Reviews TV Recaps

‘Once Upon a Time’ Review: Strong Enough for Both of Us

ABC/Jack Rowand

“I won’t lie. This is going to hurt.”

That should be the official disclaimer that flashes across the screen before a new episode of Once Upon a Time airs. For a show centered on fairy tale characters, it certainly knows how to take its audience on an emotional roller coaster ride week after week. “A Curious Thing” was no exception. We finally got some major answers and in doing so, we learned just how far the characters were willing to go to protect their loved ones.

We began the hour back in the Enchanted Forest with Belle making her way on horseback to the queen’s castle where Regina was trying to convince Snow and Charming that announcing their pregnancy to the kingdom was a bad idea. Phillip and Aurora were also on hand and agreed that it was a bad call. Belle filled everyone in on what had happened with Rumple and Neal and then Aurora warned them the wicked witch was after their baby. Zelena showed up to confirm their story, turned Phillip and Aurora into flying monkeys and promised to take Snow’s baby.

Of course Snow and Charming were not going to sit back and let that happen so a war council was convened (would anyone else watch a show that just had the characters sitting around that table arguing?) and it was decided that they needed to break into Rumple’s castle and ask him how to stop Zelena. What I loved about this scene, besides Robin and Regina’s snarky remarks to one another, was just how far these people had come. Regina has gone from torturing Snow, Charming and Belle to working with them for the greater good and it’s so fun to watch.

Rumple was dealing with two minds when they got to the castle, but Belle was able to get through to her true love (is there any couple more tortured on the show than these two? No, there’s not). Rumple told them how to find Glinda, the good witch, who had been banished to the dark forest. Snow, Charming and Regina set out to find her, but Regina can’t go through the door because her heart is filled with vengeance. Glinda explains that she and Zelena had been friends once (perfect nod to Wicked) and she could be defeated by light magic, but Glinda was not powerful enough to do it. That’s when Snow realized that they needed Emma.

It was pretty obvious where this was going, but there was one major question and Regina was the first one to ask it when Snow announced she wanted to cast the dark curse: who was going to give up the thing they loved most? Charming offered to sacrifice himself and Snow tried to talk him out of it for their child’s sake (which she referred to with a male pronoun. Slip of the tongue or clue?) and she said she needed him. But Charming insisted that it was the only way to keep their baby safe and Snow eventually agreed.

Again, I have to talk about the progress these two and Regina have made. It wasn’t a coincidence that the scenes were set up to look just like the scenes in season one when Regina cast the curse to destroy their love. But now she’s standing beside them and there’s pain and sadness on her face as she turns away to let them have a private moment. Charming and Snow profess their love to each other and it’s beautiful and so sad. Obviously I knew Charming wasn’t going to die, but in that moment, I felt like he was and it was killing me to watch Snow say goodbye to him. Regina pulled out his heart after warning him (and us) that it was going to hurt. Charming asked Snow not to say goodbye and she didn’t. She simply crushed his heart and he collapsed.

That’s when Zelena flew in on her broom to cause trouble. She’s the one who added the extra ingredient to the curse – the one that took away their memories. They were going to be stuck in Storybrooke without remembering that they needed to find Emma and Snow would have no clue that Charming was dead or why. She took off and Snow had an idea. She asked Regina to take her heart out and split it in half so she could share it with Charming. Regina wasn’t sure that it would work, but Snow had faith and she believed in them. Regina did as she asked and Charming and Snow were both okay (But what about our hearts, show? Should we just sit here and take comfort in our tears?).

In present day Storybrooke, Regina and Robin are all smiles and hot kisses at Granny’s. It’s nice to see Regina happy and I love that the show points out that it was her heart that was holding her back – now she can feel with her soul and it’s not weighed down by all her past mistakes and, for lack of a better word, heartbreaks. Hook is missing from the family summit, but Regina insists on starting without him because they need answers. The group realizes that they need to get Henry to believe again and they set out in search of his storybook. Emma’s heart really isn’t in the search and Snow is hurt by her daughter’s desire to get away from them again.

