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Really?!? Every Out of Character Moment from Once Upon a Time's Swan Song

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Fictional characters often act out of character, which fans hate. In some circumstances it’s okay for characters to go a little sideways. In real life, every one of us has done something that is out of character and in conflict with how we normally react.

However, if you are running a TV show, writing a play, or writing a novel, you have to think seriously about your characters’ motivations. If you have them acting of character too often, they lose their identities. This is what happened to the characters in Once Upon a Time’s winter finale, Swan Song. Here’s a quick list of the out of character, contradictory and nonsensical character moments from Once’s winter finale:

1. Robin and Regina are blindsided by Zelena‘s desire to change their custody agreement. Really? Regina has proven she’s one of the smartest characters on the show, and yet she and Robin thought their arrangement would somehow hold? I have a hard time believing either of them would trust Zelena.

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2. Rather than fighting to save themselves, Snow and Charming are resigned to their fate. They choose to go to Granny‘s with their precious little baby Neal and wait to die. Really Charmings? The people who have traditionally demonstrated the most belief suddenly have a death wish, even though they now have a newborn???

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3. Emma tells Gold not to talk about Hades in front of Henry because it’s too scary! Barely 10 minutes later she takes Henry to Hades.
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4. Emma tells Gold to help her find her way to Hades or else she will blow his cover with Belle. Belle spent a half season trying to help Emma, but now the “hero” of the show throws Belle under the bus with absolutely no regard.

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5. Rumple betrays Belle with absolutely no regard. (Based on what we’ve seen with the show, this is an in character moment for Rumple). However this episode renders his prior attempts at “redemption” (including his speech at Neal‘s grave and his speech to Belle during their wedding and his speech to Belle in the episode) as complete and utter bullshit.

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Really.

6. When Emma explains that she must go to the Underworld to rescue Hook, the Charming family is gung-ho to put their lives on the line despite the fact he was trying to kill them an hour earlier.

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7. Hook’s valiant death renders his other actions moot. Every other character on the show has had to earn their redemption and acceptance. Regina certainly had to earn their trust bit by precious bit. With Hook, the characters went from thinking they were about to get murdered to voluntarily risking everything, including their children, to save the person who wanted them dead. Really?

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8. Regina gives Hook the opportunity to meet and kill his father. This was never mentioned before, nor was it ever implied that Hook needed extra motivation to do the deed.

  • Hook had already agreed to kill Cora in exchange for a trip to a Land Without Magic where he could kill Rumple.
  • But in Swan Song, Regina apparently found Hook’s dad and introduced them because she knew it would make Hook a big old meanie.
  • (Actually we don’t really know why this scene happened, what Regina wanted, or how she knew his personal history – other than the show runners needed to retcon Hook’s motivations and revisit the Evil Queen).

9. The new Hook backstory is that he nearly decided to be a good man, until he found out about dear old dad and his half-brother. This contradicts everything we know about Hook from his first appearances in season 2. Now we’re told he was conflicted and fighting to be a better man the entire time. This is a retcon.

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10. Hook’s motivations are all over the place in the episode. He is ready to bring death to the entire Charming family including Emma and Henry. However, the second half of the hour asserts that his acts as Dark One aren’t really his fault.

So I ask you: does one have free will as a Dark One? This is what the episode showed us:

  • Being the Dark One excuses your actions when you want it to.
  • The Dark One can fight his worst impulses when he feels like it, and doing so will cause the other characters to laud him as a hero.

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11. So does Hook have free will as the Dark One or doesn’t he? Is he under the dark magical influence when he’s planning to murder Emma’s family, but completely lucid when he changes his mind?

12. No one in the series is supposed to be smarter or more powerful than Rumple. (Except maybe Merlin and maybe the Blue Fairy when the show feels like it.) Yet time and again Rumple, the all powerful, all seeing trickster, turns out to be wrong:

  • Rumple couldn’t figure out how to open a portal without spending years training Regina to be a monster who does it for him. But it’s actually quite easy to jump worlds with various magics.
  • Rumple says they are dark-marked and will die. They don’t.
  • Rumple believes that there is no reversing Neal’s death because you can’t become un-dead. Yet time and again this is proven to be untrue.

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If Rumple is not incredibly crafty and smart, then he’s just the biggest a**hole on the show.

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That’s fine. But then the creators of the show simply need to stop being condescending to their audience. When you are asked “is there hope for Rumple and Belle?” do not answer “there’s always hope!” or “keep watching!” because there is no hope for Rumple or Rumbelle.

What did you think about Swan Song? Did you feel the characters were making sense? Let us know in the comments!

Alex is a lawyer and opinionated.

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