Once Upon A Time 3×20 “Kansas” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

And here we go again with yet another curse. Yay?

Oz Flashbacks: Zelena meets Glinda the good witch who offers her a place in a sisterhood stating that they’ve been waiting for her arrival for a long time. Glinda introduces Zelena to two other witches who are waiting for the fourth one –Zelena– to join. The witch of the North represents wisdom, Glinda from the South represents love, and the one from the East represents courage. Zelena the witch of the West, represents the most ‘elusive power of all’: innocence. “Innocence reclaimed can be just as powerful as innocence born. You simply have to choose to be good.” As the primary theme of this week’s episode, this was one of the most fantastic messages in Once Upon A Time history. At the end of the day, even in the real world, people do terrible things, but if they want to change and redeem themselves then they should be allowed to and accepted once they’ve proven to be noble.

Because Glinda’s the keeper of the book of records, she’s already known about Zelena’s coming, however, the prophesy states that the fourth sister will come from a tornado, and that’s exactly how Dorothy (Matreya Scarrwener) makes her appearance as well. Overwhelmed with jealousy from the amount of attention Dorothy’s now getting Zelena resorts back to her green self. Before she tries to destroy Dorothy with a ball of flame, the water’s thrown at her and she melts away. However, she’s not actually gone as people believe. She impersonates the wizard, sends Dorothy home then banishes Glinda to the Enchanted Forest in order to work on her plans without anyone stopping her.

Present-Day Storybrooke: continuing right where it ended last week, Snow goes into labor and the entire town is on a mission to prevent history from repeating itself. Emma and Regina put a protection charm around her hospital, but it, unfortunately, doesn’t work against Zelena. Frustrated with Hook’s timing Zelena decides to test Emma by forcing Rumple to drown him – Emma chooses to protect Hook over keeping her powers. Zelena manages to take the newborn baby boy away, but through Regina’s choice to be good, she gains light magic and snatches the necklace away leaving Zelena powerless. Regina then convinces Rumple not to kill her as that’s not something they shouldn’t do anymore. He goes after Zelena even after he promises Belle he won’t and by killing her to avenge Neal, he unknowingly enacts the curse she’s been working on.

We particularly enjoyed the fact that the second half of season three has been Regina’s arc of earning trust and changing for the better. It’s been about“believing that a mother’s love is stronger than her dark heart.” Regina’s needed to learn that love isn’t something you can take, it’s something that must be earned and given to you because you’re deserving of it. And when she realizes that Henry’s love is ultimately something that should’ve been earned through fulfilling his desire of being someone good, she did everything in her ability to achieve that level of greatness. Her love for Henry was more than enough for her to change and to be someone worthy of being forgiven. While Regina was certainly not born evil –something we’re incredibly pleased she herself acknowledged– she let herself become that way through the years of torment by her mother and the heartbreak of Daniel’s death. However, she chose to redeem herself and make everyone else not only see but believe that she can be someone who’s worth trusting and loving.

If there’s any character on this show who could easily tug on one’s heartstrings through their impeccable sincerity all the time, it’s Henry. Jared Gilmore tends to deliver these particularly uplifting lines with such innocence in his portrayal that at a young age it’s entirely impressive. And while all of Regina’s scenes this week were remarkable, this moment at the hospital was our favorite. “Once upon a time, you were a villain, mom, but you’ve changed, you’re a hero now, and defeating bad guys is what heroes do. I believe in you.”

When Henry delivered this mini speech in front of Robin, Emma, Charming, and Killian, as an audience you could feel just how proud everyone in the room was. A scene like this is something we’ve wanted to witness for a very long time because everyone acknowledged just how much Regina’s changed. And above all things, it also brought to light the mere idea that no matter what these people have been through, they have now come together because of Henry, and they’re staying together because they’re able to help one another grow. It only took two seasons, but Regina’s finally chosen to do good.