But they have bigger problems when an angry Henry slips away with every intention of driving (way to go, Charming) back to New York. Hook stops him and offers to have Smee take him out of Storybrooke on a boat (we’re going to file this under plans that you did not think through, Captain). Before they can steal a boat, flying monkeys come after them. Henry is understandably confused and Hook fights them off with his pistol. He runs out of ammo, but it’s okay because Emma, Charming, Regina and Snow arrive to help. Emma uses her gun, but Charming prefers his sword and Regina uses her fireballs and Henry is understandably confused.

In another scene that perfectly parallels season one, Emma asks Henry if he believes in her. He does so she gives him the storybook and as soon as he holds it, his memories start coming back to him. He immediately sees Regina and calls her mom, which is perfect because Regina’s been hurting so much. Emma prepares to give him true love’s kiss to break the curse on the town, but once again, Auntie Zelena swoops in to ruin everything. She mentions that Hook failed her and now Henry is going to pay the price. Emma manages to stop Zelena with her magic, but the witch promises that won’t the last they’ll see of her.

Regina had been knocked out when she tried to get in her sister’s way so as soon as she’s revived, she promises Henry that she’ll never leave him again and she kisses him – true love’s kiss (I’m not crying)! The curse on the town is broken and Snow and Charming remember that they’re the ones that cast the curse. Emma is confused, but she also wants to know what’s going on with Hook and Zelena. He explains that she cursed him and Emma is hurt and angry that he was trying to get Henry out of town and says she doesn’t trust him anymore. Charming and Snow join in and point out that they never sent Hook the message. He insists that someone did (which honestly, guys, take a moment and think: If Hook hadn’t received the message, you never would have stood a chance because Emma wouldn’t be there. So maybe dial down the self-righteousness?).

So who did send Hook the note and the memory potion? In an episode filled with beautiful, loving moments, there was still one left. Back in the Enchanted Forest, Zelena had cooked up some memory potion – two doses – so that when the curse took them, she would remember her plans. She offered the second one to Rumple and told him that she didn’t care if he took it or not. Rumple was going to because pain is strength (another parallel because love is strength), but then Neal popped out and said they didn’t need to remember. He wrote the note, took the potion, called for a bird and told it to find Killian Jones on the Jolly Roger. Then he collapsed back into his father’s body.

How awesome was that? Not to sound like a broken record, but this was another parallel. Neal got the note in season two letting him know that the curse was broken. He chose to ignore it, but this time, he acted. Neal knew Hook was outside the Enchanted Forest and outside of the curse and he also knew that he would come through for them and find Emma and bring her home. Following up this scene with Emma and Henry at Neal’s grave, talking about how he was a hero was beyond fitting (I’m not crying). Then the episode ended with Snow realizing that she was going into labor.

I loved this episode as a whole, even though I did have some issues with it. But that’s the beauty of this show. It has its fault, but they’re minor compared to the overall story being told and the fantastic job the actors do every single episode with the material that they’re given. I do have some questions though, starting with the flying monkeys. Did they die? And if so, does that mean the good guys basically just murdered their friends? Are Phillip and Aurora still monkeys? Because if they were hit with the dark curse, shouldn’t they be back to themselves in Storybrooke?

And while we’re on the subject, where is their baby? I assume Aurora gave birth before she was turned into a monkey. Also, now that we know who sent Hook the message, I really need to know how he went about getting back to the land without magic. Regina specifically said that anyone sent back when the curse was broken could no longer access portals. And what happened to the Jolly Roger? Did Hook trade it for a way back? I need to know.

Next week, Snow gives birth and unfortunately, Zelena is there to steal the baby. But we know better than to think that our heroes will just sit back and let her carry out her plan. We also get to meet a few more people from Oz, including Dorothy. Check out the promo below and then hit the comments and share your thoughts with us! Did you enjoy the episode? What questions do you need answers to?

About the author

Mandy Treccia

Mandy Treccia has served as TVSource Magazine’s Executive Editor since 2016, formerly as Editorial Director from 2012-2016. She is an avid TV watcher and card carrying fan girl prone to sudden bursts of emotion, ranging from extreme excitement to blind rage during her favorite shows and has on more than once occasion considered having a paper bag on hand to get her through some tough TV moments. Her taste in TV tends to rival that of a thirteen-year-old girl, but she’s okay with that. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceMandy.