Once Upon A Time 3×21/3×22 ‘Snow Drifts’ and ‘There’s No Place Like Home’: Emma Swan, for the love of God, stop messing with the timeline

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Well, dear readers, here we are at the final season three episode for Once Upon a Time. And, sadly, my final review here at GottaWatchIt.com. Be sure to follow me over at SpoilerTV.com for my thoughts on season four! I have to say I enjoyed this episode very much. The element of time travel, something I was actually against earlier in the season, was handled quite well and benefited from the double episode. The extra time allowed the twists and turns in the timeline to be properly fleshed out or solved and gave for a satisfying exploration. A lot of steps when in to fixing the past and the pace at which this occured definetly helped the plot flow smoothly. The double episode ran almost like a movie and really deserves to be reviewed all in one go, hence the long review. There are of course two events at the end of this episode that have kept my various social media outlets buzzing, both of which I am a bit critical of myself. I will definetly address these in a due time. For now, on with the review. And for old time’s sake, I think I’ll switch to my old format when discussing this finale.

The episode begins eighteen years in the past and I swear for a moment I was watching a commercial for a Disney vacation. We see a young girl being presented with a Mickey Mouse plush before smiling and being taken away in a car by her new foster parents. Various other residents of group home look on, all of them younger children except for a single teenager, sticking out like a sore thumb. Blonde hair, hand me down flannel, you must be Emma Swan. Despite being much older than her counterparts, young Emma is assured that one day she will find her own version of home. I’m grateful for this glimpse into Emma’s past and hope to see more of her life before she met Neal in the upcoming season.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

Jump to the present, as a now grown Emma Swan looks on at her parents doting over her new brother. The savior jokes that she doesn’t yet know the name of her new sibling, so Charming explains that in the Enchanted Forest it is tradition to announce a new royal to the realm. Emma jokes that her parents will hold their new baby aloft at the clock tower a la The Lion King, but Charming offers a simpler solution; a party at Granny’s. Henry bursts into the loft, waving a newspaper and proclaiming that he has found the perfect apartment for Emma. This shocks the savior who still has plans to take her son back to New York. Thankfully, Emma’s insistence on returning to New York is addressed at length in this episode.

Elsewhere in Storybrooke, Regina and Robin Hood are sharing a bottle of wine and a tasty charcuterie plate, celebrating the return of Regina’s heart. This scene is very romantic and I love how the pair acknowledge their first lost loves. Regina even tells Robin of how Tinkerbell played a part in their union, of the magic that lead her to the man with the lion tattoo. Robin muses that perhaps their meeting was all in the timing which should have clued me in to what happens at the end of the episode.

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Source: ABC

At the pawn shop, Rumpelstilskin is squirreling away the true Dark One dagger, hiding it via magic in a cupboard in his shop. And not a moment too soon, as Belle arrives and begs him to take back the “dagger”. The idea of wielding that much power makes her uncomfortable. Belle mentions that perhaps a better resting place for the object could be in Rumple’s secret vault, a place we have never heard of until this episode. It’s a vault in the Enchanted Forest where he secreted away only the most dangerous and incomprehensible magic. No prizes if you think this vault will come into play later in the episode. Even if it were possible, Rumple assures his love that this vault is no place for the dagger because it is no longer a danger if it is in Belle’s hands. Rumpelstilskin goes on about his trust in Belle, the very reason he gives her the dagger, but I can’t seem to find the sweetness in these words when I know he went behind her back and murdered Zelena. Despite this, I am still excited to see their wedding and I hope Rumple’s misdeed does get addressed in season 4.

And so on to the festivities at Granny’s. We see many familiar faces as all the dwarves, Geppetto, and even Princess Abigail the daughter of King Midas are in attendance. Grumpy makes it a point to mention that with Zelena in the clink and her powers gone, her spells are being reversed and the winged monkeys are back to their original form. This is good news for Aurora, who is now in Storybrooke and still is pregnant. Even though this line was probably included as a throw away to pacify the audience, I’m pleased that Aurora’s pregnancy hasn’t been forgotten. I wonder what role she will play now that she is a resident of Storybrooke?

