Once Upon a Time Season 3 Episodes 21 and 22 – TV Review
Revenge did it last year, now it’s Once Upon a Time’s turn to give us a back-to-back season finale.
And one of those “backs” is for Back To The Future.
It’s time to time travel.
TL;DR Zelena’s portal sends Hook and Emma into the past; Back To The Future-esque situations ensue wherein they need to ensure Snow and Charming get together; several hoops must be jumped through; Hook and Emma flirt a lot.
Because who cares about the end of reality when you’ve got a ship to keep afloat?
The episode starts out in Storybrooke. Amid the celebrations of Zelena’s defeat, the gang notices the ominous plume of light emanating from her barn. Emma and Hook don’t get the memo about not going near it, and get sucked into what they discover is a time portal, which spits them out in the Enchanted Forest way back in season 1 times, when Snow White and Prince Charming haven’t even met yet. Emma and Hook go to Rumple for help in getting back, but they accidentally prevent Snow and Charming from meeting along the way. Rumple is like “You gotta fix that, bro,” so the duo spend the rest of the episode contriving a scheme for bandit Miss Snow to steal Charming’s mother’s ring, which is what led them to falling in love in the first place. They deal with Hook’s past self, Princess Abigail (haven’t seen her in a while), a rampaging Queenie, and a fancy ball along the way. The episode ends with Emma getting imprisoned by Queenie after helping Snow escape her guards.
If only Queenie could appreciate how much this would mean to her season 1 self.
My knee-jerk reaction to this episode was to despise its departure from the structure of the rest of the season, as well as its hammy, Back To The Future knock-off plotline.
But narrowing the focus down to just Emma and Hook on the run in the Enchanted Forest kept the pace up and the action rocking along. No flashback bullshit. No cacophany of supporting cast to get their own perspective scenes.
Just a solid little caper, really. Cute.
Why I hate this episode:
Still, the plotline is a hammy, Back To The Future knock-off. Emma even references Back To The Future by name. Subtle.
Speaking of subtle references, the opening scene of the episode shows a girl from Emma’s group home when she was a child getting adopted. The new parents give the little girl a Mickey Mouse doll. Oh, Disney.
And Emma later references Star Wars, which Disney now owns, when she gives her fake name to King Midas as Princess Leia. Stay classy, Disney.
I know Emma and Hook were desperate, but their number one concern is to not drastically alter anything about the past, right? So then going to Rumple, easily the most influential character of the series, and telling him everything probably isn’t the most successful way to fulfill that pledge, huh?
The mission to get Snow to steal the ring seems a little overblown, right? I mean, what guarantee do they have that the exact moment where Snow tries on the ring in front of Charming will occur? I thought time travel disturbances were capable of causing irreparable ripple effects that could change everything. Again, I know they’re desperate, but the tenacity with which Emma and Hook pursue this course of action is ridiculous. Hook stops Emma from saving an imperiled peasant that Queenie is threatening by saying it could change history. I’m pretty sure that vastly altering the actions of Snow and Charming would be pretty damaging, too, Hooky.
Emma distracts Past Hook while Hook is using the Jolly Roger to make a deal with Snow (to steal the ring in exchange for a ride). She gets him drunk and vaguely promises him sex, then doesn’t deliver. Say no to cock-teasing, everyone. Also, getting someone drunk and misleading them sexually and then bashing them in the back of the head is hilarious if the victim is male, right?
Abigail looks even older and more incongruous than ever.
Oh, and Snow is the worst fucking bandit ever, because she drops the fucking ring during her escape from King Midas’ castle. Bloody Emma has to pick it up.
But it’s not all bad:
It’s nice to check back in with the season 1 iterations of our characters, as well as a few we haven’t seen in a while. Abigail’s Storybrooke counterpart, Kathryn, gets a look-in for the first time in yonks. She randomly attends the celebration party for Snow and David’s son’s birth at Granny’s. Ruby, too.
Desperate and inconsistent they may be, but Emma and Hook certainly are dogged in their efforts to get history back on track. The sequence where Hook has Emma get Past Hook drunk while Hook poses as Past Hook to make a deal with Snow is particularly keen. Hook even knocks Past Hook out when he gets jealous of how touchy he gets to be with Emma.
