TV Time: Once Upon a Time 3.19

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Title A Curious Thing

Two-Sentence Summary Henry’s storybook proves to be the key to getting his memories back, just in time for Zelena to threaten his life because of Hook’s choice not to kiss Emma, but Emma’s light magic proves to be stronger than Zelena’s once again, as does Regina’s love for her son, which breaks the curse placed on the memories of Storybrooke’s residents. With their memories returned, Snow and Charming remember that Snow cast the curse in order to return to Emma by sacrificing Charming’s heart, but Snow’s faith in their love proved strong enough to enable them to share a heart and bring her husband back to life.

Favorite Lines
Charming: Why do women keep their shoeboxes?
Snow: Because after true love, there is no more powerful magic than footwear. It has to be protected.

My Thoughts I love Once Upon a Time. It can be ridiculous, illogical, and a bit too plot-driven at times (all of which can be criticisms of “A Curious Thing”). But its heart—pun totally intended—is always in the right place. This is a show that is first and foremost about love. In an increasingly cynical world, I’m so happy to be a fan of a show that isn’t afraid to say that love has a power unlike any other force imaginable. That’s what “A Curious Thing” was all about—love’s ability to make the impossible possible. From Snow and Charming to Regina and Henry, this episode was a reiteration of the show’s foundational principle: Love is strength.

Just like last week’s character development and subtle dark humor were a dead giveaway that “Bleeding Through” was at least partly a Jane Espenson-written episode, “A Curious Thing” had Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz’s trademarks all over it. It made sense that the show’s creators would take the helm in an episode that harkened back so strongly to the first season of the show. And it made sense that they would write an episode that was so firmly devoted to the show’s central themes of love, belief, and family—and the collision of fairytales and harsh reality in the character of Emma Swan.

The episode began with an excellent—and, let’s be honest, hot—way to ease into the intense thematic developments to come. After seeing the way Regina and Robin’s relationship played out before the curse was cast, I was a little disappointed that they ended up not being drawn together because of a romance between them in the lost year. It seemed the attraction was definitely there, but I actually think Regina having her heart was a huge hindrance to that relationship developing. Regina’s heart has known so much loss, pain, and darkness. Removing it has allowed her to move on from the pain she has carried in her heart since Daniel died. It allowed her to feel with her soul instead, and we know from Tinker Bell’s words that Robin is Regina’s soul mate. Not having her heart seemed to help Regina’s soul find its mate without the fear she still held in her heart about finding a second chance at happiness.

Because that’s what Regina and Robin are to one another—a second chance to love, a second chance to be happy. And Regina was so wonderfully happy in this first scene. Lana Parrilla has a thousand-watt smile, and I loved seeing it used without restraint at multiple times in this episode. Regina held on to bitterness, grief, and hatred for so long that it gives me endless joy to see her truly taking this chance to be happy. Watching Regina kiss Robin with a beautiful smile on her face reminded me that Once Upon a Time is so good at showing this basic truth: Love should bring out the best in a person.

Regina and Robin’s relationship development was very closely related to what Regina witnessed between Snow and Charming in the flashback portions of this episode. And I don’t just mean the obvious foreshadowing in Robin’s line about Regina using his heart to feel. I think witnessing true love at its most true had a profound impact on Regina. With or without her memories, it was clear that this was no longer something she sneered at, but something she actually believed in.

Believing in the power of true love was the central theme of the episode’s flashbacks. It began with Belle’s insistence that she try to get through to Rumplestiltskin, despite his mad state. (As a side note: How brilliant was Robert Carlyle in his brief moments in this episode? No one can do compellingly crazy like he can.) His true love was the only one who could find him within the madness of his own mind, and I thought it was beautiful that her faith was rewarded with a moment of clarity from Rumplestiltskin about Glinda.

I was a bit disappointed with Glinda being basically an information source rather than a character who felt real, but I’m going to assume that will change with next week’s “Kansas.” I did like the nod to Wicked’s take on the two witches being friends, and I can’t believe I didn’t make the connection between that obnoxious green necklace and Zelena’s powers. But besides those two fun tidbits, all Glinda did was tell us what we all inferred from Zelena’s curse on Hook: Only Emma and her light magic—born of and strengthened by love—can defeat Zelena. The best part of the trip to see Glinda was Regina’s frustration with Charming and Snow picking flowers and her indignation over not being able to go through the door. This episode featured some of Regina’s most impressive sass to date (including her retort to Robin: “Where you come from, people bathe in the river and use pinecones for money.”)

As it became clearer that the heroes (I still love that I get to include Regina in that group now, by the way) needed to find a way back to Emma, it also became clearer that Zelena wasn’t the one who cast the curse that sent them back. I’ll admit to being completely stunned when Charming volunteered to be sacrificed. But by showing Zelena’s powers on a grand and personal level at the start of this episode—with her turning Aurora and Phillip into flying monkeys—it became clear that something equally grand and personal needed to be done to try to defeat her.

Before I get to the beauty of the scene where Charming’s heart is crushed and the curse is enacted, I have to admit that there were some plot holes in the way the curse was cast this time around. It seemed like the same curse from the pilot, but I don’t understand why memory loss wasn’t a factor until Zelena hijacked the curse. Is this a case where, like it was with Pan, the Dark Curse can be changed to fit the wishes of the one casting it? Also, why was there no mention of Snow having a hole in her heart that can never be filled after casting the curse, since it was such a big deal when Regina cast it? I can theorize that it may be different if the curse is cast with good intentions, such as love and protection, but until I know for sure, I’m just guessing. It’s more than a little annoying that the laws of magic are often unclear on this show.

When push came to shove, though, I wasn’t thinking about the rules of magic or past curses during any part of that scene between Snow, Charming, and Regina. All I was thinking about was trying not to cry. The way one scene managed to capture the essence of Snow and Charming’s love as well as the essence of Regina’s character growth was breathtaking. It was a showcase for three of Once Upon a Time’s best actors to do what they do best—take a plot that should be cheesy and elevate it to something genuinely moving.

Snow and Charming are my favorite couple on Once Upon a Time. They’re the reason I got hooked on this show. And it’s all because Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin make me believe every single moment of their love story. They make fairytale love feel like it’s something tangible. Charming’s faith in Snow and their love has always been one of the most guaranteed “sob inducers” for me on this show. So when he told Snow that their love would live on in their child, I could barely handle all of the emotions I was feeling. (I’m sure the fact that Dallas and Goodwin are having their own child played strongly into how genuine those lines felt—or at least into how deeply they moved me.)

Goodwin and Dallas—especially Dallas—have a remarkable way of taking dialogue that could sound sappy and instead making it sound believable. And I thought both of them were the best they’ve been in a long time (maybe since Season One) in this scene. The single tear Goodwin shed when they talked about their child got to me the most. And then came perhaps the most heartbreakingly romantic lines this show has ever featured:

Snow: I loved you from the first moment I saw you.
Charming: And I’ll love you until my last.

This moment was so beautiful but so painful because I believed it. I believe their love story like I believe in no other one on television. So when Snow crushed his heart, I also believed that their love would save them. And of course it did.

Parrilla played Regina’s reactions to Snow and Charming so wonderfully. She was genuinely moved by their love, a love she once sought to destroy. And it became her job to try to save it by dividing Snow’s heart into two pieces. The trust Snow showed in not just her love for her husband but in Regina was a sign of just how far these characters have come from where they were when the first curse was cast.

The identical blocking between this scene and its sister scene in the pilot showed two things: the constancy of Snow and Charming’s love and the growth in Regina’s character. Snow put her heart in Regina’s hand, and Regina didn’t crush it like she would have so many times before. Instead, she gave half of it to Charming to save him, and she succeeded. On any other show, the idea of splitting a heart between two bodies would be absurd (and maybe for some it still is on this show), but Once Upon a Time can do seemingly absurd things without making me crazy as long as I feel emotionally invested. And I haven’t felt that emotionally invested in Snow and Charming in a long time. This moment was a huge victory for true love at a time when things looked their bleakest, and I think Regina took a part of that hope with her back to Storybrooke—even if she didn’t remember it.

Believing in love—and in the people you love—was a driving force in the Storybrooke portion of this episode as well. I thought it was interesting that we saw Emma in full skeptic mode once again in the beginning of “A Curious Thing.” I’m very torn on Emma still wanting to take Henry back to New York City. On one hand, I understand her wanting no part of the savior’s life anymore. It does seem that people only come to find her when they want curses broken (which I know isn’t entirely fair to Snow and Charming in this episode, but their actions could be construed in that way). And it is certainly a more dangerous life for Henry. But it’s also a decision that’s hard to enjoy watching her stick to. Her desire to leave her family behind makes sense for a woman who lived for 28 years having no concept of family. But it wasn’t fair to Henry to secretly hope he didn’t get his memories back. Emma had a right to want to protect Henry, but Henry had a right to be mad at her for keeping information from him. (Sounds like a certain situation between Emma and Hook as well, doesn’t it?)

The return of Henry’s storybook was something I’d been waiting for since it disappeared in “Going Home.” I loved that it factored so prominently into getting his memories back because it’s really his story, the story of his crazy family tree. It was also very interesting to discover that it only appears to people who want to believe and want to help others believe, such as Snow. Her heroic sense of belief brought her husband back from the dead, and it was crucial to her grandson regaining his memories.

The reversal of Henry and Emma’s roles from the Season One finale was also something I’d been waiting a long time for. In that finale, Emma learned to believe in magic through her belief in her son. And in “A Curious Thing,” Henry believed again because he believed in his mother. True love is true belief in another person, and never has that been made clearer on this show. I loved the way Jennifer Morrison played Emma’s reactions to Henry getting his memories back. Her love for her son and her desire to see him truly happy (not happy with false memories) ended up outweighing her desire to leave this life behind when Zelena was defeated. Her genuine happiness to have all of her son back was palpable, even if it was tempered with the understanding that they could never go back to New York now.

Henry and Regina’s reunion was worth all of the heartbreak that came before it—that’s how you do emotional payoff, TV writers. Parrilla’s smile when he first called her mom was a thing of true beauty. And I loved that this scene used both of Henry’s mothers and the strength of their love for their son—and his love for them—to work magic. Henry’s faith in Emma helped him believe. Emma’s love for Henry helped free him from Zelena (with a burning spell straight out of the first Harry Potter book). And Regina and Henry’s love broke the curse on the memories of the Storybrooke residents.

I was thrilled that Regina got to break Zelena’s curse. It seems Emma is the one who will ultimately defeat her, but I wanted Regina to get at least one big win against her half-sister. This entire season, we’ve watched Regina earn this moment of true love with her son; we watched her become a woman who can love enough to break a curse even without her heart. The fact that Henry was both Regina and Emma’s first canonically-confirmed true love speaks to the powerful way this show values motherhood as well as the continued parallels between these two women.

