Once Upon a Time Season 4 Episode 22 & 23 Review: ”Operation Mongoose”

Once Upon a Time

After what has been the show’s most up-and-down season of all time, Once Upon a Time ended its fourth season with a surprisingly satisfying two-hour finale, which delivered the biggest twist in the series’ entire run.

I’m a sucker for alternate reality episodes of any TV show in this genre, and after the ending we got last week, in which the Author began his book, Heroes and Villains, this finale was something to really look forward to. When you are at this point in a show like Once Upon a Time, when it’s been on for several years, it’s always appreciated when you get an episode such as “Operation Mongoose,” where you get to see the actors being able to do something they aren’t always doing. Who could have imagined that it would be a blast to watch Ginnifer Goodwin as Evil Snow, as she made Charming love her by controlling his heart? The mythology was reversed, and it was just really refreshing to see these actors getting to switch roles and costume for two episodes.

The thing that I didn’t see coming was Henry being the eyes and ears for the viewers as he entered this alternate world and essentially became our hero to follow. Henry has been pretty hit or miss this year, so it was compelling to follow him through this story. As fun as it was seeing Regina being the Snow White in this reality, the strongest element in this alternate world was where Emma ended up, because she was truly the character that suffered the most. Not only was she trapped in this highly secure tower, but she still had all her memories from her world and couldn’t do anything from where she was. Rumple the Knight wasn’t really something that interested me; it also definitely didn’t help that he ended up killing Regina in this reality.

I could go on forever about, discussing how enjoyable these types of alternate reality episodes are. Once Upon a Time executed everything really well. With the death of Hook, Emma was finally able to say “I love you” to him, but not in the circumstance that you would expect. Henry becoming the next Author was one of the most genius things that this season has done because it makes sense in every single way. This will now give him something more interesting for next season, even though he ends up breaking that quill in the end. As everyone started to get settled back home, Regina finally got together with Robin, Crazy-Zelena was still locked up, Emma completely re-connected with her parents again, and Rumple began to meet his fate. His “death” scene really felt final, and as much as I love Robert Carlyle, if they had proceeded with having Rumple die for real this time, I would have been okay with it.

But hey, since when does Once actually kill off any of their characters? The Apprentice saves Rumple from all the darkness in his heart, but unfortunately, the darkness has become so that it was able to invade the Apprentice and actually ended up killing him after it left his body. However, we learn in the Apprentice’s final moments who is the only person that can stop the darkness: the Sorcerer, who is revealed to be none other than Merlin himself! But as that apparently wasn’t a big enough twist. Turns out that the only way that the cyclone of darkness can be stopped is by entering a new host, so Emma sacrifices herself so that Regina doesn’t have to give up all the hard work she has done to redeem herself, thus turning Emma into the new Dark One.

Without knowing anything about the fifth season or how they are going to be presenting this storyline, this refreshed my interest for Once Upon a Time in ways that I honestly thought were impossible after this season. That final scene was 100% surprising and, from a visual standpoint, one of the most haunting scenes that this show has ever had. If next season ends up being the show’s final year, then this is the perfect way to set up that run with the protagonist, the Savior, becoming the ultimate Big Bad. Hopefully, the writers will be very careful with this arc, because it’s so easy to screw up storylines where the hero becomes corrupted.

As difficult as this season of Once Upon a Time has been to follow at points, “Operation Mongoose” was a terrific finale and easily one Season 4’s strongest episodes.

Once Upon a Time has been renewed for a fifth season by ABC as of Thursday, May 7, 2015 and will return sometime this fall.

[Photo via ABC]


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