Just in case you were worried that Once Upon a Time had lost its magic, along comes last night’s episode. That was the best episode of the season to date, and I loved it. You’ll also notice how little it had to do with the Frozen crew. This arc has had its moments, but I’m glad it’s coming to a conclusion.
The flashback was used to introduce us to our new villains, the Queens of Darkness. It also focused on Rumpelstiltskin and Belle. Rumpel has been out hunting for another magical element. This time, it’s a glove taken from Camelot that will point to what someone loves the most. Rumpel intends to use it to manipulate his enemies. However, when Belle is out hanging the laundry, she spies a cute Dalmatian puppy and starts to follow it only to be kidnapped. Rumpel gets the ransom demand in a shell dropped by a crow. Can you see where this is going?
Rumpel can’t because he shows up and thinks he is just facing Maleficent. He seems actually surprised when Ursula and then Cruella show up. They use Belle to force Rumpel to give up the glove. However, one Belle is safely back in his castle, he returns and magically takes it back from the Queens of Darkness, telling them that he will always get what he wants despite the fact that he is a villain and refusing to work with them to get a happy ending.
Now, let’s get to the meat of the episode – the modern portion of the story. There was lots happening as we wrap up the stories they’ve been telling so far this season. Let’s start with Regina, who restores Marian’s heart to the now no longer cursed woman. She awakens and embraces Robin, but later down at Granny’s, Marian confronts Regina. To my surprise, she tells Regina that she understands. While to her no time has passed, it is obvious that Robin has moved on. She will not force him to stay because of their marriage vows, but she is going to try to win back Robin’s heart. So the love triangle is still on. May the best woman win.
I thought they were setting up a sub-plot for the second half of the season, but obviously I was wrong since Robin then confesses to Regina that he’s made his decision. He is following his heart to Regina. (And am I the only one who thought this was a dream sequences by how stilted and clumsy the dialogue was?) However, what looks like a real life dream come true for Regina quickly turns into a nightmare when Marian, who the two have been watching play with Roland, suddenly collapses. Seems the curse from the Snow Queen wasn’t quite out of her system, and it has reached her heart now. There is only one solution.
And so Regina must send Robin, Marian, and Roland out of Storybrooke. As the episode began, Elsa had destroyed the ice surrounding the town, however, Emma figured out (somehow) there is still a residual curse on the town that will make it impossible for anyone who leaves to return. So Regina knows this is goodbye. She sets the trio up as best she can with money and directions, and then we get an emotional scene as Regina and Robin say goodbye before he, his wife, and son leave town for good. As soon as she steps outside, Marian recovers since they are now in a land without magic.
Speaking of the Frozen trio, they are trying to find a way home as quickly as possible. Gold wants them gone as quickly as possible as well since Anna might have some clue what he is up to. He figures that the sorcerer, who brought Ingrid to our world, might have a portal back to theirs, and sure enough, he finds one in the ballroom of the sorcerer’s mansion. He uses a controlled Hook to deliver the news to Emma, who suspects that something is wrong with Hook by how he is behaving. Still, they go to the house and find the portal. Elsa and Emma say goodbye, and then Elsa and Kristoff walk through. Before Anna goes, she asks about this kind Mr. Gold. When she learns who Gold really is, she warns that Gold is up to something.
And boy is she right. Gold is still planning to cleave himself from his dagger, kill Hook, and leave town with his powers and Belle. He just has to wait until the stars align to look like the sorcerer’s hat. In the meantime, he wakes Belle to have her start packing for their trip to New York City. As she’s doing that, Henry walks in looking for more clues to the author of his book. As he pulls down another suitcase for Belle, he knocks some things over, including the glove from the flashback. That unnerves Belle (as does Henry calling her Grandma – and I’m with her on that one).
So as evening near, Gold goes up to the tower with Hook to unbind himself from his dagger. Emma and Mary Margaret show up to try to stop him, only to find themselves frozen by Gold. However, when he goes to crush Hook’s heart he can’t do it. That’s because Belle has shown up and grabbed the dagger to stop him. (I was a little unclear if she snuck into the tower or if she switched them earlier in the day. But that probably doesn’t really matter.) She then orders Gold to let Hook and his heart go and to unfreeze Mary Margaret and Emma. And then she orders Gold to take the two of them to the town line.
It’s there that a tearful Belle tells Gold she has seen that his is all beast. She kept lying to herself that he had given up his love for power, but she has finally seen the truth. And so she orders him to leave town.
Meanwhile, Henry comes rushing in to find Regina drinking at Granny’s with Emma. He has something to show them back at the sorcerer’s house. It’s a room full of books like his only blank pages, so obviously our theory that the sorcerer has written the book is correct. Emma also learns about Operation Mongoose, and she says she’s in. She is going to help track down the sorcerer and talk him into giving Regina a happy ending.
We also get a quick scene as Anna is getting ready to marry Kristoff that lets us know that they have defeated Hans and his brothers. I'd love to know how, but it is really not necessary. As disappointing as this arc has been, I'm still glad they let us know this before moving on.
And for the final scene, we skip ahead six weeks to find Gold walking the streets of New York. He goes to the aquarium where he finds Ursula, who is working at feeding the fish. He wants her help teaming up to go to the sorcerer and demand he give them, the villains, happy endings. Ursula is immediately in, and Gold announces they have two more stops to make before they head back to Storybrooke.
Fade to black.
Ursula a villain? I mean, I know she was in Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid, but when we first saw her last season, I actually didn’t think she was all that bad. It seemed like she was protecting Ariel as she told Regina to leave Ariel alone in the future. Then again, that might have been just because Ursula had her own uses for the mermaid. I wonder if they will address this or not.
They have not yet touched on how Maleficent is still alive. The last we saw of her, she was in dragon form under the library, and Emma was killing her to get the vial of True Love in the first season finale. Then again, we just assumed the dragon was dead. Maybe she isn’t. Gold seems to know where she is, so I’m sure that have that covered.
Obviously, their take on Cruella is going to include some magic. She was in the Enchanted Forest after all. I can’t wait to see how that works.
We have to wait how long for the next chapter? See you March 1st. And in the meantime, keep checking back to see what else I’m talking about on my blog.