TV Time: Once Upon a Time 3.20

JOSH DALLAS, GINNIFER GOODWIN

Title Kansas

Two-Sentence Summary Through flashbacks to Zelena’s life in Oz, we see her initially embrace a new family with a group of sister witches, but her envy takes over once again after Dorothy’s arrival causes her to believe she has no choice but to be evil. The choice between good and evil comes into play in the present as Regina chooses to believe she can be good again, which allows her to wield light magic and defeat Zelena (because Emma lost her magic saving Hook’s life), but Regina’s decision to spare Zelena’s life falls on deaf ears for Rumplestiltskin, who kills her with his dagger.

Favorite Lines
Regina: Heroes don’t kill.
Zelena: So now you’re a hero?
Regina: Today I am.

My Thoughts Once Upon a Time is a show about choices in a world—the world of fairytales—that so often seems to be about fate and destiny. You have to choose to love someone (and they have to choose to love you too) for true love’s kiss to work. Dark magic comes from a series of dark choices, and light magic comes from choosing to use magic for good and selfless reasons. Evil is not born; it’s made. And now we know that the same can be said for goodness, for heroism. The reason Zelena never felt like a sympathetic character to me was because she chose time and again to give in to her envy instead of choosing to move on. And the reason Regina’s arc this season has been such a joy to watch is because it was about a woman choosing to be better than who she was, choosing to believe in the goodness Snow White has always seen in her, and choosing to accept that she can both love and be loved—and draw powerful magic from that love. Choosing to be your best self isn’t the stuff traditional fairytales spend a lot of time discussing, but it’s the kind of human drama that makes Once Upon a Time so compelling.

Zelena’s flashbacks didn’t do much to make her a more interesting character, but at this point I’m not sure anything would. She was basically a glorified plot device to bring about character development for many of the show’s main characters and to jumpstart the adventure of the season finale, so she never had the depth I wanted her to have. However, I appreciated the comparison between Zelena believing she had to be evil and Regina choosing to believe she could be good. Both Regina and Zelena were faced with another woman whose presence as a “savior” and champion of goodness presented them with a choice: Accept that there must always be one good person and one evil person, or decide to change that story and fight alongside the one you’re supposed to fight against. Zelena believed she had no choice but to be evil, but Regina knew better. There’s always a choice, and she chose to change her path, as we saw her sister continue down her road to darkness.

I appreciated the little twist on the most unbelievable part Oz mythology: the melting of the Wicked Witch. Both Wicked and Once Upon a Time turned the melting into a way to show just how clever the Wicked Witch is, and that made me happy to see. And I loved watching Zelena in all her campy, evil glory after Glinda thought she was talking to the Wizard. I may not have cared about Zelena’s backstory beyond its parallels with Regina (and Emma’s in terms of the “abandoned little girl deals with being abandoned” angle), but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy watching Rebecca Mader have so much obvious fun with the role.

Ultimately, what seemed to be an episode about Regina and Zelena was actually an episode that focused on the parallel arcs of Emma and Regina. Once Upon a Time has always had fun playing with the idea of these two women as two sides of the same coin, and it was more apparent than ever in “Kansas.” Their character arcs in this half of Season Three have been building to almost the same point: the realization that they don’t have to be defined by their past; they can choose to stop running from happiness and embrace the best versions of themselves, including the idea that people beyond just their son can love them. It was fascinating to watch Regina’s arc reach such a triumphant high point in an episode where Emma’s arc hit what may be an all-time low. We saw Regina at her most self-aware in an episode that saw Emma at her most delusional. We saw Regina at her most accepting of herself and others in an episode that saw Emma at her most dismissive. And we saw Regina at her strongest in terms of harnessing the power of love in an episode where we saw Emma at her weakest—both in terms of her magical powers and her belief in love.

It’s easy to dismiss Emma’s attitude in this episode as harsh, selfish, and downright unrealistic—because it was. But it was also completely true to who she is as a character, especially considering the events of the previous episode: Henry’s life was put in grave danger, and she learned that Hook was keeping things from her and making decisions (however well-intentioned) about her son’s life behind her back. She also had to give up being the only family in Henry’s life and watch Regina break the curse when she failed to. All of those things were weighing on her throughout the episode, so it made sense to have her revert to the emotional state that comes easiest to her: cold detachment.

By the end of “Going Home,” it had seemed like Emma had started accepting her place in her family, her place with Hook, and her role as the savior. But then she was torn away from it all and given a happy life for an entire year with Henry in New York. And while it may be one of the most frustrating things on Earth to hear Emma tell everyone about how much happier she was in New York (just buy an “I Love N.Y.” t-shirt at this point, Emma), her time in Storybrooke was really only a little longer than her time in New York. And New York was safer—on more levels than just the physical (minus the whole flying monkey thing, which she keeps forgetting). Emma Swan is a woman who is afraid to commit to anything because happiness for her has always been something that gets yanked away. She’s a woman who never stayed in one place for longer than two years, who only had one-night stands after Neal left, and who took a whole TV season to openly admit she loved her son. Wanting to run away to New York is Emma’s way of taking the easy way out, of returning to who she was instead of embracing who she can be. Loving Henry is beautiful but safe: He’s her child; he loves her unconditionally and still needs her. She still fears that her family and Hook can leave at any moment because that’s all anyone has ever done to her. So going back to New York is Emma’s way of taking some of her power back in a very misguided way: She wants to leave before she gets left behind again.

It was hard to watch Emma go from the woman who was so happy with her magic and with Hook in “Bleeding Through” to this woman who was happy to leave her magic behind and quite unnecessarily harsh to a man she knows cares for her deeply. But this episode was about bringing Emma to rock bottom. Happiness—real, genuine happiness—terrifies Emma because life has taught her that the moment she’s truly happy she’ll lose that happiness. And life has taught her that opening herself up to romantic love will only bring pain.

It was nice to see Charming so quick to trust Hook again. I knew his reaction was brought on more by the stress of the moment than any actual hard feelings towards Hook. (I may have yelled, “The bromance is back!” at my TV, but I’m far too professional to admit that.) And although he probably chose the worst person to send with Emma given the circumstances, it was still nice to see someone supporting Hook when Emma was being so dismissive. (Her flippant comment about him being basically useless because of his one hand was a low blow.) And I found it very symbolic that the episode opened with Emma thinking she had to do everything alone, but Hook ended up going with her.

Even though it was far from happy, I loved the way Hook and Emma’s dynamic was handled in this episode. It was honest. And that’s what love should be. Hook showed some serious backbone as he called Emma out on her selfish reasons for taking Henry away from Storybrooke. Because Henry isn’t a baby; he’s a young man whose home and family are in Storybrooke (hence that very sweet scene with him and the ever-adorable Archie). Emma wasn’t thinking of Henry; she was thinking of herself, and Hook wasn’t afraid to tell her that. Emma has always been an open book to Hook, and I liked seeing flashes of that again. He reads her fears and insecurities better than anyone, and he can understand when no one else can that her desire to leave Storybrooke stems from a fear of happiness and a fear of getting too comfortable with a future that seems—for this often abandoned orphan, this lost girl—too good to be true. So while Emma may get defensive and downright mean (because don’t we all get that way when someone strikes a nerve and sees through our defenses when we don’t want them to?) he’s not giving up on showing her that she’s not being her best self. She’s pushing him to see if he’ll turn and walk away like she expects him to, but he pushes right back. True love on this show is having someone who helps you to be your best self, and that’s what Hook is doing for Emma by telling her in no uncertain terms that she’s not being her best self by wanting to take Henry and run.

When Zelena had Rumplestiltskin drown Hook (because even Emma’s magic is no match for his), I think we all knew what was coming: Emma was going to sacrifice her magic to save his life. Jennifer Morrison’s performance in that moment was so desperate, but there was something so gentle about the way she touched his face and whispered “Come back to me.” That line meant so much—beyond just the parallel to Mary Margaret and David in Season One’s “Snow Falls.” Emma has seen too many people die in her arms; she’s been left behind too many times. But Hook has always been the one who comes back. He’s the only one who keeps coming back to her, and she needed him to do that one more time.

The end of this episode saw Emma at a crossroads: She knew she was getting too attached to both Hook and her family, so she became more determined than ever to leave. Her happiness with Hook (and his love of seeing that happiness) was tempered with the realization that she was so happy because she believed she could leave with fewer repercussions now: Her parents have their new baby, she’s no longer the only one with light magic, and she doesn’t have to be the savior. There was a lightness to her that was nice but felt somewhat off, similar to her personality in the beginning of “New York City Serenade,” and that’s a testament to Morrison’s great understand of this character and her nuances. Part of me is actually wondering if Emma is lying. Does she have her magic now that Zelena has been defeated but wants everyone to believe she doesn’t to make leaving easier?

Leaving can never be easy, though, because her family won’t let her go without a fight. Henry’s whole world is in Storybrooke, including his other mother. And Charming and Snow won’t lose another baby—no matter how old she is. It broke my heart to see them fight for their son in an episode where their daughter was planning to leave them behind. Snow is a woman who only gets moments of happiness with her children before they’re taken away (but what a beautiful moment it was—kudos to Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin for making me cry once again). Goodwin played Snow’s sense of grief and helplessness so perfectly. And nobody plays a determined daddy like Josh Dallas. His fierce performance as he charged out of the hospital room was only bested by his gorgeously moving performance when he returned to his wife with their son safely in his arms.

Regina’s role in saving Snow and Charming’s son helped her character come full-circle from the woman who ensured that they would lose their daughter. It all happened because Regina found the one thing Emma is still struggling with: belief. Regina was like Emma for so long—afraid of happiness, damaged by a past that controlled her, and using her son’s wellbeing as an excuse for doing things that were selfish. But this season has been about both women choosing to be truly happy; Regina just got there first. (Because Emma is the main character, so for purely plot reasons her character arc needs to come to a head in the big finale instead of the penultimate episode.)

