An Almost Perfect Season Finale

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Good grief, what an absolutely incredible finale From just gave us. I can’t imagine a better, more satisfying end to Season 2—but my god, the wait for Season 3 is going to be painful.

Several very big things happened in episode 10, Once Upon A Time?:

  • Boyd figured out how to save Maryelle, Julie and Randall and not a moment too soon.
  • We learned that whatever was behind the music box has a dark and violent intention, and that it is a thing of some sort, whose motives can be relayed to Sarah (horrifically, painfully).
  • Jade went into the monster tunnels and had his most intense vision yet (and we got a good jump-scare with the ventriloquist doll).
  • Tabitha went to the lighthouse (aka, the tower) and was pushed out of it by a boy all in white. When she woke up, she was in a hospital, presumably in the real world—though we don’t know that for sure.

One thing that did not happen, that I swear to god better happen in Season 3: A town meeting! If Tabitha and Boyd and Jade and Jim and Donna and Elgin and Victor everyone who has seen visions and found clues could simply lay out all that information, maybe they could find two puzzle pieces that match, as Jade so eloquently put it. I’m tired of hearing Boyd complain that there’s too much he doesn’t know and never think “Oh, maybe we should all compare notes!”

This means that characters do stupid things, even when the results are super entertaining and fascinating. For instance, Jade going into the tunnels by himself. Very stupid! I did love the conversation he had with Dead Tom that made him do this stupid thing, but I wish that he and Tabitha—who have been collaborating up to this point—had worked together on this. They could have gone into the caves together, or he could have gone with her to the tower. I realize that fundamentally changes what actually ended up happening, but why go alone? It doesn’t make sense. Buddy up. Keep talking and nobody explodes.

Boyd also goes it alone. After he takes Kenny and Sarah to the spot and hears her explanation of what’s going on—the three are dying and once they do it’s over for everyone else—he goes to Ellis and Fatima’s wedding. When Ellis says that Fatima was his “light in the darkness” you can see the lightbulb turn on over Boyd’s head.

He goes and finds the torch he took from the dungeon, heads to the spot and lights it and suddenly appears in the same room where he was infected by the old man. Here, all three possessed people show up chained to the walls. And on the floor, the music box is playing. At first it seems as though Boyd is going to try to break their chains like a complete idiot, but then he turns his attention to the music box.

That’s when a vision of his dead wife, Abby, appears. She tells him not to break it. It will only make things worse. The forest doesn’t feed on fear, she tells him, but on hope. “No,” he says, and smashes the music box with the torch. It’s a pretty badass moment and I’m glad Boyd finally came through. Back in Fromville, the three wake up. It was a little sad to see Randall wake up alone, but then he’s made his own bed, hasn’t he?

Tabitha, meanwhile, asks Victor if he knows how to get to the tower. Victor takes her to a tree he calls the bottle tree, named for the countless bottles hanging from it.

Victor says that unlike the other Faraway Trees, this one only takes you to one place: The Tower. Clearly, back in his day the people of the town actually worked together, since it sounds as though they all went to the tower together. We learn that Victor’s mother didn’t make it into the tree in time. She was killed in front of it—by who, what, how, we don’t know.

Tabitha goes into the tree and finds herself standing below the lighthouse. She goes up and the winding staircase is exactly the same as the one in her dreams. She hears the children, but doesn’t find any in need of rescue. Where those poor souls are remains a mystery. Instead, she comes to the top of the lighthouse and is treated to a spectacular view. Then a boy in white appears and tells her that he’s sorry, but this is the only way, and shoves her out the window. We think that maybe this is the end for Tabitha.

But then she wakes up in a hospital bed. The doctor tells her she was found unconscious by a pair of hikers two days ago. Notably, the doctor only says the name of the hospital, not the town. I find this a little suspect, to be honest, and I can’t decide if Tabitha is really free, out in the real world without her family, or if this is just more illusion and deceit. Wherever she is, it’s an actual town down below when she looks out her window. It looks like the Northeast, somewhere on the coast.

Of course, being in the real world now will be a fresh new hell, knowing her family is trapped in Fromville with the monsters and no way to get to them.

Meanwhile, after a pretty entertaining conversation between Jade and Dead Tom, the former decides to go into the caves to investigate the symbol he keep seeing. Like Theseus, he ties thread to a tree so that he can find his way back out of the labyrinth. Unwisely, he goes in alone and with just one flashlight that nearly gives out on him (and then, oh the horrors). We get a good jump-scare when he sees the ventriloquist doll again, but the most intense moments come later when he has a vision of the children all laid out on stone tablets. Above where they lay, the ceiling opens up and the vines form the symbol he’s been seeing.

What does it all mean? Victor said the grownups were all going to save the children in the tower, but there were no children in the tower when Tabitha got there. This looks more like a cave or a crypt. The vines suggest the children are being kept somewhere underground, though clearly not actually in the tunnels Jade is exploring. At least not now. The children say “anghkooey, anghkooey” whatever that means (this is what the subtitles show, so I’m assuming this is the word). It must mean something! More mysteries for us to solve in Season 3.

Aside from people not talking to one another in order to solve this puzzle—a metaphor Jade explicitly uses that you’d think might inspire some actual collaboration!—the one thing I didn’t much care for was the dude who shot Boyd. That guy was super annoying from the get-go, but they really took him from 0 to 100 fast. He didn’t just overpower poor Matthias, he slit his throat! What? I thought for sure he was possessed or something, like Sarah was, but it was just him going to get a gun to kill Boyd, for reasons. A shooting spree a la Abby that Boyd had to save everyone from would have been much better television. As it stands, the guy wings Boyd with some buckshot and then Boyd shoots and kills him. I guess it created some tension, but it didn’t really feel necessary.

All told, I thought this was a terrific season finale that got almost everything right and ended with a really insane twist that I never saw coming. What a great show! What did you think? Let me know on Twitter or Facebook.

You can watch my video review of the series finale below:

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