Once Upon a Time has taken us on roller coaster rides this year, and I appreciate every one of you who have come with me on the journey. We’ve had highs and lows and been scared many times for the characters we love. We’ve lost Neil and thought we lost Rumple. We’ve seen the forever young Pan and green witches. What else do they have in store? Maybe a trip to the past?

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We get the theme early, folks. Foster Care Emma is remembering wanting a family while watching her parents with their new baby. Charming announces that they would have a naming ceremony and coronation to celebrate the birth but are holding a potluck at Granny’s instead. Henry comes in and tells Emma he’s found them a place, but Emma distracts the discussion.

Meanwhile, Robin and Regina have a talk about their lost loves (Daniel and Marian). Regina admits that Tink told her her “true love” was in the tavern and all she saw was a tattoo (the one Robin has). And Rumple and Belle are talking of trust and marriage. (What trust?) He refuses to take the “fake” dagger from Belle. Too bad trust isn’t worth anything for Rumple.

The celebration kicks off at Granny’s with Henry reading to his uncle. Hook drops the scoop that Emma is running away. (Thanks, Hook!) Emma leaves, but Hook goes to stop her as the rest see the time portal open.

At the prison, Gold gets accused of Zelena’s disappearance. Charming tries to watch the surveillance tape, but Rumple messes it up … or does he? We see Zelena transform herself into stone and disappear. Regina realizes she had residual magic. Yes! Regina is once again mayor. They decide to try and take Zelena’s power for good.

Hook finds Emma in the park and gives her Henry’s story book. She tells him she can’t stop running because she’s not a part of the story. Emma tells Hook that home is the place that you can’t leave. She’s going to keep running until she finds that. Hook wonders if she isn’t there already.

Wait! The portal has opened. Hook and Emma end up getting there first and go down the wormhole as the portal closes.

Enchanted Land of Old

Hook and Emma arrive (with the story book, of course) to find that Snow is an outlaw and they’ve become Marty McFly (Emma’s thoughts, not mine). Regina (in that red long coat I love) is terrifying the townspeople which our heroine wants to stop. Hook stops her. He’s got better sense than Emma. After Hook steals Emma some clothes and she changes, they’re off to find Rumple. (Hey, I just realized, they’ve toned down the manliner on Hook in this episode.)

The story takes place at the time of Charming and Abigail’s wedding. Let’s just say that Hook and Emma prevent the meeting, which starts our tale. Snow wants to book a passage with Blackbeard, while Charming is having doubts about the wedding.

Emma and Hook are desperate to find Rumple … and they do. He almost kills Hook, but Emma stops him by mentioning Neal. If Rumple continues to choke Hook, she won’t reveal whether the curse allows him to find his son or not. Rumple just wants confirmation then asks how she knows. They have to admit they are from the future and Emma is the product of true love. History has been changed because they interrupted her parents’ meeting.

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Rumple’s Plan

At the castle, Hook tells Rumple they have buried the hatchet in the future as Belle enters. Emma mentions that Rumple cares for Belle, but she covers the error. Rumple wants answers and they spill. Rumple does (somewhat surprisingly) offer his help. Emma has shown him the story book, which contains only blank pages. Emma and Hook must rectify the past. Rumple will open a portal for their return.

The Hooks, a Ball and Capture

Hook and Emma watch Old Hook party. She’s going to distract him as our Hook goes and convinces Snow to steal the ring. Emma first tries to drink Old Hook under the table. When Old Hook arrives with Emma, our Hook knocks him out and tells Emma that he will think it was rum.

Rumple appears and provides Emma and Hook passes to the ball. He also provides a glamour spell and appropriate dress (a handy man is Rumple). At the ball, King Midas asks their names and Emma tells him Prince Charles and Princess Leia. (They had to get Star Wars in.) Hook and Emma share a waltz. Snow is searching the room as Charming finds her. Abigail enters, sees Snow and raises the alarm, but it is Emma who is arrested and imprisoned in Regina’s castle.

Emma is in jail with the young lady taken earlier. As they talk, Emma learns that both are to die the next day. Emma remembers Neil picking the lock and they both escape. (I love the flashback to “Tallahassee.”)

Leaving the castle, the ladies find Hook and Charming, who with the help of Red have come to the rescue. It seems that Charming captured Snow from the old story and Hook shows up to get them to help him rescue Emma. Snow has recruited Red to help. Emma may have goofed again. Hook is worried that she shouldn’t have freed the other girl.

Regina and Snow and a Plan

Snow tells Regina she’s going to use the dark fairy dust on her (Snow is showing her pregnancy in her face), but Regina blocks it. Regina’s guards take Snow outside. Emma and company watch as Snow is tied to a stake and Regina hits it with fire. As Emma mourns, Hook comforts her, but suddenly Emma realizes that she’s there so Snow didn’t die. A bug starts flying around Hook and Charming realizes it is Snow. Blue appears and breaks the dark spell. (I also love how Blue knows who Emma is!) Snow thanks Charming for saving her.

Hook and Emma discuss the new girl and Emma wants to take her back to the future. Emma knocks her out as Charming heads to the troll bridge. As they fight for their lives against the trolls, Emma and Hook arrive. As all looks lost for Charming, Snow threatens the trolls with the dark fairy dust. Our story is back on track as Emma and Hook watch. As the story replays, the story book pages reappear.

At Rumple’s, Emma and Hook learn that he can’t open the portal and plans to forget everything. Only someone who experienced the magic can wield it. Thinking she can’t, Rumple sends them off. As she and Hook talk, Emma admits she doesn’t want to run and her magic is activated. The portal opens with Hook and the new girl leaving. Rumple stops Emma with a question about Neal. Emma ends up telling him that Neal died, he forgave Rumple and that she loved him. She also tells Rumple not to take Neal’s hero’s death away and watches as Rumple drinks the potion before joining Hook in the wormhole and arriving in Storybrooke.

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At Granny’s, Emma enters and hugs her parents. She tells them she is home and she’s not leaving. Henry is happy. It’s where they belong because they are family. She calls Snow and Charming mom and dad.

Emma recounts the adventure and Charming announces the child’s name. He’s named for a hero who saved everyone. The baby is named Neal. Rumple tears up. Emma smiles and reaches over to greet the new Neal.

Rumple and Belle exchange vows as everyone in Storybrooke have a moment of peace and love. Hook explains that he remembered enough to outrun the curse by trading the Jolly Roger. So beauty has her beast and Hook and Emma have hope. It’s not so good, though, for Regina when the new girl in town turns out to be Robin’s lost Marian. She turns on Emma and tells Emma she hopes she hasn’t brought anything else back from the past.

With that, season 4 is set up as the portal oozes blue liquid and a new form appears. First, I thought it was Zelena, but this one is blonde and can turn things to ice. We’ve either got the Snow Queen or the Witch from Narnia. (Either way, people are going to be mad at me at work tomorrow because I guessed the baby’s name.)

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A Final Thought

Thank you again for letting me be a part of your adventure to Neverland and Oz. I have had fun and enjoyed our time together. Like you, I have a new understanding of Neverland and look forward to seeing where the adventure takes us next season. In the comments below, tell me what you think we will see. Let’s devise our own plan for where we are heading. 


(Image courtesy of ABC)

Linda Martindale

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV