Once Upon a Time season finale recap: Journey to the Past

Time travel, true love, blah blah blah -- all we really want to talk about is that chilly parting shot
Ep. 21 | Aired May 11, 2014

Katie Yu/ABC

Rumpel has changed our heroes' appearances, given them an extra layer of protection. He hasn't, however, given them pseudonyms, probably because he figured they'd be able to think of those on their own, damnit. Nope; both Emma and Hook totally freeze when King Midas asks them to introduce themselves. Seriously, guys? You have faced down dragons before! Eventually, Emma sputters out that her date is called Prince Charles... while she is Princess Leia. The synergy is strong with this one.

Like all the best proms, this ball features both synchronized choreography and buckets of sexual tension. Unlike most proms, it also features a gnarly-weaved princess grappling her way up the walls of a golden castle. Snow gets the ring -- and before she escapes, she also finally has her meet-cute with Charming. He even calls their catchphrase after her as she leaves: "Wherever you are, I will find you!" Hooray, the timeline has been restored!

Or not. Problem 1: Snow actually drops the ring on the castle's balcony. (You had one job, Snow!) Problem 2: After Emma secures the bauble, Regina shows up, correctly accuses the princess of being in cahoots with Snow, and carts her off to her Evil Dungeon. Sure, the floors are made of dirt and natural light is nowhere to be seen... but the dungeon's staff will give you a comfy change of clothes if you've been captured in a fancy ball gown. Better service than at Rumpel's castle, at least.

And so there's another wrinkle in time: Snow and Charming must recover the ring with Hook's help -- and save Emma in the process. Also along for the ride: Red Riding Hood, who's suddenly got a lot more time on her paws. Unfortunately for Hook's machismo, their daring rescue mission is derailed by the rescuee, who's managed to jimmy open her cell door using lock-picking skills cribbed from Neal. She's also freed the maid imprisoned next to her, the same woman captured by Regina in Hour 1. Perhaps Emma doesn't remember that even altering the past in tiny ways can have enormous unforeseen consequences on the future, because that fact has only been mentioned about eleventy billion times.

Everything is awesome again! Except no, wait, it isn't -- because Snow has splintered off from the group. Coming back to her old castle makes the idea of attacking Regina irresistible... and thankfully, Snow's been saving a vial of black fairy dust for just such an occasion. There's just one problem: Snow doesn't know that one should never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

By that, I mean black magic is Regina's bread and butter; Snow can't use it to defeat the queen. So instead, Regina stops her in her tracks -- and, unlike every villain in the history of ever, doesn't bother with a long, time-wasting monologue or a sentence in an easily escapable prison. Instead, she immediately ties her nemesis to a stake and tosses a fireball at her. Whoa. Whoa.

NEXT: Wait, did Once just kill Snow?!

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