Previously on Once Upon A Time, we spent eleven eternities in Neverland, where the sun never shone and where creepy children were lead by a grandfather in a teenage skin suit. When our heroes (I use that term loosely) finally arrived back in Storybrooke, they had to counteract the original curse that sent them there, which put Emma and Henry back in NYC (sans memories) and the rest of the crew back in the Enchanted Forest (sans modern hairdos).
We jump back and forth in time as well as realm in this episode, so keep this in mind: Everything that happens in the Enchanted Forest happened immediately after the curse was reversed. Everything that’s happening in NYC is happening now, a year later.
We open in the Enchanted Forest, where Prince Philip arrives on horseback to see a pregnant Aurora.
FORGOTTEN MULAN AND HER BROKEN HEART ALREADY, HAVE YOU?
A deep purple cloud rolls over them, and they recognize it as magic. They start to get nervous but then half of Storybrooke appears before them. Snow White, her hair long once again, looks around disheartenedly and says, “We’re back.”
Know what else is back? Emma’s arms.
Emma and said arms show up for a date with a handsome gentleman. She has apparently been dating him during this year of forgetfulness—he’s a pretty big part of her life, having helped Henry with school projects and everything. As soon as her date steps away to “go to the restroom” Hook slips into his seat. Emma recognizes him as the guy who showed up at her door and kissed her like a crazy person. He hands her an address and tells her that everything she knows is wrong. When she tells him all she remembers about a year ago is Boston, he says, “Regina really did a number on you” and it’s clear that Hook ships SwanQueen.
Hook tells Emma to use her “superpower” to see that he’s not lying and she thinks, “I may have oversold the accuracy of that skill of mine” but says just because he believes something is true, doesn’t make it so.
He urges her to go to the address and then meet him in Central Park afterward to talk about it. He must have been doing some pretty epic wandering around Manhattan between last time he saw her and now, if he knows what Central Park is and also where (but not enough to know that “meet me in Central Park” in an impossible task without a more specific meeting point).
In the Enchanted Forest, the Team Storybrooke tries to decide where to go, since most of the realm had been destroyed by Regina’s original curse. Aurora and Philip tell them that Regina’s castle still stood (to which Regina says, well duh) and Charming points out that it’s technically Snow’s castle, too. So they decide they’ll all live together like one big, happy family. Regina is positively thrilled.
After Team Storybrooke trots off, Aurora and Philip whisper to one another that they have to tell “her” that they’ve returned. Aurora says that if they don’t, “she” will take it out on their child, and that they have to trust that Team Storybrooke can take care of themselves. It all would have been a lot more foreboding if we hadn’t been told “Wicked is Coming” daily since the show went on hiatus.
Back in Manhattan, Emma’s new beau proposes. Emma looks terrified and it’s almost like in the Buffy episode Tabula Rasa where Willow thinks she’s dating Xander but then realizes she thinks she’s kinda gay. She swears it’s because they’ve only been dating for eight months, but he tells her to take time to think about it.
When she gets back to the apartment, Henry is playing video games and she plops down to join him.
In a sleeveless leather dress. Thank you, costume director.
Henry feels bad for the guy, and tries to encourage her to give him a chance. Henry reminds Emma that not all men are like his dad, who abandoned them and doesn’t even know Henry exists. (Regina must hate Neal as much as we do.)
In the Enchanted Forest, the dwarves are dwarf-sized again and quite pleased about it. Jiminy Cricket got a raw deal and is a tiny bug once more, but he hops on Grumpy’s shoulder and tells him that about 50 more Storybrooke residents appeared out of frame somewhere else.
Hook tells Charming that he’s a pirate and wants to find his ship. Charming is really sad that his boy toy is not sticking around and tells him so. Neal hears Hook say that all their stuff came back with them and says he wants to find Emma, but Snow reminds him that this was part of the sacrifice. There are no more portals, just like there were no more portals right before all those other times they found portals.
Snow tells him, ‘We gave them their best chance,” but he doesn’t look entirely sold.
In NYC, Emma drops Henry off at school, then follows the address Hook gave her, using her lock-picking skills to break into what she soon discovers is Neal’s apartment (which she identifies as such because he’s surely the only person who has ever owned a giant dreamcatcher) and finds a camera with Henry’s name on the strap. Her interest piqued, she meets Hook in the park after all.
Hook tells Emma that her parents were “ripped back to Storybrooke” but it all sounds like nonsense to her since a) she’s an orphan and b) what the hell is Storybrooke? Do you mean Stoneybrooke? Is the Babysitters Club in danger?
Hook gives Emma a potion and tells her to drink up, Alice. She might not have parents, but she’s smart enough not to take drinks from strangers, so she handcuffs him to a bench and calls in the police she had waiting in the wings, saying this was the man who assaulted her.
In the Enchanted Forest, Belle is on Neal’s side of the optimism scale, and says that she believes that they can get Gold back.
Snow White, meanwhile, is musing about the irony of returning to the Enchanted Forest with the very woman who banished them from here, when someone points out that the Queen isn’t technically WITH them right now. Snow finds Regina literally burying her heart in the ground.
She’s sick of the pain, she hates the ache she’s feeling at the loss of Emma… oh, and Henry. The heartache makes her feel weak, mortal. But Snow reminds her that she’ll need that heart if she is ever going to find happiness. And Henry wanted nothing more than for her to finally be happy (and for his two moms to be together forever). She finally relents and shoves her heart back in her chest.