I think what bothers me most about Emma’s arc this past season was that Emma didn’t get an arc, that there’s this beautiful story in season one about her and this season she was instead shifted to the back burner. She gets characterization only when it’s necessary to flesh out or affect another character- Snow or Regina or Hook or Neal- and it’s in bits and pieces, with no overall arc moving her forward.
And it’s upsetting because a lot of what happened in the finale is so great and would have been even better if it had felt earned, felt like the writers had committed to a plot line for her season. The strength of the Regina/Emma team-up last season, of Emma saving Henry, was in the fact that everything until then had been building up to that moment. This season, Emma saving Storybrooke had no emotional connection [for her, while it was huge for Regina] and it doesn’t feel like a story about her anymore. Because we’re not connected, we don’t get any context or conflict for her character. We don’t get a love story for Emma/Storybrooke (which would have been so easy if they’d only explored Emma’s own feelings about the magic beans in depth and written this season’s Emma arc as a ftl/storybrooke conflict) and the Emma/motherhood story is woefully underdeveloped, so we aren’t awed by the completion at all.