Subtitle: brb crying forever
Well, that was an episode. In terms of emotion and character quite a good one. Overall this first half of season three has been significantly better crafted than the entirety of the second season and especially the latter half. Action and characterization moved forward, there was a strong antagonist, and with the exception of the love triangle nothing felt superfluous or like fanservice. Well done, Once, you should be proud.
“How beautiful it is and how easily it can be broken.”Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie
In the woods of Storybrooke Panry casts The Curse.
Panry: Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.
Felix: Pan never fails.
Panry: Last ingredient, the heart of the thing I love the most.
Felix: Your son?
Panry: Bitch, please, that loser? Nah, I only love one thing: me.
Felix: So you can’t actually cast this spell?
Panry: Naw, love of me manifests itself in the loyalty of…
Felix: Wait a minute.
Panry: Thanks for always being my boo, boo.
And he rips Felix’s heart out and sprinkles its ashes into the well. The Curse is cast.
Meanwhile the Nevengers are working out a plan. Per Rumple, who wrote The Curse so he should know, it can’t be stopped but it can be redirected by someone who has already cast it. Aka Regina. But she needs the scroll to do it, therefore they have to switch Panry and Han back into Henry and Pan while Panry has it so Henry will have it. Whew! Rumple can cast this powerful magic but only with the wand of the black fairy a super evil dark fairy no one has ever mentioned before but whatever. Blue had the wand because it’s required for the plot so half the crew head to the convent and the others go to the pawn shop to prepare the spell.
I love this picture. There was no narrative in the flashbacks of this episode, they were merely windows into the past that informed the present. In this first one we see Blue advising a pregnant Snow to hold on to hope as the ultimate magic. Everyone agrees that Blue is a shady shady figure, yeah?
Back in the present Snow finds the mobile she hung over what should have been Emma’s crib hanging in Gold’s shop. Snow and Emma bond over glass unicorns and making difficult choices in order to give their babies their best chance. Since their “best chance” has resulted in constant chaos and drama, portal hopping and body swapping, they are both a bit tired of the refrain.
Charming, Neal, Hook, and Tink march on into church and tell a bunch of grieving nuns they need the super evil wand that was their in dead Mother Superior’s possession.
Tink: We need the Black Fairy’s Wand.
Nun/Fairy I’ve decided is Iridessa: You can’t use such evil magics…!
Tink: Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s forbidden and wrong and goes against the laws of the Jedi Council. Give me the wand!
Tink is so awesome, I love her. Pan’s Shadow shows up because he, obviously, also wants the super evil super wand that no one has ever mentioned ever before so Tink and the three musketeers tell the nuns to flee and get their coconut candle ready once again.
We get another character exposition flashback, in Neverland long ago an angry pirate met an angrier fairy and the ship most likely to ruin your childhood was launched.
Tink: What’s your deal?
Hook: Dark One’s wife ran off with me so he killed her and now I’m gonna kill him.
Tink: Is that supposed to sound tragic? I’m a fairy without wings!
Hook explains that he only has two motivations: love and revenge. When we come back to the present Hook decides to throw himself at the Shadow in an effort to distract it so Neal can trap it with the coconut candle.
Tink: How does risking your life for something that very barely counts as a plan apply to love or revenge?
Hook: My forgotten third motivation is self-preservation.
Tink: It makes no logical sense to risk your life in the name of self-preservation.
The real question is why Hook is even in the church. Did he choose where he’d be most useful? Did he want to keep an eye on Neal? Or Tink? Or Charming? Did he want to prove something to Emma? Or Neal? Or Tink? Or Charming? He’s the last to join a party when they all split up and he chooses this one. And his motivation is literally a plot point so….Why?
Anyway, Hook throws himself at the Shadow but Neal doesn’t understand the plan and fails to do actually anything. Hook is slammed to the floor but Charming stops him from crashing past them. The Shadow dances around the rafters laughing at these losers and Neal can’t do anything about it because Neal can’t fly. Which sets up why this scene is happening in the first place.
Tink: Still no wings guys.
Neal: Pixie dust!
Tink: It doesn’t work.
Charming: It worked once! I don’t know why I know this but I do. And I totally believe in you, too.
