I don’t get, however, is the writer’s character assassination on her. Season 2 and 3 showed Regina giving up HER son, first to Charming then to Emma. Regina’s character has been developed beautifully through the end of Season 3, while Emma has moved from cooperative co-parent to “It’s my way and my way only” when it comes to Regina. I just don’t get it. It’s a turn-off. Emma used to be one of my favorite characters until 3B. I can barely stand her now.

    If I do return, it will be for Regina only. Lana Parrilla owns this show, especially since Rumbelle have basically turned into a “when will they be separated again and for how long this time, when will he deceive or lie to her again” secondary cast joke.

    • Barbara Barnett

      I don’t like the Hook/Emma dynamic that the show is focusing on so much at the moment. It is a slippery narrative since he has stalked her, made rape-ish jokes to her, left her to die (twice), yet decides he loves her and even though she has said “No” on numerous accounts, the show portrays his persistence as romantic. I don’t call it romantic

      I agree. One of the issues with bringing Hook front and center as a romantic lead is his history. He’s a womanizer and a soundrel. He’s a pirate, for heaven’s sake. If they’d made his redemptive arc a little more subtly built, then…maybe. But they’ve basically rewritten the character as a good guy who’s a swashbuckling pirate (never mind how he’d gotten Milah and how he dealt with Rumple when Rumple was a peasant).

      He’s a jerk, and, yeah, I know all about how we’re supposed to love bad boys, but I don’t quite buy into his story.

      • WML

        If they are going to relegate Robert Carlyle into a secondary role, then the show deserves to die a quick death. His acting ability transcends this show and even with sometimes substandard writing, he still makes everything he is in compelling. I don’t know what Adam and Eddy are thinking, but this show with Carlyle in the periphery is uniteresting, tired, bland, superflous, BORING.

        Carlyle made you care about Rumple’s journey, Rumple’s story. He transformed Emilie de Ravin from a beautiful face into a woman whose heart is well worth earning. He was the reason I watched this show. To see the writers be so dismissive of him in the second half of the season is maddening and sad.

        • Lexi


          Robert Carlyle and Lana Parilla are the only two actors on this show who can actually act. I was cringing at Jennifer Morrison last night (‘Mr., um, Rumple, er, The Dark One told me about you’…shudder)..same goes for Ginnifer Goodwin.

          • WML

            I am not convinced that the actors in the show can’t act. In fact, most of them are more than competent (David Anders, Colin, Emilie, Jennifer, Meghan, et. al. are quite good in their roles). My main complaint is that the storytelling and narrative coherence and complexity was deficient in the last episodes and the writers made a lot of decisions that ensured a Hook/Emma hookup, to the detrement of the rest of the show. There is no question, however, that Robert Carlyle is an extraordinarily accomplished actor.

          • Heidi

            I think Goodwin is overrated, always has been. Not trying to be catty here, but she is no where near fairest.

      • Lynn

        Almost every relationship on this show has been presented with ‘issues’ and things to overcome…Hook and Emma are no different and granted she left him on the beanstalk…he left her in the cell…but he also lost a sword fight for her (the actor confirmed on a Q&A session on twitter) that allowed her to return home to Henry…never mind that she only left him on the beanstalk because she had feelings ..and she was afraid to trust him…or even that she the went on an adventure in the ‘present’ in Tallahassee and it was paralleled with her past …

        When did he stalk her? when he looked at her at the diner at a dinner he was invited too? because he wanted to be there….because maybe he was making sure she was safe? How is that any different than Rumple showing up at the library or Belle the shop to check up on Rumple??
        I mean because other than that sure he’s been at her side but she knows he’s there pretty sure that isn’t stalking… And yeah sure he made sexual comments at her but she’s punched him out after or rolled her eyes… but did you miss the part this episode were Emma hiked up the ‘girls’ to keep him busy?? The things you’re accusing him of, you’re assuming he was those things because he’s said them when the narrative shows differently .. I mean forgetting that he treated Milah as an equal and was a lost ‘frat’ boy after the death of his mother…never mind the fact that Emma said in season one that one-night stands were as far as she went (which post and pre-milah Hook was probably the same) he even stated at the end of this episode that had he remembered Emma in the bar and her kiss he would have gone after her (pretty much telling me that even past Hook loved Emma).

