TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.11

Title Heroes and Villains

Two-Sentence Summary As Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff prepare to go back to Arendelle, Regina also has to say goodbye to Robin, as he crosses the town line with Marian, who is still affected by remnants of Ingrid’s curse. Rumplestiltskin has his own goodbye to Storybrooke (and Hook) planned, but his plot is foiled by Belle, who forces him over the town line and into an alliance with Ursula, Cruella de Vil, and Maleficent.

Favorite Line “Cruella! I thought I caught a whiff of desperation and gin.” (Rumplestiltskin)

My Thoughts “Heroes and Villains” was a jam-packed midseason finale with a lot to process—so much so that it took me a few hours and a lot of thinking to figure out what I truly felt about this episode. My immediate reaction was to say that I was pleased overall with the way the important plot points in this episode were resolved, but I was left somewhat emotionally unsatisfied. After a long time mulling the episode’s events over in my head, I’ve come to the conclusion that my immediate reaction was a result of setting expectations a little too high. Not every midseason finale can be “Going Home” in terms of its ability to tug at my heartstrings. Ultimately, “Heroes and Villains” did an admirable job weaving a cohesive story of what makes a person a hero—selflessness, courage, and fighting your darker impulses to choose to do the right thing, especially when it’s not easy. And, in the process, it gave me so many moments I’d been hoping for and character interactions I’d been waiting to see.

If I had any major complaints with this episode it was that I wished it could have been two hours instead of one. There was just so much going on that sometimes it felt like emotional beats got lost in the shuffle, and certain moments of plot explanation got lost, too. That’s just me being greedy, though, because what we got for characters like Rumplestiltskin, Belle, and Regina was so good that I wanted everyone to have those kinds of moments in this episode. As a big Charming Family fangirl, I would have liked to see Snow and Charming have a little more to do, but with a big cast, it’s hard to have episodes where every character gets their time in the spotlight. (And last week had so much good Snow/Charming stuff that I really shouldn’t complain.)

Part of me also wished for a little bit more time spent on Emma’s reactions to things after a half-season so firmly devoted to showing her growth. But there was so much good, important stuff that needed to be dealt with for other characters that I could understand why the focus of the episode couldn’t be on Emma. Besides, Season 4A was beyond good to me as an Emma Swan fan. I got more development than I could have ever hoped for, and the beauty of Emma’s story is that this episode ended with hope and happiness for her. So I know that means there’s plenty of development to come in 4B with her continuing to be in a place where she feels safe and hopeful to explore her own growth, emotions, and relationships.

Emma was one of the only people (along with her immediate family, Hook, and the Frozen gang) to end this episode in a good place emotionally. And, just like in “Breaking Glass,” I think Emma’s sense of hope and happiness that was reaffirmed at the end of this episode allowed her to be a good friend to Regina when Regina needed it the most. But unlike in “Breaking Glass,” Regina allowed herself to accept that offer of friendship this time.

I think we could all use a friend like Emma Swan, who knows that there’s a time for hope speeches but there’s also a time for shots. Both Regina and Emma had been through a lot in this episode. (I firmly believe Emma wasn’t just drinking with Regina for the latter’s sake—having to put your boyfriend’s heart back in his chest is definitely something that would warrant copious amounts of alcohol being consumed.) It was nice to see both of these women allowing themselves a moment of slowly developing friendship after a long, chaotic day.

“Heroes and Villains” was another episode that showed us how far Regina has come from who she was. Even something as small as accepting Emma’s gesture of friendship went a long way towards showing her trying to become a better person. But the process of becoming a better person isn’t easy, and Regina has learned that over and over again. In this episode alone, she went on a crazy rollercoaster of emotions, but the important thing was that—through all of those twists and turns—Regina kept actively choosing to do the right thing. She put Marian’s heart back in her chest, which was a pretty symbolic moment of heroism and goodness in an episode that also featured Rumplestiltskin getting ready to crush Hook’s heart to get his happy ending.

That selfless act of saving Marian led to one of the episode’s most beautiful scenes, where Marian sought Regina out to thank her and to say that she’s coming to terms with the possibility of Robin choosing Regina. In that moment, I felt overwhelmed with love for one of my favorite female characters since childhood (a recurring theme in this episode for me). This was the brave, strong, selfless Maid Marian I grew up adoring. She’s a woman who doesn’t want to be just the honorable choice; she doesn’t want to be chosen out of a misguided sense of duty. She wants to be loved. And she deserves to be loved. In an episode that focused on heroism as doing something selfless and believing in your own inner strength to do the right thing, Marian’s conversation with Regina was shown to be nothing less than heroic.

While it was beautiful to see Marian essentially give Robin and Regina their happiness, it seemed my instinct to always wait for the other shoe to drop with Regina’s happiness was sadly right once again. I found it a little too convenient that the moment Robin said he’d chosen Regina, Ingrid’s magic kicked back in with Marian. It felt forced just to give Regina a moment of hope before ripping it away again. However, it led to some of the most stunning moments of development for Regina so far this season. I can forgive a blatant plot device when it gives us something as good as Lana Parrilla’s acting in the town line scene.

The scene between Regina and Rumplestiltskin in the car at the town line was my favorite in the entire episode because it said so much about these two fascinating characters and their relationship. What this season has showed us is that Rumplestiltskin really delights in being the devil on someone’s shoulder, tempting them to give in to their darker impulses (which is a brilliant bit of psychology at play, since it’s clearly because he doesn’t want to be alone in being unable to overcome his own darkness). And that’s always been his role with Regina—from the time he manipulated her into crushing her first heart.

But this Regina isn’t the same woman. Just as Rumplestiltskin and Hook’s scenes have highlighted how much Hook has grown and changed for the better while Rumplestiltskin has stayed on his dark path, this scene contrasted Regina’s growing sense of heroism with Rumplestiltskin’s continued darkness. It was so easy for him to suggest to Regina that she kill Marian and claim her happy ending, but Regina said it best—that’s not who she is anymore. Parrilla did such a great job of showing that for one moment Regina thought about giving in to the temptation to just take her happy ending by killing Marian like he was telling her to do. But ultimately she knew that was wrong, and that’s what is helping her become a hero—that ability to look at her own darkness and turn away from it, that ability to see the easy way out and choose to do the hard thing instead because it’s the right thing to do. That takes courage, and that’s what makes her different from the man who was telling her to kill Marian.

I also thought it was perfect that, just like Hook, Regina could tell as soon as she was alone with Rumplestiltskin that he wasn’t the changed man everyone else thought he was. That’s why I’d been waiting with bated breath for a scene between these two characters—she can read him so well, and I knew she’d be onto him right away because of all the history between them. That sense of history and unique intimacy between them allowed Rumplestiltskin to open up to her about why he’s still on the path he’s on, and I have to say I was really proud of some of you NGN readers for calling it from the start: It all comes back to his resurrection. He died a hero’s death, but he came back as the Dark One once again—and he came back under the control of Zelena. It makes sense to think of that as the reason why he’s obsessing over power and wanting to be free of the dagger, even if it doesn’t excuse what he’s done towards that end, which he sees as his happy ending.

Regina wants love. Rumplestiltskin wants power. And wanting such different things has completely affected how they view happy endings. For Regina, it’s something given to you. For Rumplestiltskin, it’s something you take. I loved Rumplestiltskin’s lines about no one controlling his fate because they were so complex. On one hand, I believe that with my whole heart—we control our destiny; we have the power to change our stories. But on the other hand, I couldn’t believe I was agreeing with the Dark One. Neither Regina nor Rumplestiltskin seem to understand, though, that everyone can get a happy ending—but not by doing whatever it takes to get one. They have to be earned by the choices you make and the life you lead. And they’re not easy to find and hold onto; they can’t be achieved by taking the easy way out. In the end, Rumplestiltskin might truly want Regina to have happiness, but I think he can’t even comprehend her idea of happiness at this point because it’s not power; it’s love.

While Rumplestiltskin planned to get his happy ending through murder and manipulation, Regina essentially gave hers up because she refused to be that person anymore; she knew that would never be a true happy ending because she couldn’t live with herself if she killed Marian. That’s what made her goodbye to Robin at the town line so painful. She knew what she was saying goodbye to, but she also knew what had to be done. She couldn’t let him say he loved her because it would make it too hard, and the struggle to keep from giving in to her love for him was written all over Parrilla’s body language in such a moving way. Seeing Regina doing the right thing—the selfless thing—at the town line at the expense of her own happiness reminded me in a really lovely way of “Going Home.” Regina has been choosing to walk a hero’s path for a long time now, and it hasn’t always been easy. Watching her rip of the pages of the book—effectively ripping up her hopes for happiness—broke my heart. Who would have thought all the way back in Season One that I would be rooting so hard for the Evil Queen to get her happy ending?

