When Emma and Hook are sucked through the portal to the Enchanted Forest 30 years in the past, we can expect trouble, and lots of it.Â Sure enough, a simple broken branch at the wrong moment is enough to derail the entire future history of the love story between Charming and Snow.Â Can it be set to rights?Â Snow would believe it possible, and decades of science fiction teach us that usually a past glitch will correct by itself through the power of fate if given a nudge in the right direction.
Emma turns to Rumplestiltskin for help, and in the process tells him far more than she should about the situation. She needs the ally, and using Baelfire as a hook is the right tack to get Rumple on her side.Â Although I recognize the need to conscript the Dark One for help, I am surprised that he doesnâ€™t ask for payment at any point.Â He is notorious for demanding the price be paid, even if the magic he is providing will work towards his own goals.Â So why does he not ask Emma for a lock of hair or a time-displaced red leather jacket for his trouble?
With the help of a glamor spell, Emma and Hook are able to attend the ball for Prince James and Princess Abigail incognito.Â She introduces Hook as Prince Charles, and herself as Princess Leia, a sneaky and backhanded way to write Leia into Henryâ€™s storybook and include the Star Wars universe in future episodes.Â Emma stands out in vibrant ruby red amongst the pastel-clad attendees, but as this is the first princess-worthy ball of her life, she has every right to draw all the attention.Â What fun it is to see her agog at the opulence and the allure of dancing!Â Nice to know she really is a princess at heart, and can finally understand the appeal of life at court.Â Now that she has a frame of reference for this type of event, those mother-daughter talks with Snow will take on a whole new dimension.Â Assuming she gets her mother back of course, which is still questionable since things donâ€™t go according to plan.Â Tasked by Hook to steal the engagement ring, Snow is only partially successful.Â She steals the ring, meets her prince, but drops the ring on the way out.Â Emma finds it and lends a hand to help Snow escape, but is turned over to Regina as a result.Â Right about now I bet Emma is wishing for a time-travel spell of her own, to go back and stop herself from breaking that branch.Â If only she had known then that her actions would lead to the dungeon and the threat of execution, I bet she would have been a lot more careful.
In the dungeon she meets the mystery woman whom we will eventually learn is Marion, Robin Hoodâ€™s lost wife.Â As a hero, we know she canâ€™t leave the woman to die, particularly since she already feels bad for her lack of action back at the village when she first saw Marion in trouble.Â This shows how much Emma is like her mother, who never met a princess she didnâ€™t like.Â Snow should be proud of her daughter taking the initiative to help the poor girl out of a jam, regardless of the consequences.Â They make their escape using Emmaâ€™s knowledge of picking locks, thank you very much Neal, and they meet up with Hook and Charming on the way out.Â Itâ€™s a little bit funny to watch Emma in this world, sheâ€™s such a strong hero figure, saving herself and depriving the boys of the pleasure of the rescue, and yet, earlier at the ball, she is clearly enjoying the idea of being a princess and enjoying all the trimmings that come with the title.Â It feels a bit disparate to the all-business Emma we know, and yet it also seems right considering her motherâ€™s past. Â
Speaking of her mother, all is not yet right with their world.Â Snow White goes to confront Regina and makes a hash of it.Â She is caught and burned at the stake with Emma and Charming as witnesses.Â Thankfully Snow is smarter than we think, and has used the last bit of dark fairy dust to turn herself into a ladybug to escape.Â (Which brings to mind the â€œladybug, ladybug, fly away homeâ€ rhyme) Charming shows his ability to always find her by being the only one to recognize her in this form, and he saves her from being swatted by Hook.Â Blue arrives to turn her back in to a princess, and finally things seem to be going well.Â The couple appears to be fully back on track when Snow pickpockets the ring and escapes to the troll bridge, fulfilling the part of the story where she saves Charmingâ€™s life.Â Then when she tries the ring on, we see in his eyes that destiny has indeed sorted things out.Â They will end up together once again.Â While some of these events feel a little heavy-handed or forced, it really is a lot of fun to watch it all happen again in a slightly different manner than we saw in earlier seasons.Â These events also open the door to little changes in the future if they should be needed, particularly with Rumplestiltskin, whose home should now show signs of activities he wouldnâ€™t remember, and with Henry who could theoretically remember things differently.
