‘Once Upon a Time’ Season 6 Finale Recap: The Final Battle Episodes 21 and 22

Once Upon a Time season 6 finale
Jennifer Morrison and Jared Gilmore in the ‘Once Upon a Time’ season six finale. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

Get ready to say goodbye to multiple members of ABC’s Once Upon a Time family. Season six finished up with a two-part episode that aired May 14, 2017 and served as the final regular appearance by some fan favorites. ‘The Final Battle’ set up a season seven that jumps forward in time and will center on Lana Parrilla (‘Regina’), Colin O’Donoghue (‘Hook’), and Robert Carlyle (‘Gold’). We may see a few now-former series regulars show up in guest starring roles, but season six’s episodes 21 and 22 will apparently mark the final time Hook, Emma, Henry (as played by Jared Gilmore), Regina, Zelena, Snow, and David are together as a team.

The season six finale begins in the Enchanted Forest during a time of great upheaval. A man is chased through the woods at night, barely making it to his home ahead of an unseen creature. He tells his young daughter she needs to immediately leave and take the storybook to safety, and she swears she’ll keep it safe and share its stories. She doesn’t think anyone will believe them, but he assures her someday someone will. She flees as he whips out his sword to take on the beast who broke down his door.

Current day in Storybrooke, the Black Fairy’s (Jaime Murray) curse breaks up Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Hook’s wedding. Henry wakes to find he’s on top of a building, cradling the storybook. He runs into Dr. Archie Hopper (Raphael Sbarge) and asks about the Black Fairy’s curse and if he’s seen Emma. Archie wonders if Henry needs more therapy and reminds him his mother is in the same place she’s been for two years.

Apparently Emma is in a mental hospital and when Henry wants to discuss Hook, Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin), David (Josh Dallas), and the rest of their family and friends, she stops him short. They sit down and she reminds him none of those people are real and that by bringing the subject up again, he’s setting her recovery back. Henry says this is the Black Fairy’s fault and as he recounts all their adventures, Emma tells him he’s ridiculous. When the nurse brings her medication, Henry stops her from taking it. He shows her the symbols and says it’s the key to winning the final battle.

Emma’s concerned that if Henry doesn’t stop this nonsense, his mom won’t let them visit anymore. And who’s his mom? Fiona (the Black Fairy) who is now the Mayor of Storybrooke. Fiona shows up and grabs the storybook from Henry, sending him off to school. When he leaves, she tells Emma to take her medicine.

Snow, David, Regina, and Hook wake up in the Enchanted Forest back to the days immediately before Snow White and Prince Charming’s wedding. Regina calls out for Henry, and Snow assures Regina they’ll get Emma and Henry back from wherever they may be.

Dr. Hopper and Fiona visit with Emma and Dr. Hopper confirms she’s doing quite well. Fiona teases that maybe Emma will be ready for release soon and perhaps she should visit Boston when she’s better. Fiona blames Emma for Henry’s belief in fairy tales, and she suggests Emma burn the storybook to show that she doesn’t believe in the stories. Emma says no because the book means so much to Henry. Plus, she’s not ready for this big of a step. Fiona gives the book to Dr. Hopper to keep until Emma’s ready to destroy it.

Hook, Regina, Snow, and David watch what’s happening through the magic mirror, yelling out “Emma” simultaneously before the image fades. Regina knows Fiona’s controlling the mirror and she believes this is all because of the final battle. Snow figures it out and says, “The final battle isn’t a war! It’s a battle for her soul, for her belief, her hope.” Zelena (Rebecca Mader) arrives just then with the munchkins and the Mad Hatter’s Hat. She used the hat to escape Oz and activates the hat to show them what they’re running from. She opens a door to Oz and the whole land has been erased.

The gang realizes the Black Fairy wants Emma to destroy the book because as the Savior’s story fades, so do all the stories. All the realms will disappear along with all the people in them.

Back in Storybrooke, Fiona pays a visit to Rumple and Gideon (Giles Matthey). She wants Gideon to fix her watch and when he leaves the room, she asks how Rumple is doing since this is the anniversary of Belle’s disappearance. He says it’s a difficult day, given what happened. Fiona leaves after reminding him she’s always there to help.

