This episode pretty much wrapped up all hanging story lines, so that in the finale they can upturn everything on us. For about a minute everyone was happy. Emma finally forgave her parents and realized how important they are to her. Maleficent met Lily and they are going to try to get to know each other and build a relationship. And Regina finally figured out that the only one standing in the way of her happy ending is herself. Rumple is just about the only one who ended this episode more miserable then he started it. And of course this means he is going to destroy everything for everyone else.
This episode mainly revolved around Regina. The group returns to Storybrooke from New York. Regina is devastated by the news from Zelena and she can’t see a way to work around it. Robin tries to tell her they can find a way to live happy together but Regina can’t see what he sees. When they return she locks Zelena away. Regina then goes looking for the author in order to erase Zelena’s existence from their lives. She is intent on removing yet another obstacle to her happy ending.
What Regina learned in this episode is a lesson everyone can take away . Your happiness and thus your happy ending is in your hands and your hands alone. The path to true happiness is full of twists, turns and dead ends. The path is never going to be easy, simple and smooth. If it was, how would you ever be able to appreciate what you have? If you don’t work and struggle for what makes you happy you are going to take it all for granted. We savor the good we have because we know what it took to get to that point. If Regina changed the story so she never had to go through all her issues then she would never be able to fully appreciate what she has and could easily lose it.
Regina has had to struggle more than most people. But all the obstacles have gotten her to this point in her life. If Regina continued to blame the universe and think she needed a new story in order to be happy she would never get to that ending. Even the most perfect, “happy ending,” has its dark moments and struggles. That is just life, even in a fairytale.
I love Regina’s character because she is so strong. In the flashback portion of the episode we saw her mother, Cora, trying to set her up with the Sheriff of Nottingham. Her motives seem to be for Regina to get pregnant. She says it is to see Regina happy but it is unclear how true any of that is. For a moment Regina buys that the Sheriff is supposed to be her soulmate. But then he tells her that he will be the strong one so she can be weak. Instantly Regina knows that something is wrong with the situation.
She doesn’t stand there and wonder if he has a point. She doesn’t try to make herself okay with what he said in order to keep him as her soulmate. She fights back and tells him off and ultimately puts him in her dungeon. When her mother questions her she tells her that she knew it wasn’t true because that is not how a soulmate would act. Her soulmate would never tell her to become someone she isn’t. That person would never tell her to be a weaker person then they are. Never tell her that because she is a woman she can’t be strong. She knows what it means to have someone truly love you. They accept you as you are and compliment you as a person not try to change who you are.
Zelena quips about how of course Regina found her happy ending now that she has a man. Bur Regina quickly steps on that accusation. She tells Zelena that Robin is not her happy ending alone, he is only part of it. Her happy ending is learning to feel at home in her world and with who she is as a person; trusting herself, and knowing that she has come so far and changed so much from the person she once was. Regina finally sees that her happy ending has been around her this whole time. She has Robin who loves and accepts her. She has Henry who does the same. She has friends in Emma, Charming and Snow who have looked past the past and see who she truly is now. And most importantly she loves herself.
Whereas Regina finally sees that her happy ending is in her hands not the author’s, Rumple cannot see or understand that idea. Rumple did not get any type of happy ending in this episode. Rumple said before that once his heart is completely consumed by darkness his ability to love will be gone forever. The Dark One will take over and Rumpelstiltskin as we know him will be dead. There will be nothing left but evil, hate and darkness.
Rumple has done a lot of bad through out his life, which is why he is in this situation to start with. Yet for all that he has done he is not welcoming this change with open arms. With the last bit of humanity left in him he is trying to find a way to save himself. Rumple doesn’t want to be a purely evil man but he knows that he can’t save himself in this life and story. He is too far down a dark path to be able to do enough good to save his heart. The only solution he sees is the change his story completely.
Rumple could just change his story. Instead he gives the author a new storybook called “Heroes and Villains,” and tells him it is time the villains win. He doesn’t just change his story but everyones.
