I have mixed thoughts about the mid season finale. As usual, there's stuff I liked, and stuff I didn't like. But I'd say there was more I didn't like about Swan Song than all the other episodes combined.
First of all, I read on twitter that they had filmed a scene to show the Camelot folk (and Merida?) leaving Storybrooke. And it was cut from the episode. Wtf?? How they can just leave that arc like this and not have some conclusion? All this build up for the Camelot arc only for it to fall flat. It's no wonder I saw Amy Manson retweeting something someone wrote to her about how awesome she is as Merida, but that she shouldn't come back to OUAT because she's "better than that". I'm sure Amy Manson has a lot of positive things to say about OUAT during her time as Merida, but that doesn't mean they did her character justice in the storyline, so I can't blame her for retweeting that. Merida implied at the end of The Bear King that she wanted revenge on Arthur for slaying her father. Why did the writers make her declare something like that only to leave it unresolved? Maybe I'm being too harsh because I had the expectation that the Camelot gang & Merida were going to be in this episode, and they just weren't there. And also, what about Guinevere? I was waiting and waiting to see the sands of Avalon be undone from her and for her to finally assert herself to Arthur and his lies. Instead, in the last few episodes, she's just been a background character with like two lines as she supports her husband.
I enjoyed seeing Brennan Jones, but the flashback was a little stiff and rushed. Naming another son after the son you had abandoned. Nice. On the inital first watch, I was disgusted that he even did that. Now that I've had time to process it, I understand he named the son Liam because he felt so guilty about abandoning his sons, and because he didn't know whether Liam #1 survived or where he was. I think the fact he named another son Liam was like a slap in the face to Killian and his unresolved anger towards his father for lying and abandoning him, and maybe even jealousy because here Brennan is trying to be a father to another son and all Killian has is years of resentment towards his father for what he did to him.
Okay, so the Underworld... I get that Emma wants to save Hook because she's upset his sacrifice was for nothing now that Gold is the Dark One once again. Yet the SwanFire in me is somewhat bitter, like, "Great, so he gets to come back, but not Neal". On the other hand, I understand Neal remained dead because he died for true and valiant reasons, with nothing to scar his legacy and sacrifice. But as a plot device for someone dead to come back... I don't know. I'm not too enthusiastic about it.
Gold. OmgWtfIHateHim. That is all. He has quite possibly done the worst out of the worst possible thing to happen in the show, and I do not hope he is forgiven for it. My stomach twisted during the scene Belle is asleep in bed and Gold is dressing himself. Please don't tell me that's going to be the first hint that Belle is going to be pregnant. I cannot see Rumbelle coming back from Gold's lies this time. The ship is sinking and I think it's going down into the water for real this time.
Emma's "Hook, I will always find you" was very forced as the closing episode line. I guess it's drawing a parallel to Snowing, but I hated this line because it was a reminder of Snowing (which I like as a pairing) because I don't think CaptainSwan needs to have that parallel and can stand on its own without giving off that similar feel to Snowing.