This is Once Upon a Time so confusing timings are a must! Starting one year ago with Phillip and Aurora (who is pregnant with his child) having a picnic when dark curse clouds roll in. When it passes all the people from Storybrooke (actually I expected a whole lot more) are transported back to the Enchanted Forest. Aurora looks positively horrified by the return of the Charmings – I can’t say I blame her.
Regina wants to go her own way, her tolerance for enduring the Charmings having reached its end – and there is a limit to how much Charming anyone should have to put up with. But Snow wants her to come back to the palace with her to be all united in restoring the kingdom. As they set off, Aurora and Phillip talk about having to tell someone the Charmings have returned – someone big and bad who threatened their child if they don’t. Aurora is clear – it’s not their job to save the Charmings & co.
Everyone is restored to their original forms – the dwarfs are dwarfs, Jiminey is a cricket – and there more people they’re just scattered around by the curse. And Hook plans to leave – he’s a pirate, he wants to return to his ship not the Charming’s Castle (much to their disapproval). Neal wants to drop in on his dad’s old place to see if he may be magically alive and able to return him to Emma (no Emma, ruuuuun they’re trying to saddle you with the boring one and not the sexy pirate!) which gives the Charmings chance to recap the whole erased memory, no going back thing.
Belle is with Neal though, she’s sure Rumple is still alive. And Snow finds Regina burying her heart in the woods – trying to bury the pain of living without Henry and that he doesn’t even remember who she is, allowing her to feel nothing. Snow commiserates because she feels the same about Emma (Regina raised Henry from a small baby, years of interaction – it’s not really comparable Snow). Snow adds lots of hope and fluffiness and promise of future happiness to convince a deeply grieving Regina to take her heart back.
All of this is watched by a monstrous spy that flies when Snow spots it. Snow wants to run – Regina doesn’t run from monsters and throws a fireball at it – which misses. But Robin Hood appears to save the day with his bow and arrow (arrows are faster than fireballs? Can we have Regina’s magic work a little more often?). Who is Regina’s secret One True Love, as we recall. Regina snarks mightily at them.
Lots of reminisces from Belle and Neal who have met Robin before – and the party finds a line of black char separating them from the castle. It’s a magical barrier (“undo it then” “if I could I’d be halfway home by now” Regina brings the snark) and someone has stolen it from Regina. Bonus lines are “I’m going to find out who’s eating my porridge” “no-one sits in my chair.” Regina wants instant revenge but the Charmings insist they get their people to safety at Robin’s camp first.
Fastforward to the present day and our world – and Emma on a happy date with an apparent boyfriend she has been seeing for some time. But when he ducks out to the bathroom, Hook takes his seat. Since he pushed a kiss on her last episode – and Emma has completely forgotten everything about the Enchanted Forest – she’s not happy to see him and considering gutting him with her knife. He tries to convince her she has parents and everything is a lie and gives her an address to visit; she continues to think about doing violence to him (even if he is a “dashing rapsaclion”). He gets her to use her bizarre lie detector power (is that ever going to be explained) but she rightly points out that just because he believes it’s true doesn’t mean it is.
To add to the pathos, when the boyfriend returns he proposes to Emma. She leaves the restaurant, freaking out about the speed of it all, but he apparently knows her well enough to anticipate this at least and is happy for her to take as much time as she needs to get used to the idea.
She returns home to Henry (they play Diablo III together yes, I am this easily pleased) who is smart enough to have guessed what the whole fancy restaurant date meant – and what his mum said in response (I haven’t been Henry’s biggest fan, but this conversation rapidly changes that – smart and sensible and not playing the usual kid “how dare you touch my mum!” trope). He’s apparently happy for Emma to marry the guy (his name’s Walsh apparently. But he’s in competition with a sexy pirate so I doubt we’ll be seeing much more of him) and reminds us of the issues Emma had with men after Neal abandoned her now she hasn’t resolved them.