Regina’s arc was about embracing the love inside of her—even without her heart. She can love both Henry and Robin from her soul, but I loved that her light magic was more about Henry’s belief in her than it was about Robin. Henry’s belief has always given Emma strength, so it’s lovely to see it do the same for Regina, especially considering that he used to believe she was only the Evil Queen.

Magic—like love—is about choice. Light magic doesn’t just make itself known to people who are predestined to be good. It makes itself known to people who use magic for good, to people who choose to reach for the light instead of the darkness. Regina reached for the light, and it made her stronger than ever. I loved that she was the one to defeat her sister. As much as I love Emma, this was Regina’s battle to fight. Regina chose to be a hero, which meant choosing to put aside vengeance and spare Zelena’s life. Regina knows she’s not perfect, and it wouldn’t be fun to watch her always act as righteously as the Charmings. But the important thing is she knows she has a choice, and she chose in that moment to be better than she once was, to embrace her best self.

Regina’s best self is one that is aware of the mistakes and damage she caused in the past, and looking at Zelena in the prison cell was all about Regina facing who she once was. Season Three has been the season of Regina becoming more self-aware, and Lana Parrilla plays that new sense of self-awareness so brilliantly, giving Regina a new maturity.

Once Upon a Time has always been adamant about showing the audience that evil is not born; it’s made. But now it’s adamant on showing that goodness is also something that is made instead of predetermined. Yes, some might be predisposed to one or the other, but evil and goodness are formed by our choices rather than a fate we cannot change. Regina chose to embrace her most evil self because she was broken and encouraged by Rumplestiltskin to channel that brokenness into dark magic. But now she chose to embrace goodness (with encouragement from Henry, Robin, and Emma) because she wants to be good; she wants to channel the happiness she’s finally accepted into light magic.

Regina’s arc reached its peak in “Kansas.” She proved that she was strong enough to see another path for herself—a lighter path—and to finally take it. It was her choice that saved the day. It had to be Regina. Emma couldn’t believe in the power of love the way Regina could at this point. But she’ll get there, and she’ll get there soon. That’s what this big finale is going to be all about. Emma has to learn what Regina learned: You can’t run from happiness just because you’ve been hurt; you have to choose a path that may not be easy or safe but will lead you where you need to be—to your best self, your second chance at love, and your real home.

Another character who seems to struggle with which path to take is Rumplestiltskin. I was so happy to see him give Belle his dagger and to promise her everything after all of the pain that relationship has been through. (Is the big wedding really going to be theirs?) But it did feel too easy. This is a man who has gone through serious psychological torment and is still mourning the son he created the Dark Curse for. So I was both surprised and not surprised at all when he revealed that he had the real dagger and had fooled Belle. In an episode that saw Regina actively choose to be good, it made sense to show that one of the show’s two original antagonists might never really be able to be on the side of the “good guys.” And as much as it hurt me to see him take advantage of his true love’s trust the way he did, a part of me was excited to see him essentially walk away from redemption—because Rumplestiltskin is always more compelling to watch when he’s in the darker waters of moral ambiguity instead of trying too hard to be good.

Zelena’s death was shocking—I didn’t expect her to die before the finale. But it definitely left me with more questions than answers. What the heck happened to her magic after she died? Did it seek out its last mission, and that’s why the time travel spell seemed to be activated? Did it need to return to the stone in Regina’s vault but got swept up in the spell Zelena started along the way? Did it create a portal to try to return to the place where it was born (aka where Zelena was born)? Did Zelena getting stabbed with the Dark One dagger act as an essential part of the plan for setting up the time travel spell?

I’m sure (or at least I’m hopeful) next week’s two-hour finale will give us that answer along with many more. But I’m even more excited to see what will happen in terms of Emma’s character development. Regina’s development was handled so beautifully, but now it’s time for Emma to take center stage. I’m ready for fairytale dresses, time traveling adventures, and Hook and Emma proving themselves to be quite the team again. But all I really want is for Emma Swan to believe that people can love her for all she is and not leave her behind, and for her to believe that home and happiness are things she can actually have after so many years of being afraid to want them.

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61 thoughts on “TV Time: Once Upon a Time 3.20

  1. Everything about Regina’a arc this season was perfect. It was nice to see her finally choose to be happy, with both Henry and Robin (and Roland too! I wonder what he’ll think of Regina?). Wouldn’t it be cute if Snow and Charming made Regina their son’s godmother?

    I can understand why Emma acted the way she did. She’s under a lot of pressure and stress right now, so it’s only natural that she’ll behave like that. I just wish she would see that Hook genuinely cares about her and wants her to be happy. I like your theory about her possibly lying about losing her magic; Zelena’s curse made it clear that Hook had to be the one to kiss her, not the other way around. Perhaps it really was true love’s kiss, but Emma doesn’t want to admit that she loves him in fear that he’ll leave her one day too?

    Another thing I loved was how Henry was looking for an apartment near the ocean. I can’t help but feel he was thinking about Emma and Hook. It was nice to see Archie again too, there are so many characters that need to be shown again!

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I’m so happy you brought up Roland because one of the things I most need to see in the finale (besides all the fun Emma/Hook stuff) is a scene between Regina and Roland.

      Your theory about why Emma might not have lost her magic is interesting. I was thinking she lost it but got it back when Zelena was destroyed (because Glinda made such a point in the flashbacks of stating that Zelena’s magic would be undone if she dies), but the idea of her never actually losing it is intriguing, too.

      The fact that Henry thinks Emma would want a place by the ocean was such a nice little detail to further highlight the kindred spirits connection between Hook and Emma. And I agree about being happy to see Archie again—he’s always been one of my favorites!

  2. I really liked this episode – Zelena’s jealousy of Regina was the reason why Zelena wanted to go back in time so it was right that the final fight would be between the 2 sisters, and it didn’t bother me either Regina used white magic to defeat her. For me this episode was a culmination in Regina’s arc for the season – she’s used TLK to break the curse on the town and she’s used her love for Henry to tap into white magic so she could defeat Zelena. I think Regina’s arc this season has been excellently handled, and I suspect there will be some big bumps ahead in her romance with Robin (it’s being going far too smoothly so far) and it will be very interesting to see how she handles it – will she go back to “Evil Queen” Regina or will she fight for her love, and I for one really hopes she will continue to fight on the side of good.

    Where the last couple of episodes have really highlighted Regina’s growth this season, it looks like the final 2 episodes of the season will focus on Emma and I couldn’t be more excited about it. The season started with Emma saying she regretted breaking the curse and that she still feels like a lost girl and I really think the season will end with Emma finally accepting her family and accepting her magic (as I think her magic will be restored by the end of the season) and also her love for Hook. The fact that Emma knowingly gave up her magic to save Hook’s life to me proves she already loves him but Emma is so far in denial she still doesn’t accept it, but I think that will all change at the end of the season.

    Finally Rumple – I really thought he was being honest with Belle when he told her he trusted her to keep his knife and when he proposed I thought it was a great way to end the season as they’ve had a tough time this season, so I was pretty surprised when it ended up that he’d been lying to her the whole time! I really don’t know how Belle can forgive him when she finds out what he did – I know a lot can happen in the next 2 episodes but it looks like more rough times ahead for Rumbelle.

    • Thank you for the comment—and, like you, I really enjoyed this episode. It really was the perfect way to bring Regina’s arc to its culmination for the season before moving into what looks like a very Emma-centric finale. I agree that I think Regina’s real test will involve something happening to Robin, and I also want her to fight hard against her impulse to turn back into the Evil Queen when she’s hurting. This journey within herself has opened up so many great avenues for storytelling with Regina, and I’m looking forward to watching this show explore them because they write this character so well.

      I’m of the same belief about Emma’s magic—it will be back by the season’s end. Embracing her magic goes along with embracing her family and Hook; it’s a part of her, and we saw in “Bleeding Through” that it could make her happy. I’m interested to see how she gets her magic back (True love’s kiss? Choosing to believe in magic again? Or something totally unexpected?)

      And I echo your disappointment with Rumplestiltskin. I know it was totally in-character for him to do what he did, but my heart broke for Belle. Truth be told, I don’t want her to marry him now. He took advantage of her trust, and she deserves better from the man who claims to love her. They’re not my favorite couple on the show, but I feel so bad for people who do love them the most. i don’t know how they handle all that angst!

  3. It’s so disconcerting to enjoy Rebecca Mader’s performance so much and yet to care so little about her character… Particularly right after having a villain such as Peter Pan. But still OUaT hasn’t managed to make the WW nor her story compelling enough, and has in fact only annoyed me with even more inconsistencies. That she was going to achieve (and apparently her unleashed magic has achieved on its own) the breaking one of the fundamental rules of magic has always been an arguable plot IMO, but at least it seemed to require quite a lot of work and power. Now we’re shown that Zelena can banish people to other realms just by snapping her fingers. The oh so powerful Dark One might have wanted to learn that little trick, it would have saved him and everybody else, why, the whole premise for the series! Ridiculous, and it’s probably not even going to be explained. This show, sometimes… Argh.

    Anyway! Regina’s part in this episode was done very nicely, as you’ve eloquently stated, so I don’t have much to add. I’m happy that she’s happy, that Henry believes in her, that she believes in herself, and that she doesn’t stop at saving the day but wants to keep fighting to be better, for Henry and for herself. Giving Zelena another chance was something that nobody had the right to expect from her, but still she stopped Rumple AND then trusted Belle with part of the control she’s always fighting so hard to grasp. Her little threat at the end of her speech to Zelena was spot on, because she is still Regina and well, old habits and all that.