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

Snow White and Charming look on as Henry reads from the Book, telling his baby uncle (yeah I know right) the story of how his grandparents met and fell in love. This serves as a refresher for the audience to the basic outline of the season one episode “Snow Falls”, an episode that will be twisted about once the time travel shenanigans get underway. Hook puts his pirate boot in his mouth when he offhandedly mentions the fact that Emma’s desire to leave Storybrooke is similar to how Snow initially ran away from Charming. When both Henry and Regina, unaware of Emma’s plan to return to New York, press the savior for a clarification and an assurance that she and her son won’t be returning to the Big Apple, Emma leaves the diner in a huff. Hook follows close behind, taking the Book with him in an effort to remind Emma, in Henry’s words, “where she belongs”. Things in Storybrooke remain quiet for about .2 seconds, then Henry notices a pillar of magical light standing out like a beacon across town. Rumple confirms this has to do with Zelena’s time portal, so our heroes head down to the jail to question the Wicked Witch.

At the sheriff’s station, Regina, Rumple, and the rest find Zelena’s cell mysteriously empty. Knowing the witch couldn’t have escaped, let alone open a time portal without magic, Regina is immediately suspicious of Rumpelstilskin, despite Belle’s vouching for him. Charming suggests they check the tapes and Rumpelstilskin’s “oh crap” reaction to the fact that he forgot about the surveillance cameras is amusing. While Charming fiddles with the Betamax (I know this is a town stuck in time, but really? Well, Prince Charming does still have a flip phone…) Rumple waves his fingers and changes the footage to make it appear as if Zelena had enough residual magic to off herself. Digging the hole of deceit deeper there, Rumple. Regina reasons that when Zelena died, the magic in her brooch had no tie to this world and sought out the time portal spell as a way of fulfilling its purpose. Charming then realizes that both Emma and Hook are unaware of the danger and tries to give his daughter a call.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

Emma is out near the pond, contemplating life. Her posture here, sitting cross-legged and huddled up, is very reminiscent of a child or someone closing themselves off. And that is exactly what Emma has been doing according to Hook. He knows Emma’s desire to leave isn’t about either her or Henry’s safety. After all, she helped beat a maniacal Peter Pan and a very Wicked Witch. Emma concedes and we finally get the truth behind why she has been so stubborn about returning to the “real world”. The savior still feels that she is searching for a home. She doesn’t see her family in Henry’s book, she only sees fairy tales and a world she was never part of. Home, to Emma, is a place that you yearn for and miss when it’s gone and she has yet to feel that. So the reason Emma is leaving is because she doesn’t feel as if she is a part of her family and in New York, even though those memories were false, she had a taste of belonging. This revelation is cut short as Emma notices the gigantic magical pillar shooting up towards the sky. You’d think she would have seen that sooner, I mean, the Bat Signal is more subtle.

Hook and Emma rush to Zelena’s farm to investigate, Emma filling the pirate in on the situation from info she received in a voicemail from Charming. Emma wants to find a way to close the portal, but Hook wisely wants to leave, knowing the savior no longer wields the magic needed to close such a rift. This is the first of many time travel related blunders Emma stumbles into. Before they can retreat, however, the portal surges and Emma falls in, with Hook right behind. The cardinal rule of time travel is don’t. Just don’t. Don’t mess with the past because the results can be catastrophic. And yet, as we will see, Emma continuously does or says something to cause the timeline to get further out of whack. There is a definite Back to the Future vibe in her meddling.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

So Hook and Emma find themselves in the past, right about when Charming and Snow White meet for the first time. Emma was thinking of Henry and the stories they were telling in the diner, which is why they were brought to this specific place and time. Unfortunately, time portals don’t seem to remain open for return trips. Emma has a brainwave and realizes that the only person who could possibly help them is Rumpelstilskin. But before they can even catch their breath, the pirate and the savior dive into the bushes at the sound of an oncoming carriage. Come to think of it, these two do a lot of slinking around in the underbrush this episode. Emma is surprised to see Regina in all her Evil Queen glory as she steps out of the carriage and threats the gathered villagers, seeking information on Snow White. The queen uses a captured woman as an example of what happens to those who withhold the information she seeks, leading her away. If you recognize this captive from her first appearance on Once Upon a Time back in season 2, you’ll already have a sense of the bad tidings brewing on the horizon. Emma moves as if to help the young woman, but Hook stops her and reminds the savior that with time travel, nothing from the past can be changed if they want to return to the world they know. See, even the pirate gets it.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