The ending of the episode gave us a little glimpse into Regina’s storyline for next season, and it’s one I’m still torn about. I like the idea of the sorcerer and the author being one and the same (or at least connected somehow), but I’m still not sold on Operation Mongoose. I’m still hopeful that this storyline will end with Regina getting her happy ending because of the choices she’s made to be a better person—not because she begged the all-powerful author to change her story. And I’m hoping that having Emma join the team means that she’ll help Regina get her happy ending by helping her be her best self, not helping her force the author to change her story. It seemed like a very sudden bit of agreement from Emma, but it’s what needed to be done to move the plot for next season forward in a short amount of time. I’m sure I’ll warm up to Operation Mongoose eventually. If nothing else, it will help develop all the relationships in the Emma/Henry/Regina dynamic, which I am always up for seeing more often.

I’m hopeful that this Operation Mongoose storyline will lead to the development of a healthy, mutually supportive friendship for both Emma and Regina because I’m more than a little sad that we had to say goodbye to Emma’s only real (non-family, non-boyfriend) friend in this episode. I know that most of the Frozen story wrapped up beautifully last week, but I do have to admit that this was one of the parts of “Heroes and Villains” I thought felt the most rushed. Maybe it’s because I found the beginning a little jarring with the way it jumped right into the whole group dealing with the ice wall in about two seconds. I didn’t need to see Anna/Kristoff and Emma/Hook’s reunions after the Spell of Shattered Sight, but it did feel like this episode picked up in the middle of the action instead of having a real beginning. But maybe I’m the only one who found the pacing a bit off.

I did like the fact that Rumplestiltskin saw Anna as a threat, and I loved that he was right to fear her in the end. I’m going to miss a lot of things about the Frozen crew, but the thing I will miss the most is Elizabeth Lail’s Anna. From her saying that Mr. Gold sounded “super helpful” to her getting to help save the day by revealing him to be the liar he truly is, this episode was a nice reminder of how much I’ve come to love what this actress and this show did for one of my new favorite Disney princesses.

I also liked the way Hook could pick up on Rumplestiltskin’s fear of Anna immediately because—like Regina—he knows Rumplestiltskin’s tells. Their confrontation in the shop brought out the best in both Colin O’Donoghue and Robert Carlyle once again. For as happy as I am to have the angst of this storyline over, I’ll miss this dynamic more than words can say.

“Heroes and Villains” reminded us of a lot of things about Rumplestiltskin, but one of the first things it stated in the flashbacks is that he’s a man who deals in manipulation. It’s not just about power for him; it’s about psychologically destroying people along the way. And that came back in the present-day storyline with his subtle but very apparent enjoyment of using Hook’s heart to manipulate his interactions with Emma. Carlyle perfectly showed Rumplestiltskin’s comfort and ease with using someone to get what he wants (in this case, using Hook’s heart to get Anna out of Storybrooke). It was chilling, especially the moment when he had Hook call Emma “love.”

But for as good as Carlyle was in that moment, even he couldn’t top O’Donoghue’s performance. Watching Hook say Rumplestiltskin’s words was so painful because O’Donoghue showed using just his eyes how much he wanted to break free from this control and tell Emma the truth. And then when Emma realized something was wrong, you could see his eyes soften at the idea that she cared enough to notice. Jennifer Morrison also played that interaction perfectly. I loved the soft intimacy of her touching his face, trying to soothe him despite not knowing what was really going on. Emma doesn’t often get to be anyone’s source of comfort, and I loved that you could see on Hook’s face how much it meant to him to have her reach out to him like that.

It was that brief moment—that moment of Emma showing him she cared enough to know something was wrong and that she wanted to make it better—that allowed Hook to find the strength to break through Rumplestiltskin’s control and show Emma through his shaking hand on her arm that he was lying about being fine, despite not being able to say otherwise. In an episode filled with heroic acts, this was another one—a man fighting the darkness literally holding his heart to reach out the woman he loves. Love is strength, and the love slowly growing between Hook and Emma has grown strong enough to fight darkness in its own, quiet way.

I loved that brief moment of strength for Hook and realization for Emma, so I was disappointed that it led basically nowhere, both emotionally and on a plot level. I would have at least liked to see Emma be somewhat skeptical of the portal since she knew Hook was saying things under duress. But things had to keep moving at this point in the episode, and there were characters to bid farewell to, leaving no time for Emma to worry about Hook.

The most important goodbye, of course, was Elsa saying goodbye to Emma. Their hug was lovely, and I was so happy to see this friendship end on such a warm note. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel a little lacking. (Maybe I shouldn’t have watched Parks and Rec’s “Ann and Chris”—the pinnacle of friendship goodbye episodes—this weekend.) For as much as I loved Morrison’s teary, huge smile, I wanted to hear Emma say something about their friendship before Elsa left. I know Emma’s not good with words, but this friendship was so essential to her growth as a person that it seemed strange to have Elsa say all of the emotional stuff. In the end, though, I was happy with the conclusion to the wonderful Frozen arc. Anna and Kristoff are getting married, Anna punched Hans again, and the two sisters are back where they belong: home, hand-in-hand, and with lots of chocolate waiting for them to eat (one last perfect movie reference).

I thought that Anna’s words about Rumplestiltskin were going to lead to a big confrontation with him and Emma. And while I’m thrilled with who ultimately got to be the hero in the end, I did think that the resolution to what had become a pretty big storyline this season was a bit anticlimactic. The blocking for the scene was strange because Emma never once tried to run up the stairs (despite being able to), which seemed to take away a sense of urgency from the moment. I know that the whole purpose of this scene was Belle and Rumplestiltskin and not Emma and Hook, but it felt like there should have been a little more drama and emotion (even in the background) at the climax of such an important piece of the show over these last few weeks (Hook missing his heart). It all wrapped up very quickly—maybe a little too quickly for my liking.

However, everything with Hook’s heart turned out to be more about Rumplestiltskin than it was about Hook—it was about who’s changed and who hasn’t, who’s the man trying to be a hero and who’s the man who never tries to be more than a villain. Hook was the hero preyed on by the villain, the pirate saved by the princess. But it was an unexpected princess who saved him, and that made it even better. I cheered when Belle turned out to be his savior because of the strength and selflessness it took for her to save the man who once shot her and made her lose her memories. It was the first of many heroic acts she would commit in a very short time in this episode. The anger Emilie de Ravin brought out of this character was brilliant, and it all started with her controlled orders in that clock tower scene, leading to my favorite line delivery of hers in the episode: the empty way she said “We need to be alone for what comes next.”

I’m trying to find the words to describe how proud of Belle I was as she finally confronted her husband. This—Belle finding out the truth and standing up for herself—was all I really wanted from this episode, and it delivered. This Belle is the Belle I’ve loved since I was a little girl: brave and strong and self-aware. As much as it killed me to watch de Ravin deliver all of those lines with such anguish, it was beautiful. Belle’s speech was literally like going through a checklist of everything I needed her to say to him: that he will always choose power, that he never changed, and that she’s done devoting her life to someone who will never make her his first choice.

Despite this scene being about daggers and magical powers, it felt achingly real. It felt like a woman in a terrible marriage finally finding the courage to walk away. When she told him all she wanted was him but she knows now he’ll never choose her, my heart broke. But I was so proud of her for doing what needed to be done, not just for the greater good but for her own good. One of my favorite lines in the episode was, “I lost my way trying to help you find yourself.” It was such an honest statement and such a powerful one. No one should feel like they have to give up their sense of self to be in a relationship. No one should feel personally responsible for a loved one getting over their addictions (which is what Rumplestiltskin’s love for power is). When you end up in a marriage where you feel like you only know who you are in relation to what you do for your significant other, you need to walk away because that’s not healthy. The best relationships are ones that allow both parties to become their best selves, not ones where one party loses their sense of self to build the other up.

Watching Rumplestiltskin try to reason with Belle was so painful. Even with the possibility of losing her staring him in the face, he still wants his power more than anything. And when she commanded him to go over the town line, I felt every bit of his fear thanks to the power of Carlyle’s acting. No matter how much I hate what this character has done, I can never stop wanting him to stop being afraid and start trying to be a better person, even when I know it’s useless to want that. Carlyle gives him such humanity even in his lowest moments, and I couldn’t help it; I felt for him when his legs collapsed under him, returning him to the cowardly, lonely man with the limp he once was. That ability to make me feel for a character even as I longed for his comeuppance is the sign of a great actor.

I felt a complicated mixture of emotions as I dealt with my pride for Belle finding her voice (How perfect was it when she basically told him to shut up, by the way?) and my sadness over Rumplestiltskin being unable to choose her first even now. The resolution to that storyline was so heavy that part of me is glad we were spared any intense emotional fallout from Hook’s heart in the scene where Emma put it back. As I watched, I thought the moment was too brief, but then I realized that—unlike Rumplestiltskin and Belle and Regina and Robin—these two characters have the luxury of time, and they know it and are enjoying it.

I thought Emma shoving Hook’s heart back in his chest was perfect for her character. She’s definitely a “rip the Band-Aid off” kind of woman. But what was even more in-character was Hook’s reaction to getting his heart back. I loved that the first thing he did was kiss her with what I can only describe as his whole heart. O’Donoghue used that kiss to really show the difference now that Hook is able to love Emma once again without fear of leaving her and with his heart free to do as it chooses again. And Morrison played Emma’s reaction to that intense kiss so well—you could almost see her saying Now that’s more like it.

