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Once Upon a Time- Episode 3.11 "Going Home" Review- Such a great episode doesn't deserve this tardiness

I don’t even know where to begin to apologize; this review should have been uploaded about three weeks ago. There were all kind of troubles with college, Christmas and New Year Eve; my 2013 was quite awful, with college being harder than it ever was and facing many health issues, and because of that I rarely uploaded my reviews on time. But that is hardly an excuse, I had the chances to do it on time, yet they somehow flew by. When I started writing reviews here on SpoilerTV I made a commitment to do it on time; this one comes awfully late, but this won’t happen again, not this late, not ever again.

The saddest part is that this episode has been one of the greatest Once Upon a Time has done and it doesn’t deserve this treatment; it has everything it needs to be about perfect. The first half of the Neverland arc was a bit disappointing, but the second half quickly found its footing and it started telling good stories. This winter finale ends with a bang.

“Going Home” is a very special OUAT episode as it sets a whole new beginning, it opens a lot of new opportunities for the show to explore, all kind of new situations. The episode starts explaining what Pan’s curse will do to everyone in Storybrooke and what has to be done to stop him. It’s pretty straight forward and I like it; instead of wasting time dropping some half explanations around the episode like the show has done other times, we know from the word go what needs to be done. They need the scroll and Regina has to shred it.

Our heroes plan starts with the quest for the Black Fairy’s wand (no racism intended), which is powerful and strong in dark magic and would allow Rumple to bring Henry back to his original body and Pan back to his. So Charming, Neal, Hook and Tinkerbell go to the church where the Blue Fairy is resting in piece, and they are attacked by Pan’s shadow. The CGI fight was a bit clunky and felt a bit odd, but do I really care about that? Nah, not even a little, it takes us where we need to be, with Tink being able to trust herself again and Hook gets the chance to prove (once again) that he can fight for something other than himself.

Then, Rumple plans to switch Henry and Pan to their original bodies and put Pan the wristband Greg and Tamara had to block magic (Regina hasn’t forgot about it) to leave him powerless while Henry gives the scroll to Regina so she can shred it. Things go accordingly, but there are some twists: Henry and Pan switch back to their original bodies, Henry gives Regina the scroll, but as soon as she receives it she faints, while the wristband proves to be powerless to stop Pan’s magic as he created it himself. Rumple has a talk with his father who admits to have never loved him, and that’s all he needs to take him down, expect that as Pan still has his magic, he puts the wristband on Rumple and leaves him in the store while he goes out to stop our heroes. Rumple can’t let that happen, and as he sees a sword next to him, he cuts off his wrist so he can use magic once again (I was really bumped that the moment where he cut off his wrist happened off screen). It was a really bold move, pretty shocking and surprising, but it’s not even close to what happens next.

Regina is about to shred the scroll to pieces, but Pan stops them, he paralyzes our heroes with a spell; he decides to kill them all, but starting with those who Rumple loves, Belle and Neal. Then Rumple pops out and he makes the ultimate sacrifice: he kills Pan and by doing so he also kills himself. The moment that happened I was left shocked; Belle falls to her knees and cries while Neal is so shocked that he doesn’t even know how to react. His sacrifice was felt so intensely and it was utterly unexpected, at least I didn’t see it coming until it happened. It’s not that I think Rumple won’t be back somehow, but it’s still a very brave move to kill such a fan favorite character, and if he is to remain dead (and I don’t think that will be the case) it seems like the proper send off, with the right amount of guts and gusto.

