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Once Upon a Time, ABC
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Caution: spoilers!

Season Seven
Well, after six seasons on Sunday, the show moved to Friday for its seventh (and final) season. It's set some years (I would guess about eighteen) after the end of season six, which confused me for most of the season, since the parts set in "our" world still seemed like the present. However, there is an explanation for this near the end of the season, which turns out to be important to the plot. I won't spoil that, but I'll remind you that at the very end of last season, we saw Henry, now living in Seattle, as an adult (probably in his 30s, as that "future" version of him is played by 33-34 year old Andrew J. West, instead of Jared S. Gilmore, who played him throughout the first six seasons). A 10-year-old girl named Lucy showed up at his door and claimed to be his daughter, just like Henry had done with Emma at the start of season one. But his memories had been erased by a new curse, and he didn't believe her.

This season begins however-many years before the main setting of the season, with Henry (Gilmore) turning 18 and leaving Storybrooke, to "find his own story." But before that, he had discovered other storybooks in the Sorcerer's mansion, which told of various other magical realms that were unknown to anyone from the few realms already seen in the first six seasons. So, periodically throughout the season, we'll see flashbacks with the older Henry traveling through different realms. The main one of these (which apparently is being called the New Enchanted Forest, so I'll call it NEF) has alternate versions of fairy tale characters we've already seen in previous seasons. Mainly this includes a different Cinderella (or just "Ella") and her relatives. (I like to think this makes some kind of sense just because of Disney's recent trend of making live-action reimaginings of their old animated films, such as the new Cinderella, although of course the story being told on this show is different from either movie version.) I suppose this isn't particularly jarring for viewers, because the version of Cinderella we'd seen before was a fairly minor character. Another alternate character version is Alice, who is obviously not the same one from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. (And I guess the Wonderland she spent some time in is different from the one in the earlier series.) I'm not actually sure how many different realms are seen this season. There are some familiar characters from the Wish Realm that was created last season. And I think some new characters not seen in previous seasons in any version are from the NEF (though I could be mistaken). They include Tiana, Naveen, and Dr. Facilier (from The Princess and the Frog). There are other new characters, Rapunzel and Mother Gothel (from Tangled), who both appear to be from the NEF, but we eventually learn that Gothel was from a different realm. Anyway, Henry meets Ella, and they both soon join Tiana's rebellion against Ella's evil stepmother, Lady Tremaine (Gabrielle Anwar). And of course, Henry and Ella eventually fall in love.

In Seattle, we learn that some time ago Henry had written a book, "Once Upon a Time," which contained true stories of things that had happened in the first six seasons of the show, although now he believes those stories to be simply fiction he made up. When Lucy can't convince him that she's really his daughter and the stories he wrote are all true, she steals his laptop, to get him to come to Hyperion Heights (a neighborhood of Seattle that I guess had been created by the new curse), so that he could get it back. But of course, she just wants him to meet her mother, Jacinda Vidrio (who was Cinderella in the other realm), as well as other people they had known before the curse. Well, of course Jacinda doesn't remember Henry any more than he remembers her, though the two of them do soon become friends. There is a complication to Lucy's belief about Henry being her father, because Jacinda actually has an ex named Nick Branson, whom she believes to be Lucy's father. (In the NEF, he was Jack of "Jack and the Beanstalk" fame... and I guess there was an alternate- female- version of Jack in the "Wonderland" series, which I had forgotten. But this season's Jack had also joined the rebellion against Lady Tremaine.) Meanwhile, Jacinda has a very strained relationship with her stepmother, Victoria Belfrey (who of course was Lady Tremaine). Victoria is very powerful in Hyperion Heights, and she wants to get custody of Lucy, claiming Jacinda is an unfit mother. Also, Victoria has two daughters of her own. One is Ivy (Adelaide Kane, whom I knew from Reign, though somehow I totally failed to recognize her until reading online that it was her; maybe because I'm not used to seeing her dressed for the 21st century rather than the 16th). She works for Victoria, but is very poorly treated by her mother. (In the NEF, Ivy was Drizella.) Victoria's other daughter, Anastasia, is in a coma... which was actually caused by magic in the NEF. Also in the NEF, Drizella learned to use magic, herself.

Another resident of Hyperion Heights is Jacinda's best friend, Sabine (Tiana). And there's a bar owner named Roni, who is actually Regina Mills. And a police detective named Weaver (Rumplestiltskin). And a cop who has just been promoted to detective and became Weaver's new partner, Rogers (Hook), though he doesn't much trust Weaver. Of course, none of the characters we already know remember who they really are... with the possible exception of Weaver, though that's unclear. Weaver often does favors for Victoria, though only when it suits him. And there's a young woman named Tilly (Alice), who apparently lives on the streets, and is an occasional informant to both Weaver and Rogers. Meanwhile, Rogers is obsessed with finding a missing girl named Eloise Gardener. And Victoria has a mysterious woman locked up in a secret level of her office building, Belfrey Towers. And Henry, Roni, and Rogers form a secret(ish) alliance against Victoria, even though they still don't believe the truth about all the fairy tale stuff. However, Roni eventually does get her memory back, but for reasons I won't spoil, it's necessary for her to refrain from trying to break the curse. And that means she'll have to try to keep Henry and Jacinda from falling in love.

