Once Upon A Time: A Land Without Magic Review - Mania.com

Once Upon A Time: A Land Without Magic Review

Mania Grade: B

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  • TV Series: Once Upon A Time
  • Episode: A Land Without Magic
  • Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parilla, Jared Gilmore, Joshua Dallas, Eion Bailey, Robert Carlyle
  • Written By: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
  • Directed By: Dean Winter
  • Network: ABC
  • Series:

Once Upon A Time: A Land Without Magic Review

The season finale

By Kurt Anthony Krug     May 14, 2012
Source: Mania.com

So, the first season of Once Upon A Time ends with a somewhat lackluster finale. After Henry (Jared Gilmore) eats the poisoned apple turnover meant for Emma (Jennifer Morrison), his birth mother/the savior of Storybrooke, he falls into a coma. 

Emma now believes in the curse, which is good because that plot device ran its course. It wouldn’t have made sense from a story perspective to have her act like Scully from The X-Files for the next several seasons. When Regina (Lana Parilla, who is so deliciously evil) learns about Henry, Emma roughs her up a bit – which is something everyone wanted to see since the series began. Too bad she didn’t thump her around a little bit more. 

The two reluctantly team up and seek out Mr. Gold’s (Robert Carlyle) help, Emma making it clear that she’d kill Regina if she didn’t have to work with her. To save Henry, Emma must retrieve Gold’s love portion from the heart of the dragon, who is really Maleficent (guest star Kristin Bauer von Straten of True Blood), the villain from the Sleeping Beauty fairy tales (notice that was Maleficent is the name Disney used in their 1959 animated version of Sleeping Beauty. And since Disney owns ABC, which airs Once Upon A Time…).

In this lair underneath Storybrooke, Snow White’s (Ginnifer Goodwin) coffin is there as is Maleficent in her dragon form, snoozing away. Emma battles the dragon, using Prince Charming’s (Josh Dallas) sword and destroys her, retrieving the love potion. Upon completing her mission, she climbs up the elevator shaft where Gold awaits her, telling her that Regina abandoned her, and to give him the potion. She reluctantly does, climbs her way out, and finds Regina bound and gagged. Before they pursue Gold, they learn Henry has died. 

Meanwhile, Jefferson the Mad Hatter (guest star Sebastian Stan, Captain America: The First Avenger) is angry that Regina won’t keep her end of the deal they struck last episode. To get even, he releases Belle (guest star Emilie de Ravin, TV’s Lost), who is in love with Mr. Gold, alias Rumplestiltskin, but doesn’t remember this. Gold does, however, and is very glad and shocked to see her.

At the hospital, a grief-stricken Emma kisses her son, which not only awakens him but breaks the curse. Suddenly, all the Storybrooke denizens remember who they are, but don’t return to the Enchanted Forest. David/James/Prince Charming is finally reunited with his beloved Snow White, who accepts him after spurning his advances before regaining her memories. This is another plot that has run its course and the creators award the fans with this happy ending for Snow White and Prince Charming. 

Gold has his own agenda for the potion, but that’s not clear. Nor is it clear why he wants Snow White and Prince Charming together. He pours the potion into the wishing well at exactly 8:15 – the exact time Emma came to town in the premiere episode – as funky purple smoke engulfs Storybrooke. Regina, hiding in her mansion and upset that the curse is broken, smiles upon seeing this as magic has returned to Storybrooke. Here endeth the first season. 

As mentioned above, it was smart for the creators to end the season’s ongoing subplots with Emma finally believing in the curse and Snow White reuniting with Prince Charming. What hurts it is that after the curse is broken, it’s not clear what Gold’s agenda is. It was quite obvious all along he had his own agenda, but it should’ve been revealed. The finale started off strong and remained so until the cliffhanger ending, which just lost all its steam. 

That’s not to say it was a bad episode because it wasn’t; it’s just that you expected more, given how brilliantly-written this show is. Here’s to a great second season. 


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WarCry 5/14/2012 10:13:21 AM

 What were some of the major plot-points of the season? As you mentioned, there's Gold's agenda, Emma's belief in the tales, and the Snow White/Charming reunion tour. 


They gave resolution to two out of three of those. Gold's agenda - whatever it is - has been strongly hinted at, but only in the form of it coming up when others needed help resolving their OWN issues. The Emma and Snow White storylines were central to season one. Gold's storyline will be the backbone for season two, if not longer. If they answered it now, they'd have to start and build from scratch for the second season.


For this reason, I'd have to disagree with you that this episode lost it's steam. If anything, there was a minor pressure-valve release , and a sure sign that big things are still building.

millean 5/14/2012 12:58:49 PM

It was good to see the Apollo bar, Claire and the Smoke Monster make their triumphant returns, but where was Claire's rat baby?

I was a bit annoyed that Emma didn't do two things at the beginning of the episode:

  1. As soon as she "believed", she should have kissed Henry on the head then.  That could have saved us a lot of time, and we all were thinking it.
  2. Deck Regina as soon as she made her appearance, because Emma knew she was responsible.  (The least she could have done was arrest the Queen B.)

Overall, not bad.  Could have been better, but could just as easily been worse.  Will be interested to see if August/Pinocchio is a real boy again (or will he have to get a kiss too?)  The purple Smoke will obviously  play into Mr Gold somehow reconnecting with his long lost son.  Guess we'll see how next season unfolds...

SarcasticCaveman 5/14/2012 9:33:44 PM

I totally disagree...I thought the episode started off weak and ended great...sorry, but Emma's sudden belief in the nick of time irked me beyond reason at first.  Loved the rest of it though...and why should they reveal Gold's plan?  That's the whole set up for next season...duh.

wallyrus 5/15/2012 7:14:59 PM

I just think it's clever that it was Mr. Gold's plan the entire time, to smuggle that bottle of magic into our universe.  Has he been manipulating things from the very beginning, just to get to our universe and reunite with his son?  One of my favourite characters on TV!



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