Review: Once Upon a Time (Season 6, Episode 11)

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80%
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Gripping

This captivating first episode of Season 6B promises an intriguing and entertaining conclusion to the season, with plenty of twists and turns along the way.

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After a three-month hiatus, Once Upon a Time’s sixth season has finally returned. If you didn’t know, the show centres around fairytale characters in the modern day, mostly drawing the inspiration from the Disney versions of the famous tales. To those who’ve never seen the show, it sounds like an idea which would work for a couple of seasons before the novelty wears off and the writers run out of characters to incorporate; yet here we are, at the second half of the sixth season, and the show is still just as enthralling. The first half of the season introduced characters from stories which haven’t been touched by Disney, such as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and the Count of Monte Cristo, and I have enjoyed the variety of characters from different worlds, as well as the more original plotlines the screenwriters have incorporated into Once. I am one of many, I’m sure, who have eagerly been awaiting Season 6B to see where they take the inhabitants of Storybrooke next.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed; the new half-season holds plenty of potential for a new, gripping storyline to be played out. To recap the events of Season 6A: the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) is back, and has sent Emma (Jennifer Morrison) to an alternative reality in the Enchanted Forest. Meanwhile, Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and David (Josh Dallas) are still under the Queen’s sleeping curse, so while one is awake, the other is forced to sleep. Regina (the Queen’s good side, also played by Parrilla) managed to track Emma down, but is now being hunted down in that reality, as residents believe she is still the Evil Queen. Now the two of them must find a way back to Storybrooke – but things become complicated when Regina comes across her deceased lover, Robin Hood (Sean Maguire), somehow alive in this reality. There is a lot to keep track of (Once is always guilty of introducing a huge number of different subplots), but somehow this episode manages to bring together nearly every loose thread to focus on the main storyline of the season: it has been prophesised that Gideon (Giles Matthey), Gold and Belle’s now-adult son, is to kill Emma, the Saviour.

The episode begins with a flashback of Emma’s past as a child, when an unknown teenage boy inspires her to change her destiny using the tale of The Ugly Duckling, thus introducing the episode’s theme of transformation and that “If we believe in something strongly enough, we all have the power to change our own fate.” Fast forward to the present, and Emma has indeed transformed herself into the Saviour. This theme is carried through the story of the Ugly Duckling, as well as through Emma and Pinocchio (Eoin Bailey), who helps Emma and Regina make their way back home from the alternative reality. It is the belief in the power to change her fate which Emma needs when she faces her destiny in a showdown with Gideon, which she had previously seen in a vision earlier in the season.

It is fair to say that even after five and a half seasons, Once Upon a Time shows no signs of slowing. I was impressed with the slick way the writers brought the focus from the various minor subplots into the main storyline, which is presumably to last until the season finale. Will Gideon fulfil his destiny and kill Emma, or will he be persuaded to transform his fate? Will Snow and David escape their curse? And will the Evil Queen be defeated? I look forward to learning the answers to these questions in what looks to be a very promising conclusion to the season.

Episode 11 is available on Netflix now. All previous seasons of Once Upon A Time are also available to watch.

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BA English and History student. Lover of Hobbits, theatre and tea.

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