    I loved Henry’s little chat with Archie, and it made me even more upset about Emma’s apparent unilateral decision to go back to NYC. Not only has she not talked to Regina about it yet, she has not talked Henry. I agree with everything you said about her reasons and her fears, and find it as frustrating as it is beautiful that she is the one potentially hurting the rest of her family just because she’s scared that she’ll get hurt. For someone so adamant about not wanting to leave them at the end of the first half of the season, and who seemed quite focused on making things right after arriving to Storybrooke (including giving Henry his memories back), she’s turned into quite the ‘petulant child’ in her resolve to just abandon everybody. I won’t judge her too harshly yet because the format of the show sometimes makes us forget that in the actual storyline only days, or sometimes hours, separate events from episode to episode; and she did need months to first admit that she loved her son and that she didn’t want to leave the town. I know that she will come around eventually, be it in the finale or next season. I’m glad that Hook confronted her about it, and would love to see Regina kick her arse for trying to take Henry away from her again; those two were at each other’s throats since the beginning basically because Regina was scared that Emma would take Henry away, when it wasn’t her intention, and now that they’re actually getting along and that Regina is being good, Emma is determined to do just that. I hope she realises what she’s doing before she unleashes the EQ once again now that Regina is finally getting over her fear of losing everybody she loves.

    I liked the ‘bromance’ back, even if it was out of Charming’s desperation, but didn’t like Hook’s attempt to justify himself to Emma. It was weak, wrong, and not what Emma needed to hear. Just like it irked me when Neal said a few episodes back that he didn’t have a chance when he abandoned Emma. No, just no. Own to it, say “you’re right, I was wrong and I’m sorry, please give me another chance” and hope for the best. But this show is terrible at apologies (and at thank-yous) so I won’t hold my breath.

    All the Snow/Charming scenes were fantastic. Charming was particularly great and my favourite part was Snow watching him come back to her room with the baby in his arms and reaching out all “gimme gimme!” and again with the gigantic tears. Which are contagious, let me tell you. 😉

    I was a bit disappointed in Rumple, but as you said not all the villains can become heroes. I know it’s the right thing to do for the show, I know it makes sense, I’m just so sad for Belle because she deserves better. I really hope she doesn’t find out but this show hasn’t been kind to her or the “Rumbelle” relationship so again, not holding my breath. We’ll see.

    I know we’re probably going to be left hanging all summer like we did at the end of S2 but I can’t wait for next week’s finale!

    • I forgot about Little John! Tremendous come back there… So like I’ve wondered for the last episodes, the disintegrated, shot at, and killed in different ways flying monkeys are now dead? Aurora and Phillip? A few dwarves and merry men? Wow.

    • I’m so happy you brought up the fact that Zelena can apparently send people between realms with just a snap of her fingers. Between that and finding out about the mermaids being able to travel between realms, the Dark Curse certainly didn’t seem like the only way for Rumplestiltskin to travel between realms to get back to Bae.

      I would just like to say I was nodding in complete agreement when I read your thoughts on Regina needing a scene with Emma when she finds out what Emma wants to do with Henry and New York. They were reaching such a good co-parenting place, and now Emma is trying to do exactly what Regina had always feared—take her son away from her. There were three people i needed to specifically see calling Emma out on her “back to New York B.S,” and one of those (Hook) happened last night. The other two are Henry and Regina, who I hope have their moments in the finale. Emma needs some sense knocked into her, and those three characters are the only ones who don’t feel a need to tiptoe around her feelings (because her parents have so much guilt concerning her).

      As for Belle, I’m actually hoping she finds out because I think she needs to know the truth before she marries him under false pretenses of believing he’s really changed. I know it would only cause more heartbreak, but I don’t want to see Belle’s trust taken advantage of without any repercussions.

      I’m also so happy to know I’m not the only one who finds Charming family tears contagious. 😉 And count me as another person eagerly anticipating next week’s finale, despite knowing right after it ends I’ll be so sad thinking about the summer hiatus!

      • “As for Belle, I’m actually hoping she finds out because I think she needs to know the truth before she marries him under false pretenses of believing he’s really changed. I know it would only cause more heartbreak, but I don’t want to see Belle’s trust taken advantage of without any repercussions.”

        Absolutely. When I said I hoped she didn’t find out was because I’m assuming that the wedding will ultimately not take place and I thought she could be spared additional heartbreak… But it is true that she deserves to have all the information. We’ll see how far her unwavering faith in Rumple goes, because at this point, with his actions and his little speech to Zelena, it looks like he doesn’t really give a damn about Belle’s feelings anymore. It reminds me of the whole Dementor/Wraith thing, how he tried to justify his breaking the promise he made to Belle with word playing. We’ll see how he gets out of this one.

    • I am with you on being conflicted about Zelena, because for the most part I have also loved Rebecca Mader’s performance. I have actually really enjoyed all the verbal sparring between Zelena and Regina this season.

    • Two thoughts — 1) The realm movement issue: First I assumed the things happening in Oz were happening on a parallel with Enchanted Forest so the portals weren’t all closed. If memory serves Regina’s final curse closed are what closed them. So Zelena’s ability to do it was certainly when the realms were open for crossover. But moreover, Rumple and Regina weren’t born with their powers, Zelena was so I am willing to forgive that inconsistency, because we saw her have the ability to navigate between realms when she goes to the Enchanted Forest and Rumple rejects her.

      2) Rumple’s choice to lie to Belle was certainly in character regarding his being a villain. However, I think that is less about Rumple and more about the fact that she and Bae actually resurrected the Dark One, not Rumple’s true self. Because I believe the sacrifice he makes as Rumple when he kills Pan/his father. While characteristics and parts of Rumple remain. His love, loyalty and goodness is tied up in Bae and that part didn’t come back.

      • 1) Rumple gained his powers when he took a magical item and killed the previous Dark One with it, so I would agree that he wasn’t born with them. I’m not so sure about Regina though. I think Rumple chose her, like he chose Cora before her and like he temporarily chose Zelena, because he could sense the potential in them and decided to teach them how to use it (for his own purposes, of course). It could be that everybody is born with that potential, or that just a selected few are born with magic, be it light or dark or an undecided kind that will be moulded according to the use given.
        Regardless, not even the Fairies, as magical as they are, can travel or send other people between realms by themselves. They need portals. As far as we know, only mermaids can do it without ‘external’ aid.
        When Zelena navigated between realms, she used the silver slippers that Oz/Walsh gave her. She gave them to Dorothy later so I’m not sure when/if she got them back and how she managed to get to the EF in time for the missing year.
        The whole snapping of the fingers bothered me so much because the difficulty to travel between realms has been such a big issue in the show, the whole reason that made Rumple research for hundreds of years and create the Dark Curse, and lately it seems like there’s a lot of alternatives.

        2) Again, that’s a fantastic theory and makes perfect sense. 🙂

  4. I loved this episode for a lot of reasons. You’ve pretty much touched on them here!

    I want to start with Regina, because for me, this is one of the most fulfilling redemption arcs I’ve ever seen. In season 1, the showed us just how evil the Evil Queen was. Then, slowly, they started to peel back the layers and show us that Regina wasn’t born evil. She was systematically tormented and manipulated by people she trusted for a VERY long time in order to get to the point where she was bad enough to become the EQ. And she made so many bad choices once she became the EQ, caused so much suffering, that at first it was hard to imagine myself rooting for her. But I think they did an excellent arc going from “bad” to “good” and showing that you aren’t born in a state of good or evil, your choices along the way are what determines that. And Regina started making good choices and fighting for good. It’s a choice she’s going to have to make every day (which is why I LOVED her “today I am” line). It’s easier for people like Snow and Charming to do, but they’ve also shown that even Snowing has to consistently CHOOSE to be good, and sometimes even they make the wrong choices.

    So for the culmination of her arc to be her son telling her that he believes in her, for her former enemies to back that up, and for the new love she thought she’d never have come in and reinforce it – it was just such a huge thing for me. Regina worked at it, she fought for it, she’s going to have to KEEP fighting for it. But for today, she was a hero.

    It was such a huge contrast to what happened with Rumple. Being honest, I’ve never really thought that he could be redeemed in the same way I think that Cora can’t. The show has tried to show us how both of them were normal people once and they didn’t start out “bad” either, but at the same time, their motives and paths to evil weren’t nearly as sympathetic as Regina’s or even Hook’s. Cora has always been motivated by greed and self-interest; Rumple has always craved power and the rush it gives him more than he does anything else, even his own son. Regina and Hook, wrong as they were, had very different motives – love and the need for it. Regina wanted to avenge Daniel and desperately wanted for people to love her, Hook wanted revenge against the kingdom and person who killed someone he loved. Paths to evil that are founded in love are ones I can easily see changing, because those people have (imo anyway) good in their souls already, they just have to remember it’s there.

    So I was willing to buy that maybe Rumple would change for love. Regina changed because of someone she loved – Henry. When she genuinely wanted to just make him proud of her and was willing to try even though he might never have known it, she changed. Hook changed because someone reminded him that he wasn’t always bad and that things like love still exist in the world – and can exist for him too, if he fights for it. So I thought that maybe, this time, Rumple would too. Maybe after what Neal did for him and said, maybe because Belle handing over his dagger with no strings attached. But he won’t. He doesn’t want to. He still values power over love, and I genuinely wonder if that will ever change.

    Watching the preview, I’m starting to suspect that this time travel spell is something that Rumple WANTS to happen for some reason or another – perhaps as a way of getting Neal back. I sure don’t believe he’d just give up that easy, and he looks so unsurprised/unworried about the time travel spell working when he says it in the diner that I’m suspicious. He’s run long cons before, after all.

