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

Of course they didn't! But the show does let us think Snow has melted for a good, oh, minute and a half, which is pretty wicked. Our heroes realize something is awry when Emma doesn't immediately fade away like a shaken etch-a-sketch -- and, indeed, Snow isn't dead after all. Instead, she's merely used the last of her black fairy dust to transform herself into a ladybug and zoom away from the scene of the burning. A quick injection of Vitamin Light Magic courtesy of the Blue Fairy, and she's embiggened once more. Phew; who else is not prepared to see Emma cry this many times in one evening?

Only one task remains on Snow and Charming's pre-love agenda: Troll clobberin' time. The first time around, they defeated the monsters thanks to Snow's dust; because the princess has already used the dust in this timeline, it seems for a moment that the nascent couple's about to be up a troll bridge without a wooden club, or something. Emma and Hook think they might have to intervene... until Snow manages to trick the trolls with a handful of innocuous black sand, which she pretends is fairy dust. Good thing trolls aren't exactly the sharpest swords in the armory.

And so it's time for Hook and Emma to return home, with a stowaway in tow -- the woman from Regina's prison. The queen was going to execute her; though Emma freed her, she can't let her loose in the Enchanted Forest for fear she'll screw up the timeline once again. The only solution, then, is to murder her brutally bring her back to Storybrooke, a decision that certainly won't have any unforeseen ramifications. Anyway, they head to the Dark One's castle, only to find one last hurdle to jump: Rump has discovered that he can't open the portal, and as a result, he's brewed a forgetting potion that will allow him to erase all the stuff he's learned about his future. Oh, and since he can't send Hook and Emma forward in time, he'll just have to keep them in a special place -- which, for one heart-stopping moment, I think is Dr. Frankenstein's Black and White Steampunk Universal Horror Monster Land.

Breathe easy: It's just Rumple's secret vault. And thanks to both that handy wand and Emma's latent magical powers, Storybrooke is within reach after all. See, in order to activate the powers she thought she lost when Zelena sucked them away, all Emma has to do is realize that there's no place like home -- meaning Storybrooke. (Does this also mean the end of the fairy tale characters trying to return to the Enchanted Forest for good?) The portal opens, Hook and Marian -- er, Woman Whose Identity We're Still Not Supposed to Know -- step through... and Emma follows, even though Rumpel briefly tries to detain her by asking what ends up happening to his son. Proof positive that even at his most evil, there's a shred of humanity within the Dark One: Though he learns that his son will die if he takes his forgetting potion and allows the future to play out as it should, Rumpel also resists the urge to try to change Bae's fate when Emma tells him that Neal died a hero. It's some heavy stuff, but Once (and Robert Carlyle, specifically) wears it well.

NEXT: Storybrooke, here we come/Right back where we started from

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