With the Author having proven himself to be a formidable wild card in his alliance with Gold, the tables remain turned on heroes and villains alike, and the prospect of any happy outcome appears worlds away. Henry continues to learn that he has big shoes to fill as he steps up to save his family before the story's final page is turned. It's a race to the finish, and everything culminates with a shocking twist that will leave the residents of Storybrooke reeling.
Previously on Once Upon a Time...
Henry discovers Isaac's new book, "Heroes and Villains" being sold at a coffee place. ("Operation Mongoose, Part 1") After having found Isaac, Henry demands to know where his family is, only to find himself pulled into the original book which the Author describes as a kind of alternate reality. ("Operation Mongoose, Part 1") Isaac gets trapped too and ties Henry up, leaving him to die. ("Operation Mongoose, Part 1") Henry is rescued by the Ogre Slayer - Rumplestiltskin, a knight, at his service. ("Operation Mongoose, Part 1") Isaac approaches Snow White, the Evil Queen, and explains that the boy - Henry - that he told her about will be trying to help Regina. ("Operation Mongoose, Part 1") Henry is seen discovering Regina the bandit's hideout, and she then finds him and aims an arrow at him. She demands to know who he is and what he wants. ("Operation Mongoose, Part 1") Isaac wants Snow to kill both Henry and Regina, a feat she's happy to carry out. ("Operation Mongoose, Part 1") Regina seems to be falling for Robin, who asks her if she's ever met someone who she'd change her entire world for, only to find out that he's engaged to be married to Zelena. ("Operation Mongoose, Part 1") Henry realizes that, because everything's flipped, this must be Zelena's happy ending, knowing that they must stop this wedding. Regina later tells the kid that there were rumors once of a woman who called herself the savior who Snow White locked away in an impenetrable prison. Indeed, we are then shown Emma locked away in a tower, screaming as she wakes up in this new reality. ("Operation Mongoose, Part 1")
Happy wife, happy life.
Atop his noble white steed, Rumplestiltskin rides through the Enchanted Forest kitted out in his golden armor. A brave and valiant knight if there ever were one, he rides past some children who are using wooden swords to pretend to do battle. They stop when they see the Ogre Slayer galloping by, and soon all of the children in the area come running, wanting to sneak a peek at this land's most renowned hero.
When we next see Rumple, he is helmet-less as he steps into his small, wooden cottage - the same hovel he used to live in with his son (see "Desperate Souls", et al.) - and calling out for his wife Belle. Immediately, she approaches and greets him with a kiss, but becomes distracted by the sound of a baby gurgling. Neal is beginning to wake up in his cot, and Belle comments that it appears as though someone else wishes to celebrate her husband's return. This pleases Rumple, who closes the door and moves around the cot along with Belle, asking as he does so how the newest member of their family is doing. "With any luck, he'll grow up to be just like dear old dad," says Isaac, who's revealed to be sitting in the back room with a cup of water. Rumple is surprised, for Belle didn't tell him they had a visitor, and the former Author stands up to introduce himself by name, explaining that he was traveling through their village when he was invited inside by the Ogre Slayer's wife to slate his thirst. He sips his cup of water, but tells Belle that it tastes a little murky, and so she offers to go get some that's fresh from the well.
Isaac tries convincing Rumple of the truth.
She leaves, and Rumple walks toward Isaac, knowing almost instantly that he didn't come there for the water. Isaac comments that he's perceptive in all worlds, putting the cup down as Rumple approaches his baby, telling the Light One that he came there to warn him that his happiness is in danger. "From what?" Rumple questions, to which Isaac replies, "A boy. He's on a mission to help the bandit, Regina. If he succeeds, everything you have will be destroyed. Not to mention what I have..." "Ha!" the knight interjects, calling Isaac out on his utter nonsense because he doesn't understand how some stranger's actions can affect his life. "Because your happiness, your entire life, it's not real!" Isaac explains, "I know because I'm the one who created it! With magic! And, it is all about to crumble. Regina's true love is about to marry another; she's going to try and stop the wedding. You cannot let her succeed. You have to kill her." Rumple draws his sword suddenly, aiming it at Isaac as he comes to the conclusion that he's been sent there to try to corrupt him, but Isaac assures that the Light One has already been corrupted, and before all of this he was a villain - maybe the worst one of all - which is why he had him use magic to rewrite his story.