Emma’s reaction to Regina telling Henry she was never letting him go again was a masterful bit of nuanced acting by Morrison. For as happy as Emma can be that Henry is back to being himself (and I’m sure part of her is happy for Regina and her parents too), her choice of going back to New York is effectively gone now. Henry would never leave all of the people who care about him (including the “awesome” Robin Hood)—no matter how good their life in New York may have been. Henry was Emma’s reason to come back to her family, and I think he’ll play a big role in her accepting that these people are her real home. That’s what Operation Cobra was all about—taking down villains but also getting Emma to believe.

In an episode where belief came easily for many characters, it felt harder than ever for Emma. I’ll admit to growing a bit tired of the constant rehashing of how good her life was in New York (because it was built on a false reality), but I know that it has to be done to make her ultimate desire to stay with the people who love her more dramatic. Emma isn’t a fairytale character. She didn’t grow up in a world where true love and belief in magic were real concepts; she grew up in a world where love and belief led to nothing but pain and abandonment for 28 years. So at a time when Regina, Snow, and Charming’s faith in love seemed stronger than ever, Emma’s hit its lowest point in a long time.

Emma looks for reasons to put her walls up; that’s her first reaction to any situation. And she latched on to Hook’s actions as a reason to close herself off to him again. Was Hook trying to do the right thing by taking Henry away so Zelena couldn’t harm him? Yes. But Emma still has a right to be mad at him. In fact, I would have been more upset had she brushed it off as no big deal because that’s not who her character is. Hook is driven by a need to protect the people he loves, which now includes Henry. But he still took away Emma’s choice when it came to protecting her son, and it could have gotten Henry killed. Emma is a woman who is used to having people take away her agency, and, as much as I love Hook, I was proud of Emma for calling him out for his actions.

It was rash of Emma to say she couldn’t trust Hook anymore (and I’m not sure she even believes it), but I think it was a reflex from a woman whose first instinct is to not trust anyone. And as for Charming and Snow’s distrust of Hook, I was slightly disappointed that they jumped to such bad conclusions about him, but the last thing they knew of him was that he wanted to go off and be a pirate again. Yes, he did a lot of good in his time with them, but not long before that he was a man they knew only as someone who switched sides depending on whatever was best for him. And let’s face it; we all know this continued Hook angst is just a way to set up a big payoff in future episodes. I predict he’ll do something sacrificial to earn their trust back and to help Emma finally come to terms with what she feels for him. That curse on his lips was written to be broken, after all.

There’s much more to Hook’s story still to be told, but it’s a story for another day, another episode. We still don’t know how he got back to Emma, but we do know now who sent him the message and the potion—and that was a twist I never saw coming. To have Neal break free of his father’s body to perform such a brave and selfless act was everything I’d ever wanted for that character. When Neal got the message that the curse was broken (the message he’d asked for so he knew when to come find Emma), he ignored it. But I love that he trusted Hook enough to know that he wouldn’t ignore this message. So much character growth was shown by that one, short flashback. It said so much about Neal’s complicated relationship with Hook, as well as his belief in both Emma’s ability to defeat Zelena and Hook’s ability to cross realms to get back to the woman he loves. It was a truly heroic act grounded by the kind of belief that made this whole episode feel cohesive and compelling.

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49 thoughts on “TV Time: Once Upon a Time 3.19

  1. I couldn’t stop smiling seeing Regina and Robin so happy at the start of the episode! I wish they could have had more interactions in the Enchanted Forest though.

    I feel like Henry will be the one to make Emma come around about Hook. He and Hook had been hanging out with each other a lot lately, so Henry knows Hook cares about the two of them. I still wish Hook had been honest with Emma and told her, but if he did Zelena probably would have found out really fast (she seems to have flying monkeys spying on people everywhere). But even if he did succeed in taking Henry back to New York, Zelena probably would have went after Snow and Charming instead.

    • I loved how happy seeing Regina so happy made me. 🙂 But I do agree with wanting more scenes with them in the Enchanted Forest. I feel that way about nearly all of those characters, though. We didn’t get to spend enough time with them during that missing year.

      I think you might be right about Henry helping Emma trust her gut about Hook once again. The relationship between Hook and Henry has been fun to watch develop, and I think that has the potential to be a good parallel with Henry and Emma/Walsh in “New York City Serenade.”

  2. As always, I love your piece! I’m a big Snow and Charming fan too and I love this episode!
    On Snow not having a hole in her heart, I think its because she never did lose Charming. There was one episode (I can’t remember which one) but Rumple said that Regina will have a hole in her heart because she has known love and lost it. Snow never did lose Charming because Regina split Snow’s heart. This (splitting hearts) was the unexpected twist. Much like the potion in the dragon was the unexpected twist in season one. Nobody saw it coming because there was no clues in that direction at all.
    These unexpected twists made me realize there was no way I can predict what was going to happen so I should just go along for the ride. Accepting that made me enjoy this show even more.

    • Thank you for the nice words and for your explanation of the lack of Snow’s hole in her heart. That actually makes perfect sense to me, and I don’t know why I didn’t think of that sooner—thank goodness I have some smart commenters! 🙂

      Your philosophy of just going along for the ride is a perfect one to have, especially with a show like this one. It makes the viewing experience so much more enjoyable!

    • Going along for the ride was a lesson I learned from these creators when I watched LOST. Vastly improves the viewing experience if you merely accept the world they have created.

  3. Great review as always. I really liked this episode – I didn’t think Zelena had cast the curse that sent everyone to Storybrooke but I definitely wasn’t expecting Snow and Charming to be the ones who cast it either!! I loved seeing Regina and the Charmings working together in the Enchanted Forest – and I thought Lana Parrilla was excellent in the scene where Snow and Charming were saying goodbye to each other – you could really see that Regina was upset and she didn’t want to have to take out Charmings heart.

    I thought all the main actors really brought it this week – Goodwin and Dallas were excellent throughout and Robert Carlyle wasn’t in too many scenes this week but boy was he was brilliant in what he was in! As usual I thought Jennifer Morrison was great – I too am getting a bit tired of hearing Emma say she wants to go back to New York but I really think that once Henry got his memories back you could see in Emma’s reactions that she knows she’ll be staying in Storybrooke.

    Gotta say I loved that both Emma’s and Regina’s love for Henry helped break 2 curses this week – when Emma asked Henry if he trusted her, and he said yes with no hesitation, you could really see how much of a bond they have, and it was a nice twist that Regina’s kiss brought back everyones memories. I also loved that when Henry and Emma were talking at the end of the episode he knew how hard it was for Emma to return to Storybrooke – it was a really nice moment between the 2 of them, and can I just say how old Jared looks now – his voice has broken and everything – puberty has definitely hit!

    I am not too concerned about the angst between Emma and Hook at the end of the episode – I fully expect we’ll see a TLK between the 2 characters by the end of the season so at the most I only have 3 episodes to wait!

    • Thank you! I totally agree that the main cast brought their A-game this week, even more than usual. It makes me sad that people dismiss this show often on principle and don’t stop to appreciate the fantastic performances delivered on a weekly basis. I really think it’s one of the strongest ensembles on television (especially network television).

      I’m so happy you pointed out that scene at the end of the episode between Henry and Emma. Henry is the only other person who could understand how hard it was for Emma to leave that life behind, and I am glad for so many reasons that Henry has his memories back—but especially because it means Emma has someone who can relate to her in understanding that life in New York was great but who can also help her believe that life in Storybrooke can be even better.

  4. I love your choice of favorite line 😉

    I love that throughout the 3 seasons, OUaT has taken Regina from a character I love to watch to a character I genuinely love and want good things for. I love how much she has been smiling lately and I need that to continue. Her relationship with Robin is so open and playful (I feel like I’ve said similar things about at least two other characters this season, I must have a type lol) and Lana plays it perfectly. I love that it was Regina’s love for Henry that broke the curse. I like it when a character other than Emma gets to be the savior and it was a well-earned victory for Regina. The scene with her and Henry talking about New York and Robin completely melted my heart, as did Regina and Robin walking out of the boat house together.

    This was the first episode in a long time that made me cry over Snow and Charming. I’m sure that Josh and Ginny’s real relationship and pregnancy made that scene even more emotional than usual for them and it completely worked in the show’s favor.

    • I thought you—as a fellow footwear aficionado—would enjoy that I chose that line. 😉

      “I love that throughout the 3 seasons, OUaT has taken Regina from a character I love to watch to a character I genuinely love and want good things for.” – You said everything I’ve been feeling about Regina’s arc so perfectly in this one sentence. Seeing her get a chance to be happy—not just with Robin but now with Henry back in her life too—was the greatest thing about this great episode. When she was talking to Henry about him getting good at math, I actually got really emotional. Lana Parrilla plays Regina’s maternal side so well, and it was lovely to see her in “mom mode” again.

  5. Wow, what an episode. I really enjoyed it. Sometimes you have to have a little patience so you can have a big payoff down the road. And while Zelena is still not that interesting of a villain, she is still managing to do wonders for our other characters’ development, so I forgive her.

    – I am going to start this off with discussing the Hook thing. As far as Emma and the Charmings turning on Killian, it was inevitable. The reason why I was so upset at the end of ‘The Jolly Roger’ is because I knew the second he made the decision to not tell anybody that he was cursed that it was going to lead to conflict down the road. That’s just the way a plot point like this works. And since I tend to fast forward or run out of the room when characters I love fight, knowing that this was coming was just stressing me out. But I am relieved that its now out in the open and the characters, and me, can move on. Everything about that moment screamed “plot progression”, not “emotionally devastating moment”. You can tell by the absolute lack of significant background music. I am going to agree with the popular opinion that Henry is going to play a part in coming to Killian’s defense. They have spent too much time on Killian and Henry bonding this season for it not to be important in these final episodes.

    -I love that they finally made the formal distinction between Emma’s light magic and Rumple/Regina/Zelena’s dark magic. Curious, does light magic come with a price too?

    -I am surprised that Henry wasn’t a bit more upset with Emma about the whole lying to him thing once he got his memories back. Maybe it will come into play next week when Henry comes to Hook’s defense (yo Mom, Hook was lying to you but you were lying to me too because you thought you were protecting me. Boom!)

    -Just as I loved more grown up Henry and Emma’s relationship, I immediately loved Henry and Regina’s regained relationship. The way Henry teased her about finding her kissing a guy and his reaction when he found out it was Robin Hood was adorable.

    -Again, any scene with Charming and Snow together declaring their love works amazingly well. You could probably even give these two clunky George Lucas Star Wars prequel dialogue and they would sell it. They play off each other beautifully. That said, once Charming was unconscious on the ground the connection was lost a bit and it started veering into melodrama territory with the splitting of the two hearts thing, but it still worked because Charming came back and everything was ok.

