TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.05

Title Breaking Glass

Two-Sentence Summary As Regina and Emma seek out the Snow Queen for different reasons, Emma attempts to mend their broken relationship, which Regina feels is damaged beyond repair. Flashbacks to Emma’s past as a runaway teenager show that Emma was once in Regina’s shoes, feeling alone and unable to forgive after feeling betrayed.

Favorite Line “Now she’ll be able to reach us on our drive, our hike, if we fall through a portal to Asgard—wherever we are.” (Charming)

My Thoughts Once Upon a Time is a show rooted in the idea that love is strength, and I’ve always appreciated that it isn’t afraid to show the other side of that statement, too: A life without love robs us of our strengths and keeps us from being our best selves. “Breaking Glass” reflected both sides of the “love is strength” idea in the tumultuous interactions between Emma and Regina throughout the episode, in the flashbacks to Emma’s lonely life as a runaway, and in even the smallest character beats throughout the episode.

At first glance, Snow and Charming’s little side plot may have felt like nothing more than a sweet little break from the heaviness of what Emma and Regina were dealing with. And yes, it was pretty darn adorable. (But when have Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin shared a scene and been anything other than perfect together?) But it also reflected the central theme of the episode: When you feel like someone is supporting you and loves you, you are more willing to move beyond your fears and be the best version of yourself.

Will is the example of what happens when you feel alone and lost—he’s a shell of the happy man we last saw in Wonderland with Anastasia, reverting to his worst traits. But Snow was stronger than we’ve seen her in a long time in this episode, even if she did pardon Will when she shouldn’t have. And what gave her the strength to find her groove after being afraid to leave her son? Knowing her husband loves her and wants her to be her best self, even if he didn’t actually set up Will’s escape. It’s what made their last scene so sweet. These are two people who have been through hell and back together, but they’ve survived it all because they know someone will always be there to lean on when things are hard, reminding them of the best they can be. And that’s why they’re this show’s shining example of True Love.

On the opposite side of the spectrum from Snow and Charming, we have Regina. You don’t have to like Regina’s behavior in this episode (Goodness knows I bristled at some of the stuff she said to Emma.), but it’s important to remember that she’s behaving in a way that is so true to her character and so true to the entire ethos of this show: When you feel alone, you forget your best self. And Regina feels completely alone at this point. The shots of her holding the picture of her and Robin were so important (Who are we supposed to think took that photo and Emma and Neal’s photo, by the way? That briefly took me out of both moments.) Lana Parrilla plays heartbreak like she was born to show all the facets of that emotion, and even though I knew I should be frustrated with her for pushing Emma away and being so harsh with her, I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for her. Regina is in so much pain, and she needed to process and let out all of it before she could even begin to think about growing from this experience, and that’s what this episode was all about.

When we saw Regina lash out at Emma in the woods, we were seeing Regina at rock bottom. While Emma shouldn’t have to apologize for saving a life, Regina is allowed to still feel upset about what happened—she’s only human, and she’s still learning how to deal with heartbreak in a healthy way. For Regina, anger is a security blanket; it’s something she is afraid to let go of and has been ever since she learned that anger is power (from Rumplestiltskin nonetheless—don’t even get me started on my latent anger over how he manipulated young Regina). Her anger at Emma and her statement that she wasn’t going to forgive her because she didn’t want to were her way to cling to her past, to fall back into old patterns of behavior because that feels safe and easy. It’s the same as Emma wanting to run back to New York last season—it wasn’t pleasant to watch, but it served a purpose: to show how both of these women are flawed, human, and struggling to let go and let others in after having a taste of happiness and losing it.

Last season, we saw Regina learn to let go of her anger for a chance at love, but she only ended up getting hurt. So it makes sense that she would be reluctant to let go of her anger towards Emma. Regina lived an isolated life under Cora’s thumb; friendship is something she knows little about. It was hard for her to understand Emma’s genuine gesture of friendship and caring because it’s not how she was taught to act towards anyone. It was hard for her to believe Emma could really want to help her and not just assuage her own guilty conscience because Regina doesn’t have a lot of experience with kindness that doesn’t have an ulterior motive.

But that’s the beautiful thing about Emma; she was genuinely extending an offer of friendship to Regina because she understands Regina. She was once so consumed by loneliness and a lack of love that she wasn’t able to forgive, either. Emma’s empathy may be an even greater superpower than her lie-detecting abilities. She’s lived through so much—especially so many different kinds of pain—that she is almost bursting with empathy. Sometimes that leads to sticky situations, like freeing Marian, and sometimes that leads to beautiful moments of reaching out to people who thought no one could ever understand them, like she did with Regina in this episode.

The flashbacks in this episode were a really lovely way to compare who Emma was to who she is now. Kudos to the Once Upon a Time casting department for once again casting a young actor who perfectly matches the mannerisms and look of their adult counterpart. It broke my heart to see Emma and Lily so happy and open with each other, because knowing how lonely Emma was later, I knew it was going to end poorly. Emma has had such a sad history of being surrounded by people who weren’t who they said they were (Lily saying she didn’t have a family, Neal not telling her about his past, Walsh being a flying monkey, and now a certain forgotten foster mother, too), and it made sense for her as a character to react so strongly to Lily actually having a family. Even as a girl, we could see just how much of an impact not having a family’s love in her life had on Emma. It made her shut people out without any hope for a second chance, and it was heartbreaking to watch her coldly turn away from Lily and go off on her own once again.

In the present, though, we were able to see that Emma has grown so much from who she was then. However, Regina was so much like young Emma that Emma couldn’t help but keep trying with her because she saw a reflection of herself in Regina’s coldness. Emma is a member of the Charming Family, and they don’t give up on people, especially when those people seem to have given up on being their best self. Emma was right—she and Regina do understand each other on an important level. Emma hasn’t ever talked about what it was like when she got out of jail, but it had to be difficult to fight to build a better life for herself, and she has always related to Regina’s struggle in that way. And she and Regina both grew up feeling isolated (for different reasons), they both have magic, and they are both mothers to the same child. They’re connected on many levels, and I liked seeing Emma acknowledge that they can understand each other in ways no one else can—because it’s true.

When Emma went back to Regina’s vault, I loved how open she was. Not only is she able to accept love in her own life; she’s able to offer it to someone she knows needs a friend. And Regina’s face when Emma extended the hand of friendship to her was just a brilliant display of subtlety by Parrilla. The vulnerability she let slip through her facade was astounding. Regina never believed she could have a friend. She never believed someone could see her at her worst and still care about her. And that’s scary—to stop pushing everyone away and accept that someone can care about you because they see the good behind the hurt. Emma tried to give Regina hope that maybe she doesn’t have to be alone in working through her pain. And that’s a start. (And I think a bit of foreshadowing for what’s going to happen whenever Emma finds out about Hook’s situation with Rumplestiltskin—thank God that angst was put on the backburner in this episode.)

This was another episode that allowed us to sit back and marvel at how much Emma has grown, and it’s all because she has the stability she was missing in her youth and that Regina feels she is missing now—the stability brought on by knowing you have people who love you and support you. Emma has a true friend now in Elsa. (I liked them talking about her problems with Regina because it felt very honest and real.) And she has the thing that was missing from her life in the flashbacks—a family. It was heartbreaking to watch young Emma talk about how she was too old to ever have a couple look at her like she was their child, but it was also beautiful to think that she is able to experience that all the time now. She has parents who look at her like she’s their beautiful, impressive little girl, even though she’s as old as they are. And their love has helped her find a sense of home and confidence in herself she never had before.

“Breaking Glass” also emphasized another person whose support has helped Emma grow to become the best version of herself, and that’s Hook. I loved their smiles and adorable little kiss at the opening of the episode not just because it was the kind of sweet moment of happiness I’ve always wanted for Emma but because it set up the idea that Emma was able to reach out to Regina because she is able to draw strength from the love she has in her life.

The last scene of the episode was stunning in terms of Emma’s character growth, especially comparing her with Regina and with who she was as a child. Regina was still clinging to her past self, and Emma in the flashbacks was defined so painfully by her lonely past. But that last scene showed us a new Emma—a better, stronger Emma than ever before. She’s not using her past as a reason to stay closed off to others anymore, but she’s not pretending like her past didn’t happen, either. Just like Elsa had to let go of her fear in order to break her chains and Regina struggled to let go of her belief that no one could understand her, Emma had to let go of her fear of sharing her past with someone. And she did. And I’m still emotional about it.

That whole final scene was a really lovely callback to the moment I first really started to like the idea of Emma and Hook being together, when Hook asked who Emma was in Season Three’s “Lost Girl” and proceeded to say that perhaps he would like to know who she really is. Like that moment, this started with a shared flask and a question that could have been met with Emma putting her walls up again. But Emma has grown even from the woman we saw in “Lost Girl.” When Hook asked if he could have the honor of seeing the box that holds what’s left of her childhood, Emma didn’t shut him down. Instead, she handed him the box, symbolically placing her past—the things she’s hidden from everyone else (except the baby blanket she shared with Mary Margaret, which made me cry with its reappearance)—in his hands. That’s terrifying for anyone, but especially for someone whose past has caused them as much pain as Emma’s has. And I loved that Colin O’Donoghue played Hook as being 100% aware of the magnitude of this gesture. He and Jennifer Morrison did so much while saying so little in this final scene. There was such depth in that scene, a real sense of quiet understanding of how important this moment was. And I loved that both actors seemed to understand the gravitas and the intimacy needed to make it resonate the way it did.

There was a lovely little beat where Hook picked up Emma’s glasses and smiled, prompting Emma to smile softly in return. And Morrison used that moment to show Emma’s relief that she made the right choice to trust him with that box. He didn’t run away—not even after the photo of Neal. Her past didn’t scare him off; it made this pirate smile to see her offer him a treasure chest of insight into her beginnings. And I’m hopeful that her sharing all the parts of herself with him—even her painful past—helps him become open to sharing all of himself with her.

As Emma and Hook watched the video of her with Lily, I was struck by the simple idea that’s at the heart of Frozen: Love can thaw. What happened with Lily was just another heartbreak that made Emma grow colder and continue to shut people out. But in that beautiful moment of comfort and support—with Hook holding her hand and her not letting go as his arm went around her—we saw Emma finally learning to lean on someone when she’s feeling vulnerable, finally feeling safe to be her truest self with someone, putting both her past pain and her present vulnerability in the hands of someone she trusts. Having Hook to lean on when she would have otherwise felt alone has made Emma stronger, and it further highlighted to me the reasons why Emma was able to be so open to Regina while Regina was being so harsh to her. Love is strength, and Emma is stronger than ever because she has someone to hold her when things are difficult, and that’s something I have wanted for this character for so long. And it’s something Regina has lost, and I do hope she gets back someday.

That strength is going to be more necessary than ever as Emma deals with the bombshell dropped at the end of this episode. We all had a feeling the Snow Queen was one of Emma’s foster mothers, but that didn’t make the reveal any less fun. I’m absolutely fascinated by the Snow Queen, and so much of that has to do with Elizabeth Mitchell’s performance. She’s channeling something so—sorry for the pun—chilling. Her soft voice and smile are just so unsettling. She was perfectly cast for this role. Also, I know it’s a little detail, but I love the way her hand moves so elegantly as she’s doing her magic. I am also obsessed with her stunning gown (and endlessly amused that she is barefoot under it).

I’m so intrigued by the way this story seems to be working with both Frozen and the original Snow Queen fairytale—with the mirror and the shards of glass. Who will fall victim to it? Why did she try to get close to Emma when she was younger, how did she manage to get to this world, and what happened that led to her wiping Emma’s memories? And what does she want with Emma now?

All we know is that she wants a family, and I wonder if it’s a family made up of magical people because she felt alone and isolated because of her magic. This episode was a reminder of what a lack of love and a sense of being alone can do to people—it can turn them cold and keep them from being their best self. But I am not ready to start theorizing yet. Instead, I just want to remain in a place of complete excitement for what’s to come now that Emma is going to be dealing with this information. It’s certainly going to make an exciting season of growth for Emma even more exciting. And here I am, eagerly waiting for another Sunday night once again.

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102 thoughts on “TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.05

  1. Wonderful write-up! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts in such a balanced manner. This episode felt a bit smaller in scope to me in terms of focusing on small moments of relational growth (or opportunities for growth), and then ended with a bang with that video reveal. 🙂 Can’t wait for next week!

    PS: Also very relieved to have a bit of a breather from the Hook/Gold angst…I’m not ready to deal with the potential fallout. 🙂

    • Thank you! I tend to love these more character-driven episodes, so it doesn’t surprise me that I really enjoyed this episode a lot. And I’m with you on needing the breather—it would have been way too much to try to fit that storyline into this episode.

  2. I kept refreshing the page until your review was here! =)
    I agree completely with what you wrote and, like you, I am also hoping that Regina is able to open herself up with Emma and that a friendship does begin. They would be such good friends because they can understand each other perfectly. Also, what you wrote about Emma and Hook almost made me cry because that is exactly what I was thinking. Those scenes of the two of them, at the beginning and at the end, just made me ridiculously happy and I’m glad to see that I was not the only one who is still emotional over it.
    I like the fact that the writers gave us a breather before the real storm begins, because I really needed it. I don’t think I’m going to be prepared for the angst that is coming in the future though. But hopefully we can all brave it together.

