"Going Home" is the 55th episode of Once Upon a Time.
Pan plots the eternal suffering of Storybrooke.
"You never cease to amaze me, Peter," says Felix whilst approaching Storybrooke's landmark well alongside a scroll-carrying Peter Pan, whose consciousness remains in the body of Henry Mills. The Lost Boy further commends his master on being able to outwit the Evil Queen in less than a day and Pan explains that Regina loves Henry, which makes her weak. Now standing beside the well, Pan states that this is where the new Dark Curse shall be cast and he asks his loyal follower if he has all the ingredients needed. Felix hands over a drawstring sack, which Peter opens, and he asks his master if all the residents of Storybrooke will be dead once the deed is done. "Worse," says Pan, "They'll be slaves to this new land we're making. With no idea who they once were. Death is final, Felix. Their suffering... will be eternal." As he explains this, he begins throwing ingredients from the sack down into the well's mystical waters.
The graveyard crew discuss the possibility of a new curse.
Over at the Mills family mausoleum, Mary Margaret remains stunned that another curse could be underway, and Emma asks Mr. Gold, who's standing in front of everybody, if it will be just like the last one. Gold explains that the first curse was enacted to service the Queen's wishes, whereas this one shall be done per Pan's desire; "I would count on something hellish." Regina informs the others that the curse was built to be unstoppable, ergo, there's nothing that can be done, but Rumple mentions that it is possible to stop it. Regina is surprised by this news, wondering what the Dark One means, and he says that the person who originally cast the curse - Regina - would be able to use the scroll to prevent the new one.
"What she did," Pan says over at the well, holding a small bottle that contains a magical substance in his hand, "Is child's play compared to what I've got in mind." He drops the bottle into the well, and Felix, smiling, comments that he knew his master would win, repeating his mantra of "Peter Pan never fails". Pan smiles also before dropping the final ingredient from the sack into the well.
Back at the mausoleum, Regina wonders what it is she has to do, and Gold tells her that she has to destroy the scroll as this shall end both Pan's curse and hers, however, he warns her of a price that will need paying - a steep one. The Queen asks what the Dark One suggests they do, and Rumple says that, instead of going to Pan, they can bring him to them with the aid of a spell: one that shall return Pan and Henry to their own bodies.
Felix is killed to service Pan's wishes.
Meanwhile, Felix looks down into the well and is disappointed that nothing's happening; he asks Pan if they're missing something, and the leader of the Lost Boys answers positively. Felix wonders what this missing ingredient is, and Pan explains that he needs to add the heart of the thing he loves most. The loyal Lost Boy asks if they need Rumplestiltskin's heart, as he is Pan's son, but Peter answers negatively this time, admitting that he never did love Rumple. "Well then who's heart do we need? Who do you love?" Felix continues to ponder, and his master tells him that love can mean many things; it doesn't just come from romance or family, but from loyalty and friendship as well. "Only one person has always believed in Pan," he states, and Felix, knowing what this means, becomes afraid. Pan tells him not to be, saying that he should be flattered, but Felix screams many defiant "no"s as his master plunges his hand into his chest and rips out his glowing, beating heart. Pan then crushes the heart into dust, killing his sidekick, and sprinkles this dust into the well along with the rest of the curse's ingredients. Felix remains dead on the forest floor.
A plan is hatched... and overheard.
"If I'm back in my own body that means... I'll have the scroll. I can bring it to you guys," Henry, who remains in Pan's body, realizes over at the mausoleum. Gold tells the boy that he's exactly right, but Regina points out that even the Dark One isn't powerful enough to cast such a spell. Gold owns up to this, but informs the Queen that, given the proper tools, he could be. Tinker Bell then suggests he use the Black Fairy's wand - one of the first fairy's that ever existed; trained in dark magic and exiled by the Blue Fairy - which is currently in the possession of the deceased Mother Superior. Gold figures this, and David wonders what they're waiting for, saying that they need to "hit the convent". Tink asks the prince if she can come too, as she still has to pay her respects to Blue as it is, and Rumple says that it's settled, telling the rest of those in attendance to follow him back to his pawn shop. As the group begins dispersing, with Hook and Neal leaving with Tink and David, the latter of which kisses his wife goodbye, we see that the dastardly shadow is floating above the mausoleum, having eavesdropped on everything our heroes have said. It flies away, knowing where to go to stop them.
At the well, Peter Pan adds the final sprinkling of dust from Felix's heart to his Dark Curse and watches with glee as green smoke begins to rise from the landmark, threatening the entirety of Storybrooke.
ONCE UPON A TIME
Snow finds little comfort in what the Blue Fairy has to say.
We are shown a panoramic view of Prince Charming's castle, and inside what is supposed to be Emma's future nursery, a heavily pregnant Snow White looks sadly at the not-yet-complete magical wardrobe she may have to use to transport herself and her baby away from her home in the Enchanted Forest. She then approaches the Blue Fairy, who's hovering within the nursery, and we see that her husband Prince Charming is in the room with her. Snow asks the fairy what is to happen should the plan fail, as they all know a magic wardrobe is a long-shot, and Blue tells the princess that they shall all be transported to the Queen's new land; they will lose their memories and become slaves to her darkest desires. Therefore, they have to have faith that Snow's child will find a way to save them, but Snow points out that if they don't know who they are and they can't tell their daughter that she's the savior, then she won't have any way of knowing what to do. Blue explains that, someday, when the time is right, their story shall reveal itself to her, and she tells the uneasy princess that she has to trust her. Snow wonders what the fairy means by their "story", and Blue admits to not yet knowing, but says she does know that it will happen. Snow wonders further how Blue can be so sure, and she says that she has the one thing that Snow needs now more than anything: hope. "Good luck, Snow. Have faith," she tells her before flying out the window, and Snow points out that that's easy to say when you have magic wings and a wand.
Charming manages to calm down his wife.