    I really don’t have anything to add on your thoughts about Hook and Emma! They’ve been showing us for a long time that Emma is desperately clinging to this idea of a “normal life” that never really existed, and the harder she clings, the meaner she gets. I loved that it was Hook calling her out though – because everything that came out of his mouth was the truth, no matter how nasty she was back. Going to New York is what’s best for Emma (at least in Emma’s own mind), not for everyone else. Not for Snowing and not for Hook and definitely not for Henry, who has another mother that deserves to be consulted. If I didn’t suspect there won’t be time for it in the next ep, I’d be waiting for the confrontation that happens when Emma reveals to Henry and Regina that she still intends to take him back. But Emma gave up her magic to save Hook (and that ‘CPR’ scene was intense, how deeply scared she was of losing him and how the instant he woke up, he knew exactly what she’d done) and I just bet that how scared she was that he was gonna die just freaked her out MORE. Those walls of hers were down for an instant and then slammed RIGHT back up. But Hook is harder to shake loose than that, especially since you can tell that she doesn’t want him to go. I think that’s the biggest stickler for me – if she wanted him to go, he’d be gone. I fully believe that. But she shows him a hundred tiny ways that she doesn’t, and for someone like Hook who believes actions speak louder than words, those tiny things matter more than all the “why don’t you curse someone I’d actually want to kiss” statements in the world. She’s not quite there in “True Love’s Kiss” territory yet I don’t think, but I imagine by the finale she will be. (And if not, well there’s a whole other season.)

    I wondered about her magic too, if it was really gone or not. Because we have no actual proof, just her word. I would not put it past her to lie about it for one reason or another, but I suspect it’s true just because of what I suspect is coming in the next episode (a possible TLK that gives it back). We’ll have to see though, I’m REALLY excited for the finale. 2 hours! We see the Evil Queen again! I’m 90% sure Emma messes up her own parents’ first meeting! Bring it.

    And I just have this to say about Snowing and their baby: I cried a little bit twice. Once, when Snow saw her empty arms and her face just CRUMPLED, and again when she was reunited with her baby. Those two have been through SO MUCH and they never just get to enjoy the birth of their child. But this time, their first child was there to help get their second child back. And Regina, the one responsible for them losing Emma, was the one who returned their son to them this time around. Talk about a full circle! Emma and Henry in the hospital room with Snowing and the baby was one of the most touching things I’ve ever seen – and it’s not something Emma is going to leave in the end, I don’t think.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts again with us—and, as usual, I agree with so much of what you wrote!

      Your whole first paragraph about Regina’s redemption arc was so spot-on. Regina was a woman who was manipulated by Rumplestiltskin and abused by her mother, so to see her climb out of that hole of powerlessness to claim her own true power and strength by choosing goodness and light was brilliant.

      I also agree with you about the possibility of Rumplestiltskin’s redemption. The moment I learned that he pushed Regina towards her role as the Evil Queen so she could enact his curse for him, I stopped thinking he could ever fully embrace goodness again the way I believed Regina could. As you said, Regina and Hook’s descent into darkness was fueled by broken hearts, but Rumplestiltskin’s came from something embedded more deeply into his personality—his cowardice, his need for power and control. Until he can fully let go of his need to demonstrate his power over others, he will never find redemption.

      I’m happy to not be the only one who cried more than once over Snow and Charming. Ginnifer Goodwin is entirely too good at crying. The moment she realized the baby was gone, I could barely look at her because her pain felt so real. That made their reunion all the more beautiful because we felt the pain that came before.

      • Yes to your thoughts about Rumple. The thing is, the show has made a point to show us that villains can be redeemed through love. When someone comes to love something more than they love themselves, it can make powerful things happen. But with Rumple, I seriously doubt right now that he will ever love anything more than he loves himself. I think this deep need to have power is really a desperate attempt at self-preservation for him, which means he will put himself before anyone else. He repeatedly put it before Neal and Belle both, and not even Neal DYING could change it. If he never comes to love something more than he loves himself, he’ll be the Dark One forever. And looking at just how much damage he’s done as the Dark One, that’s a very bad thing for the world. He shattered so many lives, both directly and indirectly, that he will eventually need to be stopped if he can’t be “saved.”

        I really don’t know where the show is going to go with him, because Rumple is a main character and Rumbelle is a main ship, so I think they will want to give them a happy ending, but it appears that HIS redemption is still going to be a bit of a long trek. Especially if this time travel thing is part of a plan of his, because nothing good comes of his plans. And thinking about it, I’m not sure if I’ll really buy his redemption arc anyway, because – where’s the line? Is there a point that comes where you’ve done too much damage to ever be truly redeemed, even if you want to be? I’ll have to see how I feel at the end of the show to decide, I think.

        And yes to Ginny crying well! That moment of sorrow was seriously soul-shattering because we’ve seen it happen before, and you’re feeling the same thing she is, which is “please, not again.” But that made the reunion so sweet in the end. Henry and Emma being there too just made it better.

  5. Also, I dunno if you know this, but people on tumblr seriously WAIT for your reviews and then post links/excerpts because they love them so much!

    • not just on tumblr – someone forwarded the character review you did on Emma to Jennifer Morrison and she loved it..

    • Thank you for passing along something that made me feel so good! I am honored that people care enough to wait to hear what I have to say every week. 😀

      • I just watched the episode this morning, and as soon as I was done, I was thinking “well, geez, I don’t know what all of that meant… luckily only a few hours until Katie and all her awesome commenters hash it all out for me!” I never feel like an episode is complete until I read what you have to say about it! 🙂

  6. It’s really beautiful to read such a deep review of this episode, I like who you study psicology of the characters, specially since this show is to seen as a “serious” show. I started reading your reviews a couple of weeks ago and they made me love the show more than I already did, because it made understand that, for me, this is more than a show; is the moment my little sister and I wait for the hold week and it has help us to bond in a way I thought was impossible because of our age difference. But most importantly is a show that can help me teach her important live lessons. And this show was fool of amazing live lessons: a) you choose your future, you can listen to what people around you are saying but at the end of the day you are the one who choose your path, b) staying in your comfort zone doesn’t mean your are at your “safe zone” (for example Regina not feeling ready to be a good witch;) (let’s hope Emma can learn this next week), and c) true love is about respect and support (Hook let’s Emma make her own choices, but is always there to help her stay save and true to herself and her family) it’s not about completing the other person ( we are all born as completes human beings) but about helping looking for a way to achive your goals of the people you love and enjoy live.
    Now I need to talk about Emma, she has always been my favorite character of the show because through the whole show she’s been fight a battle with herself; I mean she knows magic exists that it’s part of who she is, and there is a group of people that loves her and will do anything to help her. And even if she tries she hasn’t found a way to let go the feeling that, as you said, it can all go just as fast as it came. I find this part of the show very appealing and real, I mean there are moments were I just want to jump inside the TV (in a Blue’s Clues way) and hug Emma and tell her it’s OK we all love and we are not going anywhere without you, just let it go (and let the storm of love rage on). I don’t want to see her call Mary Margaret and Charming mom and dad, but I do want to see a peaceful quite scene where she just seats down with them and she can talk about her fears, how she feels about Hook, the new baby (I ask the writers to include some big sister jealousy), Regina been Henry’s mom again (in my mind this take place in the kitchen while Emma and David do the dishes and Mary Margaret breast feed the baby at the kitchen table).
    This was suppose to be just a little comment about how I love your reviews but I guess it turn into a little catharsis for me.
    Again thank you and can’t wait for next week.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me in such an open, enthusiastic, and passionate comment! I love the way this show means so much to all of us who choose to embrace its spirit. Like you, this show also provides an experience every week for my sister and I to share, and I will treasure that forever. I appreciate your kind words so much, and you can always come here for catharsis when you need it. That’s what Nerdy Girl Notes is all about!

  7. I honestly never felt moved by Zelena’s back story in “It’s not easy being green”. However, last night I did. Zelena is incredibly insecure, but has good reason to be. Her mother ditched her in the woods because she wanted a baby of royal blood. Her adoptive father rejected her and told her she was wicked before she’d actually done anything wicked. Rumple took her in and made her feel special, only to toss her in favor of Regina. I can understand where her pain and desperation is coming from, she desperately wants to be chosen and genuinely wanted by someone/anyone, but she always seems to get rejected in favor of someone else and that has destroyed her. I think when Glinda offered her a seat and a sisterhood, just for a moment, she finally thought she had something going. When Dorothy popped up as a more innocent option, she became terrified because she saw history repeating itself and her about to be rejected in favor of someone else, again. She let her own pain and fear ruin her potential happiness. I think that’s part of the reason Regina couldn’t bring herself to kill her or let her be killed. Regina completely understands because prior to turning good, Regina was the same way, Regina was always desperate to be loved. Both Regina and Zelena were/are two very powerful women one more politically and one magically, who both came to the realization that having all the power in the world does not substitute for having people who genuinely love and want you. For both of them that was where their pain stemmed from. Zelena went about fixing hers by trying to turn back time to remove the other option so that those who dismissed her would be forced to choose her. Regina’s fix it was to try and force ppl (Hansel, Gretal, Graham, Greg, Henry) into loving her. Both of which defy the laws of magic, you can change the past and you can force others to love you. Regina had to re-learn how to love properly & remove the hatred, resentment, revenge and darkness from around herself and Zelena needs to learn the same, as well as learning not to envy what’s not hers, because in doing so she’s missing out on what could be hers.
    I was really disappointed that Rumple killed her, it would have been interesting to see if Regina could put her back on the right path and to see them bond and try to truly be sisters. Also I was mad he did it because Belle is so insanely loyal to him and believes in him even at his worst. This could have been that moment where he proves himself to her, but he chose his darkness over her light. Neal was always pushing for him to be a better person. I felt like if he really wanted to honor Neal, he would have made the harder decision to not kill.
    Emma and NY. Emma is also like Zelena in one way. Emma gave Henry up and after finding him again, falling in love with him and having the year in NY where her memory was altered to make her believe she’d always raised him, she now wants to go back to that fictional life. Like Zelena, it’s almost like she wants a do over…regardless of how it hurts everyone else. I get that it’s also about security, home, running from love etc. However, I think a lot of it resides in that she wants to continue with her do over. She keeps saying “I am his mother, I know what’s best” and it’s annoying because it’s like she’s completely disregarding the fact that Regina is also his mother and has 11 years of raising, loving & protecting him on top of Emma’s 1 year. Regina has come so far in accepting Emma as Henry’s mother as well and respecting her and that makes the lack of respect and understanding shown on the other end more frustrating. Also, the comment she made to Hook about Henry only being worried about chocolate milk when Hook asked how Henry feels, was really condescending. I find it hard to believe that now Henry has his memories back, she thinks he not going to feel seriously conflicted and hurt by having to leave his mom and all the people he’s grown up with in SB. I also don’t understand how she thinks the happy life in NY still even exists, as Snow said it was great because she didn’t remember them, and while Emma may be able to go back to normal, Henry won’t. His longing to be back in SB will never allow them to just pick back up their happy lifestyle back in NY. Regina put her Henry’s happiness before her own and Emma needs to do the same, that’s what parents do.
    Regina has made such a huge step. As everyone before me has said, they handled her redemption arc beautifully. I can’t wait to see where they take her character next.