The Light One has a decision to make.
He insists that he can prove it to him, knowing things such as the secrets he's kept from Belle: the ones about his first son, Baelfire. Shocked, Rumple lowers his sword and calmly demands to know where Isaac heard that name, but all the former Author does is recall that, in this story, he was killed in the Ogre Wars despite his father's heroic efforts. But, in reality, he died because of his father's cowardice (see "Quiet Minds"). Rumple refuses to believe this, knowing to have protected his son and done the best he could - he was honorable. Isaac says otherwise, however, and makes clear that Baelfire died because of Rumple. "Liar!" the Ogre Slayer declares, again raising his sword, "Get out of here, now." Isaac agrees to go, being swayed towards the door, but adds that deep down Rumple knows he's right. He's not really a hero, and if he doesn't kill Regina and keep her from her happy ending then everyone, including Belle, will know too. Before Isaac finally leaves, he tells the defensive Rumple that he knows he'll make the right choice... he always does. The Light One is deeply perturbed by the former Author's words.
ONCE UPON A TIME
Meet Hook, the pansy version.
"Ahoy!" Henry shouts over at the docks as he makes his way aboard the Jolly Roger, hoping to find someone there who's willing to help him. Suddenly, Killian Jones steps out and tells the boy to be careful, for no one steps aboard the Jolly Roger's decks without an invitation from its captain first. Walking up the stairs to be on the same platform as Hook, Henry wonders if the "captain" plans to make him walk the plank, to which Hook says that it depends on why Henry is there. The boy states that he needs a ship to take him to the Bottomless Sea, and Hook knows these to be treacherous waters, presuming that there must be something of great value there to take such a risk. "Someone," Henry makes clear, handing the pirate the map he was earlier able to snag from the burning book as he explains that this person's name is Emma, and she was imprisoned there by the Queen. Hook says that he's sorry for the young man, but he couldn't help him even if he wanted to. He tries handing back the singed map, much to Henry's confusion; he points out that Hook is captain, so he should be able to take his ship wherever he wants... but this is met by laughs from behind, as Black Beard comes aboard. He questions if Killian has been calling himself a captain, for he thought he had told him to be done scrubbing the decks by the time he returned, and Hook immediately finds himself exclaiming, "I'm sorry, Captain Black Beard!"
Clearly he fears this man, and Henry just grows even more confused. Black Beard confirms for him that he is indeed the captain, unless his deck boy wants to keep playing pretend. "What do you say, Hook? Beat me, and the Jolly Roger is yours! (see "The Jolly Roger") Or are you still a one-handed coward?" Black Beard draws his sword as he says this last part, ready to duel, and Hook finds himself running to find his cleaning equipment so that he may scrub the decks. Henry demands to know what the brave pirate he's come to know is doing, demanding that he stand up to his captain because he can beat him. Hook insists that Henry clearly isn't that familiar with him, apologizing because he can't help him in any way. He begins scrubbing and an entertained Black Beard puts away his sword, leading Henry to draw one for himself as he comments that it looks like he's going to have to help Hook instead. He slashes through a nearby rope and it causes a metal ship-part to come flying at Black Beard's head, smacking him right in the face and causing him to pass out. "What the bloody hell are you doing?!" Hook enquires, to which Henry says, "Getting you your ship back! Come on, let's dump Black Beard and go!" Hook asks if he thinks it's that easy, because he can't sail the Jolly Roger alone, but Henry assures that he can help. The pansy pirate wonders how the boy knows how to sail a ship, and Henry reveals that he had a great teacher... "You." (see "It's Not Easy Being Green") Hook is surprised to hear this, watching as the young man approaches the wheel.
The ol' Wookiee prisoner gag.
The Jolly Roger is next seen sailing its way toward the Bottomless Sea, and, as Hook is busy steering the ship, Henry tells him to look, for through his telescope he's spotted the tall and supposedly impenetrable tower in which the savior is locked away. A Black Knight can be seen standing guard, before heading inside, and Hook wonders how they're supposed to get past them. Henry points out that there's only one, so they can take him out, but Hook points out in turn that he's a deckhand, not a soldier. "Then maybe we don't need to fight..." Henry hypothesizes, getting a new idea.
