Once Upon A Time has rightfully set the bar insanely high for any fairytale adaptations. Surely we aren’t the only ones this mid-season finale caused copious amounts of pain too. Additionally, there were far too many exceptional scenes in this episode to pick favorites and leave things out, that being said, this is long, and a bit different from our usual recaps considering the fact that there was more than one flashback.
The 1stFlashback takes place in Emma’s nursery where Snow, Charming, and the Blue Fairy are discussing how Emma’s supposed to break the curse if there’s no one to remind her of anything. Blue tells them to have hope in the mere fact that it’ll happen since it was prophesied. Charming being his optimistic and wise self then instills hope in his wife as always by saying: “The future we imagined is gone, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find another one. An unexpected one.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what happens in the end. Although the lives these characters wanted are no longer attainable, this particular quote can give viewers hope that the future will indeed be great.
Emma finds Snow looking at the baby mobile that’s now hanging in Gold’s shop, and the two of them share a moment of understanding. Emma states that the lives they wanted weren’t meant to be since both women clearly wanted to keep their children, but they had to give them their best chance at happiness. In earlier episodes of the season, we see Snow having a difficult time coping with the fact that she doesn’t know how to be a mother; what she never realizes is that before the curse broke, she was Emma’s friend. Although Emma evidently needs a mother, what she needed more in desperate times was her best friend. This is a unique mother/daughter relationship and this is the moment where Snow finally recognizes just how alike they actually are. It isn’t about taking care of Emma, it’s about understanding every fragment of her shattered soul in order to not only be a mother but a friend. The mutual nod and smiles brought this understanding to life in the most delicately beautiful way.
The 2ndFlashback is centered on Captain Hook and Tinkerbell in Neverland, and it takes place after Bae tells Hook that the dark one’s dagger is the only thing that can kill him. Hook wants a way off the island; therefore, as Tinkerbell threatens his life, he asks for her assistance. She questions his motives but clearly understands the man deep within, and it’s safe to assume she probably helps him find his way.
In order to switch Henry and Pan back, Charming, Hook, Tinkerbell, and Neal visit the town’s church to ask the nuns for the Black Fairy’s wand. They’re interrupted by Pan’s shadow and in order to trap him in the coconut as they did in Dark Hollow, Hook chooses to present himself as first bait. What’s marvelous about this scene is the detail that Hook’s sacrifice is essentially for Emma though he claimed it was for his own life. During the season 2 finale, David said he’s fighting for his family, and Hook said he’s fighting for himself, but today Tink crystallizes the truth. The smile that appears on Hook’s face when the truth is exposed illuminates the certitude that Tink’s not only right but that he’s unquestionably proud to fight for Emma.
When Hook’s plan fails, Tinkerbell is their only hope, and Neal asks her to use pixie dust to fly, but as per usual, Charming uses his words of wisdom to encourage another being to believe. Tinkerbell magnificently gets the pixie dust to work, and she traps the shadow getting rid of it permanently by burning it. As it turns out because Tinkerbell got rid of the shadow for good, Blue was revived. “You deserved your wings, Tinkerbell and you have earned them back many times over.” It was sincerely gratifying to see Tinkerbell become a fairy again, and for Blue to recognize how unjust she’s been to her. Something’s not right about her coming back, though. Does this mean all those who’ve died from their shadows being ripped can return now?
Blue gives them The Black Fairy’s wand, and they successfully switch Henry’s + Pan’s bodies.
In the 3rdFlashback, Henry’s given his book by Miss Blanchard after it magically appears in her closet. We noticed that the page he opens the book to is the story of Pinocchio; therefore, could August have brought the book at this time of need? She chooses to give him the book in the first place to instill hope in him because she realizes how distraught he is over the loneliness he feels.
After reuniting with Henry in his own body, Regina takes the curse and it forces her to pass out because she sees what needs to be done. Moreover, back in Mr. Gold’s shop, father and son have an intensely unfathomable conversation that leads to Pan on the loose, and Gold attempting to take the magic-blocking cuff off of his hand.
Robbie Kay’s portrayal of Peter Pan is undoubtedly insane in the greatest way possible. What Kay’s able to do with his facial expressions alone is righteously commendable, and he’s brought this heartless father figure + Henry to life exceptionally. We’ll certainly miss him on the show.
In the 4thFlashback viewers learn that every year for Bae’s birthday Rumple has a celebration for him on his own. When Belle asks about Bae, he responds with: “we had a chance to be happy together, but I was afraid.” Rumple admitting to his cowardice is admirable because of the certainty that he’s not excusing his actions. He wants a happy ending with Bae, but he doesn’t believe he’s worthy of it because he let fear get in the way before.
To clarify, with every fiber of our beings, we refuse to believe that Rumple is actually dead. That’s an entity we’re not okay with and surely none of you are either. That being said, let’s look at this as though Rumple’s merely missing. The solitary fact that he willingly sacrificed himself for the sake of his loved ones authenticates that Rumpelstiltskin is no longer a coward. He’s a man who’s put his needs aside to protect those who mean the most to him, and that’s not only an honorable trait but also superb character development.