Charming, hearing this, tells his wife that all they can do is choose to believe her. Snow doesn't know how to respond and simply approaches her daughter's cradle, which has her unicorn-themed mobile hanging above it; "This was supposed to be hers," she says, adding that they had such plans. Charming comes up behind his wife and reminds her that Blue had hope they can prevail, but Snow remains set on the idea that this curse has destroyed every dream her family ever had. The prince points out that they don't know what the future holds for them, but Snow angrily asks him how he can know that it holds anything good. He explains that the unknown isn't always bad; life is full of twists and turns that you never see coming, and this curse is just another turn. Taking a deep breath, Snow says that all she ever wanted was for them to raise their child together, as that was to be their happy ending... but now it's gone. "The future we imagined is gone, but that doesn't mean that we can't find another one. An unexpected one," the prince continues, gently taking hold of his wife's hands. He smiles at her, and after a long pause, Snow tells him that she chooses hope, and turns back to Emma's mobile. "I can believe," she states, steadying a spinning unicorn with the palm of her hand.
Mary Margaret has thoughts about the life that could have been.
In the present day, Mary Margaret does the same thing with the same mobile within Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer. She tells Emma, who approaches, that it hung above her crib, before correcting herself in saying that it was supposed to hang over her crib. Emma tells her mother that she likes the unicorns, which makes Mary Margaret smile, and the former princess says that giving her daughter up when the curse hit was the hardest thing she ever had to do. "I know," Emma assures her, and Mary Margaret goes on to admit that every time she looks at the blonde she wonders what would have happened if she chose differently. This leads Emma to admit that she does the same thing with Henry, but Snow reminds her daughter that she was giving her son his "best chance". Emma says this to be true, but comments that things would be very different if she had kept him: they would have had a normal life together, back in Boston or someplace else; "But I guess all that was just not meant to be." As she says this, Henry is walked into the room and sat down by Belle and Regina, and Emma approaches her son to ask him if he's doing okay. He says that he is, and adds that he's ready to be himself again, at which Mr. Gold, who's standing behind the counter, assures his grandson that it shouldn't be much longer now before that happens. He flips through a spell book as he says this, and once he's put it down, he tells those within his shop that, once they have the wand, all shall be as ensured.
The shadow attacks.
Over at the local convent, Mother Superior's lifeless body rests peacefully within her coffin as three of her fellow fairies/nuns stand beside and mourn her in silence. It's not long before David, Hook, Neal and Tinker Bell walk in and approach them, with the latter apologizing for the interruption, adding that they need their help. "With what?" asks a nun, and Neal tells her that the Black Fairy's wand is there and that they need it. The nun says that they could never hand over such a weapon, and Tinker Bell admits to knowing it's a terrible, terrible thing, but warns her old friends that what's coming is much worse. "Where is it?" she demands, but suddenly, a banging is heard from outside the church; something is flying circles around the building and trying to get inside. As a strong wind whips over them, David wonders what the hell that was, and Hook tells the prince that it's Pan's shadow. The shadow presses itself up against a stain glass window, trying to push through, and the frightened nuns ask the others what it wants. Hook realizes that it must also want the Black Fairy's wand, and David tells all the nuns to run away, which they do, exiting the room. The shadow then finds a way inside via an open window and the four heroes left inside the church run to find cover in the form of a pew. The deadly shadow flies overhead, swooping towards the screen and causing it to fade to black.
A long time ago...
Hook and Smee plan to vacate Neverland.
We see the Jolly Roger floating on the seas surrounding the main island of Neverland, whilst within its jungle, Captain Hook tells his right-hand man, Mr. Smee, to pick up the pace, commenting that it'd do their journey and his physique some good. Smee apologizes and stops when he hears rustling in the bushes, turning to the source of the noise. There's seemingly nothing there, but Smee says that this place gives him the creeps nonetheless, and when he continues following his captain, we see a pair of sinister eyes lurking in the vegetation. Hook waits up for Smee, who suggests heading back to the ship, but the captain refuses to do so until he's found a way off this cursed island, adding that they've dawdled there for too long and, now that he knows there's a dagger that can end the Dark One, they must return to their land. "My purpose is renewed," Hook tells his dazed sidekick, before carrying on with the journey, a handheld lantern leading his way. Smee asks why his captain's purpose can't be back at the ship, where it's safe, but before Hook can answer, his protégé is knocked unconscious by a club.
Hook gets acquainted with a fairy.
"Smee..." Hook utters as he approaches the unconscious tradesman, but he's unable to get any closer due to the knife suddenly being pressed against his throat. "Aren't you a little old to be a Lost Boy?" asks the unseen female bearing the blade, but Hook assures her that he's not part of Pan's brigade and is anything but a boy. The shot moves to reveal Tinker Bell is holding the knife, and she positions herself behind the pirate so that she may talk directly into his ear, asking who he is and why he's there. He informs her that he's the captain of the Jolly Roger and is in the jungle looking for some magic that might help him make his way back home to his land. Turning his head to be able to look at her, Hook wonders if she has any magic, but Tink tells him that she's fresh out. He then fully maneuvers out of the position he's in to face Tink, whose knife remains aimed at his neck as he backs her into the bushes, and he tells her that he doesn't believe her, commenting that, if he didn't know any better, he'd say she's a fairy. She counter-states that, if she didn't know any better, she'd say he's a pirate, and he confirms this, asking the fairy if she's able to help him. She's surprised by the request and runs her knife up his chin, wondering if he's not worried about her slitting his throat, but, putting his lantern on a rock ledge, he points out that that's not the "fairy way"; he says that she should be helping him find his happy ending or something equally as precious.
Tinker Bell decides to drink her troubles away.
Tink explains that she was a fairy, a long time ago, but then her wings were taken away, and as for his "happy ending", he's on his own. Having put away her knife during this little conversation, Hook goes to grab something from his coat, and Tink quickly draws her weapon again. Taking out a flask of rum and popping off the lid, the pirate assures the former fairy that it's not a weapon (at least not in the "traditional sense") and offers her a drink. Tink puts away her blade and takes the flask, asking what's so important back home before taking a swig. Hook, who takes the flask for himself, explains that the Dark One murdered the woman he loved... and he intends to make him suffer for it. The captain takes a swig of his own, and Tinker Bell points out that killing Rumplestiltskin is Hook's happy ending, even if by doing so he could end his own existence. "I'd risk my life for two things," he makes clear, "Love and revenge. I lost the first... and if I die for my vengeance, then that's enough satisfaction for me."