Hook and Emma take Marion with them to Rumple to see about returning home, but Rumple admits he canâ€™t do it himself.Â Only someone who has been through the portal can reopen it using the wand, and only if they have magic.Â With Emmaâ€™s magic gone, there is not much hope for return.Â Rumple chooses to protect his timeline by banishing them to his dark vault, and makes a memory potion to make him forget all he knows about the future.Â His excuse is that he doesnâ€™t want anything in his head to jeopardize his success in finding Baelfire, but this really doesnâ€™t seem like the kind of thing heâ€™d do.Â After all, this is the guy who stole the seerâ€™s eyes to find a way to get Bae back in the first place.Â It seems to me he would want to find a way to store this knowledge somewhere, even if not in his own mind. Â
In the dark vault and at a loss for what to do to get back, Emma confesses to Hook that she has realized that Storybrooke is the home she has been searching for her whole life, and she wants nothing more than to return to it and her family there.Â The confession activates the wand, and Hook points out that her magic is intact once again.Â With Hook and Marion safely through the reopened portal, Emma turns to go through but is stopped by Rumple.Â He wants to know the full truth about Baelfire, and Emma complies.Â She begs him to drink the memory potion once sheâ€™s told him the facts, and he does soâ€¦allegedly.Â As I said earlier, my suspicious nature makes me wonder if he didnâ€™t save some tidbit of information for future use.Â Perhaps we may see the return of Neal?Â Perchance at the precise moment it would most badly affect Hook and Emmaâ€™s newfound relationship?Â Only time will tell.
With everyone safely back in Storybrooke, we get to see the fulfillment of their makeshift coronation ceremony, and are formally introduced to Prince Neal, the baby named for a hero.Â Marion is reunited with her family, much to the shock of Regina.Â Emma has inadvertently done the same thing to her as Snow did all those years ago.Â Could this be the catalyst that turns Regina evil once again?Â Will her anger and pain drive her to persecute Emma the way she did to Snow in the past?Â Then again, Regina told Robin earlier in the episode that when Tinkerbell showed her the man she was destined to be with, she didnâ€™t see his face.Â That begs the question: is the lion tattoo unique?Â Is there another man who sports the lion on the same wrist?Â If so, Reginaâ€™s true love could still be waiting to be discovered, and her happy ending may not be lost.Â That would be an interesting road to explore, to learn that the tattoo marks a hundred different men, and any one of them could have been in the tavern that night.Â I look forward to seeing what they decide to do with the relationship as time goes on.
Emma finally asks Hook how he found her in New York, something we’ve been wondering for months now.Â He tells the story of escaping the second curse, and confesses that to cross realms he traded the Jolly Roger for a magic bean.Â Emma recognizes the great sacrifice this was, and rewards him with her love.Â It feels like the tiniest bit of a cheat having her fall for Hook only after Neal is gone.Â It would have been nice to have her be forced to choose between them once and for all.Â Still, there is a lot of potential for future misery over this turn of events, and misery makes for great television.Â I anticipate a lot of it next season, with Rumple having lied to Belle, and Regina having lost Robin.Â Both of these characters have worked hard to overcome their dark natures, and yet I feel confident that a happy ending is not in the immediate future for either of them. Â
It wouldnâ€™t make for a good story if something bad didnâ€™t follow Emma through the portal, so of course we see the urn Hook moved in the dark vault appear in town to wreak a little havoc.Â The urn pops open and pours out ice water, which coalesces into Elsa, the Ice Queen from Frozen.Â We can only assume this will turn out to be the angry Elsa from the ice palace, not the happy sister reunited.Â So what trouble will she bring to town?Â People of Storybrooke beware; Winter Is Coming.
Love conquers all
This episode was excellent overall, and there were many moments of goodness, both small and large.Â The theme that weaves the story together gives us a similar moment repeated, and itâ€™s that thought which will carry us through: Love.Â We see it best with Emma and Hook at the end, the way her eyes sparkle with the knowledge that Hook gave up absolutely everything for her.Â Then again with Regina and Robin, with her heart beating in her chest once again she is able to express herself properly, and that love shines through when she tells him the story of the tattoo.Â Rumple and Belle express themselves in a much more tangible way, with a private wedding to make their dedication permanent.Â The vows they share are nothing less than pure romance, particularly Belleâ€™s expression of their love.Â And when Snow puts on the emerald ring that has long been the object of contention between her and Charming, he knows just by looking at her that she is his destiny.Â Each of these major characters gives us the promise of love to hold us through to the next season.Â Yet the promise of love brings the possibility of heartbreak.Â How many of these couples will keep their happy ending?
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