The second thing Hook did with his heart back in his chest was reassure Emma, to remind her (and himself) that he’s a survivor. The bright, hopeful looks on their faces showed that this was the perfect note to end their half-season arc on. It started with Emma running away from quiet moments, but it ended with them taking a quiet moment to themselves and basking in the joy of it. This wasn’t a moment for intense, dramatic emotions; they have plenty of time for those. Instead, this was a moment to celebrate the fact that they’re okay. After everything, he’s alive and she’s in his arms again, and that’s all they needed to focus on at that moment. That’s also why I am happy Emma didn’t confess her love for him and we didn’t see them taking their relationship to the next level physically. When those things happen, I want them to be moments they choose because they want to do them, not because they feel overwhelmed by near-death experiences. Emma has always moved forward emotionally in moments of distress, and I like that it seems to be different with Hook. She feels secure enough with him to believe she can take her time; they can take their time. They both have a renewed sense of hope that this will be a relationship that doesn’t end in loss; he’s still her survivor, after all. And that sense of hope was written all over both of their faces after that kiss.

While Emma and Hook’s slow-burn courtship is teaching many of us patience, I was so happy that this season we don’t have to be patient waiting for the new villains to be introduced in the 4B premiere. Meeting Cruella and Ursula and seeing Maleficent again was wonderful. They were so much fun in the flashbacks, with Victoria Smurfit standing out already as Cruella. She may smell like desperation and gin, but that seems like a winning combination to me in terms of entertainment potential. Watching her and the Dark One sass one another has me eager to see so much more of her in the next half-season.

And of course I’m excited for Merrin Dungey’s turn as Ursula. It’s about time she was back on my television in a villainous role. (I wonder if Ursula likes coffee ice cream?) Her final scene with Rumplestiltskin in the New York City aquarium hinted at quite the complicated, layered dynamic between these women and the Dark One. As sad as I still am to leave Elizabeth Mitchell’s Ingrid behind, these three Queen of Darkness have the potential to bring such a great energy to the show. If nothing else, it will add even more strong, complex female characters to a show already teeming with them, and that’s a reason to celebrate—even if we have to wait until March to see how it all unfolds.

53 thoughts on “TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.11

  1. Like you, it took me a while to process my feelings on this episode. And I think you summed up the reactions and analysis of it very well.

    The highlight for me was Colin O’Donoghue’s performance in the diner. I went back to watch that scene again because he was giving so many hidden clues in that performance. From pouring the rum into the tea cups (Hook is a straight from the flask guy) to the way he would roll his eyes when he had to say something good about the Dark One, you could see his struggle to break through to Emma. Even the way he kissed her was obviously different – open eyes. But bravo to Colin O’Donoghue for nailing the way that the Dark One speaks. It was truly a great moment. Jennifer Morrison did not disappoint either. From her own expressions, confusion, and the way she touched his face, I was actually screaming at my television that she was figuring it out.

    So yes, that disappointed me that our streetwise and skeptical Emma (it took her a whole season to believe in the story book) was aware something was wrong but did not flinch at sending the Frozen crew through an unknown portal.

    I felt that the cohesiveness of the show was lacking. I wanted to see Emma figure out that Rumple was the bad guy in the situation. I wanted to see her anger and determination. And I want to know why they waited to get to Granny’s to put the heart back in Hook’s chest. I realize it is Storybrooke, but did they just walk down the street with him holding it? Was someone hungry? I love Snow, but was also wondering why it wasn’t David who went with Emma to find them.

    Belle…what can I say? I finally got my feisty, smart, and beautiful Belle back. That’s what I wanted. Her anguish and courage was amazing in this episode. I can’t even praise it enough.

    • Thank you!

      I’m especially thankful that you mentioned all of those little signs in the diner scene that added up to something being terribly wrong with Hook. The rum in the teacup was a great one because he would have normally just shared his flask with her.

      I’m so glad my sister and I weren’t the only ones who couldn’t buy Emma sending her friends through an unknown portal, especially after what she witnessed with Hook. And in terms of Emma and Hook waiting to do the heart thing at Granny’s, maybe Emma knew Regina was there and wanted to have her near in case something went wrong. Or maybe they just wanted a private moment, and Granny’s is where Hook is living. I also love your suggestion of someone being hungry because it made me giggle out loud in my office. 😉

    • Oh good. I’m not the only one yelling at the tv. (Sometimes characters listen. Often they do not.) There may have also been bouncing on the couch.

  2. Great review as always. Overall I enjoyed the episode as well. My only real complaints are what was missing. I also would have liked to have seen the reunions between Anna/Kristoff, Hook/Emma and even Hook/Henry following the Shattered Sight spell. And I also was hoping for a little more emotional payoff with Emma/Hook in regards to Rumple almost crushing his heart. I actually liked what we got with her shoving his heart back into his chest and him kissing her and telling her he was a survivor – it does make sense considering both still have emotional walls to overcome. And if the episode had gone from that to six weeks later I would have been fine with it – but the Emma/Regina scene bothered me. I get both women needing a drink after the day they had had but less than 24 hours ago Emma was using Regina’s underlying hatred of her to break the spell on the ribbons. And while things were definitely exacerbated and exaggerated by the curse I think Emma recognizing Regina’s underlying dislike of her was important but once again was brushed over to push plot forward. That scene was all a set up for Henry to barge in and Emma to find out about Operation Mongoose – honestly I would have been fine with waiting for season 4b for Emma to find out about it.
    I loved the Rumple/Hook scenes. I loved the Belle/Rumple scenes and look forward to the additions of the Queens of Darkness. And while I don’t think Rumple sees the author as someone who controls his fate – I do think he may see him as someone with the power he needs to get what he wants. Rumple is a manipulator and I can’t help but think he will be more than willing to manipulate the Queens of Darkness. I enjoyed the scene between Rumple and Regina and while Regina may not have given into Rumple I couldn’t help but think he planted the seeds in her mind about how to get what she truly wants and I really hope that comes into play. The next half a season is suppose to be more psychological and we already saw Rumple play that game with Hook so we know he plays it well.
    Overall I enjoyed the Frozen arc and the Rumple/Hook story. I would have liked a little more of the Rumple/Hook story throughout the season though. Loved the Elsa/Emma friendship and was sorry we didn’t get to see Hook/Elsa say goodbye – I really enjoyed their friendship as well. For me the weakest part of the season was Regina’s story and Outlaw Queen’s story. I’m going to have to rewatch 4A over the hiatus but I just don’t find anything compelling in Regina’s story and Outlaw Queen no longer interests me as a couple.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Mary!

      While I liked the Emma/Regina moment, I can totally understand your point of view, too (especially since you didn’t love Regina’s stories in this half-season). It was definitely done for the sole purpose of having them both together in time for Henry to tell them about the new Operation Mongoose revelation, and, like you, that’s something I would have been okay with waiting until 4B to see Emma take part in.

      I’m definitely on board with your idea about Rumplestiltskin using the Queen of Darkness. I think that’s what he’s going to try to do, but I’d like to see these three fierce female villains prove to be more than capable of holding their own against the Dark One.

  3. Ok, I’m still a little tired from that episode. I, too, was greedy for some additional time, but I loved what I did get.

    Fantastic review! As always, there was much nodding, some moments of “yes!”, etc. So this is just some random thoughts . . .

    — Can we have an episode of just Cruella and Rumple insulting each other? Loved the “desperation and gin” along with the “do you need a box?” I’m curious to see how these three ended up in our world. (And finally, Merrin Dungey is back! Loved Alias.)

    — One scene I wanted to see: A montage of Henry fiddling with every wall sconce in the sorcerer’s house.

    — Belle. Just wow. I loved how they honored the strengths of her character with how she handled Rumple. I love the she made sure before she acted. She followed the gauntlet to the dagger. She’s clever enough to put the pieces together, but she made sure she had them all first. Belle’s type of heroism has always been the type that makes the tough choices involving long-term sacrifice. It’s not the brief heroism that only takes a short time — like fighting a dragon, but the lifestyle heroism of serving the Dark One to save her people and now exiling her love to save herself and her people (Storybrooke).

    — Love the parallels between Belle’s sacrifice and Regina’s.

    — Yes, I want Regina and Robin to have their happy ending, but I really want Marian to have hers, too. Make it happen writers.

    — I have never accepted Regina’s premise that the writer makes the endings. (It smacks of Jessica Rabbit: I’m not bad; I’m just drawn that way.) I’ve assumed Henry isn’t really thinking as much about the premise as he is the adventure and the possibility of finding the author. I assume Emma’s on board to be supportive of Regina. And really, Regina needs to go back and read the book and remind herself of all the grief Snow and Charming went through as heroes — what they’re still going through now. It’s more about the decision to embrace hope and pick snowbells while you’re searching for ways to defeat the wicked witch.

    — Can we keep the magic broom? I love the magic broom. I squee with delight every time I see it.

    I’m sure I’ll have more later, but right now I’m looking forward to reading what everyone else has to say.