Hook's bravery goes a tad awry.
Back in the present day, the shadow is terrorizing the convent whilst Hook, Tink, David and Neal are hiding behind pews, the latter being armed with his magic coconut. David wonders if all that needs to be done is the candle being lit again, the same way it was trapped in Neverland, and Neal confirms this, suggesting that this time they get rid of it for good. Hook offers to draw it down by acting as live-bait, and Tink asks the pirate if he's sure he wants to do this; he tells her that, if it's the only way to prevent them all from being obliterated by Pan's curse, it's a risk he's willing to take. "I thought you'd only risk your life for love or revenge," she reminds him, be he informs her, "And one other important thing: me." With that, he steps out from the pews and calls out for the shadow, ducking and avoiding it when it swoops down to grab him. He asks the dark being if that's the best it's got, leading the shadow to fly into the captain and knock him clean off his feet, sending him sliding across the floor. David extends his arm and aids his hurt pirate buddy into getting back behind the pews, and the shadow continues to fly amok.
I've got the power!
Tink asks if Bae's able to trap it, but David tells her that it's too high and that they have to get closer, and Neal points out that he can't fly up there... turning to Tink. She reminds him that, if he hadn't noticed, she doesn't have her wings, but he reminds her in turn that she has a vial of pixie dust. She tells him it doesn't work, but Charming assures her that if she could make it work once then she can do it again. With little motivation, Tinker Bell comes out of hiding and slowly approaches the wild shadow, taking the vial of pixie dust from around her neck and removing the cork. It immediately begins glowing green with magic and the fairy closes her eyes as it flows through her. Neal quickly hands her both halves the coconut, and, closing her eyes again, Tink is able to light the candle with her regained magic. Happy, she herself glows green and flies up towards the shadow, lit candle in tow, which sucks it into the coconut. She traps it with the lid and everyone watches in amazement as she slowly lowers herself down to the floor, triumphant. Her feet stop glowing when they touch down on the ground, and Tink throws the coconut into a bowl of ceremonious fire lit beside the pew.
Guess who's back...
A large pillar of black smoke is created as the shadow finally dies, and Hook, David and Neal come out of hiding also, with the former approaching Tink and commending her with, "Look who's still a fairy." "Look who's still a pirate," she replies, before noticing that he's clutching his side and asking if he's alright. He points out that he lost a hand once and this is nothing in comparison, and Tink tells him that, for the record, the reason he risked his life back there wasn't for love or revenge: it was for Emma. A small period of awkward silence ensues, which is broken when a familiar voice says, "Well done, Green." Everyone turns, shocked, to see Mother Superior up and out of her coffin, alive and well. She explains that, when Tink killed the shadow, hers was returned, and she was revived, thanking the Green Fairy and commending her on finally being able to believe in herself. Blue tells her "welcome back" and Tink appears shocked at the prospect of being a fairy again after having broken so many rules, but Mother Superior admits to being overly strict and tells her old pupil that she deserves her wings and has already earned them many times over. "Thank you," Tink says, choking up, and Blue proceeds to the matter of the Black Fairy's wand, making it magically appear in her hand and giving it to Neal, telling them to go and "save us all". The three men then exit with the wand, leaving the two fairies to catch up.
Pan is made safe by Greg and Tamara's cuff.
David, Hook and Neal enter Mr. Gold's pawn shop and tell the others that the Blue Fairy's back and gave them the Black Fairy's wand. Emma turns to Gold and asks if there's anything else they need, and he begins digging in his cabinet for "one more item". He takes out a leather cuff and Mary Margaret wonders what it is. Rumple explains that it's the only useful thing he was able to pilfer from Greg and Tamara before they left for Neverland and that the cuff itself renders anyone with magic utterly powerless. Regina, having experienced this (see "The Evil Queen"), tells Hook that she hasn't yet forgotten about all that business, as Gold gently places the cuff on Henry's wrist so that when Pan awakes, his powers will be blocked. Henry wonders what's to happen now and Gold explains that, once he enacts the spell, the boy shall fall into a deep sleep and wake up in his own body. "And you hang on to that scroll. And you come find us as fast as you can, okay?" Regina tells him, and Henry nods whilst Neal hands the Black Fairy's wand over to his father. Henry tells his mothers that when he handed his heart over to Pan, he thought he was being a hero, and apologizes, but David assures his grandson that he's not the one who has to be sorry: Pan does.
The spell is cast.
"It's time," states Rumple, and Henry lays down on the couch he's sitting on, allowing Gold to wave the wand over him and keeping his eye on it at the Dark One's instruction. The young man's eyes soon close and Gold touches the tip of the wand to his forehead, causing a flash of bright light; Henry in Pan's body begins to spasm out of control as the spell takes effect, and Emma, worried like everyone else, asks what's happening. Gold explains that Henry's spirit is leaving Pan's body and everyone watches in horror until the fit ends. Regina, looking down at the unconscious Pan, appears glad that it worked, and Emma says that they should go and find their son. As everyone begins filing out of the store, Belle sees that Rumple hasn't moved and approaches her true love, asking if he's coming with them. He tells her that he thinks not as he and his father have some "unfinished family business", and Belle, understanding, leaves the shop followed by a nervous Neal. Rumple continues to stare down at his unconscious father, anticipating his revival.
The bell is heard ringing in Storybrooke's local elementary school and a younger Henry, who's out in the yard, puts away his unfinished class assignment on his family tree, placing the folder beneath his open lunchbox which he proceeds to eat from. Miss Blanchard notices the lonely young student and approaches him, wondering if there's a problem since he didn't turn in his homework again. He remains silent and a sympathetic Mary Margaret sits beside him, assuring him that things really will change if he just believes it. The young man simply shuts his lunchbox, completely despondent, leading his teacher to further assure him that life is unpredictable. Henry questions this statement, pointing out that it seems everything's pretty much the same around town, except him. Mary Margaret pauses, trying to figure the kid out, and he continues in saying that his birth mom didn't love him and Regina says she does, but she doesn't. He exclaims that he doesn't belong there, but Mary Margaret tells him otherwise, firmly telling him that he is loved. Another pause passes over them and the elementary teacher gets a sudden idea, saying that she'd like to show Henry something.