    • Thank you so much for your comment! And I really appreciated your analysis of Zelena’s character. I wish they would have spent more time with her character because I think I would have felt more for her if I was able to dive deeper into her story. I loved what you said about Regina not being able to kill her because she understood her; I felt the same way.

      And I want to echo your disappointment in Rumplestiltskin because he once again chose darkness and power over love—both Belle’s and Neal’s. As you said, if he really wanted to give Neal’s sacrifice meaning, he would have made the choice not to kill, to be a better man.

      I think you’re right about Emma wanting to continue with her do-over. It’s the easier path because she doesn’t have to share, but she has to know that’s an impossible path now. She does have to share—not just obviously with Regina but with the whole town that loves her son. But for a girl who’s never felt first in anyone’s eyes, it would be nice to think she could go back to a place where she was first in her son’s eyes, even if it is delusional. Like you said, Regina put Henry’s happiness before her own in choosing to send him off with Emma and a lifetime of good memories. Emma has to also show that she can be selfless when it comes to her love for her son, and I think she will by the time this finale is done.

  8. Again your thoughts are beautiful and perfect. I don’t really have anything to counter argue, so again I will just touch on some random thoughts.

    I think I have come to the conclusion that the more outlandish an episode is the more I like it. This episode had even more crazy than normal and I have decided that its way more fun in crazy town than it is in logic town when it comes to this show. My logic filter definitely got overloaded early so there was nothing to do but just hold on and go along for the ride. Once is like magic, sometimes you have to stop thinking and just feel it 🙂

    Can I just say again how amazing the directing has been this season? The cuts between scenes, especially the opening scenes, have just been phenomenal. The cuts between Rumple at the spinning wheel and Snow’s wheel chair at the hospital were great.

    The moment Charming turned team Killian was I think the moment my logic filter turned off. It was an early reminder that all the worry last week was completely ridiculous. I will say I am disappointed that the anger didn’t even last long enough for Henry to need to have an opinion.

    Speaking of Henry, it was sad, but important for us as viewers to see just how different Henry and Emma are when it comes to their idea of “home”. Also, I think the thing that has been especially frustrating to me the past two episodes with Emma wanting to go back to NY is the fact that Regina hasn’t even been part of this conversation. Does Regina even know this is Emma’s plan? Emma might be Henry’s mother and feel she knows what’s best, but Regina is also Henry’s mother, and we havent even got to see what she thinks about this whole thing now that Henry has his memories back and I am having a hard time with that. And now I am arguing for Regina’s rights as Henry’s mother. I think you can count her redemption arc a success.

    The scene with Emma and Killian at the well I found highly amusing. It was kind of like being punked, but in a good way. The whole situation was completely absurd, but at the same time, in terms of the curse being fulfilled, it was really the only way that made sense. Emma has been in such crazy denial/testy mode this season there is no way she is thinking about kissing anybody. This was literally the only way their lips were going to touch. Well either this or accidentally falling on each other, so choose which ridiculous situation you prefer. I am thankful that the secret was out and she made that conscious choice to lose her magic to save his life. This is fiction, the writers easily could have upped the drama and betrayal by Emma losing her magic because she didn’t know about the curse. But they didn’t, and that’s something worth noting. I won’t go into how you don’t go into your fight with the villain with the one person who could take your magic, or you don’t even try to do anything magical to Zelena when she is walking toward you, or you don’t try magically extracting the water from the lungs of a drowning victim with cursed lips. Cause if those things were important to the story they were trying to tell, then they would have happened. The laws of magic are whatever the writers need it to be. You can see that as fun and enjoy the ride, or you can argue and complain why the infinite number of other possibilities didn’t happen until you are blue in the face.

    Pretty much anytime Snow was on screen I was having serious emotional highs and lows. The pain and despair in her face when Zelena took the baby crushed me. And in contrast, the joy in her face when Charming put him back in her arms was one of the most joyous scenes of the show (eclipsed maybe only by the curse being broken in the S1 finale and them running into each other’s arms).

    Was it just me, or did the Zelena showdown remind anyone else of a video game boss fight? Flames! Magic blast! Heros thrown back! Swooping Monkey! Repeat!

    Regina being the one to defeat the Wicked Witch with light magic is really the only way this could have ended in a fulfilling way. I mentioned last week I thought Regina’s arc was concluded, but I am totally ok with being wrong because this is exactly how it should have ended. Having Emma defeat Zelena would have made zero sense in terms of the evil vs wicked promotion this whole season. I will admit I am a bit confused about Regina’s little laugh in her vault at the end. Was it just a little laugh of madness at how ridiculously far she has come?

    In the list of ridiculous things that would only happen on Once, I found the method of Rumple’s proposal both hilarious but perfect “And then, the dark one presented his dagger of control to his beloved, and asked for her hand in marriage”. This is why you can’t talk about this show with people who don’t watch it. Perfect absurdity aside, it’s just so sad to see Rumple deceive Belle, especially in THIS situation of all things. I would hate to see them get married with Belle not knowing what he did. Not ok. Could they at least have like one episode of being happy? Harsh.

    Even though Emma’s story arc of discovering her true home has been largely spinning its wheels since the 3B premiere I am excited to see how it ends in the season finale. It makes sense that the season started with Emma and Hook and it’s going to end there as well. This is how fairytale characters fall in love, adventure!

    • Thanks, Shauna! I always love hearing your thoughts, and this was no exception.

      First of all, AMEN to your assessment of Once being like magic—it’s about pure feeling rather than pure logic. Are there times when logic gaps drive me nuts? Of course. But do I find myself usually overlooking those moments because this show makes me feel like no other? Yes. I can find a million reasons to pick apart this show’s logic, but it’s so much more fun to find a million reasons to talk about the ways this show moves me.

      I’m also in complete agreement with you about Regina needing to know Emma’s New York plans. The most angry I got at Emma in this episode was when she talked about Henry being a kid who shouldn’t have a say in her New York plans (because he’s a young man now, not a little boy), and I found myself thinking that Regina wouldn’t dismiss Henry’s opinions like that. And, like you, that’s when I knew Regina’s redemption arc had truly succeeded. 😉

      Rumplestiltskin’s proposal was truly one of those “only Oncers would understand” moments. But it led to such heartbreak. I need Belle to find out the truth before they get married because there’s no way she should marry someone who so grievously betrayed her trust after pretending to be so sincere with her earlier.

      “This is how fairytale characters fall in love, adventure!” – YES! I am so excited. I have no idea how we’re going to get through this week of waiting!

    • I really enjoy your thoughts about Regina, Emma and Henry. The thing is – and I don’t mean to be unnecessarily negative, but I’ve been feeling like this for awhile – the show sometimes falls into the habit of treating Henry as Emma’s son first, and Regina his mother but in a more distant way. I don’t think it’s meant to be on purpose but while they have emphasized that HENRY feels like Regina is his mother, other things make it seem like nobody takes her parental rights wrt Henry seriously. So nobody bats at an eye at Emma being like she is with Henry even after Henry remembers Regina as his mother. I suspect that if Regina knew about the plans, she’d have a fit, and so would Henry, but it’s telling of the show’s attitude sometimes that nobody has brought up “but what about Regina?” in their objections to her plan. Maybe they would have if Emma had actually packed up to take him, but since she hasn’t yet, I guess we won’t know.

      • Agreed. Most of the time this show ends up (inadvertently, I should hope) sending the terrible message that nature beats nurture and that foster families are less ideal than blood families. It’s always bothered me a lot. I understood, for instance, that right after the (first) curse broke Henry was taken from Regina. What annoyed me to no end were the absolute disregard for Regina as Henry’s mother and the hurtful and unnecessary comments like Snow saying Emma didn’t need to run anything by Regina concerning Henry. That Emma is no back to treating Regina this way, and more importantly, Henry, says a lot about how scared she is, but also about how she needs to get a grip and think about her son first.

    • “The cuts between Rumple at the spinning wheel and Snow’s wheel chair at the hospital were great.”
      I loved that visual so, so much.

      “Was it just me, or did the Zelena showdown remind anyone else of a video game boss fight? Flames! Magic blast! Heros thrown back! Swooping Monkey! Repeat!”
      The moment when Regina is precariously suspended in the air and her hands start shinning with white magic? Ironman. Minus the armour.

