Once Upon A Time – Season 3 Finale Recap: Rings And Resolutions

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Tonight we begin at a foster home eight years ago, where teen Emma watches yet another kid get a forever home. Her foster mother assures her that she’ll find a home someday, but she doesn’t look like she’s feeling it.

Forward to present day Storybrooke, where Emma’s asking for the name of her new little brother, but Snow and David are staying mum until the official naming ceremony at Granny’s.

“You’re not going to hold him up in front of the clocktower like Lion King, are you?” she asks David. And I can’t help but wonder if the writers didn’t actually consider that, however briefly.

In rushes Henry, clutching a newspaper and terribly excited because he’s found an apartment for them both – a circumstance that Emma is less than enthusiastic about.

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Meanwhile, at Regina’s, things are much warmer. She and Robin are cuddled up, drinking wine in front of a fire, as Regina recounts the story of how she’d seen him all those years ago in the tavern, courtesy of Tinkerbell. “I just never thought I could have this,” she confesses. Robin tells her that when his wife died he felt like he’d never have this again, either. He proffers this bit of wisdom: “Maybe things work out when they’re supposed to.”

Over at Gold’s shop, there’s a decided chill in the air as Rumple hides the real Dark One dagger in his safe, sealing it with a protection spell. Belle comes fluttering in and she’s freaked out by the responsibility of holding the dagger. She asks Rumple if he’s got someplace better to keep it – like the impenetrable vault he had back in the Enchanted Forest. He reminds her that the vault held on the most dangerous and unstable magic – that which even he cannot comprehend. Didja get that? Remember it for later, kiddies.

Belle’s father has suddenly had a change of heart and is happy to give his daughter away in marriage to the guy who threatened to unleash the ogres on his town, kidnapped his daughter and forced her into slavery, murdered her former fiance and previously beat the everloving piss out of him. Way to go, Dad.

Over at Granny’s the tacky decorations are hung and Leroy’s slugging back the beers and talking about crap-flinging monkey babies. Henry is reading to his new Uncle, and not just any story, but the story of how Snow and Charming first met and their encounter at the Troll bridge.

David admits, strangely enough, that he didn’t fall in love with Snow because she slammed him in his terribly pretty man-face with a rock. Oh no, he fell in love with her the moment he saw his mother’s ring on her finger. Red points out that Snow ran away for awhile, and Hook off-handedly (heh!) remarks “Like mother, like daughter.” This prompts a serious eyeroll from Emma as she tries to sidestep Henry’s questions about whether or not they’re staying in Storybrooke.

Regina’s not letting her off that easy, though. She wants this settled and even gets bitchy enough to call Emma “Miss Swan” again. Emma refuses to give a straight answer and storms off. Hook is going to follow, but Henry encourages him to take the storybook with him, to remind her of “where she belongs”.

Suddenly, they all catch sight of the time portal glowing in the distance. They rush off to the sheriff’s station to find Zelena’s cell empty, which, Regina points out, should be impossible because her pendant is gone. She has no magic. Regina puts two and two together and comes up Rumple, but he denies having anything to do with it.

They cue up the state-of-the-art Betamax security tape and Rumple does a little hocus-pocus to alter the tape, making it appear the Zelena took her own life. When she died, the magic in her pendant was untethered, and it fulfilled her last wish.

Rumple suggests that they all just stay the hell away from it. “A trip to the past could have catastrophic repercussions,” he tells them.

Over in Storybrooke park, Emma is meditating on a bench and Hook strolls up with the book, telling her to listen to her boy. Her family is here. Emma takes the book, telling him that’s the root of the problem. She doesn’t belong with all these fairy tales. She’s going to keep on running until she finds a real home.

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“So you’re just going to leave your parents again?” Hook asks. “Don’t you even care about them…or anyone in this town?” (And oh, that little hesitation…the feels!)

Emma starts to answer but happens to notice the bright shooting time beacon lighting up the sky, and having ignored Daddy David’s call of warning, decides to go investigate. Hook shoves the book down in his satchel and follows.

Hook’s smart enough to know it’s bad news, but Emma charges ahead and gets sucked in. Hook lets out a groan and exclaims, “One of these days, I’m going to stop chasing this woman!” before he slides in after her.