Though at this point it is interesting to note that Rumple is the only one who truly still sees himself as a villain. (Zelena may see herself that way as well). Maleficent has her daughter and no longer cares about revenge or hurting anyone. Regina gave up the role of villain ages ago. Rumple views himself as a villain and that is influencing his decisions. It all comes down how they see themselves and that is influencing the choices and decisions that are being made.
“We can be happy in the future or angry in the past,”- Maleficent – She realizes that holding onto grudges and pain makes being happy nearly impossible. You have to let the past be the past and stay where it belongs.
“The only one standing in the way of your happiness is you?”- Cora – Words the every character should always remember in this story, especially Rumple.
Now that there is a new story book how will everything change?
Are we going to have an alternate storyline type deal?
What does Rumple truly want out of his life?
In the new story will Rumple still be the dark one with that power? Could he ever give up that much power?
Are we ever going to see Maleficent and Lily again?
Is Emma now safe from turning dark or is that always going to be a possibility for her life?
Will someone die?
Can Regina reverse the potion she took so she can get pregnant if she wanted to?
What will the alternate universe idea do to Henry? Will he just cease to exist?
This was an information packed episode. We learned the story behind the rivalry between Hook and Ursula. We found out the exact details of Rumple’s ultimate plan. More of the author’s capabilities were revealed. We also learned where the author actually is being kept. And we lost a Queen of Darkness when she got her happy ending.
The main story of this episode was the backstory behind why Ursula hates Hook so much. At one time Ursula was a mermaid and she had voice that was powerful and could make people forget their pain for a time. She was a woman who didn’t understand her father’s hatred of humans and pirates. She was kind hearted and sympathetic towards people. She stole a bracelet that let her have legs and allowed her to see the human world. She met Hook and befriended him. Hook took sympathy on her. He saw a kindred spirit and understood her pain. (Important note here: Hook was not a cold hearted monster when he was villain. He still felt for people and wanted to help those that he understood.) Ursula’s father doesn’t want her anywhere need humans and in the end he forces Hook’s hand to betray Ursula. Poseidon threatens Hook’s revenge plan and he ends up having no choice but to hurt Ursula. It is this moment, Hook stealing her voice and her father being part of the whole thing, that sent Ursula over the edge. It is important to note here that Ursula was not born evil and cruel. Just like all our other villains her life circumstances and her choices in response are what made her a villain.
One of the main elements of this show that I like so much is that the villains are never born. Not one of them has been evil from the very beginning of their lives. Every one of our villains was created by what happened to them in their lives. They lost someone or something and that sparked a retaliation element in them. It all comes down to the choices they made when they were hurt. They lashed out, blamed one person and became full of revenge. A villain is never born they are made. A villain comes out because of the choice someone makes when they are faced with a hard and difficult situation.
Hook tells Emma that working with Ursula made him remember his past and he felt himself falling back into his dark choices. It scares him. We see that Hook betrayed Ursula because he was terrified that all his work to get back at Rumple was going to end. Hook made a poor choice then, all fueled by anger and hate. That was the past Hook though, it is not the man that loves Emma.
Our Hook has to remember that he is not his past. Everyone has a past with poor choices that they do not ever want to repeat. Present Hook is not that man. Yes, he did make a promise to Ursula he could not keep but instead of lashing out, he attempted to fix his mistake. Hook found Poseidon and brought him back in order for him to return Ursula’s voice to her. Hook made a mistake, understood what he did and rectified it. That is what matters now. Hook is so afraid of losing his happy ending, (Emma), that he is too concentrated on what he did at one time. Just like Emma told him before he had a past but that is not what matters now. If he continues to live as he is, striving to do good and fixing mistakes when he makes them, he will be fine.
Ursula not only got her voice back but she always got her father back as well. Without the author rewriting her story or altering the storybook in anyway Ursula got her happy ending. What I found interesting here was that no one seems to have realized just what this could mean. The author is not needed for these people to get what they want. (Essentially they are the authors of their own stories). It all comes down to the choices they make and the choices of those around them. Hook and Ursula worked together, and in the end Ursula got what she wanted. This has an interesting implication for the whole ordeal they are working in right now. A happy ending is possible if you work toward it, forgive those who hurt you, right your wrongs and make the right choices. I wonder if anyone is going to realize what happened with Ursula and if it will make them doubt their whole plan.