    -So much was resolved in this episode that I am really interested to see what kind of dramatic conclusion we are getting to this season. If you look at the character posters from the beginning of season 3, I believe with this episode that Snow (having hope that Emma will defeat Zelena), Charming (sacrificing his heart to save his family), and Regina’s (being able to truly love Henry despite her dark heart) character arcs have all largely been concluded. That leaves us with Emma (believe that a lost girl can find her way home) Hook (believe that a pirate can be a hero) and Rumple (believe that you can change your fate). I think its interesting that you can say that all of these plot points also fit their characters in 3A, but it was all still a work in progress at the end of the Neverland arc. In 3B Emma is still dealing with her false sense of home she was given at the end of 3A (hence why she has to bring up NY every episode), Hook is still reeling from is pirate relapse in the EF and dealing with the consequences of that (guilt and cursed lips), and Rumple, who, while sacrificing himself and changing his tendency to be a coward at the end of 3A, is still being controlled by the dark one dagger and does not have control over his own fate. I have a feeling the last 3 episodes are going to focus on these three themes. And if the payoff is as good as it was for Snow/Charming/Regina, we are all in for a treat 🙂

    • I have read this comment so many times because I’m kind of in love with it, just so you know. 😉

      First of all, I love that you pointed out the lack of significant background music during Hook’s confrontation with Emma and her parents. Once Upon a Time has a great score, and they like to use it whenever they can to further emotional reactions to moments. So the fact that I didn’t really feel much of an emotional sucker punch from that moment makes sense with the lack of emotionally charged music. It felt like a standard TV trope of setting up a conflict at the end of an episode to be resolved in the next episode. And like we’ve talked about (and you mentioned here), I think Henry is going to help change the current tide of public opinion about Hook, and I’m 99.9999% sure it’s happening fairly early on in the next episode (since in the promo it’s clear that he’s back to fighting alongside Emma and Charming within the episode).

      Count me as another person who loved the interactions between Henry and Regina once he got his memories back. Because of course teenage Henry would think it’s cool that his mom is dating legendary thief Robin Hood. It’s almost as cool as his other mom having him hang out with Captain Hook. 😉

      “You could probably even give these two clunky George Lucas Star Wars prequel dialogue and they would sell it.” – This may be my new favorite quote to describe just how good Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin are in these roles.

      Your final paragraph is excellent, and it’s a piece of analysis I never thought about before you brought it up—but it’s so true. Those character posters ended up being about so much more than just the Neverland arc. And I think you’re correct in saying these final three episodes will deal heavily with Emma, Hook, and Rumplestiltskin coming to fulfill what was written on their posters. I remember thinking at the end of “Going Home” how sad it was that Emma’s tagline ended up not coming true, but I think that tagline more than perhaps any other was one that needed to be left unresolved to connect both halves of this season together. It started with Emma as a lost girl, and now she’s feeling lost again. But I have no doubt that this season will end with her choosing to believe that she has a home with all of the people who love her. It’s how season-long character arcs work, after all.

  6. As usual, I love your thoughts on this show.

    First, Regina and Henry – when Regina kissed Henry and it turned out to be a True Love’s Kiss, I almost wanted to cry because I was so happy. I don’t think that S1 Regina could have woken Henry but from the sleeping curse with a kiss, but S3 Regina absolutely could, and if that wasn’t meant to be a sign of how far she’s come, I don’t know what else would be. Her love for him is so strong that it even worked when she doesn’t have her heart. (Also, I’m still convinced the revelation is coming that Regina loves with her soul, not just her heart, but we’ll see if they actually come out and say it).

    I’m with you on being disappointed that it seems Robin and Regina didn’t fall in love in the Enchanted Forest. That was what I was expecting because I thought it would make sense, but I guess not. But I like your reasoning here – that removing her heart made her less afraid and able to move past her hangups and embrace Robin where she was too scared to before. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her as happy and giddy as she looked in those scenes with Robin, except maybe with Daniel all those years ago.

    The scenes with Regina, Snow and Charming were some of my favorites. I did not expect to love that relationship as much as I do, but there’s something about them and that has me both rolling on the floor and smiling like a loon because – they’re friends! They did it! After all of this awfulness, all of the hardship and darkness, they are friends and care about each other and trust each other enough to do something like they did with Charming and Snow’s hearts. The amount of trust inherent in that scene is amazing, and it’s a great build on what we’ve seen so far this season, where Snow and Charming have been trusting Regina to protect their baby (when before she was the one putting their baby – Emma – in danger). Just – what a great character arc and it’s the one I wanted for her.

    Every time I think they can’t make Snowing more romantic, they go and prove me wrong. They literally share a single heart. Charming loves his daughter enough to willingly give up his heart to try and protect her, and Snow loves Charming enough that she can literally give him part of her heart and it will beat in his chest and keep him alive. They’ve been through so much, and they love each other SO much, and it’s like they’re a physical representation of what this show is supposed to be about. I saw someone complaining last night that the thing Snow loved most was Charming, not one of their children, but frankly I think that’s perfectly in character. I don’t doubt they love their children, but there is something that connects them both so strongly that I don’t think they can ever love anyone MORE than they love each other. No matter what they go through, no matter what they have to do – their love will always see them through. The entire scene should have been ridiculous and cheesy and yet I ate it up.

    The furor over Emma’s last scenes has been kinda deafening in fandom, lol. I see why people are upset. Emma especially is taking a lot of heat, and I admit that I find it frustrating sometimes, because Emma is not perfect but her issues are so blatant that I don’t know what people expect. You don’t get over 28 years of abandonment and trust issues plus another year or two of “magic is a thing that actually exists but by the way, everything and everyone involved with it can really mess up you and your loved ones’ lives” easily, especially when you’re constantly being reminded that it’s very easy to lose the things you love constantly like she is. I think maybe the execution of it could have been better, but they got the point across – Emma’s trust issues aren’t magically gone, but we’re kind of in the “last gasp” part where it comes to Hook, that point where just before they’re gone for good, they make on valiant attempt to resurface and they do it strongly.

    I think New York represents for Emma what is the easiest thing – she gets to keep Henry and fix what is probably her biggest regret, and she leaves behind all the complications that come with finding her parents, magic, and the little-sibling-to-be. I can understand the urge, especially since when she was living there and had no memories, those complications didn’t exist. Life was probably a hundred times easier, and I can see why it would be attractive for her. But the thing is, that life doesn’t exist anymore, if it ever did, especially with Henry’s memories back. Henry has had a life in Storybrooke – he grew up there, his other mother is there, his grandparents are there, and magic is there, and Henry desperately wants all of those things. He HAS wanted them for probably most of his life. He is not going to want to give them up, and he is old enough now that he deserves to have a say. He’s not a little child who doesn’t understand what’s happening; he’s a pre-teen who legitimately has things to lose if they leave.

    I think she was in the right to call Hook out for not consulting her on her own son – we’ve consistently seen that Emma hates it when people take decisions out of her hands, especially when she SHOULD be having a say in what happens. The intentions were good, but the actions were not, and that deserved to be called out. I think it was a good place to highlight that we can see where these characters are going, but neither Hook (who is reforming and relearning how to be an honorable man who does honorable things) nor Emma (who is opening herself back up) are quite there yet. It’s not gonna be quite that easy. The fact that Charming and Snow jumped to not trusting Hook anymore actually reassured me a bit, because that says to me that we’re approaching that last stretch of the arc where things will either go in one direction or another. In this case, everyone will decide that Hook is not ever going to be trustworthy, or they’re going to decide the opposite and that will likely be the last time that it comes up. Given this show and the time and effort they’ve put into Hook’s scenes not just with Emma but also with Henry, I’m putting all my money on “they’re going to learn that they CAN trust him/there will be a vindication scene and that will be that.” And if you look at things from their point of view, Zelena set everything up to be nice and shady, so if you don’t have the inside info the viewers do, things DO look at least a tiny bit suspicious.

    Last but not least – I was so delighted that it was NEAL who sent the message. The thought never crossed my mind, but it’s kind of perfect, given Neal’s own character arc. He was a big part of Emma losing someone she loved all those years ago when they were young and dumb; his message to Hook was a way of making sure she got people she loved BACK this time – her parents, her sibling, Hook, even Regina. And I like that it did harken back to little Baelfire and Captain Hook’s relationship – one that ended in shattered trust, but it might not have in a perfect world, and between the scenes with them as adults we got and this last scene there, I think they repaired it as much as they could have. I really hope Hook finds out that it was Neal and we get to see an actual reaction, because I think that will be huge for him, the fact that it was Bae who sent the message to him about Emma.

    This show really does make you wonder about so many what-ifs: what if Emma had kept Henry, would Regina be where she is now? What if the Charmings had kept their baby instead of sending her through, or one had come through with her? What would have happened if Bae had stayed with Hook in Neverland – would that have even worked out? The missed opportunities always tend to make me kind of sad, and for some reason this scene with Neal brought back that sadness, because as often as Neal screwed up, he eventually became a man that I would have liked to have seen more of, I think. I really enjoy aspects of this show a lot, dang.

    • Thank you so much for the kind words and for sharing your incredibly articulate thoughts on this show with us. I agree with so many of the points you brought up here, and you explained them in such a great way.

      Your reaction to Regina/Snow/Charming’s dynamic mirrors my own (especially the smiling like a loon part). To see how far these characters have come is beautiful, but what really astounds me is that I buy all of it. I don’t feel like anything feels false or forced between them. They’ve earned all of their development, and I want this friendship for all of them. It’s amazing that I can say that after their antagonistic dynamic for so much of the show’s history, but that’s a testament to good writing and even better performances.

      “The furor over Emma’s last scenes has been kinda deafening in fandom, lol. ” – This may be the understatement of the year. 😉 I honestly can’t understand why people are judging her so harshly. Change doesn’t come easily for anyone, especially for a person who lived for 28 years with no healthy concept of family and a belief that the only love she ever knew betrayed her and sent her to jail. The fact that Emma is learning to trust anyone at all is huge, so I never see setbacks or disbelief as character regression for her—I see it as making her internal struggle to change the mindset she held for 28 years believable. As you said, both Emma and Hook are written to be not quite there yet in terms of finding their best selves. If they were, that wouldn’t make for a very good story in the final episodes. We need conflict not just on a plot level with Zelena, but on an inner level with important characters, too. And you put it so well when you described this as the last stretch of this particular arc. There has to be conflict in order for the payoff at the end of the arc to make sense.

      You thoughts about Neal were beautiful, so I have nothing else to add except to say “well done.”

