Magic comes with a price, the sinister Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) warned Regina (Lana Parrilla) last week on ABC’s “once upon a Time.”
For the network, that price has paid off in ratings riches.
The Disney-owned network took a chance on a series retelling classic fairy tales, one with appeal for kids as well as adults. Driven by some great performances (Parrilla and Carlyle are standouts), impressive CGI and story twists — hey, Little Red Riding Hood (Meghan Ory) is the Big bad Wolf — the show became the No. 1 new drama of the year and ushered in a wave of interest in classic children’s stories. (Next up: Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen in “Snow White and the Huntsman,” in theaters June 1.)
Yes, there was the occasional misfire, such as the annoyingly schmoopy relationship between Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) and David (Josh Dallas). but “Once’s” greatest treasure is a heroine unlike any other in prime time — Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), the foretold savior, who, in one character-defining moment, reacted to Regina’s twisted machinations by taking a chain saw to a limb of her beloved apple tree.
You gotta admire a gal good with power tools.
OK, Emma hasn’t been acting all that heroic lately — trying to sneak her son Henry (Jared Gilmore) out of Storybrooke, then seemingly capitulating to Regina and offering to leave the town forever — but that’s because she’s at the point of no return. She’s seen too much, she knows too much. the truth terrifies her. Who wouldn’t be scared to learn it’s your destiny to go up against the ultimate evil to save an entire community?
One mystery the show has remained curiously silent about is the identity of Henry’s father. Could it be Mr. Gold’s long-lost son? Imagine that: Snow White and Rumplestiltskin linked by blood. How would that change the balance of power in Storybrooke?
ABC declined to release a screener of tonight’s season finale, but there are a few things I can tell you:
(Warning! Spoilers follow!)
In “A Land without Magic,” Emma and Regina will at last be reunited — in a way — around the ailing Henry. As he lingers near death, Emma will use her anger to fuel her resolve. can she deny the unreality of her reality any longer? meanwhile, in the fairy tale realm, Charming (Dallas) searches for a poisoned Snow (Goodwin).
Look for a number of familiar guest stars tonight, including Emilie de Ravin as Belle, Sebastian Stan as Jefferson/the Mad Hatter, Kristin Bauer van Straten as Maleficent, and in the most welcome return of the season on just about any show this year, Jamie Dornan as the Huntsman — killed off just as his love for Emma was awakening his memory.
Count on a cliffhanger. we all know Emma is destined to break the curse, but that prophecy is remarkably stingy on the details. Who says she has to fight Regina in Storybrooke? Wouldn’t it be a delicious twist if Emma were transported to the magical realm before she was even born and encounters the very much alive Huntsman?
As “Once” has demonstrated, the greatest magic in the world stems from True Love.
Check back tomorrow to my blog Love that TV on boston-herald.com for a recap and reaction to the “once upon a Time” season finale!