All good things must come to an end, and whether or not you feel Once Upon a Time season 2 has lived up to its potential, the cliche still holds true in the finale, 'And Straight on Till Morning.' Though most of the season has been loosely bound together by a number of different story threads, this one ties right into the events that transpired last week, both in the past and present, eventually revealing how they merge.
Back in the past, Smee (Chris Gauthier) and Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) spend a good percentage of the episode debating what should be done with "the boy." Not that morality and ethics are high on a pirate's "To do" list, but Hook has good reason to want to keep Bae (Dylan Schmid) from the Shadow and the Lost Boys once he confirms Bae's connection with the Dark One. Selfishness has always driven Hook and it continues to do so just as fear drives Smee.
As for Bae, you'd think that life would have taught him not to immediately trust others by now, but you can't fully blame him for not realizing he'd dropped out of the frying pan and into the fire. In fact, there's a moment when the audience can only feel sorry for the boy who's been used and abandoned so much he grasps at the first chance to belong that comes along. Unfortunately, Hook has a sketch of his late girlfriend - Bae's late mom - laying around in plain sight and the jig is up before it can really get started. Hook's own sob story falls on deaf ears because of the whole deception thing.
Meanwhile, back in Storybrooke (present), the first grim business to take care of is informing Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) that his father has been swallowed by a portal and is most likely dead. This news may have actually saved Henry's life, however, because the gang shows up to tell him just before Gold (Robert Carlyle) is able to fray the rope swing and send Henry into a conveniently located jagged rock. Clearly, Rumple is still fixating on that prophesy.
But before anyone can catch their breath, Tamara (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Greg (Ethan Embry) set off the fail-safe diamond designed to wipe Storybrooke off the map. Based on last week's hype, it sounded more like an instantaneous thing. But apparently the fail-safe is on a timer, leaving plenty of time for extraneous dialogue and teary farewells before the big bang. There's also enough time to restore Sneezy (Gabe Khouth) and Belle (Emilie de Ravine) to their fairy tale identities so that they can have their own tearful goodbyes.
The townsfolk are all for hunting down Greg and Tamara and getting the heck out of Dodge and they all appear fairly calm as they gather in the Diner. Emma (Jennifer Morrison) shows up with the sad news that Regina (Lana Parrilla) will be sacrificing herself to stave off the diamond and give them enough time to escape. Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) seizes this moment to assuage her still-guilty conscience about Cora (Barbara Hershey) and convinces them they have to take the "harder path", and instead of running away, they use the bean to suck the diamond into a portal. Archie (Raphael Sbarge) lends his support to the initiative and the decision is made.
Among those least convinced are Emma and Hook. But while Hook skips town with the real bean, Emma takes what she believes to be the actual bean down into the mine with her family in tow. Discovering the deception leads Emma to, once again, step up and reclaim her heritage. Together she and Regina harness their magic and it proves to be enough to knock the diamond out of commission; though not enough to keep Henry from being nabbed by Greg and Tamara.
And here is where past and present begin to collide. Back in the past, Bae - who will become Neal (Michael Raymond-James) - turns himself in to the Shadow's henchman, Felix (Parker Croft), only to be told he's not the droid - err, boy they're looking for. Meanwhile in the present, Tamara and Greg tell Henry that they're okay with Storybrooke's survival because "The Home Office" has found a bigger fish to fry. That's because the Office is somehow tied to the Shadow and the boy they're seeking is none other than Henry.
Season 3 has been granted some good setup as Henry's patchwork family is all aboard Hook's ship and they are all plunging straight toward Neverland and the ominous evil that controls things. And then there is Belle, tasked with hiding Storybrooke from the world yet again with nothing but a hope and a prayer that one day her true love will find her when he returns.
Finally, not only is Neal not dead yet, but he's washed ashore in the Enchanted Forest's present. Will the Jolly Roger end up in Neverland with Henry, or with Neal in the Forest? Is the shift away from Storybrooke a good move or bad? How malevolent is the Shadow and what is its connection both to Henry and to Peter Pan? What about Rumple and the prophecy? You'll have to wait until season 3 to find out!
Once Upon A Time season 3 airs this fall on ABC