Once Upon A Time 6×19 “The Black Fairy” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

It’s like Ellen’s 12 Days of Christmas only with saviors.

Episode Summary: In flashbacks, we learn that Rumple was destined to be the savior, but learning that another would be his undoing, Fiona did everything in her power to stop it only to become the person that was prophesied against her son. She was then banished by Tiger Lily and the Blue Fairy, forcing Rumple’s father to grow resentful of him. In present-day Storybrooke, Rumple pulls an inception on himself, Emma, and Gideon where he learns the truth about why his mother gave him up. Zelena learns how to drive. Killian chooses his best man. And a twist leads us closer to the final battle.

Review | Analysis: At its greatest Once Upon A Time is a show that reminds us of how much strength it takes to be vulnerable. And it’s often taken us through captivating journeys of self-discovery through characters that have had difficult times opening up their hearts. “The Black Fairy” was a fantastic reminder of the fact that there’s bravery in openness, and there’s strength in numbers. It was also the most evident reminder of the fact that evil isn’t born it’s made, and to reiterate that fact in an episode so close to the final battle was actually perfect.

I’m going to choose to put this whole Savior mythology aside because the next thing you know, everyone is somehow going to be deemed a savior. And in my honest opinion, that takes away from what a savior actually is. That said, what “The Black Fairy” did, and truly stamped on is the fact that evil is made. And it takes me back to Snow and Charming attempting to take the evil out of Emma because really, it all came down to choice. Lily wasn’t purely evil and Emma is no saint. So ultimately, if we’ve learned one thing, it’s that prophecy or no prophecy, our lives are a result of our choices. And if there’s one thing we should all take away from Once Upon A Time, it’s that.

The series has consistently emphasized the fact that in a world where there’s darkness and magic, nothing is more powerful than the choices these characters make. And once again, let’s look at Emma Swan — she was brave enough to fight against the darkest power on this show, proving that the lives of these characters are a result of choosing the hard path. Day by day, Emma fought to ensure that she wouldn’t be overcome by it, and with the help of her loved ones, she did so. Every single thing that has happened is a result of choice. If Snow didn’t choose to give a lonely broken boy a book of fairytales, he wouldn’t have ever believed enough to go find his mother. How else would Emma find her way into Storybrooke? Yes, sometimes events in our lives serendipitously line up, but at the end of the day, it’s what we do with the paths we are presented with that matters.

It’s interesting how frequently this season has inspired me to draw inspiration for these reviews from The Bible, and this week, Judas’ betrayal came to mind. Jesus made the choice to accept that in order to be by the Father, he must die the most painful death of all. He accepted his destiny knowing what was to come for Him — it was sacrificial, for all of us. Now, if Mary decided to interfere with all this, where would this world be today? Who would Jesus be? It’s not the easiest topic to analyze — fate and free will is ultimately a monster to break down, but if there’s one thing life has shown us, it’s that people should be given the opportunity to choose for themselves. If Rumple had grown up in a loving home with a light inside of him, he would have probably chosen to save the world himself. Because if there’s one thing we can be certain of, it’s the fact that when a person knows love, they’d do anything to protect it.

And Fiona did that for her son, but in her obsessive quest to save her son, she became his very undoing. I can understand where she’s coming from, but because I wouldn’t take that route, I can’t sympathize with her. I can’t care for her. If I learned what she learned, I would’ve sacrificed myself for my child. Or I’d probably laugh and believe with every fiber of my being that my child would be okay. There’s always a moment during Once Upon A Time history where I ask myself, which parent is the worst of all, and I never thought I’d be back to Peter Pan. I’m all for undying spousal adoration, but how could you hate your child, even if they are the reason your other half passes? There are so many parts of them in that child and by loving them with every fiber of your being; you would be loving your spouse, too. And that moment was just so heart-wrenching to watch as he named their child out of disgust. (Is it too much to hope that maybe this year we’ll actually learn Rumple’s Storybrooke name? Maybe that’ll be a better one.)

On another note, I surprisingly enjoyed Rumple’s journey into the dream world because Robert Carlyle put on some of his finest performances to date. Carlyle’s ability to showcase Rumple’s fears is something that never gets tiring. He’s done such a remarkable job of reminding us just how broken the man is and that his power is a result of a genuine fear that he cannot be without it. And cowardly Rumple mixed with vulnerable Rumple gave Carlyle gorgeous material to work with. That’s why having Emma there to tell him that he shouldn’t be afraid of being vulnerable was such a pleasant addition. Morrison and Carlyle are two of my favorite performers on this show, and to have her state this, as she herself is in a vulnerable position afraid of dying was riveting. Emma has always chosen the hard path, and even where she could uncover secrets to save herself, it’s beautiful to see that instead, she put herself in a vulnerable position to help someone find the strength to learn the truth. Emma’s been through a lot, but if there’s one thing she’s wondered the longest, it’s why she was abandoned. And prior to knowing about the curse, whatever possibility she came up with, it didn’t stop her heart from breaking.

