once upon a time

once-upon-a-time-where-bluebirds-fly

Zelena (Rebecca Mader) is the star of “Where Bluebirds Fly” as the episode’s flashbacks give us a look back to her time in Oz and her friendship with a young boy who would grow up to be the Tin Man (Alex Désert) along with her first encounter with the Cowardly Lion. In Storybrooke, the Black Fairy (Jaime Murray) goads the Wicked Witch into rushing into a foolish mistake. The Zelena’s attempt to destroy the fairy unintentionally provide the Black Fairy with enough dark magic to make all her plans come true.

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once-upon-a-time-awake

As Once Upon a Time inches closer to the final battle, “Awake” returns to the events of the show’s First Season reveal an undisclosed truth about Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and David (Josh Dallas). Revealing that the pair had recovered their memories before the Savior’s arrival in Storybooke, while the new scenes don’t over-convolute the show’s continuity too much, they do raise some red flags about why such events were never disclosed under now.

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once-upon-a-time-mothers-little-helper

There are four storylines at work in “Mother’s Little Helper.” While Hook‘s (Colin O’Donoghue) attempt to return to Storybrooke by making a deal with Black Beard (Charles Mesure) leads him even farther astray, two parts of the episode center on Gideon (Giles Matthey) and the Black Fairy (Jaime Murray). Making peace with the Savior, or appearing to do so, Gideon sends his pet after Emma (Jennifer Morrison) hoping to gain the power to kill the Black Fairy before she can break into this world. Sadly, his efforts only confirm that the Savior’s final battle is about to begin. Meanwhile, the episode gives us a few flashback scenes into Gideon’s childhood explaining his relationship with the Black Fairy and delivering a twist concerning his current motives. Turning Gideon into a pawn certainly changes things, especially as tensions rise between the Savior and Gideon’s parents.

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once-upon-a-time-a-wonderous-place

While Regina (Lana Parrilla) and Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) attempt to cheer up Emma (Jennifer Morrison), who wrongly believes her fiance fled Storybooke of his own free will, Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) finds himself trapped in the Enchanted Forest aboard the Nautilus. Hook won’t find his way home by the end of this episode, but his attempt to do so will provide some closure for other characters in an episode that offers the return of several familiar faces. With the help of both Hook and Ariel (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), Jasmine (Karen David) and Aladdin (Deniz Akdeniz) will face off against Jafar (Oded Fehr) one final time and the princess will save Agrabah.

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once-upon-a-time-page-23

While Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) does some soul searching after Emma (Jennifer Morrison) discovers the pirate’s secret, the main focus of “Page 23” is the end of the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) storyline. Retrieving the Shears of Destiny, the Evil Queen uses them to separate herself permanently from Regina allowing the pair to duke it out one last time. While I’m not surprised that neither woman ends up dead, I always expected Regina to reabsorb the Queen back into herself. I’ll give the writers credit for finding a third option that allows each character to get their own happy ending and allows Regina to perform one of the most heroic acts seen on the show. Points for tying the whole thing back to the mysterious “extra” page in the storybook as well.

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once-upon-a-time-murder-most-foul

While “Murder Most Foul” focuses on Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) being the noble one and preventing an obsessed David (Josh Dallas) from taking revenge on the man responsible for his father’s death, the episode ends on a twist which just may undo all the good the pirate has done since meeting Emma (Jennifer Morrison). Hook may have one won the blessing of his girlfriend’s father, but what happens if either of them learn his secret?

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once-upon-a-time-wish-you-were-here

The season’s mid-season finale will send Emma (Jennifer Morrison) to the Enchanted Forest, see the end of Jasmine (Karen David) and Aladdin‘s (Deniz Akdeniz) tale (at least for now), and finally reveal the identity of the villain who kills Emma in her visions. Getting control of the magic lamp, the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) sends Emma to a timeline where she never became the Savior, grew up in the Enchanted Forest as a princess, and was never forced to become Storybrooke’s hero. Realizing that she too has control of the lamp, Regina (Parrilla) makes a wish to send herself to the reality where she is immediately mistaken for the Evil Queen (a role she is forced to resume in order to force Emma to realize the truth). Despite accomplishing the goals and finding a way home, the pair remain in the alternate reality in the first of two big twists as Regina comes face-to-face with someone she never expected to see again.

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once-upon-a-time-changelings

Refusing to lose another child, Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) threatens to speed-up Belle‘s (Emilie de Ravin) pregnancy while ordering the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) to kill Zelena (Rebecca Mader). Neither plan works out in his favor as Regina steps in to save her sister, and the Evil Queen’s decision to force a reluctant Gold’s hands means the Dark One watches as his newborn son is lost to him… at least for now. Babies play a major role in the flashbacks to the Enchanted Forrest as well, as time in Rumpelstiltskin’s castle reveals a bit more about the Dark One’s past including introducing his mother (Jaime Murray) which helps explain the character’s hatred of fairies. If the larger plan is to turn Rumpelstiltskin into a full villain once again, the groundwork is laid here by isolating him completely from family and friends and giving him a quest (finding his son) he will stop at nothing to achieve.

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once-upon-a-time-ill-be-your-mirror

Following the curse, Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and David (Josh Dallas) settle into a new routine with only one of the awake at a time. Meanwhile, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Regina‘s plan to trap the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) in the mirror world backfires leaving them on the other side of the mirror and Henry (Jared Gilmore) alone with the Queen. Thankfully for all involved, Henry is able to quickly recognize the Queen for who she is and give his mothers the opportunity they need to escape.

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once-upon-a-time-heartless

With “Heartless” Once Upon a Time falls back on an old reliable (albeit with a twist). Threatening to expose Storybrooke to the destructive waters of the River of Lost Souls, Evil Queen‘s (Lana Parrilla) gives Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and David (Josh Dallas) just 12 hours to voluntarily turn over the one thing she craves more than in all the world – Snow White’s heart. Offering a feint hope which is dashed by the villain, the episode does allow for a flashback between David and Snow revealing they actually met far earlier than either remembered. As for the Queen’s revenge, it takes the usual course of a sleeping curse but with a Ladyhawke-like twist as in cursing the heart which they both share she may have finally found a way to keep Snow and Charming separated (at least for now).

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