Title Going Home
Two-Sentence Summary Pan’s plan to once again cast the Dark Curse (this time with fatal consequences) on the residents of Storybrooke has powerful ramifications for every character, especially Rumplestiltskin, who must finally decide if the price of destroying his father is one he is willing to pay. Regina finds a way to destroy the curse, but it comes with its own price: The inhabitants of Storybrooke will all go back to the land they came from, except for Emma, who is allowed to stay with Henry, but both are left without any memories of their time in Storybrooke—a fate Hook plans to change upon arriving at Emma’s New York City apartment one year later.
Favorite Line “You’re not a villain; you’re my mom.” (Henry, to Regina)
My Thoughts Well I certainly didn’t see that coming. Rumplestiltskin dying (or “dying”—we can only hope), Emma and Henry losing their memories of Storybrooke, fake memories of a world where Emma never gave Henry up, Hook crossing realms to help Emma remember who she really is, the intensity of the emotional trauma I felt while watching— I didn’t see any of it coming. And I loved it.
Yes, the plot surprised me, but what really shocked me was just how visceral my emotional reaction was to what was happening onscreen. This episode had the feeling of a series finale, and that was for a reason. “Going Home” changed the game, and it did so in a brutally emotional fashion. When I say it reminded me at times of “Through the Looking Glass”—the finale of LOST’s third season—I mean that with the highest respect. It appears that Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis learned a lot from their time as LOST writers, not the least of which being how to craft a finale (even just a midseason one).
Perhaps the biggest thing I learned from LOST (and Alias before it) was that I’m not a person who needs all the answers when it comes to the TV shows I watch. I can deal with unanswered questions, confusing plot threads, and even the occasional inconsistency or plot hole if I’m emotionally engaged in an episode. I don’t need to feel 100% intellectually satisfied by an episode, but I do need to feel 100% emotionally invested. I care about a show’s characters infinitely more than any plot twists or big mysteries it can throw at me. That’s why I watch Once Upon a Time. I don’t care all that much about the rules of magic or the finer points of curses. I care about Emma, Henry, Snow, Charming, Regina, Rumplestiltskin, Neal, Hook, Belle, Tinker Bell, and all of the other characters I’ve come to love over the last two and a half seasons. I care about the people far more than the intricacies of the plot.
For as much as this episode will be defined by the emotions it evoked, there was a lot of plot packed in there, too—probably more than there needed to be. The flashbacks especially felt unnecessary for the most part: Charming and Snow’s was only really useful in dropping a hint that the Blue Fairy was somehow behind Henry’s storybook; Hook and Tink’s reinforced the idea that he’s become a changed man through loving Emma (and once again proved that Colin O’Donoghue is a walking chemistry experiment with every actor he shares a scene with); Henry and Mary Margaret’s brought the attention back to the storybook; Belle and Rumplestitlskin’s just made me sad in hindsight (and felt odd because it seemed to contradict “Skin Deep” in terms of Belle’s knowledge of Bae); and Emma’s was just a way to draw a parallel to the episode’s conclusion. They worked on an emotional level throughout, but I feel like one or more of them could have been cut to make things like the Charming Family farewell or Blue’s resurrection a little longer.
However, the multiple flashbacks led me to believe that this could have been the show’s way of saying goodbye to this method of storytelling. I think we’re going to get flashbacks to fill in the time jump, but I’m not sure we’re going to go back to pre-cursed times again.
The beginning of this episode felt a little bit like a checklist: Reveal the thing Pan loves most? Check. Explain how to stop the curse? Check. Destroy Pan’s shadow? Check. Find out what happened to Blue? Check. Get Tink her wings back? Check. Switch Henry and Pan back into their own bodies? Check and check.
While things moved along at a breakneck pace for the first half of the episode, there were certainly a smattering of exceptional moments in between the heavy plotting. I thought Jared Gilmore was excellent once again at playing Pan. The entire exchange where he took Felix’s heart was so gloriously evil. But my favorite moment in these early scenes belonged to Tink. Only Once Upon a Time could get me to say that a fairy getting her wings back moved me to tears. For a character we haven’t seen much of yet, I can’t help but love her. She’s got steel in her spine, spunk in her line delivery, and a story that’s all about believing in yourself. In fact, I was so thrilled for Tink that I basically glossed over Blue’s resurrection. Maybe if it would have been addressed like the crazy twist it was I would have cared more, but it was treated in kind of a mundane fashion by all the other characters, so I treated it the same way. (At least now I know why her death wasn’t a big deal last week.)
The emotional thrust of the episode really began once we got to Gold’s shop, starting with the moment Emma and Snow shared about her unicorn mobile. For the first time this season, I could feel the unforced love between mother and daughter, and I think a lot of that came from the fact that Snow wasn’t pushing, so Emma wasn’t pushing away. In fact, Emma’s line about liking the unicorns was such a beautiful way to show that she was—for at least that moment—receptive to her mother’s love. “Going Home” was an episode that centered around acceptance, and, for Emma, it was about accepting love from people she usually pushed away. Listening to her bond with her mother over their regrets about not being able to raise their children was beautiful but heartbreaking.
In what was quite possibly the exact opposite of a mother and daughter smiling over unicorns, Pan and Rumplestiltskin laid all their cards on the table in Gold’s shop, and the result was horrifying. If this episode really was Robbie Kay’s swan song, then I can’t imagine a better way for him to go out. His speech about his abhorrence of fatherhood was absolutely brutal and disgusting (Who calls their child a larva?). For once, we were given a villain who had no tearful backstory or eleventh-hour confession of parental love. All we saw before us was a twisted little sociopath, the only man in any realm who could turn the Dark One back into the man who used to cower in a corner. Robert Carlyle was excellent in the way he transformed from calm, controlled power to complete desperation and fear. But that scene belonged to Kay. To be as young as he is and to be able to deliver such a gut-wrenching monologue with perfect gravitas is no small feat. Never before has Pan been so worthy of Hook’s description of him as a “bloody demon.”
Pan freezing the townspeople before “monologuing” about who to kill first was a little over-the-top, but, to be honest, I cared more about what was going in Gold’s shop. At first, I was certain Rumplestiltskin was going to cut off his own hand to parallel what he did to Hook as well as his own self-mutilation to escape the Ogre War (but this time doing it out of bravery rather than cowardice). But I actually liked it better to see him confront his father without magic. If this is truly the end of Rumplestiltskin (and until I see a body I’m going to say it isn’t), then his character arc ended as it should have—with him doing the brave thing and sacrificing not only his magic but his very life for his son and his True Love. I’m still not 100% sure why he had to die in order to kill Pan, but this was a moment where plot implications and unanswered questions could not have been further from my mind. All that mattered was this man, whom we’ve watched struggle to fight his cowardice for hundreds of years, finally doing the hard thing for the sake of those he loves. I didn’t care about the details; all I cared about was this character and his final act of forgiveness towards a father who never stopped hating him, his final act of acceptance of his own fate, and his final act of love. All I cared about was his son being able to see it happen, and, really, all I cared about was Belle’s heartbreaking reaction. “Rumbelle” is not my favorite relationship on the show, but I’ll be damned if any single moment in this sad, sad episode was worse than watching her legs give way under the weight of her grief (while no one comforted her—Seriously, guys? No one?).
After that, the emotional sucker punches kept on coming, and they never let up. I loved the way Rumplestiltskin’s words about villains not getting a happy ending had a visible impact on Regina. In keeping with the theme of acceptance, Regina had to accept her responsibility in casting the original curse, and she had to pay the price for her actions. To see not only such self-awareness but such selflessness from Regina was beautiful; it was true character development that felt organic, believable, and earned. Regina’s selfish hatred allowed the curse to be cast, but her selfless love proved to be enough to save everyone. In her own way, Regina got to play the role of savior this time around, which reinforced the idea of Emma and Regina being two sides of the same coin.
Regina didn’t just have to give up Henry, though; both Emma and Henry had to give up everyone else. Jennifer Morrison completely sold Emma’s panic and desperation when she learned she and Henry wouldn’t be able to go back to the Enchanted Forest. For a woman who had been abandoned so many times, this final abandonment was almost too much for her to take.