The fear of failing and the bravery of going against Zelena again were reflected on Parrilla’s face so well as she came to the realization of what she was about to do. When Zelena told her it was her destiny to be evil, Parrilla delivered Regina’s lines with such pain in her voice – a kind we’ve not yet seen from her and it’s something that made the scene entirely phenomenal. Regina is taking hold of her destiny because it’s something she wants. More than anything in the world, she’s wanted to be loved, by her mother, Henry, and the town, and at this moment, she realizes that in order to be worthy of the kind of love she desires, she must take control of her path because it’s what she wants to attain. Once again, Parrilla was brilliant in these moments as she allowed the audience to feel all the heartaches that once bound Regina to a life of evil deeds – with her portrayal in that scene, we were reminded of the times she fought to be good enough for her mother, and the heartbreaking terror that once governed her came back to haunt her once more until Robin held her heart in his hand. She too was surprised at the sudden birth of light magic, but for the first time in a long time, her heart was held by someone she knew would keep it safe. And at that moment, Robin’s faith in her and his broad good spirit allowed her to take control of who she truly wanted to be.

However, choosing to let Zelena live may have been the honorable thing to do, but the heroes on this show need to learn the ramifications of such actions – the villains don’t seem to change, except Regina of course.

“I know what it’s like to not have the life you wanted. The life you feel you deserve. – I lost the love of my life. Not long ago, I was a lot like you. I wanted to kill someone who wronged me. I failed, had I killed Snow White, I wouldn’t be in this world. I wouldn’t be with these people and I wouldn’t have my son, Henry. So no, Zelena, I won’t kill you. Instead, I’m going to give you what I got, I’m going to give you a second chance. – take it, use it, evil isn’t born, it’s made and so is good.”

And after this beautifully moving speech, she went back to the typical Regina threatening to crush Zelena’s heart. Even though Regina thought she’d convinced Rumple not to kill anymore, he goes against her word and does so anyway in order to avenge Neal’s death. While we understand the reasoning behind his action, it’s not something we felt was necessary. Neal made the choice to pass as an honorable act, and we feel as though he wouldn’t be too pleased with Rumple’s choice. In order to cherish Neal’s memory, Rumple should have listened to Belle and left Zelena alone.

But before the act that brought the curse to life, Rumple and Belle finally reunited in the most gorgeous way possible. “Your unfailing faith constantly astounds me. And after everything I did … I will never comprehend why you continue to stand by my side.” One thing we’ve always said about Rumple and Belle as a couple is that Robert Carlyle and Emilie De Ravin make them as beautiful as they are – the two share such exquisite chemistry that it’s physically impossible not to “awwww” out loud when they’re on screen together.

This may have been our favorite scene of the duo yet because of the passionate embrace and heartfelt appreciation they showed one another. They’ve had a few scenes like this in the past, but this one especially was the most special in our books, and it’s probably due to the fact that we’ve been missing their love on our screen thus it felt like the perfect reunion. Carlyle’s delivery of the lines sold us, moved us to tears, and simultaneously broke our hearts while healing them. It’s painfully evident that even today, Rumple truly doesn’t understand what he’s done to earn Belle’s selfless and unwavering love – and through Carlyle’s performance, you could wholeheartedly see the concern in his expressions where he’s almost perpetually afraid she’ll one day see him as a monster. And similarly, De Ravin does an excellent job of illuminating Belle’s feelings to a point where the audience never doubts her love for him – it’s something we personally admire because it’s nice to know these two are immovable as a pair.

While their reunion was glorious and they promised one another forever as Rumple proposed, we can’t help but feel that the wedding may not occur once she finds out what he’s done. That’s not to say that it will never happen because we firmly believe marriage is in the cards for these two. But we also feel it may be put on hold for a while as Rumple truly grieves and comes back to his actual self. Rumple’s brain has been toyed with for over a year now, thus he’s physically, mentally, and emotionally not yet recovered from the turmoil and stress Zelena’s grip on him has undoubtedly caused. We feel as though before they say “I do,” he may need to take a little bit longer to grieve for Neal’s death and the lost year. And with the curse coming, there’s merely not enough time for him to do all of this. Again, a wedding is still possible, but we’re thinking Belle may be too upset at the circumstances at this moment to take that leap of faith with him. Rumple needs to take this time for his own sanity and she’ll surely help him out. Thus, in regards to the wedding spoiler going around: while we hope it may be them, we’re a bit hesitant to see it this quickly – but hey, as long as it works in the plot, then we’re all for it.