      “I really enjoy aspects of this show a lot, dang.” – This is my reaction every time I start writing one of these reviews. 🙂

      • Yes to Regina/Snow/Charming’s relationship feeling actually earned! It would have been very easy to flip the switch too fast, but they didn’t in this case – you understand why they would be working together/spending time together so it’s easy to see how they would become friends. And I think that they established that Snow and Regina would have been close if not for what happened with Daniel, so when you have characters moving past that, they are free to have the relationship that was ruined. Add to that the fact that they HAVE been through a lot together recently, have seen the best and worst of each other, and for me it’s 100% believable. I think even without being connected by Henry, they would still be close. Going back to what-ifs, I imagine that once Leopold was gone and it was just Snow and Regina (with no Daniel between them), Regina might have been happier than she was without Snow. Maybe not truly happy, especially without Robin apparently, but definitely not as miserable. She may even have become a surrogate mom to Charming.

        And I’m with you on Emma. It can be kind of hard to be an Emma fan sometimes because she tends to get the worst of it from fandom, no matter what happens. I definitely understand being frustrated, and I do think it could have been executed better, but nothing about what happened surprised me at all. I don’t think this was just about him not telling her about Zelena either – I think there are a lot of little things bothering Emma right now: him not telling her about Zelena and not consulting her about Henry and Henry almost getting hurt; Emma being on the verge of having to give up a fantasy life and on getting a new sibling and her feelings about that baby that will get to grow up with their parents, especially since Snow said that she wanted that; it wouldn’t even surprise me if she’s also unhappy that Henry remembers Regina not because she dislikes Regina but because it means she has to share Henry now in a way she didn’t when Henry was still oblivious. Thinking about it, who does she have right now that she can talk to and trust and just take a breather with? Her parents and Regina are all wrapped up in protecting the baby and trying to defeat Zelena (which is understandable), she barely knows Robin, Henry didn’t have his memories until now, Neal’s dead (and I imagine she’s still processing that) and most of her other friends are gone for Plot Reasons or turned into monkeys. So all that she’s left with is Hook, who she does trust most of the time. But the problem is, things with him are just as complicated too. The one time we saw her blowing off steam WAS with him, in the diner, but he was very blatantly Not In The Mood (BC Cursed), so what’s she left with? Pretty much nobody. Emma is dealing with SO MUCH internal stuff practically by herself; I’m not surprised she’s desperate to throw those walls back up and just wants to get away from it all.

        On top of that, I think that him trying to get Henry away was a very big deal, one of the worst things he could have done. It also doesn’t look good, to have Zelena reveal that she and Hook had a secret and to have that revealed AFTER Hook tried to get Henry away. I think maybe she would have been less suspicious if those two things hadn’t happened so close together. Even if they were TOGETHER, not consulting her on that would have been a huge deal, so to have it happen when Emma is right on the cusp of truly trusting in him with everything was really quite scary to her, and I imagine painful as well. I think what Emma wants most is someone she can count on 100% without thought, and I think Hook will be that, but he has some growing to do too before he’s there.

        And like I said, with this type of character arc, all of this is just going to mean payoff in the end. Having this freak out over being able to trust him NOW likely means that there won’t be another huge one later – I don’t expect things between them to be smooth all the time, but I don’t think we’ll get another scene like that one. And to be fair, we can’t really gauge how big this scene actually was yet, because they didn’t really finish it. It looks like Hook is working with everyone just fine next ep, so there probably won’t be an episode-long period where everyone is mad at him and he has to prove himself again. It can just be that they’re all uneasy but decide to focus on protecting the baby, and the plotline gets resolved without any further fighting because Hook does something suitably heroic to put their doubts to rest. We’ll have to see!

        • “And to be fair, we can’t really gauge how big this scene actually was yet, because they didn’t really finish it. ” – This is EXACTLY how I feel when I see people overreacting to the “no one trusts Hook” moment. It was meant to set up the big twist of who sent Hook the message, and I’m pretty sure Emma was already feeling uncomfortable that her parents were so quick to judge him (or at least that’s what I got from Jennifer Morrison’s body language). Knowing that the promo showed Hook working closely with the main group again, I can’t imagine this lack of trust is going to end up being as a big of a deal as people think it is.

  7. I’m just along for the ride too. And what a ride it is!! That was a crazy awesome episode 🙂
    (apologies if this all comes out a bit rambling)

    I LOVED that we got to see Regina and Robin together the next morning… and so happy. I loved that Regina didn’t even make an effort to compose herself before she stepped into the room, all giddy and glowing and smitten! Her smile… I loved the Charming family reactions – I wished we’d gotten more reaction from the others at the end after the curse was broken when they left cuddled up together, except there was no time, what with all the other crap that needed to be dealt with.
    I had been wondering about why Regina and Robin were so antagonistic in the missing year – I like your theory about her broken, damaged heart. I wondered if seeing Charming and Snow’s sacrifice had changed her too. Or if there’s more to their story. I need more missing year too, but I doubt there will be time.
    Once Regina gets her heart back, those two are going to be crazy wild in love. I loved the little quirk in Regina’s eyebrow when they were talking about that – just suggestive enough for a family show… she is going to rock his world!

    Henry as true love for Emma and Regina… just perfect. I had wondered if Emma kissing Henry specifically intending to break a curse was part of the problem. Maybe you can’t force it. Maybe the kiss has to be honest and natural and true. Regina didn’t kiss Henry to break the curse. She was just overwhelmed by her love for him, as Emma was when she broke the first curse. (But I guess it was just because Henry didn’t remember or believe).

    I’m so glad Henry finally got his memories back. I understood why Emma wanted him to have the happy life they had in New York, why she wanted him to have never been given up, why she wanted him to have a normal happy life. But a life of lies and denial is not what Henry would have wanted or chosen. And she is special, she is the Savior, her life is part of this crazy fairytale world. She doesn’t want that responsibility, but it’s her truth and her duty. I was kind of glad that Snow got to point out how hurtful it was that Emma wanted to take Henry back to NY, to leave her family. The Charmings understand duty and responsibility better than anyone. And obviously they don’t want to lose Emma and Henry again. Emma had her moments in this episode (saving Henry with her magic!) but she was not at her best this week. Never mind. It will come.

    The dark curse details… well, yeah. I’m not going to worry too much about the details either. The emotion was awesome. I didn’t see any of that coming. Well, I knew Charming was going to be revived somehow since he was in Storybrooke (and we’ve already had Neal be there but not really be alive and fall down dead the minute we found that out – I didn’t think they would do that to our poor hearts again!) The divided heart was well foreshadowed in the episode, and as you say, if it wasn’t for Dallas and Goodwin, I don’t know that they could get away with such sappy nonsense, but it worked. I saw an interview with Ginny claiming her one skill was to cry on demand, and boy, she does it beautifully. That whole scene was amazing, once I set my cynical over-thinking parts aside. The way she watched Charming as she crushed his heart, not wanting to miss a moment with him, even as she had to say goodbye.

    I didn’t enjoy the scenes with Hook at the end, but then, I wasn’t supposed to. I felt like Emma’s lack of trust was justified, as was Charming’s. I thought Killian could have said more, or better. But in the end I was just excited that all this angst will lead to a wonderful payoff soon.

    • No apologies necessary, my dear—I always love hearing your thoughts! 😀

      I agree that Emma was not at her best this week, and it was somewhat jarring after seeing her so willing to embrace her magic in last week’s episode. Part of me thinks that having her greatest source of support (Hook) suddenly turn cold towards her and her magic had something to do with her renewed desire to escape the mantle of the savior as soon as possible. But I also think this was another strategic plot move to show Emma at her most skeptical and unwilling to accept her true self and her real home before the last three big episodes.

      I loved Ginnifer Goodwin’s quote about being able to cry on command because she does it better than almost anyone in the business. And your final thoughts about Hook echo my own frustration with him—he could have done a much better job explaining himself. When he first tried to brush off what Zelena had said about him failing her, I knew it wasn’t going to end well for him because that was 100% the wrong thing to say. It made him look even shadier, and he was already in trouble as it was.

      • yes, I was wondering if Hook’s bad mood/not being there for her was rubbing off on Emma. But I figure it’s all there to make the payoff better in the end. I’m sure Hook will prove himself to her.
        And as you said somewhere (Tumblr tags?) this was Regina’s episode, and I was so happy to see her shine that I almost didn’t care that Emma and Hook were disappointing me.
        I’ve been rewatching Snow and Charming’s season 1 love story this week – I knew Henry had grown and was obviously going through puberty (handy little 1 year time jump made that feel much more natural) but boy, I had forgotten what a little boy he was in the beginning! So cute. And so desperate for Emma to believe. I enjoyed their role reversal – that was Emma at her best this week. I’m really enjoying Henry’s growing up, his tweeange rebellion, and his reaction to Regina and Robin 🙂 It’ll be interesting to see tween Henry with his memories and belief back. 🙂
        btw the minute this week’s episode was over I was already looking forward to being able to read your reactions and chat with you about it right away! 🙂

  8. From love comes what’s possible. The entire episode for me is summed up in that sentence. We saw the cadence replayed in Snow’s discovery of the book, in the Charmings’ decision to enact the curse, in Regina’s love as a parent, Belle’s belief in her ability to reach Rumple through the madness, in Bae’s final act as a father/friend/lover and Emma’s ability to free Henry from Zelena’s grip.

    OK, I am not going to lie, the bulk of what I have to say is going to be about Regina, so let me get to the others first.

    Neal – I couldn’t have been more surprised or thrilled that the potion came from Neal. I was convinced it was a trap door Rumple embedded. I was so excited at the poignant final send off they gave his character. That he too found his way out of the darkness to take on the selfless act for those he loved most.

    Speaking of sacrifice, let’s talk about Charming’s sacrifice – I think it was a really strong symmetry to have him be the one to sacrifice his heart. Reason being, when the curse was enacted it was Charming who sacrificed Emma the first go round to be the savior. It made perfect sense to me that it would be Charming who would sacrifice himself to get them back to her. I’ve always felt like the show had Charming carry this burden/guilt more than Snow. Snow has always believed in spite of the damage they did she acted on the side of right. Charming’s response was more complex and his guilt more palpable. I think it is what has enriched their relationship development. I also think this partially comes from Charming’s origin story. He didn’t have a father and was the ‘substitute’ son to the king. To be a strong parent is not only a compelling need for his character (like Emma), it is the opportunity to right the wrong done to him. Snow’s path didn’t have that challenge or loss. The loss of her mother was born in innocence, not abandonment. Because whether intended or not both Emma and Charming’s experience was that of a child believing they weren’t loved. So to sacrifice his heart worked for me, the solution worked as well to bring him back, especially given the unbreakable strength we saw in the bottle when Rumple put the two parts of Snow and Charming in the bottle back in season one.

