Our 84 day ordeal has finally come to an end and tonight Once Upon a Time returned from the hiatus, which might have been worse than a sleeping curse (actually, it was definitely worse because who doesn’t like extra sleep?). “New York City Serenade” picked up one year earlier in the Enchanted Forest where Phillip and Aurora were attempting to enjoy a romantic picnic, which was quickly interrupted when a cloud of magic swept through the forest.
Snow summed up what was happening with a dejected, “We’re back.” Needless to say most of the wayward Storybrooke residents were not particularly happy to be in the Enchanted Forest (although the dwarves loved it). Jiminy stopped by to let Grumpy know that there were more Storybrooke folks popping up in different sections of the forest (props to the show for explaining why all the characters weren’t there).
Philip and Aurora explained that the ogres had been defeated and offered the group a place in their kingdom, but Prince Charming wanted to bring everyone to their castle. Regina pointed out that it was hers and Snow insisted that they were taking it back, but the Evil Queen was coming with them so they could put up a united front and try to ease everyone’s concerns. Once the left to prepare the horse, Philip and Aurora shared a tense conversation about letting “her” know what was happening or else the consequences would be taken out on their baby (ominous, but also understandable why they couldn’t take a risk to help their friends).
Hook made it clear that his home was the Jolly Roger and he was going to set out to find it since there was nothing for him in the Enchanted Forest (because Emma wasn’t there). Prince Charming was a little disappointed (he didn’t want to lose his newfound bro) and Snow chimed in to more or less point out that Emma wouldn’t appreciate him being a pirate again and Hook reminded them that he’d always been a pirate. He left and it was Neal’s turn to plead his case. He wanted to stop by the Dark Castle because he believed finding Rumpel would help get him back to Emma. Charming reminded him that even if they could get back to Emma, she won’t remember them and they have to let her go and give her the best chance at happiness.
Belle assured Neal that he’d see Henry and Emma again. She was also confident they’d find Rumpel because his knife was still out there (I really loved how positive and hopeful she was and I’d also like Rumpel back immediately). The group noticed that Regina had disappeared and Snow set out after her, only to find the queen burying her heart in the woods. Regina was in so much pain over losing Henry that she thought it would be easier without her heart (be right back, crying forever).
Snow tells her that no matter how much pain she’s feeling, she can’t just bury it in the woods. At first, Regina isn’t very receptive to Snow’s comfort, but she starts to listen once Snow reminds her that she’s had to say goodbye to her child twice so she knows something about this. She also tells her that with her heart and with time, Regina can finally find what Henry wanted her to have all along: happiness (I loved this scene so much). Regina puts her heart back in her chest and they set out to join the others, but Snow sees something watching them from the bushes.
It’s a flying monkey and it’s straight up terrifying. Regina isn’t impressed and tries to use magic to get rid of it, but the thing grabs her, scratches her arm and yanks her away. She falls back to the ground and the creepy monkey comes back for her, but it gets hit with an arrow so it flies off and there’s Robin Hood, offering Regina a hand (!!!!!!!!). Naturally, Regina is not impressed because she’s Regina, but Snow is grateful for the assist. Robin and Regina continue to clash.
When the group reaches the castle, they discover it’s under a protection spell. Regina is super angry that someone hijacked it and she’s prepared to murder whoever did it because no one sits in her chair (ha!). Snow and Prince Charming calm her down for the time being and Robin offers the group shelter in his camp. But they’re all still wondering who took the castle.
Meanwhile, in present day New York, Emma is meeting a date. We’re introduced to Walsh, who Emma has been dating for eight months. He seems a little nervous about something and asks Emma if she’s happy. She insists that she is and she loves the life they have with Henry. Walsh excuses himself and Emma checks her phone. When she looks up, Hook is sitting across from her and he’s come to apologize. Emma remains unimpressed, calls him a stalker and picks up her knife as a warning.
Hook remains adamant that her family is in danger and tries explaining again that they knew each other and Emma thinks he’s lying because she lived in Boston a year ago until her apartment burned down. He gives her a slip of paper with an address on it and suggests she used her superpower to see if he’s lying. That throws Emma a bit, but she points out that just because he believes he’s telling the truth doesn’t make it the truth. He leaves and Walsh returns. Emma is obviously distracted, but that doesn’t stop him from proposing.
Memories or no memories, Emma is still Emma and her reaction is to run away. Walsh catches up to her outside and asks her to at least think about it and they can put off the actual marriage part as long as she wants. She goes home to Henry and they talk about Walsh over videogames. Even knowing it was based on a manufactured past, I really liked this scene. It was nice to see Emma and Henry happy together and a real team, the way they could have been if things had gone differently. I even understood why Henry was Team Walsh, but I wasn’t here for that nonsense.
Emma went to investigate the address Hook gave her and she found herself in Neal’s apartment. Since she remembers him sending her to jail and nothing else, she’s not really a fan so it freaks her out when she finds a camera with Henry’s name on the strap. Emma goes to meet Hook in Central Park and he implores her to take the potion he brought to help her remember. Emma doesn’t want to drink something a crazy guy gives her, but Hook continues to plead his case that her family needs her help. She appears to be considering it and then she surprises Hook by slapping handcuffs on him.
