Subtitle: technically nothing is real
Hello Oncers! We’re back! Aeris and I had a dress-up party for the premiere, complete with pixie dust and witch’s hat ice cream sundaes. And we were rewarded with a solid hour that dropped us right back into the action and sort of the first season. There are flashbacks and memory loss and curses and potions and a trip to our world to bring back the savior.
And just like the very beginning we start with a prince on horseback: Phillip this time, rushing to return to Aurora who is pregnant and impatient for her romantic Disney picnic in the gazebo.
Unfortunately for Aurora the purple smoke monster has other ideas.
Isn’t that always the way? The purple smoke monster is really a purple smoke transporter and the group who just said their goodbyes to Henry and Emma at the town line are dropped into Aurora and Phillip’s Mickey Mouse Make Out Field. Aurora asks Snow what happened? She answers, bittersweetly, We’re back.
Our World, One Year Later
Emma is dressed all sexy in a leather minidress with an exposed zipper (why is that still the trend? I blame Project Runway) and she’s meeting a smarmy man for dinner. Just like the pilot, remember? Except this isn’t a blind date or a set up, this is her steady boyfriend of the last eight months, Walsh.
That’s right Emma “Relationship Issues” Swan has been dating a furniture maker named Walsh for eight months. And he helped Henry with his science homework because he is totally good Dad material. And he has this whole evening planned, Emma is handed a glass of wine as soon as she sits down.
Walsh: Happy? With your uh, food, that’s totally what I mean to ask about, obviously. Nothing shifty here.
Walsh: Happy with your food?
Emma: Beyond happy.
Ah, false happiness. Walsh excuses himself and Hook takes his seat.
Hook: Don't scream.
Emma: You’re a stalker.
Hook: I came to apologize.
Emma: For kissing me?
Hook: I wanted to jog your memory.
Emma: By kissing me?
Hook: If it had worked you would understand.
Emma: I want to punch you.
Hook gives her a piece of paper with an address and tells her if she wants to know who she really is and where she came from she should look there.
Emma: You are a crazy person, or a liar, or both. Probably both. Hook: Probably true. Use your superpower to decide. Emma: It's pretty unreliable, only works when the plot dictates it should. Also, you’'e a crazy person so you probably believe what you’re saying. Hook: Don't do it for me, do it for your family. They need help. They need you.
Back in Fairytaleland
The Charmings decide to head back to the castle.
Regina: My castle. Charming: Technically, Snow's castle Snow: Technically, my father's castle Regina: Technically, my husband's castle Charming: Our family tree is so screwy
Snow: We're taking the castle back and you're coming with us. Regina: I hate you all. Snow: I know you don't like the idea but you'll learn to. This is the best plan for all of us. I know what's best for you.
Regina and Charming reluctantly agree and they head off to get ready. Left behind, Phillip doesn’t want to tell ‘her’ about the rulers return but Aurora is worried their baby will be targeted if they don’t. We have to protect our family and trust they can protect themselves, she says ominously. It is not up to us to save them. This is a great line and it is interesting that it sets Aurora apart from Snow, who is a serial meddler.
Back in New York
Walsh has returned to the table with dessert but Emma is full. He tells the story of their first date and we all know where this is going. Emma insists she’s full, but Walsh persists: will you at least look at it? There is, of course, a ring, and, of course, with it comes a proposal. Emma books it the hell out of there because she is still Emma “Relationship Issues” Swan after all (thank goodness).
Walsh follows. He knew she’d react like this, knows it’s too fast, but he’s known this was right from the very beginning – he loves her, she loves him, he’s willing to wait until Henry has grandchildren to actually get married, just put the ring on, mmmkay? Anybody watching at home who might be confused: this is HUGE RED FLAG. I mean, that ring has to be poisoned or enchanted or something something sorcery right?
Anyway, Emma asks for some time to think and retuns home to Henry, playing Diablo.
Henry: So what'd you answer?
Emma: You knw about the proposal?
Henry: Special night out at the first date restaurant? The writing was on the wall.
Emma: Technically, the writing was on the plate.
Henry: Why is everyone so 'technical' tonight?
Henry presses, Emma squirms, Henry feels bad for Walsh.
Emma: Do you really think he's worthy of joining our little family?
Henry: He's okay.
Emma: Wow, that's resounding.
Henry: Mom, not every guy's like my dad. Not every guy's gonna leave you.
Emma: Your dad didn't just leave me, he set me up and abandoned me in jail.
Henry: This guy is not that guy. This guy wants to be with you, with us. Plus I know you like him.
Henry: He's the only guy you've dated I've met.