    • Thank you very much for the kind words! And I’m sure that when the storm of angst gets here (which it surely will, this is a TV drama, after all) we’ll have each other’s shoulders to cry on. 😉

  3. This is all great but until when we are going to justify Regina’s actions? She was supposed to have redemtion arc and sadly I can’t see it. Wasn’t point of this redemtion to understand that her victims aren’t responsible for her unhappiness? Even Lana confessed Regina really feels like Emma deserves what she gets from Regina so that means she actually doesn’t understand that and is really blaiming Emma – her victim. Okay, we can maybe say the redemption arc wasn’t completed but then how comes she had light magic? After all those years of using dark magic on innocent people? I know she suffered in her life but also Emma suffered even more. Regina was very much loved by at least two people in her life whilst Emma was comletely unloved and betrayed. Iam done with Regina. She is just an asshole. She definitely needs to apologize to Emma for everything she has done to her: for making her orphan, for killing Graham etc. At least can we all accept Emma is far better than Regina because that’s definitely true.

    • I appreciate you sharing your opinion on an episode that definitely has inspired strong feelings in the fandom (“asshole” might be a little harsh, but you are certainly entitled to your opinion—I just don’t necessarily think it’s fair to write off any character when there’s clearly so much story left to tell for all of them).

      As far as redemption arcs go, I don’t think anyone’s is ever complete—not if they’re supposed to be realistic. I think Regina was at her very best when she channeled light magic, choosing to be a hero and do the right thing. But I think it’s important to note that her magic in this episode wasn’t light (it was red as opposed to Emma’s white). I think light magic reflects who you are at the exact moment you use it and it also reflects the intentions behind its use. (But that’s just me theorizing.)

      Regina is not a perfect character by any means, and she still has a lot of growing and learning to do. But that’s what I find interesting about her; she’s deeply DEEPLY flawed, but that’s what makes the moments when she starts to choose goodness so rewarding. We all have our opinions on these characters, and that’s what makes talking about them so revealing.

      • “I just don’t necessarily think it’s fair to write off any character when there’s clearly so much story left to tell for all of them.”

        Very, very much this. For EVERY character in the show, yes.

    • While you are certainly entitled to your opinion, I whole-heartedly disagree.

      Regina does have a dark past and there is nobody questioning that fact, I would presume. We all know she made some pretty bad choices and hurt people during her reign as Evil Queen. She has to live with that and actually sent that message across to us through the *snark* directed at Emma. She acknowledges there is no changing that. Which is probably part of the reason she lashes out so badly. Regina does not expect to be forgiven for her past so it never occurred to her that Emma could be there trying to be a sincere friend. Regina is used to a personal history where everyone around her had an ulterior motive, with maybe the exception of Daniel, and now Robin Hood. It took her until the end of this episode to accept that Emma was being sincere after opening up about her own past and relating to her.

      Look, the point of this episode was not about all the wrongs Regina committed against Emma and everyone else during those years in the EF or due to the Dark Curse. This was about how Emma messed up, not intentionally, but she still messed up and there were consequences resulting from her decision to change the past timeline. Emma feels guilty. She believes she screwed Regina over as it pertains to the Marian situation right now. Emma also believes they have made progress since s1 where they did not get along at all. So she does want to fix things.

      Regina, on the other hand, is justified in feeling what she is feeling regarding this situation which many refuse to understand. I come across so many angry arguments that want to completely dismiss the fact that what Regina is experiencing is legitimate and try to divert the blame back over to Regina, making the claim this is her fault and that she is just cruel and mean to Emma for no reason at all.

      Um, no it is not. Regina’s fault this time. Robin not being with her has NOTHING to do with her past as Evil Queen. Robin has already admitted to her that he sees her as a changed person, the past is in the past, that he loves her. The reason he can not be with her is simply because his wife is back and he is a man with a code who has to stand by his vows. And why is Marian back? Simply because Emma brought her back. This is the reality that Regina sees and is stuck with in the here and now.

      For some reason, those viewers who sit on the anti-Regina bandwagon seem to be of the strong opinion that anyone has a free pass to walk all over Regina, or take advantage, because her dark past should just be able to be used against her indefinitely, and at the drop of a hat, no matter if she has changed, trying to change, or when she is not the one in the wrong. Not saying this is what Emma did to her but to all the anti-Regina peeps out there, Newsflash: Regina is not always in the wrong. She is not evil or any less human because she may experience legitimate feelings of loss and betrayal and then get angry about it like the others.

      I wonder how many would be defending Regina so adamantly if the tables were turned. What if Regina had somehow changed the past by saving Milah and brought her to the present time and Emma felt hurt? I guarantee Emma would be defended for lashing out in Regina’s shoes, lol. In fact, I bet many would come up with excuses,like the *sigh & rolleyes* the EQ past, to justify why Regina did it on purpose. Even if the episode was clear she did not.

      The comparison regarding a tragic past of both Emma & Regina is different. Their isolation and loneliness stemmed through their own channels so, no, Emma was not worse off than Regina. Regina was very trapped in her tragic existence {ie. A mother who used magical abuse to mold Regina into what she wanted, having a father who was an enabler and stood by doing nothing to stop Cora, forced into a loveless marriage, was made a Queen when she never wanted to be one, had her TL killed and taken from her, felt rejected by the kingdom for taking Queen Eva’s place long before becoming the EQ, manipulated and taken advantage of by Rumple}. She faced rejection and was unable to run away from it whereas Emma did just that. Emma ran and she ran hard. So at the end of the day Emma understood Regina being like her because facing isolation and experiencing rejection is the same thing when all is said and done no matter how it came to pass.

      For the record, Emma really was brave for putting herself out there and subjecting herself to Regina’s harsh venting. Regina is learning how to cope differently now, she is not seeking others out with the intent to destroy them as an act of pure revenge.

      But I am also not one of these viewers who believes Regina has to learn not to blame others for anything. No. There were times that she misplaced blame or should take accountability herself but she has the right to lay blame if the situation warrants it. It is how she copes and responds that matters. While harsh because she is hurting, her ranting at Emma was a far cry from offering her a poisoned apple desert in s1 that would induce a sleeping curse.

      Regina has made progress but I hate how she is being demonized this season by Emma fans for having a human reaction to something Emma actually did, intentional or not. The loss of Robin is a big deal after being closed off for so long and feeling so alone.

  4. As always, you capture the heart of every episode and the minute details that many could miss so perfectly! The show should really hire you and promote your recaps, since you absolutely get what they are trying to do and you offer the most charitable readings of these characters on the internet! You remind me, in the best possible way, of Snow White, always having hope for each of these characters and their redemption, which helps me get through episodes when they are not being their best selves; i.e. Hook last week, Regina last night.

    Loved seeing more of Emma’s backstory, or in other words, Chapter One of the Fairytale we’ve been watching for more than 3 years now, and we’re just getting started. I love that the writers are writing for a long arc. It absolutely broke me when Emma shared her past with Hook. It was basically the emotional equivalent of letting him read her diary; that’s some intimate trust there, and I hope he takes it to heart and reciprocates. I want to know more about his past too; his hurt with his father, his love for Milah, and I want him to tell Emma everything, in the same way that she turned everything over to him. Loved the growth of both of those characters in a very brief scene.

    And WOW to the Snow Queen, my favorite actress, and everything to do with that story! How did they wipe Emma’s memories twice!? Once when she was little and has no memory of the house she lived in when she was 15 and again four years ago when she arrived in Storybrooke?! She’s interacted with her twice! Loved that twist; love the character and the subtle crazy, not the over-the-top villain-ess that we’ve come to expect from the ladies on this show. It’s refreshing.

    I absolutely cannot wait for next week. A Belle/Rumple showdown?! Yes please. And more answers as to what happened to Anna? It’s always been a little weird for me that Elsa went straight from the vault in the Enchanted Forest to Storybrooke to look for Anna, but there’s been no mention of what is happening back in Arendelle right now. Why is Elsa so sure that Anna was brought to Storybrooke? Shouldn’t she be trying to get back to either Arendelle or the Enchanted Forest for answers? I want answers as much as she does at this point!

    • You are too kind, Christy. Your first paragraph put the biggest smile on my face. Snow is definitely an inspiration for me, so it means the world to me that I remind you in any small way of her and her optimism and sense of hope. 🙂

      Once again, I loved reading your take on this episode. I still can’t believe the trust Emma showed in that last scene; it was incredible. I don’t think I would be able to do that with my own boxes of personal mementos from my past, and my past was super happy compared to Emma’s. I’ve had a lot of favorite moments between Emma and Hook, but I think the one we saw last night is the best of the best in my mind.

      I am also incredibly excited for next week! 🙂

      • Me too! I can’t believe the level of trust she showed with that simple gesture. I’m not sure I could let anyone see those mementos either. It just shows how very much she DOES trust Hook and I think he 100% understands that as well. Which means that he’s due for a complete confession scene back to Emma. Which had better be televised. I think that scene will also be my favorite Hook/Emma scene, and the writers have given us a LOT to choose from, which is awesome, because they were literally in the show for 5 minutes together, but they made the scene count.

  5. Love the review! I wasn’t expecting all the cute little scenes between Emma and Hook but they were great. It really shows how much Emma has changed. The flashback to her past was so sad, but it explained a lot. Did anyone catch Lily’s real name? I vaguely remember that it started with an “S”, but I missed it.

    I understand why Regina acted the way she did, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. At least she’s not acting as bad as Rumplestiltskin, lying and scheming in secret (although next week it looks like that’ll all come back to bite him in the butt). Instead Regina is just angry and lashing out at anyone who comes up to her (except for Henry and Robin). Still hard to watch her be so mean to Emma, who only wants to help (the fact that she’s Snow’s daughter probably isn’t making the situation any better, because now Regina’s taking all the anger she had for Snow and directing it towards Emma). By the end of the episode Regina seems to be warming up to the idea of being friends with Emma (if only just a little) so here’s hoping that things will start improving for her again. I really loved how happy she was last season, and I want her to be happy again.

    I know I haven’t talked much about Elsa in my past comments but I love her! She and Emma are such good friends now, talking openly at the station and in her car. I love how Elsa protected the two of them without hesitation.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us! I especially appreciate that you can acknowledge that Regina’s actions are understandable, but you’re 100% right in saying you don’t have to like them. It wasn’t easy for me to watch her rage against Emma, but I understood that it was coming from a place of very real pain. And, like you, I really do hope she can find happiness again.

      I’m also super happy to see that you love Elsa, too! She’s been a great addition to this cast of characters, and she’s really coming into her own.

  6. Excellent recap and analysis. I will gloss over the Regina word vomit, as that really irked me. It is just a show…just a show.

    Emma and Killian’s scenes were short but special.

    1. I loved the look on her face when she saw him walk in during the first scene. That was just such a sweet moment.

    2. I love that he was taking Henry sailing, as that says just as much about her trust in him than the intimate moments they have shared. She trusts him to keep her son safe, which is not something that everyone would or good do with someone they are dating.

    3. I loved the peck on the cheek, as it was a sweet moment that wasn’t inappropriate at her work or in front of Elsa and Will.

    4. The fact that he came back to see her at the end of the day was special too. There wasn’t any surprise in her face when she saw him. It was just a recognition that he wanted to see her and that she had a rough day. He didn’t follow her around all day. He was trusting her too.

    5. I love that he asked permission to see the contents of the box. The smile on his face with the ring and the glasses was a great moment. And the tenderness of that moment with Neal’s picture showed how much more secure they both are now.

    6. Anyone who has been in a relationship knows that it is hard to share the past sometimes. We can share the funny stories, but the things that really shape us are harder. Nobody wants to be judged for our former selves. We want people to see our pasts the way we do. So while she was not 100% comfortable, she welcomed him into that part of her world.

    7. His interactions with her are usually very flirty and filled with innuendo. This time he seemed to recognize that there was something hurting or bothering her. Instead of pressing her to explain, he asked her questions about the tape and didn’t say anything directly about her. It would have been easy for him to comment that she still had the striking blonde hair or that she was beautiful when she laughed/smiled. Instead he was attempting to understand why these items that seemed benign or even happy were making her so sad.

    The elephant in the room is still his deal with Gold, but I’m trying to take it slowly and think that he is going to tell her the truth. He has to know that lying, even by omission, would devastate what trust they have built. One would hope that moment comes soon.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Rebecca! And as someone who has had to tell herself, “It’s just a show” before, I understand. 😉

      Your points about Emma and Hook were lovely. When the last scene started with Emma looking so pensive and “vexed,” I was really hoping Hook was going to show up because she needed that support. I had no idea just how it great it was going to be once he did.

      Your entire point #6 is perfect. It is always hard to share your past, especially when you have a fear of abandonment like Emma does. The fact that he didn’t judge her for anything in that box or on that tape and only wanted the honor of learning more about who she was speaks to how perfect he is for her. They both have parts they’re still scared to show each other, and like I said in my review, I really do hope him seeing her be so open with him about her past allows him to be open with her, too.

  7. I’m really happy Snow found herself again & I absolutely love Will Scarlett. I’m interested to see where his story is going and what happened since OUATIW. Snow coming home and being all grateful to Charming about setting her on that mission, only to realize will had tricked her was great.