    • OK, I am jumping onto this bandwagon about the dynamic between Emma, Henry and Regina. I have chalked Emma’s bullishness around NYC as thoughtless fear and reactionary. I think it is telling that she hasn’t said it around Regina and Henry because *she knows* she would get push back from both of them. I do believe Henry looking for apartments is to establish for the viewer where Henry’s frame of mind is so that there is no doubt that Emma’s determined return to NYC is a plan only to her.

      I think the show has given the Emma favoritism in the ‘mother’ department a) because of who her character is within the breadth of the show and b) because they established that Henry came to Regina as a pawn in Rumple’s chess match to break the curse. That combined with Regina’s actions undermined her role as a parent during the first year and a half of the show. What we often forget (and I was recently reminded of in a rewatching of season 1) is that Henry was an annoying little boy who outright rejected Regina as his mother. What the show has slowly done over the last year and a half is move that relationship as well. Henry begins the series as a lonely boy longing to believe in something, someone and to belong. He believes it is through Emma his birth mother but what he discovers is that it is broader than that. That his sense of home and family comes from the extended members of his family that is the town of Storybrooke. When he gains this insight at the end of season 1 into season 2 he begins to see and understand Regina and believe in her capacity to change. A change she eagerly pursues and initially fails at until that family becomes a united front in Neverland. The Neverland arc is a lot of things, but it is absolutely the solidification of Henry’s family. His love for both Emma and Regina is secured by their actions to bring him back. It is why I so pleased by Henry’s immediate embracing of Regina when he got his memories back, because it brought together the Regina in Storybrooke he witnessed dispassionately as ‘mayor’ and friend/ally to his mother with the person who raised him from infancy. He more than anyone understands the full circle she has come. We’ve seen that manifest in the last 2 episodes quite clearly and it picks up from the boy who told her ‘she isn’t a villain, she’s his mom’ at the close of the first half of this season.

      My hope is not for a battle royale between Regina and Emma over Henry, but for Henry to call Emma to the carpet on her actions, intentions notwithstanding. Just as Henry defended Emma to Regina in season 1. I would like to see this boy reciprocate that respect in reverse now. Both of these women are his parent and Henry believes that. In reality, so does Emma which is why it should be Henry who brings her back to reality.

      As for the show’s treatment of foster/adoptive parents, this is where the pattern and history of fairy tales is traditionally unduly harsh. It’s a problematic issue to the genre and one the show hasn’t addressed head on. I think the patterns are a product of both the original source material and lack of priority for storytelling.

  9. I’m really excited for next week! Especially the Killian/Emma adventures.

    I was a bit confused about what Regina was thinking when she put Zelena’s jewel in her vault. I wasn’t certain that she had good intentions at that time. But I also wondered if she was just in the habit of hoarding powerful objects. Or if the writers just needed to keep the stone accessible for whatever Zelena’s magic did at the end.

    I’m still pretty pissed off with Emma. I know she’s guarding herself from being hurt, but there is nobody who would be happy to hear that she’s planning on taking Henry back to NY! Regina least of all, but even with the new baby, her parents would be devastated to hear that she was planning on leaving. I can’t believe that Emma wouldn’t know that. And wouldn’t care, if she thought about it. She is being very pig-headed and selfish right now. But never mind. I enjoyed Hook calling her on her BS and I will enjoy whatever happens next week.

    I was so pleased when Rumple gave Belle his dagger, and so disappointed when he made the wrong choice yet again. But of course, it made sense. Poor Belle.

    The scenes with the Charming family and the baby were amazingly well done and all the more touching knowing that they will soon be welcoming a baby in real life. I felt terrible for them, having their son torn away from them moments after his birth, again. But I love the way this show tells and retells the same stories with different outcomes. And a boon for people who like to make parallels in gif form!

    It looks like next week will be wild and crazy, and it looks like we’ll be going somewhere completely unexpected at the end. And then we’ll have months to go crazy wondering what’s coming up next. So looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time.

    • I think we’re all going to collapse from the weight of the anticipation this week!

      I think Regina’s little smile when putting the heart into the vault was interesting. I’m also not quite sure what to make of it, but I wonder if it was just a little moment of celebration for her. I’m sure we’ll find out, though.

      I understand being mad at Emma, and I was feeling super frustrated with her flippant attitude even more than her talk to New York (because we all know that’s not happening, and part of me thinks even Emma knows it so she’s holding on to it tighter than ever before the dream gets crushed for good). I think she logically knows her parents would be devastated if she and Henry left, but I still think broken little lost girl Emma—who was replaced as a three-year-old by a family’s new baby—has some lingering trouble emotionally understanding that her parents can love both her and her new brother. And she’s clearly not thinking of anyone’s reaction to her taking Henry away, which needs to change ASAP.

      • I understood why she wanted to go back to NY when Henry didn’t have his memories. I thought she might see things differently now that Henry remembers Regina and his grandparents and his entire real life. But anyway, as you say, it isn’t going to happen! I guess us being frustrated with Emma is us feeling what everyone around her is feeling right now. Never mind. Everything is about to be turned upside down. 🙂

  10. I always enjoy your take on the show. I admit to having a visceral, raging “Oh, HECK no!” reaction to Regina saving the day with light magic. I see what they were doing, and I’ve mostly gotten over it, though I do think it ended up being rather anticlimactic and ham-fisted. I don’t have a problem with Regina being on the side of good, but I felt like pure-white light magic should be something rarer and not quite accessible to somebody who’s done the things she’s done. I more wanted her to maybe have LAVENDER magic. Light, but not all the way white. But that was my biased wanting.

    That said, I have high hopes for the finale and Emma finally taking a leap of faith with Hook and her magic (which I really want her to get back). I’m excited for their adventure, and I hope this time, she trusts him fully and doesn’t leave him alone on the top of the metaphorical beanstalk. He deserves that happiness as much as she does, since he’s been breaking my heart on a regular basis for awhile.

    • Thank you so much! I can totally understand where people would find it hard to swallow someone with Regina’s past being able to wield pure light magic. I bought it because I loved the idea of light magic being more about choice than something you’re born with or not (because the idea of someone wanting to be good but still having to wield dark magic seems unfulfilling to me). But I think your idea of lavender magic is really cool, and it would have highlighted the show’s idea of shades of gray in an interesting way.

      And I agree with you: Emma, don’t leave Hook chained up on the metaphorical beanstalk this time. I’m ready to see her open her heart to trust him, and I’m so excited to see how this all unfolds!

  11. your review and most of the users comments totally made me cry. its so nice to hear from people who are pro captainswan.. that ship touches my heart more than any other ship ive seen. thank you for this review and these words. ive been waiting so long for hook and emma to be alone and have their own adventure so they can fall completely for each other.like you guys said, true love comes out of adventures on this show, and I hope that with CS, its no different 🙂

    • Thank you so much for the kind words about my writing and all of my fabulous commenters! And allow me to pass on some virtual tissues (because I have been known to cry while writing these things, too).

    • If you go to IMBD.com, you’ll see an amazing amount of anti-Hook sentiment. So much so that I was afraid the writers (who want to please their fans) will kill him off. I hope that the majority of fans like them together. Who can say?

      • I think you’ll find a huge amount of anti-anyone sentiment on the Internet, so I don’t think the writers will ever make decisions about the fate of characters based solely on fan opinion. If there are still good stories to tell (which they clearly feel there are with Hook), then the writers will keep telling those stories. I don’t see the point in letting negative fan opinions worry you about the fate of a character or relationship you enjoy watching. So if you ever need a dose of positivity, you can always find it here.

  12. Perfect recap. Truly love your work.
    I just wanted to share a theory of the scenes that followed after Zelena died (which got me confused too). I was distracted last Sunday so I had to rewatch the episode today and in the scene where Glinda gave the pendant to Zelena, she said “guard it with your life because in many ways it now is your life”. So I think when she was killed, her life source in the pendant was triggered and it came back to finish the spell. So the question is, if she is still alive, how can she be killed? Maybe the pendant needs to be destroyed first.
    I’m excited to see how they tie this all up. The writers said that the finale was written like a 2 hr movie, so looks to be a fun night next week. 🙂

    • Thank you! That is an AMAZING theory. I forgot all about Glinda’s line, and it makes perfect sense now that the pendant has to be completely destroyed for Zelena/what’s left of her (aka her magic) to be completely destroyed. I wonder how they’ll figure that out?

    • I was thinking the same thing about the pendant needing to be destroyed first. I kept wondering why Regina or someone else didn’t destroy it right then and there.

  13. I found your blog at the beginning of season 3B and have really enjoyed reading your analysis.
    I have really enjoyed the character development of Regina over this arc. I know some people felt like Regina being able to use white magic seemed to undermine Emma’s role as the savior – but I think its important to remember that if Emma hadn’t returned to Storybrooke Regina would never have been reunited with Henry and been able to tap into her white magic.

    I think Emma is just deluding herself into thinking Henry will want to return to New York. But then again she is running scared. As you pointed out, in “Going Home” she was ready to embrace her family and return to the Enchanted Forrest with them, but in the end she was left behind. Granted she was left with Henry and she would never leave him, but the part of her that was and still is a “lost girl” once again experienced being left behind. So in her mind its safer to take her son back to New York rather than risk getting left again. It hasn’t been that long since her memories returned and in a lot of ways it is an open wound, not to mention Walsh’s betrayal. Zelena was right when she referred to Hook as the man Emma can’t wait to run away from and I think its why it is so important that Hook is the one that continues to call Emma out on her NY plans. Mary Margaret and David have both heard the NY plans but Hook is the one continuing to confront her her on the issue. “But instead of looking for each other…” When Zelena said this line it just totally reminded me that both Hook/Emma have spent a long time looking for home and family and they could find it with each other. And while I have no doubt Regina/Henry would have something to say about Emma’s New York plans, those confrontations could be almost too painful to watch. I feel like Emma is an exposed nerve with the way she is clinging to NY and Henry especially telling her he wants to stay in Storybrooke could feel like another person abandoning her to Emma.

