Grading the Season Finales 2014: Once Upon a Time

Since this is the end of this season of Once Upon a Time, I just wanted to thank all of you for reading these reviews every week and for sharing your thoughts so enthusiastically in the comments. It’s been a true pleasure reviewing this show this season, and no small part of that has come from those of you who read and comment on these posts.
COLIN O'DONOGHUE, JENNIFER MORRISON

Title Snow Drifts/There’s No Place Like Home (3.21/3.22)

Written By David H. Goodman & Robert Hull/Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz

What Happens? After Hook inadvertently hints to Henry (and Regina by proxy) that Emma is thinking of going back to New York, Emma tells Hook that she runs away because she believes that home is a place you miss, and she’ll keep running until she finds a place she misses. She believes she can’t relate to her parents or to life in Storybrooke because, to her, they’re still fairytale characters, and she’ll never feel like the princess she was supposed to be.

As Emma and Hook talk, they notice a light coming from Zelena’s time portal, which was activated by her death, a death Rumplestiltskin fixes to look like a suicide. When Emma is sucked into the portal, Hook dives in after her. They land in the Enchanted Forest, and a wanted poster for Snow White (and a close encounter with the Evil Queen) reveals to them exactly where in the past they landed.

When Emma breaks a twig and accidentally disrupts her parents’ first meeting, she and Hook seek out Rumplestiltskin’s help to set things right. After a tense first meeting with the Dark One (since he and Hook were still mortal enemies at this point), he agrees to help them because Emma tells him they need to survive so he can get back to his son.

Emma and Hook realize that they need to get Snow to still steal Charming’s ring, since that was the key to their love story. To do that, Hook offers Snow passage on his ship in exchange for the ring (as Emma occupies Hook from the past). Snow decides to steal the ring during Charming and Abigail’s engagement party, which Hook and Emma crash in magical disguises (courtesy of Rumplestiltskin). As “Prince Charles and Princess Leia” dance, Snow breaks into the castle, only to be caught by Charming in a similar way to their original first meeting.

When it’s discovered that Snow lost the ring in her escape, things look bleak for Emma and Hook, but they look bleaker when Regina captures Emma for helping Snow White. As Emma bonds with a woman in her cell, Hook and Charming (with some help from his patented net trap) enlist Snow’s help to break into the castle to find her. Emma escapes by picking the locks as Neal taught her (which we’re shown through flashbacks), and she takes the unnamed woman with her. But as Hook and Charming reach them, the realize Snow left them to try to kill Regina, which she’s unable to do. Instead, they watch from afar in horror as Regina appears to burn Snow at the stake.

However, Emma’s existence proves Snow to still be alive, and they discover she used her dark fairy dust to turn herself into a bug and escape. Emma is elated to see her mother alive, but Snow seems unmoved by Emma’s reaction, since she’s simply Princess Leia to her mother. As Snow and Charming move on to other parts of their adventures, Emma is able to watch her parents fall in love.

When Emma and Hook return to Rumplestiltskin looking for a way home, they find he doesn’t have one for them; he only has a forgetting potion for himself. Instead, he locks them in his vault with a wand that can open the portal only with Emma’s magic, which she no longer has. But Emma’s encounter with her mother helped open her eyes to the fact that she misses her parents; she misses them in a way that she knows can only come from knowing they’re her home. Her desire to go home to Storybrooke reawakens her magic, allowing her to open the portal, which Hook takes the woman they saved through first. Rumplestilstkin won’t let Emma leave before she tells him what happens to Bae, and she’s forced to tell him of his death. But he chooses to let her go after she begs him to let his death not be in vain, and he takes the potion.

Back in Storyrbooke, Emma reunites with her parents, telling them she’s finally home (and calling them mom and dad). Later, she goes out to find Hook, ready to thank him for bringing her back from New York. When he reveals that he gave up the Jolly Roger for a way to get back to her, she finally lets herself believe in his love, and they kiss.

Happy endings seem to be prevalent in the episode’s final moments, with Rumplestiltskin marrying Belle (despite her not knowing what he really did to Zelena) and Regina happily kissing Robin. But the woman Emma and Hook brought back turns out to be Robin’s wife, Marian, leaving Regina heartbroken. As Regina tells Emma she hopes she didn’t bring anything else back, a look at the portal reveals that a stowaway from Rumplestiltskin’s vault made the journey too: Princess (or Queen) Elsa has arrived with her freezing powers at the ready.

Game-Changing Moment Emma had no idea how much she changed the game by deciding to do the honorable thing—the Charming Family thing—in bringing back the woman she shared a cell with in Regina’s dungeon. By bringing Marian back to Storybrooke, Emma unknowingly gave Regina a whole new set of conflicts—both internal and external—to be worked through next season. Regina was understandably angry in the moment, but how will she deal with her emotions going forward? It’s that question that will really keep me thinking all summer.

But of course, Emma also brought back someone else, and that’s the real game-changer on a plot level. Will Elsa freeze Storyrbooke? Will the group have to travel to Arendelle? Is she going to be a villain or something closer to her role in Frozen? No matter the answers to these questions, what’s certain is that the show is heading in a new direction once again, and that new direction is going to generate plenty of hiatus buzz.

Finale M.V.P. I remember, during one of her live-tweeting sessions earlier this season, Jennifer Morrison referred to these episodes as her favorites for Emma. And I have no doubt that they had to be some of her favorites as an actor as well. When Morrison gets to show the emotions that hide under Emma’s steely exterior, there’s no actor better at tugging at my heartstrings. Being in the Enchanted Forest with Hook, getting to watch how her parents fell in love, and seeing the world she could have grown up in seemed to give Emma a kind of emotional freedom we’ve never seen her display before. This finale demanded nothing but Morrison’s best, and she delivered.

The range she showed was incredible—from the joy of seeing her parents find each other and the pain of thinking she watched her mother die to the relief of coming home to her family and the hope of finding love with someone who won’t leave her. Morrison brought a comedic touch to many of Emma’s realistic reactions to life in the Enchanted Forest, and she brought a fun flirtatious energy to the hilarious “two Hooks” adventure. But where she really worked her magic was in the smallest moments of emotion: Emma’s heartbroken look when Snow didn’t care that she hugged her, her unforced tears of happiness at watching her parents truly begin their love story, her broken voice when she told Rumplestiltskin not to let Bae’s death be in vain, and her awestruck, hopeful look after Hook told her gave up his ship. There’s something so special about moments of genuine emotion, and Morrison is the master of that. Every single moment of emotional openness and growth for Emma in this episode—and there were so many—felt earned, and they felt believable.

Most Memorable Lines
Charming: This whole ordeal makes me wonder if there’s even such a thing as true love.
Hook: I once felt as you did, mate. All it took was meeting the right person, and everything changed.
Charming: Princess Leia?
Hook: Aye. I’d go to the end of the world for her—or time.

What Didn’t Work Most of the small qualms I have with this finale could be abated by how they’re handled next season, so take all of these with a grain of salt since I’m hopeful that the strong writing of this season will carry over into the next.

I’m worried about all of Regina’s development in the wake of Marian’s return. I know she won’t be returning to her most evil self (she still has Henry to think of, after all), and I did understand her reaction and was happy that she didn’t immediately vow to get revenge on Emma. It just hurt to see her hurting again after finally seeing her accept happiness, and it made it seem like her relationship with Robin was fast-tracked just to create this finale angst. Someday both Regina and Emma will be able to be happy at the same time, and I can’t wait to see it.

Also, I’m very confused on the particulars of Marian’s death in the original timeline. Did Robin not know anything about her death? It doesn’t make sense for him to believe it was his fault that she died when it was actually Regina’s (which of course would only cause more angst for them). I hope we get this straightened out next season because it feels like a weird disconnect between the truth and what Robin believes.

Speaking of weird disconnects between truth and belief, I wished I could have been happy to see Rumplestiltskin and Belle get married, but all I was left with was anger that he would marry her while deceiving her so thoroughly. It was actually hard to watch, and I’m glad the scene was more about all of the couples on the show and not just them because I would have had a hard time stomaching their wedding as a romantic event given the way he betrayed her trust. Here’s hoping she finds out soon into the next season, and it gives her a chance to really show some backbone with him.

I’m also trying to stay cautiously optimistic about the show taking on Frozen next season. It could feel like a marketing ploy for Disney, or it could turn out really well. I’m reserving judgment until I find out the casting and until I actually see what they do with it.

Finally, I’m still a little torn about naming the baby Neal. I wish Emma would have been consulted first given their complicated history, but it did provide for a nice moment to acknowledge Neal’s arc at the end of this season.

What Worked Before I started writing about Once Upon a Time, I was just a fan of this show—specifically a fan of Snow, Charming, and Emma. And as a fan, I’m not sure I could feel more satisfied with this finale than I do right now. There were so many things that I hoped for, thinking that surely not all of my wishes would be fulfilled. But the creators called this episode “wish fulfillment,” and they weren’t kidding. It was like a two-hour movie filled with fairytale fun, romance, and incredible acting. And it’s going to be an episode I return to time and again like a beloved fairytale.

Once Upon a Time has a truly underrated cast, and this episode reminded me of that in no small way. Lana Parrilla didn’t have a ton to do in this episode, but she made the most of what she was given. Regina’s arc reached its high point last week, so I knew sadness was coming for her. And the fact that we weren’t given Marian’s name until the end made me pretty certain of her identity from the moment she was in the cell with Emma. Once again, Parrilla made me feel so much sadness for Regina despite knowing that she was going to kill Marian in the past. Her barely-controlled devastation when she first sees Marian with Robin and Roland was brilliant. Of course Parrilla excels at Regina’s big moments of emotion, but it’s often in those smallest reactions that she breaks me the most. I didn’t want Regina to blame Emma, but it was all too much for her—this idea that both Emma and her mother broke her heart by acting without thinking of consequences. It was such a painfully beautiful parallel, and it made me want to cry for this woman who was finally able to love Robin with her whole heart—only to have it broken the same day.

In terms of other actors who make me feel sympathy for their characters despite the bad things they’ve done, it doesn’t get better than Robert Carlyle. In an episode that saw me furious with Rumplestiltskin for going through with his wedding to Belle despite deceiving her, I still managed to shed some tears because of him on more than one occasion. There’s something about the sadness behind his eyes when he’s in full Dark One makeup that gets to me like little else. When Emma told him he gets back to his son and he said “Bae?” with such soft hope, I marveled at the subtle touches of humanity he brings even when he’s mostly having fun being as campy and theatrical as possible. (How fun was it to see the Dark One in all his sparkly glory again?) And his final moments with Emma after the portal reopened were just brilliant. His desperation was so palpable, but so was his love. Taking the forgetting potion reminded me of Regina doing the same to be a better mother to Henry and of Neal not taking the memory potion in order to help Emma and Henry. Those parallels were beautiful, and it was such a rare moment of relinquishing control and power from a man who still has so much trouble giving those things up.