    Emma and Regina
    (Deep breath)

    Regina didn’t think she would get or did she feel entitled to a happy ending at the end of 3A. She told Henry “I’m a villain and villains don’t get happy endings”. However, when Robin entered the picture, he was that person who managed to see her for who she currently is and not who she was and managed to accept and love her. For Regina, Robin represents a future, a second chance and most importantly hope. Hope is something that Regina abandoned for a long time because after Daniel died, she was married off and there wasn’t hope of finding love or a happily ever after, she gave up on that and eventually after years without it, she kinda lost her ability to love properly. Henry taught her how to love properly again, Robin taught her how to hope again.
    I think her frustration with Emma stems from the fact that despite everything, during season 3 they kinda became friends, and like Emma said they are similar and they understand each other in a way that others can’t. I think for Regina she can’t wrap her mind around how out of ALL the people Emma could have brought back, she randomly managed to pick out the wife of her boyfriend. It’s understandable that it makes her wonder if it was done deliberately on some level because really, what are the chances that you would end up in that moment and choose to bring back that particular person accidentally? I’m not angry at Regina for lashing out simply because I don’t see it as coming from a place of pure malice, just her genuinely being devastated and feeling incredibly alone all over again. She’s lost her soulmate who she probably felt was the only person who could ever even want to be with and love her at this point, and then this person (Emma) who she thought might be her friend and who she thought understood how much she had changed, might not actually be her friend at all. The moment towards the end where Emma tells her that’s she’s the only person who really gets her and that she genuinely just wants her to be her friend, I think in that moment it probably registered more with Regina that Emma is in fact her friend and does care and that it really wasn’t Emma’s intention on any level to cause her grief. It also goes back to what Snow was saying that Regina doesn’t feel things with her heart like others do but with her whole soul. We’ve seen others without their hearts become almost emotionless (e.g Cora, Will). Without it Regina was still able to love and feel deeply and I think it goes both ways, while she loves deeply with her whole soul, she also grieves deeply with her whole soul. Regina is dealing with loss again but unlike last time, she’s not projecting her pain on the entire town/kingdom, nor is she out to kill the person that caused it. She lashed out at Emma verbally instead of physically and what she’s not projecting Emma’s way, she’s coping with on her own internally. This is character growth for Regina. I don’t expect her to go from 100-0, so her not projecting anything is completely out of the question and would be quite unbelievable for her character tbh.

    Emma, is at a much better point in her life, she is surrounded by her parents, brother, son and boyfriend. She has family, love, passion and purpose. I think that is also why she is a little more in control of her powers, she’s not as conflicted and lost as she was previously. She found more of a sense of self. I’ve seen so many people ask why she doesn’t lash back at Regina and the simple answer is that…she gets it. She understands that Regina is hurt and that she’s struggling. Her seeking out Regina, who has made it clear she wants to be left alone only to end up verbally sparring with her would be pointless. With Emma being apologetic, she’s not apologizing for saving Marian (nor should she), she’s sorry for hurting Regina. You can be sorry you hurt someone without regretting actions. Apologies aren’t always solely about admitting guilt but more about just acknowledging that you’ve hurt someone that means something to you.
    I loved the flashback and love how they tied it into the present day situation.
    I also love the whole Regina/Emma = Elsa/Anna parallel that they did and the message of not giving up on people, even when they try to push you away.
    I think my fave scene was in the vault at the end. Sometime people build walls just to see who cares enough to climb over or break them down and Snow, Emma & Henry have all done this with Regina.
    Emma gets how far Regina has come and she understands that it wasn’t easy. Emma going back and telling that even if she hates her and wants to kill her, she’s not gonna stop trying to be her friend was huge for both. Emma, like Regina understands the whole putting up walls thing. She understands how pain makes you do that and how hard it is to let people in and how much harder it is to lose people. Like Emma said they both know what it is to be rejected, misunderstood and what it is to feel so alone in the world and that makes them unique among those around them. For the last couple of seasons Henry, Snow, David, Hook & Neal were constantly trying to break down Emma’s wall and get through to her and they have, and that has put Emma in a place where she feel like she’s home, loved and knows who she is. Even Regina did in a way by pushing her to embrace her power, which is essentially a part of who she is, and getting frustrated because Emma had all this potential and had this amazing part of herself that she was refusing to tap into.
    Regina stopping her and confessing that she didn’t want to kill her and Emma’s optimism & smile at the end was a really sweet moment.
    I’m really excited to see their friendship grow. The scene at the end with Hook was really nice too, I love how she feels comfortable enough to open herself up to him finally and I love how loving and understanding he is toward her.

    Not really sure where the Snow Queen is going with her plan to have a family that loves her. Terrorizing Emma and Elsa doesn’t seem like an effective method but we’ll see.

    I love your reviews btw. 🙂

    • Thank you! 🙂

      I wish I had something articulate to say in response to the wonderful way you broke down Emma and Regina’s dynamic, but all I can say is BRAVO. It’s comments like this one—full of deep understanding for both sides of a conflict, appreciation for character growth, and genuine enthusiasm—that make me smile so big my face hurts. It was a wonderful bit of analysis to read with my morning mug of tea, and I thank you so much for sharing it with not just me but with all of my readers.

  8. “But it also reflected the central theme of the episode: When you feel like someone is supporting you and loves you, you are more willing to move beyond your fears and be the best version of yourself.”

    I would not have made this connection but now that you have, I’m in love with it. I loved Snow’s expression when she thought that Charming had set it up to help her move past her fears about Neal. It was recognition and love that her husband knows just what she needs to feel like herself again and that’s the best kind of relationship. They know what they other needs and can nudge them in that direction when they get overwhelmed with their fears and support them until they reach that point.

    Emma’s backstory continues to break my heart at every opportunity. She had finally found a friend and someone she thought would understand her only to have them be lying about who they really were. Lily didn’t mean to hurt Emma like she did, she just embellished a few details to relate to her better. I think she did genuinely care about her, but that doesn’t change how Emma felt or the effect that hurt had on her personality.

    Which brings me to Regina. Can she be mean and a jerk to Emma, yes. But like Lily did to Emma years ago, Emma did something that unintentionally hurt Regina and has made her revert back to her previously learned instincts. Things in Regina’s life were finally going well. She didn’t have a controlling mother to contend with, she was starting to be accepted by the people of Storybrooke, her son loved her, and she found love again with Robin. All those things were a result of her journey toward redemption as well as gave her more strength to move forward with that journey. And once things start going well, losing part of that happiness just hurts even worse. It’s hard to be mad at Robin for staying with his wife (though I still manage it a little bit, oops) and Regina didn’t do anything to drive him away so she can’t be mad at herself, so she lashes out at Emma. Emma may not have directly or intentionally hurt Regina, but Regina’s pain is a result of Emma’s actions so she’s the most logical to be angry with. Just because a person didn’t mean to hurt you, it doesn’t mean that the hurt isn’t there. It may not be fair to be angry with them but it’s human.

    That final scene between them was sweet though. Emma isn’t mad at Regina’s anger or words because Emma understands. She knows the pain that comes with losing people and sees that it must hurt to be helping Robin save Marian. For the first time, Emma feels free and safe enough to be her best self and because of that, she can reach out and help Regina while she’s not being her best self. I would really like to see a solid friendship grow between them because Regina needs more people in her life then just Henry. She needs a friend just as much as Emma needed one and I’d like her to have that.

    I want to keep Elsa on the show so badly it’s ridiculous. I loved her conversations with Emma and the advice that she gave her and I don’t want Emma to lose that at the end of 4A.

    Finally, I loved the two Emma/Hook scenes we got. Give me all the cheek kisses because I find them adorable and so casually intimate and it makes me so happy that Emma has that in her life. Then during the end scene, we see just how far Emma has come. That box contained everything that she treasured from her past. It was all the things worth hanging on to as she moved from house to house and she gave it to him to look through. It even had a visual reminder of the man she once loved and if that’s not a demonstration of trust, I don’t know what is. She trusted him with all of her because she knew he wasn’t going anywhere. Emma looked so sad watching the first part of the video she made with Lily and I love that they went from holding hands to Hook holding Emma while she held his hand. You can’t get much more physically supportive and it makes me happy that Emma has someone to lean on literally and figuratively and that she’s letting herself lean on him.

    • I loved every bit of this, Heather. (Then again, when don’t I love every bit of your thoughts on whatever show we’re talking about?) The way you drew that comparison between Emma not meaning to hurt Regina but still hurting her and Lily not meaning to hurt Emma but still hurting her was perfect. Like you said, unintentional hurt is still hurt, and it’s human to react to being hurt no matter what the reasons were behind the other person’s actions.

      “It may not be fair to be angry with them but it’s human.” – This is why I want to hug Regina. I’m someone who tends to overreact when she gets hurt, so I related very strongly to Regina in that sense. She’s only human, and she’s learning to be better than she was. The mere fact that she didn’t lash out at Emma physically or try to take away her happiness is a big deal, considering who she once was.

      I also really loved that you brought up how much Regina needs a friend. Emma has Elsa now (I’m with you on not wanting Emma to lose that at the end of 4A—I’m already getting sad about her leaving.), but Regina only has Henry—and as sweet as that is, it’s not super healthy to be working through your heartbreak with only your teenage son to lean on. She needs a good, strong female friend, and I’m hoping Emma can be that for her in the end. And you know how much I crave as many female friendships as possible on TV. 😉

      • Just wanted to add that I’m with both of you in wanting Elsa to stick around longer! I love her character so much and I wish we could hold on to her.

  9. I really wish that Regina had not forgiven Emma. I really do.

    As long as Emma continues to pretend that she had not really done anything wrong other than mess up Regina’s love life, she doesn’t deserve any forgiveness.

    What Emma had done in the Season 3 finale was dangerous, reckless, arrogant and hypocritical. But because saving Marian meant adhering to her ridiculous role as “the Savior”, she’s pretending that she was in the right. And so is the series and many of the fans.

    I’m sick and tired of the Charmings always failing to pay the consequences of their actions or barely paying the consequences. Is it any wonder I can barely stand them as characters.

    • I’m sorry you feel this way, but, once again, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree.

      I think the Charmings have more than paid for the consequences of any of their actions. Snow and Charming were separated from their daughter for 28 years, Emma lived a terrible life in the foster system believing she had no parents and that no one really loved her, and Snow lost her mother and her father and then Johanna. Also, Snow has apologized for the actions she’s taken that have hurt Regina, and Emma apologized for hurting her. I still don’t think saving Marian had anything to do with Emma’s “Savior” title (which I still think she feels burdened by more often that not). But it’s all a matter of opinion, and our different interpretations of these characters point to how much passion they inspire within this fandom.

      I do hope you find things to enjoy about this show because it must be difficult watching things unfold in a way that bothers you so much.

  10. So, after letting my emotions run away with me last week (I blame the cold medicine) I am back to my normal (mostly) level headed self.

    I really expected Regina to get on my nerves this episode, and to my surprise, she didnt. Not even a little bit actually. It felt very similar back to episode two when Regina just kinda wanted to shut out everyone else and be alone. I get that. She is definitely still in self pity mode, but I like that she is still working hard to try to find a cure for Marian. I also think Regina likes to convince herself she isn’t important to anybody (feeding her own self-pity). Episode two showed her she is still important to Henry, and this episode showed her that she is still important to Emma. Regina doesn’t have a lot of self worth at the moment, but I am glad there are people like Emma and Henry (and Snow) that can show her she is still a person of worth.

    I think its interesting that Regina uses such strong words at Emma “You ruined my life!” yet she isn’t using strong actions against her. In the past when Regina felt like Snow had “ruined her life” how did she react? “I will destroy your happiness if its the last thing I do!”. That wasnt just self pity, that was self pity with a big heaping serving of revenge. But Regina has never this whole season gone the revenge route toward Emma. If she was the same person you think she would immediately try to sabotage Emma’s relationship with Hook. Yet she hasnt even brought it up this season let alone tried to hurt that relationship (I guess there is a chance she is oblivious, but I am sure Henry mentioned at least the date to her). I think Regina thinks that shutting others out doesnt hurt anybody but herself, but she is slowly learning that her reclusiveness does actually hurt others. It hurt Henry, and its hurting Emma and stunting her magic training. And I think realizing these things are slowly going to start building up Regina’s self worth, and I am interested to see how that plays into the Storybook theme.

    You did a really great job hitting all the major points of the episode, so here are a few of my additional observations:

    -While I appreciated the “breather” episode, it was almost too much of a breather. The complete lack of Henry and Rumple or insight into Hook’s brain after getting trampled on last week was a tad confusing.

    -I am also confused by how there is both video of a young Emma with the Snow Queen and a photo of them talking more recent in Storybrooke. When the Snow Queen saw Emma earlier in the season it sounded like seeing Emma in Storybrooke was the last thing she thought was going to happen, yet clearly they had interacted before. I guess we will see if that gets explained later.

    -The moment I saw Emma and Regina were on that bridge, over the same ravine Regina used to train Emma in magic in last season’s ‘The Jolly Roger’ I was hoping Emma was going to save both of them from the falling bridge (“Just like you taught me”). But no. Oh well.

    -The CGI on Elsa’s ice bridge was pretty decent, but the idea was heavy handed. I can handle the cheesy dialogue references, but this one went overboard for me.

    -CHEEK KISSES. More of this please!

    -One of my favorite parts of the finale scene (but really it was all perfect) was Hook looking at the photo of Emma and Neal together. Neal isnt just a part of Emma’s past, he is a part of Hook’s past as well, and I think that added a nice little moment to recognize a bit of their pasts that they both share, as well as the grief they share in the present with him gone.

    -I loved the video camera Snow Queen reveal. Both Jen and Colin played their shock/horror perfectly, and I am glad that Hook was there when she made that discovery so she didnt have to freak out alone.

    • I’m so glad you brought up the scene of Hook looking at the photo of Emma and Neal. I really likes that scene and I thought it was a bittersweet moment for Hook considering he had just spent the day sailing with Henry. Hook is getting the change to do the things with Henry that Neal never will, but they are also the things Hook wanted to do with Bae. And I think it was a nice bookend to the earlier scene where Will said Hook was using the son to get close to the mother – when in actuality Hook’s relationship with Henry is so much more than that.