As part of their deal Ursula gave Hook the information about Rumple’s plan. It turns out that while Emma is around the author cannot rewrite the storybook and give anyone the ending that they want. How Rumple learned this information we are not told, yet. Emma is the one who has been giving people their happy endings, or at least helping them work towards them. The author cannot undo the work she has done.
Rumple’s plan is to consume Emma’s heart with darkness. If Emma is not the savior then the author can rewrite the stories. Why this is I am not positive yet but I am sure we will get more information soon. Turning Emma dark is the ultimate goal for this plan. How Rumple plans on doing this I am not positive yet. But right now I can tell his work may not be that hard.
The previews next week show that we are going to learn more about what Snow and Charming did to Maleficent. It also appears that Emma learns about her parents lies. Emma is being held together by her parents, Hook and Henry. If these strings start to unravel Rumple will not have to do much to turn Emma. As I said earlier all the villains are turned evil by the circumstances around them and the choices they make in response. Emma is going to have to make some tough choices soon. She is going to have to not let her anger and pain rule her actions or else she is going to turn dark without much effort. Emma is already teetering on the edge. Snow and Charming are her guide to choosing correctly, so when she sees that they aren’t perfect she is going to lose it. I hope that Hook can keep himself together because I have a feeling he is going to have to be Emma’s voice of reason soon.
“You finally chose the winning side,” – Rumple- This is what Rumple believes. What is interesting is that Ursula got her happy ending without Rumple. He did not have a hand in her getting what she always wanted. So what does this say for the other Queens and Rumple getting what they want.
“Even when I think he can’t deceive me anymore, he finds a way,” – Belle- Belle learned about Rumple’s betrayal and him stealing the dagger. Now that he knows that he yet again tricked her, there is no hope left for these two.
How will Emma learn about her parents lies? Will it be from them or someone else?
Can Hook live in his present and stop defining himself by his past?
Will the other two Queens get their happy endings as well leaving Rumple all alone?
How did the author end up in the book? Was it to hurt him or her? Or was it protect him or her?
Why does turning Emma dark allow the author to change the stories?
What does this imply about the extent of Emma’s powers?
Is Maleficent’s child still alive? Do we know him or her?
Is Emma some new type of author? Will she be given that power before the season ends?
What is Rumple’s happy ending?
When is Robin Hood coming back?
What did Regina’s dream mean?
Why is her past self protecting Robin? What does that mean for her present time?
Does it imply that present Regina trying to change her story is going to ultimately hurt Robin somehow?
When will Regina’s double agent role be revealed? How?
What is Cruella’s story?
Once Upon a Time is finally back and I am extremely eager to see what the second half of this season has in store. I loved the Peter Pan storyline and how intricately connected it was to the rest of the plot lines.
They were able to make Peter Pan someone important and a tool to reveal more about Rumple and also small pieces of everyone else. I loved Peter Pan because of much he pushed the characters along and inspired some major changes in some of the major characters. He allowed so many of them to grow and for us to find the deeper parts of characters such as Regina. I hope with crossed fingers and toes that they are able to do the same with the Wicked Witch and Oz.
Oz is a little tricky. Peter Pan is a actual classic fairy tale so going into Neverland didn’t seem like a leap that was going too far. Oz is different, it doesn’t spark the same ideas that traditional fairytales do, at least for me. Few, if any, would really call the Wizard of Oz a fairytale in the sense that the rest of the stories have been classified. It will be very interesting to see how they connect and weave the stories around. Up until now they have done the twisting and weaving so very well that I have faith they will be able to work with this new story just as well.
I watched the season recap/explanation that aired before the episode and there were a few things they mentioned that really caught my attention. The idea of everyone having to find home in this second half of the season; and the idea of how everyone gets a happy ending; the story is really about how they find that ending and what they do with it when they get it.
First they mentioned about how the characters are going to be struggling with finding a home in this second half, a true home. There a many ways of defining a home. It is somewhere we feel safe and comfortable. Somewhere where we can be ourselves without having to hide who we are. Home is our sanctuary. How will everyone define this concept for themselves now?