You can’t go past their pimped out ball looks, which come courtesy of Rumple. Snow has to infiltrate King Midas’ castle during the ball to steal the ring, and Rumple sends Emma and Hook in to make sure she gets the job done. In order to prevent anyone recognising them in the future, he puts a spell on them that makes people see their faces differently. Clever.
While they’re doing that, Rumple will be trying to figure out how to use the Black Fairy’s wand to recreate the time portal. While he is initially incredulous at the prospect of time travel even being possible, the wand apparently has the ability to rerun any magic that has been used. I still want to meet that Black Fairy, you know.
In the Storybrooke segment, Regina and Robin drink wine in front of a fireplace. Her heart is back in, so I presume they had off-screen sex.
When Hook lets slip of Emma’s intention to return to New York, everyone chucks a psych at her. Especially Regina. Naturally.
Gold spells the CCTV footage of the sheriff’s station cells so it looks like Zelena killed herself. Slick.
When Rumple first sees Hook, he tries to kill him. I lol’d. Emma calms him down by telling him that he eventually finds Baelfire again. She leaves out the part where he dies, of course.
Geppetto and Pinocchio also show up in the Enchanted Forest, among some peasants that Queenie threatens.
Blackbeard is the original pirate who Snow tries to buy passage from. But she can’t afford to pay him without the ring.
Best line of the episode goes to Hook, who is indifferent to Emma’s protests about wearing peasant clothes to blend in: “Your discomfort is a cross I’m willing to bear.” I would have also accepted “is a sacrifice I’m willing to make,” or “is a price I’m willing to pay.”
Hook doesn’t understand Emma’s Back To The Future reference. If they were going to travel anywhere in time, Emma should have taken him to the 80s.
Emma accidentally spoils Snow and Charming’s original meeting because she watches too eagerly in anticipation of the moment they met. That’s what you get for having emotions and enjoying things, baby.
Emma and Hook flirt up a storm when they dance at the ball. And look damn fine doing it, too.
Emma’s fake name is Princess Leia; Hook’s is Prince Charles.
Oh, and Queenie kills the crap out of the mood at the ball when she arrives. Emma asks Hook why she’s even there, and he says she was likely invited out of fear of retribution had King Midas not invited her. I mean, what other way is there to be invited to a party?
TL;DR Emma and Hook manage to get Snow and Charming’s romance back on track in the past; but not before Queenie kind of kills Snow; Emma saves a random prisoner from Queenie’s dungeon who fucks things up for Regina in the present; Hook and Emma return to Storybrooke, but an uninvited travelling companion turns up for an icy final frame.
It’s Elsa from Frozen, if you can believe it.
But let’s not rush ahead. First, we have to get Snow and Charming together. Hook manages to get them to bond when he has them join him to rescue Emma from Queenie’s dungeon (he wants his ring back; Snow is there under duress). This turns out to be exceedingly simple because Emma manages to free herself, along with Miss Prisoner. Before the gang (joined also by a wolfy Red) can make their escape from Queenie’s castle, Snow gets caught by the big Q after unsuccessfully trying to kill her. So Queenie burns Snow at the stake in return. Fair’s fair. Emma sulks for a second, but Snow actually escaped by using some dark fairy dust. Just because. After some back and forth with Snow stealing the ring again, Snow and Charming have their special moment, and Emma McFly doesn’t fade into nothing. Rumple has some bad news, though: he can’t use the Black Fairy’s wand to recreate the portal. So he sends Emma, Hook and Miss Prisoner into his vault because who wants to deal with that noise, right? Hook manages to convince Emma that Storybrooke is her home, thus solidifying her resolve not to return to New York. This realisation grants Emma her magic back, and she is able to summon the portal home. She leaves Rumple with a teary story about Baelfire’s courageous sacrifice, and Rumple lets them leave while he takes a forgetting potion to close up the plot holes. Back in Storybrooke, Snow and David have named their son Neal (Baelfire’s real world name that I never liked), Robin and Regina play happy families, and Gold and Belle get married. Then Miss Prisoner turns out to be Maid Marian. And a jar that drifted through the portal from Rumple’s vault of magical D-Day weapons takes form as Elsa. Exeunt.
Oh, come on. The people of Storybrooke already wear enough cold weather clothes. Somebody give these poor people some summer.