    • I love how we were in the same boat with our reactions to Regina in this episode. I was so ready to be annoyed, but instead I found myself understanding why she was acting this way, which is a sign of good writing, I think. Like you said, Regina’s words may have been strong, but they weren’t accompanied by any destructive actions this time.

      This was definitely similar to Regina shutting Henry out earlier this season, and it’s very similar to (as you said on Twitter) Emma’s talk of going back to New York last season. It’s a case of two women not believing that people could be hurt by them leaving/shutting others out because they spent so much of their lives alone. And just like Emma needed someone to stand up to her and say “You need to stop running,” Regina needed someone to tell her to stop trying to lash out as a means of keeping people away. She had Henry at first, and now she has Emma. It’s a case of showing people your worst to prove that everyone leaves and no one really cares, but, just like Emma experienced last season, Regina now has people willing to prove to her that they won’t be pushed or scared away.

      I’m glad you brought up the photo of Neal because I thought Jennifer and Colin played that beat perfectly. It was a moment of shared grief for a person they both loved, and I thought it was handled beautifully. I also agree that it was so good to see that Emma had someone by her side as the Snow Queen reveal unfolded.

  11. Yet again your review is just perfect – you say it all so much more eloquently than I ever could!
    I was really ready to hate Regina this episode and while I still am not quite ready to say that I want Regina and Emma to be friends I am feeling more sympathetic to Regina than I thought I would. I really don’t like how Regina blamed Emma for ruining her life but Emma has never once blamed Regina for ruining her life – and I’m sorry but what Regina did to Emma was way worse than what Emma has done to her! What is amazing about Emma is that even though she never thought she’d get her own happy ending, she will still fight to help people achieve their happy ending. And now at last Emma is getting her happy ending – since she accepted that Storybrooke is her home she is like a new woman. The final scene with Emma and Hook just killed me – Emma was so vulnerable throughout the whole scene – and I loved how Hook read the situation immediately – he arrived all cheerful but as soon as he saw Emma he knew she was upset and when he asked for permission to look at the box was just excellent. Emma was so tense when Hook started to go through her stuff but his joy in seeing her glasses, ring etc just calmed Emma down, and then when she started to watch the video – again it was perfect. Now that Emma has let Hook in, he is very rapidly becoming her rock and he knows exactly how to read her and help to calm her down. I know there’s angst on the way for Emma/Hook but I really hope it won’t be anything too dramatic as I really don’t want Emma hurt again!

    Also I think that Elizabeth Mitchell is knocking it out of the park as the Snow Queen – the fact that she never raises her voice or acts all crazy makes her even scarier. I can’t wait to see how her history with Emma will play out.

    • Thank you!

      I’m really loving the fact that this episode was written and acted in a way that made many of us who were a bit skeptical at first much more understanding of Regina’s emotional state and sympathetic towards what she’s going through.

      And as far as upcoming angst goes, I think this episode set up the idea that Emma is going to be much more open to forgiving Hook and understanding his side of the story than she would have been at any other point in her life. I think there will be drama (of course), but I don’t think it will be anything these characters won’t ultimately overcome—that’s why they’re setting up the foundation of their relationship so well now.

  12. Upon rewatch, kudos to the actress playing teen Emma. Something about her wiping the star off her wrist reminded me so much of Emma!

  13. A lot of interesting things happened in this episode, but lets not mince words this episode was a watershed moment for the relationship of Emma and Regina. It was the moment I had been waiting for since the season finale when Emma chose to defy the rules of magic and save Marian, against everyone’s advice. I said it then and I believe it now. Part of the complexity that I enjoy about Once Upon a Time is its willingness to show that just because you did the ‘right’ thing (in this case, saving Marian) it doesn’t mean there aren’t repercussions and consequences to those actions. For me, aside from the obvious parallel to Regina, that is what made the flashbacks with Emma meaningful. Young Emma through Emma in the woods with Elsa being the voice of reason has struggled with reconciling that choices, regardless of intent have a ripple effect and sometimes she isn’t the one on the receiving end. Emma is inherently good. That she has been wounded and lost didn’t make her evil, but it did set her astray just as you pointed out with her repeated cadence last season about returning to New York. I think it’s important to note that Emma’s journey home to acceptance and trust of her family was three years in the making. Regina’s journey towards the light began just last season, her ability to use light magic was to prove that she possessed goodness. But as her character was quick to remind the viewer that good and evil are not simple. Nor is it an either/or proposition for most people. We all have the capacity for both and it is how we go about wielding that power and to what purpose that matters most. This episode was a terrific reflection of her fears and conflict around doing the right thing. You said it so beautifully how Regina’s pain is why she is caving back in on herself. When we are hurt, scared and uncertain we resort to what we know. Where we are most confidant. The mask that best protects us. And for Regina, that is by shutting down and not giving consideration to others. Yet we saw differences throughout the episode of how she has changed and continues to grow. The sheer fact that she was in the woods to find the Snow Queen to save Marian. That she conceded knowing that Emma didn’t intend to hurt her. They are small acknowledgements, but ones that matter in a trajectory and journey when you are isolated. You said it perfectly when you wrote, “She never believed someone could see her at her worst and still care about her.” That was the biggest movement in this episode for Regina.

    For me this episode came down to three scenes:

    Round 1 – Emma goes to see Regina: Establishing that not a ton of time has passed since Marian returned gives us enough to understand that Regina is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Fact is there is no joy in knowing Robin loves her because it doesn’t change reality. That Marian must be saved, Regina is likely the only one who can do it and she is doing so without hope of being reunited with Robin. In the real world, love doesn’t always conquer all. Sometimes loving someone doesn’t mean you get your happy ending together. Emma and Regina both know this because they’ve both lived it. When Emma comes to Regina it is because she needs information, not because she’s concerned about Regina. Her response is realistic not just because of who her character is but because they aren’t friends. They’ve been allies and that is a different thing. It is also why Regina is cynical when Emma tells her she has her back. The fact is Emma’s motives have never been specifically to support Regina, they’ve been in service of protecting Henry or the greater good. Nothing wrong with that, but it is not the same as being there for someone because you believe in them.

    Regina & Emma – Round 2 — The woods. Emma is like the constant exposure to the source of your deepest pain. Emma’s motives are genuine and she is motivated by goodness but what she fails to see and what Regina points to are the fact that there is no foundation between these women as friends to connect with around this recent pain. From the moment they met there was antagonism, that has morphed into a shared respect through their love of Henry. That isn’t a friendship. It is also the first opportunity that Regina has to lash out about the situation as a whole. Part of Regina’s anger in the woods is the pent up sadness from having the wind knocked out of her when Marian appeared. Regina has never had to consider the nuance around her anger and separate being angry at the situation vs. the catalyst of that anger. Nothing Regina says in the woods is untrue. She fully recognizes that Emma was ill intended, but she still hurt someone in the process. Regina has no where to put her anger and it is why she caves in on herself and shuts down any sense of compassion. Emma’s reaction to the mirror feeds exactly into Regina’s fear. These two have never established trust between each other. Emma expects it because of what they’ve been through, but neither woman has earned it with the other. As Regina says – they aren’t partners, never have been.

    I think it is important to note that the woods proves once again the power of Regina and Emma working together side by side. No matter what they show through their magic that they are stronger together then apart. It’s indicative of the larger theme you so wonderfully point to from the astute observation about Will. It is why I loved the fact that it is Elsa who holds the mirror up for Emma to see. Elsa has been in Regina’s shoes. She’s been the perceived evil and had the chains of fear hold her prisoner (literally). She found within herself that her trust and love she and Anna have for each other is more powerful than her fears. That trust, that belief to not give up on Regina gives Emma the reminder to not make the mistakes of her past as she did turning her back on Lily.

    Round 3 – Friendship. Regina knows nothing about friendship because she’s never had a true friend. She’s never experienced someone who didn’t need or want something of her in return. Sheltered and used by Cora only to be manipulated by Rumplestilskin Regina has had little to trust in surrounding her. Easier to isolate herself and put out the difficulty that comes with having emotions and vulnerability. Both cause pain as much as they cause joy. It isn’t surprising that her trust has only ever lied in Henry. He held the innocence of a child and even when she believed the worst in herself, he saw her as her best, his mother. It is the point of the flashbacks. That forgiveness is the key to finding happiness. Forgiveness is how we find a road to trust and to happiness. That is what Emma discovers. She found her family, her home through forgiveness. It is the piece of the puzzle she carries to open the door for Regina. In telling her story she shows Regina an alternate path for them. She shows her the power of forgiveness, by doing so opens the door to begin to build trust. The honest surprise on Regina’s face is so powerful. It had never even dawned on her that there was the possibility for friendship. And when Regina calls her Emma to beckon her back after spending the entire episode referring to her as Miss Swan as she had through all of season 1 it was Regina extending herself back and opening up the possibility for them to be friends. It is in that moment she chooses forgiveness and in doing so plants the seed of trust for her and Emma to pivot to somewhere different and from a basis that is motivated by the traits and experiences they share.

    For me that was the power of what was one of my favorite episodes of the season.

    • I have nothing to say except WOW. You said everything so perfectly that I am in awe. It’s comments like this one that makes running this site feel so rewarding and truly like a labor of love.

      I loved every word of this, but this sentence especially hit home with me:

      “When we are hurt, scared and uncertain we resort to what we know. ”

      That’s so true not just for Regina but for all of these characters as they struggle on their journeys towards becoming their best selves. It’s a human reaction to pain, fear, and self-doubt—to return to the old habits and old ways of thinking that we used to define ourselves by. It’s only when we feel safer and supported that we can break free from those old mindsets and habits and grow. In the words of “Fixer Upper” from Frozen (which is basically the ethos of this whole show): “People make bad choices when they’re mad or scared or stressed. But throw a little love their way, and you’ll bring out their best.” 😉

    • Yep, ^this. 😉

      Also, “Regina knows nothing about friendship because she’s never had a true friend. She’s never experienced someone who didn’t need or want something of her in return.” Did anyone else have a flashback of S1 Regina’s face when Kathryn Nolan told her she had a friend now?

  14. Amazing review, really added to my understanding of the episode!

    The use of Snow this half season has me in awe, considering none of the major plot points intersect with her. Yet with as efficiently placed screentime and lines as they can, they’ve managed to make her emotional reaction to this new life vital, in addition to using her to provide charming scene after charming scene (The scene with Snow and the digging Will is so great!). I just love Snow’s scenes in episodes 2, 3 and 5. Ginnifer Goodwin is as good as anyone on the show right now.

    For her growth Regina was tapping into that dark side a bit when ordering Sidney around, which is why it’s for her best she doesn’t have him around anymore. Wonder if they’ll show Regina realizing how cruel she’s been to him. It brings me back to something I was thinking about Sidney earlier this season where he’s not the Anna to Regina’s Elsa, because he feeds into her darkness instead of believing in the best of her. Sidney is addict, in a way. It made me wonder if the reason he tried to jump to the Snow Queen is he realized Regina was on her way up. The Regina Sidney feeds on was the one who wanted to kill Marian. Thus it’s kind of sad that Sidney betrays Regina right when she may be on the way to becoming the kind of person who’d treat him well or treat him like a family member like he needs.

    • Thanks so much!

      I’m always happy to see another person who appreciates Ginnifer Goodwin’s acting and Snow’s storylines. 🙂

      And what you said about Sidney is very interesting, and you are right—he’s definitely not the Anna to her Elsa because he enables her darkness instead of believing in her goodness.

  15. Great review as always, Katie! First I want to talk about the moment that completely made me melt, when Hook asked for the honor of seeing what was inside the box. The way he said it and looked at her showed what a precious and huge gift she was giving him by letting him see the remnants of her childhood. He treated it with gentleness and care and even asked her if she was okay. Again, it shows how well he understands her. And he knows how precious anything-big or small- that she reveals to him is. He didn’t push her and Emma willingly gave him that insight into her past. That shows so much character and relationship development.
    And then there’s Regina. Part of me was somewhat frustrated with her and how stubborn she’s acting. But the other part of me completely understands. I can relate to both Regina and Emma since I’ve been on both sides of that situation, hurting someone unintentionally and being hurt. Both of them are used to shutting people out and pushing them away whenever anyone hurts them. It’s how they’ve dealt with pain in the past. You mentioned Regina was acting very true to her character and I agree. It’s easier for Regina to put up her walls than to forgive Emma. She hasn’t quite matured enough to realize that. I can relate to both of them since I’ve been on both sides of that situation, hurting someone unintentionally and being hurt. But I’m glad we saw a little bit of hope from Regina telling Emma she didn’t want to kill her. That is a little bit of growth that we haven’t seen before. The old Regina would have been trying to kill Emma or at least trying to sabotage her life.
    Lastly, I just want to say I am thoroughly enjoying Will Scarlet as an addition to the cast. He brings nice comic relief. And I’m intrigued to see why he’s there and what happened to him.

    • Thank you, Cathy!

      I loved your take on that last scene between Emma and Hook. The fact that he called it an honor was beautiful enough, but what made that whole moment so special was the fact that he treated each little item in the box with real care, showing that it wasn’t just words; he really does see it as a honor to be given this look into her past. He was incredibly gentle with the box and its contents, and it showed that he knows how important it was to treat this moment with care.

