“Once Upon A Time” recap: “Quit playing games with my heart” (2.9)

We open with Captain Eyeliner sneaking into the cell where Evil Queen Regina is keeping Belle. He acts like he’s going to save her and tries to get her to tell him how to kill Rumplestiltskin, but she’s not having it. He deems her useless and raises his hook to kill her, but a very sexy-looking Regina magically takes it away from him.

I imagine having his hook is the equivalent of grabbing him by the balls, because he listens to Regina talk about her plans for the curse and how he’d finally be able to get Rumpelstiltskin powerless. She wanted Hook to keep Cora from following her to Storybrooke and I still have no idea whose team Hook plays for (and not because of the guyliner).

In present-day Storybrooke, Gold and Regina are trying to plan their next move. Rumplestiltskin suggests a murder-hole, but Regina is worried it won’t be Cora who comes through it and she’s not willing to risk Emma’s life. She uses the Henry card, but she’s not fooling anyone.

In order to make this death trap, Gold and Regina need fairy dust. To collect it, they use a wand Gold happened to have in his satchel, from a fairy he killed. And if I find out later that he killed some awesome fairy like Tinkerbell, I’ll rip his heart out.

Evil Queen Regina’s plan to kill Cora was to send Hook and a dead body through the Magic Hat to Wonderland (!), because if two go in, two can come out. Which is what they teach you in Magic Physics 101 at Hogwarts. Regina enchanted Captain Eyeliner’s hook so that he can take exactly one heart. When presented to the Queen of Hearts, Hook tries to take Cora’s, but she is even more heartless than we realized, and his plan backfires. Cora seems a little surprised when she finds out it was Regina that sent him, but honestly she shouldn’t be. Daughters have disowned mothers for not LIKING their boyfriends, let alone killing them.

Henry is hanging out with his sleeping grandfather when a wild Ruby appears! Her and the Dwarves noticed the fairydust crystals were missing and had come to blame Regina and Gold. Henry The Worst, despite having seen his mother try to save Snow and Emma in countless ways that went against her very nature, doesn’t even TRY to defend her. They all rush off to the woods to find the duo.

In present-day Fairytale Land, Cora and Hook head to the lake that restores things that were once lost. Cora uses her magic to dig a hole deep enough for a spring to appear, which would have been nice back when Charming’s sweet, sweet mother was dying.

Flash back to Hook presenting a “dead” Cora to the Evil Queen. Regina actually looks mournful she monologues about how she had no choice but to have her mother killed, because she loves her. Love is weakness, and she can’t afford to be weak. Therefore, considering all the times/ways she has tried to kill Emma, I’m going to go ahead and take that as proof she’s in love with Emma Swan.

I must have a little Snow White in me, because my optimism is relentless. When Team Badass was leaving Rumpelstiltskin’s old cell, I honestly thought for a minute that we were going to get a love profession/kiss when Mulan was tying Aurora up, at her request. We did not, but we did get a promise – Mulan was going to get Aurora’s heart back for her.

At the magic lake, Cora and Hook restore life to Giant Hurley’s old bean and create a portal. Meanwhile, in Storybrooke, at the well, Regina and Gold make a portal of their own. The difference is, Regina and Gold’s portal is actually more like a mouse trap and it will kill whoever passes through it. They stand there and wait, Regina looking pretty uncomfortable with the whole thing, because she’s been working so hard to let the good in her shine through the dark cloud and she doesn’t want to lose all the progress she has made with Henry.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the portal, just before Cora and Hook jump through, Team Badass (sans Aurora) arrive for the Epic Winter Finale Battle. In the tussle, the bag containing Sleeping Beauty’s heart almost falls into the portal, but Hook saves it and tosses it to Mulan because even he thinks they belong together.

Mulan gives Snow her magic-deflecting sword and runs off to save Aurora. Emma starts wrastlin’ with Hook, while Cora hilariously taunts Snow with magic hands. I have to give them credit, fighting a cloud of purple smoke seems a mite challenging. Emma gets pinned by Hook, but nothing gives a girl a rush of angry adrenaline more than a guy using creepy and gross lines, so she gets the best of him. Cora is just about to rip out Snow White’s heart when Emma jumps in front of her first. Cora’s hand hangs out in Emma’s chest for a while, but she can’t rip her heart out. Emma realizes that love isn’t weakness, but strength, and uses a magic she didn’t know she had in her to knock Cora backwards.

While this is going on, Henry, Ruby and the gang found Regina and Gold with their evil mouse trap. For once in his miserable little life, Henry actually got kind of awesome. He gives Regina a little speech to convince her to get rid of the trap. “You want me to have faith in you? Have faith in me.” And she does want him to have faith in her, she really does. So, despite it looking like a rather draining process, she undoes the spell. And Henry barely looks over to make sure she’s okay before looking hopefully at the Portal Well, waiting for Emma to show up. For a moment, they think all is lost, but then Emma and her familiar red leather jacket come climbing on out of the well. Henry exclaims, “Mom!” before running into her arms and Regina looks like she just had HER heart ripped out.

But Henry tells Emma that it was Regina who saved them, that she helped make this family reunion possible, and for the first time since the beginning of the season, we have direct Swan Queen interaction. Here, let me transcribe it for you:

Emma: Thank you.
Regina: You’re welcome.

Pretty racy stuff, no? They do then have an adorable little moment about Cora being “a piece of work” and it was nice to have them both on screen at the same time. 

Back to the Enchanted Forest, where, in the most sexually charged scene this show has had, probably since Emmapinned Regina against the wall, Mulan goes to Rumpelstiltskin’s cell and puts Aurora’s heart back in her chest. My own heart was racing from, “Have you ever done this before?” to the sex-face Aurora made to the way they smiled at each other when it was over. If that wasn’t an intentional “first time” metaphor, there is a seriously closeted writer on this staff who is getting out their feelings via these two.

Aurora does kind of ruin the moment, because right after they finish, she mentions Philip and how Cora had mentioned there might be a way to bring her back. Mulan looks excited about this, but let’s be honest, it’s just because now she has an excuse to be around her princess a little longer.

Ruby leads Snow to Charming and, in a delightful twist of her original story, she kisses him awake. Everyone cheers and Ruby invites everyone to Granny’s to celebrate. And then, for reasons I will never understand, Henry looks to Regina, the woman who has spent the last few weeks doing everything she could to save someone she (supposedly) hates, and avoiding magic, all for this little punkass kid. He looks to her and says “See ya later!” At first I thought maybe this was going to be because it was the perfect place for Emma to turn around and be like, “Hey, you should come. We can share a plate of pasta like Lady and the Tramp.” But alas. NOTHING. They leave her there, ALL ALONE. It was infuriating and heartbreaking.

Emma and her crew happily jaunt off towards Granny’s because they think they’re getting their happily ever after. But while they down glasses of Granny’s homemade apple cider, Hook and Cora will be docking their magic ship at the nearest port any minute now…

What did you think of mid-season finale?

Have a great December, everyone — I will see you in January! I’ll probably be spending this hiatus either writing or hunting down fanfiction of Aurora and Mulan in that cell and of Regina giving Emma magic lessons for her newfound powers.

Let out all your last SwanQueen feels for 2012 in the comments, and check out the next page for some of our favorite #SwanQueen tweets!

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