The farewell scene at the town line had the distinct feel of a series finale, which meant—naturally—that I cried like a baby throughout the whole thing. It started when Emma hugged her parents, but nothing could have prepared me for how much Henry’s goodbye to Regina was going to hurt. She was once defined by her quest for revenge, but now she can be redefined by her selfless love for her son. Redemption has never felt more possible for this character, and I have never cared about, respected, and rooted for her more.
Emma and Henry saying goodbye to Neal was a moment filled with the pain of closure never secured and new memories never begun, but I loved that he’s not giving up on his family—especially his son. His faith in seeing them again felt genuine, and I liked that he was the first one to voice hope that someday Emma and Henry would come back to them.
And then there’s Hook. Is it just me, or does O’Donoghue now rival Josh Dallas in terms of getting the most romantic lines on the show? I think it’s because—like Dallas—he has a way of making everything he says seem improbably genuine. In my opinion, “There’s not a day that will go by that I won’t think of you,” is right up there with “What’s 28 years when you have eternal love?” as one of the show’s most swoon-worthy lines.
But the best part of Hook’s goodbye wasn’t even his line. It was Emma’s reaction. If this episode was all about acceptance, then this moment was about Emma finally accepting Hook’s love instead of putting her walls up again. When she said “Good” with such intensity in her eyes, she was finally allowing herself to let him love her. And she finally allowed herself to accept that she wanted him to love her. In doing so, she gave him hope; it’s written all over his face after she speaks. This was such a huge moment of character development for Emma, a woman who not long before had trouble accepting and acknowledging love from even her own parents.
The final two farewell moments were the most powerful, in my opinion. I was in awe of Morrison’s vulnerability in the moment when Snow said goodbye to Emma. When Snow first held Emma’s face like that in Season Two’s “Broken,” Emma was scared, unsure, and uncomfortable. But now, you could feel her desperation to have any of those moments back with the the mother she could never find the right footing with. In saying goodbye to Snow, Emma was saying goodbye to not only her mother, but her friend. She was about to lose her memories of ever being loved by her mother and also of ever having known Mary Margaret Blanchard, the woman who was her best friend and family even before they knew what they really were to one another. (I’m sorry, I have to take a moment to cry again.)
And then there was Emma’s last scene with Regina. The revelation that Emma and Henry would have no memory of Storybrooke absolutely destroyed me. But the sadness of that moment was coupled with the warmth I felt when Regina offered to give Emma happy memories of a good life with her son. (Does anyone think she gave Emma and Henry some of her own memories of his childhood to keep those memories alive in our world?) This final act of kindness was almost too beautiful for me to handle, and it was the most surprisingly believable way of redeeming Regina in my eyes.
As Emma and Henry drove away from Storybrooke, all I could do was sob. Part of me felt angry and cheated that two years of emotional attachment to these relationships was being destroyed (even though I know the memory loss won’t last). Part of me felt unbelievably happy that Emma was getting a fresh start with her son and a chance to raise him without the pressure of being the savior. And part of me felt incredibly sad that she had to lose all the other people she loved and who loved her in the process. The juxtaposition of the “new” flashback of Emma holding Henry was perfect; it may not have been “real,” but Emma believes it’s real. And believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing. This season began with Emma’s admission that she couldn’t be a mother, and it built to this moment of Emma accepting what she sees as her most important role—not the savior, but Henry’s mother. The flashback may be a false memory, but it’s a visual manifestation of Emma’s journey so far—from a lost and broken woman who believed she was incapable of being a mother to a woman whose acceptance of her role as mother changes everything.
The beautiful score and the gorgeous cinematography when the curse descended on Storybrooke as Emma and Henry drove away combined to create a scene of lasting emotional power the likes of which I haven’t seen since LOST. The lack of dialogue and the focus on Emma’s eyes in the rearview mirror (peaceful and happy as her new memories took hold) allowed me to focus on just how bittersweet this moment was for these two characters—who were able to hold on to each other but lose everything else, even though they no longer knew what they lost.