        And Emma never once said no to him…she told him that Henry was the only love she had room for…but Emma being Emma has zero problems telling someone no…and it’s been shown again and again she pushes people she cares about away..Henry in season 1, her parents all the time etc…and lets not forget other than Hook trying to ‘wake’ her with True Loves kiss when she didn’t know him (something both Charming and Rumple are also guilty off) that Graham is the only other person on this show to have kissed her without her consent and she torn a shred off him.

        I mean I’ll not lie I love Emma and she’s my favorite characters and I really want to see her happy, and I adore that she’s really not an easy character to love because she’s broken …but look I love all the characters and the show a great deal but your review and ‘rapish’ comments just seem bitter and a little laced with discontent because Carlyle isn’t as front and center and you want..when as much as I LOVE Rumple I’ve always seen him more as the puppet master behind the scenes. I feel like using triggering words like ‘rapish’ your just trying to feed fan hate and the fonder that comes along with it, don’t like Hook fine …like Rumple regardless of the things he’s done (and yes I do too never mind that he murdered an innocent maid etc) but trigger words like rape and stalk really don’t fit the narrative of the story (unless you’re talking about what Regina did to Graham in the Enchanted Forest) that I see and instead because you’re considered an intelligent source it lets people think it’s so or okay to toss around those comments and trigger words…

        Anyway other opinions are fine and dandy but I thought the episode was lovely and creative and that Morrison shone perfectly..

        • Barbara Barnett

          I agree. Jennifer was spot on in her performance. Great! I just think the revisionist history of hook just bothers me. A lot. I would have liked a deeper arc to their getting together.

        • pajarito

          Good vibes, but you said you love Morrison, you don’t felt that yesterday the feeling of “¿This is no Emma?”, because for me yesterday they killed the original idea of her…

        • MLM

          “Next time curse the lips of someone I would actually kiss”, when discussing her reasons for not staying in Storybrooke “Did you think it would be with you?”…those were just in one episode. And pushing the girls up? Did you miss the part when he looked at them she moved her hair from the back to cover them up? I get we all see what we want out of the show, but dismissing the characters actions and words, I don’t know, maybe it’s all up to interpretation. I see the relationship as troublesome and a terrible example to young people who watch the show.

          • Benngie

            See … I like Hook and Emma, generally because they have onscreen chemistry (that I never really felt with Emma and Neal). And all her “slap downs” seem more to me as “the lady doth protest too much.” She doesn’t want to like him, but I think she does.

        • Eileen

          Lynn – you are not alone in your read of the relationship. I don’t really feel like the show is sending mixed messages. I don’t really feel like Emma has been saying no, but more like not now because a relationship or dealing with her feelings has not been not her focus. She was too busy trying to save Henry and everybody else to think about herself. And, actually if you read a lot of the interviews by the writers this was their intent.

          I look at Hook as similar to Regina…characters who have evolved. He is a pirate. Of course he is going to make lewd comments and selfish choices. And, that was prominent in season 2 when they met. But, even then, he seemed to feel a connection to her and she him (note the conversation they have when she is stuck behind bars). She has said that they are the same/similar on numerous occasions, at Granny’s when he takes the bean. And, I feel like it was at that point on the ship, when he turns back that he turns his back on his old life in favor of his feelings for her. After that point, he is the only character that has actually put her first. Everyone expects her to save them. He does nothing but try to help her. He’s the only one that hasn’t abandoned her since he developed real feelings for her.

          Now I agree that maybe the development of the relationship or the evolution of his character happened too fast. But, there are only so many seasons where you can drag this out or it will never happen before someone leaves the show. And, I don’t think I am using revisionist history on hook. I guess if I were to over-analyze a bit, I would say the problem isn’t so much Hook, but the way they are writing Emma. I truly believe they want to portray her as someone who has walls up and denies her true feelings. Feelings that are obvious to the rest of the characters. But, I suppose that could seem like saying no to others watching especially if they don’t care for the characters involved. But, I don’t see it that way and I don’t think that is how the writers intend it to come off.