In an effort to blend in better with the common folk, Emma swipes some laundry off a nearby line and wrestles herself into a corset. I have to say, the fairy tale look suits her. While she and Hook set off for Rumple’s castle, other goings-on are occurring on the same road. We see Bandit Snow White begin to cut down the tree that serves as the roadblock so she can rob Charming and Abigail, who are on their way to King Midas’s palace. These scenes are interspersed with clips from “Snow Falls” and while in some aspects they fit in very well with the new footage, the newer shots used to bookend the old clips while meticulously matching the wardrobe, lighting, etc, the use of a body double for the very pregnant Ginnifer Goodwin is obvious, at least to me. Never have a seen more footage of the back of a main cast member’s head than I have in this episode and it serves as a dead give away during some of the newly interwoven scenes.

Hook and Emma, hearing a carriage on the road, once again spy on events from the bushes. When Emma realizes that she is witnessing her parent’s first meeting, her delight and intrigue are wonderful to see. Some of the best moments from this episode are Emma Swan’s reactions to things, both her joy and sorrow at certain events. However, the savior’s delight is cut short when she causes a branch to snap, startling Bandit Snow out of her perch in a tree. This results in Bandit Snow fleeing the scene without stealing Charming’s ring, the reason the prince first vows to “find her”‘ and the couple’s first meeting.  Emma Swan, please refrain from touching anything else.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

And so, our time traveling pair make haste and are finally within sight of Rumpelstilskin’s castle. Knowing that the imp of the past won’t take kindly to his “crocodile” aka Hook, appearing at his doorstep, Emma and the pirate proceed with caution. Or they would have if Rumple hadn’t beaten them to the punch, appearing behind the pair and putting Hook in a Force choke. Emma’s reaction to the Dark One in all his sparkly, giggling, and hand twirling glory is something I have been waiting three seasons to see and I was not disappointed when her jaw dropped all the way to the ground. Unfortunately, the only way Emma can get Rumple to relent is to divulge the future, telling the imp that she knows of the curse he is cooking up and the son he seeks. Just…stop meddling Emma. Mention of his boy intrigues Rumple, but news that the savior and the pirate have already messed up the past, potentially preventing his reunion from happening is what truly gets the Dark One on their side.

Within Rumple’s palace, Emma Swan just throws the time traveler’s handbook out the window by wondering out loud at how Belle and the imp fell for each other as the latter dismisses the librarian to go “read a book or whatever”. Rumpelstilskin is savvy enough not to ask for details, but is just stymied at the fact that he not only lets Hook live, but ends up getting the girl. Getting back to business, Emma begins to lay out the events as they should have happened, but when she goes to the Book for reference, the pages are blank. Changing the past has already had effects, throwing all events they know as history into limbo. Unless they can right the timeline and get Snow White to steal the ring and meet Prince Charming, there will be no happily ever afters. Rumple informs our duo that the prince will be at a ball, so all they have to do is get Snow White to the palace. Consulting a crystal ball, the imp helps them locate Bandit Snow, who is seen in a tavern trying and failing to book passage on Blackbeard’s ship. Rumple agrees to help them reopen the time portal, but only Emma can put her parents’ timeline back on track since she knows what she messed up.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

Since Snow is interested in booking passage on a pirate ship, Hook comes up with a risky plan. They locate the Hook of the past in the sea side tavern where Snow was meeting Blackbeard. Emma is to keep his past self “busy” while Hook uses the Jolly Roger to draw Bandit Snow in. Emma loosens her corset and goes over to the pirate of the past and begins to pour shots. There’s a joke about rum here somewhere. My question is how no one in the tavern noticed there were two Captain Hooks sitting just tables apart? While Emma is occupying Past Hook, Future Hook steps onto the deck of the Jolly Roger. Smee is confused as to why is captain is back so early from his night of wenching, but the pirate waves off his first mate, instructing him to bring Bandit Snow below. Keeping his face in the shadows, Future Hook tells Snow that he will give her passage if she can retrieve the ring from Prince Charming. Meanwhile, Past Hook is obliterated. Emma had been throwing her shots over her shoulder, but the pirate of the past gave Captain Jack Sparrow a run for his money in the rum drinking department. He proceeds to stumble Emma back to the “Rolly Joger” for a, ahem, nightcap, his drunk antics allowing Bandit Snow to exit unobserved. I love how Smee is on point in this scene, noticing the odd comings and goings of his captain as well as the mysterious change in the color of his vest. So far, the corrections and ins and outs of this time travel debacle have been both interesting and well played. Characters aren’t blind to the strangeness before them, but paradoxes are being avoided rather well.