If that was the end of the episode, I think I would still be an emotional wreck today. (I mean, more of an emotional wreck than I already am.) Thankfully, we got that glorious final scene that began with a twist I should have seen coming but was so happy I didn’t—One Year Later. It made so much sense to do a time jump with Gilmore’s journey into puberty and Ginnifer Goodwin’s increasingly obvious pregnancy, but I’ll admit to being completely floored when I saw it. It was once again bittersweet to see Emma and Henry enjoying their new life together in New York City (the hot cocoa with cinnamon was a lovely detail), but that bittersweet feeling changed to pure excitement when someone knocked on Emma’s apartment door. And never have I been so happy to see Hook. (I actually kicked off the blanket I was wearing in a fit of celebration.)
There was so much to love about those final moments. Hook’s giddy “At last,” which reinforced the idea that not a day went by that he didn’t think of her (and we all know how much I’ve been waiting to see someone fight for Emma like she deserves to be fought for and to come back for her instead of abandoning her). His pathetically (but hilariously) misguided attempt at True Love’s kiss—I guess no one told him how it worked when Charming and Rumplestiltskin tried to kiss their respective loves when their memories were altered/erased. And the rush of hope Hook brought to the ending of what could have felt like an oppressively depressing hour. Hook’s presence represents the hope that Emma will find her way back to herself with his help, that the pain of the lost memories and separation from the people she and Henry love won’t last forever.
“Going Home” was an episode built on a theme of acceptance, and it seems that will be theme for the beginning of the second half of this season as well. Emma is going to have to accept her true self with Hook’s help (and Henry will have to do the same). She’s going to have to accept that she is both—a savior and a mother, a fairytale princess and a woman who grew up in a world without magic. She is a woman who was abandoned and a woman who is worth crossing realms to find. She is a woman shaped by loss but also by love, a woman who has a lot of bad memories that she will have to accept again but also a lot of wonderful ones she was living for a year without.
I’m excited to see how all of this is going to play out. I’m excited for a new look at the Enchanted Forest, for a chance for Regina to find love with Robin Hood, and for the introduction of the Wicked Witch of the West. But more than anything, I am excited to watch Hook help Emma find herself again because that’s the journey and the adventure I most want to see: Emma Swan’s journey towards accepting the truth about who she is and choosing to fight for her happy ending.
Is it March yet?
The parallels this episode had to LOST were many and in all the best possible ways. You hit the nail on the head with the beauty in that final moment as Emma and Henry drive away and magic consumes not only Storybrooke, but all their memories of the past. It is visually haunting and took me back to LOST’s Exodus Part 1 when they launch the raft. I was struck and surprised when it originally aired how emotionally attached I had become to those characters. Here again, I was embedded in the pain, remorse and sadness that the price of magic was reaping on the characters I have grown attached to over the last couple of years. It was a deeply moving and emotional back 35 minutes of the episode in which no wound of sadness was left unopened. I wholeheartedly agree that the flashbacks were often unnecessary this episode save for one. The flashback when MM brings Henry the book was wonderfully connected for me. It gave us a Henry who was reflective of Emma, distant and distraught and distinctly without hope. That Snow shines through to Henry at a point when she was without her memories for me was the connective tissue that hope and faith is what bridges the past and future. Her actions are that of a mother even though Henry isn’t her son. She acts to find a way to bring comfort and hope back into Henry’s life and the book is what shifts his trajectory. I loved it because it offered us a rare moment of Snow being able to nurture and parent without being rebuffed.
You wrote: “At first, I was certain Rumplestiltskin was going to cut off his own hand to parallel what he did to Hook as well as his own self-mutilation to escape the Ogre War (but this time doing it out of bravery rather than cowardice).” I don’t think Rumple’s act was one of bravery, it is one of acceptance. Like you I was certain he was going to cut off his own hand, doing what was necessary to survive. When he doesn’t it is an immediate decision to not only pay the price for magic, but to deny “The Dark One”. For the first time in his life Rumple accepts who he is as ‘enough’. He doesn’t need the great powers to know he isn’t his father, he isn’t a coward and he isn’t afraid. Or better yet, that his fear doesn’t make him weak. He steps into destroying not only Pan, but the Dark One at the same time (which is also why I don’t believe it is the last we will see of him). When Rumple recalls his shadow and takes the knife for a final twist to see him gently kiss the father he loved, a love never returned for me was heartbreaking. In Bae and Belle he not only found love, but he found the truth, true love is the love we give without the expectation of reciprocation. Belle gave Rumple love when he wasn’t likeable, let alone loveable. She saw through it to his heart. Rumple spent years acting in the name of loving Bae, but it was truly acts of cowardice that drove his decision-making. Not until he went to Neverland did he truly begin to act out of love. The prophecy did come true – the boy was the Dark One’s undoing. For me it was simply that the boy was Pan and the person undone was the Dark One, not Rumplestiltskin. I don’t believe this is the last we will see of Robert Carlyle.