    I agree with so much of what you said about Charming and Snow’s scenes in the Enchanted Forest. It has been probably since season 1 since I felt so connected to their characters and the fact that they are (pun intended) the heart of the show. I also concur that this is made all the more plausible because the scenes are played with a deep sincerity that Dallas brings to the role. It is what allows his declarations in often cheesy dialogue surrounded by bad CGI technology to sing rather than fall flat. It is a deep credit to him that Charming is a credible character. He never over works the dialogue in his line readings and it has served the show well. However as great as it was to see Snow and Charming connect through that sequence I have to give props to Lana Parilla. Her work was stellar. As much as I have always liked Regina’s character nuance and complexity I have always been left slightly perplexed by some of her scenes in the enchanted forest. I have felt it was a mixed bag of overplay and that she leaned hard into the campy aspects of the setting and dialogue. None of that was present last night in the scenes with Charming and Snow as they enacted the curse. She brought a somber respect and reverence to what was transpiring, both as a character and an actor. The placement of her turned away to afford them privacy in the moment was perfect. It gave us her real pain and allowed a respect for where the three of them had come to as foils and as friends. The trust Snow quickly displays and gives to Regina was icing on that cake. Because it gave us Snow’s quick certainty and Regina’s genuine humility in how Snow’s belief now sincerely applied to her as well. Snow’s plan was not an act of desperation when she asked Regina to split her heart, but an act of faith and trust. She believed Regina would restore Charming back to life and she believed Regina would act faithfully. She didn’t simply want to believe she could change – as we’ve seen Snow do over the course of the last 2 years, instead we watched an implicit trust be reinforced through actions. That for me made it a great scene. That is was her last act before they all lost their memories I think perfectly set the course for the return to Storybrooke to become the path to Regina’s redemption. It was a great mirror from the start of season 1 when Regina sets a course in motion to try to destroy happy endings to have her come full circle here where the new curse is set with her being at the center of ensuring a happy ending by restoring Snow and Charming’s love.

    Emma and her the role reversal.

    You wrote: “Her desire to leave her family behind makes sense for a woman who lived for 28 years having no concept of family. But it wasn’t fair to Henry to secretly hope he didn’t get his memories back. Emma had a right to want to protect Henry, but Henry had a right to be mad at her for keeping information from him. (Sounds like a certain situation between Emma and Hook as well, doesn’t it?)” Actually I don’t think so, I actually thought it looked and sounded a lot like Regina in season 1 in her desire to hold onto Henry in ways that made him feel isolated and without grounding.

    I thought it was very insightful for the creators to take this course with Emma in this episode. I really loved that the episode that had Regina come completely full circle both with her willingness to lean into her emotions for Robin to breaking the curse through her love for Henry. It created a great juxtaposition. One that finally put Emma in the someone else’s shoes and ones that her being the savior do not necessarily immediately resolve. Her anger response to Henry at the beginning of the episode was built on fear and the desire to protect him. Not much different than the actions of Regina when Emma first arrives in town. It’s a reaction that is desperate to control what you know at your core you can not control. It’s why she can’t find the book in spite of knowing it is the right decision and believing it will be the thing that breaks the curse to bring back the year of memories they all are missing. It was a role reversal that really struck me when it happened. It also was the moment I knew that it would be Regina, not Emma who would break the curse for their memories. Whether it is her desire to go back to NYC with Henry or her default to skepticism about Hook, Emma’s position over the course of this episode changed, because she wasn’t in control of the fate of those she loved most. Ultimately her love broke Henry free from Zelena, because that is the power of light magic. But I think you are fundamentally right that it will take Henry to make her believe in family again. We see that begin at Neal’s grave and hopefully over the course of the last two episodes we will see her arrive at a space that will open that door not just for Henry’s sake, but for her own. I think it is also worth noting that after they break the curse we had a scene where for the first time (maybe ever) where Henry willingly departs a scene with Regina, where both go together of free will and happy to do so.

    And my final Regina note is about Regina and Robin — I actually loved the fact that they didn’t come together during the lost year. For me, it made the reconciliation that Regina has traveled over the course of her time in Storybrooke the foundation blocks that lent more weight to the pace/trajectory of her and Robin coming together in Storybrooke and her ability to give herself over to emotions that gave her happiness rather than investing in the ones that fed her pain. As you know I love the fact that the return to Storybrooke is a story of Regina’s righting of past wrongs and reconciliation to embrace her truest self (neither good nor evil, but something vastly more complicated and honest). It has been the best surprise thread to come out of what has otherwise been a very mixed bag of a back end of season 3. It makes the fact that it is her sister who is trying to erase the past more profound because just as Regina is coming to a nexus that allows her to balance hope/love as a force behind her power and magic it is going to take belief and love to ensure they all come out on the other side.

    Random rumination of the week — Is Regina’s power actually weaker than Zelena or is the fact that it is dark magic being used for good lessen its effects on other dark magic?

    • RE magic strength: Maybe its less that dark magic is being used for good and more that Regina just doesnt have the darkness and anger in her like she did before. Regina has used her magic for good multiple times in the show, but she still had all that anger to channel. I think now that she has let a lot of that go, maybe she just doesnt have the same strength as she did before? Zelena is operating at pretty much the highest level of dark magic. She is 100% fueled by angry and jealousy and bitterness and that could be why her power is so strong. But as we all know, love is the most powerful magic. Light magic for the win!

    • I have so little to add to this comment because you said everything so brilliantly and with such understanding and respect for Regina’s character growth and the parallels between both Regina and Emma’s fears of losing control in situations they once believed they had complete control over. While I still do see some similarities on a more surface level between Emma keeping Henry in the dark about something and Hook doing the same to Emma, your analysis helped me see that Emma’s actions in this episode were—on a deeper level—more akin to Regina’s in Season One than anything else. Both women have reached a point of acceptance and respect concerning their dual roles as Henry’s mother, but I did detect from Emma the same sadness I detected from Regina in Season One and parts of Season Two: Once Henry got his memories back, she wasn’t his only mom anymore.

      I also really liked your take on Regina and Robin because it makes me feel better about their lack of a relationship in the Enchanted Forest versus their developing love story here. It fits so beautifully with the fact that Storybrooke has become the place where she has finally embraced all of who she is.

      Finally, your characterization of Lana Parrilla’s performance in the scene where Snow crushes Charming’s heart is spot-on. “Somber respect and reverence” were exactly what I got from her in that moment, and it was such a stunning contrast to her often theatrical style in those flashback scenes. I love the way she plays Regina’s quietest and most human moments, and I think she doesn’t get enough credit for how subtle she can be.

    • I couldn’t agree more about your role reversal thoughts. It was wonderfully done and I am not only happy for Regina, but because Emma also needed to have this different perspective.

      As for Regina’s power vs. Zelena’s, Glinda did say that Zelena was born with great power. Maybe that’s the difference, since we can assume that Regina either wasn’t born with it but developed it under Rumple’s teachings, or was born with it but didn’t access it until she was older.

    • I don’t have anything to add to your thoughts about Regina but I loved reading your thoughts on Charming – it’s nice to see that I’m not the only one who thinks he has more complicated emotions about sending Emma off. It may just be that the show’s emphasis of Charming and Emma’s relationship (she’s always her father’s daughter, etc etc) makes it seem like that, but I don’t think Charming and Snow dealt with sending her away the same way at all. I don’t know if it’s because he was physically the one to place her in the wardrobe or what, but I definitely thinks he feels an incredible amount of guilt over it. They’ve shown time and again that while Snow definitely mourns the time lost with Emma, it seems to actively haunt Charming on a pretty constant basis, especially since he finds out that her life was pretty miserable. I do wonder if Charming will ever be able to forgive himself for not being able to stop all of it from happening before he lost his daughter, or it that’s something he’ll just carry forever.

  9. The heart sacrificing scene was incredible and one of the best scenes of the season and I echo your praise of the acting. I’ve noticed that Ginnifer Goodwin acts her best in any scene with Regina, such as last week’s heart to heart or the scene from S2 when Regina ripped it out after Cora’s death. I know some are complaining about the heart splitting but from an emotional perspective the scene wouldn’t be nearly as good without Charming actually getting his heart crushed without a solution coming in at the last minute. At the same time it’s still dark magic and Zelena’s plan would not have worked without Charming and his courage alive, so Snow/Charming may have a price to pay yet for this, just like Neal did

    The way Emma was used this week is interesting. As you’ve alluded to, this season has been full of people (Hook, Neal, Snow/Charming) not taking into account that Emma may be happier in New York and maybe they should not bring her back into a world of magic and all the abuses of power it includes. Not saying that Emma was ever going to be free of her saviour role (Walsh would’ve made sure of that) but the people who love her most are not doing a perfect job trying to take her viewpoint, because they are imperfect. Even in the scene where Emma confided in Snow she was thinking about going back to NY, instead of Snow having the ideal reaction of “If it’s best for you/we’re willing to sacrifice by letting you go”, Snow couldn’t hide the hurt or how much she wants Emma to be in her life. Emma showed her imperfections by snapping at Henry and not trusting Hook and perhaps this was partly caused by the way Snow reacted to learning Emma wanted to leave, or seeing Henry react so positively to Regina. I also like the touch that Emma’s dream of going back to NY wasn’t fair to Henry. Note that by Emma not telling Henry and letting him make his own decision, it’s no better than Hook hiding his curse from Emma and letting her decide. So Emma is in the wrong a lot of ways here and falling victim to some of her flaws. This may also lead up to the less than ideal effect I suspect embracing magic will have on Emma, with the history of those who start using magic regularly, struggling to avoid abusing it or becoming its junkies.

    I agree with some of your reservations about Zelena. Perhaps part of the problem is she also came so quickly after Pan. I’ve made the case they could’ve split the “2nd curse” storyline and Zelena storyline into two separate half seasons. Meaning there was enough material in the concept of a 2nd curse and finding out who caused it, to get them through a “big bad-less” half season. I could’ve watched the Emma/Regina detective plot from beginning in the season for much longer. Since breaking the S1 curse it’s going to be hard for them to make seasonal arcs without a big bad and that was one of the most creative ways to do it. Still, that’s judging the show for what it isn’t rather than what it is. I do love Rebecca Mader’s performance and how much she’s nailed the “crazy eyes” persona but I feel envy isn’t enough to make her a fully formed villain. With that said the next episode looks like her backstory so that may change how we feel about her. I felt better about Pan as a villain after the Malcolm episode, once it became clear he was a sociopath and literally had “peter pan syndrome”. Even if he’s the most “evil” villain the show ever has, by going that psychological affliction route, it made him more interesting than just an evil guy. Also I’m not convinced yet Zelena’s going to die this season. After all now that they’ve made Regina such a redemptive character (and the new Emma in a way), perhaps keeping Zelena around to be their new S1/S2 Regina, isn’t a bad idea from a writing perspective.

    Oh and the Neal scene was fantastic, I agree. And I stayed off the internet enough to not know MRJ was back this episode so it was a surprise.