That is, until Emma is below deck with Future Hook, who hasn’t had time to escape the Jolly Roger before his past self enters the quarters. Future Hook can only hide for so long before his jealousy gets the best of him and promptly decks his past self in the face, knowing that the pirate will blame any strangeness on the beverage he holds dear. I think this shows a bit of character development for Hook. He doesn’t seem to be fond of Past Hook when observing him in the tavern and more than likely doesn’t take kindly to the way his past self would have treated the woman he loves. While still getting in a joke here and there, I’ve noticed the pirate has definitely laid off the lewdness as well.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

The duo now tackle their next problem; crashing the ball. They both know Bandit Snow can sneak in without a problem, but neither likes leaving this crucial part of their plan up to chance. Lucky for them, Rumple appears with an invitation to the ball. It seems the imp isn’t content to sit back and let events unfold either, though who can blame him considering how much of the future Emma Swan has blabbed. Rumple assures Emma and Hook that he is working on their ride home, using a powerful wand in his possession. This must be the wand of the Black Fairy, last seen in episode 10, though it was under the control of the Blue Fairy at the time. Hmmm, I feel this will be explored further in season 4. Anyway, before Hook and Emma can crash the party, they’ll definitely need a wardrobe change. Rumpelstilskin, fairy godmother-at-large, magics the pair some spiffy new duds for the ball and casts a glamour spell so no one will recognize them should they meet again in the future. Rumple remarks on the miracle that the timeline hasn’t imploded already and I have to agree with the imp on this one.

As Emma and Hook enter the ball they are greeted by King Midas himself. Unfortunately the pair didn’t think to come up with aliases before gate crashing. These two would make terrible spies. Emma, thinking quick, announces them as “Prince Charles” and “Princess Leia” and this Star Wars shout-out will amuse me for the rest of the episode. Every time things get a bit serious, someone calls Emma “Leia” and I just have to grin. Emma doesn’t see all the fuss her parents made about balls, that is until she and the pirate make their way to the dance floor. Hook, it seems, is gifted with twinkle toes and proceeds to give Emma her first waltz. While the pair are cutting the proverbial rug, Snow White has bandit-ed herself into Prince Charming’s bedroom, searching for the ring. She succeeds, but is caught by the prince. Their meeting here has striking similarities to their original meeting on the road in “Snow Falls”. I feel as if I have worn out the word “parallel” in these last few reviews, but really what we see are the events that were meant to play out originally, just in a different setting. Snow White escapes with Charming vowing to find her.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

Back at the ball, Regina arrives, her entrance strongly reminding me of Disney’s Malificent bursting into the titular  Sleeping Beauty’s coronation. Midas gets news that the bandit Snow White is on the premises, which is Emma and Hook’s cue to lend a hand. They help Snow White escape (the body doubling is strong in this scene), but unfortunately Snow dropped the ring. Emma retrieves it at the same time Regina’s guards retrieve her for helping the bandit escape. This is the point where episode 3×21 ends.

The final half of the Once Upon a Time season finale picks up with a flashback to young bespectacled Emma Swan in Portland. She is meeting up with Nealfire for a drink, though his idea of romance is a little B and E as he picks the locks on a large iron gate. It turns out their rendezvous place is an amusement park. Nealfire flips a switch and lights up one of the rides for Emma and the two sit, drinking their coffee. Emma wants to know more about Neal. As Nealfire avoids all magical references while vaguely explaining his past, he tells Emma that you know you have a home when you miss it when it’s gone. Ahh, so here is where Emma got her definition of “home” and more than likely why she is having such difficulty establishing one amongst her parents and the other fairy tale denizens. We know Neal and Emma were going to find “Tallahassee”, to find their own home together, and then circumstances made it so they never got to. Aside from not feeling as if she belonged in the world of fairy tales, it may be safe to say the savior is scared of opening herself up and taking a chance on a “home” again.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

Jump to the present day or rather the past…yeah. Emma has been stripped of her ballgown and thrown into Regina’s famous dungeons. She quickly makes friends with another captive, the woman who was hauled off in the village. This woman doesn’t dare tell Emma her name; her silence is what’s protecting her family. She is also the bearer of bad news, informing Emma that all captives are to be executed at dawn. As Emma and the mystery woman sit in their cells, waiting for their fate, Emma’s cellmate mentions that the pain from being separated from family never gets any better, in fact it worsens. Emma remarks that if her mother were there she would tell them to have hope. This surely is a call back to the the season two episode “The Queen of Hearts”, where Emma, Snow, Aurora, and Mulan are locked in the Dark One’s cage and Snow encourages Emma to not lose hope in such a dire situation.

