Once Upon a Time recap: There and Back Again

Burning questions are answered, storylines are resolved, and Fairy Land is left behind in Once's winter finale
Ep. 09 | Aired Dec 2, 2012

CHANGE OF HEART Only Henry's sad striped scarf could convince Regina to stay on the up-and-up -- but we'll see if her magical rehab sticks when season 2 returns next January.

ABC

The stress of this quest is really starting to get to the Femme Four. There's no other explanation for what happens when they reach Rumpelstiltskin's old cell: Everyone is frantically wondering where that mysterious squid ink might be hiding, even after Aurora discovers a scrap of parchment covered by letters very clearly written in black squid ink. Perhaps they're just distracted by the creepy nature of said parchment -- the only word on it is Emma's name, penned over and over again in Rump's neat script. (No TV and no beer make the Dark One something something.)

Soon, the ladies have bigger problems than their lack of observance. Aurora triggers a whatchamajigger that causes the cell's bars to slam shut, trapping the team -- and leaving them at the mercy of Hook and Cora, who have appeared just outside. With a flick of her magical wrist, the compass is now in Cora's possession. It's only now that the foursome realize that Sleeping Beauty II has been under Cora's control since she returned to them. Because they still don't understand that the friggin' ink is almost literally under their noses, they're helpless as Cora and Hook waltz away.

And speaking of that beautiful friendship: Fairyback Hook uses Jefferson's old hat to travel to Wonderland, where he's soon escorted to the Queen of Hearts herself. The red ruler is, of course, actually Cora, as most of you probably guessed long ago. The world's worst mother isn't as impressed by Hook as her daughter was; she rightfully snarks that his nickname could be a bit more clever. But Hook does get her attention when he reveals that he's looking for a lady named Cora -- then tries to remove her most vital organ, only to discover that it's not in her chest. Says Cora: "I'm the Queen of Hearts! Did you really think I'd keep mine where everyone else does?" Excellent. She would be literally heartless.

Hook must really love getting between two feisty women. After Cora explains that Regina was playing him -- if he went to Storybrooke with the rest of the cursed folk, he'd lose his memory and therefore forget his vendetta against Rumpelstiltskin -- the pirate agrees to join Cora's service. Once more, he goes through a portal with a secret agenda. But this time, he's bringing mother to daughter so that mommie dearest can kill her baby all by herself. Folks who were driven crazy by their families this Thanksgiving are cheering Cora on.

Come ON, Formerly Fab Four, do you seriously still not get that that parchment holds the key to escaping your cell? While everyone but Snow throws a personal pity party, Cora and Hook are headed to Lake Nostos, the dried-out plain where Snow regained her fertility once upon a time. Hook dryly -- pun! -- notes that lakes generally have water in them. Cora, who grows more awesome by the minute, simply rolls her eyes and does a few finger swirls, revealing the gushing spring still beneath the lake's arid surface. Oo, can she also make Ariel appear?

NEXT: Fight! Fight! Fight!

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