    Overall I’m glad the “missing year” flashbacks are probably wrapped up. Nothing wrong with them but I feel the show’s “traditional” flashbacks and the stories in them are just better, due to the creativity the writers have coming up with anything for them. I also felt like the show didn’t quite show how the characters as a community reacted to the missing year, instead it showed us them on an individual basis, but building the post 2nd curse EF on a macro level didn’t quite happen. With that said, certainly the heart scene climax in this episode, made the missing year worth it.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us! 😀

      Your analysis of all of the characters’ imperfections and how they came out in Emma’s “back to New York” storyline was well-done. Yes, I was frustrated in nearly every character, but that’s how I was supposed to feel. That’s what happens when characters are imperfect, and that’s how I like my characters. As long as they act consistently to what we know about them/their motivations/their pasts, I’m fine not always loving the way they handle things. That’s how I felt about all of the talk surrounding Emma going back to New York.

      I have to agree with you on being glad the missing year flashbacks seem to be over. They didn’t really compel me the way I wanted them to, and I think your assessment of the lack of community reaction explains exactly why. The flashbacks often felt too isolated. I wish we could have spent more time with the characters in the missing year, but I’m okay with the fact that we didn’t if all we were going to get was a series of standalone stories that didn’t have a huge impact on the entire group of characters or the show’s mythology as a whole. But as you said, the heart scene in this episode was worth all of it.

  10. I’m glad this blog exists, not just for the NGN reviews but the comment section. I spent years watching major website reviewers or IMDB posters downplaying the show as calorie-less escapism and I was internally like “No no no, not only is it that ultra entertaining, storytelling acing show, but its characters are the most complex and brilliantly layered on TV, just look closer and you’ll see it!” Now I know there’s other people who understand the brilliance of OUAT’s writing!

    • I’m glad you decided to join us! The comment section here at NGN is a really fun place to be because we all seem to share the same love for this show and its characters. Even if we don’t always love the execution, we love what this show is at its core, which I think is something missing from a lot of reviewers when it comes to OUaT. It’s such a thematically rich show, which makes it so much fun to analyze. And those who don’t believe that are missing out on a lot of fun!

  11. Loved your review, as always!! Thank you so much for taking the time and loving ouat the way you do.
    I am just wondering about one thing, which is also the thing that had me going away from “A Curious Thing” with a huge whole in my heart: do you really feel that Hook has “to earn” their trucst “back”? It killed me seeing the Charmings (not so much Emma, I dind’t expect anything else from her) turning on Killian the way they did. Especially David. After everything Hook has done ever since he turned the Jolly Roger around at the end of season 2 – taking them to Neverland, the place he never wanted to set foot on again, with his arch enemy no less, saving David’s life, keeoing his secret, ceaselessly supporting Emma and being by her side, putting her happiness always ahead of his own (including her family’s), FINDING Emma and bringing her to Storybrooke and many other things – why would he still have to fight to earn their trust? Especially when we see them trust Regina the way they do, and she literally tried to kill them countless times and is responsible not only for many deaths but for them being seperated from their daughter (listing all her villainous acts would take forever). And I love the Chamrings for trusting her and goving her a second chance when she’s trying to turn a leaf in her life. But what about Hook? I’m not going to go into how I don’t believe he never truly was a villain, but he has never hurt them and has been supporting their daughter and their cause without end. I just don’t understand how the writers made sense of that choice…or their constant need to put Killian through the wringer. Do they feel that he still hasn’t redeemed himself fully? What is it that justifies their choice to put him in constant anguish? The last few episodes have left me with that heavy sensation of wondering “will anyone ever appreciate or acknowledge Killian’s worth?” The writers have definitely created – within me at least – the need to see Killian Jones be appreciated and loved. At this point I’m just not sure whether that’s their intention…

    • “I’m not going to go into how I don’t believe he never truly was a villain, but he has never hurt them and has been supporting their daughter and their cause without end.”

      I’m sorry but that is not true. He left Emma and Snow to die in Rumple’s cell in the EF, knowing that they were trying to get back to Storybrooke and their family, and knowing how dangerous Cora was. He deserted them and the entire town when the diamond was activated, knowing it meant they were going to disappear; and yes, he came back, but way too late. If Emma and Regina hadn’t stopped the trigger he would have come back to nothing. And that without going into other arguably villanous things he’s done to other characters, for example Belle. Or Ariel more recently.
      I don’t think he needs to be compared to Regina or any other villain because the fact is that he has done very bad things on his own, to Emma, the Charmings, and many people. If the Charmings’s reaction was deserved of not is a question of perspective, but he has hurt them in the past, and that is a fact.

    • I am with Red on this one. All of Killian/Hooks acts this season have been for Emma and/or about Emma. He even said so when Charming confronted him about it. Going to Neverland was about proving his worthiness of Emma’s love. That is an act for himself, not the greater good. A reality he made good on when they were all returned to the Enchanted Forest and he abandoned the group to return to the Jolly Rodger. The Charming’s haven’t seen them since that return. They have no clue about how he would have returned and there was no reason for them not to simply back Emma and have doubt in Hook.

      I think Hook’s redemption is about motivation beyond his love for Emma. I think the show has laid a bit of that groundwork with the Henry bonding they have been doing. Hook’s choices are what put him in the position of distrust. He has a blind spot around needing to understand that heroism comes through valor, not merely swooping in and trying to save the day. I think while Emma wants and is ready to believe in him, Hook doesn’t actually believe in himself. Thus the series of decision making from the episode with Ariel to last night’s attempt to get Henry out of Storybrooke. It is Hook who doesn’t trust and believe yet. Until he does, others will have a hard time believing in him.

      I also don’t believe you can compare him to Regina, because Snow’s ability and need to forgive Regina is tied up in her own decisions and sense of responsibility around her role in Regina losing Daniel and her belief in the person she initially met when Regina saved her from the runaway horse.

      • This got me thinking – you remember Regina’s attempt at “changing” in S2? I’ve always been of the belief that her attempt to change then failed because it didn’t really come from the core of her. She didn’t want to stop using magic or hurting people because it was the right thing to do, she was mostly motivated by her need to have Henry love her – it was almost like she wanted a “reward” in return for giving it up. And the second it seemed that she wouldn’t get her reward, she was right back to her old tricks. But this time, she genuinely wanted to be a better person, she wanted to do the right thing, even if she didn’t “get” Henry in return for it. In fact, she did the one thing that could have convinced everyone that she was sincere about it – she gave up the thing she wanted most, the thing she HAD looked at almost as a “reward” for doing the right thing. She gave up Henry, and she did it with grace/no bitter feelings and did her best to give him and Emma the happiest life she could. I think that’s what made her change stick.

        Hook HAS done a lot of good things for people, and I don’t think he’s primarily motivated by Emma to do it. I don’t think it’s the same situation as “if I’m good, then I’ll be worthy of Emma and get her.” But we know that Hook is sincere because we see EVERYTHING that’s happened and know all of his acts came from a sincere place. But he’s also hurt characters, and because THEY haven’t seen all the things we have, he still has to prove to everyone that he’s doing the right thing BECAUSE it’s the right thing, not because he expects something in return for it. Charming has already made it clear in Neverland that he doesn’t think much of a good act that’s done in the hopes that you get something from it. For people to trust and believe in Hook, it will take either a lot of consistently good acts done in good faith and not because it will earn him something, a big heroic act, or like we’ve seen with Regina, BOTH – she gave up Henry and then stuck around to keep helping Snowing both in TFL and Storybrooke. That’s a big reason why people trust her now. And we haven’t really seen that from Hook yet. We definitely will, but we’re not quite there yet. Regina’s big act came as a midseason finale – I imagine Hook’s will come in the actual finale.

    • I am not shy about being a huge Hook fan. I actually cant stop myself from talking about him at length, and I will defend him when needed. But both Red and Nicademus are right. Hook’s actions have mostly been about himself and Emma. Bae was the exception, and now Henry, but for the most part, Hook is not a selfless hero. When he saved Charming in Neverland he flat out told Charming “I didn’t do it for you, mate”. And again, in New York City Serenade, Emma is surprised he came back to help save her family, and he flat out tells her “I came back to save you”. Now, do I think its bad that Hook does everything for Emma? Absolutely not. I think its great that Emma has someone that is going to fight for her, but that isn’t going to make all the other characters like him.

      In this episode, Snow and Charming had just gotten their memories of the lost year back, so the last time they saw Hook he was running off to be a pirate again. There is no reason for them to trust him. I will admit I am a bit frustrated by how alienated Hook’s character has been in 3B. He was the only one with memories of the lost year, and none of the other main characters were with him in that year, so his story is just kinda floating out there on its own without much of a thread to tie him to the rest of the main characters. This was the problem I had with ‘The Jolly Roger’. The story was too much about Hook by himself and it didn’t really connect well to what was going on in Storybrooke other than allowing him to be preyed upon by the villain. I loved Hook’s arc in 3A, and 3B has been a bit shaky, but we cant really judge his full arc yet because it is still in progress (but it would have been nice for it to be a little more fun and a little less torture).

    • Thank you for the kind words!

      You bring up some interesting points about Hook, and I’ll try answer them as best as I can. However, I think the first thing I should say is that I have complete and total faith that Hook’s angst is written with a specific purpose in mind, and it’s not just to make him suffer for the heck of it. I think we need to see him feel isolated and concerned that no one cares for him because that’s his whole journey in microcosm: He fears that what he’s done in his past has it made it so no one can ever really care for him. This episode made explicit what Hook has feared from the start of this season—his past as a pirate and a vengeful man will keep him from ever getting his happy ending. We need to see him afraid that this will be his reality because that will make the payoff that much better when it comes. And it will come. I sound so much like Snow right now, but I have faith that good things—happy things—are on the way for this character.

      I do think Hook has to earn back Emma’s trust—he was completely in the wrong when he tried to take Henry to New York without her knowledge (no matter how good his intentions were). And as for the Charmings, I think their reaction was more of a snap judgment than anything else, but it wasn’t entirely unjustified. The last they saw of him, he was turning back to his pirate life. Snow and Charming have both falsely accused Regina before (“The Cricket Game”), so there’s precedent for them jumping to conclusions before accepting someone (or re-accpeting in Hook’s case) them into their trusted inner circle. I still feel that all of this distrust was done more to set up the conflict and plot for the next episode than to actually cause lasting damage to any of the relationships it dealt with.

      I do have to agree with the others who replied to your comment when it comes to Hook’s past, though. Ever since turning his ship around, he’s been on his best behavior, but he was the man who locked Emma, Snow, and company up in a cell in the Enchanted Forest (presumably to die) and he was willing to let Storybrooke be destroyed before ultimately deciding to turn around. I love Hook, but he hasn’t been spotless when it comes to his actions towards the Charmings.

      I feel as if Hook is still learning to trust himself when it comes to his sense of honor. His actions towards Ariel made him doubt himself again, and Zelena’s curse has only made his self-loathing worse. It hasn’t been a pretty road for him in 3B, but I think it needed to be taken so that when he finally gets his happiness (and he will), we’ll know how much it means that he is able to accept himself as someone deserving of happiness.