Emma: Technically, that's because Regina didn't know anything about any of the other guys I've ever dated so she couldn't implant those memories.
But really she asks When’d you get so wise? and he answers Somewhere after level 16 when I became a knight. Which is adorable, show. So was the bit about Emma being a sixth level wizard. Well played.
Back in Fairytaleland
The dwarves are excited they have their old noses back and Jiminy the Cricket has info about other displaced Storybrookers dropped in other fields. Charming asks Grumpy to send out notice for everybody to head to the queen’s castle. Then he heads over to chat with Hook.
Charming: No need to load up your horse, we have plenty of stuff at the castle. Especially for my best bro. Hook: I'm going to find the Jolly Roger. Regina told me everything that was sent over has now been sent back, including my ship. That's where I belong. Charming: What'll you do if you can't find it? Hook: I'll take another one. That's what pirates do. Charming: I thought you were my bro. Hook: Nope, pirate. Snow: So you were just pretending to be a hero for Emma's sake? Hook: I don't know how many ways I can explain this. I am a pirate. Snowing: We are Disappointed in you. Hook: Peace out.
Neal: Hey, what Hook said about all our stuff coming back…is that true? Charming: How should I know? Neal: Let's go to my dad's on the way to the castle. Snow: Fool's errand. Portals won't work. Neal: How do you know? Snow: I read the script. Charming: We have to move on, this is our home now. The best thing we can do for Henry and Emma is the only thing we can do – Neal: That's convenient. Charming: Don't interrupt my poignant speech! The best thing we can do for Henry and Emma is let them go and know we gave them their best chance. Snow: Aw, you're quoting the pilot. That’s really poignant. Charming: I know. Neal: But– Charming:
Back in the New York City present
Henry notices something’s up with Emma.
Henry: You're always looking for something to be wrong. You don't have to do that.
Emma: Except for exhibit A, my life.
Henry: Fair point.
Emma goes to the address Hook gave her, finds Neal’s apartment and in it Henry’s camera (have we seen this camera before? Anyone?).
Emma calls Hook to the park for a confrontation. He quite reasonably explains he didn’t tell her it was Neal’s place because he knows she never would have gone and then somewhat unreasonably reminds her he’s doing all this so she can save her family from a curse.
Hook: Is this Central Park? When are we going to start singing?
Emma: Do you know what you sound like?
Hook: A madman. But I'm telling you the truth.
Emma: Not good enough, I want answers. Real ones.
Hook: Drink this.
Emma: Drink the thing the crazy guy just offered? No thanks.
Hook: It will help you remember everything you've lost. Take a chance! What do you say, love?
Emma: Call me love one more time and you'll lose the other hand.
Emma has tricked Hook into handcuffs again! And she called the cops so he’s arrested for assaulting her! Basically Emma Swan is my hero forever.
Tromping through the woods
Belle tells Neal aka Baelfire aka Mopey they never saw the knife so she thinks they can get Rumple back. Neal is momentarily less Mopey. Grumpy informs Snow Regina’s dropped out of formation so she goes looking and finds Regina burying something in the woods.
Snow: Is that a heart? Regina: Go away. Snow: Is that your heart? Regina: Go. Away. Snow: I know you miss Henry… Regina: Not as much as I did when this was beating in my chest. Snow: …but you can't just bury your pain in the woods. Regina: Watch me. Snow: You won't feel better. You won't feel anything. Regina: Exactly.
Snow tells Regina she knows how she feels because she is in exactly the same position, but Emma and Henry would want them to find happiness.
Regina: I can't be happy without him. Snow: Find a way. For Henry.
Regina replaces her heart and fights tears. And so do I.
Regina: Now let's get back to our castle.
Our castle. Regina you get a gold star for character development. This season’s Regina-arc is so much better than last season’s. And Snow, too. My kid is still mad at Snow for setting Regina up to kill her mother. Working together is a much better way for the two to find their similarities than by having them act out. Regina and Snow are both taking steps toward the middle and their relationship, their land and the show are all better for it.
On the way back Snow notices something in the bushes…a flying monkey! Aeris and I go from tears to glee in three seconds flat! Snow suggests hiding but Regina refuses. I don’t run from monsters, they run from me. She flings a fireball but the monkey evades and attacks her, drawing blood.
Snow: It's too fast.
Regina: I'm open for suggestions.
Offscreen Hero: Get down!
An arrow hits the monkey and Robin Hood rides into Regina’s life.
Robin: My lady.
Regina: It's your majesty and I'm fine.
Robin: You're welcome.
Regina: No one asked you to help.
Robin: Yes, see, I'm Robin Hood. I help people who don't ask for it.
Snow: I'm Snow White, me too!