On a show like Once Upon A Time, people die for the greater good. And for a character like Rumple, I’ve always believed that in order for him to truly redeem himself of all the terrors he’s caused, he has to sacrifice himself. As much as I hate to say it because I’d miss Carlyle’s performances, it feels as though Rumple’s time has come. From the very beginning, we’ve known two evils, Rumplestilskin and the Evil Queen — one of which who’s redeemed itself. And one who’s never been able to let go. Yes, evil is made, but unlike Regina, another person didn’t tempt Rumple, he himself chose to become the Dark One in order to be feared after becoming the joke of the town. And though his life has been tragic from birth, his choices are the reasons he is where he is. After everything he’s put Belle through, he still can’t give up the Dark One’s dagger. That’s why, in order to truly be free of all the darkness, in order to be the hero who’s needed, Rumple needs to sacrifice himself. That’s what’s written in the cards for him. It has to be.

But thankfully, Gideon’s heart is back in his chest and for the remainder of the season, I’m excited to see his character interact with others in Storybrooke. The scene between him and Belle crushed me, and if we’re given more of those, I’m certain there will be endless tears. Belle’s love for her son is so beautifully bared, and Emilie de Ravin has been doing a great job of bringing it to life.

When Once Upon A Time deals with vital topics such as vulnerability, it succeeds beautifully. And when it tries to add comedic elements, it becomes incomparable. First things first, I appreciated the little nudge about Granny’s being the heart of Storybrooke because when you think about it, it truly is. People have laughed at Granny’s, cried, reunited, bid farewells, broken bread, gotten drunk, etc. There have been so many wonderful moments captured there and a part of me now wants to dedicate a separate article just to discuss this. Team Granny forever.

But also in the comedic chapter, watching Zelena adapt to the world without magic and start an unavoidable war with Ikea was genius. As much as I’m great at assembling things on my own, I too have moments where I can’t for the life of me understand what Ikea wants me to do. And while that was a great moment on its own, I loved watching Regina encourage her through it and then help her find an escape route by teaching her how to drive. Plus, that moment where she hit the Black Fairy with her car? Genius. It’s the little things. Honestly though, if Once Upon A Time ever decided to go in the comedic route, everything would be glorious.

And then came the wedding planning bit. Here’s my concern and frustration, when on earth did we decide to get married tomorrow? I wanted a bit more preparation and while I can understand that there are time constraints, it just felt a little weird for them to decide this. If they had perhaps decided next week, a lot more would be left to the imagination, but tomorrow, isn’t it a little too soon? Other than that, Killian asking Henry to be his best man was the best thing I ever expected. (I suppose Charming would have too much work to do if he had to walk Emma down the aisle while being the best man.)

Killian’s relationship with Henry has always been interesting. While they haven’t shared too many moments together, in their quest to make sure Emma knows they’ve always got faith in her, the men have proven themselves to be the most important in her life. (Along with her father of course.) They’ve grown to care for one another. And since Henry’s too old to be the ring bearer, being the best man is actually perfect. It showcases the fact that Killian not only cares profoundly for him but that he admires him enough to trust him with the most important duty. It showcases that he is just as important to him as Emma is and he’ll stand by his side til kingdom come. Henry’s got his fair share of parental figures in his life, but this was Killian’s way of reminding him that Henry is irreplaceably vital to him. There wouldn’t have been anyone more suited to stand by Killian’s side, and because it was genuinely unexpected, it made it that much more pleasant.

But perhaps what I loved most was learning just how superstitious Killian is for it made his and Emma’s last moments as fiancés that much more adorable. Of course, 300-year-old pirate Killian Jones would believe that it’s bad luck to see the bride the night before the wedding. But of course, he’d also promise that after tomorrow, she’d never be apart from him again. And sealing that promise with a kiss was the perfect little temporary goodbye to remind us of just how far these two have come. Elated and at peace, tonight they’ll lay their heads on their pillow knowing tomorrow they’ll become one with their best friend, their equal, their compass, their anchor. Tomorrow, they’ll come home to forever.

“The Black Fairy” was an intriguing episode with riveting performances left and right. But its theme of vulnerability rang through every character beautifully. Whether it was Rumple facing the truth about his mother, or Zelena learning how to live without her magic, each of the characters has opened themselves up to getting hurt. And though Rumple has essentially betrayed the heroes once more, something tells me that for once, he’s got a plan up his sleeve none of us can predict. But I’m sure of one thing and it’s that this time, he won’t hurt his family as he has in the past. Something about Robert Carlyle’s performance in that final moment with Belle and Gideon felt so indescribably heartbreaking. You knew something bigger was coming, but you also knew that his greatest pain at the moment was ensuring their safety and happy endings.

Worth Mentioning:

  • Killian’s comment about making sure Regina’s really herself followed by Snow saying they should establish a code was EVERYTHING to me. It truly is about the little things, friends. You’d think they’d have a code by now.

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