    As for Emma’s magic, I don’t know if she’s lying about it having not returned or if she has just lost faith in herself. Last week, after she found out about Hook lying to her, I wondered if Emma would lose her magic, not because of Hook’s curse, but because she loses faith in herself. Hook was Emma’s biggest supporter of her embracing her true self and her magic. It wasn’t a coincidence that she used the magic mirror in 3×17 with Hook’s reflection behind her. And then in 3×18 she was practicing it and almost giddy with it. But in 3×19 Emma’s attitude began to change and then of course she found out about Hook’s curse. And in 3×20 Emma/Hook went out to face Zelena the first time, why didn’t Emma use her magic since that was the whole point of going out there to begin with? Panic over Hook? Or not trusting herself enough? Although I did love that the first thing Hook said to her when he was conscious again was “What have you done?” Hook didn’t want Emma to give up her magic for him, he sees it as part of who she is and didn’t want her to lose that. (Or at least that’s how I see it.)

    Finally when they were confronting Zelena in the barn, Rumple told Hook and Emma that they needed to get the Dark One’s dagger or he’d destroy them both. And I can’t help but think that the line was in reference to the situation in the barn at the moment, but also foreshadowing to what will happen this week. Based on the promo Rumple killing Zelena with the dagger seems to have set things in motion and Hook/Emma are the ones facing the consequences.

    I’m really looking forward to the finale. I think we are going to finally find out what happened to the Jolly Roger (I still think Hook sacrificed his ship to get back to Emma). And I really want to know what they name the baby. While I think Rumple killing Zelena was in character, I do think there will be consequences to face with Belle for his actions and it will be interesting to see just how much Belle will put up with.

    • Thank you so much not only for the nice words but for sharing your very articulate thoughts with us!

      I totally agree with you about Emma still playing an important role even if Regina was ultimately the one to “save the day.” Both women played a part in Zelena’s defeat, and Emma will get her turn to save the day in the finale. Also, I think it’s good that Emma doesn’t have the be savior all the time. That’s too much pressure to put on one woman who is still coming to terms with her true self.

      Calling Emma “an exposed nerve” at this point in her arc was perfect. It’s so true. She is so terrified of being left behind again that her fear is literally controlling everything she is saying and doing. That’s why I think you might be right about her loss of magic being tied to her loss of faith in herself and her lack of desire to believe in magic at this point. Embracing magic means embracing belief in herself. And without Hook’s unwavering support, that has seemed harder than ever for her to do. I have no doubt that Emma rediscovering her belief in many things, including herself, will be the main focus of this finale, and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out!

  14. Loved your thoughts, as always!! Especially the ones about Emma and Hook 🙂
    But I also agree very much on Rumple. I am all for redemption but I was also so excited to have him back…and I only felt that he was back when he stepped into that prison cell and stabbed Zelena.
    I was surprised you didn’t mention in your meta that Regina was only able to exercise light magic the moment after we were shown that Robin retrieved her heart and held it in his hands. I think we were meant to see that this way: with her heart safely in Robin’s care, she can reach for the good, the light instead of the dark. Of course it was Henry’s faith in her that helped her get there as well, but I don’t think she would have managed without her faith in a second chance at love (represented by Robin).
    I loved how it was made very obvious to us in this episode that Emma’s lingering and irrational anger against Killian is rooted in her fear – she’s terrified of a future; a happy one because this one would be real. Unlike her life in NY – which she still insists was a good one, and our Emma isn’t stupid/blind, she knows a life that is based on lies cannot ever be really good because it can never be really real – she now has the option of a very real life. A happy one. With her family and a man she desperately tries to run away from, as Zelena pointed out so well. And at this point I’m 100% sure that the reason she does that and even accuses Killian that she only came back to Storybrooke because he manipulated her into it (such an unfair accusation and therefore easy to see through) is not only how terrifying it is to her that someone can love her as much as Killian clealry does (ALL of her, her real self: “Part of you is not the real you.”), but that she actually has deep feelings for him as well. Because her feelings for him are the ones that make the possibility of a happy future so real; if his feelings were one-sided that possibility would not be a real one and it wouldn’t terrify her the way it does. Chosing a future, a real home, scares Emma Swan like nothing else ever could. And the show is so well written that I totally understand why it would be for her. And why she’d behave that way. She is very very stubborn, and very very scared. And that makes her wondefully human and I love her dearly. Because I also know that this is Emma Swan. And she won’t run scared forever.
    The fact that she chose to save Killian at the risk of losing her magic was hardly surprising. Her “Killian, come back to me!” was expecially heartbreaking because only seconds before she seemingly mocked him for believing her happy future was with him and telling Zelena that she should have cursed someone she’d actually kiss. The more she fights it, the more it becomes clear what is really in her heart. I loved that she gave him CPR and not a kiss. Because it wouldn’t have been a romantic choice by Emma if she had kissed him. It wouldn’t have come out of her realization and the acceptance of what she truly feels for Killian. So, the next time their lips will touch, I’m pretty sure it will be because she wants to kiss him; because she’ll know how she feels for him. And it will be epic and I cannot wat 🙂
    Emma having powerful magic or the potential thereof has become or maybe always was a part of Once Upon A Time. I think it is certainly part of why she’s the Savior; her faith in being the Savior is definitely tied to her having and using her magic. So I don’t believe it’s gone for good. I can imagine a true love’s kiss giving it back to her…no matter though how she gets it back, we were told (by Hook) that her magic, or rather “the power inside of her” associated with that magic, is part of her and what makes her the Savior. She hasn’t accepted that part of her yet though (another reason she wants to go back to NY). So I’m wondering if part of her – the one that runs scared and is dominating her right now – isn’t relieved she doesn’t have it any more. She can go back to NY without feeling like she’s letting people down because they only brought her back because she is the Savior. And this is where Emma is also wrong. So wrong. She’s loved. By Hook. By her family and she’s part of that family. She would have never been truly happy in NY, because she is Emma and at some point she would have sensed that something was off (as Hook pointed out again in 3×12).
    I can’t wait for the finale 🙂 For the moment Emma will finally choose her real home.

    • Thank you for the comment! I always love hearing your thoughts on Emma and Hook, and your thoughts on Robin and Regina were very insightful, too. I was so focused on being happy that Robin got to keep his promise to get Regina’s heart that I didn’t even get to connect his retrieving her heart with her use of light magic. That’s why I’m glad I have awesome commenters to make the connections I missed!

    • Her CPR was terrible!!! One puff of air?!!! Two puffs of air, and lots of compressions over and over again is what you really should do. I wish it was this easy in real life.

  15. It’s only Tuesday and this has already been a week for being extremely proud of fictional characters.

    I am so happy with Regina’s arc. I love that she both broke the curse and captured/weakened Zelena. She has always wanted a family and someone to love her unconditionally since Cora killed Daniel and she’s finally found one. She has a whole group of people now who love her and believe in her goodness, even when she doesn’t. She finally belongs and I think that’s powerful magic in itself. I think her successful use of light magic surprised her and the result was that it made her magic even stronger because she believed in herself. She tried because Henry thought she could but she still seemed uncertain of her own status as a hero until she was actually able to use it. More than anything, I love that she chose not to kill Zelena because “heroes don’t kill”. She believes in second chances and that people have the ability to change because it happened to her and I loved her finding that hope that has always run though this show.

    I can’t be mad at Emma because in her shoes, I’d probably react the same way. For as much as it’s gotten repetitive on the show, Emma was happy in New York. She had her son and was open to love in a way that she wasn’t before he came in to her life in the pilot. It wasn’t real, but to her it was. Those memories and that slightly more open heart were real to her and they didn’t come with the same complicated feelings of abandonment and understanding that she has in Storybrooke. She didn’t have to deal with her feelings about her parents and Neal the same way that she did when they were face-to-face. Like Hook, she wanted to go back to a time when everything was (relatively) simple for her and she isn’t ready to accept that that place no longer exists.

    I think to some extent, she’s also tired of being the Savior. She may accept it because she does care about her parents and everyone else in Storybrooke and doesn’t want to see them in danger but it can’t be an easy burden to bear. Especially not when it’s caused her so much pain. I think she sometimes feels like that’s when people value her the most and once they’ve gotten that role out of her, they leave again. It feeds back into her fear of being abandoned in a messy way. I think in addition to her realizing that Storybrooke is home, she’s also going to need to realize that she is loved for being Emma Swan not the Savior. She should be defined by who she is first not the role she plays in the world.

    • I feel the same way about this TV week. It’s barely begun and already I’ve been overwhelmed with feelings of pride for some of my favorite female characters, and I know it’s only going to get more intense with next week’s episode of OUaT, too!

      “She finally belongs and I think that’s powerful magic in itself.” – That is such a beautiful quote, and I think it sums up Regina’s whole arc so well. Not only does she belong, she finally believes she can belong again in this place of people who strive for good. She believes she can belong with a group of people who love her as Regina—not people who only pretend to revere her as the Evil Queen.

      I think that ties in really well to what Emma is going through. She doesn’t believe she can belong in Storybrooke, or she doesn’t want to let herself believe that because it could all be taken away. As you said, she’s afraid that people only care about her when they need saving, which isn’t true but could appear that way to a girl with such deep-rooted abandonment issues. I think that’s one of the things that’s so important about her relationship with Hook. He told her he came back to save her; he found her instead of her having to do the finding. And he loves her magic because it’s a part of her, and it seems to make her happy and feel powerful—not because it has anything to do with being the savior. I think opening her heart to the idea of Hook loving her as Emma will help her open her heart to understanding that her parents also want her just because she’s their daughter—not because she’s the savior.