Although we were treated to some great Regina and Rumplestiltskin moments, this was Emma’s fairytale. This was her story, her journey, and her adventure. And it was handled perfectly. All of the angst, all of the believable backsliding into old patterns of running away and pushing people away—it all paid off. It was especially effective because we finally got more flashbacks to Emma’s youth that allowed us to see just how unfamiliar she is with the concept of “home.” Just like Regina’s development, Emma’s felt earned because we saw her come to it all on her own. We saw her choose to be her best self; we saw her choose happiness on multiple levels. And that’s all I’ve ever wanted for this character—for her to choose her own happy ending.

Emma and Hook’s time travel adventure was even more fun than I was expecting, if that was possible. And I think a lot of that came from how the show dealt with Snow and Charming during that adventure. This was a way for Emma to see her parents as real people falling in love, not two people already so blissfully in love that it’s hard to comprehend them ever struggling with their feelings like she does. I was nervous about how this episode would change “Snow Falls” (my favorite episode in the show’s history), so I was thrilled that my two favorite moments—the net scene and the ring scene—were left virtually untouched. Using the original clips was a smart move because there was something about Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin’s initial sparks that I’m not sure could ever be replicated—even by them. But they still had plenty of spark in their new scenes, too. My favorite might have been their moment in the present when they were first telling their story to baby Neal. Goodwin and Dallas have a gift for banter that doesn’t get used enough.

Despite the changes to the story, the important moments still happened—sometimes with fun little twists. There was still the “You’re a girl?” “Woman.” exchange, we still got the threatening first “I will find you,” and they still saved each other. But I think Snow ended up looking even more like a badass bandit than before, if that was possible. The ruse she used on the trolls was impressive, and it was so nice to see Bandit Snow back in all her glory. That’s my favorite incarnation of this character, and I loved seeing Goodwin get to have some fun with her again, too.

This adventure also allowed for the return of two of my favorite Once Upon a Time ladies: Princess Abigail and Red. It was nice to see both of them in the present and the past, too. I definitely cheered when Red became the wolf to help them into the castle. It reminded me how much I’ve missed her (and how much I hope to see her again next season).

While the characters from the past were fun to see in their natural habitats, this trip was about Emma interacting with that past. I’m so happy the writers didn’t overlook the potential for comedy in this plot. Whether she was trying to adjust her corset, seeing the Dark One for the first time, naming herself Princess Leia (I freaked out!), or trying to explain Marty McFly to Hook, Emma was at her fish-out-of-water best in this episode. And I’m not sure it gets more fun than the “Two Hooks, One Emma” scene. Morrison seemed to be having so much fun letting Emma’s flirtatious side come out to play, and it certainly showed. Morrison and Colin O’Donoghue were perfect in the moment when Emma starts loosening her corset. I’ve always believed that Emma likes the power Hook gives her in their relationship, and this was a whole new level of power over a very different Hook. Even in another time, he still would have fallen for her charms, and that added a lovely bit of romance to what was essentially a comedic interlude. Also, present Hook punching his past self was as much about catharsis as it was about comedy. Hook isn’t that person anymore; he doesn’t like who that person represents, and he doesn’t like that person getting close to Emma because Emma was the one who helped him move on from that part of himself.

Past Hook saw Emma as a nameless conquest, a ship passing in the night. Present Hook sees her as Emma, a lost girl who just needs to know she’s not alone. I loved that he was her partner throughout this journey. She may have been able to rescue herself, but Hook’s presence helped her see that she doesn’t have to do everything alone. He complimented her when she felt uncomfortable in her dresses. He was her first dance at her first ball, and he helped her see herself as the princess she really is. He held her when she thought he mother was dying, a huge moment for their relationship because it was Emma allowing herself to be completely vulnerable with someone, knowing he would be there to hold her up. He confided in her about his brother to help her mourn her mother’s death. And he wiped her tears when Snow was found alive, which may have been my favorite little moment in the whole episode because it was so intimate and open for both of them.

But the most important thing about Hook in this episode is that he chose to go into the portal after her. Emma is a woman who is used to being left behind. But Hook won’t ever leave her to fend for herself. As he told Charming in one of the episode’s greatest scenes, he’d follow her to the end of the world—or time. O’Donoghue’s inherent sincerity worked its magic yet again in that moment. It was a line romantic enough to rival anything Charming has ever said, especially considering Emma’s history of abandonment.

Although it was clear that Emma and Hook’s adventure in the Enchanted Forest opened her heart to him (I mean just look at all her smiles!), I loved that Emma’s decision to call Storybooke home came from her love for her parents, especially her mother. She got to watch her parents fall in love, and (like all of us watching Dallas and Goodwin on a weekly basis), she was moved to tears by their love story. She finally saw them as real people who worked for their love; she could relate to them, and she wanted to relate to them. But the real catalyst was her mother. Morrison was heartbreaking in the scene where she hugged Snow, only to realize she didn’t mean anything to her. It was Emma’s epiphany moment, realizing that she always kept her mother at a distance instead of holding her close when she could.

Emma and Snow’s relationship used to be one of the most beautiful things about the show, but that got lost somewhere along the way. So imagine my delight when Emma realized her home was with her mother because she wasn’t an orphan anymore; she was a girl who has a mother and misses her terribly. Snow (as Mary Margaret) was the first person to offer Emma a real home in Storyrbooke (in “Snow Falls,” coincidentally), so I loved that it was her mother that Emma associated with home more than anyone else. Parental love is such a strong force on this show, and I was pleasantly surprised to see it be the driving force in this episode’s climax, with Emma realizing that, like Dorothy, she always had the power to get home. She just needed someone to remind her of her power (Hook) and a reason to want to go home that was driven by pure love (her light magic’s power source). It’s still making me cry that the reason was her mother because it was such an earned moment of realization for this character and this show.

When Emma returned home and reunited with her parents, that’s when the tears really started for me. To see her call them “Mom and Dad” when they’re not in peril was a huge moment of growth—from orphan to beloved and loving daughter. Morrison played Emma’s joy and relief so beautifully, but what actually got to me the most in that scene was Goodwin’s reaction when Emma called Snow “Mom.” It was a look that subtly but powerfully changed from Is this really happening? to This is really happening, and it was stunning.

The whole episode in terms of Emma’s character growth revolved around Neal’s quote about home being something you miss when it’s gone. And I loved that Morrison allowed you to see the exact second it clicked for Emma that she missed Hook’s presence beside her. She found home with her parents, but a part of that sense of home was missing without Hook.

I was so happy that Emma came to that decision to seek out Hook all on her own. Morrison played Emma’s interactions with him in that final scene perfectly; her walls were finally down because she chose him. It was there in the soft way they teased each other about Hook remembering the barmaid and in the way Emma didn’t pull away when he said he’d have gone after her. It was there in the affectionate way she called him a hero. And it was there in the gentle way she thanked him (using his real name) for bringing her back when just an episode ago she was blaming him for it.

With her walls finally down, Hook was able to let his last walls down and tell her what he gave up to get back to her. I was thrilled that they chose to have Hook tell Emma what he did to get back to her because we got to see her reaction. And what a reaction it was. Morrison showed with one look a lifetime’s worth of feeling unwanted fading away because Hook just told her he gave up his home to bring her back to hers.

So Emma chose to kiss him, but this wasn’t anything like their first kiss. It was better. I liked that it was slow and soft because it showed a different kind of chemistry between Morrison and O’Donoghue that was even more potent. Morrison was able to show how much Emma was allowing herself to feel loved in that moment. Her smile when they pulled away was a thing of beauty because it was so unguarded. And then he followed her smile with his own, which was beautiful in its symbolism—always letting her take the lead. As someone who always wanted Emma to find happiness and love, those little smiles meant the world to me as a fan. And then she met him halfway for another kiss, proving that this time it’s not a one-time thing.

The ending with Elsa was fun because it was unexpected (I thought it would take a couple more seasons to get to Frozen), but that’s not what I’ll be remembering for the whole hiatus. Instead, I’ll be thinking about one lost girl’s journey home. When Once Upon a Time focuses on Emma Swan, it hardly ever misses the mark. This episode was just another reminder of that.

Questions to Discuss All Summer How is Elsa going to factor into this world? Who’s your dream cast for next season? How will Regina deal with this heartbreak? What will Robin do now that Marian is back?

Finale Grade A – . I’m a sucker for a good fairytale, and that’s exactly what this finale was. It was a showcase for my favorite character and a new look at one of my favorite episodes in this show’s history. I’m hopeful that my doubts about the way some things were set up will be solved by the start of next season, and more than ever I’m looking forward to what comes next, especially for Emma.

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64 thoughts on “Grading the Season Finales 2014: Once Upon a Time

  1. I don’t really know what else to add, you got pretty much everything! The finale was really good.

    There were so many good moments; the scenes where Emma was flirting with past Hook were a favorite of mine. I loved how willing she was to flirt with him, and his reactions to her were priceless.

    Another scene I loved was that moment where Emma finally realized she had a home. It was so nice to finally have her be happy, to know that she wasn’t going to be alone anymore, and that she had people she loved that loved her back. At first I thought they were going to name the baby Charles, but as their speech went on I knew it was going to be Neal. It was a sweet gesture.

    There were two things that didn’t really sit well with me though, one of which was Rumple’s behavior in regards to Zelena’s death. Because of that I couldn’t fully enjoy their wedding, sweet as it was. It would have been so much more romantic if only he hadn’t killed Zelena the way he had. I feel bad for Belle, what is she going to do when she finds out?

    Another thing I didn’t like about the episode was Marian. Everything was finally going so well for Regina, and now they’re back to making her suffer. She didn’t wish death on the entire town, so maybe that’s a good sign that things will somehow work out. There has to be a reason why they decided to bring Marian back, and I hope it wasn’t just to create unnecessary drama.

    Elsa was a really nice surprised, I’m looking forward to how they decide to do her story. It’s going to be a long hiatus!

    • Thank you so much for the comment! I agree—this was a great finale.

      Your thoughts on Rumple and Belle’s wedding mirror my own. I wanted to find it romantic and intimate and sweet. But all I kept thinking about was the fact that he wasn’t showing any remorse or regret about lying to her about something so important. The fact that this episode featured him magically covering his tracks right in front of her didn’t help matters. However, I am kind of looking forward to Belle finding out because I think both characters would benefit from a scene where all their cards are laid on the table.

      • I think it was telling that the creators agree with you because they got married alone. No one in Storybrooke was there. To me that told the tale that their is a comeuppance coming next season for the Dark One.

  2. As usual, your thoughts are my thoughts. I honestly came close to crying a few times this episode. I’ve been hard on this show for Emma taking a bit of a backseat and I’ve desperately wanted Emma to actually have a chance to work through her feelings on things, and this is what that episode was. I’ve wanted an episode like this for forever, and the second we had teenage Emma looking lost and alone as a young child got adopted, I knew we were in for a big treat, at least wrt Emma. They really deliver on that front. After 60+ episodes, she finally found her home.