    • Thank you for the kind words and for sharing your thoughts with us! Also, it’s always nice to have another fellow Alias fan here at NGN. 😉

      I really hope Marian ends up happy when all is said and done. She’s an even better character than I was hoping she’d be as someone who’s loved reading about her since I was a kid.

      I loved your Jessica Rabbit reference with Regina (and your love for the Fantasia broom, too!). You’re 100% right when you said that Regina could learn from Snow and Charming. No one has it easy, not even the people Regina thinks the book sees as “heroes.”

      I also think “It’s more about the decision to embrace hope and pick snowbells while you’re searching for ways to defeat the wicked witch.” is one of my favorite sentences ever written about Snow and Charming. 🙂

  4. Fantastic Review Katie!!

    I saw something on Tumblr talking about how Killian doesn’t need or want Emma to worry about as the title of savior is more than just job, to Emma it’s part of her and he understands that. That’s why I wasn’t very disappointed with what we got in terms of CS.

    I’m going to miss the Frozen gang more than I could have thought possible but at the same time I’m incredibly excited for the Queens of Darkness.

    As said there was a definite lack of cohesiveness and an incredibly jam packed episode where for once plot points took precedence over emotional impact. I thought the episode felt more like a set up episode than a finale which is perfectly fine for a Midseason finale but slightly disappointing as it was a less than stellar end to in my opinion one of the best half seasons of television I’ve seen in my 17 years on this earth.

    Belle was fantastic, someone gives this girl all the awards as she showed her desperation, disappointment and pain with heartbreaking dialogue that had both me and my mom in tears.

    This was an episode where the actors gave the emotional impact in the little details which is a contrast between the sweeping gestures we’ve seen the rest of this season. But it’s going to make watching it once finals are done all that more satisfying cause I’ll be able to watch it with more detail. Lana and Colin both broke my heart multiple times this season but never more than they did this episode because they showed it nuances.

    I’ll add more once I’m out of school but Katie your recaps make monday’s great.

    • Thanks so much, Abby! (Good luck on finals, by the way!)

      I saw that Tumblr post earlier today, and it made me very emotional in the best possible way.

      I agree that this episode did a good job of setting things up (which is fine for a midseason finale), but that did give it a feeling of having fewer things resolved than I would have liked. The thing that’s making me less disappointed today than I was yesterday is remembering that there’s still an entire half-season left of stories to tell. It just kills me that we have to wait for March to see those stories unfold!

      I also agree with everything you said about these actors and their ability to give us so much emotion in such little moments. It’s a true gift that this cast has, and I love watching the way they approach these nuances every week.

  5. Also — the references to Camelot? I see this as laying more groundwork for Merlin being the sorcerer. Living backward through time would allow him to “know” the future.

    • Yes Please!!! Once doing Camelot would be a dream because I can see them doing all four justice in terms of characterization and emotional impact. I’d love to see Morgana come in and just bond with Regina and have sassfests with Hook while Henry just follows Arthur around. They totally know Snow/Charming. And your point about Merlin living backwards works perfectly.

  6. Your review is FANTASTIC as always. Your points about the pacing and emotional moments being lost in the shuffle hit the nail on the head as for why I wish they hadn’t jam packed so much plot. I think this episode would definitely have benefited from being two hours but despite the rush and moving too quickly plot I overall really liked “Heroes & Villians.” One thing I really wanted to touch on was the disappointment I saw over the lack of “Captain Swan” resolution and I know that everyone assumed we’d get an amazing Emma and Killian moment not just because of the heart storyline but because of certain BTS pics floating around (won’t get specific cause I won’t assume everyone follows spoilers.) However the fact that what we got was as you said Katie a good moment just for them.

    “It started with Emma running away from quiet moments, but it ended with them taking a quiet moment to themselves and basking in the joy of it. This wasn’t a moment for intense, dramatic emotions; they have plenty of time for those. Instead, this was a moment to celebrate the fact that they’re okay. After everything, he’s alive and she’s in his arms again, and that’s all they needed to focus on at that moment.”

    Emma and Killian have time and clearly the temporary peace & quiet of 6 weeks (according to the time jump at the end there) will really just let them build up their relationship even more (and in my opinion they came A LONG WAY in 4A this was a woman who went from saying “there is no me and hook” to openly comforting him calling him killian all the time and having no qualms about being open about her affection that alone is amazing to me ok end ramble) I’m really looking forward for them to fully embrace loving each other and seeing how everything plays out for them as a couple in 4B now. (Esp since off BTS pics I think many assumed a huge moment had to have happened to get them to how they were acting there–no instead all they need is each other *SQUEAL*)

    Do I think there might be more fallout that we were shortchanged from due to the jam packed finale of hook nearly dying? Yes I hope so but for now they are alive, together and happy and even though they haven’t said it explicitly its written in everything they do, they are each other’s person and no matter what happens in the future come hell or high water (or in this case evil trio + rumple) they will earn those moments we know are coming (ILY, coffee etc) and make no mistake we will be screaming and jumping up and down at that time but until then I”m content to enjoy the slow burn (not the hiatus MARCH 1 PLEASE COME FAST lol)

    Another different note is Belle French—that woman is amazing. It takes a lot of strength to do the right thing for yourself in a relationship especially when she does truly love Rumple. A part of me was cheering her on as we saw a character who is so deeply complex but has the talent of being deliciously evil (such is the power of Robert Carlyle) get his comeuppance for all the terrible things he committed in his bid for power (I’m not touching what he did to Hook cause thats my pirate baby and grr I’ll leave it at that lol). Another part of me does truly hope that Rumple can get it into his head that happy endings are not something to be gained by “changing the rules” that ultimately he must make the hard choices to live an honorable life like he promised he would for Bae (before that went down the toilet oy). The fact that now everyone will be honing on this book story makes me think that finding the “Author” whoever he is dear lord is just a huge headfake and lesson to be taught for everyone involved in this storyline. I won’t go into details cause this comment is getting long enough haha but I’m really curious to see how it plays out in 4B.

    To anyone who read all that thank you and Katie once again thanks for an amazing review I look forward to OUAT coming back March 1st as much as I do your lovely reviews!


    • I’m so excited to see you commenting here, Sarah! And your thoughts on this episode and Emma and Hook’s relationship arc in general were great to read. 🙂

      I agree that a lot of people (myself included) got a little swept up in those recent spoiler pictures and assumed they hinted at something big happening in this midseason finale. However, like you, I think it’s even better that the new intimacy those pictures show is indicative not of some near-death confessions but simply of two people choosing to slowly open themselves up even more to one another because they feel secure enough to do so. I have a lot of feelings about Emma being able to embrace happiness and real intimacy after so many years of pushing that away, and the fact that she seems to be doing that with Hook naturally and easily speaks to everything I said in this review—they’re happy, they have hope that this time they won’t lose the happiness they found, and they want to take their time because they don’t feel pressured to enter new phases of their relationship because it might end.

      Thanks again for your kind words, and I can’t wait to keep talking OUAT with you throughout the hiatus to keep us from going crazy! 😉

  7. I am so, so proud of both Belle and Regina this episode!

    I’ve been waiting for that scene with Belle for a very long while. It was painful to watch knowing how hurt she had to be to say and do what she did but it’s something that’s been coming a very long time. It takes a very brave person to do the things Belle did tonight even if the person is not a powerful wizard; I can’t imagine how terrifying it was to stand up to The Dark One even with the dagger. And on top of that, it had to have been so hard to face up to the truth, that all of her faith and loyalty was rewarded with lies and broken trust. She absolutely deserves better than him, and not just because he won’t put her first but because all of the things he does now to try and secure a “future” for them are not things Belle would accept being done in her name. She didn’t want any of that, she just wanted him, but she was completely right – unless he changes, Rumple will never put her above power. It’s simply not in him because he’s still the same person who took the dagger in the first place.

    He couldn’t put Neal above power either and he lost Neal because of that, too. And it seems Neal’s death actually made Rumple worse instead of changing him for the better like I’m sure Neal wanted. I think the scene with Regina also reinforced that Rumple as he is now is just…bad for people. He naturally brings out the worst and what doesn’t come out naturally, he likes to force out on purpose. At his heart, I think he’s like someone who was once bullied very badly and who turns around and inflicts the suffering he experienced on other people. The Dark One loves to see other people suffer. If this was another show I’d say they were setting him up to become the ultimate Big Bad, someone who stood at the crossroads between True Love and a happy ending and power and the security it seemed to bring and picked power, dooming himself. I agree so very much that it’s not just the power itself Rumple loves, it’s also the things that having power allows him to do to other people. But I suspect even Rumple will have his happy ending, it will just take awhile to get there.

    I also loved that it was Belle who saved Hook and stopped Rumple in the end. I understand wanting it to be Emma, but I think with the history between those three, it was a very good choice. Hook has not been kind to Belle in the least, but Belle is the opposite of Rumple – she never would have wanted revenge on him. Belle is exactly the type of person who saves people regardless of who they are (that’s what she tried to do with Rumple, after all), she tries to save them because it’s the right thing to do. This episode also made me remember that Hook tried to warn Belle about who Rumple really was, but she didn’t believe him. At the time it was understandable why she wouldn’t, since the audience had seen a lot Belle hadn’t and Belle only knew Hook as a dick, but there was something powerful to me about Hook having told Belle what Rumple did to Milah and then Belle seeing with her own eyes Rumple trying to do the same thing to Hook.