People have fled their realms and are in the hat, and the Storybrooke gang know they need to return home to fix this immediately but don’t know how to accomplish that. They can’t use the hat and when Hook says he has an idea, Regina shoots him down saying they need to use magic and that’s her forte, not his. She sends the group to her castle and once there Hook charges off a different direction.

In Storybrooke, Henry uses Dr. Hopper’s key to break Emma out of the hospital.

Hook finds the beanstalk and David catches up to him, advising him that if he’s sneaking off he needs to do better since the munchkins saw him and are easy to bribe. Hook wants to climb the 1,000-foot-tall beanstalk and David warns him not to because he’ll kill himself. Hook reminds him he climbed it once before, years ago with Emma, and David recalls that was when Hook wanted to kill all of them – including Snow. Hook gets emotional and tells David that he and Emma weren’t a predestined love story and fought for their love and won. They made each other better and now Hook will climb the beanstalk and find the bean to get back to the woman he loves. David understands but wants Hook to calm down before they climb the beanstalk together.

Over in Storybrooke, Henry takes Emma to the rooftop to try to get her to remember this is where she married Captain Hook just yesterday. Henry describes the ceremony and where she exchanged her vows, and Emma has flashes of memories from the wedding. She doesn’t admit it right away to Henry, and he tells her she needs to fight. He also says she can’t leave, but she really wants to go to Boston and lay low. He finally agrees but suggests she wait until after dark to make her getaway. Henry tells her he’ll meet up with her in an hour and then she can have the life she always wanted.

Rumple looks through his cabinets and finally finds the Her Handsome Hero book signed by Belle. He brings it to Gideon telling him Belle would want him to have it. Gideon doesn’t care, saying Fiona’s been more of a mother than Belle ever was. Gideon doesn’t have any memories of her, only that Rumple told him she went to the store and never came back when he was a baby. Rumple says that’s not the whole story because there’s no way Belle would have just left without a good reason. Gideon doesn’t want to hear it, believing his mother didn’t love them and simply left. Rumple says Belle would always want to be a part of her son’s life.

Regina and Zelena work on a spell and discover all of Regina’s ingredients are gone. They try to figure out who took them and in walks the Evil Queen. The Evil Queen says this is HER castle and Regina asks why she’s not in the wish realm with Robin. The Evil Queen informs her that everyone there wanted her dead because they thought she killed Snow and Charming. She decided to leave and says she and Robin now spend their time stealing from the rich and giving to the poor…mostly. Now that they’re all caught up, Regina asks for the Evil Queen’s help with their fairy problem.

Once Upon a Time season 6 finale
Colin O’Donoghue, Josh Dallas, Ginnifer Goodwin, Lana Parrilla, Jared Gilmore and Rebecca Mader in ‘Once Upon a Time’ (ABC/Jack Rowand)

In Storybrooke, Fiona gets word that Emma has broken out. She heads to Dr. Hopper’s and catches Henry stealing car keys and the storybook. She finally admits she’s not his mother and everything Henry believes is true is actually true. Fiona confesses she can’t get Emma to give up the final little bit of belief she has in the world Henry describes. She needs to Henry to help with that and as he runs out of the office, Fiona pushes him down the stairs!

The paramedics take Henry away, unconscious and injured. Rumple catches up with Fiona as she’s watching the paramedics place her son in the ambulance and although he knows the timing’s not good, he asks her to reopen the investigation into Belle’s disappearance. Fiona doesn’t want to open old wounds, but Rumple believes Gideon needs to know the truth.

Hook and David finally climb to the top of the beanstalk and hunt for the magic bean. They’re tiny in this giant land and conquering a regular table is a challenge. David wants to be the one who climbs up, but Hook insists he’ll do it since he’s a pirate and even one-armed is better suited than David to this challenge. Hook’s shocked when David agrees and even more shocked when David says he’ll trust his son … long pause … in-law to do it.