    I loved that the catalyst for her realizing where home is was Snow, her mother. Their relationship really has taken a bit of a backseat – I hope just because Ginny is pregnant – and there has been a lot of emphasis on Emma and Charming. I was starting to feel like maybe they weren’t ever really going to touch on Emma/Snow again, and it would mostly be about Charming and his feelings re: his daughter. But instead, we got the very first person who reached out to give Emma a home – MM, even when she didn’t remember her – really driving home for Emma that if she leaves, she’s going to have a hole in her heart because of who she’s leaving behind. She thought she could just go to New York and it wouldn’t be a big deal, but when confronted with the reality of losing her mother again (which came through in this past version of Snow not caring about her), she couldn’t do it. She finally decided that family is worth the risk of pain that might come if you lose them. I’m so, so proud of her. She has a home, she’s always had one, she just has to be brave enough to reach out and take it. And I can’t put into words how awesome it was that that her accepting that was also the catalyst for her magic coming back. It coming back in the moment she talked about her parents when Emma’s magic comes from the fact that’s she’s a PRODUCT of the true love she spent the episode restoring gave me all kinds of feelings. AND ON MOTHER’S DAY AS WELL. (This is also partly why I love that she mentioned Henry as being the one to bring her home – because Emma is a mother herself, and her son was just as instrumental to her finding her own home as her parents were).

    I am so excited for some Charming family bonding scenes next season. I want to see Emma with her parents now that she really HAS accepted that they are her parents. I want to see Snow’s face when she realizes that her daughter wants her to act like a mom, and Charming’s when he realizes that she doesn’t blame him for the things he blames himself for. I want Emma to spend some time with her baby brother, and work through whatever feelings she might have about him. I just really want them to be a FAMILY. And I wouldn’t say no to Henry being there, either. He’s already calling them grandma and grandpa after all.

    I loved Hook and Emma these episodes, as well. You touched on them but we really saw so many of the things I love about their relationship this episode. Personally, this pairing has always worked for two reasons. The first is because they really have the capacity to bring out the best in each other; I’m not talking about just being better, braver people but these two have been through so much pain and hurt and they can make each other LAUGH, play, have FUN. Emma acts almost like the kid she was when she first discovered love, and it’s like 300 years of suffering lift off Hook’s shoulders when he’s teasing her or she’s making him laugh. How many times has he made her smile and laugh and even PREEN with pride since she met him? And have we ever seen Hook laugh and smile the way he did when he said Emma had some pirate in her? It makes me so happy to see, because they aren’t like that with anyone else.

    The other thing that makes it work for me is that when they need to, they can sit down and have these serious, soul-searching conversations. Hook is always there for her when she really needs him to be, and for someone who has felt alone and who had serious doubts about themself, that’s just what Emma needed right now. Every step of the way, he was there, whether she needed someone to reassure her that she looked pretty or hold her when she cried. I think she needed someone like that at her back while she went through these tough self-realizations, and he proved this episode that he really will follow her anywhere – even if he has no idea where they’re going. It’s like he gives her the foundation she needs so that she can not only find her own feet and discover who she is but she can also explore all the things she CAN be, because she has something solid to fall back on. The ground isn’t constantly shifting under her feet when he’s around.

    Their kiss outside worked for me, too. I like that it happened in a quiet moment, and I like that this was the moment it came out that he had given the Jolly up for her. We all know how important that ship is to Hook – that’s his home, where he lived for 300 years, that’s his connection to his brother and his lost love, and that’s also literally his way of life. Giving up that ship to get to her wasn’t just him losing a ship, it was also him closing the door on the pirate he used to be. He can’t go back – he already figured out that he couldn’t with the Ariel situation, but it’s literal now. He traded his home for the chance to make one with Emma, if she wanted. And I’m glad that Emma didn’t find that out until she, herself, understood just what it means to have a home and lose it. It made her realization that he gave that up for her much more poignant. I absolutely loved their kiss – we’ve seen them share passionate kisses that show off the chemisty, but this one was loving and gentle and when they pulled back to just look at each other for a second before kissing again, I was totally sold. I don’t imagine things will go super smoothly for them but this was a great finale moment for me personally.

    Unfortunately, your qualms are mine as well. I am very, very worried about what we’ll see with Regina next season, because the recent interview I read definitely says to me that they are going with the love triangle angle and will have Robin struggling with his feelings for both Marian and Regina. Regina experienced so much growth, and went through a lot of pain to there; I do NOT want to see it all erased in the heat of the moment. I never expected for Regina to be a perfect angel, but if she is going to start taking steps down a dark path again, I don’t want it to be for this reason. I don’t want her blaming Emma like she blamed Snow, or losing burying herself in negative feelings because it’s easier than dealing with pain. She’s already learned her lesson, I don’t want her to have to relearn it. And I don’t wanna Emma and Regina fighting again, and I’m sure Henry doesn’t either. I’m hoping the fact that Marian is alive is a good thing; if Robin had instead found out that Regina is actually responsible for Marian’s murder? That would have been the end of Outlaw Queen, I think. I suspect the show is now going to parallell David, Mary Margaret and Kathryn in S1. It’s not quite so simple though because Robin was in love with Marian when he lost her; David never loved Abigail. Regina’s story is always going to be one of pain, it seems; I want the writers to make it worth it, because Regina really has suffered enough.

    My heart broke for Regina, though. Just when she thinks everything is going right for her, the carpet is pulled out from under her. It happened the same way with Daniel – she thought she was home free, and then her mother showed up. And I bet this was the first time she’d spent time in Storybrooke with little Roland. Everything was coming together, and then BAM. I just. I want for her to have a happy life, and it looks like there’s still a long road to trek, and it’s going to be so painful. Whether or not you liked Robin Hood with her, I don’t think anyone wanted her to get her heart shattered like that again. How many times can you be expected to endure that, really?

    Getting to see the Dark One back in fine form was fun. If I had to choose between Rumples, I’m ashamed to say I do enjoy the evil one better. He’s just so much fun! But of course there were the heartbreaking moments – him constantly asking about Bae, Emma revealing that Rumple finds him but that he dies and her begging him to let Neal have his heroic death. All unexpected moments that made me wibble a bit. Rumple has done so many truly awful things, but it’s still hard to see his love for his son and not feel something for him. But I’m with you on their wedding ringing a bit hollow because you know that a lot of it is based on a lie and you know Belle is going to find out one day.

    Getting back to positives – Snowing was Snowing – by which I mean, made for each other no matter how much people almost screw it up. David even has his same scar! No matter what happens, they always find each other. There is something great about going back and seeing the foundation of this show, of being reminded that even the couple we think of as the embodiment of true love didn’t have it easy, and of the fact that they fought for each other and are still fighting for each other. And the fact that Emma got to see them falling in love was so great – she missed out on so much by getting sent away, but she got to see that in person (and even help it happen!), and that’s something. I almost cried when Emma did. An their faces when Emma called them mom and dad was great. I was pinning my money on Daniel for being the baby name, but I am not really surprised that it was Neal. I think that’s a good legacy for a character to leave, if you have to leave one – die saving everyone and have a little prince named after you.

    Closing note – Belle and Rumple’s vows being said while the show panned to the other couples was touching for me:

    “I’ve not spent my life losing you. I’ve spent my life finding you.” – Snow and Charming both spent their lives wishing for true love and found it in each other, and then they had to keep finding each other again when it seemed like the whole world was determined to part them. But they made it, and they’re together, and are finally getting to raise a child like they’ve wanted.

    “Love only brought me pain. My walls were up. But you broke them down.” – Both Emma and Hook were so hurt and scared by loves they lost in the past that they decided love was too risky and only brought pain and they had to be convinced that love was worth risking that pain for. But they got there in the end.

    “You brought light into my life and chased away all the darkness. And I promise I’ll never forget the distance between what I was and what I am.” – Regina lived so much of her life in darkness, and I imagine Robin did too, at least after his wife died, especially since he blamed himself for it. And the second part especially applies to Regina, who is going to have to remember that who she was is someone she doesn’t ever want to be again, even in the midst of the pain of possibly losing Robin.

    I really can’t wait for next season (especially if Elsa is coming along!) I wish I had gotten to your recaps earlier, but here’s to another season of them in a few months 🙂 And oh boy did I ramble here again.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your articulate comments with us, and I’m so happy you found my recaps because your thoughts are always such a joy to read! 😀

      I have very little to add to this great analysis because you wrote it all so well, and I agree with so much of it. Like you, I’m excited to see more interactions between Emma and her parents (and new baby brother) next season. I’m hopeful that the ending of this episode opened the door for a renewed sense of commitment to deepening the relationships within the “Charming Family,” especially Emma and Snow’s relationship.

      Your two major points about Hook and Emma’s relationship are so true. They bring out a light in each other that is truly beautiful. The way they smiled at each other—so unguarded and genuine—in this episode warmed my heart. And I love that their sense of fun is balanced with an ability to have real, honest conversations. They reach each other on a level no one else can, and that mixture of happiness and depth comes from an ability to be truly open with one another in a way that’s inspiring to watch.

      I also have to say I just loved your analysis of the vows with each of the pairings they accompanied. Each line perfectly captured the couple it showed, and it’s nice to know that driving forces and main writers of the show still have such a strong grasp on what the heart of each of these relationships really is.

  3. arrrggggghhhh! It was so good. Oh my god, the whole thing was just so amazing and wonderful, I don’t think I stopped smiling for almost 2 hours. I loved Emma in the Enchanted Forest, getting to know where she came from, adventuring with Hook, saving herself (with Hook there for support, but not needing to rescue her, because she can take care of herself). He was in his element and I loved that. This was a stellar episode for Killian Jones. He even got to rekindle (pre-kindle?) the great bromance with Charming!

    btw I could probably go on for pages and pages about how amazing everything was, but I wanted to comment on your question about Marian’s death. I was thinking about it this morning after someone commented on tumblr that it was a good thing Regina didn’t kill her in the past – that would have been a poison to her and Robin’s relationship if he found out that she was the cause of Marian’s death. Which made me think, and realize that Robin must not know that Regina had her locked up. And then I remembered in the cell Marian told Emma that her family believed she was already dead. So whatever Robin thinks happened to her, she must have survived that, but was captured by the Queen later. I imagine we will find out more details. And presumably Regina didn’t realize she had murdered her soul mate’s first wife in the original timeline – she wouldn’t have known who she was. It broke my heart when I realized who the girl was going to be, but of course there must be conflict, and I was glad Regina didn’t go straight into “I will destroy your happiness” mode with Emma. Even more so than Snow’s parallel mistake, there was no way Emma could have known what she was doing, and so the idea that she wasn’t thinking of the consequences was a bit unfair. I will be very interested to see what Regina does with these feelings, and what Robin does too. He is really caught between 2 loves.