This was the true reckoning of Regina. She has been led all season to this point in time. To again a place where love is a selfless act in its truest form. For her to end the curse, that saves Henry and all of them. For her to do so while providing memories for Emma and Henry is the act of true love. She understands finally that the love of her son is what drives her to act and that his happiness is ultimately her own. She absolutely destroyed me when she repeated the cadence that villains don’t get happy endings. Her response when Henry tells her “you’re not a villain, you’re my mom” is the moment every parent feels when they realize in spite of all their failings and imperfections their child only can see the goodness in them. The love you hold for your child is the best part of who you are and children have this incredibly uncanny ability to tap directly into that goodness and make it shine through. When Emma counters Regina about the memories of their past being a lie her answer is perfection. The future won’t be. Regina knows this because she lived it. All of Storybrooke was built on a lie and though there is a price to be paid for that, her memories and life with Henry was real and it was true. She knows that and it is why she gives Emma the gift of those memories. Not simply because she has lived the life Emma is about to enter into, but because she wants to ensure Henry’s security and happiness. It is a final act she can make to ensure the thing she loves most isn’t destroyed for the first time in her life. Henry isn’t her father or Daniel and Regina can finally see that which is what ultimately empowers her to act as she does. It was wonderfully crafted, beautifully acted and left me in a puddle of my own tears.
Emma’s guilt and desperation in this episode as everything went sideways was palpable. To watch her cling desperately to anything that might serve a different outcome only to come to an uncertain beginning/ending was so deeply lonely and sad. She too had to accept that she could not alter the path that was now being set for her and Henry. Not in the short run at least. I liked her final moments with Snow because it brought back the hope she gave Henry. The one Charming instilled in her as they awaited the first curse. That the future we lay out for ourselves, the one we envision and plan for doesn’t always come to pass. Life and its variables will inevitably alter our course and happiness lies in our ability to adapt, accept and pivot in a direction that honors what came before but leaves ourselves open to the possibility of what may lie ahead. Emma’s life up until that point had not taught her that lesson. She’s only known a life of abandonment. And while she certainly doesn’t want to give up the family she’s fought so hard to keep, she is equally afraid of who she will be without them. The bookend scenes of her giving birth to Henry not only give us the shift of Emma’s memories, but it is gives us the difference of an Emma who denies hope to one who embraces it. The lattter I suspect will serve her well when we pick up in March.
I completely agree with you that the episode is about acceptance. But what made it truly special was that the acceptance wasn’t merely about change or self acceptance. It was about the acceptance of hope. Embedded in all the sadness hope remains for all the characters and it is that subtly that has made this season wonderful.
“She acts to find a way to bring comfort and hope back into Henry’s life and the book is what shifts his trajectory.” Ok, yep, thats why I was so attached to the book. I feel like its a beloved character in itself.
Also, forget book club, this is the best online TV club ever 🙂
Shauna, I couldn’t agree more – best TV club ever. It’s so much fun to dissect all that transpires on these shows. I was sorry to miss last week’s conversation.
As soon as you compared this episode to the LOST raft launch, I started eagerly awaiting your comment on my review because I knew that meant you really loved this episode’s final scenes. And let me say, you did not disappoint. Everything you wrote was not only insightful; it was beautifully stated. There’s not much for me to say except I feel so happy that you choose to share your thoughts with us.
What you said about Snow and the book was absolutely true. I shouldn’t have lumped that flashback in with the others—because it actually felt so much more thematically important—but I knew this review was running long. 😉 The book of stories has always represented hope. It was also the catalyst for so many of Emma and Henry’s interactions in the first season, including Emma’s belief in magic. So it was beautiful to see Snow give her grandson the tool with which he would ultimately bring their whole family back together.