This new theme was apparent very much in this episode. Of course there was Emma. This is not a new idea for her. She has never had a true home, never had somewhere where she felt completely safe and happy. With the new memories Regina gave she has the life she used to dream about, at least most of it. She has a real physical home and a happy life with her son.
The question for the last half will be what is her true definition of home, what will make her truly happy? Living this “fake”life she always had an odd feeling that something wasn’t quite right. Hook constantly tells her to listen to that pit in her stomach that is telling her that something is wrong. Why would this not feel right to her when for so long she has said that this is what she wanted? A life with her son is what she says she wanted. She is constantly fighting her fairytale roots, always having trouble reconciling what she dreamed of with what she has before her. Even in this fake life she is doing that. She has to get past her past and see what is lying right in front of her. I think Emma is going to discover that home isn’t a place it is where the people who love and care about you are. Whether that is Storybrooke, the Enchanted Forest or New York. It isn’t the place that counts, it is the people.
Hook is the character that really interested me in this episode. Up until now we have spent the time we had with him trying to determine what side he was on and what his ulterior motives have been. Who does he care about? and What does he actually want? Questions that we are still asking but in a different way now.
Emma showed him a new side of himself. He has fallen for her and that at first confuses him, then motivates him. He wants to have that true connection with someone. He had Milah at one time, but she really just enhanced the mask he portrayed to the world. She didn’t enable him to delve deeper into himself ever. She allowed him to continue to show the world his pirate face. Emma on the other hand hit a deeper side of him, his “hero” side. After Milah’s death he became focused on vengeance alone. He met Emma and he has had to reevaluate what he needs in life and what he is living for.
It was interesting how once they all returned to the Enchanted Forest Hook instantly wanted to leave. He is connected to Emma and without her as his anchor to this group he sees no place for him. He is afraid and he just wants to run. All the feelings and ideas Emma sparked scared him and without her beside him he just wants to run from everything. He is lost now and he isn’t quite sure what to do with himself. So he decides on a path he has always followed.
He only knows life as a pirate and without Emma beside him, guiding him, he can’t see any other alternative for his life. This new struggle is what is going to define home for Hook. Charming was welcoming to him, asked him to join them but Hook can’t open himself up like that just yet. He is hurting and all he wants to do is run away. Like Regina he doesn’t do well with pain and suffering.
Where is Hook’s home? Does he have any idea of what home actually means? He has never truly had that one place where he has felt safe and able to truly settle in. Now he has to redefine himself. He doesn’t want to connect to the world butt we see that something pulls him back to Charming and the rest of the group. He finds Emma so she can rescue her family. He doesn’t completely disconnect himself from these people. Why? What draws him to these people? Why does he want to help? Is it only for Emma? Or does he see a new opportunity for a new life in this group? Does he see that he may actually be able to have family and friends? He was hurt when he lost his brother and was betrayed by his king, can he trust and hold onto a family again?
While Hook is running and holding out no hope for finding Emma, Neil is determined to get his family back. Neil refuse to stop believing in the possibility that he will be able to reunite his family. This determination did not surprise me. For so long Neil was a hurt man. His father left him and he was forced to leave the love of his life. He was afraid of connecting to anyone because he just kept losing them. Now he has faith in the love of family again and he is not going to let it slip from his fingers. He finally got all he wanted and he will not lose that again.
What did surprise me was Snow’s reaction. She was so quick to tell Neil that there was no hope of them of ever seeing Emma and Henry again. This is a very realistic view of the situation, something that Snow is not. She is always preaching about hope and holding onto the belief that the impossible is possible. It was a little shocking and sobering to see her resigned to their new fate. Is it because of all they have gone through? Has their struggles hurt that believing hopeful heart she has always had?
I was just waiting for to her say something about how they will find a way to get their daughter back, but she never did. Is holding out hope too painful for her? She pretends to understand and be okay with the fact that they will now have a new life but we know deep down she is breaking. For someone who has alway believed in the vast power of the happy ending this new reality has to be crippling. In her conversation with Regina we see that she is in fact devastated but she has hope for a new life, not hope for the old life but for a brand new one. She is shedding her past and moving on. Why?