Now it seems like a good time to talk about the flashbacks; there are a series of them on the episode featuring different characters; we have Snow and Charming preparing for the moment when the curse comes and accepting that they have to give up Emma, Hook and Tinkerbell meeting, Henry receiving the “Once Upon a Time” book from Mary Margaret/Snow, and Rumple and Belle talking about the loss of Baelfire/Neal. All of these flashbacks are related to what happens for these characters on the episode. Rumple finally feels he can redeem for abandoning his son, Snow and Charming have to say goodbye for a second time to their daughter, once again to give them a better shot at life, Tinkerbell notices that Hook has changed and has become a better man because of the love he feels for Emma and Henry tells Regina that he now know that she really loved him. These are all very emotional ties up to a very well-constructed narrative. Sometimes the characters of this show can feel a little bit cartoony, but now they felt fully fleshed out, complex, and the choices they made make sense. It’s a wonderful feeling, as if all of them had evolve, even Henry who has always been one of the most underdeveloped characters in the show. It happened to me that this episode kind of felt like a series finale, and I think it would have done a great job as such, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, there’s still much to come.

From now on there are only strong moments; Regina reveals that she knows the price of shredding the scroll: it means she will never see Henry again. She is willing to do it, but it’s not easy for her to accept it. She wants to give Henry a second chance and to do so she will let Emma and Henry go away from Storybrooke. Storybrooke should have never existed, it doesn’t belong in this world and neither any of the fairy tale characters on it, so by breaking the curse, the town is destroyed, it would wind out of existence as it was never there and everyone would go back to the Enchanted Forest, except for Henry who would have been left behind as he is not from there. In order to keep Henry safe Regina is willing to give him up to Emma, and everyone ready themselves to go back to where they belong.

I think one of the saddest moments in the episode is when Regina tells Emma that all she wanted was for Emma to get away from her life so she could be with Henry, but what she really wants is for him to be happy, so she accepts that Emma has to go. The scene is quite powerful and Lana Parrilla and Jennifer Morrison show wonderfully how these characters are so conflicted with the choice they have to make.

Now, we have one of the best scenes I’ve seen on this show, once that it was chosen from multiple members on SpoilerTV for the Scene Of The Week and that also came as number 1 in the poll. Emma and Henry say goodbye to everyone; what there is to say about this scene that you haven’t seen already? It’s perfect. For starters, Henry telling Regina she is not a villain but his mom is extremely poignant, as it gives what she so desperately needed: some kind of a happy ending and you can see in her face that it is enough for her. Neal accepts that he has to come back, but he is sure he will see Emma and Henry again, then Hook and Emma share one last moment, in which Hook tells her that there is not a day that will go by that he doesn’t think of her to which Emma replies with a single “good”. Finally, and this is the best part, Regina gives Emma and Henry the chance for a happy ending once they live Storybrooke. And as the curse is cast, our fairy tale characters return to the Enchanted Forest, Storybrooke disappears and history is altered.

We go all the way back to the moment where Emma gave up Henry, but this time she asks to see him and she decides to keep him. And we get to see them both, living happily together in an apartment, dealing with regular stuff. This could have been a great series finale is it was such, but as it’s only the winter finale, of course there had to be a cliffhanger; so Hook appears out of nowhere, he claims that Emma’s family needs her and he tries to kiss her in order to make her remember, but it doesn’t work. Emma closes the door on his nose and she goes back to Henry, unaware of the dangers that may lie ahead. It’s quite a great way to end the first half of the season.

I love how there was this air of finale as if this could have been the series end game all along, and now there are a lot of new situations that can rise from these; there are endless possibilities for the show right now, and that’s the best one could hope for.

Grade: A

Stray Observations:

-Pan takes the heart of Felix, his trusty companion, to make the curse work and he reveals that he never loved his son; he couldn’t get more ruthless than that.

-The Blue Fairy resurrection was both sudden and too convenient, but it doesn’t bother me at all considering the episode was so great overall.

-As soon as the show comes back, we get to see Wicked! I’m curious to what kind of stories the writers have done with her.
-And that’s it. Once again sorry for this delay, it won’t happen again. See you all in March.

-On a side note: today one of the shows I review premieres (Community). If you are interested, I’ll have a review of it tomorrow.

About the Author - Pablo
I'm currently studying Psychology while also writing fantasy books (one already published in my home country, Chile, you can check it out on the facebook icon). I watch many different types of shows, including my favorites Revenge, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time and about 23 more. Currently writing reviews for Once Upon a Time, How I Met Your Mother and Community

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