Henry is given the book.
As she begins to root around in her large purse, she informs the boy that earlier that morning she was cleaning out her bedroom closet, as she's done every week thousands of time, but this time, she found something she'd never noticed before. With that, she pulls out a large book that the audience should recognize from the present day: Henry's book of fairytales, with the title Once Upon a Time. She puts it on the table and explains that it was "just there", like... magic. Henry tells her that that's not possible and she agrees, but points out that it still happened; this book somehow arrived and Mary Margaret doesn't remember if it was given to her or if she forgot about it, but there it was. The young man carefully opens it up and begins flicking through it as his teacher asks him what he thinks she found when she looked inside. Without waiting for an answer, she tells him "hope", and Henry comments that the stories look like fairytales to him. "And what exactly do you think fairytales are?" Mary Margaret points out, telling him that they are a reminder that their lives will get better if they just hold on to hope.
Mary Margaret is recognized as her true self.
She says that, where his happy ending may not be what he expects, that's what makes it so special, and the enlightened Henry asks Mary Margaret if he can borrow her book. "You can have it," she tells him, much to his delight, and she goes on to say that believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a powerful thing... and she thinks he could use it. As she gathers her purse and gets to her feet, she tells Henry that she'll see him in class and begins walking away. Meanwhile, the young man continues to flip through the book and comes across a picture of Snow White and Prince Charming on their wedding day (see "Pilot"). Thinking the drawing of Snow White bears a striking resemblance to his teacher, Henry calls out for Miss Blanchard, who turns to face him. When she does so, he sees her as a spitting image of the princess in the book, but when he can't think of anything to say, he simply tells her "thank you". She happily assures him that he's very welcome, before making her way inside, and Henry turns the page to see a picture of Snow White joyously staring down at her baby, whose baby blanket reads the word Emma. Henry utters this name aloud, plunging him into his new mission.
Yet another family reunion.
In present-day Storybrooke, Hook, Belle, Neal, Regina, Emma, David and Mary Margaret are seen making their way through Main Street along with Granny, who is using her wolf capabilities in order to follow Henry's scent and track him down. The old woman tells them that he's nearby, and Emma wonders if that means he's in the clock tower, which they're all running towards. It's not long before Henry steps out the front door of Storybrooke Library, curse scroll in tow, and runs towards his mothers, hugging them both and telling them that Gold's spell worked. Taking note of their long hug, he reminds Emma and Regina that he just saw the pair of them, but the latter point out that they didn't see him. He then hands Emma the scroll, and the blonde hands it to Regina, telling the town's Mayor and previous land's Queen that it's up to her now. As she stares down at the scroll in her gloves hand, it emanates a purple glow which causes her to collapse to the ground unconscious, much to everyone's worry. The group crowds around her and Emma calls out her name... but no response comes.
World's worst dad...
Over at Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer, Peter Pan wakes up on the couch Henry was previously lain down on. Seeing that his eyes have opened, Rumple greets his father by saying, "Hello, papa," which causes Pan to smirk and express surprise that his son didn't kill him in his sleep. He sits up, beginning to say something, but he stops mid-sentence when he notices the anti-magic cuff on his wrist. He comments that, with his magic gone, it's so easy for Rumple to strut around and pose now, but Gold says that he merely wanted to talk to him. "I wanted you to see me," the Dark One continues, "And think about what you've done." Pan asks if Gold wants him to look at his son, here at the end, and really see him and think about what could have been, admitting that that's what he, Pan, would like to do: "I remember looking at you, the littlest babe, helpless and all mind. Those big, big eyes just full of tears... pulling at me. Pulling away my name, my money, my time; pulling away any hope of making my life into something better for myself. This pink, naked, squirming little lava that wanted to eat my dreams alive and never stop! And what are you now? A couple hundred? Can't I be free of you?"
...many years running.
Gold assures his father that he will be - in death. With this, he grabs a sword from the counter and aims it at Pan, who vows to teach his son one, last lesson: never make a cage you can't get out of. Peter then simply removes the leather cuff from his arm and reminds Rumple that he, Pan, is the one who made it, therefore, it doesn't work on him. He then uses his magic to transfer it onto Rumple's wrist, making his son totally magic-less. "Down boy," says Pan as he stands up, again using his magic to make Gold go flying across the room, crashing into a set of shelves and crumpling to the floor. He taunts his son, asking him how well he can do without magic, but when Rumple attempts to crawl for the sword he was earlier holding, he is kicked in the face by his father, who towers over him. "I've come too far for this. For them," the Dark One comments, but Pan assures him that it's too late to save his son or his true love, as soon, that fine green smoke will be filling their lungs and fogging their brains. But unlike the rest of Storybrooke, Pan's not just going to take Neal and Belle's memories; because of their special meaning to Gold, he's going to take their lives, and there's nothing Rumple can do to stop it, because without magic, he goes right back to where he started: a village coward. Pan then exits the shop as his son tries in vain to remove the cuff from his wrist.
A remembrance is held in honor of Baelfire.
In the fairytale land that was, Rumplestiltskin is seen to be lighting a candle within the library of his castle. "Too many years to count, Bae. But I've counted every one," he utters as the wick catches alight, and as he blows out the splint he used to light it, footsteps are heard approaching from behind. He turns to see his maid, Belle, entering the library, and she apologizes, telling her master that she didn't know he was in there. He grumpily orders her to leave, but she insists on putting down the basket of flowers hanging off her arm before she does so. She approaches the desk, on top of which is the candle, and sets down the basket, but Rumple again orders her to leave, his anger increasing. Realizing it's a lost cause, the Dark One simply shakes his head, licks his finger and uses it, and his thumb, to snuff out the flame. Belle only notices the candle once it's being put away, and then sees Baelfire's shawl lying on the desk. She tells Rumple how sorry she is, realizing that he was trying to hold a remembrance, and she asks how old Bae would be now. Annoyed, Rumple tells her that his son isn't dead, but lost, and she has a hard time understanding what this means. He gently strokes the shawl and explains that today is Bae's birthday, expressing his wish for the two of them to be together celebrating; "We had a chance to be happy together... but I was afraid." Belle assures him that it's not too late, and Rumple says that he hopes she's right. After a pause, he begins making his way over to his spinning wheel and tells Belle, "No. My ending shall not be a happy one."