With the ship having been docked outside the island prison, Hook is seen leading Henry through the entrance to the tower - the latter has his hands tied together by rope and a sack covering his head, so as to look like a prisoner himself. They approach the Black Knight, who goes to draw their sword, but Hook assures that he's there on official business for the Queen to deliver this dangerous prisoner from the kingdom of "Kashyyyk". The Black Knight removes the sack from over the boy's head, taking a good look at him, but Henry suddenly grabs Hook's sword and uses its handle to ram the guard in the face, thus knocking them out.
Emma remembers her son.
As he re-sheathes the blade, Hook commends the lad on a job well done, and Henry assures that the "Wookiee prisoner gag" always work. "The what?" asks Hook, but Henry tells him to never mind, grabbing the keys from the Knight's belt and ordering his nerdy pirate comrade to lock the guard in the stow - he'll be back with his mom as soon as he can. Hook appears uneasy with the task he's been set, but Henry doesn't care; instead, he just proceeds through the prison tower with the keys in tow, eventually making it to the room in which Emma is locked away. She remains on the floor, chained there by her wrists, and she's still very much a tattered mess. Slowly, however, she looks up at the boy who's come to her rescue, and he says, "Hi, my name is..." "Henry..." she finishes for him. "Mom?" he questions, and Emma manages to get to her feet as she tearfully exclaims, "Henry!" He realizes that she remembers him, and she comments joyously that she knew he'd find her. They share a hug (as best they can due to the shackles), and, for the moment, all's well.
Captain Swan reemerges.
Henry leans out from embracing his imprisoned mother, telling her as he uses the keys he stole to unlock her shackles that he doesn't understand; how does she remember but no one else does? Emma has arrived at the conclusion that it was part of Gold's plan - her punishment in this world is that she knows the truth but is powerless to do anything about it, which means she's no longer the savior because she's got no magic. Henry says that that's alright because he thinks he knows what to do; "Now come on."
With Emma free, she and Henry are next seen making their way back through the tower, where the former literally runs into Hook. She is happy to see him, especially in such close quarters, and Henry introduces her to the pirate as his mother. Killian certainly takes a fancy to her but her no idea how to express it, instead just holding out his one good hand as a form of greeting. She shakes it, awkwardly, before deciding that they need to get going, for they have a wedding to stop. Hook senses this awkwardness and appears confused, before simply following Emma and Henry out of the tower.
Oh, hi Lily.
Soon, all three of them are aboard the Jolly Roger and sailing away from the not-so-impenetrable island prison, and Emma is talking to Killian as he steers the ship. He comments that he's pleased she regained her freedom, as is she, but unfortunately it's not going to last unless he puts some distance between that tower and them before the guard wakes up.
Back inside the tower, we see the Black Knight that Henry knocked out stir before sitting up, now awake.
"Why?" Hook asks, back aboard the ship, to which Emma replies, "Because that was not any ordinary Black Knight..." She adds:
Her name is Lily; she's dangerous.
Oh, bye Lily.
Hook still doesn't understand what the problem with this Lily is... and then a massive dragon bursts through the tower walls. Emma warns Henry to get below deck and he obliges while Lily gravitates toward the prison roof. She roars, and Emma tells a frightened Hook that she needs him to load the cannon with a chain-shot, which becomes more crucial when the dragon takes flight and begins circling the air near them. Emma runs for the chain-attached cannonball and Hook helps her manage it, loading it into the actual cannon and readying to light it. He holds out, however, because Emma orders that he hold his fire until she tells him, for they only have one shot. The dragon circles the tower some more, and Emma beckons her by name, waving her arms in desperation to have her dealt with quickly. Lily sees her and Emma continues to aggravate the dragon, which is now most assuredly soaring her way. "Now!" Emma orders, and the cannon is lit. The cannonball hits the dragon square in the chest just as she's breathing a jet of flames their way. Instead, the chains wrap around her neck and she is knocked into the sea, causing a massive splash as she does so. Emma smiles, victorious, and Hook comments on how close that was, retrieving a flask from his pocket in order to celebrate. Emma takes it from him once he's had a swig but is disgusted by the contents, wondering what's inside. He tells her it's goat's milk, which leads her to wonder what happened to his rum. "I'm allergic, never touched the stuff," he assures, to which she says, "Of course you are..." He then wants to ask her a question, knowing that she trusted him with his life just now but wondering why. She tentatively reveals that it's complicated, and might take a while, but he points out that his schedule's pretty clear. "Okay, let's first work on your fighting skills. And then we gotta help Regina stop that wedding."