    I had just the tiniest quibbles with this episode, both filming-related rather than plot-related. The first was just that when they used the original footage of Snow giving back the ring, she had the jewelry pouch, but in the do-over she only took the ring. Not a big deal, but it jarred for a second. The other bit was that after finding out that Hook traded his ship to get back to Emma (which it sounded like he have been planning regardless of Neal’s message to him, which just makes it even better that he came to find her)… anyway, Hook says “aye” and then just before Emma leans in to kiss him they switched to the wide shot – I wish they hadn’t! Everything in me was pulled back for a second when all I really wanted was to follow that moment forward into the kiss… for serious, non-pervy reasons – the bit when the camera pans back and they’re getting really into it, now that I wanted close up for pervy reasons! but the moment that she makes that choice to lean in, for a moment I thought they were going to cut to another scene or something. It jarred. Was that just me? I wanted to follow her eyes as she made that realization and went for it.

    Anyway, that’s all the criticism you’re going to hear from me. They did an amazing job filming around Ginny’s considerable baby bump. (If her face wasn’t rounder, you would never have known that she was still VERY pregnant in some of those scenes. I suspected a stand in for many of the long shots, but it was never obvious). They packed a mountain of amazingness into 2 hours. Emma was everything I ever wanted, and got everything I ever wanted for her. The adventure with Killian was a perfect way to bring her to this point and it was amazingly fun to watch. My favorite little moment was when he held her when she thought Snow was being killed. You can tell his heart is breaking for her and he just wants to protect her and comfort her and never let her go. The Hook/Emma/Hook scenes were hilarious. Hook had SO MANY awesome lines and moments in this episode. It was more than I could have hoped for.

    SO many feelings. It was really wonderful. I’m glad that it ended on such a high note (you know, except for Regina, and to some extent Belle). For all that there are a million things to wait for, I’m feeling very wish-fulfilled right now. Have you seen the posters with Elsa and Anna? I saw them trending on facebook last night. Should be fun. One of the very few current Disney movies I have actually seen. But that’s all just icing on the cake. The emotional stuff is what I really enjoyed.

    Great review as always. And so fast! 😀

    • I thought that wide shot of Hook right before Emma kissed him was a bit jarring too. It took away from the moment a bit. If the camera had been on her for a just a few more seconds that would have been better. But it was still a great scene.

    • I think the point of the wide shot was to have the ‘Storybrooke’ sign in the background at that exact moment. As Katie so perfectly said, “She found home with her parents, but a part of that sense of home was missing without Hook”. Her out on that patio embracing her feelings for Hook was the final piece that truly made Emma feel at home, and having the ‘Storybooke’ sign in the back ground was a visual representation of that. I feel like that image is gorgeous, but I also agree that I would have loved to have seen a more intimate version of that moment as well. But then we get that beautiful voice over and that smile and I am totally ok.

      • Oh, I didn’t notice the Storybrooke sign! (although now you point it out, I can visualize it). That at least makes sense. I couldn’t see the point of the wide shot except to deny us what we’d been waiting for. But yes. They are home. Clever ladies for picking up on that. (Maybe I need to watch it again, you know, for research).

        I still would have liked to have that come a moment later – I think at that moment almost every straight woman watching WAS Emma, realizing what he had given up for her, and leaning in to kiss him. But yeah, I’m really not complaining because it was amazing and magical and delightful and everything. And there will be more. So much more. Agh, I’m giving myself an attack of feelings, imagining them snuggling up on the couch, maybe Killian finally finds some jeans and a tshirt. And they still need to watch Peter Pan together!

    • Thank you so much for the kind words and the awesome comment!

      I agree about the wonderful Killian Jones being in his element. It was fun to see him navigate a world that he was clearly comfortable in because it helped Emma find a comfort zone there, too. And, like you said, I loved the fact that we got to see her save herself, but she knew she could still lean on Hook for support when she needed him.

      I definitely understand your criticism of the camera work as Emma and Hook’s kiss began. Part of me would have loved to see their reactions in a close-up shot, but I think I agree with Shauna’s comment below about them wanting to get the “Storybrooke” sign in there. It was a visual way to connect Hook with Emma’s search for home, and it was a way to visually show viewers that Hook’s home is also in Storybrooke now because he gave up the Jolly Roger to be where Emma is. And I can’t complain too much since the close-ups we got after they pulled back and smiled were gorgeous. 😉

  4. In addition to being a fantastic episode for Emma’s development, it was also really fun to watch. There was so much humor in the episode although it was probably seeing Emma smile and enjoy herself that made me the most happy.

    Even though I knew it had to come, I was still heartbroken over Regina’s face when Robin recognized Marian. I just want her to be happy. Though I am interested to see how that plays into her arc next season. I do agree with you, I’m very confused about what Robin thinks happened to Marian and how he could have been in any way responsible without knowing it was Regina who was planning to kill her.

    Once again, Robert Carlyle demonstrated why he is an incredible actor. I love to watch sparkly Rumble and his evil giggle because it’s so entertaining but then he pulls off such emotional moments as a dad who just wants to correct the mistake he made with his son and I’m just left amazed.

    If there is anything the 2013-14 TV season has taught me about the themes and characters I love, it is that I can never have enough of them choosing to be happy or the looks on their faces where someone feels something for them that they never expected to receive. Between Emma, Beckett, and Brienne, I’m a very happy fan right now.

    I think one of my favorite Emma moments in this episode was the look on her face when she saw Charming for the first time in the Enchanted Forest. Her realization that she was about to see her parents meet for the first time and the smile that resulted was so full of an innocence and wonder that’s not usually associated with Emma. She got to feel and experience the magic and excitement of her parent’s love story firsthand (even if it didn’t work out the way it originally did in the next scene) and I think that helped her open her heart even more.

    Another favorite moment was Hook talking to Charming about Leia/Emma by the fire. I’m more than a little in love with all of Colin’s facial expressions from the flirty to the “I’m so head over heels in love for this woman” so this was a very enjoyable episode for me in that regard but the look on his face in this moment in particular was my favorite. He’s so honest even though it hurts a little to admit that he loves Emma so much and isn’t positive she returns his feelings as strongly. I like that he knew the significance of who he was admitting all this to, even if Charming didn’t.

    For as wonderful as these episodes were, the best scenes for me had to be Emma realizing that home was in Storybrooke with her parents and her love and feeling of belonging opening the portal. She’s not an orphan any more. She has parents who love her and who she is finally willing to admit how much she loves them too and doesn’t want to be separated from them any longer. Combined with the Charming family hug in the diner and her subsequent conversation with Hook, I could not have asked for a more satisfying place to leave Emma for the season. She’s home and she’s ready to love and be loved.

    • I totally agree (shocking, I know) that this episode struck a great balance between real, lasting, important character development and genuine fun.

      Your paragraph about the amazing things that happened for our favorite female characters this season is currently making me very emotional. There were just so many great arcs for female characters on the shows I watch this season, and Emma (and Regina) are certainly no exception.

      I’m so happy you mentioned the scene where Emma sees Charming for the first time because I completely forgot to mention how I much I adored it. It was such an innocent, unguarded reaction from Emma, and it brought me such joy.

      I’m also glad you mentioned the fact that Hook and Charming’s fireside conversation was played with this wonderful undercurrent of Hook knowing exactly who he was talking to about his love for Emma. It added this lovely depth to an already emotional moment.

      “I could not have asked for a more satisfying place to leave Emma for the season. She’s home and she’s ready to love and be loved.” – I may or may not be getting teary-eyed again. 😉

  5. I LOVED this episode – as you know Emma is my favorite character and I couldn’t be happier that her story was the focus for this 2hrs finale. I thought Jennifer Morrison played Emma to perfection – I loved all her reactions in the Enchanted Forest from when she first saw Rumplestilskin in all his gold glory, to her joy in seeing her parents fall in love after the Troll Bridge. I too thought it was wonderful that it was Emma’s love for her parents that made her realize that Storybrooke was home, and I loved that when Emma returned the very first thing she wanted to do was go and see her parents – and the scene in Grannys when she finally called Snow and Charming Mom and Dad was just brilliant! I know I’m gushing but this episode really exceeded my expectations! I also loved the scenes with Hook where he finally told her about how he got to her in New York – again the both actors brought their A game and I loved their kiss. I can’t wait to see how their relationship will continue to develop in Season 4.

    I really thought Belle would find out that Rumple had broken his promise to her and killed Zelena in this episode but it looks like they are leaving this angst for next season. I admit I’m not the biggest Rumbelle fan but I really don’t know how this relationship can end happily… I loved when Rumple sacrificed himself in order to save everyone in the mid season finale and part of me wishes they’d left him dead especially if they are going to turn him dark again – it feels like they’ve already told this story. Maybe I’m being too harsh on the writers but I’ll reserve judgement until I see next season.

    As for Regina I suspected her relationship with Robin was going along too smoothly so I wasn’t too surprised when Marion showed up – it will be interesting to see how Regina reacts and also I want to know how Robin thought Marion died originally – he definitely doesn’t think Regina had anything to do with it.

    Overall I really enjoyed Season 3 – I thought Season 2 was very strong up til the Miller’s Daughter and after that it went downhill, but I think Season 3 has been consistently strong the whole way through. Now I need to watch Frozen before Season 4 starts!

    • If you haven’t watched Frozen yet, you totally should! I highly recommend it—especially as a fan of Once Upon a Time. The way it deals with true love and strong female characters always reminded me of this show.

      I agree that Season 3 was a really strong recovery from the mess that was the second half of Season 2. And this episode—with its focus on Emma—was such a perfect way to end a strong season. I love hearing fellow fans gush about great episodes, so your first paragraph brought a huge smile to my face!

  6. You did a great analysis. I too cant think of anything to add. I enjoyed the finale, except for the Outlaw Queen moments because from the moment they told each other about their past in the beginning, I knew they’d get ripped apart at the end. But I’m TRYING to look past that. This could be an excellent storytelling opportunity for them. Regina and Robin did move very quickly so now they will have that angst. The showrunners insist Regina is not the same person she was in S1, and that Robin was unaware that Regina “supposedly” had a hand in Marian’s fate. (They use that word). Personally I get how they can’t help but write Regina struggling with moving past this (and probably being resigned to it, especially should it come out that Regina had her down for execution). And from a Regina fan perspective, how I long to see someone actually CHOOSE Regina over what seems to be a better alternative. (I think Robin is not the same man as he was and will find he and Marian are no longer suited, unless they make her a Mary Sue).

    But then I get irritated because Regina has enough baggage that we didn’t need this to come up, she has enough demons and sins in her past that bringing Robin’s former love and Roland’s mother back from the dead is unnecessary and especially cruel. I am sure Lana will knock this out of the park when the time comes. And as long as this is a one sided triangle, I can probably enjoy it but I don’t think I can take much of Robin and Marian moments.