“I used the curse to find you, Bae to tell you that I made a mistake, to make sure you were the chance at happiness. That happiness is possible, just not with me. I accept that. I love you, Bae … and I love you, Belle. You made me stronger.”
As Rumple’s father becomes the age he was at when he abandoned his son, he’s stabbed and the two men disappear. Belle’s sobbing broke hearts worldwide as she fell to the floor in disbelief of losing her true love. That’s one of the reasons why we’re holding on to the notion that Rumple’s still alive. He’s Belle’s true love, he needs to remain in Neal’s life, he needs his happy ending and somehow, someway, we believe he’ll make it back to them.
Grumpy running towards the group screaming, “it’s here” was an insanely petrifying scene and it had us all in chills.
Regina tells the group that the curse will send them all back to the Enchanted Forest leaving Henry because he was born in our world, and Emma to take care of him since she’s also the savior. The price Regina must pay is saying goodbye to Henry for good because he’s who she loves the most.
Emma doesn’t want to leave her loved ones behind, but knowing that it must be done, Snow gives her daughter wonderful words of encouragement.
“Happy endings aren’t always what we think they will be. Look around you. You’ve touched the lives of everyone here.”
This was a predominantly amazing scene because it takes us back to the conception of Snow learning to understand her daughter. She’s acknowledging how exceptional and rare her daughter is while reassuring her that she’s not only deserving of happiness but that she’ll attain it. She then goes on to say“it’s time for you to believe in yourself, Emma. It’s time for you to find hope.” Thus, she’s valorizing the fact that every single person standing there believes in Emma and her abilities. She’s making sure her daughter knows that it’s time for her to see what everyone already she’s in her. And the most beautiful part of this moment is that Snow’s simultaneously suited for the role of Emma’s mother and friend.
In the 5thFlashback when asked if she’d like to hold Henry after giving birth to him, Emma does. That’s also the memory that’s given to her by Regina.
“You’re not a villain. You’re my mom.” Henry finally sees just how ardently Regina loves him. He finally understands that he was always her happy ending and though he’s sad to see her go, he assures her that she’s valuable. He blames himself for seeking Emma out, but we took this scene as Henry trying to make sense of the entire situation. Henry wants to be a hero and he believes he’s failed every time he tried. This is him apologizing for believing that he ruined Regina’s life. After what Henry says to Regina, she grants Emma with good memories since she’ll lose everything she’s known from her time in Storybrooke.
“My gift to you is good memories. A good life for you and Henry. You’ll have never given him up. You’ll have always been together.”
We’ve always wanted a scene with Regina and Emma where they’re not at each other’s throats fighting for the one thing they both dearly love; therefore, this was perfect in all the ways we could’ve imagined. Regina’s redemptive arc this season has been remarkably lovely to watch. As we’ve previously said, her love sincerely is greater than her heart. We no longer want to go by calling it her “dark heart” as she’s undeniably substantiated it is no longer filled with absolute hate and vengeance. Lana Parrilla has always done an exquisite job of bringing the Evil Queen and Regina to life, and this particular scene was truly marvelous. Similarly, Jennifer Morrison and the heartbreaking expression that filled her face in that final scene as she glanced at the loved ones she’s leaving behind.
The story continues one year later in New York where Emma and Henry now reside; their glorious morning filled with hot chocolate + cinnamon is interrupted by a knock on the door revealing Hook. The final words Captain Swan spoke before the curse struck were, “quite the vessel you captain there, Swan. There’s not a day that will go by that I won’t think of you.” “Good” This scene long-established the undeniable feelings that have taken root within both of them, and though Emma doesn’t give an elaborate confession, she indicates that she appreciates him. Essentially, Emma hasn’t had the time to grasp her feelings for Killian, but his perpetual presence has become home to her; thus, knowing that there’s a man in this world whose love for her goes beyond anything she’s ever experienced is undeniably something she wants to preserve.
Unfortunately, Emma doesn’t remember Hook even when he kisses her, which intensifies the severity of the curse and the fact that he needs her assistance because her parents are in trouble. Emma completely changes the story when Henry asks about who was at the door. She could’ve said something along the lines of “wrong house” but her facial expression told a different story. Although she doesn’t exactly remember Hook, it unquestionably appears as though she felt something when they kissed – perhaps a familiar feeling of comfort? The point is, he somehow manages to find her one year later mirroring Charming always finding Snow. He authenticates the fact that he’ll do anything and everything to give her the happiness he knows she deserves by establishing that he’s without a doubt and wholeheartedly in it for the long haul.
Once upon a time, Snow didn’t recognize Charming when he tried to bring her memories back with a kiss, and they successfully found each other time and time again. Therefore, it’s undeniable that Killian and Emma are each other’s soul mates and that kind of love will transcend all obstacles.
March 9, we meet the Wicked Witch of the West (Rebecca Mader).