- Once Upon a Time -6 Questions About ‘Once Upon A Time’ That Still Matter, Two Years After The Finale
Once upon a time a beloved ABC series made the jump from Netflix to Disney+ one fall 2020 morning, setting the internet astir and reminding everyone just why we were enthralled with Emma Swan, her lie detection skills, and the fairy tale characters that are part of her family’s history. Her parents are Snow White and Prince Charming, after all. (Don’t get me started on her extended family... it’s quite the tangly family tree.)
What I loved about Once Upon a Time is that the show re-introduced us to characters we thought we knew extensively — and primarily from Disney movies — but even after seven seasons of breaking curses and thwarting Dark Ones, there are still a few plot points that need one of Henry's operation codenames to get to the bottom of.
In celebration of this renewed marathon-fest, I decided to look upon those charming roads less traveled on the fantasy series and pull on those loose threads I'm still curious about all these years later.
So did Lancelot ever retrieve the Lady of the Lake or reunite with Guinevere?
Lancelot has a long history with Snow White, as they were friends back in the Enchanted Forest. He even officiated a marriage ceremony for her and Charming before his mother died just so she could bear witness to her son’s happiness.
We see him again when Charming, Snow, Emma, Hook, Regina and the gang find themselves in Camelot in Season 5. Via flashback, we learn of Lancelot's love story with Guinevere, and how King Arthur cast a spell on her to make her forget her feelings for Lancelot — or how corrupt of a leader he is.
When Emma makes Hook a new Dark One to save his life, Snow and Merlin suggest Lancelot go seek out his mother, the Lady of the Lake, for help. She has “great power,” Merlin says, and that it’s a two-day journey from Camelot. But if he doesn’t make it back in time, Merlin tells him he'll at least “get to spend your last moments with your mother.”
It turns out Lancelot didn’t make it back in time before everybody took a portal back to Storybrooke. But what happened to Lancelot period? Why didn’t we get a backstory on his mother and her powers, the great Lady of the Lake? Or see her for that matter? And once the spell was broken, did Guinevere and Lancelot ever find each other again? Arthur was killed by Hades and became the new overlord of the Underworld in Season 6, so he was out of the picture after all…
Melissa Ross, who is an admin for the Once Upon a Time - Oncers United Facebook group, still wants to know why Lancelot's time in Camelot was cut short.
"It felt odd to me that his mother was mentioned as a possible source of help, but when he doesn’t make it to her in time we simply never meet her or even see him again," she told The Dipp. "I would’ve loved to have seen more of Lancelot on the show and I’ve wondered about what may have happened to him and if he may have ever reunited with Guinevere. The romantic in me likes to imagine that they found each other eventually."
Similarly, Barbara Meier, who is an admin for the Once Upon a Time Addicts Facebook group, likes to imagine that Guinevere and Lancelot are now ruling over Camelot and trying to make the broken kingdom "a happy place once again."
"Like so many characters," Meier tells me, "I think Lancelot just vanished because the writers had such an excess of characters, they simply couldn't focus on any that they couldn't work into the main storyline of each half season."
What happened to Tiny?
In Season 2, we met a lonely giant named Anton, also known as "Tiny." All Anton wanted to do was be part of your world — the human world, that is.
But Charming’s wicked twin brother Prince James, and his girlfriend “Jack,” tricked Tiny, into inviting them to climb up his beanstalk. They gave him a magic mushroom to make him human-sized and his dreams come true. But it was all just a trick and they betrayed Tiny, slaying his whole family and making him distrustful of his precious humans. Until Emma and Hook came along.
Cora brought Tiny to Storybrooke under vengeful pretenses, but David made peace with him on his evil brother’s behalf. Tiny helped the town grow some magic beans with the dwarves, which as Oncers know, are used as portals to travel between realms. He even got his very own pickaxe, aptly named, “Tiny.”
But we never saw much of this big, friendly giant after Season 2, save for a quick mention that his graduation gift to Henry was a magic bean years later in Season 7. But what was he doing all that time?
Ross thinks Tiny was still a resident of Storybrooke, but she wishes we could have seen more of his storyline with growing magic beans. “It was very important to him and although we know that he gives one to Henry as a gift, we also know that it’s the only one Henry had to use, implying that magic beans are still very rare and that Tiny was still not able to grow large amounts of magic beans again,” she said.
“If I could choose any happy ending for him, it would be that once the United Realms came together, he found other remaining giants and that together they brought magic beans back into abundance.”
What about the backstory on Lily’s father? Or Lily and Maleficent’s burgeoning mother/daughter relationship?
For years, Once Upon a Time fans had one major lingering question: Who is Lily’s father? Well, the bombshell answer was dropped in the series finale, as Regina casually informs Zelena that Maleficent found Lily’s dragon of a pops — Zorro. Yes, the masked crusader of lore has wings and breathes fire. But that’s All. We. Get. We don’t learn how she found him, how their relationship began, or if she and Lily have grown close now.
"I was definitely thrown by the reveal that Zorro was Lily’s father! I had plenty of theories swirling around in my head about who Lily’s father could’ve possibly been, but truthfully Zorro had never crossed my mind at all," recalls Ross.
She wagers that it's very possible that Maleficent was able to find Zorro after he was brought to Storybrooke from The Land of Untold Stories by Mr. Hyde during the events of Season 6. "If not, then perhaps Maleficent simply finally found him once the United Realms were brought together."