The portal drops them in the middle of The Enchanted Forest, and Emma finds herself facing one of her mother’s old “Wanted” posters. Looks like they’re back before the original curse.

Emma is pissed, but Hook decides to work on finding a way out of this. “Who do I look like, Marty McFly?” Emma splutters, prompting Hook to ask if he’s a wizard, which reminds her of the one person in that time period who can and more importantly, might, help them: Rumplestiltskin. Which isn’t ideal for Hook, but whatta ya gonna do?

They’re interrupted by the arrival of the evil Queen’s carriage, and out steps Regina in an awesome red outfit with a really snazzy hat.

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She has her guard round up the peasants, and demands that they turn over the bandit, Snow White. She threatens to kill them all if they lift a finger to help Snow, and to cement her point, she drags out a poor woman in handcuffs, who cries hysterically for help.

Hook stops Emma from trying to intervene, reminding her that she can’t mess with the past without effing up the future. That doesn’t sit well with Emma, but she hangs back and the woman is carted away.

Next on the agenda: some period clothing for Emma. Hook can wear the same outfit for three seasons anywhere, but she needs to blend in because (as Hook so aptly points out) “Red leather jackets to come into vogue here…ever.” They steal some clothes drying on a conveniently placed line in the middle of the forest, and when she staggers out in a low-cut corset, he’s more than impressed with her newly-presented wares. He also reminds her that the smallest change could have catastrophic consequences, so they need to proceed with caution.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the forest, a hooded figure is chopping down a tree, while Charming and Princess Bitchytoes are bumping along in their carriage. Emma and Hook happen upon the road with a fallen tree across it just as David’s carriage pulls up. To Emma’s delight, she realizes she’s seeing her father right at the moment of his meeting Snow. She looks up, open-mouthed to where her mother waits in the trees, then like a goober she cracks a twig, startling Snow and causing her to fall. She runs off, never having robbed the carriage, and consequently, never having met David.

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Emma realizes instantly that she really, really effed up. Now she and Killian need to find a way to put things right again.

Elsewhere in the Enchanted Forest, we see Snow in a tavern, trying to make a deal with Blackbeard. She wants out of the kingdom, and she’s willing to pay him to sail her away. He wants more money than she has, unfortunately, and she leaves him without getting what she wants.

Back to Emma and Hook, who are just about to Rumple’s castle when he surprises them first. And of course, he immediately tries to kill Hook until Emma lets him know who she is and where she’s from beyond a shadow of a doubt, letting Rumple know his curse worked and he found his son, but sort of not mentioning that Baelfire dies anyway. Once she explains that she royally effed up his plan, Rumple agrees to help them.

They move on to Rumple’s castle, and when Belle strolls in, Emma calls her by name and Rumple is astounded to learn that he fell for “the help.” Emma starts to tell Rumple the tale of her parent’s meeting per the book, but the book is now blank – she’s unwritten the future. They need to get Snow to steal David’s mother’s ring in order to get things back on track.

Rumple spies on Snow with a crystal ball and they see that she’s trying to secure passage on a ship and failing. Rumple instructs Emma and Hook to go undo whatever it is they did, and he’ll work on getting a portal to the future opened up for them.

“If she’s looking for passage out of town, I might know a ships’s captain that can help us,” Hook tells Emma. And that captain is…him!

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Squeeeee!!! The only thing better than one Hook is two Hooks! Yeah, baby!!

Away now to a tavern, and Hook is watching his younger self as he plays dice with a woman on his arm. Emma’s going to distract younger Hook while our Hook sneaks aboard his ship to have a chat with Snow. First he cautions Emma to be careful – she doesn’t know this Hook – and she gives him a smirk and calls him jealous and damn if he isn’t. It’s adorable.

She strolls right up, leans over, puts the cleavage in young Hook’s face, and to his credit, he looks her in the eyes, clearly intrigued.

On board the Jolly Roger, our Hook encounters Mr. Smee, who notes that he’s changed his vest (helping to clue us in to a way to differentiate the two Hooks). Smee is charged with bringing Snow on board. She arrives, and our Hook (carefully sitting in the shadows) makes her an offer: steal the ring while the Prince is at the ball this evening, bring it back to the ship, and he’ll give her passage anywhere in the realm. Snow takes the deal.

