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first_imgStay on target Once Upon a Time Builds Fun Lore Around a Seattle LandmarkOnce Upon a Time’s Final Battle Was the Happiest Ending Probably the biggest surprise about last night’s musical episode of Once Upon a Time is that it took them nearly six full seasons to do one. It’s a show built around the Disney versions of fairy tales, most of which were musicals, to begin with. For some of them (Frozen, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid), it almost felt wrong that they didn’t break out into song. A lot of TV shows have done musical episodes over the years, but OUAT feels like a better fit for one than any other series. With its focus on fairytale magic and the power of love, having its characters sing to each other seems natural.Right away, the episode goes against expectations by not having the singing be the result of a curse. In most musical episodes (Like The Flash‘s “Duet” or Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s “Once More with Feeling”), the songs are obstacles. The main characters have to figure out how to return the world to its usual tuneless self. In “the Song in Your Heart,” they’re the solution. Snow White, back when she was pregnant with Emma, wished upon a star for a way to protect Emma. She and Charming wake up the next morning singing. “Powerful Magic” sounds a little overproduced, with the music making some of the lyrics hard to understand. Still, it’s fun watching Snow and Charming dance around their room, especially with Charming’s bewildered joy at what his voice is doing.Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin (Photo: Screenshot via ABC)The villain songs, as with any Disney musical, are the best. You can tell Lana Parilla isn’t normally a singer, but she gives it her all here. That’s partially what makes “Love Doesn’t Stand a Chance” so great. It sounds more natural and less cookie-cutter perfect than the rest of the soundtrack. The Evil Queen was always the best villain this show ever had, so watching her chew the scenery in song more than makes up for the fact that it’s not technically the most polished piece of music here.As far as villain songs go though, Regina is outshone by her sister. We get to see Zelena back in her green makeup, as she struts around Oz singing “Wicked Always Wins.” If it’s possible, she’s even more delightfully evil than her sister. Rebecca Mader has a fantastic voice, and this song has some of the best lyrics in the entire episode. “I’ll smile while she is crying/inside she’s slowly dying/and wicked always wins.” It also has the benefit of not sounding like every other song. As much as I enjoyed the musical, the songs were a little too samey. This is the one song I actually want to listen to again. Though perhaps the title should have an asterisk. Wicked always wins, except when it’s up against Avenue Q.Rebecca Mader (Photo: Screenshot via ABC)Hook’s song was a little disappointing. Colin O’Donoghue has a good voice, and it’s fun watching him prance around the Tavern singing about revenge, but I wanted more from this song. By this point, we’d heard nearly everything the soundtrack had to offer, and this song should have offered something different. Especially given what kind of person Hook is at this point. If there were a time to do something a little darker without being a full on villain song, this would have been it. Instead, it’s a forgettable tune that starts in the direction of a pirate jig, but doesn’t fully commit and ends up blending in too much with the rest of the soundtrack.The sing-fight between Snow and Charming, and the Evil Queen really should have been better too. There was the potential for something cool here. An intricate, intense battle song with dueling melodies intertwining with each other would have been great. Instead, the characters awkwardly jumped between reprises of earlier tunes. The music isn’t even blended together very well. It sounds like the song is skipping between two tracks. To make things worse, while both songs were fun the first time, they weren’t quite good enough to deserve this kind of encore. It’s almost a relief when Zelena helps out her sister with a box that steals everyone’s singing voice.Thankfully, that’s not where the music ends in this episode. It turns out the music wasn’t meant to be used against the Evil Queen. It was meant to protect Emma. All her life, she had her parents song in her heart, even when she was alone at the orphanage. Yes, it’s cheesy, but so are musicals. It comes in handy too. In the present, the Black Fairy freezes Emma’s family, promising to unfreeze them if Emma gives up her heart. Henry, having just reached the musical part of his book, reveals that she has a song protecting her heart. Emma sings “The Song Inside of Me,” which has a slower build to a more hopeful-sounding conclusion. It’s a welcome change of pace from the rest of the soundtrack. It also sounds a bit like the opening credits theme of Once Upon a Time, which is a nice touch.Jennifer Morrison and Colin O’Donoghue (Photo by Jack Rowand/ABC)All this leads to Hook and Emma’s wedding, the moment we’ve been looking forward to all season. It’s everything you expected it to be. The entire town is there, on a rooftop watching them exchange the corniest vows ever written. It’s adorable. Of course, the musical episode has to end with a song. It’s just OK. It’s not the worst song of the episode, but it’s not the best either. They also managed to make the modern-day Maine set look even more fake than the castle scene earlier. Not sure how they pulled that off. But hey, the Black Fairy is still here and the wedding is interrupted by her curse. The episode ends with black fairy dust engulfing the town. Next week: the two-hour Final Battle.“The Song in Your Heart” may not have been the best musical episode in recent memory, but it was definitely up there. The songs were fun, even if they did get a bit repetitive as the episode went on. Everyone looked so happy to be going full-on musical theater camp for a week that the entire episode was a joy to watch. It even got the story to next week’s Final Battle in a way that felt natural. Sure, it was a little strange that everyone forgot about the Black Fairy’s impending curse the minute after they discovered it, but at this point, that’s what we expect from OUAT. There have certainly been worse logical inconsistencies on this show. There were more important things to focus on anyway. Like the wedding. And the singing. It feels right to have one last celebration with these characters. With everyone’s contract expiring, and Jennifer Morrison leaving the show, who knows what’s going to happen next week?last_img read more