But after Maleficent and Lily reconnected in Season 4 and Henry needed to undo the havoc Isaac wrought on his family in the two-part season finale, “Operation Mongoose,” we didn't see Lily and Maleficent ever again. We didn’t watch as Lily unpacked her trauma of abandonment and bond with the mother she’d always longed for, or see Maleficent finally be the parent she’d yearned to be.
Meier considers Lily and Maleficent’s storyline the biggest missed opportunity of the series.
"I really wish Lily and Mal hadn't vanished at the end of Season 4. I would have loved to see their relationship develop. I like to believe it changed both of them for the better. Family relationships, and in particular mother and child relationships, are such a big part of the show, and I'm honestly not sure why the writers chose the drop this one," she told The Dipp.
And more on that point, what about Maleficent’s past with Aurora and her mother, Briar Rose?
Once never took the expected route, which fans couldn’t get enough of, like how Maleficent cursed not only Aurora from the traditional Sleeping Beauty story, but also her mother, Briar Rose. Ross was fascinated by the idea that they split the identity of Sleeping Beauty into two different people, but wanted to dive deeper into Maleficent’s relationships with Aurora’s parents.
“I felt like although we didn’t meet her, Briar Rose was likely meant to be closer to the Sleeping Beauty version of the princess cursed by Maleficent. I would have loved a flashback episode to what exactly happened between them,” she said.
Ross always imagined that the reason for Maleficent cursing Briar Rose in the first place came down to love.
"I imagine that Maleficent loved Stefan and that Stefan loved Briar Rose and so Maleficent cursed her to sleep out of jealousy but she didn’t curse Stefan because she still loved him. I think this is why Maleficent went into such a deep depression after King Stefan woke Briar Rose. It meant that that they were true love, and therefore Stefan would never return her love. I believe that’s why years later she enacts her revenge by cursing Aurora, the product of Briar Rose and King Stefan’s true love."
She also envisions that perhaps Blue, Tinker Bell and Nova could have been the three good fairies involved in the traditional story, Flora, Fauna, and Merriweather, “even if just for a bit of a quick nod for the fans.”
We know Nova and Grumpy got their reunion (somewhat), but what about Abigail and Frederick?
Kathryn was the big wife-sized obstacle standing in David and Mary Margaret’s way in Season 1, all before they woke up from Regina's curse and realized they were in fact Prince Charming and Snow White. And for her part, Kathryn was really Princess Abigail, the Daughter of King Midas who was betrothed to David back in the Enchanted Forest.
Instead of wedding unhappily, David helped Kathryn retrieve the healing waters of Lake Nostos to save the man she truly loved, Prince Frederick, who was accidentally frozen into a golden statue thanks to her father’s infamous touch.
But once Regina enacted the first curse, they were separated in Storybrooke. Abigail became Kathryn, heartbroken by her fake husband David’s affair with schoolteacher Mary Margaret, and Frederick was now the school gym teacher, Jim, who Kathryn bumps into when she storms into the school to confront her husband's mistress.
And when the first curse is finally broken, we never see them come back together again, at least onscreen. In a 2013 interview with TV Guide, Once co-creator Edward Kitsis did confirm that Abigail and Frederick “are living happily together in Kathryn's house.” But fans still wish they could have watched them come together again for themselves.
Ross would have been happy to see just a glimpse of their reunion, “and maybe even to have heard of an engagement or wedding.”
Similarly, Meier considers it “absolutely headcanon” that Abigail and Frederick found each other in the end. Why? “Because they were adorable.” Obviously. And everyone deserves true love!
Did Mulan form her own band of Merry Women?
Mulan couldn’t catch a break in the love department on Once Upon a Time. Just as she was about to confess her feelings for Aurora, the sleeping beauty tells her that she and Philip are expecting a baby. Crushed, Mulan ventures off on her own, rejects an offer to join Robin Hood’s band of Merry Men, and loses her identity and sense of what honor even means anymore.
But with the help of Merida, she regains her inner strength and journeys to Oz to go on an adventure with Ruby, who wants to find more werewolves like herself. She’s on hand with the munchkins when Ruby realizes she’s fallen in love with Dorothy, and they find a happily ever after together. But what was in store for Mulan in the end? Is hers not a storyline worth fighting for?
Bottom line, Ross views Mulan’s story as unfinished. “It is heartbreaking to think that perhaps she was never able to reunite with Phillip and Aurora because it remained too painful for her," she said. "I think closure for Mulan would have been companionship but not necessarily romantic. I think friendship and a place to put her skills as a warrior to noble use would have been a fitting end for Mulan’s story. As a lone warrior, Mulan found it easy to isolate herself from friends, but she seemed happier when helping others."
She views leading the Merry Men as a "fitting and fulfilling role for Mulan," but Meier doesn't necessarily think rejoining them was in the cards. "I feel like since Mulan joined the Merry Men at one point and then left them, that they wouldn't be her happy ending.
Meier seconds that while Once “gave us such a unique perspective on people, expanding their characters beyond any way they'd ever been seen before,” she sadly doesn’t believe Mulan ever told Aurora the truth either.
"I feel she's one of the characters who really deserved closure for her own character, and never got it. She helps out Aurora and Philip, she helps out Neal, she helps Belle, and Merida, and Ruby... she's always a sidekick, but we never really learn enough about her to be sure what her happy ending looks like. I honestly think it might be traveling around having adventures and helping others, although I like to think she found a partner to share that life with."
Well for all the characters we met, loathed, and reconsidered, there are still some chapters we will hopefully read about one day... once upon a time.
Once Upon a Time is now streaming on Disney+.