While it is impressive for a finale, and it complements the previous episode well enough, I can’t stand the fact that Marian just has to come to Storybrooke (Hook insists they take her, as she was supposed to be executed by Queenie, which Emma prevented from happening by rescuing her. She’s too much of a risk to the timeline). Why, out of all the things and people they could have brought, did they have to bring the one thing that would totally ruin Regina’s happiness?
You know, Emma, for a second there, I thought you might be not a stupid cow.
Why I hate this episode:
Marian even begs Emma not to free her from her cell, and to run while she can. Emma just couldn’t help herself.
And I know Robin would be pretty happy to see his wife, but he drops Regina like she’s hot (and she is hot) and doesn’t even give her a second glance while he snuggles with his beloved.
Didn’t Robin say she died from illness? Not execution by Queenie for withholding knowledge on Snow White’s whereabouts? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Robin is a filthy liar. I can’t believe I was supporting him as a love interest for Regina.
Why couldn’t Emma have brought Graham back from the Enchanted Forest. Also, Graham doesn’t appear in either episode. Rude.
There’s an obnoxious flashback to 2001 at the beginning of the episode just to give Baelfire his obligatory lines. He and Emma break into an amusement park. Emma remembers the way he picked the lock to later pick the lock in her cell in Queenie’s dungeon. How obtuse.
Snow’s execution by Queenie turning out to be not real isn’t a surprise, but goddamn was it disappointing.
The way she escapes is also dependent on good luck. She turns herself into a ladybug using the dark fairy powder just as Queenie’s fireball hits. So she was counting on not being incinerated as a tiny bug, as well as the fact that Queenie wouldn’t notice her body not burning. Then she flies off to find Emma and the gang. Luckily, Blue Bitch shows up out of nowhere (no doubt to slip in her obligatory lines for the episode) and returns Snow to her real form. How obscenely fortunate.
Red, at Snow’s request, helps Hook and Charming break into Queenie’s castle. Her contribution is transforming into a wolf for 5 seconds and distracting a guard. Yep, because distracting a guard isn’t something either of the boys could have done.
Emma takes a page out of the Regina book and finds a way to use magic just because the plot needs her to.
Rumple acts nobly when he lets Emma through the portal and uses the forgetting potion on himself. This is after he hears Baelfire is dead in the future. And before Belle has worked her magic at warming his heart. Yeah, right.
Oh, and during their confrontation, Snow bickers at Queenie about how her childhood folly (telling Cora about Daniel, leading to his murder) should be excused because she was only a kid. Bitch, step off. You’re not perfect. And Queenie is the last person you should be expecting to buy that shit.
But it’s not all bad:
Queenie is impressed by Snow’s murderous intent. If it weren’t for Queenie being superior to Snow in every way, Snow might have had a chance with her dark fairy dust gambit.
And even though it’s proven to be false, just for a glimmer of a moment, we could believe Queenie had achieved her dream of murdering Snow. And she just gets in there and does it. No melodrama. No villain ranting. She just ties her to a stake, and throws a fireball at her. Emma’s tears are a just reward.
Emma and Hook finally get their romance together and end up pashing off at the end of the episode. We got there, everyone. We got there.
Gold and Belle get married. It’s sweet, and they seem sincerely in love and all that. Bonus points for it being under kinda false pretenses, with Gold still keeping the real dagger out of her hands.
With her dark fairy dust spent, Snow isn’t able to use it to save Charming from the bridge trolls. So she just bluffs, instead. Competence credit where competence credit’s due.
Charming calls Snow “thieving scum” when he captures her in a net. She joins the jaunt to Queenie’s castle in return for her freedom from the trap. But really she just wanted a chance to kill Queenie. She’s a complex creature.
Best line of the episode goes to Snow while she and Charming are getting to know each other on the way to Queenie’s castle:
Charming: “What did you do to incur the queen’s wrath?”
Snow: “She blames me for ruining her life.”
Charming: “Did you?”
Second best line goes to Regina after Marian reunites with her family. Regina isn’t too pleased with Emma’s special delivery: “You’re just like your mother, never thinking of the consequences.” Exactly. Cunt.
Hook tells Emma that he sold the Jolly Roger for a magic bean so he could get the message about the new curse to her in New York. He loves you thiiiiiissss much.
Oh, and that Elsa reveal was pretty cool, huh? She was in Rumple’s vault for “dark” or “unpredictable” magic items. Ominous.