Meanwhile, at the tavern, Emma is going shot-for-shot with a smouldering young pirate who’s ready to introduce her to the captain’s cabin, despite her playing coy and refusing to give her name. Emma encourages him to drink a little while longer, tossing her shots while he downs his, and sliding her fingers over that hook in a way that no man could misinterpret.

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Hook’s had enough – he grabs the bottle of rum, staggers to his feet and tells her he’s getting out of there, and if she wants a piece of that, she’d better join him.

He hauls her along down the dock, and when she tries to stall him, he hoists her drunkenly up into his arms, stepping on board as he proclaims, “Behold! The Rolly Joger!” He sends her down into the cabin as he pulls Mr. Smee aside to shoo him off, ensuring their privacy.

Down in the cabin, our Hook is more than a little dismayed to see Emma.

“I thought I told you to keep him occupied,” he scolds.

“I did,” Emma says.

“By taking him back to my ship!” Hook says incredulously.  Their argument is cut short by the sight of boots coming down the ladder, so our Hook ducks into the shadows as young Hook apologizes for leaving his beautiful companion waiting. He starts macking on Emma enthusiastically with our Hook glowering over his shoulder until he can’t take it anymore.

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He taps himself on the shoulder, and then promptly punches himself in the face, knocking himself out cold.

“He was asking for it,” he growls.

The editing on this was fantastic! So beautifully done, and laugh out loud hilarious! Emma squwaks about consequences but he assures her he’s had too much rum to remember anything. They take off before younger Hook wakes up.

They have nothing to do but wait now, but neither they nor Rumple want to leave this to chance. He puts them under a glamour spell to look different to everyone else, then poofs them into some gorgeous formal wear, returning Emma’s stolen clothes to the line they snatched them from with the admonishment, “Amateurs!” He hands them an invitation to Kind Midas’s ball.

Rumple tells them to go while he experiments with a very powerful wand that’s supposed to be able to recreate any magic. Theoretically, it should open the time portal again.

And thus Killian Jones, pirate extraordinaire, escorts Princess Emma to her first royal ball. They introduce themselves to Midas as Prince Charles and Princess Leia (snort) and make their way into the throng as we all sigh over that amazing red dress and Killian in princely clothes.

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Emma’s overwhelmed by the courtly dances and opulent setting, but Killian takes her by the hand, and like a pro, leads her into a waltz. She finds this surprising, but we do not. Oh now, we do not. *sigh*

Meanwhile, outside the castle, Snow is scaling the castle wall. And I have to give a shout out once again to the editing in this episode. Ginny Goodwin was visibly pregnant when this was filmed and couldn’t do much in the way of stunts. The way they costumed her, filmed her, cut in shots of her stunt double (and later the use of previously filmed footage from Season 1) was just masterful. So well done.

Back in the ballroom, Emma is enjoying herself and Killian assures her that she’s a natural. We move over to Charming, who’s doing his best to placate Princess Bitchytoes, and wouldn’t ya know it – the bitch has sore feet. He agrees to go upstairs and find her “comfortable shoes” for her, because he’s just a nice guy like that.

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Up in the room, Snow tosses aside a heavy metal jewelry box before she finds the pouch with the ring. Just as she gets her hands on it, David strolls in. She makes a run for the window and he stops her, realizing with a start that she’s a woman just before she slams him across the face with that jewelry box, scarring him in the same spot as when she hit him with the rock in the previous version of reality. She makes her getaway with David screaming through the window that he will find her.

Down in the ballroom, Regina has shown up. Emma panics at first until Hook reminds her that she’s an invited guest. Princess Bitchytoes has raised the alarm (having seen Snow as she was leaving) and Regina is thrilled to know that Snow is nearby. Emma and Hook take off to intervene and Emma discovers that Snow has dropped the damn ring.

Hook fights off the guards while Emma stops one from putting an arrow through her mother. She also discovers that Snow has dropped the ring. She picks it up and runs with it, only to be stopped by Regina, who knows she helped Snow White escape. Emma’s carted off as Hook watches from the crowd.

Whew! What a great first hour!! It just flew!

On to the second half now, and we begin in Portland, circa 2001. Teen Emma (who forgot to behave like her slightly-loopy teen self and seems more like thirty-year old teen Emma) is waiting outside a closed amusement park for Neal, who’s meeting her for that drink he promised her on the day they met.