Mr. Gold continues to struggle on the floor of his pawn shop, trying in vain to remove the anti-magic leather cuff from his wrist. He keeps on pulling at it, but it's no use; it is apparently indestructible. Rumple then notices the sword lying on the floor, just a few feet away from him, and he makes a grab for it. He stands up, blade in hand, and holds the cuffed arm out in front of him. He contemplates severing his wrist.
Pan freezes his victims.
Outside, in the middle of Main Street, Emma and Henry are seen shaking the still unconscious Regina, trying to get her to wake up; everyone remains crowded around the Queen, and it's not long before her eyes shoot open, the curse scroll still in her hand. She utters Emma's name before being aided to her feet and the blonde asks her what happened, wondering is she's okay. Regina says that she's fine, but there's something more, and Mary Margaret asks what's wrong and what happened when her stepmother touched the scroll. "I saw what needed to be done," Regina tells them, and Henry wonders if his adoptive mother is going to be okay; she assures the young man that the important thing is that he will be, but before anything can be explained, the scroll vanishes from the Mayor's hand. "No, he won't," says Peter Pan, who's just exited Mr. Gold's shop. Everyone is shocked to see him, and Hook begins to warn everyone that the demon child is in possession of the curse. However, before the pirate can finish his sentence, he, along with everyone else, becomes ensnared by Pan's magic, frozen in place and unable to move. He mockingly holds up the scroll, commending himself on retrieving it.
Back inside the shop, Gold lays his cuffed hand down on the counter and pulls back his sleeve to reveal his bare arm. He then lifts the sword with the other hand, with tears in his eyes as he prepares to swing it down and cut his hand off, thus getting rid of the cuff.
Rumple's loved ones watch as he confronts his father.
Outside again, Pan mocks his immobilized victims, referring to them as a "captive audience" and commenting that he could play with them as though they were a pack of dogs. He then approaches Neal and Belle – Rumple's son and true love; the two people he loves most – saying that he thinks he'll start with them and tauntingly telling them that they both look so adorable, meaning he can barely decide which one to kill first. He then retracts this statement, settling that Baelfire will be the first to die, but before anything can be done, a hand is placed on Pan's shoulder which pulls him backwards. It belongs to Mr. Gold, with two hands and no sword, who has also exited his shop and orders his father to stay away from them. Pan comments that the "worm has teeth" and wonders if this is the part where Rumple protects his loved ones, and Gold assures the demon child that he's not going to let him lay a finger on either one of them. Pan says he'd like to see that, and his son further assures him that he will, adding that he has a job to finish and it has to be done, whatever it takes; no loopholes. Belle's face appears deeply saddened by this, and one can see tears beginning to well up in his eyes, but due to her states she's unable to say or do anything.
Mr. Gold is reunited with his shadow, as well as his dagger.
Rumple continues, telling his father that, for what needs to be done, there's a price, and it's one that he's finally willing to pay. He turns to Neal and tells him, "I used the curse to find you, Bae. To tell you I made a mistake. To make sure you had a chance at happiness. And that happiness is possible... just not with me. I accept that." Neal too appears saddened, and after Pan comments on his son's "pretty, pretty words", Rumple tells his own son that he loves him. He then turns to the already sad and worried Belle, and says, "And I love you, Belle. You made me stronger." Pan makes fun of Gold's sense of "strength", reminding his son that he possesses no magic, but Rumple says that he doesn't need it, telling the demon child that, while he may have lost his shadow, there is one thing he is forgetting: Rumple has also lost his shadow. The Dark One explains that he sent it away with something to hide, and with that, he raises his arm into the air and flicks out his hand; this summons his shadow, which flies down towards its master, carrying his magical dagger. As Rumple's shadow goes back into him, he finds himself with the dagger in his own hand, and forcefully hugs his confused father. Gold tells him that the only way for him to die is if they both die, and now... he's ready. Rumple then plunges his dagger into Pan's back and causes the boy to scream out in pain. Belle and Neal watch in horror as the scenes goes on, with Pan turning into a pillar of black smoke and returning to his former adult form of Malcolm.
The ultimate sacrifice is made.
The dagger remains in his back, with Rumple continuing to grip the handle, and the Dark One utters into his father's ear, "Hello, papa." Malcolm begs his son to stop, ordering him to remove the dagger and assuring him that the two of them can start over and have a happy ending together. "Ah, but I'm a villain," says Gold, "And villains don't get happy endings." He then forcefully plunges the dagger deeper into his father's back, and this causes a bright glow to begin emanating from the wound. The glow becomes brighter and brighter, with Malcolm groaning in more and more pain as he dies, and Rumplestiltskin runs his fingers through his father's hair before kissing him on the cheek. Soon, the light from the stab wound consumes them both, dazzling everyone in sight, and it's not long before the two of them disappear into thin air, both deceased. The curse scroll drops to the ground, and Pan's immobilization spell breaks, allowing those in attendance to move. Everyone is shocked and sad, and Belle immediately bursts into uncontrollable tears. She drops to the ground, unable to contain her crying, as Neal steps forward and stares down at the scroll his dead father and dead grandfather left in their wake.
No one comforts Belle.
The curse scroll remains on the ground as the shot moves up to reveal those who where standing witness to Rumple's death. Belle, who's still kneeling on the ground, continues to cry profusely, exclaiming her deceased love's name and exhibiting extreme depression over his passing. Baelfire blinks a tear from his eye, and a saddened Regina silently approaches the scroll and picks it up. Mary Margaret asks the Queen if she's okay, and Regina assures her that she's fine whilst Emma walks over to Neal and expresses her condolences over the loss of his father. The tears streaming from Belle's eyes flow at an even greater rate, but Neal assures the blonde that Rumple did what he had to do: he saved them. He requests that Regina doesn't let this sacrifice be in vain, but she remains utterly stoic. Neal calls her name again, and she appears agitated, leading Hook to remind her that they're there for a reason, and that reason is to stop Pan. Regina reminds the pirate that the demon child is dead, but he reminds her in turn that his curse still remains, and he asks her if she can stop it or if they should all start preparing their souls, because his is going to take some time. The Queen stares blankly into space, holding back great emotion.