I also completely agree with you about the Boy being the undoing of the Dark One but not Rumplestiltskin. I’ve always thought that was going to be the case, and I really don’t think they would get rid of Robert Carlyle. But, if we are correct in our assumption, it’s going to be interesting to see him operate without his powers.
Your last paragraph was very eloquent and true. Underneath all of the heartbreak, this episode was still about hope. It was about making the choice to look for the good amid the pain that life so often throws at us. That’s such a lovely message to see reflected in a media landscape that is often overrun with cynicism, and it’s one of the reasons why I hold this show so close to my heart.
❤ Ok, so I pretty much just had to write a stream of consciousness at lunch today to get everything out of my head, and I think I am just going to share it mostly unedited. But I loved your review. Its a great summary of what I think was one of my favorite hours (ok maybe just half an hour) of television ever.
This episode wasn’t perfect. The first half hour had that hectic wrap up feel I haven’t really enjoyed in the past few episodes, but once all that was taken care of, the last half hour packed a huge emotional wallop, and I am willing to forgive the earlier scenes and the somewhat out of place flashbacks. I am just going to go into some of my favorite parts.
-Henry/Pan at the beginning. I just loved the attitude Jared displayed while casually throwing the ingredients into the well. You could tell he was having fun with it.
-I am slightly surprised and how much I mourned the loss of Henry’s book at the end of the episode. Seriously, when that purple smoke was enveloping the book on his bed I got seriously choked up. I am not sure when I got so attached to it but I did.
-Pan vs. Rumple. These two actors blow me away. Pan’s monologue about Rumple as a baby and all the distain in his voice, it killed me. Again, the two of them completely sold this as a father/son interaction and I cant give the two of them enough credit. I don’t know where Robbie Kay came from, but that kid has major potential. This also just solidified Pan as being evil through and through. And I love him for what it brought to the show. I love how on a show where other "villains" have killed, injured, and tormented countless numbers of people, we still find redeeming qualities in them because on some level they were acting out of intense love for someone else. All of Pan’s actions were 100% selfish. Even the “thing he loved the most” was Felix, simply due to the kid’s loyalty to him. He was completely self absorbed till the end.
-Rumple’s redemption. I seriously cannot stress how 100% perfect this whole storyline was. Rumple was again faced with the need to self mutilate himself in order to take the “easier” way out and regain his magic (I was so freaked out at the thought he was going to slice off his own hand I had a blanket pulled up over my face). But this time, not only does he reject the coward in him that mutilated himself all those years ago to avoid dying in the ogre war, he also rejects the part of himself that needed magic so badly he chose it over a happy ending with his son. He is resisting the temptation to act in the ways that cost him Bae all those years ago. I just thought it was perfect (and I am glad I wasn't the only one to read it that way). And the way Bae and Belle were frozen and unable to plead with him to act any differently was just heartbreaking. But how proud do you think Bae is of his father? So proud. Gah, seriously, this whole story line is just perfect, and heartbreaking, and bravo. I really hope this isn’t the last of Rumple, cause I love Rumple, but I just loved these scenes so much I think it’s the perfect bookend to his story and I can accept this as the end if I have to.
-Loved how I feel this episode established the death of both Rumple and Regina as villains. Yes, villains don’t get happy endings, but both Rumple the villain and Regina the villain fully “died” in this episode both figuratively (and maybe one literally), and that once again opens them (or at least Regina) up to having a happy ending.
-Loved the parallel between Regina erasing her own memories of Emma in hopes of being the best mother she could for Henry, and Regina giving both Emma and Henry happy false memories in hopes of giving them both the best shot at a happy ending. I am usually torn with the “false happy memory” conclusion, because in some aspect it erases the experiences that made you who you are, but I think I am actually ok with it in this situation. I assume that all of Emma’s life experiences were the same up to that point she decided to keep him, and her life with Henry was just woven into those old memories (a la Dawn from Buffy). So it wasn’t a complete mind wipe or personality redo. It was just at that moment, 11 years ago, she chose Henry. Like she chose Henry in the present in Neverland. And now she has had a year of living without that regret and being with Henry and making new happy memories. And maybe now she has healed from some of her abandonment and can move on, and also open herself once again to romantic love. So yes, I am kinda ok with it. I also like to think that Regina gave Emma some cooking skills and Henry an affinity for indoor gardening in with those fake memories. And like you, that closing image of everyone being enveloped by purple smoke and Emma and Henry driving away was just so beautiful. I just want to look at that gif set with "we just go back to being stories" on Tumblr forever.
