After the season six finale reveal of everyone’s happy endings and the reset being an actual reset (new characters, new places and literally new faces), it’s safe to say Once Upon a Time won’t be the same again.
With an on-slaught of news in May, from Jennifer Morrison’s exit, to five other main actors reportedly leaving the show as well, the news of “new identities in a new city, facing a new curse,” was also revealed at the ABC Upfronts earlier last month.
With Josh Dallas (Prince Charming/David Nolan), Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White/Mary Margaret), Jared Gilmore (Henry Mills), Emilie De Ravin (Belle French), and Rebecca Mader (Zelena) all leaving…it’s hard not to be nostalgic especially if you’ve grown attached to these characters over the course of six years.
Here’s a reminiscent recap of the most memorable moments of Rumple’s, Hook’s and Regina’s loved ones:
Main: Skin Deep (season 1, episode 12) – When The Evil Queen chats up Belle, who happens to pass by her on the road, she asked her who’s the someone she’s running from: “master or lover” to which Belle doesn’t reply. So the Queen replied “Oh. Master and lover” understanding the implication and Belle just smirks.
In all sincerity, Belle was truly the first one – in a very long time – to get to know the “ordinary man” behind the “monster” that Rumple deemed himself to be after centuries of being the Dark One. Granted, Belle and Rumple started out as traditional as the tale as old as time (Stockholm Syndrome) and she gave him more chances than he deserved over the course of six years. This episode (I think) humanized the beast more than any other version of these characters. If anything, Belle is the only one who makes him human again. She’s always stood up to him and called him out on his shenanigans and selfishness. Now….just imagine a world where Rumple exists without his True Love aka “Twue Wove” (cue: *perpetual sobbing*).
Runner Up: Lacey (Season 2, episode 19) – Bookworm Belle is transformed into spicy Lacey with the amnesia from the curse but still ends up on a date with Mr. Gold and she’s got him all flustered. Seeing another side to Belle that questions Rumple more than she normally does is always a treat… but then Gold still wins her in the end.
Main: It’s Not Easy Being Green (Season 3, episode 16) – Zelena is not really everyone’s cup of tea but she was one of my favorites (maybe because she’s an elder sister of two as well). Despite being a huge fan of Regina, Zelena’s backstory just won me over. It was just full of angst that you can at the very least understand what she went through…even if you still don’t like her. Oh who are we kidding? This show made me realize I relate more to villains and the more we understand someone, it truly is harder to hate them. Zelena’s backstory is deep rooted in her jealousy of her younger half-sister (*gasp*) Regina and when you look at the character growth and their sisterhood now, they’ve made up for all their lost time.
Runner Up: Sisters (Season 5, episode 19) – Three years, a shared baby daddy and a baby later: Zelena has been Regina’s rock more than anyone especially this past season . The Mills’ sisters reunion with their dear mother Cora, with the send-off to the afterlife was goosebump and tear-inducing not only in plot but in the acting chemistry shared among Mader, Lana Parrilla’s Regina and Barbara Hershey’s Cora. Not that Cora deserved an easy redemption after everything, but the mother-sisters bonding brought them closer, even if much later and that’s probably the most beautiful consolation of all.
BONUS:Where Bluebirds Fly (Season 6, episode 18) – She doesn’t get much credit and she still sometimes gets jealous of Regina, but she pulled through. She sacrificed her magic for everyone. Enough said.
Prince Charming (David Nolan)
Main: Pilot (Season 1, episode 1)– The very first episode could have easily been a Henry-centric (as the most memorable smart aleck but adorable little kid) or Emma-centric (the no-nonsense badass bailbondsperson she once was) but Charming’s sacrifice was the most memorable of all for me. Even if Snow and Charming’s storyline is so close-knit it’s hard to mention one in a scene without the other and Snow White did just give birth to their daughter here. I don’t know about you, but Charming holding baby Savior Emma and fighting the Evil Queens’ guards with a sword so he could put her in the magical wardrobe for safety had me bawling like a baby. That specific scene tops what made me a believer in this show in the first place.