The conversation with Regina was touching and really showed the new relationship between Snow and Regina. Of course Regina is heartbroken and devastated. She buries her heart because she can’t deal with the pain of losing her son. She doesn’t know how to live with this kind of pain. Always in her life before she has covered up her pain with action, right now she has no way of acting. There is nothing she can do, no one she can’t go after, nowhere she can find a solution to her problem. She is helpless and that is killing her.
This moment showed a new almost sisterly relationship between these two characters. For so long they were at odds and now they are living with the same pain and regret. This can be extremely bonding. We saw the start here where Snow refuses to let Regina break and destroy herself. Snow knows she is in pain and that the only way to deal with that pain is to move on and find a new reason to live. You have to keep moving or you die and Snow doesn’t want to see Regina die. A far cry from the first season. Snow’s way of moving on is staring a new family. What is Regina’s new reason for living going to be?
Regina defined her life by vengeance and then by Henry. Now she has lost both and she has to determine what matters to her now. It will be interesting to see how she begins to live again.
The other theme or concept that really caught my attention was the idea that everyone gets a happy ending, the real story and test is how you get there and what you do with it when you have it. First can our characters get their happy ending and will they ever be able to live with it when they find it?
Emma believes she is living her happy ending, a life with her son but it is not real. Deep down she knows something is missing from this scenario. So what is her true happy ending? Life with her parents? A home in the Enchanted Forest? Hook? Neil? Just her and Henry?
Snow always thinks her happy ending is within her grasp and it is always yanked out of her hands. She marries Charming and gets pregnant with Emma then Regina curses them and she loses Emma. She gets Emma back but miss half her daughters life. She goes home to the Enchanted Forest and gets cursed again, forgetting that whole year. What is her true happy ending? Her whole family together again? Does the place matter?
Regina saw a happy ending once with Daniel, then Cora kill hims and she completely erases that notion from her mind until she adopts Henry. She found happiness is causing suffering. She adopted Henry but is always had something wrong with the situation. Now she is back at square one. Where does she go from here? Who does she trust and what will define her? Will her happy ending have Robin Hood involved? Will it only be having Henry back? Will it be saving those she once hated and cursed?
It will be interesting to see how they define the happy ending concept for each character. Will some of them get it but not be able to really enjoy it, always wanting something more? I doubt any of them will get their true happy endings until the series actually ends.
A quick word about Henry. Henry scared me in this episode. Henry got the book and that sparked his belief. He needed something to define his life and he got it from Snow. Now that moment never happened. He never was given that book, never felt out of place so what has that done to his “true believer” heart?
He was so flippant about the idea of magic when Emma asked him. Old Henry wouldn’t have hesitated in answering her with a resounding yes, now he sees it as a means to get money and gifts. He has a whole different set of memories, not just a few new ones like Emma. How much has this changed who he once was? Does that belief live in someone even if they don’t actually need it? It will be interesting to see how they convince the “true believer” to believe again.
“Tried the hero thing and it didn’t take,”- Hook- Obviously that’s not true because he goes after Emma to save everyone. Hook has been defined as a pirate and had for so long that is it going to take time for him to determine how live this new life.
“Sometimes it is okay to accept things that are good”- Henry- This is a concept all the characters struggle with. They are always waiting for the next person to take a shot at them.
“Our castle”- Regina- I loved how Regina referred to the castle. It is small but it shows that she is staying with Snow and that she is beginning to feel apart of this group.
“Wick always wins”- Wicked Witch- Is there going to be a difference between wicked and evil?
What are Neil and Belle going to try to do to get Rumple and Emma back?
Why is Hook not in Storybrooke? Where did he go after the returned to the Enchanted Forest?
Who is the Wicked Witch?
What is her connection to Regina?
What did Regina do to her?
Is there some familial connection or friendship connection?
How much has changed about Henry?
Are Regina, Neil and Belle in Storybooke too?
Is Rumple truly dead?
How much of Oz is going to play a part in this second half?