    • The way I read it, all season Emma has been trying REALLY REALLY hard not to care about him. She hasn’t allowed herself to really ask herself how she truly feels about him because in her mind she is leaving and doesn’t want to get attached. We as viewers kinda have to wait until she does some serious self reflection to know for sure. Personally I think she is just in major denial, and when those floodgates open, its going to be a huge moment for her.

    • Oh my goodness…This is quite the loaded question, so I’m going to try to keep it short for all our sakes. 😉

      I completely believe that Emma cares about Hook romantically. I don’t think she would have been so harsh towards him in this episode if she didn’t. I could go as far back as “Tallahassee” and her leaving him behind because she was afraid of how attracted she was to him already or as far back as her decision to kiss him in Neverland or as far back as her telling him “Good” in response to him saying he’ll think about her every day, but I’ll spare you that much reading.

      If you ever need evidence for Emma’s feelings about Hook, you only have to look at their scene at Granny’s in “Bleeding Through.” Emma Swan—with all her walls and fears—was openly flirting with him, being playful with him, and letting her guard down completely with him. And when she thought he was going to die in this episode, we saw that guard come down again. You don’t say “Come back to me” in a whisper to someone you’re not romantically interested in. But she knows she’s getting too close to falling for him, so she puts those walls back up in a major way. In her mind, there’s no point in getting attached to him because she’s leaving. But I think deciding to stay and deciding to embrace her romantic feelings for Hook are going to be huge emotional turning points for Emma—and I think we’ll see them in the finale.

  16. I have always been intrigued by the thematic link between Once Upon a Time and LOST. The idea that fate, destiny and freewill are not mutually exclusive or furthermore an either/or proposition. I think what Kansas gave us struck to the core of that premise. Once Upon a Time has taken the idea of fairy tales and given them an injection of humanity. These fairy tale stories that are based on principles of good and evil are displaced into Storybrooke where the complexity of life as well as ambiguity of how a single choice can create a chain reaction and trajectory are the lessons that get played out through our characters. It is why the poetry of Regina’s story is so poignant. It makes the fight for Storybrooke and those who live there not a clear cut battle of good vs. evil, but a battle between evil and wicked. It is an apropos peak for Regina’s character, but what made it work so brilliantly was that it didn’t require Regina to fundamentally change who she was. It merely required her to tap into her truest self. Someone who isn’t rooted in evil, merely capable of it — which aren’t we all ultimately? Regina’s ability to tap into her inner goodness comes through her capacity to embrace and believe in true love via the love of her son. She doesn’t require a pure heart to capture and harness light magic. She simply needs to believe in herself and her capacity for good. That is what her redemption arc has given the show. One’s ability to find the middle. To understand what drives us, to reconcile the fears that come with it and to choose a different path in spite of those odds. Cynicism, hate, envy and fear is a bountiful table. Easily tempting and intoxicating in its innate power. The flashbacks to Oz show us the consequences of accepting that bounty. Zelena’s given a choice, a path that she ultimately rejects.

    You wrote “The reason Zelena never felt like a sympathetic character to me was because she chose time and again to give in to her envy instead of choosing to move on.” I think you are right about why she was so unsympathetic, but I think the choice to give into envy was ultimately about her lack of belief. Even as the other witches stood before her she rejected the light. She didn’t trust or believe in its capacity to fill her. She did believe she would be accepted. When people chose power, it is because they lack faith. That is what Zelena never possessed and what made Regina’s triumph in this episode so rich. The entire path on the back side of this season has been rooted in Regina finding faith. Faith that rewriting the curse would ensure Henry’s happiness. Faith in those around her whether it was Robin with her heart or the Charming’s in the Enchanted Forest. Faith in her son’s love (and that his memory would be returned). That is the place from which Regina drew her strength and ultimately her power to stop Zelena. She isn’t suddenly ‘good’ she has found acceptance and in that acceptance comes belief, in herself, in her ability to chose an alternate path. For me it is why the dialogue was so pivotal. I don’t think her retort of “Today I am” to Zelena saying “So what, you’re a hero now?” was merely a punchline. I think it speaks to the essence of the truth that is the Once Upon a Time universe. Heroism is a choice resulting from stepping out on belief and faith and acting on the side of love. I love that those actions are tempered by Regina in the jail scene. Yes she believes, she believes in second chances because she is the product of one, but it doesn’t make her naive. This is the woman who Cora raised. She knows and is willing to go the other way if needed. But while she will never have Snow’s purity she does now share her belief for redemption. I love that we were left with the ambiguity of Regina’s power. Like the rest of us, she can use her power for good or evil. What has changed is now Regina is in complete control of which she chooses to use.

    This is also why Rumple’s story is critical in this episode. His story of power is complicated because his power is born out of weakness and cowardice. Rumple was without power. All his power comes through being the dark one. It is why his duality of good and evil are able to co-exist (that and Robert Carlyle is brilliant at giving us that dance). I think that is why his bait and switch of Belle is both true to character and heartbreaking. Like Regina and Zelena, he is faced with a choice around belief and faith. For Rumple it is to believe in his own goodness. When he asks Belle to marry him, I think it is an act of love and a desire to believe in the man she sees in him. But Rumple’s story has always been driven by the love of his son. Losing Bae must be avenged and the part of the Dark One that drives his powers needs to seek it out more than he requires his redemption. I think it is why when Rumple does go to kill Zelena he does so with the dark one’s dagger, even though she is completely powerless and any form of his power could kill her. (It was also obviously necessary for a plot development that set up our finale). Turning the weapon she used against him on her for her death was both symbolic of the revenge he sought, but more importantly telling that this was an act of the Dark One, not Rumple’s true self.

    And then we have Emma. Oh poor misguided Emma and her New York state of mind. I do think that delusion is the appropriate term for her at this point. Because in spite of all that has transpired she still clings to the idea that leaving is somehow the right choice. Hook is the only person to get to her, because he’s the only one who knows what it looks and feels like to spend a lifetime running away — from feelings, from love, in fear and denial. He can call it out because he’s embodied it. I think it is interesting that the three men who have been pivotal to Emma’s ties to Storybrooke all have a keen association to running away. Pinocchio was sent in the tree to protect her and spends a lifetime running from that fate. Neal jumps into a portal to another world to escape the fate his father has laid out by becoming the Dark One and he runs from Emma again when magic presents itself and Hook spent a lifetime running away from Killian, his true self. Embracing their fear and running from it has cost all of them. For Neal and Pinocchio it cost them their lives in some capacity. Hook sees for he and Emma alike that the lesson they must carry forward is the one we watched Regina come to over the course of the last handful of episodes. Only by leaning into your vulnerability can you find the path home. We have watched Emma in parallel to Regina throughout the series but that symmetry has never been more prevalent than in the last two episodes. As Regina has found her true self, she has discovered her real power (and yes, I am kinda psyched that I called it last week with the fact that dark magic was no longer working for her). That power is belief and acceptance. Emma believes but she is very much removed from acceptance. It makes her vulnerability a liability. Instead of it giving her insight her lack of acceptance has made her weak and powerless. In that she isn’t very different from Zelena.

    Think about it Zelena is driven by envy because she chooses not to accept and believe that her power is good, innocent. Zelena’s entire quest is built on rewriting the past. This is precisely what Emma has done throughout the second half of the season. Her quest to return to NYC is no different that Zelena. It is a desire to erase the past and rewrite history where they are chosen. Both women are born with immense power (unlike Rumple and Regina who acquire it). Both women are crippled by fear and a lack of faith – in themselves and those around them. Both women believe that rewriting their past absolves them of the choices that brought them to their present. What neither has discovered, and what we see on full display from Regina is that acceptance is about owning the choices you’ve made in the past, reconciling the bad that has resulted from them and realizing that in forgiveness, especially of yourself you can chose to change your fate. That power is yours to tap into when you believe and have faith that change is possible by moving forward, not by rewriting the past.

    • Oh, and a major P.S. to my Rumple beliefs. I do think the dark one is in control because Rumple did actually sacrifice himself when he killed Pan/his father. What Bae/Belle resurrected isn’t the same being as the Rumple who made that choice.

    • I told you this already today, but I think this may be my favorite comment of yours that I’ve ever read. You tapped into something truly beautiful in what you wrote here. I don’t have much to say because you said everything so well and made so many gorgeous thematic connections.

      “That is what her redemption arc has given the show. One’s ability to find the middle. To understand what drives us, to reconcile the fears that come with it and to choose a different path in spite of those odds.” – I love this beyond words. It’s such a gorgeous analysis of Regina’s arc and why it has the power to resonate with all of us. Snow White may be the voice of hope within this show’s universe, but Regina’s story has the power to inspire hope in a lot of people. That’s why I think so many have latched on to her character.

      I loved everything you had to say about Emma, August, Neal, and Hook. They’ve all spent their lives running. But what’s interesting about Hook is that he finally stopped; he seems to have realized that he can’t run away from who he really is—Killian Jones, not Captain Hook—and he doesn’t want to run anymore. He is able to see what Emma can’t accept yet; you can’t go back to your past and pretend you never had encounters with people who changed you, people you learned to love. As you so astutely stated, Emma wants to do what Zelena wants to do—changer her past. But she needs to accept that real happiness can only be found in believing that you can only change who you are now. Going back to the past isn’t the key to finding happiness; it’s allowing yourself to believe you can choose a future filled with love and hope. Regina finally learned that this season. And I think Emma becoming immersed with Hook in Zelena’s attempt to change the past is going to teach her to stop looking to her own past and to believe in her power to build a good future instead.

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  19. Why do people from Western countries fear the dark so much? Why do you constantly associate anything light with good and anything dark with evil. These terms seemed to have a racial taint that makes me feel very angry.

    Light magic is good? Dark magic is evil? Bullshit!

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