    The only other couple that has significant issues is Rumple and Belle. I don’t know if the fact Rumple killed Zelena will come out anytime soon. Everyone seemed accepting that Zelena took her own life. I find that is very naive of them. The fact that Belle has a fake dagger should come up on it’s own the second Rumple gets angry at someone else (which shouldn’t be long).

    • Thank you so much for the kind words and the thoughtful comment!

      I agree that this Marian story has the potential to open up some interesting avenues for exploring Regina’s character, but I also agree that she has enough emotional baggage to deal with that we didn’t need to throw in a rival for Robin’s affections. Like you, I think Robin and Regina will ultimately be together, but it’s not going to be fun to watch them struggle to get there. And as someone who grew up loving Robin Hood and Maid Marian’s story, I’m not so sure I like the idea of this classic love story being reduced to points in a triangle. But I’ll reserve judgment until I see how this all plays out next season.

      • I absolutely loved the Finale but,
        There is one thing I don’t understand about the whole Marion story line. If Emma and Hook traveled back in time to the point where here parents met (approx 30 years ago), why is Marion’s child only six. She supposedly had the child before she was locked up, which would make him the roughly the same age as Emma wouldn’t it?

        • Thanks for bringing up a great question, Steven! I think (I’m not sure if it’s been confirmed or not) that Robin and Roland were under Cora’s protective dome when the curse hit, which kept them in the Enchanted Forest while essentially freezing time for them, too, until Emma broke the curse in Storybrooke. Because of that, Roland (and Robin) stayed the age he was when the curse was cast.

  7. Oh my gosh, this finale was amazing. I agree with pretty much everything you said. While there were a few things that caused a bit of worry at the end, for the most part this episode was incredibly satisfying. There were so many emotional payoffs, and they had all been completely earned. I loved how they still managed to balance that with enough comedy to make the episode fun and not just emotionally heavy the whole way through.

    This was such a great resolution to Emma’s character arc this season. I honestly couldn’t be happier with the way it played out. The entire scene in Rumple’s vault was just incredible, both the Emma/Hook and Emma/Rumple interactions were absolutely perfect. I also loved the subtleties in Emma getting her magic back. While it was absolutely motivated by her love for her family and her parents, she still couldn’t quite get all the way there by herself – she needed Hook to press the issue and get her to finally open up about it. He helped her get her magic back, very literally bringing out the best in her.

    Overall, I’m pretty happy about the whole thing. Even the Regina issue I have faith will be resolved adequately. Honestly, given how well they handled her redemption arc, I think it’s going to be okay. I really hope that they use this opportunity to have her develop closer bonds with the rest of the main cast. Even though they all accept and trust her now, she’s still not exactly close with them. She’s going to need friends to help her get through her relationship problems, and I hope the rest of them step up to the plate. I would especially love it if she and Snow actually got onto good terms and started to really care about one another.

    I’m not quite as confident about the Frozen twist, but, here’s hoping! I’m willing to wait and see before I pass judgement.

    • Thank you for the comment!

      I love that this season has made us all trust the writers enough to wait and see how this Frozen thing turns out. 🙂

      Your analysis of that scene in Rumple’s vault was beautiful. I especially loved this line: “He helped her get her magic back, very literally bringing out the best in her.” It’s so true. Emma had that magic in her all along, but she needed someone to help her work through her issues, and Hook was there for her every step of the way in this episode.

      I also agree with your faith in the writers handling Regina’s arc well next season because they handled it so well this season. I’m hopeful that they will put the same thought and care into her development in Season Four as they did in this half of Season Three.

  8. “because Hook just told her he gave up his home to bring her back to hers.” My favorite part of the review or any review for the S3 Finale about Emma and Hook’s relationship. I can’t believe people consider this an abusive relationship, the guy basically gave up everything he had for Emma to find her home.

    • Thank you so much! I can understand people not liking Hook’s character or not particularly liking his relationship with Emma, but I cannot understand why people still want to classify it as abuse and him as abusive. It’s one thing to dislike a character; it’s another to throw loaded words like that around when the show seems to be telling a completely different story.

  9. OK, how does the Marion and Robin timeline even work? Roland was born 2 years before the curse… if Marion died around the same time, then how can this work in the current storyline? Roland should be at least 30 (having not been cursed, under the original curse) and Robin should be like 30 years older. I am so very confused!!

    • I think Robin and Roland were under Cora’s dome when the curse was cast, which also froze time for inhabitants of the Enchanted Forest for the 28 years that the Dark Curse lasted. Or at least that’s my theory. I am somewhat confused about the timeline of Marion’s death and the Dark Curse, though. If Roland was old enough to remember her when he saw her again in Storybrooke, then how much time passed between Snow Falls (and the events surrounding Marion’s death) and the casting of the Dark Curse? It just seems like there wasn’t enough time for all of the things that happened between those two events to occur.

  10. OK so while I thoroughly enjoyed this 2 hour finale it could all be summed up for me in the time from the hour 30 minute mark to the 1:45 mark. Everything that has meaning to me in this show could be defined in those two exchanges. No matter how much I enjoyed the Back to the Future/Christmas Carol adventure premise, the conclusions it draws us to for Emma far outweighed the trope traps.

    Regina

    I don’t disagree with you about what didn’t work. The rapid nature of Regina’s opening her heart to love only to have it take out from under her was disheartening to me. It felt excessive and unnecessary. Until I had read TV Line’s interview with the creators I too was worried about retread after all the forward momentum they had created for Regina in the back half of this season. But with what appears to be a commitment to the lessons learned I am willing to believe that this will simply open up a conflict in a new way next season. Robin Hood/Marion back story is a bit of mystery that I am hopeful will be explored next year as well. My biggest quibble was the continuity problems caused by the shift change. I get why Charming/Snow don’t remember Emma in the changed past (because she was disguised) but I don’t quite understand why the change didn’t impact the Evil Queen’s memories of Marion’s escape – short of the fact that she never knew her name and therefore Robin Hood would not know of her impending death at the hands of the queen. Also, at the beginning of the show they are implicitly vague about the circumstances around which Robin Hood believed Marion had died. So I am leaving that as items for next season’s fodder.

    You wrote “I didn’t want Regina to blame Emma, but it was all too much for her—this idea that both Emma and her mother broke her heart by acting without thinking of consequences. It was such a painfully beautiful parallel, and it made me want to cry for this woman who was finally able to love Robin with her whole heart—only to have it broken the same day.” I think this action poses an interesting question – does acting in the desire for good trump the consequences of fate? Regina walked away from Robin in fear, but found her way back to him. Will this act of Emma’s intervene with that fate? Regina knows from her attempt to bring Daniel back that the pain that life may cause doesn’t mean you can rewrite the past. It’s why the curse failed. It’s why even without their memories David and Mary Margaret found their way to each other. Regina implicitly understands the consequences of action – whether it is the fact that all magic comes at a price or that intervening in fate generally has serious consequences. It bothered me that Emma did so in spite of the fact that Hook repeatedly warned her about changing the trajectory of things happening in the EF, Rumple warned her about fixing the change she had caused. AND she knows about the history of her mother and Regina. So I hope that there are consequences for changing that history that impact Emma as well as testing Regina’s growth. That she and her mother were not ill-intended doesn’t mean they aren’t responsible for their actions. Snow understood that and took ownership of the decision she made when telling Cora about Daniel. Emma obviously didn’t learn that lesson – I hope next season gives us a storyline that allows her to discover that reality and respect for magic.

    Rumpelstiltskin
    You wrote:
    “When Emma told him he gets back to his son and he said “Bae?” with such soft hope, I marveled at the subtle touches of humanity he brings even when he’s mostly having fun being as campy and theatrical as possible.” 100x this. I am so glad you pointed this moment in particular out because it really does show how spectacular Robert Carlyle’s performance is in this show. What struck me about the recurrence of memory erasing is that we have seen every parent on the show take it. Snow when she chose to erase the pain of potentially losing Charming. Regina to open her ability to love Henry without fear. Emma is equally given that clean slate to raise Henry when they break the curse and ultimately, Rumple takes it which for me was so deeply profound because he does so knowing that his reuniting with his son will be short lived. Instead of working to fix Bae’s fate, he embraces the truth and decides in that moment to chose love, to chose Bae. That whatever that future holds being brought back to his son and knowing that Bae loves him is enough. It speaks to the love Rumple has being more powerful than the dark one. That is why Neal’s sacrifice means so much. When he breaks free of the dark one to send the forgetting potion to save Emma, Henry and everyone he does so as an act of love and because after all the years of searching after he went through the portal Bae had found his home, he had found Emma, his son and his father. There was nothing more to do but to ensure Emma was able to find her way back to the family they had both been looking for when they came together as adults.

    Favorite Throwaways
    – Rumple putting Elsa in that tomb because it was the place “where he stores the magic to unpredictable” for even him to control.
    – Neal’s brief return. It offered a plot turn for the episode and a nice connective tissue for the idea that it was ultimately Neal who unlocked Emma’s path home – literally and figuratively.
    – Hook punching out his scoundrel self. The layers of hilarity and self realization were delicious.

    Finding your way home was the arching theme we have been building towards the entire back half of the season. From the close of the Neverland arc to Emma’s literal return to Storybrooke to Regina’s path to Henry’s returned memory we have watched characters find their ways back to their personal truth. It makes all the sense in the world that it was Emma’s journey on this final night. I enjoyed that it was about following through Snow’s footsteps. For all the reasons you stated about how they initially framed Snow and Emma’s relationship. But more importantly because she took this journey as a parent. She watched her parent’s story not just as the abandoned lost girl, but as the woman who is looking to protect and love her child in the safest way possible. We watched Regina early on miss Henry as he looked through her without emotion, to watch Emma live that same emotional fall was devastating. Because it wasn’t merely about the feeling of not having the recognition she’d come to expect, but embracing that it was her who had been the one denying the love that was right in front of her with open arms. Understanding the path and footsteps those we love have journeyed enables us forgive. In this case, what Emma found was the ability to forgive herself for the distance she had put between her and her parents, but Snow specifically. Because she saw what that distance looked like in the vacant reaction of her mother after saving her.

    For as great as Emma’s realization is with Hook to regain her powers nothing in this episode moved me more than the exchange with Rumple. Emma’s unique understanding of forgiveness and sacrifice is complete. She gets it. She gets how running away and trying to undo past wrongs is a recipe for disaster. Her pleas to Rumple are so visceral and pure they made me weep. Bae ran away from the Enchanted Forest trying to reclaim that feeling of home he had before Rumple became the Dark One. It is a lesson he carried and shared with Emma and that she was finally able to see through this journey back. It is a wisdom she gained through the rare moment of walking through someone elses footsteps.

    .