Tink: Here goes nothing.
Tink gets the dust to glow and inhales it. She gets the coconut-candle, uses magic to light it and launches into the sky. The Shadow gets sucked into the candle and trapped again and Tink throws it into the fire. Poof! Bye bye Shadow.
Hook: Look who’s still a fairy.
Tink: Look who’s still a pirate.
Hook: I don’t know what that means.
Tink: Me neither but you know what I do know? You’re doing all of this for Emma.
Again, I need the show to stop telling us about Hook’s feelings and actually do something with them. I guess the point of this exchange is to answer my question about Hook’s motivation above. But I don’t want to be told! Anyway.
Blue: Surprise bitch. I bet you thought you’d seen the last of me.
That’s right! Blue is back. Apparently burning up the Shadow gave her back her own and that resurrected her. For reasons. The same reasons, I’m sure, that killed her off last week. She tells Tink she’s earned her wings back and hands over the super evil super wand as if she knew they were after it. She was clearly listening in while “dead” and is seriously so so shady.
They run to the shop to give Rumple the wand. Rumple has Han lie down and puts Owen and Tamara’s anti-magic cuff on his wrist. Regina tells Hook she hasn’t forgotten that betrayal and he has the decency to look contrite.
Safeguards in place Rumple casts the spell, Han falls asleep and everybody runs off to find Henry. Everybody except Rumple who stays behind because he has unfinished business with his dear old dad.
We flashback to Storybrooke right before the series started. Henry is avoiding his homework assignment to fill out a family tree, which is hilarious. Mary Margaret pops in to ask why he’s out of sorts. Henry explains that he’s trapped in a nightmare where nothing ever changes except him and she pulls out a book. THE book. She found it in her closet. Maybe it was always there and she forgot. Maybe the Blue Fairy put it there. Or Gold. Maybe magic. There is a 50% chance we’ll ever find out. But it’s here and now it’s Henry’s. Henry opens it up, notices that Snow White looks just like his teacher and when he calls her back to ask about it he sees her AS Snow White.
In the present Granny’s wolf scent leads the crew to the library and Henry is gathered up into another Moms hug and it is still the very best thing.
He has the scroll and hands it over to Regina but when she touches it she falls to the ground.
Pan wakes up in his own body to find Rumple waiting and what follows is what I’d like to call Robbie Kay’s Emmy Moment. Pan cuts down Rumple but good.
Pan: Were you hoping for a tearful reunion? A desperate apology? A declaration of love? Keep waiting. I hated you from the moment I laid eyes on your pathetic, needy, ugly, little red baby face. The very thought disgusts me. You were gross and you are gross.
He basically spits in Rumple’s face and then magics the anti-magic cuff from his wrist to Rumple’s because remember Greg and Tamara worked for him and he made the thing. Pan knocks Rumple over but decides it’s way more fun to kill off Rumple’s friends than cowardly Rumple.
We get another flashback, to Rumple lighting a candle on Bae’s birthday and admitting to Belle it’s his own fault he’s not with his son. In the present Rumple picks his sword and himself off the floor and looks like he is going to cut the cuff – and his hand – off.
Regina wakes up and says Emma. Literally.
But before she can tell the crowd what she’s learned Pan runs over and freezes them all in place. He wonders which to kill first, Neal or Belle, before deciding on Neal to really drive home the idea that family means absolutely nothing to him. But before he can pull it off Rumple appears. He did not, in fact, cut his hand off, he simply gathered the courage that has always eluded him.
Rumple calls back the Shadow he’d ripped off way back at the beginning of this season – this episode was a strange compilation of plot points returning (Rumple’s Shadow has the Dark One’s Dagger) and plot points being made up out of think air (the Blue Fairy has the Black Fairy’s Wand). Rumple takes the dagger and thrusts it into Pan’s back.
It’s quite a powerful scene. Rumple pulls Pan into a tight embrace and he turns back into an adult. Rumple’s father begs his son for another chance, a new start, a shot at a happy ending. Rumple pulls him even closer and explains, I’m a villain. I don’t get a happy ending. Dad cries, Rumple kisses him and they turn into smoke.