The Dark Curse, as created by Peter Pan, flows rapidly in the form of green smoke from Storybrooke's landmark well. It begins devouring the forest, ready to overrun the whole town.
The curse is coming from all sides.
"It's here! It's here!" Leroy announces as he runs through Main Street, having caught sight of the almighty curse spreading their way. Regina, Emma and the others appear shocked and out of their depth as Grumpy continually approaches, informing them that it's coming from all sides and that there's no escape. Henry hugs his father, frightened, whilst David tries to assure everybody that it's not too late to stop it, turning to the Queen. She angrily answers positively, looking down at the scroll in her hands, and Emma wonders what their "price" is, remembering that Gold said there would be one. Regina tells the blonde that it's not their price, but solely hers, but Emma doesn't know what she's talking about. "It's what I felt when I first held it," Regina tries to explain, "I have to say goodbye to the thing I love most." Henry then walks into Emma's arms, and the blonde wonders if he is what the Queen is referring to; she replies that she can never see him again and has no choice in the matter as she has to undo what she started. Mary Margaret realizes that her stepmother is now referring to the curse that brought them to Storybrooke, but Regina corrects her in saying that it created Storybrooke; "It doesn't belong here... and neither to any of us."
Regina explains the price that must be paid.
David utters that to break the curse is to destroy the town, and Regina explains that it will blink out of existence as though it were never there in the first place, meaning everyone will go back to where they're from... prevented from ever returning. Emma deduces that this means they'll go back to the Enchanted Forest, but Regina tells her that Henry will be excluded and shall stay in the land they're in now because that's where he was born. "Alone?!" Emma asks, worried for her son, but the Queen assures her otherwise, telling the blonde that she has to take him because she's the savior; she was created to break the curse and, once again, can escape it. Emma says that she doesn't want to, opting for her and Henry to go back along with everyone else, but Regina makes clear that that isn't an option because giving Henry up is the price she has to pay, and if she doesn't pay it, then none of what she plans to do will work and they'll all be doomed for the fate Pan had in store for them. The curse is heard fast approaching and a scared Mary Margaret tells her daughter that she has to go.
The situation relies heavily on a reluctant Emma.
Emma reminds her parents that she just found them, but her mother says that now it's time for her to leave them again for her best chance, and Henry's. The blonde refutes the entire situation, thinking that she's still meant to bring back the happy endings because she's the savior - as is what her son's always told her - but Mary Margaret tells her that happy endings aren't always what they think they will be and instructs Emma to look around her, pointing out that she's touched the lives of everyone in town. "But... we're family," she says, and Mary Margaret agrees, assuring her that they always will be and that she gave them that. David adds that Henry and Emma can be a family and fulfill the latter's wish: be like everyone else and be happy. Snow says that it's time for her daughter to believe in herself... and time for her to find hope. Regina then steps in; she tells Emma that she's known her for some time, and all she's ever wanted was for her to get the hell out of her life so she can be with her son. But really, what she wants is for Henry to be happy; "We have no choice. You have to go." Showing the saddened faces of Hook, Snow and all those around, the shot moves in on Emma's tearful face as she continues to cling to her son. "Okay," she desolately replies.
Eleven years ago
Emma refutes motherhood.
Emma, who's lying in a hospital bed with her foot handcuffed to the rails, is told by her assisting doctor to give a "big push" as she endures giving birth. She screams as she follows his instruction, but this intense pain causes the lights around her to flicker, glow, and then lose power once the baby is out. She regains her breath, clearly exhausted, which causes the lights to turn back on; the doctor holds up her newborn son after wrapping him up in a blanket and carries him over to Emma, commenting that he's beautiful and telling her the sex. The blonde turns her head, her intent being to never gaze upon the child, which leads the doctor to wonder what's wrong. Emma simply shakes her head, and the nearby nurse whispers into her superior's ear, supposedly telling him that the new mother plans to give her baby up for adoption. She is assured that it's not too late to change her mind, but she replies, "No... I can't be a mother." (see "The Heart of the Truest Believer")
The Charmings bid farewell.
At the town line, in present day Storybrooke, Emma's famed yellow beetle car is seen parked right at the edge as the blonde says her goodbyes; the important townspeople all appear to have congregated in this area as the Dark Curse slowly approaches from down the road. David and Mary Margaret hug their long-lost daughter, and Henry joins in, all of them crying due to this unwanted farewell. The young man then exits the hug to approach his adoptive mother Regina and he tells her that this isn't fair, saying that it's all his fault. Confused, Regina asks her son what he means, and he explains that if he had never gone to get Emma and simply lived under the curse, then none of this would have ever happened. He says that he thought he was alone and that Regina didn't love him, but he admits to being wrong. She tells him that she was wrong too and assures him that it's her fault, not his, because she cast the curse out of vengeance so that she could be happy, but, in the words of Mr. Gold, "villains don't get happy endings".
Henry shares a hug with his adoptive mother.
"You're not a villain," he promises, "You're my mom." And with that, the two of them share a heartfelt embrace just as Emma's hug with her parents ends. The blonde next approaches Neal and apologizes, but he tells her not to be sorry as she has to protect their son. She points out that he has to return to the Enchanted Forest, feeling bad about this, and they share a hug also. He assures her that "this isn't over" and that he'll see both her and Henry again, and as Henry says goodbye to his father, Emma walks towards her car where she is approached by Hook. He tells her that there won't be a day that goes by he won't think of her, and she tearfully replies with, "Good," before the pirate is seen rejoining the others and Henry is seen in the arms of his Charming grandparents. Emma continues walking towards her car, but is approached again, this time by Regina. The Queen admits to there being something she hasn't told her, which further saddens the blonde, and she goes on to explain that when the curse washes over them, it will send them all back and nothing will be left behind... "Including your memories. It's just what the curse does. Storybrooke will no longer exist; it won't ever have existed. So these past years... will be gone from both your memories, and we'll just go back to being stories again."