          That said…I agree with some of the others’ comments about Rumple. He should not be a secondary character and neither should Belle. These are really fine actors being pushed to the sidelines. But, honestly, I was happy to see him lie to her because their storyline has become so boring. They have reduced Belle’s character to really whiny and weak and I actually would like to see her have a much stronger role. So, I am hoping they make something out of this relationship based on lies thing.

  • onceaholic

    So let me get this straight. In the original time line (before Hook and Emma went down the time portal) Regina captured Marian then executed her. Meanwhile Robin blames himself for Marian’s death and doesn’t seem to care that his current girlfriend executed his wife?

    • Barbara Barnett

      That does present him with a curious dilemma. Also, given the circumstances of Marian’s capture and demise in the “original” timeline, Robin wouldn’t be at all to blame for her death (what he blame himself for, not killing the EQ?) And how can he be both Regina’s most hated foe and most ardent love. Yes, this is quite a moral dilemma we have here for Robin, and I don’t dislike the idea (in theory), but it sort of makes it impossible to ever be Regina’s lover. So why set it up that they are soul mates at all?

    • Sandra

      Perhaps Robin Hood was not her soul mate? I felt like they took some pains to point out that she only saw the tattoo, by the face.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Thanks everyone for the incredible debate going on here! Welcome to all those new commenters. Tune into the show tonight and my usual panel will discuss the finale, the future of the show, etc.

  • Elba

    I disliked so many Parts last night. I feel sorry for Regina, i still don`t get Captain Swan ( and i really don`t know why we need so much CS kisses in one Episode. Yes i know he is hot and yes he loves her but it was way too much for me) and Rumple does everything to get his son back but drinks the potion to forget and is not searching for a way to safe his son? And he is still lying to Belle – and lets her carry the dagger in a handbag?

    But o.k i really liked Prince Neal. And Emmas face as she saw Rumple and the Outlaw Queen moments where cute and sweet.
    And of course the Rumbelle wedding. Even if i wished they would show more of it and not just “hush hush and over”

  • Symce

    I still think the show sends some odd messages to it’s (female?) audience concerning the whole Hook/CS thing. I mean all season she told him no, and he kept pushing and pushing, and suddenly when he gives up his ship/and after that fan-pandering adventure in the past, she gives it a go? It’s just weird. I’ve had some issues with guys who wouldn’t take no for an answer either, so maybe it’s just projecting.

    It just made me severely dislike Hook and CS. I guess that’s why I didn’t enjoy this season’s finale. It felt cheapened to me. Not a fan of time-travel in general either, they could’ve done more with that. Also resetting Emma&Regina’s dynamic to square one, once again just for the sake of more drama makes me roll my eyes. They’ve done that a few times already, it’s getting stale.

    To me this ranks as 2 of the worst episodes of Once. Though some stand-alones are worse. I keep thinking if it had been Henry or David being sent with Emma into the past it could’ve been so much better.

    • Barbara Barnett

      I agree with you. I would have found a lot more interest had Emma’s journey into the past been with one of the original characters. I think what’s really been hard for me was the complete waste of the Oz story. All of that buildup wicked vs. evil and it had no more depth than an “average” disney movie.

      What started out as really interesting: the collection of David’s courage, regina’s heart, Rumple’s brain became a rushed exercise going absolutely nowhere at all. What was the point? Where was the poignancy?

      Same with Rumple’s imprisonment. Why?

      Same with Zelena’s desire to prove herself to Rumple? This also went absolutely nowhere.

      A sorceress cracking the unimaginable: the code to time travel. that would be a truly spectacular find and worth sorting out. But again, it went nowhere. Maybe I was expecting too much from the series.

  • Betsy


    this idea that Rumbelle’s marriage is based on a foundation of lies, that they will crumble…..because Gold deceived her. For one thing, we need context. His not telling Belle about his plans for Zelena, his misleading her in some way because he didn’t outright say “no, I can’t promise this, Belle” is very complicated. Belle was asking the impossible from him and he didn’t want to disappoint her. Of course he knows she loves him, body and soul, but he also thinks she loves him for the good man he really is; he doesn’t know (he’s not a mind reader and, with his self-esteem issues, why would he believe otherwise) that she loves all of him, his layers, his darkness. More practically, he’s in DEEP, deep pain – for his son, for himself. Goodness, Belle may not know all of what he went through, but she knows a lot of it..she can guess.

