Image credit: Jack Rowand/ABC
DRINK UP Those warm, fuzzy feelings won't last long, now that Cora and Hook are in town.
Did you find yourself risking ocular strain while rolling your eyes at last season's Kathryn "murder" debacle? If so, you might want to tune out the next scene in the name of your own physical well-being. All you need to know: Emma responds to the abundance of circumstantial evidence pointing to Regina by saying, "I don't know how it is in Fairy Tale Land, but in the real world, it's usually hard to find evidence. This has been way too easy!" Gold police stars for everyone!
Emma's brilliant observation leads the crime solving crew to Rumpelstiltskin's pawn shop, where they immediately accuse the imp of framing Regina. Rump responds to the allegations by calling a dog to the metaphorical witness stand. As you do. More specifically: By using a magical dream catcher, the group can watch Pongo's memories of the previous night to learn what really happened in Jiminy's study. (Couldn't they use the same method to read Regina's own memories and see conclusively that she didn't murder anybody?) And just to prove that he isn't tampering with the results, Rump tells Emma that she'll be the one reading the dog's thoughts.
Despite her natural skepticism, magic comes naturally to Emma -- and the memories she brings forth are pretty damning evidence against Regina, as long as the gang resolves not to dig any deeper. Looks like it's time for another good, old-fashioned Swan Queen Threatdown... and this time, the loser might suffer a lot more than a bruised ego.
Before Emma confronts Present Regina, Snow confronts Past Regina, who's locked away once more in Fairy Land's very own minimum security prison. She tells her stepmother that she knows there's a good woman beneath all the hair and theatrical snarling... then opens Regina's cell door, saying that this is her chance for a fresh start. Because sussing out obvious traps has never been the evil queen's strong suit, she takes the bait, steps out of the cell, and immediately grabs Snow's throat. (Not coincidentally, this is the same way Cora-as-Regina "killed" Jiminy.)
Finally, victory is Regina's! She'll even enjoy the sweet taste of felling Snow with her own blade, which she's wrested from the princess's hand. Just one problem: The knife goes in and out of Snow without leaving so much as a blood-red pinprick. And that's when Charming and a crew of knights come out, revealing that Regina just got punk'd. Rump has cast a protection spell around the Charmings, making it so that Regina can't hurt them in this world. Having been soundly defeated, the queen is now banished -- and if Regina ever tries her hoodoo on someone in Snow's kingdom, the kickass princess will kill her personally. Game, set, match.
NEXT: Jiminy Cricket, he's alive!