    As for Regina – it was so powerful to see her consistently doing the thing that was best for everyone despite what it would do to herself. Something Regina said earlier in the season when she wondered if doing good because you want the reward in the end/to be seen as “good” still counts and I think that’s actually a bit of commentary on her arc. The first time she tried to “go good”, it was because she wanted Henry back. Not because she thought the things she had done were wrong or she regretted them, but because she wanted something. In this episode, it was the complete opposite – she did the right thing because she knew it was the right thing and in fact the things she chose caused her to LOSE something at the end. And still, she didn’t hesitate. It tore her apart but she did it. IA that I think we actually saw the seeds of this as far back as Going Home – Regina’s only option was to send Emma with Henry or Henry would have been alone, but she also gave them memories of a wonderful life when she didn’t have to. She did what was best for her son. This time, Regina sent Robin with Marian because she knew that Marian would need him and because she knew that Roland deserved to have his mother. I think that’s a pretty great reminder of the kind of person Regina could be (and in fact was before her mother and Rumple and Daniel and all of that).

    It’s interesting for me to see Rumple and Hook together this season because it really did highlight that they were on the same path and chose to go in completely different directions. In fact, the three “reforming villains” of the show have all had the same choice to make: do you try and become a better person to be worthy of the person you love, or do you not change and try to keep someone loving you despite that? And none of their journeys are the same just like their choices weren’t. Hook met Emma and very early on decided that he had to change, Regina had to lose Henry to realize that having him was better than holding onto her old ways and that if she didn’t, she would never be happy and Rumple didn’t really attempt to change at all, he tried to have the best of both worlds instead, with both Belle and Neal. It’s not smooth sailing by any means because being “good” isn’t something that happens once, it’s something you have to keep doing, but Hook has Emma and they’re trying to make it work. Regina doesn’t have Robin just yet but she does have Henry, the first person she truly tried to change for, and Henry loves her more than anything and is determined to get his mother a happy ending. And Rumple? Has nothing. I wonder if the message is supposed to be that it’s better to try and fail like Regina and Hook than it is to not try at all and take shortcuts.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who will miss Elsa! Her dynamic with Emma was probably one of my favorite things this season because for Emma, friends are kind of rare. She has Hook but he’s her boyfriend and she has Snow and Charming but they’re her parents. The show hasn’t really spent a ton of time focusing on say Emma/Regina as friends or even Emma/Belle as friends and Ruby is gone, so Emma doesn’t really have anyone who can just be her friend. I really enjoyed that she had that for awhile. Maybe they’ll devote some time to those relationships now that Operation Mongoose is a thing and Rumple is gone for awhile.

    ….I am truly sorry for this word vomit, I finally caught up on the show and have a lot of feelings apparently.

    • Never apologize for leaving comments like this, Nic! I’m so happy to have you and your lovely commentary back, and this was such a lovely bit of reading for me on a Wednesday morning. 🙂

      I found myself nodding along with so much of what you said because it was so insightful and articulate. I have to make special mention of you pointing out Belle finally seeing for herself what Hook tried to tell her (obviously not in the best way, as he was incredibly menacing about it) back in Season Two. It made it even more perfect for Belle to be the one to step in and save him from Rumple, and I hope we get to see more interactions between Belle and Hook in the next half-season and beyond.

      Everything you said about Regina was wonderful, but I especially loved that you pointed out the fact that, although she lost part of what she considered her happy ending by doing the heroic, right thing, she still has Henry. She still has one of her True Loves, the first person who inspired her to try to be better than she was. I hope that she realizes that, even though she keeps equating her happy ending with romantic love, she does have some happiness in the form of a son who truly loves her for everything she is because she’s not a villain to him; she’s his mom. (Sorry, that’s still one of my favorite lines in the show’s history, so I will paraphrase it every chance I get.)

      • Sadly I let real life get in the way of my TV watching so I had a lot of episodes saved up but I’m glad I got caught up! I look forward to reading your recaps as usual (and going back to read the ones I sadly missed).

        Belle really was the perfect choice in that scene. I actually think her appearing and going “because I ordered you not to” will go down as one of my favorite scenes in the entire series at this point, it was so unexpected and yet so perfect. Rumple took Belle for granted for too long, he assumed that she would always be there and he could continue doing whatever he wanted because she wouldn’t even attempt to stop him, and he was so, so wrong. The breaking point being Hook and the hat probably just threw salt on the wound – his chance to kill his hated enemy and get all of that power and she stopped him. Amazing.

        I’m with you on Regina, too – I understand why she’s been so devastated over losing what she genuinely thought was her own second chance at happily ever after, but she still has Henry. She fought so hard for him, even back when she was doing it for iffy reasons, and I can’t help but wish that maybe in the time Robin is gone (since I don’t doubt that he’ll be back), she remembers again that she goes have him. He’s proven time and again this season that he loves her and believes in her and will fight for her to be happy. And not just him either, she has Snow and her family if she wants. And now she’s even got a drinking buddy in Emma if nothing else. Seeing her focus on that relationship again would be awesome.

    • I love what you wrote about Rumple and Power, I think even before he was the Dark One he tried gaining power in relationships that he thought he could have it in them , like with Milah- He had the power, they were not equal partners, he decided (without even consulting or hearing her side) that they should stay where they were etc.
      Wanting and gaining power was something he always thrives for.

  8. As an episode of OUAT, I really loved it. As a mid-season finale, I think it was much less successful, so this of course has me feeling very conflicted. I loved the pieces, but the arc as a whole has me scratching my head. But it appears we are very much in the middle of the main arc rather than any kind of conclusion. I just wish they would have given us some kind of big reveal we could talk about during the break. Henry finding a room full of empty story books just did not get me excited. They didn’t really give us much to think about since there is so much we still dont know, and I think that is what has me feeling unsatisfied more than anything (I just like analyzing!!). As much as I loved the intro of the three villains, their motivation is the same thing we have been hearing all season, so again, nothing really new.

    So while I was left feeling unsatisfied as far as overall plot progression goes, one thing I think this episode did really well is get me invested in characters I havent been invested in for awhile. Regina has been growing on me all season, and I loved every scene with her in this episode. I am really interested to see where things go in 4B. Also, Belle was given practically nothing to do all season, and to get to see the flashbacks and her finally stand up to Rumple at the end was great, and I want to see more of her without Rumple for a little while. I also want to say how important I think it was that she got her moment of triumph at the town line. After her own father tried to send her over it to keep her away from Rumple, to Hook shooting her and sending her over it to hurt Rumple, I cant tell you how much I LOVED that this time it was Belle’s own choice to use the town line as a way to distance herself from him.

    As much as I loved Belle having agency in this episode, I am disappointed that Killian wasnt given much these last few episodes. I did love the moment he was able to break free of Rumple’s control, and the fact that Killian fought till the very end. But at this point I really want Killian to have a bit of a story of his own. We all know he is in love with Emma and would do anything for her, but there is still so much we dont know about him as a character, and I really want to find out more. My greatest hope for 4B is that Killian has a story outside of Emma and Rumple (at the very least, a job?)

    I dont have too much to say about Killian and Emma, because there wasnt anything too huge going on. It was a simple moment, and again I think this is a product of the fact their relationship story is very much in the middle as opposed to hitting a huge milestone. The way she shoved Killian’s heart back in his chest made me laugh, because it was 100% an Emma thing to do. Also, Emma was very much in “go go go” mode this episode (all season really). She had things she wanted to do and people she wanted to take care of. Throughout the season Emma asked Hook to be patient, and when she freaked out about him putting himself in danger, Hook promised her she didnt have to worry about him because he was a survivor. I think at this point they are both at an understanding that things are going to move slow, but they are both willing to make that commitment to each other because they think it’s a worthy cause (its probably best for our own sanity that us viewers do the same). Loving a savior isn’t easy. And for anyone that thinks Emma doesnt care about Killian because she isnt overrun with grief and emotion, I am here to defend her until the end of days. You want to know how long it took me to tell my partner that I loved him? 1.5 years. Yep. That was a real thing that happened (we are going on 7yrs now if you are curious). Some people are just slow and terrified and overly cautious. It may be frustrating to watch, but its not unrealistic, because I am a real person, and I can assure you that some people do in fact act that way.

    My favorite scene hands down was between Rumple and Regina in the car at the town line. From Rumple knowing all along Henry was spying to Rumple sincerely wanting happiness for Regina, everything was perfect. As you said, the fact that I can despise Rumple for his methods yet still applaud him for taking ownership of his fate, again just speaks to what a great complex character he is. And the fact that Rumple didnt get what he wanted in the end was pretty much the best lesson I think Rumple could have taught Regina, even if it wasn’t intentional.

