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Once Upon a Time wrapped season two with “And Straight On ’til Morning,” a game-changing episode that may have succeeded in setting the series up for a better third season.

The Players:

  • Director: Dean White
  • Writer: Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz
  • Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Jared S. Gilmore, Robert Carlyle

Episode Title: “And Straight On ’til Morning”

The finale of Once packed quite a punch, especially with the surprise reveal about Peter Pan and Neverland. We learn that Peter is the presumed Big Bad of season three. We also discover that Neal survived his gunshot-ridden cross-dimension travel, so that’s a big “yay.”

The Good:

  • Peter Pan, Villian: We learn that Peter Pan isn’t such a nice such a nice guy. Young Neal is a lost boy, but Pan is a shadow-ripping monster who even scares Captain Hook. It’s about time Once set up a real villain instead of depending on B-list Fairytale Land cast-offs and the odd weeks when Regina and Gold fall off the wagon.
  • Badass Bae: In one of the best Fairytale Land (well, technically Neverland) flashbacks, we learn about Baelfire and Hook’s connection. Bae held his own aboard the Jolly Roger. When the Lost Ones come looking for him on Pan’s orders, he hides in the rafters,ninja-style.
  • Oh, Henry: By the end of the episode, Henry is kidnapped by Greg and Tamara. It would seem on Pan’s orders. Here’s hoping he stays locked away until November sweeps.
  • Neal is ALIVE: At the end of the episode, we get a wonderful, wonderful glimpse at season three. Neal is safe in Fairytale Land with Aurora and Mulan!

The So-So:

  • Stopping the Fail Safe: Greg and Tamara activate the fail safe to destroy Storybrooke almost immediately, which is refreshing. Too often, villains wait for no reason to set a plan like that in motion. Regina, in yet another effort to win Henry’s love, volunteers to hold the magic at bay long enough for the core good guys to escape via magic bean. Snow White/Mary Margaret, still plagued by guilt about Cora’s murder, convinces Emma to do the “harder” thing and try to save the town with Regina. It doesn’t turn out to be all that hard, as Emma joins Regina in channeling the magic and destroys the fail safe in no time flat.

Overall:

“And Straight On ’til Morning” goes a long way toward redeeming a mediocre season. The plots are still a mess, but the direction established for the fall seem more focused and engaging. That’s more than we can say about anything that’s happened on the show since January.

Rating: 8/10

Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

What did you think of this week’s show?