    I firmly believe that proposal was over the REAL dagger and nothing will ever change my mind.

    I seriously do not get the huge leaps being made, that this deception represents everything about their relationship.Their relationship has been tested in every way and every time it comes out stronger than before. This “secret” is not about Gold’s lack of trust in Belle, it’s about his emotional issues…. and I think Rumbelle will face them together. If A/E didn’t want them to face them together, why the heck get them married? This is a tv show, there’s supposed to be drama….but this is organic, it’s natural – it’s NOT plot oriented, it’s character driven.

    This idea that hell is coming to SB when Belle finds out, that everything is going to fall apart? I don’t buy it for an instant; she will be angry and hurt…. he will open up and they will try and fix him, heal him.

    i think it’s going to be great. I’m not one of those who is like “oh my god, I SO need to see Belle tear into Gold” just because…. I’m eager to see it because I think it will lead to amazing story and because Bobby/Em will be phenomenal

    • WML

      I loved Emilie’s wedding outfit.
      Why did they end up getting married? What was the purpose of doing it in the dead of night, with only the father and the cricket in attendance? I thought Archie was a psychiatrist? Is he suppose to stir the truth within Rumple while taking his vow, to make sure that his conscience is clear? Or is it the overlords overtly showing the audience that Rumple’s deceit escapes even the examination of conscience, and that’s why it has to be done in the dark of night. Otherwise, the light of day may expose the lies. Stick to us Rumple fans even harder, Adam and Eddy. It wasn’t plain enough for people to see.

  • Betsy

    I’m sorry to see so many people hate on Gold now…but I loved 3B for the most part because we saw them explore what being controlled by the dagger meant. I didn’t want to see him all over the place, all the time, doing nasty stuff he didn’t want to.
    I think, sorry,people are WAY jumping the gun on this, assuming that Bobby is now relegated to 2nd class. That was the way THIS story went, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to continue..and in fact, S4 is going to spend a lot of time exploring his mindset.
    I must disput the acting thing, I think Emilie is brilliant.
    I guess I don’t agree with anyone here, so I’ll end this and leave….but I needed to get this out.

    • Barbara Barnett

      Hi Betsy,

      I certainly don’t hate Gold. I think that his moments are some of the best on the entire show. I did not like that he took such a cavalier attitude (without explanation) with regard to the dagger and gloating about it to Zelena. That seems so very out of character (in several ways).

      Yes, there may be something else at play, but because of where the finale took us, there was no time at all spent even at hinting at it.

      I do feel his character was underused and poorly used (as was the rest of the Oz story).

  • Halanefleur

    I agree with every word. I did particularly like Rumbelle, but now? Now I don’t see the point. She should leave him. It is one thing for him to be bad, it is another for him to betray her trust in such a terrible way in such a serious way (when asking to start a life with her).

  • Lyana Rodriguez

    I honestly disagree on your thoughts on Rumpelstiltskin. Character development is not linear, and what he has gone through for the entirety of 3B has been traumatizing. Looking at this past year alone, without even going back to his previous troubles and previous anxieties, we see enough heartbreak and trauma to completely break a soul. Never mind the fact that Rumpelstiltskin has suffered for 300+ years. And, while he did manage to break through some of his problems of the past at the end of 3A, it is perfectly reasonable for him to backslide after being enslaved, dehumanized, harassed, and finally losing the one light of his life before Belle even existed: Baelfire.

    Rumple has always been a character with crippling anxiety, and ultimately, he has repeated again and again, even during 3A, that he fears that Belle will eventually leave him for good (like most every other person that he has loved). After so much pain that past year, it’s obvious that he’s terrified of Belle even knowing that he thought and planned on killing Zelena, let alone that he actually did it. With Bae gone, Belle is the only positive relationship in his life. And if Belle doesn’t even support him making his own decision towards what he should do towards his abuser, how can he be honest with her about it?

    My biggest problem with Rumple’s arc, regarding this topic, is this tendency of the writers to send this message of being kind to your abuser. It’s rampant in Belle’s arc as well. I find it very damaging and honestly quite a bit disgusting, especially when Zelena’s relationship towards him was so dehumanizing and nonconsensual. But do I consider him lying to Belle and using his deception as an alibi out of character? No. After all, for most of his life, “doing the right thing” only leads to horrible things happening to him. Whenever he does the right thing, he’s punished (for example: sparking Hook led to Belle losing her memories).

