This episode doesn't offer anything hugely unexpected, but I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing.
The official recap can be found here.
I fully anticipated, for example, that Emma would abandon her skepticism. Her refusal to believe in the curse - and in her own destiny - was the central conflict of the first season, and the finale would not have felt complete without her submission. The execution here did feel slightly abrupt, true, but that is my only complaint.
I further anticipated that we would see a partial destruction of Regina's spell. Leaving aside the real-world reality that the writers need to keep this popular show going, the curse was designed by Rumpelstiltskin, who almost certainly inserted a clause that prevents a return to the Enchanted Forrest if he has not yet found Bae.
And yes -- it's also pretty predictable that Rumpelstiltskin would seek to bring magic to Storybrooke. As far as the imp is concerned, that sets up the perfect "have your cake and eat it too" scenario. He can stay in our world until he finds his son and have all the power he possessed before the curse.
Of course, if there's magic in Storybrooke, that means Regina will have more power as well -- which is why she looked pretty happy when Rumpelstiltskin's Purple Cloud of Doom rolled in. Will she impose amnesia on the others once again to serve her own instinct for self-preservation? Or will she decide that knowledge is more painful than ignorance -- that Snow White will suffer more if she is conscious of her own displacement?
Speaking of Regina, I think she's becoming a much more fascinating character as time goes by. I'm convinced now that she really does love Henry -- but thanks to her upbringing, she is tragically unable to express that love in ways that don't involve attempts at possession and control. It'll certainly be interesting to see if this problem will ever be resolved.
Which is another way of saying that yes, we will be covering this series next year. While SABR Matt is correct when he highlights the lack of twisty-bendy surprises in the overall plot so far, I still like the characters and have become invested in their fates.
As I said, the storyline is not amazing or shocking, but it is logical.
Jennifer Morrison and Lana Parrilla are definitely growing into their roles.
Unfortunately, because there is so much going on here, this episode's treatment of the show's perennial theme - that love is the most powerful magic of all - is a bit shallow.