Regina offers to rewrite the lives of Emma and Henry.
Emma, troubled by this news, wonders what will happen to her and Henry, and Regina shrugs, saying that she doesn't know. The blonde then comments that that doesn't sound like much of a happy ending, and the Queen tells her that it's not - but she can give them one. Emma takes this to mean Regina can preserve their memories, but the latter answers negatively, explaining that she can do for Emma and Henry what she did for everyone else in this town: give them new ones. The savior recalls the townspeople being cursed and miserable, but Regina reveals that they didn't have to be; she then takes Emma's hand and tells her, "My gift to you is good memories. A good life for you" - she turns around and Henry links hands with his adoptive mother also - "and Henry. You'll have never given him up. You'll have always been together." Emma is touched that Regina would do such a thing and is told that when Pan's curse is stopped and she crosses the town line, her new life will begin. She worries about the prospect of it not being real, but Regina assures her that, where her past won't be, her future will; she then tells the two of them to go as there isn't much time and the curse will be arriving any minute, which leads Henry and Regina to exchange one last embrace.
The curse is made safe by its original caster.
She kisses his forehead and he goes to be beside Emma, who is then approached by Mary Margaret. Snow holds her daughter's crying face and kisses her forehead also, tenderly smiling before returning to her husband. The curse is seen to be rapidly approaching and gaining on the leftover townspeople, and so Emma and Henry hop into the yellow bug, buckle up, and prepare to drive away. Those in attendance watch sadly as their savior leaves them, but before the car moves, the curse scroll is unrolled by Regina, who tears it in two. It glows purple as she scrunches it up in her hands, in tears, and she then turns around to the fast-moving green cloud. She raises her arms, which now glow purple with the scroll's magic, and the purple lights form beams which latch themselves onto the curse, turning the green smoke purple and making it safe right before it envelops everybody.
The savior and her son manage to avoid the curse.
With that, Emma hits the gas and begins driving, and from above, we see the yellow bug narrowly escape the curse as it drives away from Storybrooke. The town and its inhabitants become invisible when Henry looks back, and Regina is seen watching from within the smoke as her son leaves her side forever. Emma's eyes, as seen in the rear-view mirror, then happily flick towards Henry as she attempts to comfort him.
Meanwhile, within the town, we see the purple curse cloud envelop Main Street and the clock tower that resides there. It is then seen seeping into Henry's bedroom window where it washes over his book of fairytales.
Emma and Henry drive further away from Storybrooke. They smile at one another.
A false memory.
We again see Emma in the maternity ward, refusing to look at her newborn baby. The doctor tells her that it's not too late to change her mind, and something suddenly dawns on the exhausted new mother. "Wait..." she utters, turning to her son and requesting to hold him. The doctor happily hands him over and Emma takes her child in her arms, smiling down at his face as she ceases crying. They continue to silently bond, and within that false moment, she is in love.
Within the yellow bug, mother and son continue to smile, Regina's memory spell having taken effect. We then see the lonely street that once led to Storybrooke as the orange line of spray-paint that previously marked the town's entrance fades away, the entirety of it no longer existing.
ONE YEAR LATER
Living the normal life.
We are treated to a view of New York City, its skyline filled with all the usual hustle and bustle one would associate with the Big Apple. From out an apartment window, birds are seen flying overhead as the shot moves down to reveal a digital alarm clock on the window sill, which begins beeping when the time becomes 8:15. A hand is seen stretching out from its owner's bed, hitting a button on the touch-screen clock that means the person wants to wake up. As "Charley's Girl" by Lou Reed begins playing, the person to whom the apartment belongs is seen cracking eggs into a bowl, whisking them, pouring the mixture into a frying pan and turning on the stove, an omelette underway. The person is revealed to be Emma Swan, who stirs her upcoming omelette whilst looking over at her son, Henry, who's joyously watering the plants by the window. She smiles and returns to her cooking, soon serving breakfast to her and Henry, the latter of which is already sitting at the table. She grabs the hot cocoa she's prepared for him and slides it over, but the young man points out that his mother's forgotten something. Realizing what it is she's forgotten, she grabs some cinnamon from the kitchen and hands it to his son, who begins sprinkling it on his beverage. She then takes a seat opposite him, where she has an omelette and cup of cocoa of her own, and the happy family clink mugs before they start their first meal of the day, this all being seemingly routine.
Hook returns, with bad news in tow...
Suddenly, there is a loud knocking at the door, much to the blonde's confusion. Henry wonders if someone's coming over, but she answers negatively, finding this occurrence strange. The person behind the door then knocks again, this time more fiercely, and Emma becomes worried. She tells her son to wait where he is as she goes to answer it, turning off the music on her way, and she opens the door to reveal Captain Hook. "Swan..." he utters fondly, but she simply stares at him, not recognizing who he is. He takes a step towards her but she outstretches her hand to halt the pirate, wondering if she knows him. He tells her that he needs her help as something's happened - something terrible - and her family is in trouble. "My family's right here, who are you?" she asks blatantly, and Hook assures her that he's an old friend, knowing that she doesn't remember him but thinking he can make her... before grabbing her and kissing her. The terrified Emma knees him in the groin and pushes him out of her home, asking him what the hell he's doing. The pirate struggles, in great pain, and admits to that being a long-shot, saying he had to try for he hoped she felt as he did. She tells him that all he's going to feel is a pair of handcuffs when she calls the cops, and Hook tries his best to stop her before she slams the door, saying that she has to listen to him and has to remember... but she slams it right in his face nonetheless. "Who was that?" Henry wonders as his shaken mother walks back towards the breakfast table. "No idea. Someone must have left the door open downstairs. Come on, let's eat," she replies, shrugging this entire encounter off her mind.
"Father of the Bride"
Regina is comforted by her father.