      • Thanks for taking the time to reply to me 🙂 I really appreciate it. Especially your point about how the angst is not written without purpose, but that Adam and Eddy have a specific arc in mind when it comes to Hook’s prolonged state of heartbrokenness.

        As for Hook being a real villain…I have been watching ouat from the beginning and I just never perceived of him like that. I agree that he was out for himself, but he was never a true villain to me; rather a product of his circumstances. You will say “so are Rumple and Regina”…the difference to me was that I saw him in “Tallahassee” as someone who was capable and craving to emotionally connect with someone. He cared enough for someone other than himself else to look into their eyes and see that person for who they were. And he had only just met Emma. And I don’t know how you interpreted their interactions, but I believed Hook was sincere when he told Emma that he wouldn’t have acted as she did when she left him up at the beanstalk. He is someone who more than anything is fueled by love and the connection he felt with Emma influenced him on the spot. I saw a lot of heart there and that affected my perception of him on the spot as well. This is not something that I can say about either Regina or Rumple who are (were) the complex, layered but “poster” villains of ouat within the regulars.
        I agree with Colin’s assessment of his character (interview in SciFi Magazine, June 2014) that Hook was never an evil person per se. And that because he always has it in his heart to love. He never took joy in harming others for the sake of harming them. The loss of love led him down a dark and selfish path and his one goal in life became taking revenge on the man who took his love. He didn’t care about anyone during that time, not even himself.
        And the more background information we got on him, the more this view I had of him was supported. He always had a code, he always was a man of honor, he always had the immense capacity to love. But all those things got buried under a thick layer of misguided pain. Jennifer herself said in an interview this season that Hook has never done anything to hurt her…and I agree with her assessment as well. It is true that Killian’s road to redemption is not motivated by his wanting the greater good. It is motivated by Emma; by his belief that he can love again, with Emma. So maybe it’s the fact that it’s all about love with him that makes it impossible for me to see him as ever having been a true villain. I’m not saying he’s never been selfish because he certainly has, but when he loves he does love selflessly, no matter how painful this might be on him. And if the way he ceaselessly loves Emma and supports her in the face of her insanely high walls isn’t proof of that, I don’t know what could be.
        There are lots of “little” things he did; from saving Aurora’s heart (how did he benefit from that?) to sincerely wanting to give up his revenge in order to provide a family for Bae, to telling the Charmings instantly about Neal’s presence on Neverland that are definitely NOT selfish. And while he said to David that he saved his life “for Emma”, I also believe that he often speaks in a self-deprecating way. He also told Tink he went after Pan’s shadow for the sake of his own life when that clearly wasn’t true. He certainly was motivated by his feelings for Emma to save David’s life but I believe he also did it because he appreciates the kind of man David is and knew that helping him was the right thing to do – even against said man’s wishes. If his motives were selfish he would have jumped at the opportunity to tell Emma of his deed. He did not. He felt uncomfortable. He always does when being praised. These are not the character traits of an innately selfish man.
        And I think we saw that in his behavior towards fake!Ariel as well…his need to apologize and make up for his grave mistake in the EF had nothing to do with Emma. He felt genuine remorse and needed to make it up to Ariel because he’s one of the few truly self-aware characters on ouat, in my humble opinion.
        So yes, the Charmings saw him leave in the EF to go back to his pirate life but it doesn’t take a genius to see that someone who is highly motivated by love gets lost when he loses what he loves. Especially someone who has been alone for the greater part of 300 years and has never known a real family (especially since Liam died and then Milah). Neither does that one action make everything else he did in Neverland or his actions since they’ve all been back to Storybrooke null and void. So I really appreciate your argument that the Charmings’ “distrust [in 3×19] was done more to set up the conflict and plot for the next episode”.
        It does strike me as rather peculiar that Snow, the biggest proponent of true love and the one who always tries to see the good in people (see Regina), has so much trouble doing the same for Hook. I would have thought that she would have been the first to pick up on the good in his heart and the immense love that lies within said heart for her daughter…

      • Forgot one little thing 🙂 I thought about why I was so surprisingly okay with Emma’s reaction towards Hook (while I wasn’t with the Charmings’). I think that while Emma was ready to let go of her past in 3×17, she was not ready yet to embrace or choose her future at this point. That’s why even though she seemingly embraced her magic in 3×18 and tried to cheer Hook up with it, she still wants, at the beginning of 3×19, to take Henry back to New York. So she has only embraced her magic as a necessary part of defeating Zelena (NOT as an inherent part of herself) – to then be able to go back to her “good” life in New York. She has not come to the conclusion yet that a real home can only be that place where all your loved ones are. Which is why she was not herself, as Snow pointed out, throughout 3×19 and yelled at Henry the way she did. I think at this point Emma was/is still hedging. Taking Henry back to NY, to a life that was built on lies, as “good” as it was, is tantamount to not taking any decision at all in regards to her future and running away from who she really is; of ALL she is, namely not just a mother but also a daughter, a woman and the Savior. So she’s hedging; which is why she doesn’t want Henry to regain his memories because once he has those memories back, going back to that “good” life in NY won’t be an option anymore and it will force her to make a real decision in regards to her future and what constitutes a real home. Her real home.
        So I don’t think Emma’s behavior in 3×19 was a regression from the growth we saw taking place in 3×17 and 3×18. She HAS let go of her past but she hasn’t consciously chosen her future yet – which hopefully includes Killian Jones 🙂

  12. “A Curious Thing” was a fantastic watch, which is quite a feat considering the at times nonsensical things we had to just accept about the plot in this episode. I guess that’s what makes this show special, that we’re willing to forgive certain inconsistencies and are moved to hope and believe just like the characters are.

    The Enchanted Forest scenes were powerful, and I was happy to get so many answers about the forgotten year and what it meant for the story. Every time an episode opens with a horse and rider galloping hard I always get a sense that something important is going to happen in the EF and I wasn’t disappointed.

    Charming and Snow were brilliant, and I was very glad to finally have back some of what made me like their characters so much in the first season. I’ve decided to blame pod-Snow from most of this season on baby-hormones. As you said, the fantastic work of the actors makes their scenes believable and the dark curse scene was a perfect example. “The single tear Goodwin shed when they talked about their child got to me the most.” That was not a tear, that was a whole river… The size of the thing!
    I loved Regina in this part too, how she gave them privacy and was terribly reluctant to do what had to be done, when not long ago she would have relished it. Lana Parrilla was impressive as always, and the little moment when Snow asks her to take her heart, how Ginny Goodwin takes her arm and smiles at her… That was incredibly beautiful and a well deserved moment between the two. In a way, it reminded me of the scene where Snow lets Regina free from her cell after having stopped her execution, giving her yet another chance, and Regina tries to kill her. It is very nice to see Regina’s redemption come full circle, but it is also incredibly heart-warming to see Snow’s undending hopefulness pay off. If there’s anyone who ever deserved the right to get cocky and say “told you so”, that’s Snow White.

    Zelena was a wee bit boring in the sense that it was more of the same. She’s not evolving as a character, and even the glimpses we’ve been given of her past don’t do much for her in terms of interest level, IMO. Her actions have been the catalyst for some of the best character interaction this show has offered, but she as a villain is mostly dull and one-dimensional. I really hope next week’s episode makes me change my mind. I also hope they do something more with Glinda because lately guest fairytale characters are being wasted carelessly, and it’s a shame. But even the support characters that were somewhat developed rarely appear or have lines anymore, so I’m not all that surprised, not even when Aurora and Phillip were dispatched in minutes.

    Back in Storybrooke I couldn’t help but smile at Regina’s giddiness. I still think that her relationship with Robin is terribly rushed and doesn’t make much sense, even less now that we know that they didn’t get together in the EF and my hopes that Regina’s pull to him had more to do with her own feelings and less with the tattoo/pixie dust thing have been crushed. I think the point about her heart being somewhat in the way of her allowing herself to go for a second chance is a valid one, but I’m still very doubtful. We know her heart works differently, she did manage TL’s kiss without it, so everything about her capacity to love is a mystery. And I can’t help the feeling of foreboding I have around RH. Still, it’s certainly lovely to see Regina smile, and Lana Parrilla does it beautifully so I’m not complaining. Too much. 😉

    Emma was vying with Leroy for the Grumpy title in this episode, and I found she was quite short at times which was partly understandable, but also slightly overdone. When she yelled at Henry it reminded me quite a lot of that scene in “The Cricket Game” where she yells at Regina saying that Henry is her son. I understand both scenes as breaking points in her capacity to carry her heavy burden (and not opening up to anybody to share it), and taking it out on whoever is there at the moment, deserving or not. Her reaction to Hook’s “betrayal” was quite in character and consistent to her story, if a bit hypocritical considering she was going to take Henry back to NYC without giving him or his other mother (the person who actually gave them this life that was ‘so good’) a say. I am glad that she realised she couldn’t do it, and that just as she decided to go back to Storybrooke with Hook in the first place because she knew Henry would have wanted her to, she can now accept that their life is there. Operation Cobra for the win!

    I was actually surprised about the Charmings’s reaction to Hook, but in a very good way. To be honest I was expecting them to try and convince Emma that they could still trust him, so I was pleasantly surprised that they showed some common sense and consistency with how they react to people who wrong them. Their sudden acceptance of Hook’s change of heart after he saved David in Neverland never sat well with me; I know they’re all for forgiveness and giving chances but it was one of the parts of the story that I found hard to swallow, particularly considering how Charming reacquainted Hook’s teeth with his fist on sight when the diamond was activated, and how resentful he seemed during their Neverland treks. Then one good deed and they’re toasting him? Hm. Still, they’ve given a million chances to Regina so I’m sure they’ll come around, just as Emma will. I’m really not worried about that, in fact I’m glad the cursed-lips secret is finally out since it shouldn’t have been kept a secret in the first place.

    Neal being the one to send the message was a stroke of genius. I very much want to know how on earth Hook managed to cross realms and get to NYC though.

    Henry was perfect. The moment he snuck out even without his memories I knew we were on the way to get ‘our’ Henry back. His passive and not-at-all curious behaviour since arriving in Storybrooke was starting to worry me. It was fantastic to see his absolute trust on Emma, and his reaction to remembering Regina (and Regina’s happiness) was incredibly touching. The Harry Potter moment that you mention made me smile because I had the same thought (and it wasn’t the only HP reference that I got: Snow finding the story book when she really needed it screamed of Gryffindor’s Sword). That it was Regina’s kiss that broke the memory curse was something that I had been hoping for since Neverland; I wanted it to be her this time, she deserved it, and I was very glad that it happened the way it did, without apparently anyone expecting it. When Regina was unconscious and Henry was trying to wake her up (while the rest were just standing there and looking —seriously, OUaT, what’s wrong with you and scenes like this? Like when Rumple sacrificed himself and Belle fell to her knees and nobody went to comfort her? Or when Regina was attacked by Henry Pan in her crypt and only Snow went to help her?) I thought for a second that Henry was going to kiss her and that it would be TL’s kiss, but I am very happy that it was Regina’s kiss. And Henry’s teasing about RH was priceless.