After much fretting, Emma goes to the address Hook gave her; Neal’s apartment. There she finds a camera with Henry’s name on the strap. She goes to see Hook at his agreed meeting place and Hook starts spouting about kingdoms, curses and fairy tales. Amazingly, she’s not convinced. Nor eager to drink the potion he hands her – yeah, drinking things random odd strangers give you? Nope. Instead she cuffs him and calls in the police for assaulting her (the kiss, which he conveniently confesses to) and stalking.
All is stable again in their life – and Henry goes from precious to pushy by sneakily arranging a date between Emma and Walsh so she can say yes. But Emma gets something – photographs from Henry’s camera? – from the chemists and is very shocked by them. She hurries to have Hook (traumatised by being fed baloney at the prison) released and she shows him the pictures of Storybrooke she thinks can’t exist. He again tries to get her to drink but she has another worry – she likes her life. She has everything she wants, does she really want to risk it all?
But truth beats lies and she trusts her gut and drinks. Lots of flashbacks of her memories returning. Time to go home and Hook to fill her in on what happened in the last year – him leaving and getting a message about a new curse and Emma being their only hope. Emma laments that her dream is shattered – especially since Hook doesn’t have enough potion to restore Henry’s memories. And Walsh is still on his way, Hook wants to get rid of him but Emma, who has been with him for 8 months, thinks he deserves better than that. Emma tries to explain to Walsh which is very hard considering how little she can explain; but then he has a tantrum because she drank the potion
Yes, he knows… his eyes glow red and he leaps for her and she ducks. Since they’re on the roof of the building and she’s right near the edge, he goes over. He doesn’t die though – he grows wings and becomes a monstrous thing to fly back up
And you were dating that Emma? Oh, you need to lay off the tequila!
Emma hits the thing – the Winged Monkey – with a metal pipe and knocks him back over the edge. This time he hits the ground and disappears in a puff of smoke.
The next morning in a wonderful twist, Emma is the believer and Henry is the cynical one (but he is, in the way of kids, willing to believe in anything that will get him a present). He’s also willing to go on any kind of adventure if it means avoiding school. Of course it also means introducing Hook – Killian – to Henry (and Hook’s still wearing anachronistic clothes + eyeliner. But he works the eyeliner.) Emma also takes the red leather jacket she always wore. Should we call it the Saviour Jacket?
They arrive in the newly returned town of Storybrooke, restored by a new curse (and Hook puts his Hook back on). Emma goes to find her parents (whyyyyy) and thankfully this version of the curse hasn’t stripped them of their memories; but they have lost all memory of the last year, they don’t even know who cursed them.
How do they even know a year has passed? Well Mary Margaret is heavily pregnant
In the Enchanted Forest, a new witch walks the halls of the castle. A green skinned witch served by winged monkeys apparently using Regina’s blood to “get her revenge”. The Wicked Witch of the West
Emma had Hook arrested! Yes yes yes – this is how the sceptical, normal person should react when people spout off about magic and fairy tales as if they’re real. Nice to see some natural cynicism for once!
Henry was pushy but he was interestingly precious and smart as well – I like this side of Henry.
I’m kind of amused that Emma’s super truth detecting super power allows her to see that Hook believes he’s telling the truth – but epically fails to reveal that the man she’s been shagging for EIGHT MONTHS is actually a flying monkey. Either they really don’t talk enough or Emma has some weird weird weird fetishes.
I loved to see Regina’s pain respected even if Snow White dripped her saccharine yuckiness all over everything. Regina has sacrificed and suffered on a major level – and they respect that, show that and have adopted the character. Now, if she can avoid playing second fiddle to the Charmings (who really need to be eaten by a Jabberwock or something), can actually have her magic work occasionally (she needed rescuing from a flying monkey. A flying monkey. If you’re not a scarecrow, flying monkeys really shouldn’t be that much of a threat) and doesn’t have all her pain disappear because she gets it on with Robin then we’re onto something good.
Also the Wicked Witch is talking about revenge - we don't know what that means but can we not have another character Regina wronged, please?0