Regina: I'm feeling sick to my stomach again.
They head off to warn the others.
Walking down the streets of NYC
Emma tells Henry she sort of maybe might want to be saying yes to Walsh maybe? Henry tells her she should trust her gut. So…she gets Hook out of prison.
Emma: What are these pictures of me and Henry in a town called Storybrooke? Hook: Emma Swan, this is your life. Emma: None of it makes sense. Hook: Drink my potion. Emma: If what you are saying is true, I have to give up the life I'm living now. Hook: It's not real. Emma: But it's pretty good! Hook: Still not real. Emma: Idk. Hook: Trust your gut. Emma: Henry always says that. At least he did that one time twelve minutes ago.
She drinks the potion and boom! She remembers.
Hook: Missed me?
Tromping thru the woods, still/again
Robin catches up with Neal –
and Belle –
He looks more excited to see Belle, no? But hey the band’s getting back together! (Where’s Mulan?)
Regina: I don't know if we should trust this guy. He's a thief. Snow: You really want to bring trust into a conversation between YOU and ME? Really? Regina: Fair point. Snow: I think he's cute. Regina: When did we become this kind of friend? Snow: I have this need to meddle in people's love lives and yours is the only one available right now. Regina: This show is so weird.
They arrive at the castle but can’t get to it because Regina’s magic barrier has been highjacked by persons unknown.
Regina: I'm going to burn them all.
Snow: Or we could come up with a plan.
Charming: Lots of people are looking to us for leadership.
Belle: I feel sorry for those people.
Robin: You can come live in the woods with me.
Regina: And then we burn them all.
Back in the New York kitchen
Emma and Hook share some rum.
Hook: Frankly, your family is boring and I like being a pirate. Without you, there was no reason not to abandon them. But then I got a message saying there was a new curse, everybody's back in Storybrooke, and the only one who can save them is you. Emma: You came all the way back to save my family. Hook: I came back to save you.
Hey Hook, the savior doesn’t need saving. But it’s an interesting recurring theme in the episode. Aurora and Regina advocate for saving yourself. Snow and Robin have a saving people thing. Charming knows it’s important to look like a savior even when you aren’t sure. Hook looks out for himself and the people important to him, which is not unlike Aurora and Phillip, so it’s not really a case of “hero” and “villain”. It’s a case of Emma being the savior and what does that mean?
Anyway, Hook doesn’t know who’s doing this and Emma’s emo about losing her fake happy ever after. On cue her fake happy ever after boyfriend arrives. Hook’s happy to throw him out on her behalf but she says she owes him an explanation.
Emma: I can't marry you. I have to go home.
Walsh: You are a wandering orphan with no roots, remember?
Emma: Yeah, that's the thing…. Someone from my past showed up.
Walsh: Want me to beat him up for you?
Emma: It kills me to have to leave this life.
Walsh: If you love this life then keep it. Stay. Unring the bell. Close the closet. Climb back up the rabbit hole. Recork the bottle. Put down the potion.
Emma: Wait, what?
Walsh: turns into a flying monkey
He attacks, she fights him off, Hook appears with questions and Emma shuts them down.
Hook: What was that?
Emma: Emma Swan, this is your life. We leave tomorrow.
In the morning Emma tells Henry they’re ditching school and New York for Maine and magic. Only he doesn’t believe in magic and Hook doesn’t have any more potion – which sort of explains why he tried the kiss method? If it had worked Henry could drink the potion – but hey, ditching school for a road trip with Mom is right up Henry’s alley. Hook arrives, Emma introduces him as Killian, and away they go.
Is that a picture of domestic bliss or what? And it is the last look before jumping back into their reality. Irony!
Now the most important moment in the whole episode:
STARS IN MY EYES.
That night Hook, Emma and a sleeping Henry arrive in Storybrooke, cursed again.
Emma: Hi, don't close the door, my name is– Charming: Emma! Emma: David? Charming: You remember! Emma: You remember!
Charming: How are you here?
Emma: Hook found me.
Charming: I knew he was my bro!
Charming explains that they’re all back in town and while they remember who they are they don’t remember how they got there. The whole last year is a blank. Emma, reasonably, asks how can they know it’s been a year then?
Emma: Hi mom!
Snow: No. Baby!
Emma: Who would do this to you?
Snow: Well, sweetie, Mommy and Daddy love each other very much so-
Emma: No, the curse.
Snow: Oh. No idea.
The action pans to the queen’s castle and a monkey flying home. He hands over a vial of Regina’s blood to the Wicked Witch of the West and she makes an ominously glowing potion out of it.
Hello, Oncers. Wicked is here.
We’re excited! What did you think?