Emma was a sassy little five-year-old in this episode wasn’t she? Although we’re not going to lie, we found the father/daughter scene quite entertaining as she was legitimately acting like a child. Emma was a bit harsh with the whole “I have magic, he’s got one hand” statement, but it’s exactly as we said, she was acting childlike, pointing out things that people don’t usually do and don’t actually mean. And while Charming laid the rules down as a father, it was nice to see them act as a family the way they did because it’s not something we often get. Essentially, throughout the scene, her behavior was similar to that of a child who’s displeased with their father’s instructions.

Additionally, we’re thoroughly pleased with Charming acknowledging that Killian’s act was something that needed to be done because of the situation he’s in. Because Charming too has been in the kind of situation where he felt lying to his loved ones was the best option, he recognizes Killian’s decision as something that normally occurs when one doesn’t want to hurt anyone he adores.

While on their way to defeat the Wicked Witch once and for all, Emma again expresses her plans about leaving for New York because their life there was good. However, Killian knows her too well and he sees that she’s actually running from possibilities. We’ve always felt as though Emma embraced Killian’s love for her back in “Going Home” at the town line when she uttered the word “good”; moreover, no matter how frustrating her desire to leave is, it’s entirely understandable as she’s dealing with the ramifications of two sets of memories, two sets of happy moments and sad ones, thus trusting is inevitably something that’s difficult for her.

The thing we adore most about Killian’s love for Emma is his unwavering persistence to help her embrace the things he knows will make her happiest. “Why are you so scared of staying? I think it’s because you see a future here, a happy one.”  O’Donoghue is truly something else when it comes to sincere line deliveries, especially when they’re expressing Killian’s feelings for Emma. He ultimately sees her innermost desires effortlessly because of how much he understands her. He feels the same amount of pain she does – the fear of losing love and being betrayed as she has in the past. Thus, he feels her concerns and sees that the fear of a good life, forces her to back away because of what she’s experienced. Killian knows that Emma has an immense capacity to love and when she opens her heart to some, there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for them. He understands that because of the turmoils in her past, she’s eager to leave because the possibilities of opening her heart again are on the line. If she does choose to embrace love, she’s laying it all on the line, she’s giving her all, and in doing so she’s afraid of another terrifying heartache because she evidently does see the potential of something real.

Zelena then interrupts their conversation to set things straight on her own by forcing Emma to choose between saving Killian or keeping her powers. Emma chooses to save his life, and because this is something we’ve wanted for them for quite some time, we’re entirely pleased with the scene. So much of their journey has been about Emma’s choices, and in this scene especially, it wasn’t just about saving his life, but it was the authentic concerns that were illuminated at the moment. The most revealing part of the scene was Emma’s second “come back to me” which she whispered just after she gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation – there’s something remarkable about that phrase, especially when it’s used with two people who truly care for one another. In season one, memoryless Snow found herself whispering the same exact words to an unconscious David by the Troll Bridge.

It’s a phrase that tends to valorize the idea that the two hearts are so incredibly connected that the saying will be heard even in the deepest sleep. It’s as though we needed more parallels between the two couples for further proof that they’re made for one another. Morrison’s delivery of the particular line was impeccably telling – Emma would much rather lose her powers than lose her person. As she whispered those words, she ultimately substantiated the fact that he was someone she needs in her life. Plainly simple, she wants him to come back to her –Morrison’s faintly expressive whisper was filled with an abundant amount of fear that was not only heard loudly but crystallized through the distressed look in her eyes and the tight grip on his shirt. Emma’s shown her concerns for Killian a few times before, but none of the scenes were as evocative as this one. After he was revived and speaking to her, because of Morrison’s commendable abilities to speak with her eyes, you could see the indisputable relief on Emma’s face that she didn’t lose him, that for the first time since coming to Storybrooke, a man didn’t die in her arms.  