      I also liked that you pointed out how relatable both Emma and Regina’s sides of their situation are. I’ve also been someone who has unintentionally hurt someone and someone who’s been hurt like that—I think many of us have. And the fact that this show can use something fantastical like bringing someone back from another time and make it feel relatable is a testament to just how good OUAT can be when it’s firing on all cylinders.

  16. Thank you very much for this review!
    This is the first time though I can’t fully agree with what you wrote (and first time I felt the need to comment). I am not a negative person and I am very happy for you that you could see Regina in the light you did after this episode. But I do think it’s interesting that you didn’t mention Emma’s “Regina has always had her back” phrase – because to anyone who’s watched the show from day one it would be very hard for this statement to ring true. Or the fact that Regina blamed Emma for destroying her life when what Regina did (on purpose and out of selfishness by casting the curse) weighs so much heavier than Emma saving a life and hurting Regina in the process, without intending to.
    I am really happy that someone who’s as smart and perceptive as you could overlook all that and feel okay with what we were shown – I was so sad after watching 4×05. In spite of all the lovely snowing and captain swan moments. Because unlike what you described Regina HAS been shown mercy and forgiveness beyond what she deserved by Snow (and Charming). And it was impossible for me not to think of all the pain she’s caused to Emma and her family (and others) and the fact that she has never apologized for it when she was talking to Emma the way she did. It felt so wrong to see Emma fight for Regina with such persistence considering actual canon. I appreciate the message of love and hope of ouat immensely but what I saw in 4×05 felt like the writers rewriting canon for the sake of a character that is loved to extremes by fans. And that was heartbreaking.

    • I agree Regina hasn’t always had Emma’s back, but I don’t have a problem with Emma saying that to her. Emma saying Regina always had her back, could include Regina not actually always having her back, but Emma just being wrong within the context of the story. Or more likely, Emma having some doubts about whether Regina really always had her back, but saying it with more certainty anyways because she feels it’s the best way to get Regina more on her side. For example I also believe that when Emma said what she really wanted was a friend instead of trying to make up for what she did to Regina, it wasn’t the complete truth either. Even if it’s not untrue Emma wants to be friends with Regina, I think she was indeed motivated by the blame she puts on herself for hurting Regina’s happiness.

    • Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us, and I’m sorry this episode left you feeling sad.

      I don’t know if I can say anything to make you feel better about Regina, but I will say that I think the whole “always had your back/never had my back” thing did ring a bit false, but I think it’s another case of Regina saying things in an attempt to push Emma away, much like Emma did last season with all of her talk about going to NYC and all of her biting comments towards Hook right before the season finale. People say things that aren’t necessarily true in an attempt to push people away when they feel like they need to be alone, and sometimes people overstate things (like Emma did) in order to try to make amends. I do think both characters have supported each other at times (usually for the greater good, too, but they still were on the same team and looked out for each other), so I wasn’t too bothered by what Emma said.

      Also, it didn’t bother me to see Emma fighting for Regina anywhere near as much as I thought it would, and I think that’s because it wasn’t coming from a place of Emma being a doormat but simply Emma wanting to prove to someone she relates to that you don’t have to be alone. Having people fight for her helped Emma so much, and I think she wants to “pay it forward” in a way with Regina. And I don’t see that as rewriting canon, I see that as Emma being the empathetic person she’s always been written as.

  17. I missed the original airing and had to watch it online yesterday, and then I wanted to really think about it afterward. I loved your review, it is, as always, very insightful and well balanced.

    I think that I, like a lot of people, was prepared to be annoyed with Regina about how she’s been behaving toward Emma, but I found myself feeling really sorry for her. I was thinking about it, and if you consider Regina’s history, she’s had a series of experiences that have been very hurtful if not downright traumatizing, and I don’t think she’s ever had the opportunity to process those normal emotions (anger, grief, betrayal) in a healthy way. Previously when something happened (i.e. Daniel’s death), she wasn’t allowed to grieve properly, and I think that may have seriously warped her ability to process complex emotions (she did turn into the Evil Queen, after all). I think the way she’s been reacting to the Marian issue has been really impressive given her history and apparent inability to cope with loss (and I do think that she’s suffered a loss; even if RH isn’t dead like Daniel, the idea of her relationship was killed, and that is just as important). I also think that she’s trained herself to think that nobody will support her, so the idea that Emma genuinely wants to be her friend and isn’t acting with some self-serving motivation is really foreign to Regina. I think that Regina’s willingness to even consider the idea that maybe Emma really just wants to be supportive, be her friend, is a really good step in the right direction for her to start breaking out of her own self pity and isolation.

    For half a second I thought that the writer were implying that the SQ was Lily, and that made me angry. When we got to the tape at the end and found that the SQ was actually Emma’s foster mother (good call on that one!), I felt a whole lot better.

    Loved the Emma/Hook interaction this episode, it once again felt very real to me. Relationships are more than just passionate, dramatic kisses, so the peek on the cheek and the hand-holding were really lovely to see. I LOVED everything about the final scene between them; Emma’s inability to look at Hook as she’s passing him the box, her body language that is just screaming about how uncomfortable she is and yet she lets him look anyway, the way he smiles at the glasses, the sort of wistful expression when he finds the pictures of Emma and Neal (and the way Emma looks at him, a little uncertain what his reaction is going to be, and then seems relieved when their eyes meet and he’s not annoyed or whatever she was worried about him feeling) and most especially the way SHE moves into HIM while watching the tape, pulling his arm around her shoulders. There was such a closeness and a sense that he just wants to make her feel better, it’s just what he does. Oh, and I definitely think the Emma/Neal photo was a selfie, just because of the angle and how close it is, so that didn’t bother me, although now that you mention the Robin/Regina photo, that does seem a little odd.

    Elizabeth Mitchell was spectacular, especially coming back from our over-the-top Zelena. The comparison is especially grating now that we get a sense of what the SQ’s motivations are, because doesn’t SQ want, basically, what Zelena wanted? They both wanted to force someone to love them, but the differences in the way they brought/bring that concept to life is startlingly different. I’m actually a little disturbed by the SQ. The way Mitchell can delivery her lines with that almost icy quiet while still giving us that mad light in her eyes is so much more terrifying to me than Zelena ranting like a lunatic. I’m really interested in how she got here from the EF/Arandelle, and how the timeline really syncs up and am really, really love her as the “bad guy” this season.

    • I also loved that Emma’s hair was up for the final scene, and I’m going to be watching in future episodes to see how they’ve done her hair for the heavier Emma/Hook interactions. I wouldn’t be surprised if they carried that idea from the date of her being more open by not hiding under her hair even further during the season.

      • Thank you for pointing out this detail! I thought it was a really beautiful way to continue that theme of showing Emma’s vulnerability and openness through her appearance.

        • I thought the same thing about Emma’s hair. That her hair being up in the scene gives her an openness while when her hair is down its another form of armor. I also feel like Emma is wearing lighter tops to emphasize that she isn’t as conflicted on where she belongs or who she is.

        • After my last comment about Emma’s wardrobe, it occurred to me that Regina has been consistently wearing shades of grey in the past five episodes. It’ll be interesting to see when that trend ends.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us! Thanks especially for pointing out Emma’s body language in that last scene. You could see the tension and uncertainty, and the fact that she still handed that box to him despite being visibly nervous about it says so much about the bravery inherent in that act. And I loved the way you could see her gradually relax as the scene progressed and she realized he genuinely thought it was an honor to be given this look into her past.

      I also completely agree with you about the nice contrast between Elizabeth MItchell and Rebecca Mader. There’s something infinitely more terrifying about Mitchell’s take on villainy.

    • To me a key difference between SQ and Zelena is Snow Queen wants to complete her life, but Zelena wanted a new life entirely. Zelena had nothing left to love or hold onto in this world while Snow Queen, has at least a few things. (though I did find it well written that despite so much self hate, at the very end, even Zelena didn’t want to die)

      I agree Snow Queen and Elizabeth Mitchell is a great throat cleanser, but to me Zelena for her campiness still has more developmental writing behind her than most any other show would do with such a villainous character. I see her and Pan as on the right side of the very thin line between inhuman caricature and very very psychologically sick characters who’ve almost lost their humanity, the latter of course much more interesting narratively. To me there was a “real” version of Zelena hidden underneath all that Wicked Witch stuff, but it was afraid to come out after so much she’s been hurt and rejected. The Wicked Witch was her shield because as the Witch, she gets to pretend the love she’s not getting, doesn’t matter. Thus if the witches had betrayed her for Dorothy, as human Zelena it would’ve shattered her, but as the Wicked Witch, she gets to pretend the acceptance of a family like the witches doesn’t matter or drags people down anyways. I liked the Dorothy flashback a lot because it showed how scared Zelena really was deep down.

  18. I usually always agree with your reviews, but this time unfortunately I can’t.
    I can’t see Emma’s actions in this episode in a good, character growth way. I see it as a repetition of an abuse pattern.
    Regina’s words to Emma in this episode were, let’s not mince words, no less than verbal abuse. Emma is a person who comes from a background where, it’s been heavily implied, she suffered from verbal and possibly physical abuse. Now, Emma deciding not to lash back at Regina? I could be fine with that. I don’t 100% believe it’s true to Emma’s character – a few episodes ago she was telling her “I think you’re bitter and taking it out on the wrong person” – but I could be led to believe that she was feeling particularly over it that day and decided not to engage.
    However, Emma going back to Regina at the end, after all the abuse Regina shouted at her that day, looked nothing short of an abused kid seeking out similarly abusive relationships in adulthood because they think that’s all she deserves. And I just can’t accept that as a positive character development for Emma.

    Furthemore, in trying to create a “connection” between Emma and Regina that would justify why Emma would seek out a friendship with her, they retconned a lot of their own canon. Some examples:
    1. Emma claiming Regina always had her back (untrue) and Regina claiming Emma never had hers. I can handwave the second because yeah, Regina is pretty delusional a lot of the time, but what’s Emma’s excuse?
    2. Emma claiming that Regina has been a good magic teacher for her. Simply untrue. God knows I think Rumple is rotten, but *he* has been a good magic teacher for Emma. Regina hasn’t. The two instances we saw of Regina teaching Emma: first, she told her to channel her anger to create fire. That simply didn’t work and I think Regina called her a complete waste of ability? Later, when Neal and Hook were in danger, Emma did manage to create fire, but NOT by using Regina’s advice (angel) but Rumple’s (think of who you are protecting). Second example of Regina teaching Emma, in 3×17, Emma didn’t manage one SINGLE act of magic on purpose. She saved herself after Regina sent her falling through a cliff, yeah, but Emma’s magic has always appeared to save her when she was in danger. Conjuring magic in non-danger situations has always been her problem.
    3. Regina understands Emma because she, too, knows what it’s like to be born with magic. It’s completely untrue. Zelena was born with magic. Elsa was born with magic. Regina was *taught*. She never manifested magic unwillingly, she sought out a teacher because she wanted to have it and she didn’t.
    4. Emma saying they’re both misunderstood. It’s plain offensive to me to compare the two. Regina is guilty of pretty much every single thing of which people accuse her. People saying “I don’t want to eat your lasagna because you tried to kill me a bunch of times” is NOT being misunderstood.

    Those are just four… lies? retcons? whatever – that the writers had to pull to make Emma seeking out Regina’s friendship somewhat believable. Emma saying “I think we need to get along and be somewhat friends because of Henry”? I’m all for it. Emma saying “I want to be friends because look at those things we have in common!”? I just don’t buy it. Or at least, the writers need to surprise me with some things they actually have in common that don’t contradict their own canon.

    • 1. Regina is hurt and lashing out. While Regina has done monstrous thing, she is in fact human. As humans when we are hurt, sometimes our pain takes over and we say things we don’t mean or things that aren’t fully true in order to try and push someone away or try to hurt them back the way they’ve hurt us.

      2. Regina was teaching Emma magic the only way she knows how to, which was also (as she said) the way Rumple taught her. Every part of this curse from using a young traumatized and broken Regina’s pain to turn her into his monster, to creating the curse, to making Emma the savior, to giving Snow the idea to send Emma away. All of this was all orchestrated by Rumple so he could get what he wanted. He doesn’t care about what happened/happens to Emma or Regina. If you take Rumple out of the equation, everything would be vastly different.

      3. It was already established by both Rumple and The Wizard of Oz that Regina was born with her magic, but similarly to Emma, she had a harder time developing it and didn’t grasp it until later in life. Magic is tied to emotion and Regina’s powers manifested right after she had lost Daniel & been forced to marry the King. Rumple didn’t give them to her, he simply used the incredible amount of pain she was in at that moment to trigger them and then taught her how to continue using her hurt (which he helped twist into hatred) to continue to grow them.