    I was really engaged this episode, more than I have been in a long time. I read spoilers, I KNEW Killian wasnt going to die, and I KNEW Belle was the one to save him. Yet in that scene with Rumple about to crush his heart I was still terrified, and I was completely shocked when Belle came out with the dagger. So that is really a testament to how much I was into that exchange. I think it goes to show just how much I have missed the element of surprise this season. There was A LOT of talking about the snow queen’s motivations, this, Rumples plan that, rumples new plan when that one didnt work out, and then rumples new new plan after that. There was a lot of exposition this season, which again, all that talk and we didnt really learn much in the end about the hat or the sorcerer. I loved that we didnt see Belle finding the dagger and running to the clocktower, just like how I loved that we didnt need to see Anna give anymore information about Rumple’s plans to the group. And now I managed to complain that there was not enough plot, and too much plot all in the same comment. Can you tell I am just feeling confused at the moment?


    – Give me all the Cruella/Rumple banter. Your fav quote of the night was mine too. I cant wait for more. If there was one thing that has me excited for next season, this was it.

    – How did Killian’s voicemail not come back into play?!? Argh.

    – I think its cute that when Emma wants to comfort Regina, she uses the same technique Hook uses for her. Shots!

    – I havent given up on the storybook plot yet. While the finding of the secret room was kind of a lame cliffhanger, I think its interesting that the room was filled with blank storybooks. I like to take that as a sign its never too late for anyone to write themselves a new story. And I think the idea that Henry’s storybook may not be the only one out there is also intriguing. Does Hook have a book too?

    • Shauna, I love this. You perfectly articulated why I’m still feeling conflicted about this episode as a whole, despite really enjoying a lot of pieces of it. It felt like a strong episode but an underwhelming conclusion to an 11-episode arc. There were a lot more unanswered questions than I thought; I wasn’t expecting that lack of finality. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad thing. It’s just different than I thought it was going to be, so that’s going to take some time to process. I need to keep reminding myself that this is a MIDseason finale. It’s the middle, not the end. So it’s okay if some things still feel like they’re loose ends yet to be tied up.

      I also agree with you about wanting Hook to have something more to do on his own, but I think that will come soon. Few of these characters have been given stories independent of their main antagonist or love interest, especially after Season One. (Heck, we finally got one in the flashbacks for Charming after three seasons of waiting!) But I did appreciate that this season developed his story independent of Emma in terms of giving him his own conflict to deal with and his own demons to face—even if the conclusion to that left much to be desired. (Seriously, the voicemail never came up again? Chekhov is turning over in his grave.) I’m hopeful that all of these interviews hinting at more of his backstory in 4B means we’ll get to go even deeper into his character. (Please let us see little Killian! I also really hope there’s some conflict in his past with Ursula, too.)

      I’m so happy you brought up all of the trauma the town line has brought Belle in terms of taking away her agency because it makes it even more powerful to think about her using that town line to reclaim the agency she lost somewhere along the way as she tried to help Rumple find his goodness. One of the things I’m most excited for in 4B is seeing who Belle is outside of her relationship with Rumple.

  9. I Loved your review of the episode Katie, I think my views are pretty much like yours but I think I was more annoyed on some none-follow ups than you did

    Rumple v Killian, What I loved the most in this feud was how it showed so clearly who has changed & who hasn’t, who was always the coward even with his powers and who was always the brave. It also showed how Rumple misjudges Killian so much in this all ordeal with the controlling (even when he only had the cursed hand on him), I think the scene that showed that the most and it’s one of my favorite ever was when Rumple controlled what Killian said to Emma. The scene was horrible narratively and was hard to see Killian having no choice but it was also brilliant in so many levels-
    – The dialog that Rumple had Killian say was s2 Hook, and even back then Hook didn’t talk like that to Emma, he always treated her differently and off course Emma picked up on it. This is how Rumple thinks Killian talks to his girlfriend like she is another woman around, not just underestimating Killian but Emma and CS as well. I would even say it showed how Rumple view relationships as not equals, one with the upper hand and the other following his lead (much like his and Belle’s) . I loved seeing him so wrong regarding CS.
    – The acting of Colin, WOW!!! He is gifted! We are truly lucky to have such talented actors, he nailed this scene and it’s a tough scene to do, he talked with the fake swagger but slowly with peace and dangerous calm like Rumple, move his body like Rumple but his eyes were Killian’s, you can even see Killian rolling his eyes on the Bullshit Rumple has him saying, and once Emma touch him you can see all the emotion in his look.
    – The strength of his love for Emma was evident like ever, for him to be able to fight the heart controlling and hold her arm all shaking was stunning! It shows how strong he is, how hard he is fighting and how much he loves her, absolutely beautiful!
    And now me being pissed off – There was no follow up! And Emma noticed even before he touched her. I get that they wanted Belle to be the one to defeat Rumple and makes sense but Emma that we know would have check it out, his behavior was more than strange, it was suspicious. And they didn’t need to change much to make it happen and still have Belle be in the same role, but oh well…it will always feel missed to me.

    I felt like the writing gave much more closer to Rumple’s side of the feud and not Killian’s, and yes Rumple was the active one of them but what Killian went through since episode 4 was horrible, it touched all his inner fears and it deserved more because even when we can see clearly that what they meant to show is Rumple = Villian, Killian = Hero, I don’t think he sees it or feels it and I wanted this arc to make him realize he is not what he was, I wanted Emma to be part of it cos she knows who/how he is and can help him see it.
    Plus, they showed from 4.01 Emma’s emotions and fear of lost, this was so close to happen and it didn’t get the result needed. I will also note that I loved the scene when she puts back his heart, it was very ‘them’- the way she holds the heart (like cradling it), the change in looks on him and the immediate passionate kiss now that he can feel fully, and I don’t think TLK or ILU was the right time (I want it to happen when there is no danger, no havoc, just to happen) and yes it was an emotional episode, I get that their views on Killian is that he is a survivor and you can say he doesn’t want to be another burden on Emma with all the things she had to go through but it’s still a big deal and it deserved more than 30 seconds scene, I’m not asking for much just a couple of minutes of recognition. Because they did 6 weeks jump at the end I don’t think we will get it either, sad.

    Moving on…
    Rumple and Belle – People that know me know I’m the farest thing from being Belle’s fan, after ‘Skin Deep’ I felt that their relationship doesn’t make her better but worse, that he was dragging her down with him. I was blown by her reaction! I didn’t think she will make him walk through the town line, was very very strong scene and I was pleased with the dialog cos it’s what I wanted her to say since forever! I would have loved it more if she came to that realization without the gauntlet, because after she was faced with the mirror finally her inner doubts about him came to surface, I would have like to see her raise an eyebrow at some things or make her wonder more but I guess she was deep in denial that she needed the gauntlet to see the light.
    The acting was A+, Rumple’s pleads and changes of emotions were phenomenal.

    I don’t have a lot to say about Regina and Robin, you covered most. I do love Marian, she is a strong woman and I want to see more of her.

    Hate saying goodbye to the Frozen cast, I loved them so much! It was a bit rushed and they could have stayed until the end of the episode. I will miss them so so much! Especially Anna.

    I don’t know how much I like that Emma is in operation Mongooses, I’m hoping they have her there to bring some sense- that you can’t demand or ask for a Happy Ending, you have to work to get it, you have to truly redeem yourself, I did see change in Regina’s views regarding how to achieve it during 4a so I hope the parallels in 4b will be the way the Villains think they deserve the Happy Ending versus how the Heroes work everyday to be better. Everybody will be after the author of the book for different reasons so will be fun to see

    I’m intrigued about the Evil trio, we know were Maleficent is, but Ursula being in our world with no magic is something I wonder about – how did she get there? What the catch will be with Cruella, how she fits in? in the animation version she doesn’t have magic

    I think this 2 hours episode should have been this one because they had so much to cover and stuff were missed…now 2.5 months of waiting  will be hard, a day later and I already miss them…

    Thank you very much for your Reviews all season Katie! Your insight is a joy to read!

    • “I felt like the writing gave much more closer to Rumple’s side of the feud and not Killian’s”. I think this was a major part of my disappointment with the arc this season. I thought for sure this was going to be a huge story for both of them, and by the end of this episode I realized this was 80% about Rumple and 20% about Killian, which has only made me crave an actually storyline for him all the more (and one where he isnt a villian’s unwilling lackey would be great). For an episode titled “Heroes and Villains”, it seemed to be pretty heavy on the villains and light on the heroes.

      • My hopes are that they can still do it in 4b, Unfortunately we can’t change how the heart was handled regarding Emma’s involved in the saving but they have time regarding the repercussions of it, I want to start see them work on Killian’s walls because he has a share of them and Rumple played on them all, they said Emma will fight for him this season, I want it to be psychology fight and not physical one.

    • Thank you!

      I loved reading your breakdown of Emma and Killian’s scene in the diner. Out of all the things that people feel didn’t get followed through enough in this episode, that’s the one still bothering me. It was weird to show so explicitly him fighting so hard to show her he wasn’t okay and her recognizing that, only to have it lead nowhere. From a writing standpoint, it didn’t make much sense to take the time to develop that and not make it any part of the climax. But I’m finding at least some solace in the idea that they wanted to take the time to show without a doubt how strong their connection is. If nothing else, that moment was a terrific showcase for both actors.