-The scene between Hook and Emma when they said goodbye was again, absolutely perfect. Emma only needed one word to give Hook the hope he needed to hold on for a year of searching for her. She could have told him to forget about her, she could have just said "thank you" in a “since I probably will never see you again” tone, but instead, with that one word she told him that his affection is not unwelcome, and maybe not even unrequited. “Good” as in, whatever this is we have together is “good”. Dont stop. She gave him hope, and the way his eyes lit up and he smiled when she said that word just killed me. I am picking this moment over every other Hook/Emma moment as my favorite, just because it's total walls down vulnerability and encouragement from Emma, and you can see it meant the world to Hook. Its so easy to get obsessed with “endgame” and to want instant satisfaction that you can forget about the journey. I honestly don’t care if Hook and Emma end up together in the end (ok maybe I do a little because there is the potential for one epic romance here), but right now, I absolutely love where they are, and what each character brings to each other. I am with you show, take me on this journey!
And, as you said, I 100% love the way they ended this episode. As we discussed previously, they could have easily ended on a bittersweet note with Emma driving out of town, but they didn’t. I was really against a “memory loss” plot, but with the way they have framed it (and assuming that everyone in the EF still retains their memories, which is how I interpreted it) I am ok. Hook comes back for her. They gave us hope that Emma will once again be with her family. They gave us hope that this memory loss isn’t going to last long, and that’s all I needed. Despite all the emotions and all the loss from last night, I only have one major emotion this morning, and that is excitement. They could have left me worried and lost and heartbroken, but they didn’t. They left me with hope and anticipation for what happens next, and I don’t think I could ever say thank you enough to the writers for that. I think I was ready to say goodbye to Storybrooke as it was, and I have always loved the scenes in our world outside of Storybrooke, so I cant wait to see what they do with it. I actually feel like I can do this 3 month wait thing now, where I was terrified before. I might have moments of weakness and listen to Billy Joel ballads on repeat (seriously, you try listening to 'So It Goes' and 'An Innocent Man' and not fall apart from Hook/Emma emotions), but I will make it through this. The writers gave me hope, and I know it’s gonna be ok! Seriously, when did I start sounding like Charming and Snow?
It looks like we won’t have to start our support group for Nerdy Girls Against Memory Loss Plots after all! 😉 I will admit, though, up until Hook knocked on the apartment door, I was really scared that I was just going to be curled up in a ball of anti-memory-loss emotions until March. But like you said, his presence gave me hope that not only will everything be okay for Emma and Henry; everything is going to be exciting to watch. That last scene was a welcome moment of fun after a heavy last half of an episode, and I hope that means we have more fun awaiting us in March.
I loved reading all of your thoughts so much—especially because some of them made me think about things I hadn’t really focused on yet.
“Even the “thing he loved the most” was Felix, simply due to the kid’s loyalty to him.” – Your use of the word “kid” was perfect here because it finally hit me—Pan is a man in a kid’s body who killed an actual child (even if Felix is more “Lost Teen” than “Lost Boy”). That just raised the horror of his actions to a whole other level of despicable.
“Loved the parallel between Regina erasing her own memories of Emma in hopes of being the best mother she could for Henry, and Regina giving both Emma and Henry happy false memories in hopes of giving them both the best shot at a happy ending.” – HOW DID I NOT THINK OF THIS? Just when I thought I couldn’t love Regina’s character arc in this episode more.
“Seriously, when did I start sounding like Charming and Snow?” Side effects of watching too much Once Upon a Time: Unexplained feelings of hope and uncontrollable optimism. 😉
I think it makes sense that Hook is the one who comes back for her, but I wouldn’t count Neal out of the picture just yet. The song they are listening to in the morning when Emma and Henry are having breakfast is the one that the show used to introduce us to Neal. And while there are only replacement memories for the two of them, I am very curious to see how Neal fits into or doesn’t fit into the memories they hold. Hook being the message carrier of what is going on in the other realm makes sense. He’s always been the character that could manage to travel between lands. I will be very curious to see how it all unfolds — IN MARCH! le sigh.