Neal picks the lock, then flips a switch, lighting up all the rides and somehow, this doesn’t attract the attention of anyone, including police. Go figure. They settle in on the swings, drink their coffee, and Neal gives her a vague version of his life story. She assumes a bad home life, but he tells her it wasn’t always. For a while, it was home. Home is a place, he tells her, that when you leave it, you just miss it.

Forward – or I mean, backward – now to Regina’s dungeon, where Emma is twirling her mother’s ring as the woman in the cell next to her makes conversation. This is the same woman that Emma wanted to save earlier. She won’t give her name for fear of putting her family in danger. She’s in the dungeon for helping hide Snow White, and lets Emma know that everyone in that dungeon is set for execution.

Next we go to the forest, where we see the wonderful “caught in a net” scene between Snow and Charming again, only this time it’s changed a bit. Snow tells Charming she doesn’t have the ring, and Killian steps out of the woods to confirm that. He tells Charming that his princess has the ring (and ooooh, when he says “my princess”…) but she’s in the castle.

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Snow offers to help, since she knows the castle well, but David’s going to have to let her down to do it. He cuts her down just like old times, and she hits the dirt.

Next, they’re bumping along in a cart driven by Killian as Charming talks to Snow. They recreate their long ago conversation where he asks her about the necklace around her neck bearing the dark fairy dust, and she tells him that she wrecked Regina’s life.

Just outside the castle, Snow hops out of the cart to go get some help, leaving Charming and Hook to bro-bond by firelight. I can’t possibly do this scene justice with a mere description. Here, watch:

Ah, the bromance. Wouldn’t you love to see an episode where Hook and Charming go to Vegas? Or something similar? Anyhoo…Red shows up to guide them into the castle (as her wolfy self) and off they go.

Meanwhile, in Regina’s dungeon, Emma’s twirling that ring over and over. The woman in the cell next to her explains that her family already thinks she’s dead, and she’s clearly sad as hell to be away from them. Emma gets a sudden inspiration when she notices a piece of wire twisted around the spoon she was given with her gruel (who wastes gruel on a prisoner who’s set for execution, and who puts twisted wire around the handle of a spoon? Welcome to the cell of plot convenience!). She untwists the wire from both spoons and uses them to pick the locks on both cells (having previously learned how from Neal), freeing herself and her companion.

In the tunnels, Red, David and Hook run smack into Emma and her new buddy. “What the hell are you doing?” Hook complains. “You’re depriving me of a dashing rescue.”

“Sorry,” she deadpans, “But the only one who rescues me is me.”

She gives the ring back to David and Hook reminds her again that rescuing this other woman was a bad idea. If she was set to die, they needed to let her die.

Meanwhile, in Regina’s castle, Snow has sneaked into Regina’s bedchamber with the dark fairy dust, planning to use it to end Regina. She’s thwarted and appeals one last time to Regina to forgive her for her part in what happened to Daniel.

“I was a child!” she reminds her.

“A child who didn’t learn the most basic of lessons,” Regina snarls. “All actions have consequences!”

She has the guards haul Snow away so that she can execute her personally. Snow is tied to a pillar in center of the courtyard, and then as the others look on in horror from a room at the top of the castle, Regina lobs a fireball and Snow is emoliated in front of them.

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Later, in the woods, we see a devastated Emma being comforted by a Hook who knows all too well how hard it is to lose a loved one right in front of your eyes. “We need to live in the here and now,” he reminds her, which sets off alarms for Emma. If her mother is dead, and this is before she was conceived, how is it that she’s still here?

And this can only mean one thing – Snow is somehow still alive. Just as she’s realizing this, Killian’s getting bedeviled by an annoying little ladybug – a bug that David recognizes to be Snow, knowing that she must have used what was left of the dark fairy dust on herself. The Blue Fairy conveniently arrives to make Snow whole again, and Emma grabs her, crushing her in a bear hug that freaks her mother out since Snow has no idea who this person is.

Emma’s emotionally eviscerated all over again when her mother treats her like a stranger, and as Hook tenderly dries her tears, they’re all back on track. Snow heads off to fill David’s canteen and they appear to be warming up to each other.