Officers come to take Hook away for assaulting Emma. He insists it was just a kiss and she takes that as a confession. Emma returns to Henry and they have another talk about Walsh and Henry reminds her that it’s okay to be happy and trust her gut. Emma seems to be wavering, but she’s got one more thing she wants to do. She sends Henry home and then looks at the pictures she had developed from his camera – pictures of them in Storybrooke and on the journey to New York. Emma has a lot of questions so she goes to spring Hook from jail (the brig).
He is horrified by the accommodations and that they force fed him bologna (still laughing at this). Emma wants answers and accuses Hook of using Photo Shop on the pictures, but he insists they just prove that he’s telling the truth. He offers her the potion again and Emma is considering it. But she knows if she does that means her life is a lie and it’s a good life and she has someone she loves (ouch). Hook points out that perhaps there’s someone she loved in the life she lost (excuse me while I die from the look on his face). He tells her to trust her gut and she says that’s what Henry always says. That does the trick and Emma takes the potion.
Once she does, her memories of the past few years come flooding back and it takes her a moment to let it all in and then she finally recognizes Hook. He smiles and asks if she missed him (and once again, please excuse me while I go die of happiness over the looks they were giving each other. By the way – hope you guys didn’t forget my extreme Captain Swan bias over the hiatus).
Hook and Emma return to her apartment and sit at the table, sharing rum (the theme of the season continues!). Hook explains that he didn’t stay in the Enchanted Forest and basically spells it out that there was nothing for him because Emma wasn’t there. Then he heard that Storybrooke returned, there was a new curse and he needed to find Emma. She’s surprised that he came back to save her family and he tells her that he came back to save her.
There’s a knock at the door and Emma realizes that she forgot about Walsh. Hook quickly offers to get rid of him, but Emma needs to do. She cares too much to drag him into this world and she asks Hook to wait in the apartment (the look on Hook’s face hurts me). On the roof, Emma tries to let Walsh down gently. He tries to convince her that they can make it work and she can stay there and their life is good, but Emma has already made her choice. Walsh tells her that he really wished she hadn’t drank that potion because he kind of liked her.
Emma is confused and that’s when Walsh transforms. He’s a flying monkey. I repeat: Walsh is a creepy, terrifying flying monkey. He attacks Emma and she grabs a pipe and knocks him off the roof (did he die or get sucked back to where he came from when he hit the sidewalk?). Hook comes up to the roof to see what’s going on and Emma realizes that there was no other life for the savior. Even though I’m happy she has her memories and is with Hook, I felt so bad for Emma here because she was just so defeated, having lost that quiet life with her son that she wanted so badly.
In the morning, Emma tells an excited Henry that he gets to skip school and go on a trip with her. There’s a knock on the door and it’s Hook, ready to head back to Storybrooke with them. Emma introduces him to Henry as Killian (!!!!!!) and Henry thinks he’s someone who jumped bail. He asks Hook what he’s wearing and Hook responds with a ‘what are you wearing’ (and I basically died laughing). Emma orders Killian (!!!!) to make himself useful and get the bags because she needs one more thing. She goes to her closet and pulls out the red leather jacket, slips it on and the savior is back in business.
The yellow bug makes an appearance as they drive back into Storybrooke. Emma can’t believe it’s back or that she’s back. Henry is sleeping in the backseat and Hook puts his hook back on (yay). Emma asks him to stay with Henry, but she doesn’t want him to scare him so she says to just let him sleep and then she heads out to find her parents. David opens the door and Emma asks him not to close it and starts to say her name, but he knows who she is and pulls her into a hug (aw, Daddy Charming).
David explains that they have no idea how or why Storybrooke is back, but to them, it feels like they never left. The last thing they remember is saying goodbye to Emma, but they know time has passed. Emma asks how and then she gets her answer when Snow rushes down the stairs to hug her and Emma sees that her mother is very pregnant. But the question remains: who did this to them and why?
Finally, we flash to the castle and see the flying monkey that attacked Regina return. A woman takes the blood and mixes it into a potion. She’s happy that she’s finally going to get her revenge. As she turns to the mirror and we finally get a full glimpse of the Wicked Witch, she says that the queen maybe evil, but she is wicked and wicked always wins.
Seriously, I loved this episode. I loved the various callbacks to the pilot episode, I loved seeing Snow and Charming teaming up with Regina, I loved Belle and Neal having hope for Rumpel, I loved Regina and Robin’s first meeting and of course I loved everything about Hook and Emma’s scenes. I’m already dying to learn more about the Wicked Witch and what her plan is, why she hates Regina and how everyone is going to act now that they’ve been cursed again. Welcome back, Show.
Now it’s your turn. Hit the comments and share your thoughts and theories with us. Did you enjoy the midseason premiere?