This was the kind of moment that was meant to show viewers and Emma herself just how significant Killian is. He’s not just a pirate, he’s somebody she cannot lose because he’s become her partner, her equal – the person whose happiness and well-being mean more to her than she can articulate. It’s a prodigious moment for the two of them because she chose his life over her magic, and knowing she’s done so is something that upsets Killian because it’s not something he wanted for her. O’Donoghue played that scene remarkably as he projected both gratitude and anger masterfully while he realized she saved his life, and he unwillingly took away something he wanted her to embrace.

Nonetheless, we also feel it’s necessary to acknowledge that we do feel as though at some point Emma’s powers will resurface, but at the end of the day, they don’t change who she is. She’s still the amazingly strong woman born out of true love who’s saved an entire town through her genuinely extensive capacity to love. She may have been the only one to have light magic, and even though she no longer does, it doesn’t change anything. She’s still special – this was ultimately about her choice. Emma hasn’t always been given agency in her life, and this was one of the first times she was. Thus, it was her choice to save Killian’s life making her even more selfless and special than she was before.

Oftentimes on the show, people have chosen power above all things, but Emma chose to save a man’s life instead. She chose to put someone who’s ceaselessly been by her side before the powers she was thrilled to finally master, and that makes her character exceptional – it shows her pure heart beautifully.

After the witch is defeated and the Charming family is reunited with their newborn baby boy, Killian essentially voices his delight in finally seeing a raw, content, and happy smile on Emma’s face. He then thanks her for saving his life and she responds with “did you really think I’d let you drown?” Emma’s “did you really think I’d let you drown?” is equivalent to Killian’s “does that surprise you?” during their times in Neverland.

Ultimately both Killian and Emma don’t realize just how much the other truly cares for them – they’ve grown to respect and appreciate one another so immensely that they wholeheartedly only desire the best for each other. At the end of the day, they’ve both been alone for so long that it’s nearly impossible to believe that someone’s actually concerned for them – they find it difficult to comprehend the idea that there’s a person by their side who’s sacrificed something valuable for them, understands even the darkest corners of their mind, and effortlessly brings out the best in them.

Interestingly, Emma once again expresses leaving for New York, however, we’re certain that deep down she knows it isn’t the best plan. Emma’s still conflicted with opening her heart to Killian because she knows just how true his love is, and the knowledge itself is enough to frighten her and force her walls up higher than usual.

Without a doubt, the best part of this week’s episode was the final scene between the Charming family. Our hearts could not be happier with the fact that they got their baby back. When Zelena intruded in the beginning just as the first curse was cast, Snow’s cry shattered our hearts tremendously. When Snow cried, we cried – it’s inevitable.

Additionally, when the baby was finally rescued and Emma asked if he was okay, Charming’s response goes down in history as one of the sweetest, most beautiful statements ever made on the show: “he can handle anything, just like his big sister.” There’s no denying that the Charming children are special beyond words, and we felt Charming’s acknowledgment of what resilient treasures their children are was simply immaculate. Back at the hospital when Charming walked in with their child and Snow saw that history hadn’t repeated itself, Goodwin’s expression was beautifully moving – there aren’t enough words to describe how happy we are that they’re finally given a moment to live their lives. Perhaps it’s because Goodwin is pregnant herself but there was a motherly irreplaceable light on her expression. Their utmost happiness while holding their child made the scene indescribable.

There was something additionally wondrous about this scene and it was the moment the camera panned to Emma’s smile – and once again we must commend Morrison’s noteworthy abilities to project that Emma’s finally embracing the good. When season three first premiered, Emma’s character poster read “believe that a lost girl can find her way home” thus, her entire arc was about coming to terms with who she truly is and finding somewhere she’s filled with hope. It is about finding a home. While numerous fears have tried to tear her down and possibly still will, as the audience you could wholeheartedly see that Emma felt safe, loved, and happy.

In next week’s episode, we cannot even begin to fathom what could possibly occur, but something tells us that the lost girl is finally going to understand that she’s already found a home. We’ll be going to a new land, apparently traveling back through time, going to a ball, running away, and other incredible things.

Rebecca Mader’s been phenomenal as the wicked witch, and we’re not sure if this is her final episode but we’re hoping it’s not. She’s portrayed Zelena astoundingly and in her most vulnerable moments throughout the episode, she managed to make us feel a bit saddened for Zelena.

What are your thoughts on this week’s episode?

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