      And I can understand the frustration about the length and depth of that last scene between Emma and Killian, even if I’m not as upset about it as many are. Yes, Emma told him she was afraid to lose him, but I think part of her arc that was reflected in this episode was the idea that—even though it was a very close call—Killian was right; she didn’t lose him. It wasn’t about what she almost lost; it was about what was still there. And for her to choose to focus on the happy and hopeful stuff instead of looking for reasons to be upset or angry or scared is huge development for her character. Would I have liked more? Of course. But I’m just an impatient fangirl, so I always want more. 😉

  10. I have really mixed feelings about this episode – I absolutely LOVED the Belle/Rumple scene on the town line and I really didn’t expect her to send him out of town, but Belle as a character really needed that moment. Robert Carlyle and Emilie de Ravin were both brilliant in the scene, I felt a momentary pang of sympathy for Rumple when he admitted he was scared but then I remembered everything he’d done during this half of the season and my pity for him went – he wanted to have it all, and now he has nothing so he got exactly what he deserves. The last time Rumple was a desperate man he ended up becoming the Dark One, so I really can’t wait to see what he’s going to do this time around.

    My biggest problem with this episode was the pacing, they had so many plot points to resolve that it all felt very rushed, and the biggest casualty was Emma. From the moment Rumple took Hooks heart, I’ve been waiting to see Emma’s reaction. And leading up to this episode, there were several scenes where we see Emma suspect that something was wrong with Hook, yet we don’t get the emotional pay off it deserves. After the scene in the diner, I expected Emma chase after Hook and ask him what was going on, and when Emma finds out that Gold was playing them all, I expected Emma to realise that he had done something to Hook – yet we see nothing. I’m glad that Belle finally found out the truth and she stopped Rumple, but the show spent so much time building up Hook and Emma’s relationship and this was their biggest test so far and we didn’t see Emma react to any of it. As you can tell I’m very frustrated by how this storyline was resolved. That being said I did love all the Emma/Hook scenes we did get. I think I just expected too much from this episode, and maybe after a few days I will feel better about Emma’s story but for now I’m very disappointed.

    • Ditto to everything you said. Exactly how I feel.

      I had a very high expectation going into the episode and by the end I felt let down.

      In addition to your comments above I also thought the hand holding, fingers entertwining between Emma and Killian will be important and in play somewhere here because they had put so much closed up on those moments in the previous episodes that I expected it to play a part in something big between them but nope, I was wrong.

      Is this it for Emma fighting for Killian? I sure hope not because she really didn’t. I hope that’s still coming in 4B.

      I’m also confused about Operation Mongoose. Isn’t the book reflect events happened rather than what’s going to happen? It seems like a history book to me. It records but doesn’t predict or dictate. The book changed to match Emma and Killian experiences when they went back in time so what is this operation to find the author suppose to accomplished for Regina?

      Katie, you were right about Killian getting his heart back by the end of 4A. I didn’t think it would happened until you told me and I believed you. Thank you for giving me that. Any more prediction to tide me over? 🙂

      • I think if this episode taught us anything, it’s that we should just try to go along for the ride. Trying to predict exactly what’s going to happen only leads to disappointment. I don’t have any real predictions for 4B. I think we’ll get to see a lot of little moments of casual intimacy between Emma and Hook, and that’s something I’m very much looking forward to. I’m also looking forward to seeing how Emma and Regina’s friendship has developed over those six weeks.

        And as far as Emma fighting for Killian goes, I think she fought for him this half-season but in a different way than a lot of people were initially thinking. She fought against her instinct to run in order to literally let him into every part of her life. She fought against her fears to open her heart to him fully. I’m sure there will be more fighting for him to come, but she had to fight that internal battle first.

        • Thank you, Katie.

          This is why I love this site. Thank you for creating this safe haven. I appreciate your posts and all the posters here. There are always different perspective and something for me to think about that I don’t initially thinking of until I read the posts.

          I can see your point about Emma fighting for Killian within herself which is great. I want to see it from Killian’s point of view though. In S3 he jokingly stated that eventually he’ll stop chasing after that woman, meaning, to me, he was actively doing the chasing. Also, when he was unsure about whether Emma will reciprocate in going to the end of the world for him when he answered David question. I want to see Emma reciprocation in action that shows he won’t ever have that doubt anymore. Maybe that was shown and it was enough for the show but if I was Killian, I wouldn’t be absolutely convinced as yet. Don’t get me wrong though, I absolutely loved what we’ve gotten so far. I think a lot of care have been put into the development of their relationship that made it all believable and adorable. I hope it continues and eventually they’ll become that lasting couple just like her parents.

          Emma is my favorite character on this show. I’m very happy with her evolution as a person. I really can’t complain. I love seeing her happy and surround herself with families and loved ones. I wish she has more friends though. It’s one of the reasons I missed Elsa so much. It would have been great to see more of their interaction when she was around. I’m anxious to see what’s next for Emma. I can’t wait to see more of her experiences and growth within herself and all her relationships. I especially love her relationship with her father. I like to see more of that. Essentially, I can’t wait to see anything that’s Emma related and for March to get here already.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Joan!

      I fully understand the disappointment. I think a lot of us let our expectations get carried away (I will fully admit to that myself), but I also don’t think it was too much to expect a little more focus on Emma than what we got. The lack of reactions from her in this episode stood out to me. I know it’s difficult to balance having such a large group of complex characters in need of their time in the spotlight, but for a half-season that was so focused on Emma, it did feel a little lacking in terms the writing of her reactions to the things happening in this episode (if I’m being honest, I’m thinking about her goodbye to Elsa even more than anything that happened with Hook). In my quest to try to turn things in a positive direction, I’m just trying to focus on the fact that, unlike last year, we won’t be starting from Square One with Emma again. She’s come so far in just this half-season alone that I’m still incredibly excited for what’s to come for her in 4B.

      Also, I have to point out this fantastic observation you had:
      “The last time Rumple was a desperate man he ended up becoming the Dark One, so I really can’t wait to see what he’s going to do this time around.”

      Now you have me even more excited to see what this kind of desperation has turned Rumple into.

  11. I had mixed feelings about this episode though only because of my own preferences when it comes to this show and not anything it did. Apparently this half-season has done something worse than making me dislike Rumple – it’s made me disinterested in him. Robert Carlyle was fantastic, as he always is, but the only times I was interested in watching him were his two scenes at the town line with Regina and Belle.

    Now those two scenes were fantastic. In the first scene with Regina, not only was it a good look at how far Regina has come but also a nice look at why these two are so different. Regina is trying so hard to do good. She is fighting for her redemption every step of the way and paying a heavy price, often times. Since Neal died, Rumple ceased to care about redemption and is now using his power as a defense mechanism so he never has to be hurt again. He turned to it when he didn’t think he was enough originally and now he uses it to allow himself to never be in a position where he can’t have something he wants or feels should be his. Unfortunately for him, this outlook blinded him to the fact that there finally was someone who thought he was enough without the power and his quest for it drove her away.

    That scene at the town line with Belle was the best of the episode. The strong, powerful woman standing up to anyone isn’t a side of Belle we see often on this show and neither is a frightened Rumple and both Robert and Emilie pulled off these sides beautifully. I love that Belle was both determined and heartbroken. I feel like some shows would have just focused on the anger, which was much deserved, and had Belle send Rumple off in anger and showing little other emotion. But that wouldn’t have fit the situation. Belle loved the man she believed Rumple could be and just because that man didn’t really exist doesn’t mean he wasn’t real to her. She was losing the man she loved and the realization that he was truly a monster had to have been devastating. I was proud of her for knowing that what Rumple could offer wasn’t what she deserved but I was mostly heartbroken for her. This is the second time she’s lost him but this time seemed like it would be far more damaging. And “I’m afraid” had to have been one of my favorite Robert Carlyle readings of the series because it was one of the few times Rumple has been truly vulnerable and it still makes me feel something, even as I’m largely disinterested.

    Speaking of heartbreak, I just wanted to wrap Regina in a hug (that she probably wouldn’t have been at all interested in) or maybe just do some shots with her and Emma. She had her happy ending for 5 minutes and then she had to actively give it away. I don’t love the plot that made that happen but the character moments were worth it. It was one of the two parts of the finale that made me cry and I’m sure it was mostly for Regina. She has grown to be my second favorite character and I want her to be happy so badly.

    I seem to be in the minority but I’m excited about Operation Mongoose in 4B, especially now that Emma is involved. If this were a different show, I would love for the sorcerer to not be 100% good and be actively writing their fates and manipulating their futures but that seems distinctly not like OUaT so I’m instead hopeful for a ton of great character moments for Regina and for her and Emma’s friendship. I want Regina to find happiness that isn’t immediately taken away and I think her relationships with Henry and Emma could be a source of that. Mostly, I just need a small victory for her. She’s shown that she wants to be a better person and that she wants to do the right thing and I need that to pay off somewhere, whether it’s the book changing in some small way or the author telling her her happy ending is coming and to be patient for a while longer even if that happy ending isn’t what Regina imagined.

