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

Of course not! Cora roots around in Emma's chest, taunting her: "Oh, you foolish girl. Don't you know love is weakness?" And that's when she realizes that there's something screwy going on. Try as she might, Cora can't get a grip on the savior's ticker. Emma understands what's happening -- "No. It's strength" -- just as a blast of lovenergy neutralizes Cora. How very Lily Potter of you, Ems! The skeptic is flabbergasted. What just happened? "That is a great subject for discussion when we get home!" says Snow as she and Emma take the compass and jump into the portal.

What they don't know is that Regina and Rump are waiting on the other side, casting a spell on Storybrooke's wishing well so that anyone who tries to world-jump through it will be killed. Regina's going along with Rumpelstiltskin's plan reluctantly -- and she gets even more hesitant when Henry shows up, urging her to call the whole thing off. After a few dramatic scenes of begging intercut with the Fairy Land battle, Regina finally decides to have faith in her son. She approaches the well, striking a crucifixion pose and drawing all of the spell's power into herself. Good thing that "magical rehab" thing didn't really stick.

Finally, the spell is gone, and Regina seems completely unharmed. Even better, a hand soon sticks out of the well -- it's Emma's! She and Snow have made it home, partially thanks to Regina's uncharacteristic selflessness. Before long, Snow is off to the pawn shop, where she and Charming reenact Once Upon a Time's first scene in reverse. This time, she's the one administering a kiss as the dwarfs watch -- seriously, guys, give a lady some privacy! Charming awakens, and there is much rejoicing... for everyone but Regina, who isn't invited to the gang's celebratory meal at Granny's. Cue a sad Charlie Brown walk back to her lonely, lonely mansion.

Before she tucks into a juicy plate of chimera -- er, a burger -- Emma confronts Rumpelstiltskin about the ink in his cell. She's the only character who has realized that if he had ink in there, he could have escaped Snow and Charming's prison at any time. Clearly, he's been rigging nearly everything that's happened on the show, manipulating events to serve his own purposes. Is Emma only pawn in game of life? Well, sort of, says Rump -- but he has nothing to do with her new-found magic powers, which are a symptom of being the product of Twue Wuv. Emma's still not into the idea of being able to do magic -- she can't bring herself to admit that she even did magic back in Fairy Land -- but her eventual mastery of it may well be a focal point of season 2, part 2.

So the lovers have been reunited, Henry has been proven right, and everyone but Regina is happy. Fade to black, right?

NEXT: Wrong!

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