Cut to the forest, where events similar to “Snow Falls” occur once more. Charming has snared Bandit Snow in a net, asking that she return his ring. Only this time, instead of having already sold it to the trolls, Snow simply never made off with it. Enter Hook, who interrupts the two, offering a solution. Save Emma from the dungeon and retrieve the ring. There’s the added bonus for Hook that these events may set the timeline back on track. The trio travel via wagon to the Evil Queen’s castle. During the ride, Charming notices Snow White’s vial of dark fairy dust. Though not called by name, I consider this to be another mention of the Black Fairy. The dialogue here is again the same as “Snow Falls”, once more occurring in a different setting. I feel these similarities either point to the strength of Snow White and Charming’s love, that it’s their destiny to be together in True Love, so events that need to unfold will do so under any circumstance. Or, this could simply be the writer’s vision for time travel/ time meddling, that certain events will always occur, it’s just the circumstance that change and this applies for everyone, not just those destined to be together. This could have interesting implications for events I’ll address later involving Regina Mills. Snow White goes off in search of special help for their task, telling the boys they will make their move that night.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

So Charming and Hook wait by the fire as the sun goes down. Bros forever, no matter the timeline. Hook nonchalantly asks Charming about his impending wedding to Abigail. Charming is obviously not thrilled about the marriage, wondering out loud if True Love even exists. Hook offers the advice that perhaps all True Love needs is for the right person to come along. Their heart to heart is interrupted by the arrival of Snow White’s “help” in the form of Red Riding Hood. As always, it is so good to see Ruby on my screen. Many of our secondary Storybrooke citizen’s made an appearance in this finale and it always pleases me to see them back in action.

Ruby gets her werewolf on, leading the way for our heroes to rescue Emma. Seems Emma took her rescuing into her own hands, picking the padlock on her cell with just a few bits of wire. Nealfire would be proud. I love the fact that no matter the situation, Emma Swan is not a damsel in distress. She fights her own battles and isn’t afraid to get physical. And while this is all well and good, what makes it even better is that while she is a strong independent character, she still has emotions. She tears up during both sad and beautiful moments in this episode and that doesn’t make her weak. Emma Swan acknowledging her feelings doesn’t make her any less of a bad ass as she was in season one. She, like so many characters on Once Upon a Time, have changed and grown over the seasons. However, Emma is still on my list for messing with the timeline. The savior did it again by saving her cell mate, a woman on her way to execution, a woman who probably wasn’t supposed to survive past the next day. And I do hope Emma owns up to whatever consequences this action may have.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

While everyone is escaping the dungeon, Snow White has taken the opportunity to sneak up of Regina in her boudoir. The Evil Queen hears her coming a mile away, scoffing at the idea that fairy dust will be her undoing. That is, until she realizes that it’s dark fairy dust she is dealing with. This sobers Regina up quickly, so I really have to wonder now, what is the deal with this dark fairy? Bandit Snow flings the dust in Regina’s face, but the queen halts the particles in mid air, reminding the bandit that dark magic is her domain. As her guards take Snow White away to be executed immediately, Regina reminds Snow that despite the actions that set this whole feud off being a mistake, that mistake still has consequences. And so without further ado, Regina literally burns Snow White at the stake. Just as Snow is about to go up into flames, Emma and company screech to a halt on a balcony over looking the scene. Emma’s expression is heartbreaking, she seems to be torn in two by what’s happening below.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