  • quirkieD

    IMHO, up to the “reveal” of Marian, this would have been the perfect SERIES finale. I loved the show when it started. It’s truly fatiguing now. All sorts of characters everywhere and none of them get developed beyond the head of a pin. I actually groaned three times at the end. For the Marian reveal, the liner about “you’re as bad as your mother” (and your little dog too, for that matter), and then Frozen-Ice-Queen-Terminator2who-gives-a-crap. Oh, wait, make that 4. Was it a secret that Rumple loves Belle and vice versa? A five second wedding ordained by a cricket. Say what now?

    I did enjoy some of Neverland. That at least made sense to me, what with Lost Boy Neal running around with Capt’n Hook and the tie into Rumple’s family. When it teased the Oz storyline, I was bored before it started because it felt like, “have you seriously run out of material with these characters you’ve got?” I didn’t think so, but the writers apparently didn’t want to come up with something else, so found a convenient witch who was literally green with envy. Barf. Not to mention, it didn’t go anywhere, didn’t do anything, except everyone running around, fleeing super horrendous CGI monkeys.

    Pretty sure the whole Frozen-Ice-Queen-Terminator2who-gives-a-crap will play out exactly the same way, except now you may even get Dancing! Music! Sing-a-longs on DVD! I’m so (not) excited!

    FYI, I’m not going to be watching next year.

  • WML

    I do think that it would be nice if they develop the Henry/Rumple relationship. Henry is Rumple’s last link to his son. Heck, they can devote a lot of time with Henry/Rumple bonding, Rumple/Regina bonding, Belle/Henry/Regina bonding. They can send Hook and Emma off for most of the season and maybe get some interesting stories done while those two are away. It would be nice to get back to storytelling.

  • Beth McManus

    I only started watching this recently when amazon UK began to stream it. I loved the first series and see a huge difference in quality between that and series 3. As many have already said, relegating Rumpel to an incoherent plot device was a serious problem for 3b.

    As far as the Rumpel/Belle relationship goes, the problems started with the absurd Lacey storyline (although Emilie de Ravin looked like she was having a lot of fun with it). The writers missed a huge opportunity to show us why Belle fell for Rumpel in the first place. Rather than turning her into a sadistic barfly, why not have Belle be a blank slate who rediscovers herself and her relationship with Gold organically? But the writers have no clue what to do with Belle’s character. They seem to have forgotten why we were drawn to her in the first place, that she was intelligent and had the courage of her convictions.

    I also agree with what everyone’s been saying about Hook. Wasn’t this the same guy who, just a few short months ago, was dedicating his life to avenging his lost love? In one episode, we see him crowing about doing damage to Rumpel’s heart (aka Belle) while simultaneously sexually harassing Emma. He’s a terrible character.

    • WML

      We can only hope that the overlords of OUAT redeiscover their mojo for the fourth season. And give us a HEAVY dose of Jane Espenson, whose mojo is intact. And the first order of business should be the purging of all the Captain Swann love. Keep Colin – he is a good actor. Give him more interesting things to do than pine for Emma.

      And at least the third series is better than series two. Though Barbara Hershey was great and the episode with Rose McGowan (The Miller’s Daughter) was a standout.

  • WML

    According to rumors, Rebecca Mader is slated to come back for the next season. Any idea if she will be in the present or in the past? Maybe my crazy idea that she and Rumple are one (I laid this out on the chat on Monday) may not be that crazy after all.
    Conjectures don’t erase the bad taste that the series finale left, however.

    • Barbara Barnett

      I have no idea. But I was wondering if she was actually dead.

  • Beth McManus

    Unfortunately, Belle’s been a series of lost opportunities. She was locked up in a psych ward for 28 years and there was zero exploration of the trauma she must have suffered because of it. The dream that she had in “The Crocodile” episode was also very revealing and showrunners did nothing with it. Leroy’s reference to Belle as another of Rumpel’s possessions could–and should–have led to an interesting examination of the Rumbelle relationship in that she’s obviously, sub-consciously, concerned about that. And the way her character’s been developed, I can understand why.