    • Once again, I am left with little else to add to such a lovely and articulate assessment of this episode. Thank you so much for adding so much to our OUAT discussions this season. 😀

      I’m so happy you linked me to that interview where Kitsis and Horowitz talked about Regina’s journey next season. It gave me hope for where this will take her character. And I agree with you about Emma. She does need to acknowledge that she acted without thinking of the consequences and, unlike Snow, she’s not a child. She knew that bringing Marian back would create a ripple effect. Although it was a noble thing to do (and Regina should also have to acknowledge the fact that she was the reason Marion was going to die), Emma needs to take ownership of the fact that she did exactly what she wasn’t supposed to do—and that her actions have huge consequences.

      I have little to add to your assessment of Emma’s journey not just as a daughter but as a parent except to say I loved it. It was beautiful to see Emma as a mother recognize the failings in her own relationship with her mother, and to understand her role in the way that relationship has struggled to develop.

      Finally, I cannot watch that last scene between Emma and Rumple without crying. It was such a raw moment, and I love that this show can give us such serious moments of real, human emotion in the middle of a fantastical, time-traveling journey.

  11. Your grade is spot on. It wasn’t a perfect finale, but it had such great moments that I have to forgive any minor shortcomings.

    My favorite part of the episode was definitely the scene where Emma and Killian had to distract past Hook. I had a fat smile plastered over my face the entire time. It was pure fun, but there was also so much wonderful character development here as well. I loved Killian’s protectiveness over Emma knowing his past self. I loved Emma’s confidence. I love how much fun Emma seemed to have with it. She got be flirty with the sexy pirate without all the baggage that comes with knowing how in love Killian is with her. I love how completely entranced past Hook is with Emma. Emma giggles. She even has a moment where she is really into that distraction kiss. There is just nothing about this scene that isn’t 100% perfect. The only thing I would have loved was a quip from Emma about liking the red vest, but in my head that happened off screen and you cant convince me otherwise.

    After this scene is where the episode slowed down a bit for me. The scene at the ball was fun, but it did start to feel like filler after awhile. Maybe there was just a bit too much retread of ‘Snow Falls’? But adding Hook to the scene with the net was a lot of fun. I still kinda giggle when Hook refers to Emma as “his princess”. I just wish they would have shown Hook’s face when Charming cut Snow down from the net, because you know he thought it was hilarious.

    I did love the extra scene with Neal. We only really got that one episode of seeing Emma’s past relationship with Neal, so I love that we got to see the moment that Emma had that first real connection with him. You could tell at that moment on the swing that Emma had clicked with someone, probably for the first time in her entire life. Its sad how the man who first taught Emma about home and love was also the same man that burned her so badly.

    And of course the scene with Hook and Charming in the forest. “How to win the heart of the woman you love and gain her father’s approval by traveling back in time” by Killian Jones. But in all seriousness, you have Killian convincing Charming not to give up on the hope of true love. Can we talk about how huge that is? Also, his confession that he doesn’t know if Emma feels as deeply for him makes the payoff in the end all the more rewarding.

    I love Emma breaking herself out of her cell and denying Hook of his dashing rescue. I also loved that Hook’s reaction is one of annoyance mixed with both pride and love.

    You touched on this, but I LOVE that it was Emma’s relationship with Snow that made her realize where her home was. While re-watching ‘Snow Falls’ the thing that stayed with me was that this was the episode where Emma made the decision she didn’t want to be alone anymore. “Not having someone, that’s the worse curse imaginable”. Mary Margret was the first person Emma allowed herself to have a connection to after Neal and it was nice to see that come around full circle.

    As far as Regina goes, yes, it was hard to see her happiness yanked away so soon, but it didnt seem overly harsh to me. I was honestly terrified that something Emma and Hook was going to do in the past was going to mess with all of her glorious character development and they were going to come back to a different Regina. This way, we still have the same Regina who got to be a hero, but now she is being tested. I am interested to see how she handles this. She still has Henry, she is still a part of the town and the Charming family. She hasnt lost everything. And honestly, I think she should have to face the fact that her past self was actually directly responsible for Marian’s death. The only thing about this that has me scratching my head is the timeline….I guess if Marian had just given birth to Roland it would have made sense…but how Roland would recognize his mother is super confusing to me. I think I am just going to have to not think about it too hard.

    I was largely unmoved by the baby being named Neal, maybe even a bit frustrated, until I saw that look on Rumple’s face. He was so touched by the gesture, and his reaction alone made it worth it.

    The voiceover of Rumple’s vows over Killian and Emma at the end was beautiful. And that moment where they break apart and smile at each other? So incredibly perfect. Just like those two seconds in the mid season finale after Emma’s “good”, this moment was just perfect in every way and I will never get tired of watching it. We are just so lucky as fans to have this love story in the hands of Colin and Jen. I am really happy that there has been no true loves kiss anywhere between them this season. This final moment just felt simple and real, while at the same time being earning and incredibly meaningful. There was no magical curse to be broken here – just the very real human curse of being your own biggest obstacle to your own happiness.

    If I have any gripe about this fun romp through the past and the glorious Hook/Emma romance, its that it didnt feel much like a season finale to me. I am pretty indifferent on the whole ‘Frozen’ thing. It does feel a little superficial to me, just like that opening scene with the stuffed Mickey. I seriously thought I was watching a Walt Disney World commercial and almost fast forwarded through that first scene on the DVR by accident because I didnt realize it was actually the start of the episode. A season finale is supposed to make you excited to tune in next season, and I am actually more satisfied than intrigued. And now, after weeks of complaining about too much angst and stress, I actually dont know what to do with myself now that they havent left me with any. Now there is just me hoping that we will get plenty of Hook and Emma courting both danger and each other in season 4 🙂

    • oh and one more comment about Emma’s “I want to accidentally get sucked into a portal today” jacket. I both highly question her common sense any time she puts in on, but considering it only seems to bring good things to captain swan, I cant say I want to see it go.

    • First of all, you were the first person I thought of when Snow was the one who became Emma’s tether to the concept of “Home” because of our Twitter conversation about “Snow Falls.” It was lovely to see that such an important mother/daughter thread in that S1 episode was reflected in this episode that seemed to focus more on the romantic parts of “Snow Falls.”

      The scene with Emma and the two Hooks will never stop being perfect to me. It was the epitome of escapist fun, and that’s all I could have hoped for from this time travel plot. It seemed like Jennifer Morrison had a great time filming that stuff and allowing Emma to both figuratively and literally loosen up, and I think her energy was contagious while watching that scene.

      I can understand your feeling that it didn’t have the emotional punch of most finales—leaving you breathless for next season. But (not to talk too much about another show) having just watched a Castle finale that ended with a ploy to get viewers emotions riled up for the next season, I’ve discovered I’d much rather have a finale that leaves me satisfied than one that leaves me unnecessarily stressed out. But that’s just my TV anxiety talking again. 😉

      Count me in as another person who was confused about Roland remembering Marian and that whole timeline. Like you said, though, some things are best not to over-think when it comes to this show.

      Finally, I am currently in love with your analysis on why Emma and Hook’s kiss was better than any “true love’s kiss.” It was a reminder that these are two very broken people who deserved a quiet moment to find each other. Emma’s life has been so dramatic that this moment of peace felt earned. It was simple when so much of her life has been anything but. There will be time for true love’s kisses, but this was a time for something independent of magic and savior titles and dark curses. It was a time for two people to find happiness with each other after fighting it for so long, and that was more magical to me than any curse-breaking kiss could have been.

      Thank you so much for all of your comments this season, Shauna. I love that you’re such an important part of our little OUAT family, and I honestly can’t imagine these reviews (or my Twitter life) without you. I’m so happy you found NGN this season!

  12. I started reading your reviews this season and just want to say that I’ve enjoyed them so much! I look forward to them after every episode. I really enjoyed this episode. I absolutely love how vulnerable, fun, and playful Emma was during this episode. You’re right, Jennifer Morrison was amazing throughout. I really noticed her character growth during the scene where she cried watching her parents fall in love. The old Emma was so guarded and cynical, she wouldn’t have been moved to tears watching two people fall in love. I’m so glad we got to see the big payoff between her and Hook. And so glad that she realized where her home truly was. I am disappointed about the whole Maid Marion thing. I was looking forward to watching her relationship with Robin develop next season. I enjoyed finally seeing her so happy. And it was just awful witnessing her devastation when Robin saw Marion. I believe Regina deserves a happy ending and hope that she still somehow gets it. I’m also actually excited about Elsa. I thought it was an interesting surprise and really want to know where they’re going to take that story. I hope they end up having Ana and Kristoff too.

    • Thank you so much for the kind words—I’m so happy you’ve enjoyed my reviews this season!

      I totally agree about Emma’s character growth being shown through her tears when watching her parents fall in love. Not only has she grown enough to accept that true love exists, she can accept that her parents are the walking definition of it. And she can show that emotion in front of Hook, which is another huge step for her character.

      I would also like to co-sign your requests for Anna and Kristoff. I cannot wait to see what the casting will look like for Season Four!

  13. Great review. I think the thing I liked most about this episode was that it was fun. Yes, there was angst and heartbreak, but the fun and element of adventure to the story worked well with the emotional investment.

    I loved that Emma got to see her parents, Regina, Gold, Belle, even Ruby, Gepetto and Abigail as their fairytale selves. She had heard the stories, but she finally got to witness it and be a part of it. And when she and Hook ended up in the book – it was like the physical manifestation of her belonging in Storybrooke.

    I loved the writing for Hook in this episode. He had some great lines. But one of the things I like most is how Hook will support Emma, but he isn’t afraid to call her out. Over the course of 3B he is the only one to continuously call Emma out on her plans to return to New York. Charming and Snow have heard them, but Hook is the one to push her on them and confront her. I loved the scene in Rumple’s vault when Hook told her to stop running and Emma told Hook what she was feeling and how she wanted to go home. Emma’s walls had been dropping throughout the entire episode but this was when they finally seemed to come all the way down – and she got her magic back. Magic is emotion and I think it tied in beautifully. Also the look on Hook’s face when he told Emma to look down and her magic had returned was like this mix of pride and awe and love for Emma. Plus the parallel of Hook and Henry continued as both have now brought Emma home.

    After waiting for most of 3B to find out how Hook got back to Emma, I am glad it wasn’t revealed until after Emma had found her home and had gone to find Hook outside because she realized he wasn’t with her. I think Emma finding her home and embracing it makes her realize just how big a sacrifice Hook made for her in giving up the Jolly Roger. And I liked how when telling what he did Hook seemed to be downplaying how big a sacrifice he had made. We’ve seen that Hook doesn’t like praise, but even more so he doesn’t want Emma to feel like she owes him something.

    Things were going too well for Robin and Regina so something had to happen. The return of Marian could definitely be a problem, but I think Marian being alive is a much better option then having Regina being responsible for her death. And I’d really like a scene of someone pointing that out to Regina next season. I do think Regina has come a long way and this will be a test to see how far she has come. I don’t think she’ll regress back to the Evil Queen, but I do think she may screw up a little in her anger and hurt. It’s going to hurt but its the challenges to come that will really show if Regina’s character growth is here to stay.