A mournful wolf howl, probably Ruby’s, transitions us to the next scene where our heroes are regrouping around the fire, swatting bugs. Emma realizes that she hasn’t winked out of existence yet, which must mean Snow White somehow survived. Charming notices that one bug is particularly resilient and realizes that Snow White must have used the remaining dark fairy dust on herself to escape being flambe’d. Bug Snow White has been giving out tiny little chirps this whole time, appearing to try to speak. And who should arrive but the Deus Ex Blue Fairy! It turns out Snow White was calling for the patron fairy of her family for help. Blue’s white magic is enough to conquer the dark fairy dust and change Snow back. Just want to point out, Blue knows Emma is lying when she says her name is “Leia” and let’s it slide, allowing the savior to keep her secrets. It’s been so long since I was able to point out how shady the Blue Fairy is, oh how I missed that. When Snow is restored to her rightful body, the first thing Emma does is tackle hug her. Unfortunately, to Bandit Snow Emma is only a stranger and a touchy-feely one at that. Snow prys herself from the savior’s grip and goes off the greet Ruby, leaving Emma looking a bit put out.

The next day, Hook and Emma watch as Snow White and Charming warm up to each other. However, they have bigger problems ahead. The mystery woman from the cells is not meant to be in the Enchanted Forest. Hook comes up with all sorts of scenarios as to how her presence could wreck the timeline further. So Emma… oh Emma, she comes up with her most hare-brained plan yet. They want to take the woman to the future with them and when she obviously resists, thinking Hook and Emma are nuts, Emma clobbers the woman in the head with a branch and they kidnap her. In what realm is this a good idea? I know Emma wants to help, I understand she doesn’t want this innocent woman to die, but this isn’t like taking a puppy home. Someone needs to take the timeline away from Emma. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

While this attempted kidnapping is taking place, so has a bit of pickpocketing. Bandit Snow strikes again, lifting Charming’s purse containing the ring off his person and has flitted away. Charming knows that Snow wished to sail away from this land. The only way to get to the harbor from their current location is via the Troll Bridge and the prince hurriedly heads off in that direction. Emma goes to follow him before Hook points out that isn’t the Troll Bridge where they are meant to be? It’s the place Snow saved Charming in the original timeline. Emma then reminds him and the audience that Snow White had the help of the black fairy dust to do the trick in the original timeline.

The only difference to the scene on the Troll Bridge is that Snow White calls the trolls’ bluff, pretending to have the fairy dust. And so the timeline is set right once again, with Snow White trying on Charming’s ring, enacting the moment the prince knew that he was in love with the bandit. Hook and Emma watch this moment unfold, the latter with tears in her eyes. Like I said, her reactions to everything in this finale have to be the best part. Emma does a quick check in the Book and sure enough, the stories are returning. Now there’s just the matter of their returning to the present.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

That turns out to be a problem. Rumpelstilskin can’t open the portal due to some caveat in the spell that only allows those who use said portal to open it. And Emma is no longer being able to wield magic making this almost impossible. Rumple, in the meantime, has been whipping up a forgetting potion for himself. As savvy as he is, the imp knows that he has seen too much of his future and the wisest course of action would be to forget it in order for events to proceed as they should. A danger to that progression is obviously Emma and Hook, who hail from the future. So in a blink, Rumple banishes them, the Black Fairy’s wand (that’s a third mention this must be important), and their kidnap victim who has been hauled along for the ride, to that super secret vault we heard about an hour and a half ago. Why is there a statue of Pazuzu from The Exorcist down there? And also, how long has their kidnap victim been unconscious, are we sure Emma didn’t accidentally kill her?

Down in the vault it’s Hook this time who begins to fiddle with things, taking a large urn out of a cabinet. Stop it, you meddling kids! Hook believes Emma can open the time portal and free them with her magic since after Zelena died all the witch’s spells were reversed. He suggests that perhaps Emma is holding back because living without magic would make life in New York a bit easier. Here Emma refutes the pirate, stating that she is done running. When the savior thought she lost her mother and then realized Snow White was alive and rushed to hug her, Emma noticed that there was nothing behind her mother’s eyes, no love there because she didn’t recognize her own daughter. Emma realized this was the pain she put her family through by leaving again and again, and that when Henry brought her to Storybrooke the very first time, what he was actually doing was bringing her home. So Emma has found home, the place she misses, within her family.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