Hook makes it on top of the table and then has to climb over and around assorted fruits and vegetables. He finally spots a bean but it’s inside a glass jar. Hook picks up a huge knife and uses it as a battering ram to break the glass and retrieve the bean. Just when he’s got the bean in his hand, they hear loud noises and assume they’ve awakened the giants. Nope, not giants after all. It’s a fire-breathing dragon who is now on their tail as they race for the beanstalk.

Fiona and Rumple are in her car when she hands over a file that has evidence from Belle’s disappearance. She’s never shared these details with him, handing him a folder with photos of a happy, smiling Belle posing in front of landmarks from around the world. Fiona tells him he needs to accept Belle’s gone and move on. Rumple thanks her and says the photos are illuminating.

Once he leaves the car, Fiona opens the storybook and finds the drawings of the symbols. “Oh Henry, what do you know?” she asks out loud.

Emma races to the hospital to check on Henry and Fiona informs her he was trying to steal the storybook. Henry tries to convince Emma Fiona used magic to push him down the stairs and he demands she touch the book. Emma finally gives in and holds the book and nothing happens. Emma reminds him he’s not a kid anymore and she blames herself for what’s happening. Henry begs her to believe in him and not destroy the book, but she says it’s because she loves him she must get rid of the book. He yells at her not to go and says this is the final battle, but she leaves the room with Fiona anyway.

Hook and David struggle to retain their holds on the beanstalk and the earth shakes in the Evil Queen’s castle as in Storybrooke Emma and Fiona walk toward the furnace with the book. Emma throws the book into the flames as the other realms begin to be erased.

Emma sees the book open to a drawing of Hook and then watches as flames engulf the page.

We travel back in time once again to the young girl who swore to protect the storybook. She returns home and finds her father’s sword, with Tiger Lily arriving and telling her not to cry. Tiger Lily isn’t sure what happened and the young girl feels bad about leaving him alone. Tiger Lily tells her she did what was right and that now they need to take the book to her mother. She promises the girl will be reunited with her father one day, reminding her to never lose hope.

Fiona delivers the ashes of the storybook to Henry in the hospital, telling him Emma has lost every bit of her belief in the fairy tales. He warns her his family will stop her, but she reveals his family won’t exist much longer now that the book is gone. They can’t save him.

Hook hangs off the side of the beanstalk and David tries to save him but can’t. Hook falls and David is barely able to hang on. Snow feels something’s wrong but doesn’t know where David is. Jasmine uses the flying carpet to take Snow to the beanstalk and she finds Hook but not David. Hook shows her the bean and she tells him to get to Emma and Henry and she’ll find David, warning him the realms are disappearing and time’s almost up. “Get to Emma. It’s important. Make her believe again,” says Snow.

Emma’s all packed up and ready to leave Storybrooke and Henry can’t believe she’s actually taking off. He says this means the Black Fairy won and she replies that he has to stop. She wants to get back to her life now and it’s obvious to Henry that Emma truly does not believe anymore. It’s over, and she kisses him before driving off.

Emma is able to drive out of Storybrooke without any problem. She arrives in Boston and finds a note from Henry attached to a book sticking out of her purse. The note reads: “You might not think this story is true. But I know that it is. And it can still have a happy ending.” The phone rings juts then and it’s her old boss asking if she’s ready to get back to work. She is, but then she opens the book and sees drawings of her past adventures.

Hook arrives back at the castle and hands the bean over to Regina. Unfortunately, the bean doesn’t work because Emma has sapped all the magic since she no longer believes. Zelena says that with the Evil Queen’s help, they may have enough power to get the bean to work.

Snow searches for David and finally finds him but it appears he’s dead. She kisses his lips and his eyes spring open. “You found me,” says David. “Did you ever doubt I would?” asks Snow. They exchange I love yous as the world shakes around them.