    The other part of the equation is Robin and Marian’s relationship. Marian told Emma in their cells that her family already thought she was dead. And Robin has only said his wife died when he put her in harms way? So what happened that Robin thought Marian was dead and that Marian ended up in the Enchanted Forest and involved with Snow White? Why wasn’t she able to get back to Robin? It sounds like they are planning to flesh it out next season from the interviews and I wonder if their back story could tie into the Knave/Will Scarlet joining OUAT. Also its been years since Robin thought Marian died. If Robin already thought Marian was dead before Snow Falls there is that time before the curse, the 28 years during, and the time since the curse was broken – which includes the year Regina/Robin spent sassing each other in the EF. Whereas for Marian those years never happened.

    I actually think this arc could flesh out the character of Robin more fully that he has been yet. And one of the most interesting facets could be that Robin sees Regina, not the evil queen, where as Marian still sees the Evil Queen – which was evident when she saw Regina in the diner. I can see the possible parallels to Snowing/Kathryn, Daniel’s return, and even Hook/Emma/Neal. And finally, Robin used magic to save Marian’s life once and OUAT has always said Magic comes at a price – what if the price is that Marian was always suppose to die, just as Marian dies in the original Robin Hood lore?

    I am looking forward to the introduction of Elsa or the Snow Queen. I’d like to see OUAT channel a little from the movie and a little from the original Snow Queen story and then put their unique twist on things – just as long as she isn’t related to all of them in the end.

    • Thank you so much for the wonderfully articulate comment! Like you, I really appreciated how much fun I had while watching this episode. It had its moments of heartbreak, but I was still left feeling mostly hopeful, which was wonderful.

      Your analysis of Hook and Emma’s relationship was excellent. He really is the only one who consistently confronts her when she’s not being her best self, and that’s something we all need in our lives—someone who isn’t afraid to challenge us but never stops loving us. And I agree; the look on his face when Emma got her magic back was one of my favorite little looks from Hook in the episode.

      I also really appreciated your astute comment about Emma needing to appreciate the idea of home and the feeling of losing it before she could hear what happened to Hook’s ship. It made that moment resonate so much more.

      I’m definitely hoping that this Maid Marian story fleshed out Robin’s character more. There’s so much we don’t know about him, and I’m looking forward to seeing all of it addressed more next season.

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  15. Spot-on review!!! I feel your review totally captured why the finale was all about! And your character analysis on emma especially was perfect! Thanks for this! I seriously can’t wait to see what’s coming up next

  16. I loved reading your thoughts so much. Thank you for this amazing review!
    I’m still reeling from the finale…it was everything and so much more than I had dared to dream or hope. The coming together of Emma and Killian was so beautiful and satisfying in every way. The lost girl finally found her way home and Killian Jones is the hero who brought her there. There is not one scene of them that wasn’t wonderful. From the little moments that were huge (wiping her tears away, the look of pride and love on his face when she finally accepted what her home is) to the big moments that made my heart skip several beats (him following her into the portal, Emma realizing that home isn’t complete without him, their kiss, oh! their kiss and all the tenderness and true love and coming home in that kiss); it was all perfect. Lines like “when I win your heart…” and “I’m on this for the long haul” came full circle in the most satisfying way.
    I have one question and I apologize of you’ve already addressed this: while I love that Emma is no damsel in distress, would you say that we were still supposed to conclude that Killian DID save her by helping her come to terms with her real self (all of herself) and bringing her home?

  17. What a wonderful and beautifully written review. You’ve brought up some things that I hadn’t even considered and now it’s just added even more layers and poignancy to the episode for me, especially in relation to Hook/Emma (or is now just plain Killian to Emma?) as well as to Emma/Snow. One moment that I really loved was when Emma was in the dungeon and she tells (the then unidentifed) Marian, “If my mom were here…”. Not “if Snow were here” or “if Mary Margaret were here..”, but mom. That just tugged at my heart strings.

    I can’t say anything better about Hook and Emma that hasn’t already been said. I have always loved Hook since the beanstalk but, like Emma, I had my doubts that Hook could ever be truly selfless or that he’d stick through the rough patches. I think the two have some of the best chemistry on the show and I’ve always gotten the biggest kick out of their scenes but I guess I was like Emma in that I was always expecting that other shoe to drop. But even though I kept waiting for the let down to happen, it never came because Hook always just kept coming through. No matter how much Emma tried to keep him at arm’s length, no matter how little reasurance she would give him at times about her own feelings, he never gave up on her. And I really think that on a subconsious level Emma was trying to frustrate Hook enough to leave, because then that would prove that everyone leaves her and love can’t be trusted. But he never did anything but continue to support her, to believe in her even when she doubted herself, to offer his help with no expectation of anyting in return. Even if he hadn’t won Emma’s heart by the end, he certainly won mine. I’m so happy for the both of them that they’ve found a safe harbor in each other.

    I’m less enthused about Regina/Robin, I must confess. The pairing never bothered me but it came about too fast for me to feel very invested in it. Which is why I’ll have a huge problem if the writers do go with the whole triangle route next season. One, I absolutely hate that worn out trope and two, I can’t buy that Robin would feel that torn between the wife he loved and a woman he really hardly knows. Plus, I’ve always loved the Robin Hood/Maid Marion myths so splitting up such a canon couple seems wrong to me (even if the actress playing Marian doesn’t wow me). Not to mention that the idea that Regina would have gleefully murdered an innocent Marian but for Emma’s intervention sours the whole idea of Robin/Regina for me. I can’t imagine that Marian won’t tell Robin that Regina was going to execute her. I feel bad for Regina but I also think that there is stronger character growth to be had from her dealing with this new loss in a much more mature way than she did when she lost Daniel than there is from her finding and keeping romantic love with any man.

    In any event, this is the first review of yours that I’ve read but I will be reading back through your old reviews of past episodes now. I also now have the irresistable urge to watch the finale again (for the third time!).

    • I am with you about the Regina/Robin thing. I am having a hard time getting invested in the two of them together. Maybe its because Robin hasnt really had much character development, or maybe its because I find super happy glowing Regina kinda jarring (and dare I say slightly annoying?) after everything she has been through. And it seems like they were laying it on pretty dang thick in the finale just to up the drama at the end. I am hoping they use this less of a romantic triangle and focus more on Regina’s feelings about having to face a very real and present reminder of her past self. Regina has always said “I dont regret anything because it led me to my son”. But now there is a living breathing person in Storybrooke who she would have never hesitated killing in the past (or that same night if you are Marian). She is going to have to continue to face that part of herself (now that most of the town has forgiven her). And that I am still interested in seeing. I am honestly more interested in the dynamic between Marian and Regina than I am with the Robin. And then there is the fact that triangles just divide the fandom, and I am kinda exhausted after all the Hook/Neal/Emma drama. But, I am trying to keep an open mind. I like to think Adam and Eddie usually have pretty well thought out and unique ways of doing things, its sometimes just a matter of how well the audience is able to interpret their intentions.

      • Yep I pretty much agree with everything you said above. For all the growth in Regina’s character I still don’t think she regrets killing a village full of people because they wouldn’t tell her where Snow was. Marian represents Regina’s darkest past and it will be interesting to see how she reacts to it.

        • I think she regrets it. The moment she saw it she looked horrified and said “we’ve gone too far”. What she truly was saying was that she’d let her destruction and hate go too far, and that there may not be any redemption left for her. Then after Snow confirmed what she was thinking, she gave up hope on going back to being the girl she once was. I think if she genuinely didn’t feel remorse, her whole redemption this season would’ve been fraudulent and if that were the case, I highly doubt she would have been able to use light magic.
          Also, in Neverland with the tree. She never said she didn’t regret the horrible things she had done, she said she was not overflowing with regret. She knew Henry would die if they remained bound to that tree. Unlike Emma and Snow, she was just able to put her own feelings aside long enough to do what had to be done to save her son & everyone else.

          I honestly don’t think Regina will go back to being evil. Outside of Robin and Henry, she’s become very self aware. She realizes what she’s done & where revenge and hatred have gotten her in the past. Even though her initial reaction to Emma was anger, I think that was realistic for her and even justified in that moment. I don’t see her fighting for Robin’s affection or actively being apart of a love triangle. She’ll more than likely just back off, lose hope in finding love and believe she’s not worthy of it or a happy ending, and isolate herself emotionally and maybe even physically from the others for a while (which should give a great parallel & fit in well with Elsa). If/When Robin chooses Regina, it’ll be him fighting twice as hard to reopen her heart to him. It will also be interesting to see Robin’s POV. So far their relationship has been shown from Regina’s POV and we’ve seen how she feels about him, it will be nice to see what he feels about her when he’s not physically with her.

  18. Hi,

    I’ve been so lucky to have come across your blog. I absolutely love the insight you give me in the show (even though I love this show very much, I usually don’t spot the parallels and meanings behind scenes as clearly), and the atmosphere on your page is so warm, no shipping wars here :), the past week I have been reading all your entries on OUAT, and the discussion that follows them. I have nothing really to add to this one, but how cute was Hook’s smile when he told Emma he traded his Rolly Joger (hehe) for a bean!, definitely my favorite moment of the episode (I so did not see that coming.. I’m always very slow with those kind of things.. Just like I only realized who the unnamed woman was when Robin said ‘Marian’ haha)

    How to wait for the fall? Re-watching the entire series :D. I’ll eagerly wait for your recaps. I just wanted you to know the site is very much appreciated 🙂