And this emotion is just the fuel Emma’s magic needs to kick into gear, for while she was explaining her change of heart to Hook, the Black Fairy’s wand she was holding began to glow with white magic, Emma’s magic. Casting the portal is easy now, and quickly Hook hauls their unconscious guest through the howling vortex. Before Emma can join him though, Rumpelstilskin pops into view and grasps Emma, preventing her from returning to the present until he knows what happens to his son. Emma tries to resist but in the end she gives in and tells the Dark One that his son dies. She loved him and he dies and Rumple shouldn’t try to change that because Nealfire died a hero’s death and that shouldn’t be sullied. Emma begs Rumple to take the forgetting potion clutched in his fist and let her go, which he does, flinging Emma into the abyss as the portal closes. After the potion takes effect, Rumple gazes around and give a great read of the line, “What the HELL am I doing HERE”. Honestly, I thoroughly enjoyed all of Rumpelstilskin’s moments in the finale. I felt like he was a bit underused this second half of the season, so it was great to see our imp with the limp back in more of a trickster, know-all role.

The first thing Emma does when she returns to the present is run all the way to the diner and hug her parents. She assures everyone that she will not be leaving Storybrooke, nor will Henry, anytime soon. And the angels sang hallelujah. Emma goes on to explain her adventures, noticing she even made it into the Book as Princess Leia. As the party winds down Charming gathers everyone’s attention and takes the opportunity to introduce the newest addition to the family. He and Snow White have decided to name their son after a true hero and are now calling him Neal. Rumpelstilskin, sitting in a corner, also seems to wilt with emotion at this acknowledgement. As odd as it will be for Emma to babysit a kid named after her dead ex-boyfriend, I do love that the baby’s name is Neal for one reason: It means that Nealfire won’t be forgotten in the show, that the character will surely be mentioned again and his contributions will live on many episodes to come.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

After the naming of the bouncing baby Neal, Emma and Hook have a quiet moment outside on the patio of Granny’s Diner. Emma thanks Hook for coming to get her in New York and Hook finally comes clean with how he got there in the first place. It’s a touch anticlimactic except for one part. Hook saw the curse coming and ditched his crew, taking the Jolly Roger as far as he could, out running the curse. When it had settled, the pirate traded his ship for a magic bean and used it to get to Emma in New York. Hook traded the thing that represented his former life, the thing he thought he loved the most, for Emma. The savior must have realized how important this was because she immediately lays one on the pirate and they being smooching like teenagers.

Out by the magic well, the place they first met in this world, Rumpelstilskin and Belle meet again, this time to be married. Moe French has apparently forgiven the cane beat down he received at Rumple’s hands long enough to give the bride away and Archie Hopper is officiating the ceremony. Belle looks adorable in a 1920-ish get up. I like that their wedding was a private affair, just the two of them. It wouldn’t be in line with Rumple’s character to have some big flashy town event. Rumple and Belle have also written their own vows. Belle speaks of the times she lost Rumple, to darkness and death and her realization that she didn’t spend her life losing the imp, but finding him. Rumpelstilskin tells Belle that she brought his walls down and brought him home, that she saw the man behind the monster. Belle gently reminds him that sometimes the best teacups are chipped and that was the line the stuck with me this entire ceremony, I love that line. As the vows are recited, shots of the various Storybrooke couples, Snow and Charming, Emma and Hook, and Regina and Robin, linger on the screen. It is a beautiful moment and if the show had to end today, it would be perfect just to end on that.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

Speaking of Regina and Robin, they were escorting Roland, the Littlest Merry Man, out for some ice cream before returning to the diner. It seems Hook and Emma had finished their make-out session and joined the party inside, sitting with the young woman they brought through the portal with them. Naturally, she reacts in fear at seeing the Evil Queen out and about, so Emma assures the young woman that everything is fine now and goes to Regina to ask the queen to introduce herself and make peace. But before Regina can, Robin exclaims, “Marian?!” and the cat is out of the bag. The woman Emma and Hook brought to the future is none other than Robin Hood’s former wife, Maid Marian. Both he and Roland are ecstatic to see her and the look on Regina’s face flickers between disbelief and defeat. Her expression is pure pain. Emma tries to explain, but Regina repeats the lesson she told Snow White all those years ago, that actions are not without consequences. Brimming with frustration, Regina tells Emma she hopes the savior didn’t bring anyone else through the portal.

And here is the final reveal of the night. Eagle-eyed viewers might have already spotted this object when Emma, Marian, and Hook first returned to Storybrooke, but as you can see, back at the farmhouse, the urn from Rumpelstilskin’s secret vault hitchhiked a ride through the portal. It opens and a blue, icy liquid pours forth, taking on the form of a young woman who removes her gloves and blasts her former prison with ice. She then stalks off into the night, a trail of frost covering the ground in her wake. Yes readers, Frozen has come to Storybrooke.