Regina cries in flashback as she stares down at her engagement ring following the death of Daniel (see "The Stable Boy"). She utters her true love's name, and her father tells her that it's time to go, for the seamstress is ready to fit her dress for the wedding to King Leopold; they leave for his castle in the morning. Regina remains despondent and so her father sits beside her, trying to encourage her into her new home. She points out that it will be more like a new prison, but he believes that it doesn't have to be. "I lost everything, daddy..." she stares at her ring and begins to slip it onto her finger, "The love of my life... my future... my happiness is buried here with Daniel." Henry promises that she still has a future, pointing out that she's going to be Queen, which is every girl's dream. She points out in turn that it's her mother's dream, not hers; her dream was to love; "True love... and now it's gone!" Henry tries reassuring her that the King is a good man - kind, fair - so she can learn to love him and his daughter Snow White. She refutes this, however, vowing to never love again. And no one will ever love her.
- The title card of this episode features Emma's car in the forest, which glows green under the influence of Pan's Dark Curse.
- According to the press release for this episode, Tony Perez (Prince Henry) was supposed to appear in it. However, his appearance - a flashback scene focusing on the character of Queen Regina - was excluded from the final cut of the episode.
- The title of this episode was revealed by executive producer/co-creator Adam Horowitz, via his Twitter account, on November 13, 2013.
The outing saw a slip in the ratings, as it places a 1.9/5 among 18-49s with only 6.44 million tuning in, a drop of two tenths from the previous outing and matching the same numbers it had for "Save Henry". The show placed fourth in its timeslot.
Including DVR playback, which added 2.50 million viewers, the episode was watched by a total of 8.94 million viewers with an 18-49 rating of 3.1.
The episode was met with universal acclaim from critics, with many praising the episode's ending and Rumplestiltskin's fate.
- Amy Ratcliffe of IGN gave the episode a 9.1 out of 10, saying "Once's winter finale was entertaining and enjoyable with just a few weak points. Losing Rumple hurt, and so did Storybrooke going away, but I don’t think either will last for long. Regardless of what sticks, the events have led to a place that changes the landscape and is sure to set up an intriguing rest of the season." The ending of the episode was met positively by Ratcliffe, saying "As far as the jump forward in time, it was a smart decision. You know Emma and Henry have settled into their new life and become accustomed to a certain sense of normal (their breakfast scene had more than a hint of the routine when Desmond first appeared in Lost), but the leap is also necessary for at least one practical reason: [Jared S.] Gilmore is growing up and now he has a reason to look older."
- Jim Halterman of TV Fanatic gave the episode a 4.7 out of 5, saying "The one year time jump surprised me. I expected the show to end with that little yellow bug driving away from the Storybrooke that was. Instead we see Emma and Henry living a domestic and happy life together, until a strange knock at the door revealed a pirate with a hook. I loved that Hook kissed her. He was hoping that true love's kiss would unlock her memories. Unfortunately it doesn't work when it's a one way street."
- Lily Sparks of TV.com gave the episode a highly positive review, saying "The characters of OUAT have been feeling huge crazy things all season, but because this was the mid-season finale, the show actually tapped the brakes and gave the proceedings some gravity and the actors time to process it and to transfer the feeling to us. And we felt all of it! I get infuriated sometimes at how good this show can be, because it could be this good in every episode if it wanted to. It doesn’t take flashy CGI to make this show intriguing, all it takes is slowing a scene down every once in a while and letting two people process in some real way the batshit hoop they’re jumping through."
- Gwen Ihnat of The A.V Club gave the episode a B-, noting that "Wow, a lot to process this hour: When Once Upon A Time gives you a midseason finale, they frickin’ mean it. With the Pan plot coming to a close, a new storyline needed to open up. And in Storybrooke’s case, that’s wide open."
- Hilary Busis of Entertainment Weekly summed it up with these comments: "Remember how season 2's winter finale brought an entire half-season's storyline to a satisfying end by conclusively returning Snow and Emma to Storybrooke? Well, Sunday's episode went about a hundred times farther, effectively tying a pretty white bow on the entire show's storyline -- at least, until that handy "One Year Later" tag (Captain Swan lives!) and a preview promising the imminent introduction of the Wicked Witch of the West. (Just what Once needed: Another villain who's more compelling than any of the show's heroes.)" and then added "Of course, that line of thinking is totally moot because "Going Home" wasn't the end of Once Upon a Time -- it was merely the end of the show's latest chapter, an oft-frustrating string of episodes that wasted too much time running in place and then decided to launch an all-out sprint to the finish. Luckily, that sprint largely worked -- shoehorned-in Tinker Bell redemption plot and all."
- Kylie Peters of Den of Geek looked to the season's future, saying "Things are going to change a lot in the second half of the season. Storybrooke is gone, so it looks like most of the action will take place in the Enchanted Forest. Hopefully Emma’s denial phase doesn’t last long; we already saw that all through season 1."
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.
- ↑ Adam Horowitz tweet.
- ↑ Sunday Final Ratings: 60 'Minutes' Adjusted Down, No Adjustment for 'Revenge or 'Survivor', by Amanda Kondolojy, TV By The Numbers (December 17, 2013)
- ↑ Live+7 DVR Ratings: 'The Big Bang Theory' Tops Adults 18-49 & Viewership Gains, 'Grimm' Leads Percentage Increase in Week 12, by Amanda Kondolojy, TV By The Numbers (December 30, 2013)
- ↑ ONCE UPON A TIME: "GOING HOME" REVIEW, by Amy Ratcliffe, IGN (December 16, 2013)
- ↑ Once Upon a Time Review: The Unexpected life, by Jim Halterman, TV Fanatic (December 15, 2013)
- ↑ Once Upon a Time "Going Home" Review: Over the Borderline, by Lily Sparks, TV.com (December 16, 2013)
- ↑ ONCE UPON A TIME: "GOING HOME", by Gwen Ihnat, The A.V Club (December 15, 2013)
- ↑ "'Once Upon a Time' recap: The End Is the Beginning Is the End", by Hilary Busis, Entertainment Weekly (December 15, 2013)
- ↑ Once Upon A Time season 3 episode 11 review: Gong Home, by Kylie Peters, Den of Geek (December 16, 2013)