Runner Up: The Shepherd (Season 1, episode 6) – Twin storylines – of the good and evil kind – are always awesome (as the Lostie in me fangirls); plus double the Josh Dallas never hurt anyone.
Main: Welcome to Storybrooke (season 2, episode 17) – That scene when Snow just begs Regina to kill her after darkening her own heart from killing Cora was acting gold from Ginnifer Goodwin. It’s also one of the biggest reiteration of evil isn’t born, it’s made. The exchange at Regina’s front porch was about as equal in intensity as the scene from The Evil Queen (season 2, episode 20) when Regina pretends to be a peasant that Snow helps. Their chemistry as characters with fates entwined from the start has always been evident and it shows with Goodwin and Parrilla’s acting.
Runner Up: 7:15 AM (Season 1, episode 10) – Seeing Mary Margaret just be Mary Margaret, the person under the curse and not perpetually, optimistic Snow White is always refreshing. When she waits and pines for married David to show up at Granny’s every morning at the same time, you can almost see where Emma gets her almost stalking (bailbondsperson) skills.
Main: Save Henry (Season 3, episode 9) – It’s hard to name a memorable Henry episode without it being related to his family, let alone his two mothers, Regina and Emma. Save Henry tops the best Henry episode because it united all of his parents (Neal/Baelfire included), grandparents (Snow and Charming) and even Rumple, by the end.
(really close) Runner Up: The Heart of the Truest Believer (Season 3, episode 1) – These two episodes are equal in my book and can be interchangeable. Emma’s sacrifice is reminiscent of her parents’ and it’s powerfully acted by Jennifer Morrison. Henry has always been the unifier (since he’s literally related to everyone) and was always the truest believer that he’s imparted onto Emma time and time again. He’s also the reason why we’re here really. If he didn’t steal Regina’s credit card as a 10-year-old boy looking for his magical birth mother, why would we even have cared about their stories in his book? He made us care. His huge imagination and belief in these fairy tales made it real. This episode showed Henry finally going on the adventure he’s been wanting and dreaming of since the previous season and with his great-grandfather – who happens to be Peter Pan – nonetheless.
Main: A Land Without Magic (Season 1, episode 22) – There are countless episodes for Emma that I personally love and I thought we would get to see more of the classic bearclaw-eating, hot-chocolate-with-cinnamon-drinking Sheriff with a swagger…but everything that is good has an end…supposedly. The season one finale was everything for the Xena fangirl in me: Emma had a sword, she slayed a dragon, she was Princess Charming and she believed in magic. She was the Savior. That was everything a Savior fulfilling her destiny looked like with a True Love’s Kiss (TLK) for her son to boot.
Plus, she brought back the magic for everyone…I mean, it really does make season six’ Final Battle anticlimactic where she died for ten seconds and Henry ends up being the one to save her this time (TLK is apparently commutative). We’ve come so far, oh this modern fairytale. I miss warrior Emma with a sword. The season one finale had all the ingredients a magical savior make.
Runner Up: Lily (Season 4, episode 20) – it was interesting to see young Emma struggle to fit in and trust people as an orphan and wanting to just belong. Her friendship with Lily echo a similar tone to Regina’s with her fate always being tied to both. When Emma’s darkness almost overtakes her into killing Lily but Regina talks her out of it, it’s a scene filled with powerful emotion and it’s a side of Emma that should have definitely been explored more during the Dark Swan arc, but alas.
BONUS: Tallahassee (Season 2, episode 6), Manhattan (season 2, episode 14), The Jolly Roger (season 3, episode 17), Operation Mongoose Part 2 (season 4, episode 23), Firebird (season 5, episode 20) and The Song in Your Heart (season 6, episode 20).
Emma and Zelena are the top two characters I’ll be missing the most. Storybrooke just won’t be the same without them.
Bonus: My Regina list alone would take up a novel…which is most probably a good thing that she’ll be staying…
“They lived happily ever after”…did they? Did they really? Whose departure will you be missing the most?
Picture Courtesy: Disney/ABC