Warning: The following recap contains magically delicious spoilers from the Once Upon a Time midseason finale.
This Sunday, in the Once Upon a Time midseason finale, Hook found himself recruited by two evil queens, Emma worked a bit of magic and Storybrooke was approached by most unwelcome visitors. Read our full recap, then click to Page 2 for answers to some burning questions!
IN THE FAIRYTALE LAND THAT WAS… | Captain Hook infiltrates evil Queen Regina’s castle to rescue Belle – until he realizes she has no intel on how to kill her boyfriend Rumplestiltskin. Before Hook can do in the damsel, Regina stops him and offers a deal: “I know who you are, why you came here from Neverland and about the ‘crocodile’ you wish to skin,” she says. Promising that the rules are about “to change – radically,” Regina speaks of the curse she is about to unleash, one that will send everyone to a land without magic, meaning the object of his vengeance will be powerless and thus disposable “with a flick of your wrist.” In trade for transit to this realm, Regina charges Hook with finding her mother Cora in Wonderland – for the purpose of killing the crone. Traveling through the hat portal with a dead goon in tow, Hook discovers that the Queen of Hearts is (as many predicted) in fact Cora, and because she doesn’t keep her heart “where everyone else does,” his bid to extract her ticker with his enchanted claw comes up empty. Instead, she clutches his coeur and they plot a counterattack. The plan: Hook will deliver a “dead” Cora to Regina, only so that she can get close enough to kill her daughter. But after Regina drops a bit of a bombshell while mourning her mere – that she loves the old bat regardless of their very complicated past, and as such couldn’t risk her traveling to Storybrooke, where she’d be a weakness to Regina – Cora changes strategy. She and Hook will wait out the 28-year curse, then make tracks for Storybrooke to “pick up the pieces” after Regina has “lost everything.”
IN THE FAIRYTALE LAND THAT IS… | Emma, Snow White, Mulan and Aurora-the-Spy arrive at Rumple’s old cell, but only an empty ink vial is to be found. Instead, all they turn up is a scroll of parchment with the name “Emma” scribbled over and over and over again. The spiked cell door then closes on the ladies, as Cora arrives and thanks Aurora for her unwitting assist. “Please don’t do this – my son needs me,” Emma pleads to Hook. His retort: “You should’ve thought about that before you abandoned me at the beanstalk…. The time for making deals is done.” Abandoned in the inescapable cell, Emma throws herself a pity party – “I’m not a good savior” – but Snow won’t go there. “Good always defeats evil,” Snow reminds, as she realizes (10 minutes after the rest of us) that the parchment contains the squid ink, which Snow uses to dissolve away the gate. Cora meanwhile leads Hook to the lake that restores things, conjuring up a geyser from dust to get things going. They then sprinkle in the wardrobe ash and are about to make the leap to Maine … when an arrow from Snow knocks the compass out of their hands! A pretty nifty melee ensues (Fun Fact: It was raining like crazy as they filmed it), with Emma slapping swords with Hook as Cora taunts Snow and Mulan. Along the way, Hook saves Aurora’s heart from destruction, then tosses it to Mulan so she can get her friend back — see, he ain’t all bad! Emma manages to best Hook, clocking him with the compass, only to then go head-to-head with Cora. When Emma lunges for the sorceress, Cora scoffs, “You foolish girl!” and goes to pluck out her pumper… yet can’t! Love is not weakness, Emma realizes — “It’s strength!” — as a blast of magical whatnot bursts from her bosom, KO-ing Cora. “What was that?!” Emma wonders. “That… is a great subject for discussion,” her mom says, “when we get home!” And on that note, they hold hands and leap into the swirling portal. Afterward, Cora and Hook realize they are not down for the count, seeing as he still has a dried up magic bean and she has a rejuvenating lake. “Perhaps it’s time we did some gardening….” (Oh, and after an oddly intimate moment where Mulan restores Aurora’s heart, the gal pals set out to reunite Phillip with his stolen soul.)
IN STORYBROOKE… | As David stays stuck in the sleep spell, Gold invites Regina to fret over the possibility that if a portal opens up, they will get an unwelcome guest instead of two friendlies – namely, her mother. “And neither of us wants that,” Regina nods. When Gold suggests they set a trap for whomever comes through, Regina reminds that it could be Emma and Snow. “Then it’s a win-win,” Gold shrugs. “Henry could hardly blame you for helping.” As Regina considers the plan, she eavesdrops as Henry reads to David the story of him waking Snow from a sleep spell. “It will happen the other way around this time,” Regina interjects with a smile. Knowing that she “promised to do better,” Regina says she must go help Gold prepare for the portal opening. “
Gee willikers Wow,” Henry remarks. “You really have changed.” In the name of setting their trap, Rumple appropriates all of the diamonds from the mine – a theft that later irks Leroy. (“Nobody steals from a dwarf!”) Gold leads Regina to the well that “restores things once lost to us,” and uses the diamond-loaded wand to “seal” the opening with scary/crackly lightning stuff. Arriving on the scene, Henry flips his little lid, shouting, “We have to turn it off! Emma and Mary Margaret are going to come through!” Seeing that his mom is being wishy-washy about it, Henry argues, “You said you wanted to change — this is how. Have faith in me.” And off the passionate lad’s words, Regina valiantly rips away the deadly shield, though at first all fear it was too late. Until, that is, Emma’s hand grabs the well ledge, and she clambers out followed by Mary Margaret. Cue the line of the night: “Your mom is a piece of work, you know.” “Indeed I do.” Mary Margaret races off to smooch David back to life. “You did it,” he exclaims after doing the ritual “I’m awake” gasp. “Did you ever doubt I would?” As MM/David and Emma/Henry have their happy reunions, Regina looks dejected. Uh-oh.
Later, Emma confronts Gold in his shop, saying that she knows he knew her fate since before she was born, that he could have escaped the cell whenever he wanted, that she has been his pawn every step of the way. He counters that all he did was “take advantage of what you are — the product of true love. Everything you are, you’ve done yourself.” So, she asks, “You knew?” That she can’t be killed by Cora? A somewhat startled Gold can only say, “I didn’t do that; you did.”
The hour closes with Emma, Henry, Mary Margaret, David et al marching down the main drag to a chimera-free dinner at Granny’s. All is well. Happy endings all around! (Save for Regina, whom Gold taunts might one day get invited to dinner with Henry.) We then cut to the harbor, where off in the distance Hook’s ship emerges from the fog, the captain and Cora setting sight on the shore before them. “There it is….” “Storybrooke!” [CLICK TO PAGE 2 FOR BURNING QUESTIONS, ANSWERED!]