This episode was the “winter finale” and although it was enjoyable, there was very little story. It was really just a huge information dump—lots of back story about all the characters and where they have been hiding out. The costumes in this one were absolutely stunning, some of the best of the series. Here are the highlights:
In a flashback, it's revealed Hook has always been a double agent, and he first worked for Regina. She gifted him with the ability to pull one heart out with his hook. Her intention was for him to take Cora's heart. Regina sent him to Wonderland to do the dirty deed. Cora had been hiding there as the Queen of Hearts, only, silly Regina, her mom hid her own heart! Hook had no luck and to save his own skin became Cora's henchman.
Gold doesn't want Cora to come through the portal/well so much that he convinces Regina the only way to save their miserable skins is to close the portal off so that no one can come through. She waffles, but agrees in the end to help Gold. They go to the mines when the dwarves are off partying. Using what he says is a dead fairy’s wand, they strip the mine of its magic, and set a terrible trap on the well so that whomever comes through will not survive.
Emma and Snow go to the cell to retrieve the squid ink so that they can open a portal, but once they get there, the Sleeping Beauty Zombie throws the compass at Cora and she locks them in the cell. Snow finds a scroll written by Rumpelstiltskin that has nothing on it but Emma’s name written over and over. For a minute they all seem confused, then Snow realizes the scroll is the magic and blows on it. They are freed by the magic in the scroll and they head for lake Nostro to regain the compass and return to Storybrooke.
Another flashback shows when Cora and Hook return to Fairytale land with the intention of killing Regina. Cora pretends to be dead. Regina comes to the crypt and confesses that she still loves her mother, which is her true weakness. She says it's why she had to kill her. It's a tearful moment. Regina leaves and Cora wakes. She tells Hook that there has been a change of plans, they will go hide and protect themselves from the curse. She says that the love Regina has in her heart will be her weakness later on, and that they will wait for it.
Ruby and Grumpy/Leo go to Henry to tell him that the mine is drained of all magic and that Regina and Gold must be closing the portal. Henry freaks and runs off to try to stop them.
Hook and Cora arrive at Lake Nostro and Cora opens the portal, but just as they are about to jump through Emma and Snow show up. A really fun battle ensues. Hook gives Mulan SB's heart so she'll leave, which will even up the fight a bit. The fight pits Snow against Cora and Emma versus Hook, with lots of snark and smack talk happening in the midst of the fighting. Just when Cora is about to rip Snow's heart out, Emma steps in and gets the Queen Mother's arm in her chest. Only hey, guess what, kids? Cora can't rip Emma's heart out. In fact, the magic in there is so strong it knocks Cora away. Emma and Snow rush and jump into the portal.
Henry finds Gold and Regina at the well watching the magic close the portal. He goes royally manic screaming and pleading with Regina to stop it. He swears good always wins against evil (something, BTW, Snow has been saying throughout the episode) and that “he knows” it's Emma and Snow coming through. Regina is wavering and Gold is getting increasingly annoyed. Regina finally wavers and in a moment reminiscent of Darth Vader taking on the Emperor to save Luke, she takes the spell into herself. It appears that it has completely shut the portal down. Henry is on the verge of becoming hysterical when out climb Emma and Snow.
Gold still looks angry and storms off while Regina looks like she might vomit. It's a tearful reunion between son, mother, and grandmother.
A flashback reveals the moment when Cora and Hook return to Neverland, where Cora puts a protection on the island. She tells Hook that they will rest until the curse is sent out and broken. Then they will venture to Storybrooke and pick up the pieces.
Emma goes to talk to Gold about the magic inside of her. He swears he didn't know about it and tells her she is the product of true love. Her magic is all her own.
Snow wakes Prince Charming with a kiss, the whole town sighs and then they all leave to party at Granny's leaving Regina all alone. Gold comes in and taunts Regina.
Cora tells Hook they will have to find another way to Storybrooke, but he reminds her that he has one of Jack's magic beans. He sneakily reveals that the lake's magic will rehydrate the bean and take them right to Storybrooke. There is some giggling.
The town's inhabitants walk down Main Street, happy in their warm fuzzy glow of having Snow and Emma back. But wait what's that in the background? Could it be....nah, it couldn't be...wait, yes it's a BEANSTALK. Trouble is on its way; good-bye warm fuzzy.
So what did you think? Do you think it tied up enough loose ends? What are you looking forward to next year? The show goes on hiatus for a month, so there's plenty of time for speculation!
When she’s not herding cats or creating art, she works as a part-time bookseller. You can find her on twitter as @psynde.