      4. The fact that you don’t see Regina as misunderstood, kinda just shows just how misunderstood she actually is. Regina isn’t a a super villain who simply wants world domination just because. She’s a girl who has endured abuse and manipulation from people who should have loved and protected her. She’s a girl who was taught love was weakness and was absolutely traumatized when her own mother crushed the heart of the person she loved the most. She was a teenager who mere days after losing her true love was forced into marrying a man 3 times her age who didn’t love her. Forced into becoming mother to a girl she befriended, who betrayed her by telling her secret and getting the person she loved killed, and forced into becoming Queen to a kingdom who didn’t want her because she wasn’t Eva. She’s a girl who believed in true love and it being the strongest magic in the world…but was not allowed to find it again because she was married Leopold and (which played a huge part in stopping her from healing and moving on). She’s woman who craves love and family, but has been so tainted and destroyed that for a long time she didn’t know how to get or keep it. Regina is damaged, she’s guarded, she’s angry, she’s hurt, she’s scared of being rejected, she’s lonely and she’s trying to be a better version of herself. Like Emma, she’s has grown up unloved and alone and she builds walls to keep people out in order to keep herself safe (emotionally). Like Emma she’s afraid of letting people in because people tend to leave or die on her. Both Emma and Regina have experienced shattering losses and neither had people there to teach them how to deal with these losses. There is one difference though, while Emma was left alone to deal with her pain, Regina, when she wasn’t left alone had Rumple. The problem is from the day she was born, it’s been his mission to turn her into the darkest, unhealthiest version of herself for his own selfish purposes.
      Regina yelling at Emma was probably the healthiest thing she could have done. Last time she couldn’t yell and vent her pain at the person who had caused it and we all saw how that turned out. She held it in, she kept all her pain, anger, frustration and resentment (all of which were emotions that she was entitled to have) bottled inside for years and it ate away at soul until it finally broke her and she exploded and became destructive to herself, and the entire kingdom. As humans we need to vent, we need to get things off of our chests in order to heal and move forward.
      Emma staying and letting Regina verbally assault her wasn’t Emma feeling like she deserved to be assaulted, it was Emma understanding what it feels like to be lost, alone and hurt and lashing out on people who do care about you even though you don’t realize it. She realized that while unintentional, she did hurt Regina and while she doesn’t regret her actions (nor should she) she does regret that Regina, who has come so far and grown so much and been trying to become the best version of herself, and was finally finding herself, is broken once again. She understands that you need people who care about you to be there to help you find your way back home, which is what Hook, Henry, Snow, Charming, Neal (and even Regina to an extent) helped her do last season.
      All the characters have been damaged by each other in one way or another, they can all sit and play the blame game and point fingers or they can help fix each other and all get their happy ending.

      • Kaydee, this was fantastic. I was all ready to reply, but basically all I would have said was “What Kaydee said!” 😉

        Thank you for bringing up the fact that Rumple took Regina’s pain and manipulated it to make his “monster.” That’s always been one of the biggest reasons why I’ve had sympathy for Regina in many situations; she was encouraged by Rumple to hold onto anger and to become the worst version of herself in order for him to get someone to cast his curse. Ever since “The Doctor” in Season Two, I’ve seen Regina in a new light. Of course, she still needs to work on overcoming what Rumple and Cora taught her and embracing her best self, but that’s true of all of the characters on the show. Some just have a longer road to travel in that way than others, which makes them very compelling characters to watch.

  19. The tiny Killian/Emma scenes were amazing!
    Did you notice in the first part of the first scene the way she smiled and her gaze dropped to his lips for a moment and she swayed towards him as if she was planning to kiss him in a very work-inappropriate way? It was just the subtlest of movements – very well acted by JMo! You can see how much she’s opening up to him and how much she wants him – such a change from only a couple of episodes ago.
    Also, good of them to explain his absence in this episode.
    And of course the scene with her sharing her past with him was extremely important and moving.
    I didn’t question the photo of her and Neal at the time, but I definitely got pulled out of the moment with the photo of Regina and Robin – I think because it was so obviously a still they had taken from filming and there was no one else there to take that photo. I think they probably decided that the emotional impact of that particular moment of happiness was worth trading for realism.
    I have sympathy for Regina while I’m watching the show. She is a very damaged person, taught always to blame other people for her misery, and never shown healthy relationships or how to truly love someone. I don’t imagine she ever had a female friend.
    I was so impressed with Emma choosing to go back and not give up on Regina because I do see so much potential for them to be friends, just as Snow and Regina could be friends if they make an effort. While I was watching I did raise my hackles when Regina claimed that Emma never had her back – after the show someone kindly shared a half dozen moments where Emma most definitely did! But Regina is still wallowing in her self pity and anger, as many people do, forgetting all the times they have been supported and loved because of the few times they have been hurt.
    I’m still interested to see where they’re going with Regina and rewriting the book – seems like a very long slow arc (you know, it feels that way watching in broadcast real time). But I like all the character growth stuff.
    And maybe Regina and Emma (and Elsa and Snow?) can eventually be friends and work together. I would like to see that. Regina and Elsa can talk about being young queens.
    Snow and Charming were adorable! I loved Snow’s little side plot, the happiness she felt when she believed Charming had done all this to give her a win (and Charming’s glee when he realized they could go on an adventure together tracking Will – so adorable! It will be great when she’s at full badass power again). And I don’t think it’s really a big deal that she pardoned Will, considering all he did was break into the library! Not exactly a violent dangerous man… oh, also, I loved when Will was trying to figure out all their relationships. That’s always fun for newcomers.
    Anyway, relationships, friendships, love and support – all good stuff for an episode of Once. I know in the fandom Regina related stuff can be rather polarizing (to say the least) but I feel like the whole show has been setting up this potential for Emma and Regina to be sisters or friends – very different, but also bound by so many commonalities. So the progress towards that was great.
    And next week – so much! many plots! Snow Queen! Belle! confrontations! The only spoilers I see are the promos at the end of each episode, and they made next week look very action packed!

    • I thought the Emma/Neal photo had kind of a cute “selfie” vibe (or as JMo would say, a “double facie”, lol). The one of Regina/Robin was definitely more puzzling. Even if you want to go with the fact that Regina probably has security cameras around her house, the fact the she would of had to make a screen cap, print it out, and then frame is a bit of a stretch. These are the questions we will never have the answers to, but sometimes I like to make up ridiculous head cannons for my own amusement.

    • Your comments always bring a smile to my face because they’re so wonderfully enthusiastic. 🙂

      I appreciated that you pointed out that Regina saying Emma’s never had her back wasn’t something we were supposed to take seriously—or even think that Regina takes seriously. It was a statement made out of self-pity and hurt, and we often say things we don’t really mean when we feel that way. Like you said, sometimes when we’re hurt, it’s a lot easier to pretend that no one has ever been supportive towards us because it makes it easier to be mad at the world. And while that’s not necessarily fun to watch, it’s a VERY human reaction to pain.

  20. Emma Swan is not inherently good. No one is. Emma was a thief. No, I take that back. She’s still a thief. She is knowingly in possession of a stolen car. I don’t care that Neal had originally stolen it. I don’t care that he changed the registration so that it would reflect that Emma is the true owner. She knows it’s a stolen car, yet she still keeps it.

    [“I think the Charmings have more than paid for the consequences of any of their actions. Snow and Charming were separated from their daughter for 28 years, Emma lived a terrible life in the foster system believing she had no parents and that no one really loved her, and Snow lost her mother and her father and then Johanna. Also, Snow has apologized for the actions she’s taken that have hurt Regina, and Emma apologized for hurting her. I still don’t think saving Marian had anything to do with Emma’s “Savior” title (which I still think she feels burdened by more often that not). But it’s all a matter of opinion, and our different interpretations of these characters point to how much passion they inspire within this fandom.”]

    I don’t agree with you. The Charmings paid the price for Snow White unwittingly exposing Regina’s romance with Daniel, which led to his death.

    But their past sufferings is not the price they have to pay for current mistakes and crimes. That doesn’t work at all with me. It seems as if you’re trying to give them a pass for any mistakes or crimes that they commit in any recent episodes. I’m glad that Horowitz and Kitsis made Regina pay the price for her recent mistreatment of Sidney. She deserved it. And she has a major lesson to learn about that book she wants to change. I’m glad that Horowitz and Kitsis made Snow White face that she had committed murder and express remorse for it. I’m glad that Rumpel is occasionally capable of owing up to his mistakes.

    But I still recall how Snow White nearly murdered Mulan, while Emma did nothing to stop her in “Into the Deep”. And neither woman expressed remorse or pay the consequences for what happened. And after Emma’s major faux pas with changing the timeline, many fans are pretending that she had done nothing wrong. It was okay for her to prevent EF Rumpel from being tempted to change the timeline in order to prevent Neal’s death . . . and change the timeline herself, after Hook had warned her? No. I don’t buy that. I don’t care how conflicted Emma is over being “the Savior”. She needs to owe up to her mistakes, or the series needs to make her pay the consequences for it. And she needs to return that damn VW bug to the Portland Police.

    • We all have our opinions about this show. It’s the beauty of art, we are all open to interpret it as we see it. We have opinions about the characters and they are simply that, opinions. We are not creating this show nor the story arcs within them. None of us know where they are headed nor what the comeuppance may be as the show progresses. What I value about this space is that we all talk about our perspectives that we bring to viewing the show. Is Emma my favorite character? Nope. I don’t connect to her the way many do. While I like the Hook and Emma relationship and chemistry of the actors, it isn’t what connects me to the show. The parent child relationships are what I am most connected to in the show.

      The creators have also spoken publicly about the core of this show being captured in that dynamic. Doesn’t make my perspective more accurate or right, it simply makes it my perspective. I agree with you that no one is all evil or all good on this show. That for me is the interesting part. It is the fact that real people have the full capacity for both and make constant choices that are good, bad and irrelevant. I enjoy that those complexities are set forth within the context of fairy tale characters. A set of characters who by tradition are monolithic and not complex for whom the ending is happily ever after.

      Placing human complexity in the overly simplified allows for us as viewers to look at the emotions and power that have a hand in our decisions. Horowitz and Kitsis have built a career (first with LOST, now here) on creating unrealistic, fantastical scenarios in which to explore real human emotions. It is why I believe we attach to characters and why we become passionate about the trajectory these characters take. It isn’t always what we’d want, it isn’t always fun to watch. But for me I find more good than bad in the hour they present each week. When the show was meandering in season 2 I had little to say, because I wasn’t particularly happy with the direction of the show.

      I don’t believe any show is about keeping play by play score. What we as individuals value in a set of characters resonates based on our own life experiences. I connect with the storylines about parent/child relationships because I am in the midst of raising a child. It is the perspective I bring to the discussion. Doesn’t make it right, doesn’t make it wrong. Katie brings her optimism and desire for goodness to her posts which is what connects her to Snow. I rarely agree with full takes here on the episodes. But what I value is the ability to look at the show from another angle and through a different prism. I share mine because it is different, not to be contrary or to prove others wrong. The great aspects of this space is dialogue, not debate. It isn’t about who has the right/wrong opinion, it’s about sharing perspectives. Never have the folks here tried to change my views about Rumple or Regina and I would not dream of attempting to dissuade them of their connections to Emma and Hook. There has always been room on this site for all points of view. I just don’t think we need to tear apart the perspectives of others to do it.

      • “I don’t believe any show is about keeping play by play score. What we as individuals value in a set of characters resonates based on our own life experiences.” – I have nothing to add except to say thank you for this. It’s everything I believe about watching not just OUAT but all shows that I love. If you get bogged down in keeping score, it takes away any enjoyment of the show as a whole. Instead, I’ve found it so much more satisfying to focus on the characters I love and their growth than the characters I don’t like and all the things they’ve done wrong. But maybe that’s just my “inner Snow” showing itself again. 😉

  21. LOVE your analysis! This was such a wonderful episode, and even though the Regina moments were not my favorite for her character, I adored seeing Emma grow strong and vulnerable and powerful in love. Really love how everything is weaving together this season! Thanks for always having such positive and insightful thoughts!

  22. I love this show and I love this site even more. I understand that people feel very passionately for these characters — I do as well. I differ in opinion often from the author of this site. But I treasure her perspective, her sincerity and her embracing of discussion. My viewing of the show has broadened because of the many points of view who are wonderful enough to take the time and share their emotions in a constructive and thoughtful way. It hasn’t changed my perspective or opinions of these characters, it’s merely deepened my vantage point.

    Sure it’s just a TV show, but it is TV show that speaks to the human emotions and experience in a way that effects us enough to want to discuss it. Not debate, but discuss it. That is what makes this particular forum special. There are no opinions or theories to wild, no comment too long (and I say that as the #1 offender of long, run on sentence stream of conscientiousness). There is room for all and what has always been great is it is always respectful. I don’t agree with a lot of takes on Emma’s character. I was very attached to Neal/Bae and I often sit on an island alone in my takes on Rumplestilskin. But it’s never abrasive and never vitriolic. That is what makes NGN different from the likes of Tumblr and other places on the net. Regardless of how passionate we feel as individuals or how this show, it’s characters and creators elate or disappoint, we share a common respect as fans and for the site’s creator. That’s what NGN is and in my opinion it is why it is the very best the internet has to offer.

  23. I really enjoy your reviews and your perspective. I have had a hard time with Regina since episode three, but you always make me consider things that I might not have otherwise. I do think this episode showed how far Emma has come – but more so in here scenes with Hook. While Regina wasn’t as over the top as she can be I still dislike her attitude towards Emma. I understand wy Emma was trying to be a friend but I also don’t think trying to be a friend should mean putting up with Regina’s antics. Emma reached out and tried to be her friend – it is up to Regina to decide if she wants to accept that offer. But I don’t need to see Emma or anyone else make allowances for Regina – now its up to Regina to decide how to handle things going forward.
    And while Regina wasn’t as awful as she could be towards Emma, and even while I can sympathize with her being hurt, Regina is still completely lacking in self-awareness. Regina is in her 60s and her attitude is juvenile at times. I really liked Outlaw Queen but when Regina said Emma ruined her life, it reminded me of a teenager who was heartbroken because her boyfriend of two weeks dumped her. Yes, Emma brought back Marian, but other than being deemed soul mates by pixie dust 30+ years ago, they really hadn’t been together very long. Was Regina already planning happily ever after in her head? Did she think that just because of the dust they would be together forever? Has she not paid any attention to other true love couples and that there will still be struggles both internal and external? I feel like Regina had unrealistic expectations to begin with.
    The other ironic comment from Regina was her telling Emma that she just had to learn to live with what she had done – just like Regina had. But if Regina has really learned to live with what she has done why is she trying to find the author of the book she blames for her being a villain?
    I really think that for Regina this episode was about giving her a choice – she can react like teenage Emma did or she can try and move beyond what happened. It’ll be interesting to see how the next few episodes progress, but since we know the search for the writer will last through the season I don’t think we can predict just where Regina falls in the end.
    Finally I think Sidney’s role is interesting and I hope we see him again. First of all he is the only person besides Henry and Regina who knows about Operation Mongoose. Would he spill the beans to someone? But also what he said to Regina in her interactions with her I think is interesting if we consider what the SQ said about mirrors being reflections of ourselves. How well does Sidney know Regina? Is he reflecting who she really is?