I don’t think Neal is out of the picture yet but I have seen it noted that the same song he was listening to when he received the postcard from August about the curse having been broken and when he knowingly decided NOT to seek out Emma is now playing when Hook is revealed as the one who came back to Emma, thus having held onto the possibility of being reunited with her for the past year. I think that’s probably deliberate and significant.
I read the song more as the ending of their “normal” life. Neal was off living his life free of his Enchanted Forest past until the music cuts out and he gets the post card that the curse was broken and its a sign that his life as he knows it is about to change. Similar scene with Emma and Henry. But obviously Neal is still around, I just think Emma would have been a little less receptive to him showing up at her door, cause in her mind he still left her. I am interested in this new reality if Henry knows about what his father did to Emma (I would guess yes, I think new Emma wouldnt lie to him about it). In my head they both refer to Neal as “that person” because Regina has a sense of humor.
Oh I definitely don’t think Neal is out of the picture, and I don’t want him to be. He’s an important part of both Emma and Henry’s lives, and I want him to always be an important part of their lives in whatever way the show decides to take that. But I’m not sure he will factor into Henry’s memory at all, and, in Emma’s mind, he’s still the guy who abandoned her and let her go to jail for him. She has all new memories of after Henry’s birth, but the years prior to his birth remain the same for her. So technically we’re back to Emma’s headspace in “Manhattan” in terms of Neal. But I do love that the same song is playing in both Neal and Emma’s “domestic NYC” scenes for a couple of reasons. It’s a way for Neal’s presence to be felt with his family on a subconscious level (maybe it’s supposed to be a song he and Emma have a special connection with), and the music turning off is a huge symbol for both characters that their “normal” lives have been interrupted by magic.
hello again. Loved the review Katie and as usual I pretty much agree with everything you said! I LOVED this episode – and it was so much more emotional than I expected. I love that Rumple gave up his life to save Bae and Belle – although I definitely think that Rumple will be back aS there is no way they are getting rid of Robert Carlyle. Also loved Regina in this episode – her character arc this season has been great – and for the first time ever I actually think redemption is possible for her (she took a giant leap this episode) and I’m really looking forward to seeing how her potential romance with Robin Hood plays out. And of course I loved all things Emma in this episode – I have to say I think Jennifer Morrison is having an outstanding season so far, Lana and Robert always get great plaudits (and rightly so) for how they play their characters, but I think Jennifer Morrison plays Emma beautifully – Emma is such a closed off character that she doesn’t get too many big emotional scenes but when Emma does get emotional boy does Morrison nail it every single time. I loved all the good byes at the end of the episode and when Emma gave a little sob as Snow came to say her final good bye that was the final nail in the coffin for me! I did not expect the story to jump 1 year ahead but I love that they did, and it was nice seeing Emma and Henry so happy in their new lives, and even better when Hook arrived at the door. I’m guessing we’ll see flash backs to what happened over the last year in the enchanted forest – so we’ll know how/why Emma’s family is in grave danger. I am very excited to see what happens in March! And Nicademus11 I loved your review!
Thanks for the comment and the kind words! And thank you especially for singling out Jennifer Morrison’s excellent work. I feel like she doesn’t get the respect she deserves for her great work on this show, especially because, as you said, Emma has to keep so many emotions under the surface, only to come spilling over in episodes like this one. Morrison makes me feel so deeply for Emma, probably more deeply than I do for any other character on television right now, and that’s no small feat.
“And Nicademus11 I loved your review!” Isn’t she great? 🙂
First – thank you both for the kind words. I love the conversation on this site so it is always so fun to comment.
Second, Joan I loved what you said about Emma being closed off emotionally. You are so right, she doesn’t get the big demonstrative scenes because it isn’t who her character is. Her emotions live just beneath the surface in a way that she is fully aware of them and equally determined to control and not put them on display. It is why when her character gets to be vulnerable it is utterly heartbreaking and I think Morrison has played it especially nuanced this season. What could be distant and removed comes off much more as guarded, sad and afraid. It is a very poignant way she plays it that gives you the full emotional depth of who Emma is in even her side glances.
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