There's an episode where we learn that Rumple and Belle lived out a life together, with Belle eventually dying of old age. But of course, the Dark One is immortal, and even if he dies while the darkness is still in him, he wouldn't join Belle in the afterlife. So he wants to find a "Guardian" he can turn the dagger over to, so he can stop being the Dark One and finally rejoin Belle. (Incidentally, the place where they lived, the Edge of Realms, was in like a temporal bubble, or something, so that time that passed there didn't pass in other realms. Or something.) There's another episode where we learn that the Wish Realm version of Hook has a daughter he's been searching for. And another episode where we learn how he came to have this daughter, but I don't want to spoil the details. Anyway, Hook names his daughter Alice. So it seems that Tilly is actually his daughter, though of course "Rogers" doesn't know that. (Oh, and Rogers is the Wish Realm Hook, not the main Hook, who is still in Storybrooke with Emma.) And at some point between Alice's birth and the present, a curse was placed on Hook and Alice to prevent them from being together, which causes Hook's heart terrible (potentially lethal) pain whenever he gets close to Alice. (Though as long as the Hyperion Heights curse is active, the poisoned heart curse doesn't affect Rogers and Tilly.) Meanwhile, in Hyperion Heights, Rogers finds and frees the woman Victoria has been holding hostage, believing her to be Eloise Gardener. However, she's actually Gothel, who has her own nefarious plans. And she's part of a group of witches called the Coven of the Eight, though for now we don't learn much about them. Victoria goes to jail for kidnapping "Eloise," but is later released by Weaver. She then gives full custody of Lucy to Jacinda. Victoria later uses one of Lucy's tears to awaken Anastasia (who remains 14 years old, having not aged in all the years since the sleeping spell was placed on her in the NEF). But her revival causes Lucy to fall into a coma. Subsequently, Gothel gains control of Anastasia. Meanwhile, Regina goes to San Francisco to enlist the help of "Roni's" estranged sister, Kelly West (who is actually Zelena). Regina manages to restore Zelena's memory, and they return to Seattle together. (However, Zelena says that "Kelly" is engaged to someone we don't meet yet.)

Well, that pretty much brings us up to the midseason break. I have left out a ton of details, many which I felt would be too spoilery, and others just because I'm not sure how important they are. But I will say this: there are lots of plot twists. It's all kind of crazy and somewhat hard to follow all the stuff that goes on, this season. But it's fun, nevertheless.

In the second half of the season... a magical ritual is used to revive Lucy. I don't want to spoil the details of that, but I will say that after that point, Victoria Belfrey will not be seen again, and Ivy takes over her mother's business. Meanwhile, there's a serial killer in Hyperion Heights, who we eventually learn is targeting people who were witches, in the other realm(s). Also, earlier in the season Jacinda and Sabine had begun fixing up a food truck (with Henry's help), to start their own business selling Sabine's beignets. Once they finally get the business going, they end up having competition from another food truck, run by a guy named Drew (Naveen), a former classmate of Sabine's. He's working for someone named Mr. Samdi (Facilier), who had gained control of Naveen in the NEF. We also learn that, in her Evil Queen days, Regina used to have a sexual relationship with Facilier, which she might start up again now, with Samdi (who, like Regina, has his true memories). But it turns out that Facilier wants to obtain the Dark One dagger. Also, there are flashbacks where we learn that in the NEF, Alice had met and fallen in love with Zelena's daughter, Robin (who was a baby in season 6, but is now a young woman, since all those years passed between seasons). In our world, Robin is "Kelly's" daughter, Margot, who hasn't seen her mother in some time, but eventually comes to Hyperion Heights, where she meets Tilly, with whom she soon develops a strong connection. Meanwhile, Zelena must hide various things from Margot, who has no memories of their true past, and her secretiveness leads to a rift between "Kelly" and Margot. And eventually, Ivy and Anastasia return to the NEF together. Henry and Weaver work together to figure out who the serial killer is, but I don't want to spoil that. We eventually meet Kelly's fiance, Chad, who learns at least part of her real past, but still wants to be with her. And... there's an episode with Gothel's backstory, which ends with a shocking revelation about the realm she originally came from, which I don't want to spoil. But it's central to the reason for her plot in the present. Also, Lucy eventually gets help from Facilier to undo the condition of the current curse (which I'm still not spoiling) that up to that point had made breaking the curse deeply problematic. Which means the curse could now finally be lifted safely, but it will still be awhile before the heroes succeed in doing so. Meanwhile, Gothel had forced Tilly to join the coven she was rebuilding in Hyperion Heights, to implement her own plan. But Tilly/Alice eventually defeats Gothel. And Henry breaks the curse, so everyone (who hadn't already) finally gets their memories back. In the final two episodes, the heroes must face another antagonist: the Wish Realm's Rumplestiltskin, who wants to obtain the original Rumple's version of the Dark One dagger. He also forms an alliance with the Wish Realm's version of Henry (Gilmore again), who bears a grudge against Regina. And Rumplestiltskin kidnaps some heroes, while others seek out some unexpected allies to help free the prisoners. (Also, there's an item used to help free them, which was first seen earlier in the season: Maui's fish hook, from the movie Moana.) And... some more stuff happens, which I don't want to spoil. But of course, there is ultimately a very happy ending for all of the good guys, particularly Regina.

So. That's it. The series is finally over, and I believe it ended quite well. Oh, and there's a brief mention of Maleficent and Lily's quest to find Lily's father, which I'd been hoping to see ever since the end of season four. It's a shame that never happened, but at least it's nice to get a one-off line about their having found him.


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