    • I am with you when it comes to seeing how Sidney plays into things moving forward. He’s kinda a wild card at the moment. I wonder if he will align with Rumple or play into next season’s arc. We have talked a lot about actions having consequences, so I would have to think Regina’s treatment of Sidney will have repercussions down the road.

    • I pretty much agreed with everything you said about Regina – she automatically goes into a poor me attitude when things don’t go her way – normally this really annoys me but in this episode I think it just highlights how much Emma has changed since we first met her, and this episode was really about Emma so I’m going with the positive!

    • Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. It’s clear you’ve given this episode a lot of careful thought, and I appreciate the way you really analyzed Regina’s story despite having reservations about how she treated Emma. You’re right—this episode was about giving Regina a choice: hold on to your anger (like young Emma did) or move on and be a better person (like Emma is doing now).

      As far as Regina’s unrealistic expectations of her relationship with Robin go, I’m not sure she thought it was going to be all sunshine and roses; I think she just never thought they would face an obstacle like this one, where it means facing something completely alone, with the person you love (and the person you know loves you) choosing not to be by your side through it, despite having confirmation that they’re your true love. No other couple has faced anything like that.

      When I really think about Regina’s situation right now, I wonder how I would handle that kind of heartbreak—and I think it makes me more sympathetic to her because I’m admittedly not someone who handles being blindsided with pain very well (at least at first).

      And I second your desire to see Sidney again. He’s a fascinating character, and I actually wish we would have gotten at least another episode of him working with the Snow Queen because I really liked his dynamic with Elizabeth Mitchell.

      • “I think she just never thought they would face an obstacle like this one, where it means facing something completely alone, with the person you love (and the person you know loves you) choosing not to be by your side through it, despite having confirmation that they’re your true love. No other couple has faced anything like that.”

        It came close with Snow and Charming when King George made Snow write that letter and leave David/James. I know she was forced, but one could argue Robin’s code of honour is forcing him to do this too. Ah, I don’t know, I think way too much about this show! 😛

    • Well I really didn’t like Outlaw Queen but when Regina said Emma ruined her life, it reminded me of a deeply hurt human being lashing out because it’s her way (and that of many, many people) of dealing with pain.

      I don’t think Regina is upset about losing Robin per se, because as you said they’ve barely been together a couple of weeks. I also don’t think Regina puts much stock in the pixie dust thing, considering she ran away from it the first time, and didn’t seem overly conviced this time around either. I think Regina, once she let herself hope, considered Robin and what he represented as her second chance at a happy ending, probably the only one she had left and that she didn’t think she’d ever have.
      Who is going to love the Evil Queen? Who is going to give her a real chance, get to know the person she is now and value that she is trying to be better, travel the path WITH her? Who is going to trust in the person she is, and the person she can become, instead of continually reminding her of the person she was? Regina didn’t think she’d ever have that, but with Robin she let herself open up to the possibility, only to have it ripped away from her again.
      This is why Emma not giving up is so important, because it shows Regina that there’s someone else other than Henry and Robin who is ready to fight for her. And in that final scene it seemed that Regina might start to believe it’s true. “See? That’s a start.”

  24. Regina had every right to be angry at Emma. The latter had upset her life by committing a dangerous and stupid act. I’m curious. Why was it okay for Emma to change the timeline? Because it saved Marian’s life? Past Rumpelstiltskin wanted to change the timeline so that he could save Neal’s life. But Emma decided that it was wrong for him to do so and convinced him to take a potion that would erase his memory of his recent knowledge of Neal’s fate.

    Why was it okay for Emma to save Marian’s life by changing the timeline, but it wasn’t okay for Rumpel to consider doing the same to save Neal’s life? All of these posts and comments about the complexities of human nature cannot disguise that Emma made the wrong choice in saving Marian. I’m not trying to vilify her, but she needs to realize that she did wrong by changing the timeline. If she doesn’t, she’ll never grow as a character. Not really. Embracing her feelings about Hook and her parents only did part of the job. She needs to acknowledge her mistakes, just as the other characters need to in order to develop. If the series allows her to pretend that she had not done anything wrong in “There’s No Place Like Home”, the showrunners are either telling us that Emma will never learn to acknowledge her mistakes . . . or that we, the audience, are supposed to pretend that her mistakes are not relevant to her character growth. And I refuse to do the latter.

    • I don’t think Emma ever denied she made a mistake bringing Marian back, or that it was a poorly thought out whim. What she doesn’t apologize for, and shouldn’t, is saving a life vs murdering Marian once she was out. She did what she did out of good intentions that backfired, but that doesn’t change the fact that she had good intentions. The difference between her action and Rumple’s is that 1. She didn’t know who Marian was, and leaving her free was potentially more damaging to the timeline than bringing her with them, and 2. Any change made by Rumple would be completely in the dark and would potentially change everything up to and including the curse even being cast.

      Emma and Rumple both understood that he needed to forget. As for saving Marian well…lesser of two evils once she was saved was to bring her along. Given Emma’s character there’s no way we could expect her to turn her back on some she knew would be beheaded the following morning. If you can save a life and turn your back, you’re still culpable for the crime.

      Dez

  25. Emma’s good intentions doesn’t give her an out. She knew about the dangers of changing the timeline. Hook had warned her of the dangers of changing the timeline. And where Emma made her mistake was allowing Marian to leave the dungeon.

    [“If you can save a life and turn your back, you’re still culpable for the crime.”]

    No, I don’t agree. You seemed to think it’s all about saving Marian’s life. No, It was about whether or not to change the timeline. And in that regard, Emma made a mistake . . . or a crime. She saved the life of a woman who had died in the past and opened up the future to some serious consequences. She knew that, thanks to Hook’s warning. But her overweening ego regarding her role as “the Savior” got in the way. I can recall an episode from “CHARMED”, which is an inferior show in which one of the leads had the chance to warn her mother (who had died an early death) that the latter would be killed within less than three years. At first, the character left her mother a note, warning her of the future. But in the end, she realized that she had no business changing the time line for whatever the reason and tore up that note. And her mother died as was fated. Emma should have left Marian in that dungeon. End of story.

    I don’t care if she is “the Savior”. I don’t care if Emma is the show’s protagonist. And I don’t care if her intentions were good regarding Marian. She made a terrible mistake by changing the timeline. Regardless of her intentions, it was also an arrogant move on her part.

    If you want to continue to believe that Emma did the right thing, so be it. I refuse to do so. And I’m going to continue to complain about what she did, unless the show finally have her acknowledge her mistake. As far as I’m concerned, Emma Swan is a well meaning, yet arrogant and careless woman who has no business wielding magic.

    • I’ve said this many times, and it’s one of the founding principles of this site: The beauty of fiction is that it’s open to interpretation, and our interpretations reveal a lot about who we are—so they all deserve to be treated with respect. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about a work of fiction, and I don’t believe people should try to act as if their opinion is the correct one; it is dismissive to those who don’t share that opinion.

      I don’t like to curb discussion, but I feel like I need to step in and say that this is an issue where perhaps we all need to agree to disagree. This argument isn’t getting anywhere, and the tone of this comment suggests that you’re not open to discussing other perspectives on this point without trying to prove why you are right and others are wrong. There are plenty of places to complain on the Internet, but this site was founded on the idea of respectfully talking about the media from a place of positive enthusiasm. The tone of this comment indicates that you’re looking for an outlet to complain and to try to convince those that disagree that they’re wrong, and this site is not the place for that.

  26. Late again! I blame my life, and I will accordingly lash out at it later. 😉

    And wonderful piece as usual. I love this place, the fantastic ideas and arguments that your posts and your commenters bring out, and your capacity and pacience to remain positive and courteous even when certain comments might seem borderline rude.

    Now, this is probably not going to be a popular opinion but I really feel that Regina’s reaction has been greatly exaggerated. It doesn’t make it right, mind, and it wasn’t nice to see, but it’s only human.
    Additionally, we sometimes forget that what has been weeks/months for us it’s only been hours or days in the show’s time-line. In this instance, it’s only been days since:
    a) Regina had her son back after a year or so of heartbreak, and was starting to really open up to Robin and let herself be happy;
    b) Regina chose to make her won destiny and defeated Zelena using white magic;
    b) Regina discovered that Emma wanted to take Henry back to NYC and hadn’t told her (or Henry for that matter);
    c) Emma ran instead of facing Regina and Henry and explaining herself like they deserved;
    d) Emma messed with the past and brought Marian back;
    e) Robin decided to stay with his wife and end things with Regina;
    f) Marian got frozen and Regina is apparently the only one who can help her.
    I imagine that anyone in Regina’s position (regardless of the past, because all that matters to us is the here and now, selfish humans that we are) would lash out. This very same episode showed us young Emma being harsh to Lily because she was hurt. And we’ve seen Emma being harsh to Regina in previous episodes too (“The Cricket Game” anyone?).
    Also, let’s not forget that Regina has been trying to avoid Emma, and that it’s Emma who insistently keeps bringing up the discussion. We all have different ways of dealing with our issues and with our pain, and regardless of good intentions, it’s never a good idea to try and force someone to deal with them differently.

    It also seems to me that generally there’s no middle ground where Regina is concerned: either people are Evil Queen apologists, or everything she does is taken out of proportion because she was a monster. In the end, she’s just a person (or a TV show character, actually) with her flaws and her strengths.
    Regina has done terrible things, granted, but so have Rumplestiltskin, Hook, Snow, Neal, Ruby, Granny, the Blue Fairy, Whale, even Archie. Some of them are considered ‘the heroes’ and ‘the good guys’, and most of the terrible things they’ve done have had very little consequences and have been forgiven and forgotten easily. This show, its characters and most of its fans are a tad hypocritical in that aspect. If it were real life, not only Regina and Rumplestiltskin but most of Storybrooke would be in prison for one reason or another.

    There’s this argument all over tumblr/twitter/fanboards that Emma shouldn’t be apologising to Regina, that Regina has no right to say that Emma ruined her life because she ruined Emma’s childhood first. I could argue that Regina did not ruin Emma’s childhood, that it was the Charmings’s decision to put Emma in the wardrobe that did it; we don’t know what Regina would have done with baby Emma had she found her. Could she have decided to raise her and love her as her own daughter, like she did with Henry even after discovering who his birth mother was? Maybe. We don’t know. Now, I could argue something similar for Emma’s ruining Regina’s life; it’s Robin’s decision to stick with his wife that’s ultimately breaking his relationship with Regina, even though he insists he’s in love with her and they are soulmates. Just like the Charmings could have not sent Emma through the wardrobe, Robin could have chosen Regina over Marian. Still, it doesn’t mean that Regina or Emma are not responsible for the consequences of their actions.

    Regina said to Emma: “You’re trying to win me over to try and assuage your guilt… You ruined my life, and there’s no coming back from that. I know you think you didn’t mean to, but you hurt someone. So do as I do, learn to live with it. Welcome to my world. ”
    I think that moment was very important. We’ve been told that Regina can’t regret what she’s done in the past because it led her to Henry, but it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t feel remorse. We don’t really know if she does, but I believe the show has given us many hints towards the positive (mainly Lana Parrilla’s wonderful work of showing so many different emotions with her expressions and Regina’s path to redemption). It’s her attitude that’s important, IMO. She knows what she’s done, she acknowledges it, and accepts that she has to live with it; seeking pardon or redemption from others doesn’t change that fact and is somewhat self-serving.
    This is why the final scene between Emma and Regina made sense for me. Emma lets herself be vulnerable and shares something about herself with Regina to make her understand that she knows she hurt her, and she’s learning to live with it, and, not BECAUSE but DESPITE this, she acknowledges there’s an important connection between them as individuals (that goes further than sharing Henry; she didn’t even try to use their son as a link between them) and that Regina is important to her, and she vows to keep trying. Season 4’s theme is “never give up on the people you love” and Regina needs that, she needs someone to fight for her, to not give up on her.
    There are many ways of saying “I care about you too”; “I don’t want to kill you” seems to be a good one for a former Evil Queen. 😉

    Other thoughts:

    – David’s line about Asgard was simply brilliant.

    – Snow’s reaction to Will Scarlet casually assuming she was married to Emma was fantastic; that small moment there probably did more for LGBT than the whole Mulan/Aurora flop.

    – Like you pointed out, who on earth takes those pictures? Is there some random stalker taking pictures of Emma and Regina when they’re alone with their boyfriends? Creepy. And a very lazy job from the OUaT team.

    – How did it turn dark so fast the first time Emma went to talk to Regina to her vault? It was day when she went in leaving Elsa in the car, it was night after her 5-minute conversation when she came outside and Elsa had vanished.

