Once Upon A Time 3×12 “New York City Serenade” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

If there’s one episode that’s been worth the awfully long three-month hiatus, New York City Serenade is definitely it. When we parted ways with our most favorite characters, everyone but Emma and Henry were sent back to the Enchanted Forest, and it was up to Captain Hook to jog Emma’s memories one year later.

There were quite a few noteworthy, tear-jerker scenes in this episode that certainly set up the rest of the season gloriously.

For starters, even though it was temporary, it was incredibly refreshing to see Emma Swan live a normal life where she got to keep her son. Despite the fact that Emma’s an immensely strong and courageous female, deep down even with the fake memories, she’s still a lost girl seeking a home. In this case, it’s a home for Henry and the kind of life she didn’t grow up with but certainly wants him to have. Prior to turning into a flying monkey, Walsh (Chris Gorham) symbolized possibilities for Emma, and although somewhere inside she’s still afraid of being abandoned again, she isn’t restraining herself from the potential of a good life.

As viewers, it was simply nice to see Emma utter the words “I love you” to someone because it validated this idea that she isn’t allowing the pain from her past to tarnish her future as much as she may have, had she not known what it was like to raise her son. A child’s rare and immaculate love has the ability to heal a woman of all the aches that have once governed her entire being and influenced the moments where she could’ve been happy. Henry is undeniably an extraordinary kid; therefore, what he’s able to do in the lives of his mothers is incredibly beautiful. What we’ve always adored most about Emma Swan is the fact that she’s genuinely selfless and loving even when she could cease her happiness and run away with it.

You know what I was yesterday? A mother, til you showed up poking holes into what I thought was real. Drinking that potion was like waking up from a dream, a really good dream.”

Above all things, this notion that takes over her breaks her heart because she knows things are going to change. She knows that even though these memories aren’t real, she’s enjoyed them, she now has to go back to saving lives and she’s afraid that this last year will lose its value when in fact, it never will. What we found exceptionally beautiful about this entire episode is the amount of times Hook has made it clear he cherishes Emma and unquestionably desires the absolute best for her. It was entirely telling when Hook voiced the statement “use your superpower, use it, see that I’m telling the truth.” When the Captain and our beloved heroine met, she told him about her ability to know when people are lying, and for a woman who’s had her instincts questioned numerous times, it’s heartwarming to see Killian commend something she believes so acutely in.

Hook’s selfless and unyielding pursuit to save Emma and her family from the dangers that are ahead is precisely what deems him a hero even more than he already was before. O’Donoghue’s fastidious choices with his expressions compliment the endearing words Hook speaks marvelously, as his astounding ability to speak with his eyes validates Killian’s sincere intentions. After Emma visits Neal’s apartment and discovers Henry’s camera with pictures, she bails the “dashing rapscallion” out of jail, and he convinces her to trust her gut, mirroring Henry’s faith in her. Hook gives Emma a choice to follow her instincts while illuminating the fact that he appreciates the little things that make her amazingly special. Morrison is always incredibly meticulous with her expressions hence, when she had her memories restored, there was a fleeting instant where her expression answered a yes to Hook’s “did you miss me.” That is superlative acting at its finest.

Devoted fans of the impeccable duo have waited for the moment Emma finally calls Hook, Killian, and this very scene, in all its glory, was gratifying in every way it could’ve been. In this instant when she introduced him as Killian to Henry, he’s accepted for everything that he is. As he’s always wished, she’s appreciating the being he’s become in order to be worthy of her love. Throughout the entire episode there were moments of people questioning whether or not he’s truly changed; however, by choosing to trust her instincts because of the sincerity in his words and the evident connection that goes beyond understanding, calling him Killian depicts that for Emma, whether he’s a pirate or an honorable man, she accepts and ultimately cherishes all of him.

Another heartbreaking instant that stood out was Emma’s response to Hook about Walsh. “A reminder that I was never safe, that what I wanted, what I thought I could have wasn’t in the cards for the savior.” It’s exceedingly distressing when Emma feels that just because she’s the savior, she isn’t supposed to lead a happy life, but that’s primarily what makes her the most suited for the role. The modesty and sheer selflessness she projects are the essential reasons why she deserves the happiest ending. From what we’ve seen, that’s exactly what Hook stands for in Emma’s life. While men have come and gone, he’s remained the constant her heart can call home. A woman as audaciously kindhearted and enduringly compassionate despite the innumerable difficulties she’s faced throughout the 29 years of her life deserves to be loved in a way that’ll put the seven seas to shame – this is the kind of everlasting love that Killian Jones has graciously and relentlessly exhibited by interminably putting her happiness above everything else in his quest to honorably win her heart.

To conclude the phenomenal Emma Swan moments in this week’s episode, how many of you felt a sense of strength, almost like goosebumps, come over you when she put on the red leather “armor” jacket? Look out, Wicked Witch, just as the savior broke the curse once, she’ll certainly do it again. Once again, we feel it’s necessary to compliment the expression Morrison wore in that scene, as there was both a feeling of fear and hope in her expression.

Back at the Enchanted Forest, the Charmings, dwarfs, Belle, Neal, and Regina decide to take back their kingdom only to find that there’s a protection spell placed on it by someone they don’t yet know.

Belle’s convinced that since they haven’t seen Rumple’s dagger, there’s a way to get him back, and my, are we pleased to hear those words? An episode with Rumple simply isn’t the Once Upon A Time as we know it. Rejoice, Rumbelle fans, there’s no doubt in our minds that this duo will reunite as will father and son.

Of all the scenes that stood out beautifully in the Enchanted Forest, nothing will surpass Snow convincing Regina to keep her heart. These women have come so far since that small betrayal that caused everything to spiral. Count on Snow White to feed everyone with inspirational quotes because that woman is absolutely unreal and certainly the fairest. When it comes to Parrilla’s and Goodwin’s chemistry, whether they’re at each other’s throats or having a heart-to-heart, it is one of the greatest things to witness because both women bring such passion into their characters. Ultimately, nothing was more heartwarming and hope-inducing than Regina and Snow calling it our kingdom. Also, Snow being a wing woman to Regina and Robin Hood is far too entertaining. “He smells like a forest” seeing as how she didn’t deny whether or not she thinks Robin is cute, it seems this phrase can be taken as an instigation that the Queen is definitely inquisitive about the Outlaw. We’re pretty fond of the fact that they met prior to her seeing his lion tattoo because it’s undoubtedly going to be a marvelous moment when she realizes he could be her second chance at love.

There’s no other perfect way to end an episode than with a Charming family reunion that tugs on your heartstrings in every way. Although they have no recollection of what occurred in the year they were separated from their daughter, things are certainly looking good for them as another child is on its way. We feel it’s necessary to mention that ever since Josh Dallas has mentioned that he always cradles Emma’s head purposely just as he did when she was an infant, we’re moved to tears every time it’s on screen. It’s beautiful to watch him continuously do it because even though she’s a grown woman, he makes it evident that she’s still the little girl he’ll perpetually protect and treasure more than anything.

Next week, flying monkeys and wicked galore! What are your thoughts on the season premiere?

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