Hook, meantime, addresses the problem of their new buddy. Emma knows the solution: they have to take her with them. Emma makes the offer, but the woman refuses, wanting only to get back to her family. So Emma clubs her over the head with a tree limb and makes the choice for her, much to Killian’s delight.

“I always knew there was a little pirate in you,” Killian remarks.

If I was Emma, there would have been some pirate in me loooong before now. Know what I mean?

Yeah, you know what I mean.

David suddenly realizes that Snow has made off with ring again, and is most likely headed to the harbor via the troll bridge. He takes off and Emma winces, realizing that without the dark fairy dust, David and Snow are screwed. She and Hook take off to help them.

Over on the bridge, David fights the trolls off, allowing Snow to run free. She turns around and threatens them with a handful of dirt she’s passing off as fairy dust and her bluff works. The trolls retreat, and David and Snow are now on a congenial hey-I-think-you’re-awesome basis. Emma and Hook watch from afar as Snow gives David back his ring, trying it on first. David gets that glimmer in his eye seeing the ring on Snow’s finger, and Emma gets tears in her eyes, watching it all.

“It’s okay, Swan,” Hook assures her. “Not everyone gets a chance to watch their parents fall in love.”

Hook gets worried as they head away from each other, but Emma reminds him that it’s supposed to happen that way.

“It took my parents a while to accept their feelings,” Emma says.

“Must run in the family,” Hook replies dryly.

Emma pulls out  the story book, and all is as it should be again. In Regina’s castle, she’s stomping on some trolls that she’s turned into bugs, thereby tying up the last loose end and fixing every little thing.

Emma and Hook go back to Rumple’s castle, brimming with the news (and hauling the carcass of Emma’s friend). Rumple’s had no luck with the wand, so he’s made a forgetting potion to forget everything he’s just learned and keep his future intact. The wand can only be used to open a portal by those who’ve previously used said portal, and since Emma’s lost her magic, that ain’t happening.

He locks them all in his vault to keep them out of the way (and out of his knowledge). Hook dumps their floppy comrade and then starts fiddling with stuff, pulling out a vase and setting it on a table. He tells Emma to try and find her magic.

He goes for her throat, too – telling her that not having magic makes it easier for her to forget who she was and run from all she is. Emma tells him she’s done with running. Watching Snow die was a real eye-opener for her and she wants to go home. Storybrooke is home and she belongs there.

Surprise! The wand is now glowing. Emma has found her magic and she opens the portal. Hook shoulders their companion and jumps through, but before Emma can go, Rumple stops her, demanding to know what happens to Bae. She explains that he died, but Rumple can’t change that. She urges him to drink his forgetting potion, and he lets her go.

Rumple tosses the potion back, stares at his surroundings and says, “What the hell am I doing in here?” before he poofs back out, ensuring that the future is indeed intact.

Emma leaves Hook with the woman and runs to Granny’s where she smothers her parents in a bear hug and reassures Henry that they’re staying. She calls Snow and David “Mom and Dad.” *Sniff*

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Later we see the baby’s naming ceremony, and David and Snow have chosen to name their son for a true hero: Neal.

Yeah, way to remind your daughter of the one who got away forever. That’s swell, Mom and Dad.

And now, I’m turning it over to Youtube for the next scene. Hook and Emma.  Belle and Rumple getting married. Regina and Robin. But mostly for Hook and Emma. Damn. Finally.

So beautifully done, particularly Rumple’s words. The love! The feels!

The blow to the gut when it all comes crashing down a few moments later at the realization that Emma has brought home none other than Maid Marian, Robin’s wife, totally screwing Regina over.

“Just like your mother,” Regina chokes out, “Never thinking of consequences. You’d just better hope to hell you didn’t bring anything else back.”

And on those words, we go to the barn again, where the vase that Hook was playing with in Rumple’s vault has apparently traveled back with them. It opens up and a glittering blue figure emerges, morphing into…Elsa!

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Frozen has come to Storybrooke.

I’m giving this one five hundred and eleventy-billion hooks out of five.

Holy cow, was this the greatest episode ever. Words fail me. Everything about this was amazing and it was the Captain Swan adventure my little shipper heart had been waiting for. So well done. *sigh*

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