At Pan’s death the onlookers are set free and Belle falls to the ground in tears. It is a powerful moment of grief. Everyone else is in shock, no one runs to comfort her, it was honestly devastating to watch and I’m not even that invested in their relationship.
All the awards.
There isn’t much time for grief, of course, because they are all still in danger from the oncoming Curse. Grumpy was on Curse Watch duty again and runs in to let everyone know it’s coming, fast and furious and from all sides.
Everyone: Help us Regina! You’re our only hope!
Neal: Don’t let my father die in vain.
Emma: What is it? What’s the price we have to pay?
Regina: It’s not your price, it’s mine. I have to give up the thing I love the most.
Regina explains that Storybrooke will cease to exist. The Curse will send them all back to the Enchanted Forest – all except Henry because he was born in this world. Everyone hates this idea, especially Emma because she doesn’t want Henry to grow up the way she did: alone. Regina tells her she can skip out on the one way train to Fairytaleland because she’s the Savior.
Emma: There has to be another way!
Regina: This is the only way that works.
Snow: You have to do it, it’s the right choice.
Emma: What about our happy ending?
Snow: You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might get what you need.
We flashback to Henry’s birth. It’s the same scene we started this season with: the doctor tells young Emma she can change her mind and keep her baby. She answers No, I can’t be a mother.
The Curse is nice enough to wait for Henry and Emma to say their goodbyes at the town line. Emma says goodbye to her parents and Henry says goodbye to his mother.
Henry: This is all my fault. If I had never gone to find Emma we could all live here in Storybrooke. I thought you didn’t love me but I was wrong.
Regina: I was wrong, too. This isn’t your fault, it’s mine. I cast the Curse out of vengeance and selfishness, not love. I’m a villain and you heard Mr. Gold, I don’t get a happy ending.
Henry, literally: You’re not a villain. You’re my mom.
Emma says goodbye to her suitors.
Neal, literally: This isn’t over. I’ll see both of you again.
Hook, literally: There’s not a day that will go by that I won’t think of you.
Regina, literally: There’s something I haven’t told you.
Emma: Why is it always one more thing with you?
Regina: You won’t just be lost to us forever, you’ll forget we ever existed.
That’s right everybody, we’re not only wiping out Storybrooke, we’re wiping out the last two years of character development for Emma and Henry. “It never happened” is pretty much my least favorite plot point EVER. But at least the rest of them will remember and presumably season 3.5 will be about finding and reminding them.
Now, Regina gives Emma, and Henry, the best gift she possibly good. She gives them new memories of the last eleven years, a new pretend reality in which Emma raised Henry alone. It only makes sense that Regina gives them HER memories of raising Henry. She wouldn’t know how Emma would mother him, so she rewrites her own life with Henry for Emma.
As Emma and Henry drive away the Curse finally catches up with the group and Regina transforms it from green smoke to purple smoke. It erases Storybrooke – the clock tower, the book, everything. We return to Emma’s hospital room in Phoenix and this time instead of saying “I can’t be a mother” she says “Wait, let me hold him.”
One year later we meet up with Emma and Henry at breakfast. Emma is wearing the most adorable pajamas and they still put cinnamon on their hot chocolate.
Suddenly someone is banging on the door.
Hook: Your family is in danger!
Emma: My family is having breakfast, bye.
Hook: Your parents need you!
Emma: Don’t make me get hostile.
Hook: It will take too long to explain the whole story, how about I kiss it into you.
Emma: How about I kick you into tomorrow?
I’d feel sorry for Hook except that sexual assault is pretty much the worst possible way to try and prove someone is your True Love (™).
So there we have it. The year jump makes sense for a lot of reasons – the flashback formula of the show, Jared Gilmore’s rapid growth, Ginny Goodwin’s pregnancy. And the promo had my daughter jumping up and down with excitement for the Wicked Witch (and she desperately hopes, Dorothy). This episode gutted me (and my daughter) emotionally but I do have a lot of questions. How many colors of fairies are there? Did the Curse return Dr. Whale to the Enchanted Forest or his black and white world? What about the Darlings? Did they end up in Victorian England? Is Henry’s last name Swan? Is Henry’s name still Henry? Does Hook have ANY other clothes? But most importantly: is Graham still dead (I vote no)?