And with that the epic two hour finale comes to a close. As I said before, I really enjoyed this episode. While it didn’t pack the action-laden punch that other Once Upon a Time finales have in the past, I find that to be for the better. Both the season one and two finales seemed to race through the action in order to get to the cliffhanger at the end. I also found the music, as always, to be gorgeous in this episode, playing into the cinematic feel of the extended finale.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

Now, on to the two events that have left me conflicted. First off, the villain for next season seems to be Elsa from the Disney movie Frozen. The character design we see is more than likely a placeholder as we don’t see the actress’s face, but playing that closely to the Disney film screams product placement to me. I know Frozen is loosely based off the tale of the Snow Queen and that the Snow Queen was in fact the villain in her original story. That being said, I hope the writers stick closely to the source material. There is so much potential within that story and personally I thought the movie Frozen was good, but not the gigantic deal everyone made it out to be. You can probably chalk that up to over saturation since I am on the internet more than what’s good for me. There is just something a little off in my opinion about introducing a character from a movie that literally just came out. Again, I feel this might be ABC cashing in on the huge Frozen fanbase. As much as I would have liked for season 4 to progress internally, showing us the struggles of already established characters, I am willing to give Elsa a chance because to be completely honest, I was not a fan of the idea of Peter Pan being a villain, nor was I keen to see the Wicked Witch of the West and both characters are now my favorites. So we shall see.

And now Regina’s plight. I recognized the actress who played Maid Marian in the season two episode “Lacey” right away, so I was instantly nervous, as the implication was that the Evil Queen had killed the former wife of her current lover. When Emma freed Marian, I breathed a sigh of relief because at least then Regina wouldn’t be responsible for Marian’s demise, though this posed problems with the queen’s current situation. When Marian was brought through the portal, I initially was extremely disappointed because Regina once again would be shafted out of her happy ending. However, I do not think for an instant that any character development Regina Mills has undergone will be ruined by this event. At time this article was written, show me one action Regina has done as a result to Marian coming through the portal that has undermined how far the queen has come. All she’s done is yelled at Emma, which is natural given the circumstances. I do not think we will see the Evil Queen in Storybrooke, though I can see Regina being especially cold to Emma. I just hope Henry doesn’t fall into the mix if they do feud. Regina has a support system now, something she didn’t have after losing her stable boy. She has Tinkerbell, Henry, and most importantly Snow White in her corner now.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

We must remind ourselves that every couple on this show has gone through their up and downs. Snow White and Prince Charming spent the entirety of season one losing and finding each other in both the Enchanted Forest and Storybrooke. Hell, Snow White was even the “other woman” for a long time, as everyone believed Charming to be married to Abigail under the curse. Rumpelstilskin and Belle are another example. Rumple drove the love of his life away and believed her to be dead for a long time, then when they reunited the couple struggled with the darker aspects of Rumple’s magic use, as well as Belle losing her memory. Robin Hood clearly cares very deeply for Regina, he won’t cast her aside. I doubt the writers would build up such a couple to tear it down in an instant. Remember, compared to other Once Upon a Time couples, Regina and Robin are still in their early stages. Though I don’t look forward to Robin having to choose and I truly hope they don’t foolishly kill of Marian for the hell of it or make her to be a villain, I am looking forward to Regina using all that she has learned about herself in order to deal with this situation. Remember, Regina told Zelena “I make my own destiny”. Here’s a chance for the former Evil Queen to prove it.

Well, that concludes my review and my time here at GottaWatchIt.com. Thank you so much for reading and if you enjoy my obsession with the shady Blue Fairy, Henry’s terrifying family tree, and my thoughts on each and every Once Upon a Time episode, please join me this fall at SpoilerTV.com where I will be writing exclusively from here on out.

Thanks again and keep watching!

Ashley B.

is as serious as a sleeping curse when she says television is her life. Professional event planner, avid movie viewer, convention attendee, and resident sass master, Ashley looks forward each week to the weird and wonderful world her favorite television programs provide. Follow her on Twitter!!

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  • rosie1843

    I really don’t see Maid Marian surviving the end of Season 4. If she does, I’ll be surprised.