    The cliffhanger of Snow going into labour was predictable and the teaser for the next episode looks good enough so I’m excited to see if OUaT can finally give us something about Zelena that makes me like-hate her at last. We’ll see next week.

    I’m a bit worried about the flying monkeys; for all we know, they are all real people transformed by Zelena, and ‘good’ people at that. And yet our heroes keep shooting them, making them explode, etc. Those in the boathouse that the good guys disintegrated could very well have been Phillip, Aurora, and Little John. I wonder if that’s ever going to be addressed or they will just have everybody magically reappear once Zelena is defeated, and not explain who were the destroyed flying monkeys and what happened to them.

    I’m also worried about David. In addition to the short time where he basically turned to alcohol and drugs just because he was worried about their future child (“The Tower”), his apparent willingness to die is a bit disconcerting. I understand it’s the heroic and noble thing to do, but the man has just offered to sacrifice himself twice this season when there was obviously other ways to ‘win’. When he was infected by the dreamshade in Neverland he just gave up and accepted that he was going to die so that the others wouldn’t get distracted in their quest to find Henry, and now he just asks to have his heart crushed so that they can get back to Emma? Yes, there didn’t seem to be another option but when has that stopped them? And there obviously was another way, since Hook, who doesn’t even have magic, managed to get to New York and fetch Emma. I really want to know how he did that.

    Also, Regina’s hairdo at the EF scene where Zelena monkeyfies Phillip and Aurora and Emma’s outfit at the graveyard in the final scene? Debatable choices, OUaT.

    Some things that left me wondering:
    – How come Snow could go through the door and talk to Glinda when we know she has a dark spot in her heart?
    – If half of Snow’s heart is Charming, shouldn’t half of Charming’s be Snow? And shouldn’t that mean that when it was crushed it would have affected Snow physically? (maybe something similar to Charming ‘feeling’ the moment Snow bit the poisoned apple in S1)
    – Why did Neal seem drunk when he got out of Rumple’s body (still icky, btw), when he seemed perfectly normal in Storybrooke?
    – I’m still terribly curious about the story behind the story book.

      • Time zone differences suck. I usually read Katie’s posts and most of the comments late at night, on my phone while in bed, and can’t be arsed to type a reply in the tiny keyboard but how do I want to… I think some times I even dream about it! 😉

    • I think the concern about David is interesting. I think

      – How come Snow could go through the door and talk to Glinda when we know she has a dark spot in her heart?
      Having a dark spot in her heart doesn’t me she isn’t true of heart. She’s a believer, independent of her act of killing Cora. Her belief is what allows her through the portal.

      – If half of Snow’s heart is Charming, shouldn’t half of Charming’s be Snow? And shouldn’t that mean that when it was crushed it would have affected Snow physically? (maybe something similar to Charming ‘feeling’ the moment Snow bit the poisoned apple in S1)
      I think we don’t see her react, because she is braced for it by the fact that it was the plan they agreed to they were of one mind when they chose to do it.

      – I’m still terribly curious about the story behind the story book. — I am with you here.

      • “Having a dark spot in her heart doesn’t me she isn’t true of heart. She’s a believer, independent of her act of killing Cora. Her belief is what allows her through the portal.”
        Fair enough, but Rumple’s riddle didn’t say “true of heart”:
        Through the door
        Step inside
        If pure of heart
        And she won’t hide
        I would argue that having a dark spot affects the purity of one’s heart.

        “I think we don’t see her react, because she is braced for it by the fact that it was the plan they agreed to they were of one mind when they chose to do it.”
        Excellent point. That was one huge tear she shed, maybe she did feel physical pain also but was too focused on sharing as many left time with Charming and possible and as you say braced herself for it.

    • First of all, thank you for pointing out Regina’s godawful hairdo in that scene. Lana Parrilla is gorgeous. Please do not mar her perfection with the weirdest double-bun hairstyle of all time.

      Now that I’ve gotten the superficial out of the way, I love reading your comments so much. I know I’ve said this to you before, but you notice things about the show that I don’t (or I don’t have enough time to write about), and I appreciate your thoughts so much. The fact that you choose to share them with us makes me feel so grateful.

      It’s amazing that this show manages to make me love it even when it’s plot would drive me crazy if any other show tried to execute it. They should thank their lucky stars that they have a cast that can work magic. 😉

      You brought up Regina’s reluctancy in the curse casting scene, and I think that was my favorite part of Lana’s performance in that moment. The moment when she told Charming that taking his heart was going to hurt was a masterful bit of acting. There was real sympathy there as well as tenderness. You could tell she took no joy in causing him (and Snow) pain, which was such a contrast to where she was emotionally when she stood over them as the first curse was cast. It was even a huge departure from the way she ripped out Snow’s heart last season. The more I think about it, the more awestruck I am over just how right Regina’s arc has been this season. I never thought they would handle it this well.

      Henry was so great in this episode. It was nice to have the real Henry back, albeit a little more grown up, of course. (Welcome to puberty, Jared Gilmore.) When he said Operation Cobra again, I couldn’t help but break into a huge grin. I missed this side of Henry more than I’d realized.

      “How come Snow could go through the door and talk to Glinda when we know she has a dark spot in her heart?” I was wondering the same thing, actually. (Because God knows they harped on that dark heart enough last season that I will always remember it.) I wonder if, in this case, “pure of heart” specifically meant concerning this quest. Regina wants to destroy her sister, so she can’t pass through, but Snow and Charming just want to protect their child. But that’s just a shot in the dark on my part.

      And I have been waiting for more answers on the storybook (aka the OUaT Sword of Gryffindor—excellent reference, by the way!) for such a long time. It’s good to know I’m not alone!

      • You provide a very nice and comfortable space for discussion, and insightful posts about the show(s) I love, so it’s my pleasure to participate and to enjoy your and your commenters’s thoughts. 🙂

        I like your take on the “pure of heart” problem with Snow. It is definitely a possibility that intent is the key here. I’ve also thought that maybe it is possible for a heart to turn back to fully pure: just like it can turn black when one does bad deeds, maybe that black can be conquered back by the red when one does good deeds. I seem to recall Regina saying to Snow that the darkness would only grow, but I’m inclined to believe that she said that from a place of hurt, desperation and anger, and that she’s evolved so much since then that probably her own heart is less black than it was before. At least I hope so.

  13. You are right about Charming’s death wish this season. But I did like how this decision was in contrast to his one in Neverland. In Neverland he was being stubborn and decided on that sacrifice on his own. Snow yells at David for not believing in the two of them (hey look, even the poster child true love couple fights!). Here, Snow and Charming made that decision together, and because of that belief and love they were able to cast the curse AND bring Charming back.

    You briefly brought up that the Charmings have given Regina a million chances, and I love how Regina’s transformation actually validates all those times Snow has spared her and given her second chances. A part of Snow always believed that Regina still had goodness in her, and its great to see that ultimately she was right, and it wasnt just Snow being naive and gullible.

    • Absolutely. But regardless of stubbornness or joint decisions, it just really makes me wonder why he’s being so quick to accept that the only way is sacrificing himself. That paired with the little side story about him being so afraid/worried about Snow’s pregnancy that he resorted to numb himself doesn’t seem much like the Charming we’ve come to know. It’s like suddenly he doesn’t feel like himself and wants an easy way out, with extra points if it comes by doing the honourable thing. I expect him to fight harder, not only for the happiness of his loved ones, but for being there to share it with them. Now I need to find a “Go Charming!” t-shirt.

  14. This episode as well as last weeks have been my favorite episodes this season.

    The role reversal of Emma and Regina was interesting. Regina has always been the disciplinary “bad” parent and Emma the more fun “good” parent. Emma yelling at Henry was definitely different for her, but it came from the same place that it was coming from when Regina would yell. That moment when you’re feeling threatened by things out of your control and are desperately trying to protect the thing/s you love.
    I wasn’t a fan of them turning on Hook so quickly but I think everyone is just on edge right now. I understand that he was trying to protect Henry but it would have been so much simpler to have just told Emma about the curse to begin with.

    Snow and Charming…
    Their faith in the strength of their love during that whole scene while casting the curse, was so emotionally beautiful. I love how the casting of this curse mirrored the casting of the initial curse. However, this time instead of trying to destroy their happiness, Regina was trying to save it. Josh & Ginny acted that out beautifully and Lana as always gave a flawless performance. I love how moved Regina was by their love. That whole scene showed so much faith between Regina and Snow. Snow believing her heart was strong enough for both her and Charming, and that Regina was capable of splitting it and that she would do everything in her power to save them. Regina believing in the strength of their love as much as they do, and taking the risk and actually doing it believing it could work, despite logic telling her otherwise. That was definitely one of my fave scenes. I think Regina also subconsciously carried some of that faith back with her back to SB.

    I love seeing Regina in love and happy. I actually liked that they didn’t fall in love in the EF. Upon returning, Regina was broken. Henry was her love and she lost him, she was grieving & wasn’t wanting to open herself to new love in any form. I think despite her effort to keep him out, he made her feel something. In a short time he managed to read into her and he started to see beneath the surface of Evil Queen. He saw she was a mother simply by watching her and that she was a women who was absolutely heartbroken. He saw her be vulnerable in “Witch Hunt” when she was ready to enact the sleeping curse on herself because her pain was simply too overwhelming. Regina doesn’t like exposing that side to ppl, she likes to appear strong, intimidating and in control. Regina ended up doing what little boys in elementary school do. When they like a girl but are too afraid to admit/embrace their feelings, they start picking on the girl. That’s kinda how I saw their relationship in the EF. When she met him again back in SB, Henry was there, so the bulk of her pain (losing him forever) was removed and she was more open to receive and embrace what she refused to in the EF.
    Regina and Henry’s reunion was by far my favorite part of the episode. The moment he got his memory back and saw Regina and was like “MOM!”, that was so emotionally satisfying. I also love that Regina was the one to break the curse with a kiss this time, she has proved her love for Henry over and over again and while he acknowledged it at the end of “Going Home”, it was nice for the universe to acknowledge it. It used to really irk me that Henry (and Emma earlier on) seemed to doubt, dismiss and/or downplay the love Regina has for him, so this scene meant a lot. The last scene with Regina and Henry was a nice, I liked that he left with her and they were just talking like mother and son, he approved of Robin and Regina was surrounded by her little family. Everything is falling into place for Regina and right now she is with people who bring out the very best in her.

    I’m actually sad there are only two weeks left and then a long hiatus…

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