    I also would have liked more Emma, but really, when isn’t that the case for me? I loved the shots with Regina and that she knew what kind of support Regina needed/would accept. I also loved that she continued to recognize that something was wrong with Hook. She understands those two so well and it’s what makes both of the relationships so enjoyable to watch for me.

    And of course, I loved the kiss because damn that was hot! But I loved the little smiles and closeness afterward even more. These two are on a journey and they are still just at the beginning. They have time to learn everything about the other person and have lots of in depth conversations but right now, I’m fine with them just taking pleasure and solace in the fact that they are together and whole again.

    Finally, I agree that the Frozen goodbyes were rushed. I get that there was a lot of other things to pack into this episode but I didn’t think it emotionally closed out their arc in Storybrooke quite as much as I would have liked.

    Now that Ingrid is gone, maybe Ursula can take over the ice cream shop and only sell coffee ice cream 😉 I’m excited to see Merrin Dungey again!

    • First of all, as soon as the Frozen crew goodbye scene ended, all I could think was that you’d be just as disappointed as me in how rushed they were. But then again, I think both of us would have watched an entire episode of Elsa and Emma saying goodbye to each other and Anna interacting with basically everyone before they had to leave. 😉

      It’s interesting to hear you say that this season has made you become more disinterested in Rumple because it’s made me more interested in him than I’ve been since Season One. I totally understand losing a little bit of interest because his sense of inner conflict seems to be gone, though. I think my fascination with him this season was mainly because of Robert Carlyle’s acting. For some reason, I always feel like he’s at his best when he’s being manipulative and menacing, even if I always want the character to break away from those behavior patterns.

      I loved what you said about Belle’s reaction being both heartbreak and anger because it was such a a nuanced direction to take that scene. It would have been so easy for Emilie de Ravin to play pure anger, but the disappointment with not just Rumple but also herself for losing her way was exactly what that scene needed to resonate so powerfully. This cast is so good at taking things that could be one-note and making them complex, and this was yet another example of that.

      I would also like to join you in giving Regina a hug (or doing shots because the mental image of you, me, Emma, and Regina doing shots is currently bringing me much enjoyment this morning). You are 100% right in saying that Regina needs some kind of small victory, and I really hope that does come in finding out through Operation Mongoose that choosing to be good is putting her on the path to a truly happy ending.

  12. Great review as always! While I agree that this mid-season finale didn’t pack the emotional punch of “Going Home,” I thoroughly enjoyed it and even found myself tearing up once or twice.

    In hindsight, not caught up in the initial rush of watching the ep, as a capstone to a very Emma-centric half season this was a bit light on Emma herself. But all of the little moments, not to mention the BIG MOMENT of Belle finally, FINALLY confronting Rumple, were worthwhile.

    Two quick things, and if I missed this in the comments forgive me! But when Rumple is about to crush Hook’s heart, I thought Emma DID try to run up the stairs, but he threw a blast of magic their way that stopped them (I assumed they were temporarily “frozen” like what happened w/ Belle in 4×1). And in regards to the unknown portal, I didn’t really have a problem w/ how Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff made their exit because I assumed that when Emma opened the door they could see Arendelle through it. So that’s how all that worked out in my mind. 🙂

    I do wish that more time had been devoted to Emma discovering what’s been up w/ Hook…but what, this half a season has covered like 2 weeks (max?) worth of real time? I keep having to remind myself w/ this show that even though I’m investing three months in a half season, that more often than not only a fraction of that time has passed in Storybrooke.

    I feel like I can’t really complain about CS action, though, because I got SO MUCH growth in these 11 episodes that I am thrilled to the gills with the potential going into 4B for my two favorites. 🙂

    I loved Regina in this episode, particularly her conversation w/ Rumple, which so sharply illustrated her growth v. his regression. I really don’t think however Operation Mongoose plays out that she is going to “make” the Author give her a new ending…because the choices she is making will make that happen — she just has to realize it (eventually). Also, loved Marian articulating her desire to be “chosen” mirroring Belle’s heartbreak over realizing her husband chose power over her & her love. That was wrenching!

    The Belle payoff here was SO worth the wait. I loved the use of flashback to her early days w/ Rumple, because I’ve gotten SO FRUSTRATED with his regression and seeing them together in the Enchanted Forest reminded me of why I loved Rumbelle in the first place — because in those early days, one really got the sense that the Dark One was coming to care for her and it scared the you-know-what out of him. 😉 Being reminded of that first made seeing their epic blow-up/meltdown at the town line all the more tragic.

    And finally, I couldn’t be more thrilled with the introduction of the “Queens of Darkness”! The casting and costumes are just pitch-perfect PERFECTION! I’m especially in love with Victoria Smurfit as Cruella, she knocked it outta the park!! Can’t wait to find out their backstories. 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing your feelings with us! 🙂 I love that we’re all in agreement about how epic Cruella can potentially be.

      When Rumple was about to crush Hook’s heart, Emma tried to use her magic before she was frozen. My complaint was about the beat right before then when both she and Snow just kind of stood and watched what was happening. It was weird to see two women who are usually “act first, think later” people just watching Rumple. I know it was short, but it felt awkward to me.

      I’m also really happy you brought up the costumes for the Queens of Darkness because I am in love with both Cruella’s costume and hair/makeup. They all looked fabulous, but I am already thinking I might want to be this version of Cruella for Halloween next year since she looks so great. 😉

      • Excellent point! The more I think about it, the more I realize you are right…the blocking was weird in that scene. And for as much as I loved Belle saving the day w/ the dagger, I wish we could’ve SEEN her discover it.

  13. Before I forget, I have to give props to the CGI with the hat. When it comes to CGI on this show the most I hope for is “not distractingly bad”, but the image of the hat expanding into that web of stars was really pretty and cool looking. More of that!

  14. I wanted to like this episode more than I did, and I think it’s for a lot of the reasons that have already been expressed (inflated expectations, a sense that this was a good episode but not necessarily “finale” caliber, etc). There were so much that needed to wrapped up, and once again I felt that this episode could have benefited from being split up. I think had I been in charge of the storyline, I would have broken these last two episodes into three, allowing for a little more time to cover some of the issues that I felt were neglected. The major one for me was the Emma/Hook plot, and I won’t bother rehashing my issues because I think it’s been said (repeatedly) by other posters. I’m also a little concerned with the 6 week time jump starting off 4B, I’m worried that we won’t really get any of the interaction between Emma and Hook in regards to the events of 4A given how much time will have passed. Given that we were told that Emma would be fighting for Hook this season, I just felt that it fell very flat. There were things I loved (the parallelism of Regina/Robin and Rumple/Belle at the town line, Belle being a bad-ass, Emma/Hook in the diner), but overall I wasn’t thrilled.

    • I totally understand the sense of being underwhelmed with this episode as a midseason finale, and I do share some of your concerns. However, there are so many ways 4B could play out in terms of character moments that I’m not ready to start worrying too much about what will/won’t be addressed yet. Who knows, they might go back in the first episode to the day after the midseason finale ended to show us what happened. They might also have something happen that allows Emma and Hook to address all of those emotional things we didn’t see in this episode (Rumple coming back would put Hook at risk again, prompting a discussion; letting the people trapped in the hat out would be an opening for them to talk about his guilt; Emma might even find her phone and the voicemail Hook left).

      And as far as being promised Emma fighting for Hook, I think we already saw her fighting against a lot of her fears, insecurities, and instincts in order to let him into her heart this season. And I think we had to get to that point before anything could happen in terms of her fighting for him on a larger scale. Personally, I like the realism of Emma fighting herself and her past emotional trauma in order to love him even more than I’d like seeing her save him from some magical danger. It’s something I can relate to, and there’s plenty of time for us to see even more fighting for each other in the future.

  15. [“Part of me also wished for a little bit more time spent on Emma’s reactions to things after a half-season so firmly devoted to showing her growth.”]

    Whatever “growth” Emma had experienced this half season, she has long way to go. Here are two ways to extend that growth. Have her realize that changing the timeline for any reason is WRONG. And have her turn in that STOLEN yellow VW to the Portland Police.

  16. I agree with most of your points, especially on rumbelle and the state of their relationship. I loved, loved how Belle was the one to defeat Rumple and finally, take control and something proactive, especially in a winter finale.

    I also agree about Captain Swan. I notice about our ‘ship, we tend to be impatient about certain developments in the relationship but you nailed it: when coffee time finally happens, it should be on their terms and not because of a life or death situation. It needs to be something that happens naturally because they both want it to happen.

    I’m still counting on a CS true love’s kiss this season, but again I can be patient. There’s still 11 episodes left in the season. Anything can happen between 4×12 and 4×22 but I still have hope.

    Excellent review!

    • Thank you!

      I think most fandoms, especially groups of “shippers,” tend to get impatient, and I completely understand because patience is a virtue I have never mastered. 😉 However, I do think the writers (and Jennifer and Colin) have done such a wonderful job of showing the importance of every step in Emma and Hook’s relationship journey, so I’d rather they take their time and give us such great moments of slow-burning development and growing intimacy than rush anything.

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