    Aranka

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  20. So, I’m awfully late to this but life has been an absolute you-know-what and I just finished watching the finale.
    I have to say that in general I enjoyed the 2-episodes and had fun watching. There were things that could have been done better, but well, I’d read about everything before finally having the time to actually watch so I was prepared.
    I’ve got nothing to add to everything that’s been said about Emma’s and Hook’s adventure in the EF. Emma’s characterisation was perfect, Morrison’s acting brilliant, and it made me vary happy to see her finally get “there” with the home concept. Hook was quite great and the another tick in my list of reasons why, while I still don’t think their ‘ship’ has been developed as well as it could have and while I still firmly believe that it is a consequence of good acting, good chemistry and fan/ratings (instead of something that was planned from the beginning), it’s another positive point to the writers of this show that manage to still get an interesting enough and certainly credible pairing with them. I don’t “ship” them, but I don’t dislike them and I certainly understand the appeal.
    Now Regina and Robin… well. That, I don’t understand, have never understood, and I really don’t see what they could do next season to make me change my mind. This show is notorious for revamping fairytales, but also for respecting the “canon” pairings (ie, Phillip and Aurora despite Mulan’s feelings). Now, the only way I see Regina and Robin working out after this is if they kill Marian off somehow, and that would be just poor story telling and terribly disappointing. I wonder if the would blame Regina for it, à la “Cricket Game”. I knew Marian was going to appear since the behind the scenes pictures turned up weeks before the episode, but I never expected that they would bring her to Storybrooke. Honestly, the idea that Regina was the one to kill her and that Robin somehow finds out (maybe Emma could let it slip, it would have been a nice parallel with Snow’s inability to keep secrets) would have worked perfectly fine to create drama without the need to actually bring Marian into the picture. It’s sad, really, that after such a brilliant story arc and well-rounded story arc for Regina they had to go and eff it up with this. I know I should wait for next season but it was quite a disheartening point.
    Also, and please don’t read this as an attack on Emma because she happens to be one of my favourites characters too, I am a bit upset when people try to argue that what she did was the right thing and that Regina was the only one in the wrong because she was going to execute Marian. It is true that Emma did the noble thing, but let’s not be naive here, there are two main flaws in her actions that any decent adult should own up to and accept as such. First, she did not think of the consequences of her actions like it was said in the show. And second, it was selfish in a way; we see how Emma and Hook take most of the two-episodes finale to relentlessly try to right what they changed from the past because otherwise it will affect Emma’s future directly. Well, what they changed from Marian’s past will likewise affect someone’s future too. Even without knowing who she is, that much is obvious. Just, since it’s not Emma’s or her family’s, she doesn’t think twice and goes on and does the noble thing. What about the many others Regina killed when she was the Evil Queen? Wouldn’t it have been better to get rid of her and avoid the curse at all, saving the lives of not only Marian, but a lot of people? Ah but then Emma would have been raised in the EF, never met Neal, and Henry wouldn’t have been born, right? Oh and didn’t Hook kill some of Regina’s and Midas’s soldiers too? Didn’t that change something for someone too? So yes, I think Emma didn’t think of the consequences of her actions and was selfish at some level. And I really hope that she realises it and tries to understand where Regina is coming from since, well, just as everybody is saying how important and telling of Hook’s love for Emma it was for him to give up his ship, let’s not forget that Regina did give up her life and her memories with Henry not only for her son, but for Emma as well. The least Emma could do is acknowledge that she has messed up big time, and try to help in whichever way Regina needs/wants her to.

    I really hope what they have in store for us is worth it, and they tend to not disappoint but I have to say, although I enjoyed the finale, I’m a bit bummed and the distraction of the Frozen twist doesn’t seem enough right now to make up for it. Even if I suspected it was coming because A& haven’t stopped gushing about the film since it came out. We’ll see.

    Katie, sorry if I’m a bit grumpy and this comment seems bad-tempered. I do want to thank you for this blog and for provinding such insightful reviews and respectful place to discuss this and other shows. It’s been fantastic to read and share opinions with you and your commenters and I hope next season keeps bringing us all many things to discuss. =)

    • Hey Red! I am glad you found time to comment because I was definitely wondering how you felt about this episode. I dont think you need to apologize for being grumpy about what they did to Regina in the finale at all. Because it was harsh. And I definitely got the feeling that they built her way up just to tear her back down. But as I mentioned in my comment, I just knew something wasnt going to end well for Regina, but I was thinking that Hook and Emma were going to get back to Storybrooke to find Regina was evil again because of something they did, and all her character development was going to be lost. So I was actually quite relieved when they got back and she was still the same reformed Regina, they have just given her a new challenge. I just wish that challenge was something I cared about, because I am in the camp of people that dont really get the two of them together. Is there chemistry and attraction there? Sure. But there is no part of me that thinks Regina and Robin have this epic love that needs to overcome obstacles and I am not really that invested in what happens to them as a couple. I am interested to see how Regina handles herself, but thats as far as my interest goes.

      I also think Emma is going to have to deal with the guilt of bringing back Marian. As much as I dont want to see it, I could easily see her pushing Hook away a bit because of it. But as far as time travel plots go, I thought bringing Marian back with them to the current time was actually a pretty clever way of dealing with the situation. Although then my brain starts to hurt because I think about how they might not of disrupted the past timeline, they are disrupting the future timeline. I am curious to see if they touch on that at all. Even though present day Storybrooke is present to us, who’s to say its not the past for others? Yep, and this is where my brain starts hurting.

      • Brain hurt indeed. This show is responsible for more than one headache and still I keep watching. I guess it’s just too good to stay away!

        I never liked, or even understood, the whole Regina/Robin thing, but as I knew it was going to happen I resigned myself to it. I kept hoping that they would at least do something with it that made sense, but was disappointed when in the end, it was all reduced to a matter of Regina seeing Robin’s tattoo and then following her apparently already decided fate. I had the hope that at the very least they would have them develop the relationship during the year in the EF before the tattoo/pixie dust thing came to play but no such luck. Still, because I love Regina’s character so much, I was happy that she seemed happy and her fantastic redemption arc helped me forget the (IMO) lousy writing of her relationship with Robin. But now this thing with Marian doesn’t make sense. There’s a million ways to create the same tension and the same situation of loss without messing so badly and, as I said, coming up with a scenario that according to OUaT’s modus operandi so far will only result in Regina “winning” if Marian dies because if not, Robin will choose her. Out of the gazillion fairy tale characters out there, they did choose a LI for Regina with a different canon True Love so a big mess was to be expected. So yep, not very happy. My pickaxe would say “Fuming” if I were a dwarf.

        I do really hope that Emma doesn’t push Hook away because of this. I think that he could actually be a great support for Emma (and even Regina) in dealing with the situation she has created, in part because Hook’s past is similar in a certain way to Regina’s, and in part because he was present (and tried to warn Emma about it) when Emma messed up, so he is in a very unique position to understand both “sides” that could be really helpful with the situation. I imagine Regina is not going to be in a forgiving mood for a while, but I hope it won’t get too bad because she’s come so far and for most of that road, Emma was one of the few that actually gave a damn about her, so hopefully they can get past this relatively unscathed.

        I’m a bit worried about the show because I think it’s starting to turn a wee bit too “commercial”, instead of staying true to their original setup. The Frozen arc gives me pause because it just seems too much of a PR move. I understand there’s a lot going on behind the scenes of shows, and that money and good ratings are a big issue when it comes to giving absolute creative freedom, but OUaT has seemed so far unaffected to a point and the Frozen thing so fast after the movie came out is a bit telling. Particularly because the wee bit we could see of it pointed directly to the Disney version of the Ice Queen and not the original story. Still, this show has a way of surprising me that I’ll never take for granted so we’ll have to wait and see what the new season brings.

    • Hey Red – I am glad you were able to reply I was wondering about your take on the episode. I don’t think you are grumpy I had many similar reactions to the episode as you did. I did send a link to Katie regarding Regina and the creator’s take on where they are going with her character. From that article it seems clear that the intent is to grow and build upon the redemption arc we watched her travel this season. As someone who isn’t a shipper on this show (the parent child relationships are what fascinate me) I haven’t been as bothered by the Robin/Regina pairing as many have here. I am willing to give it time to unfold and see where the storytelling takes us next season.

      I do however 100% share your point of view regarding Emma. I hope very sincerely there are consequences to her decision to bring Marian back to Storybrooke. She was wrong to do it. Period. Everything about that episode was about how important it was not to alter the past and she fundamentally did that in her actions. She could have merely left her unconscious in the forest but chose to save her. That choice has unintended consequences and nothing about those closing scenes spoke to her owning that decision. I made the comparison to Snow, who at least has always owned her part of why Regina was seeking revenge (and she was a child when she told Cora about Daniel). I hope next season explores that fall out.

      I also think folks are jumping to conclusions. We don’t know anything about Marian and we know very little about the timing from when Robin was seeking to save her in Rumple’s castle to the point we saw her in the finale. That backstory is completely unknown and I think we can’t make any assumptions about what happened to get us to that point and/or how bringing her to Storybrooke fundamentally changes Robin/Marian’s story.

      With regards to the bandwagon of justifying Emma’s actions with invoking the evil queen was going to kill her. Fact is all of our characters are flawed (even the virtuous ones). Regina isn’t the only character with a blood filled past – Rumple, Hook also have pasts that are less than stellar. That’s the beauty of the show. It takes these fairy tale characters and gives them free will and moral ambiguity. The beauty of Regina’s arc in the back half of the season is that she represents the truth — we have the capacity to be both good and evil. We choose our path and we choose our fate in many ways. That to me is the crux of what will be interesting next season.

      • I completely agree with you.
        Next season has the potential to be absolutely fantastic or a complete disaster just with how they handle Regina’s reaction and future actions after the S3 finale; not to mention the Frozen arc, future plots and so on.
        The fact is that Regina’s character is, as you said, the one who better represents the truth. Nobody is as “perfectly good” as Charming or Snow, not even as “perfectly flawed” as Emma, and the fact that out of all the characters Regina is the one who has owned to everything she’s done from the beginning is what makes me love so much the characterisation and the acting that bring the -not so- Evil Queen to life.
        It worries me that it’s taken 3 seasons for Snow to somewhat accept responsibility for her actions regarding Daniel’s death and Regina’s fate; that we still have to see a real recognition of what her and Charming’s decision about the wardrobe meant with regards of Emma’s future (and not only blame the curse and the EQ) because yes, there’s been hints here and there, in Neverland, but they still need to sit and talk this out with Emma; that other characters, like Neal when he abandoned Emma, also failed to accept that what they did was their own choice, whatever the circumstances surrounding their choice were. “I didn’t have a choice” is such a dangerous lie to tell oneself. It bothers me that the “good guys” don’t seem to be subject to the same standards when it comes to what their actions brought about because “they didn’t know” or “it wasn’t their intention” and so on… Ruby killed many people before she learned to control her wolf, and that’s on her and on Granny who should have told her about her ‘abilities’ instead of “trying to protect her” at the expense of others’s lives, including Ruby’s boyfriend. Archie was responsible for Marco’s parents death (or sort-of-death, not sure if they can be turned back into persons from their creepy puppets state) and sure, that was not his intention but he was going to curse his own parents, bloody bastards that they were, but still not a thing one of the “good guys” should do. I’m not even going to get into what the more morally ambiguous characters (Whale, Jefferson, Hook…) have done that doesn’t seem to have any lasting repercussions. Not even Rumplestiltskin has had to face time locked up or anything similar. All the blame has always been focused on Regina when many other characters should have been held responsible for their past actions if what happened in the EF didn’t stay in the EF. So I am a bit worried that what Emma has done is going to be taken lightly and forgotten in a couple of episodes once the next season starts. Storybrooke is not a fair place, and their point of view is still very much black and white.

  21. [“I kept hoping that they would at least do something with it that made sense, but was disappointed when in the end, it was all reduced to a matter of Regina seeing Robin’s tattoo and then following her apparently already decided fate.”]

    Actually, the moment Regina had laid eyes on Robin’s tattoo in Storybrooke, she fled from the scene.

    • She sure did, but I didn’t mean “immediately after” when I wrote that. I even thought her reaction to Tinker Bell’s prodding afterwards was quite sensible and in character. Still, in the story arc it’s only a few days after seeing the tattoo that she decides to give RH a chance, even though they spent a whole year in the EF and she didn’t seem to like him much there.

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