Once Upon a Time season 6
The cast of ‘Once Upon a Time’ season six (ABC/Jack Rowand)

Henry heads to Rumple’s and tells him he’s his grandson. Rumple thinks he injured his head as Henry charges into the back room. Henry knows Rumple’s been pretending and wants to know why. Rumple admits he knows Belle isn’t off seeing the world and is somewhere in Storybrooke. Henry says the hunt for Belle should wait because they need to help everyone in the Enchanted Forest. He explains the Black Fairy made Emma stop believing and he needs Rumple to help him rescue his family. Rumple wants to concentrate on finding Belle, but agrees to let Henry take what he needs.

Henry uses Rumple’s mirror to send a message to his family. He apologizes for not being able to stop Emma from losing belief, but he’ll keep fighting the good fight. He will take on the Black Fairy in her place.

His family received the message but the bean still isn’t working, even with the Evil Queen’s help. The storm that’s erasing realms is coming closer and the Evil Queen separates from the group and stands, facing it. Regina doesn’t understand what she’s doing and the Evil Queen’s willing to sacrifice herself so that the others can live. She tells Regina to get to the center of the courtyard and work on getting the bean to activate. The Evil Queen will hold off the storm as long as she can.

Regina gathers everyone into the center of the courtyard as the Evil Queen uses the last of her magic to hold off the storm.

The bean doesn’t work and the gang is trapped in the center of the courtyard as the world around them breaks apart and disappears.

Henry strides through town hall and is about to go to battle when Emma arrives. She tells him she read the book and the woman he wrote about is who she wants to be. She says she believes it and back in the Enchanted Forest the storm abruptly stops. Snow realizes that means Emma is back.

Her Handsome Hero leads Rumple to a house where Belle (Emilie de Ravin) is hiding inside. He sees her peek through the window and when he enters the house, she tries to hide. She’s scared to death and doesn’t want to leave. Rumple tries to explain the Black Fairy did this to her and he’ll make her pay.

Fiona rushes into Rumple’s shop and she’s pissed Emma Swan has returned. She needs her fairy wand back and Gideon looks confused. He offers to call his father but she makes him put down the phone as she goes through the drawers. Because she still has his heart, she commands Gideon to help find the wand. He locates it quickly and she uses the wand to translate the symbols Henry drew. The wand translates the page and Fiona says, “Time to get to work, Gideon.”

Fiona’s still at the shop when Rumple returns. He confesses he knows the truth, and she claims she only separated him from Belle for his own good. She promises she’ll lift the curse on Belle and Gideon after the final battle, plus he can have whatever he wants. She even offers to bring back Baelfire when she gets her new powers. They hug, but then he says, “All magic comes with a price.”

Rumple grabs her fairy wand and says she won’t win the final battle. She then reveals the translation said that only light can snuff out light, which means Gideon is now on his way to kill the Savior. She taunts Rumple, saying her death can’t stop it. He kills her anyway.

Once the Black Fairy is dead, everyone’s returned to Storybrooke and Emma gets all her memories back.

Gideon confronts Emma and she sends Henry away.

Belle is freed from the curse and returns to Rumple’s shop. He reveals he killed his mother but that Gideon is still under the Black Fairy’s control and is about to battle Emma. Belle asks if he can stop it and Rumple replies, “I don’t intend to stop him. I intend to save him.”

Gideon and Emma are about to fight when Henry hits Gideon over the head with a fire extinguisher. She uses magic to seal Gideon in the room, at least temporarily.

Rumple and Belle search for Gideon’s heart in the mines as Emma and Henry race through the streets. They meet up with Snow, David, Hook, Regina, and Zelena and there’s hugs all around.

Rumple finally finds Gideon’s heart as out in the streets Regina warns that if Gideon kills Emma, light will be destroyed. If Emma kills Gideon, she’ll turn dark and light will be destroyed. Snow chimes in and says they just need to hold Gideon off until Rumple has his heart.

Emma knows it’s a trap and no matter what darkness wins. Regina suggests there’s always a third way, pulling Emma aside and reminding her that when she first came to Storybrooke they hated each other. They fought but then they found the third way: they were both his mother. Regina also admits she never expected to see her evil self being selfless and saving them all. Regina believes in Emma and tells her she’ll know what to do when the time comes.

