Once Upon a Time can be very good and very frustrating in equal measure sometimes. This season is supposed to be about duality, and how we balance our best and worst selves. But the season 6 premiere is about all kinds of aftermath. How you cope with the continual trauma that comes with being The Savior, the death of a loved one, sibling rivalry, the end of a relationship, arriving at a new home, or just starting a new chapter in your life.
And Once Upon a Time delivered with all of the twists we can expect. This episode is called “The Savior,” and it delved into what happens when a hero is expected to not only triumph over every obstacle, but to do it repeatedly. We got introduced to the latest Disney characters who are going to be featured: Aladdin (Deniz Akdeniz) and Jafar (Oded Fehr), who reveals some dark truths about The Savior. Here’s hoping they do justice by Jasmine too. She was one of the first “feisty” Disney princesses, aka one who had an actual personality. Even better, her and Aladdin’s relationship is one of the great Disney love stories. These two didn’t just meet and fall in love, they really got to know each other, and Aladdin had to learn to do the right thing by her.
More dark truths are revealed when Emma (Jennifer Morrison) is told that she’s apparently doomed. As in, to die. Hyde (Sam Witwer) breaks the news that she’s not the first Savior, and they all eventually meet the villain that does them in. Emma’s been having hand tremors from the stress of all that fighting, as well as visions of a future involving her death, which she’s told she can’t prevent. It’s heavy stuff, and she reacts to it in a way I thought both Emma and “Once” had grown out of. In other words, she lies and says she doesn’t have a problem, even after she discovers her demise is probably imminent. So she’s pushing Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) away AGAIN. The guy she finally opened up to and even went to the Underworld for. Couldn’t the show have found a better way to create conflict?
Meanwhile, Gold (Robert Carlyle) is barely doing better. He goes into Belle’s (Emilie de Ravin) dreams to wake her up, only to encounter his son there. Without spoiling too much, let’s just say Junior really isn’t too keen on his father, and it seems like his wife is finally done with him. Sure, Gold’s more than earned it, but usually kids wait until a few years after they’re born to start hating a parent. So yeah, well-deserved but still kinda harsh.
But the real emotional kick is once again between Regina (Lana Parrilla) and Zelena (Rebecca Mader). Sure, they made a commitment last season to try to be sisters, but their boyfriends dying and Regina exorcising her evil side means there’s some issues. Season 5 didn’t bother trying to hide the fact that Regina’s Evil Queen didn’t die so easily, but having her show up and invite Zelena for a drink has a whole lot of twisted potential. Willing to raise a glass to that.