    – Why is Regina’s magic red now?

    – Is Emma’s flower tattoo related to Lily’s birthmark and her drawing a star in Emma’s wrist?

    – Is the Snow Queen’s mirror going to shatter and its shards lodge in someone’s eye (Emma? Anna?) turning them unfeeling and cold like in the original fairytale?

    – Emma’s and Hook’s last scene was very nice, but I can’t help wishing that it had been Snow instead. It was a unique opportunity to move along the Emma/Snow dynamic (which has been sorely lacking since the first curse was broken, except that small tidbit in Neverland), and a nice parallel to when cursed-Snow saw the baby blanket the first time around. Oh well.

    – The Snow Queen as Emma’s ‘froster’ mum! (sorry, I had to! ;-P)

    – This is not particular to this episode but I keep thinking about Regina and the whole ‘making the writer of the fairytale book write me a happy ending’ idea and it makes no sense. When Emma changed the past, everything in the book disappeared, and then appeared again with the changes Emma had caused; so it’s not the writer who changes the book, but the actions of the characters who change the story, and the writer represents them accordingly. Regina needs to go back to that point she was in when she defeated Zelena where she embraced the idea that she made her own destiny.

    • I was eagerly awaiting your thoughts on this episode, and they did not disappoint! 🙂

      I wish I had more time to comment on all of your excellent analysis (Why is “real work” a thing that must be done when there is fandom fun to be had?), but I absolutely loved your take on Emma and Regina in this episode. You are 100% right when you say that we tend to forget that what’s been weeks and months for us has been days for these characters. It was something I had to remind myself every week when Emma’s “I’m going back to NYC” attitude was bugging me last season, and it’s important to remember now that Regina’s pain is still so fresh even though we’ve been thinking about the Robin/Marian/Regina thing since May.

      “Season 4’s theme is “never give up on the people you love” and Regina needs that, she needs someone to fight for her, to not give up on her.” – You perfectly summed up what I think was the most important thing about that final scene between Emma and Regina. Regina needed to know that someone was going to fight for her because everyone needs that, the reminder that they don’t have to go through pain alone. Emma has so many people fighting for her now, but Regina felt she only had Henry—and nowhere in her past have we seen someone do what Emma (and Henry) have done for Regina this season: believe in her ability to be her best self. When Regina was in pain after losing Daniel, Rumple took that pain and used it for his own purposes. Now, Regina is in pain again, but she has people willing to help her deal with it in a healthier way, supporting her instead of manipulating her. And that makes me so happy as a fan who wants Regina to grow into the best version of herself.

      As for some of your stray observations…

      I think Regina’s magic was red now because she’s in a darker place than she was when she wielded light magic, but that’s just a theory that I’m not even sure I 100% ascribe to.

      I feel like Emma’s tattoo is linked to the star Lily drew on her wrist, but I hope someday we find out why she chose a flower.

      I think you are 100% correct on the idea that this story is going to follow the original Snow Queen story. But who will get the shard of glass is something I have no real, concrete theories for yet.

      As someone who loves Emma and Snow’s relationship so much it hurts at times, I can understand your longing for that last scene to have been between the two of them. However, I think Emma would have been much more reluctant to show that to her parents because she doesn’t want them to feel guilt over the lonely and lost childhood that box represented. I’m actually wondering if that guilt is going to be addressed in the next episode, since Emma going through the wardrobe ultimately led to her being raised for a brief period of time by the Snow Queen.

      Finally, your confusions about the storybook plot are exactly the same as mine. Nice to know I’m not alone!

      • “Regina needs to go back to that point she was in when she defeated Zelena where she embraced the idea that she made her own destiny.”

        I think this is half the problem. After defeating Zelena, using light magic and seeing the possibility of a happy ending, she truly believed she could make her own destiny. However, after Marian came back and Robin chose Marian, I think she just lost faith in that. It goes back to Daniel, she believed in true love being the strongest magic there was, and in its power to overcome anything. After Cora ripped Daniels heart out, we saw Regina holding him and trying to give him TL’s kiss to wake/bring him back, and it not working. In that moment, her belief in love and its power failed her and she abandoned that belief. I think it’s the same now. She believed if she chose good, worked hard, continued to fight against her darkness and became her best self that she could have happiness. She did all that, got a small taste of happiness and like before it was still ripped from her. TL’s kiss didn’t save her first love, her Prince Charming didn’t come along and save her from her loveless marriage/unhappy life, turning dark & seeking revenge didn’t bring her happiness, and even redemption has again brought her pain. I think her searching for the author isn’t about her changing the past, nor is it truly about him physically writing her a happy ending. I think it’s more about him (the powerful author of this powerful book) just giving her solid reassurance that a happy ending actually exists out there for her at some point, because at this moment it probably doesn’t feel like it does.

        • I agree with you, but I think that they are setting the idea that she thinks this powerful author is some kind of Karen Eiffel from “Stranger Than Fiction”, when in fact he/she just tells the fact as they happened. He/She is not a writer but a storyteller, and the only thing magical about it is that somehow the book managed to cross realms and tell the ‘true stories’ of all those characters we are so familiar with in this world and thought were invented.

      • “Regina felt she only had Henry—and nowhere in her past have we seen someone do what Emma (and Henry) have done for Regina this season: believe in her ability to be her best self.”

        Exactly. Not even Tinker Bell, which was the closer she had to a real friend.

        I think along the same lines when it comes to the red magic, it just surprises me that they chose to completely change colours instead of using a lighter shade of purple or something like that to mark the transition.

        The flower tattoo is something I have researched in the past. Jennifer Morrison has talked about it in different media. She said it’s something Emma’s had “since she was probably 14 (…) It’s a flower on her left wrist. It hasn’t been featured in any situation yet, (…) it’s definitely a youthful decision on her part but ends up being meaningful in the long run.” She also said that the flower matches the ones in King George’s –and later the Charmings’s– castle’s knights patches and shields. I’m really, really curious about how it came about.

        You make an excellent point about Emma not wanting to make her parents feel guilt about her lonely childhood, just like it was hard for both Emma and Snow in Neverland when she admitted that she still felt like an orphan. I still think it would have been very meaningful, and those two definitely need some tête-à-tête soon because even Emma’s relationship with David has progressed more and they didn’t have such a close relationship during the first curse.

        The storybook plot is giving me nightmares. It’s even distracting me from the Sorcerer’s hat plot, who doesn’t seem that interesting to me. Yet.

      • As far as Regina’s light or dark magic goes, it’s my theory that her heart itself is the key. She’s done so many evil things that her heart was black. We saw it. But when she was freed of her heart, that’s actually when she let herself give in to love for Robin and wielded light magic. Once she got her heart back she’s been in a literally darker place, hasn’t used light magic, and that’s represented by the red.

        I think her heart is her barrier and is going to have to be redeemed somehow. Maybe that’s what Emma’s friendship will start.

        Dez

    • I love your thoughts on Emma & Regina and totally agree!

      Also, I’m with you on the scene where it turned dark in about 5 minutes when Emma went to talk to Regina – I had that same thought during the episode and was confused before writing it off as one of those weird continuity things sacrificed for dramatic effect :p

      I too hope for more Emma/Snow bonding as I’m sorely missing the mother-daughter aspect of this show that I feel we haven’t truly seen come back for more than an episode at a time since S1 and the curse was broken.

  27. I totally agree with you about Snow and Charming – they were absolutely adorable, and I loved Snow getting a bit of herself back from feeling love from Charming, and then being able to calm down a little and be a little less anxious about Neal. I also loved that Belle was their babysitter! Such a good choice and it made me happy that they have that strong of a friendship to trust her with Neal.

    Like you, I felt for both sides of the Regina-Emma clash. Regina’s actions felt very in character to me as well. If you think about it, she’s feeling abandoned by almost everyone she knows, she’s hurting from having still somewhat recently lost her true love, and she’s angry at feeling betrayed (however unintentionally) by Emma, who was probably one of the only people she had felt she had some sort of a relationship with over the past few seasons. We’ve seen time and time again that when Regina is in pain, she lashes out, and that’s exactly what she’s doing. While I tend to have conflicted feelings over Regina, I always end up feeling for her in how much heartbreak she’s experienced and how little she has had anyone on her side recently, even after she has started to do things for good over the past couple seasons.

    I loved the young Emma flashbacks, and I loved Lily. I kind of hope we see Lily again, because I truly became attached to the character in the short time we had with her – kudos to the Once writers for creating such an interesting character (and friendship) in a short time period.

    I really hope they continue to develop the Emma and Regina friendship, because I’ve always been interested in their dynamic and I would love to see these two start to bond a bit. Their relationship to each other has always been a really interesting part of the show in my opinion – they go back and forth a bit between sort-of-enemies and sort-of-allies until perhaps Season 3 where they become definite allies, and all the while they have the complexity of the common ground of loving Henry and trying to do what’s best for him even when they aren’t getting along. These two have a fair amount of things in common and it could be interesting to see how Emma and Regina would develop a true friendship over time.

    The Snow Queen intrigues me also because I don’t really know where they’re going to go with her plot, and I have a feeling that there’s more manipulation coming from her before her storyline ends. I just hope Elsa, Emma, and Regina can bond together and are up to the task of taking her on.

    • I love the idea of babysitter Belle—if there’s one character on this show (besides Snow) I’d want to leave my child with, it’s Belle. 🙂

      Your take on Emma and Regina’s dynamic was perfect. I’ve always loved analyzing their relationship because there’s such depth there—so many similarities but also so many differences. They really are two sides of the same coin, and I’m hopeful that this episode opened the door for even more exploration of their dynamic in the future. And as you know, I’m all about any storyline in any show that gives me interesting and complex relationships between women. So I am with you in wanting to see Emma, Regina, and Elsa continue to unite in fighting the Snow Queen. Give me all the scenes possible between this group of magical ladies!

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  30. Well it’s nice that Emma felt guilty for “ruining” Regina’s love life, when she changed the timeline. And it’s nice that Regina was able to finally forgive her. But this still DOES NOT erase the fact that Emma does not realize that her act of changing the timeline was universally wrong. It was wrong, even if she was saving Marian’s life. She knew that changing the timeline to save someone who had died in the past was wrong. That’s why Emma had convinced Rumpelstiltskin to drink that memory erasing potion so that he wouldn’t be tempted to change the time in order to save Neal.

    There is something uniquely hypocritical about Emma’s actions in “There’s No Place Like Home”. For her, it was okay to change the timeline and save Marian, a woman who had died in the past. Yet, it wasn’t okay for Rumpel to do the same by preventing Neal’s death? How can anyone defend her actions? I’m sorry but they practically reek of hypocrisy and ego to me. It’s nice that she regrets messing up Regina’s love life. But it would be nicer if Emma realized that changing the timeline for any reason is something that even SHE has no business doing.

    • I’m wandering late into this discussion but I have to disagree with you here. Emma and Hook did not choose to travel back in time and while they were there practically everything they did was done for damage control and to maintain the timeline.

      While escaping Regina’s prison Emma had a choice: to leave an innocent woman to die or help her to escape with them. I don’t blame Emma for saving a life.

      As for the consequences… putting aside what we discover towards the end of the season (which is something no one could’ve foreseen) the only consequence up to this episode was a mother being reunited with her husband and son, and Regina’s life getting a bit more complicated. That’s it.

      Well boo fucking hoo.

      It’s hardly like Back to the Future 2 where Marty buys a Sports Almanac and returns to find a world where his father is dead and his mother is married to Biff Tanner.

      Regina’s love life being muddied a little? That’s hardly a world ending consequence. You’d think she’d be at least a little bit relieved that one of her former victims was restored to life and that Roland gets his mother back. But no, she’s not happy so obviously the world is ending. And it looks like she’s still holding a grudge about 10 year old Snow telling Cora about Daniel. That’s pathetic.

      I honestly don’t give a single, solitary fuck about Regina’s love life. She is an awful human being who has deliberately and maliciously ruined the lives of countless others out of spite and who has openly said she doesn’t regret a thing. She has no business chewing Emma out for what she did, especially while she was holding a man in a mirror as her slave (a man she’d let rot in solitary confinement for a crime she’d orchestrated and had him confess to) and planning to re-murder one of her victims.

      “There is something uniquely hypocritical about Emma’s actions in “There’s No Place Like Home”. For her, it was okay to change the timeline and save Marian, a woman who had died in the past. Yet, it wasn’t okay for Rumpel to do the same by preventing Neal’s death?”

      On the one hand: Making a split second decision to save the life of a random and seemingly unimportant peasant woman and bring her into the future in an attempt to avoid any major changes to the timeline. On the other hand: an all powerful Dark One (who already plans to upend the lives of an entire kingdom to find his son) being armed with knowledge of the future that he can use to deliberately change his son’s fate and screw things up in a big way.

      Those two things are not equivalent. The former is a person (foolishly perhaps) acting out of compassion under the naive assumption that any damage will be minor. The latter is an already manipulative villain wanting to use knowledge of the future to double down on his plans to displace a community for his own needs.

      As much as Regina criticises Emma for bringing Marian back, the second half of the season involves Regina trying to find the author of the storybook so she can change her own fate. I mean… wow. You call Emma a ‘hypocrite’? I hope you hold Regina to the same standard.

      Regina cast the dark curse to steal away the happy endings of others. In Neverland she admitted that she doesn’t regret doing so and so far has not apologised for it. She has turned so many lives inside out and has not lifted a finger to make up for that. You’ll excuse me if I don’t shed any tears over her love life being the collateral damage from an act of saving an innocent woman’s life.

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