Gideon arrives and holds a sword to Snow’s throat. He lets Snow go once Emma faces him and now it’s time for the battle to begin. They circle each other as down in the mines Rumpelstiltskin tells Rumple that if he lets the Savior die, he can have it all. “This is our last chance to finally get everything – the love and the power,” says Rumpelstiltskin. But Rumple will not betray his family and will do the right thing. He remembers that he was meant to be the Savior and he speaks to Gideon’s heart, telling him not to kill Emma. Unfortunately, the heart stops beating as Rumpelstiltskin laughs, saying this is the Black Fairy’s spell and he can’t get what he wants that easily.

Gideon and Emma fight, with Gideon warning her no one is going to save her. As she’s fighting, Emma says she won’t kill an innocent person, she won’t destroy light, and she is hope. She tosses her sword to the ground and Gideon finishes the fight by plunging his sword through her chest. A brilliant white light emerges from the wound along with little sparkling lights.

Rumple returns to Belle who hurt her foot and didn’t make it all the way through the mines. He explains he made the right choice but it didn’t work out.

The gang gathers around Emma’s dead body in the center of the street. Henry kneels and kisses her and she immediately comes back to life from true love’s kiss. They all hug, a reunited family once again.

Belle and Rumple hug in the mines and break apart when they hear a baby cry. The baby is in a basket and has the Her Handsome Hero book tucked along side him, and they realize he’s Gideon. It’s a fresh start and when Rumple calls it a happy ending, Belle corrects him and says it’s a happy beginning.

The storybook is back in one piece and Snow retrieves it from the street where it’s magically appeared. Henry opens it and the final page reads, “When Good and Evil both did the right thing, faith was restored. The final battle was won.”

Henry says, “That’s it,” and Emma asks, “No ‘the end’?” Snow says it’s not the ‘end’ end and now they all get to see what’s next. Living with the belief of a happy ending is the most important thing of all, says Snow. They get to keep doing what they love with the people that they love. “An ending isn’t happiness. Being together is,” says Snow.

All the realms are restored and there’s a quick glimpse of each world ending with the return of the Evil Queen to her castle in the Enchanted Forest.

In Storybrooke, David waves goodbye to Snow as she heads to work once again as a teacher. Emma and Regina send David off to school, and Hook’s now a sheriff and he and Emma are on patrol in her yellow VW. The dwarves unveil a new door to Regina’s office at town hall that reads, “Regina Mills. Queen.” She picks up an apple and holds it to the camera, harkening back to season one.

In the Enchanted Forest, an arrow sails through the castle and lands next to the mirror where the Evil Queen is brushing her hair. There’s a diamond ring attached along with a note that says, “Ready for a new adventure?”

Gold and Belle dance to “Beauty and the Beast,” sharing a sweet kiss as they hold each other close. Meanwhile over at Granny’s, the gang is gathered, laughing, smiling, and enjoying each other’s company. Belle and Rumple are greeted warmly when they arrive with baby Gideon. The camera pulls back to show the gang seated on one side of a long table and then the image transforms to a drawing that’s in the storybook. Under the picture is printed, “They lived happily ever after…”

The book closes and the young girl from the beginning of the episode is holding it while she’s riding on a bus. We’re told this is Seattle years later. She arrives at apartment 815 and bangs on the door. It opens and a man answers. She asks if he’s Henry Mills and he says he is, and then asks her name. She introduces herself as Lucy and reveals she’s his daughter. He says he doesn’t have a daughter and tries to close the door. She pushes it back open and tells him his family needs him.

More on Once Upon a Time:
Once Upon a Time Season 6 Episode 20 ‘The Song in Your Heart’ Recap
Once Upon a Time Season 6 Episode 19 ‘The Black Fairy’ Recap
Once Upon a Time Season 6 Episode 18 ‘Where Bluebirds Fly’ Recap
Once Upon a Time Season 6 Episode 17 ‘Awake’ Recap
Once Upon a Time Season 6 Episode 16 ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ Recap