The Queen is not happy.
We are treated to an establishing shot of the Dark Palace, before the camera zooms in and we're taken into the council room of the Evil Queen Snow White. Five of the dark dwarfs, as well as a wicked version of Granny, are sat around a black roundtable, reminiscent of the one usually seen in Prince Charming's castle (see "Pilot", et al.). Snow White herself soon enters with her huntsman not far in tow. She delicately places her gloved hands onto the edge of the table as she asks in a contradictory gentle manner, "Where is Regina's heart?" Her council declines to provide an answer, to her chagrin, and so she instead asks about the child, for surely these imbeciles aren't all stupid enough to report back there empty-handed. Charming weighs in, assuring his Queen that they are exactly that stupid, and Grumpy defends himself by saying that they would have caught the bandit were it not for Blue and her "gang of uglies" laying a trap of dark fairy dust, paralyzing their axes. An angered Granny points out how he's always blaming the fairies, suggesting that the dwarf instead takes some responsibility once in a while. Grumpy threatens her in return, but Snow White orders silence, clearly tired out by her less than stellar lackeys. Maintaining a calm persona, she tells her council that they aren't there to fight - they're a team.
The dwarfs are provided with their "motivation".
Grumpy asks if she's not mad, and Snow, acting almost shocked, says that of course she isn't, beginning to move around the table. "It's not your fault," she assures, and the dwarfs and Granny are all visibly discomforted, "It's mine. You see, I'm the leader, and I have to lead by example. We have to go to extreme lengths to succeed, and to do that... I have to show you how." She comes to a stopping point, and begins moving back round the table from the opposite direction, adding, "I have to motivate you." She stops when behind Doc and, following her declaration, she plunges her hand into his back, to his great pain, and rips out his heart. His face smacks down on the table, and the Evil Queen proceeds to crush it to dust, killing him instantaneously. "Well, now you're down to six," she tells the frightened dwarfs, leaning in close to a wide-eyed Grumpy and asking, "Do you want to make it five?" He shakes his head, and so she suggests they get to work at finding Regina and the boy and killing them. As she vacates the room with her huntsman, Doc's dead body slides off the table and onto the floor, leaving nothing but a pair of broken glasses in his wake.
At the docks back on land, Hook is adjusting his sword within its scabbard, having just been told by Emma - who's changed her outfit - that in this other reality he's an expert with such a weapon. She refers to him as "a regular Jack Sparrow", but he has no way of knowing if that's good or not. She suggests that he let her show him how to use it, moving in from behind and placing her hands on either one of his arms, making him draw his blade. Using her hand to wield his sword-baring wrist, she relays to him the saying that once you become an expert, your subconscious takes over. Back in her world, it's referred to as muscle memory. They are very close to one another, closer still once she helps him put the sword away, and he requests that she tell him more about this reality she wants to return to. Them, for example, since he senses that they may be close. "Very," she assures, to his joy, and he comments that he's starting to get jealous of the other him (see "Snow Drifts").
Oh, re Lily.
Emma now wishes to see what food Henry's managed to scrounge because she's starving, but, as she starts to walk away, a human Lily can be seen turning a corner as she exclaims, "There they are! As I told you, my Queen." Emma and Hook are shocked, especially when Snow White and Charming follow the loyal Black Knight, and she adds that the one-handed pirate was helping them, as well as a boy. Some dwarfs converge on the scene also, along with a few other members of the Black Guard, and Grumpy steps forth to order Emma and Hook to tell them where the child is hiding. He approaches Hook with his sword, knocking the pirate's out of his hand, but Emma tells the dwarf to back off, pushing him to the ground with her hands and commenting that they may have to change his name to Stumpy. "I know you..." the Evil Queen realizes, "You're... Emma. The mad hag who was locked in the tower; I almost didn't recognize you without your chains." Emma says in turn that she's hard to recognize also, as is her huntsman, for this isn't who they are.
Snow fakes it.
Snow asks to know who Emma thinks they're supposed to be, and the magic-less savior reveals that they're her parents. She's the product of their true love. They taught her how to be a hero; they taught her how to believe in hope... and she does. And now she needs them to believe in it too. As she says this, Killian picks up his sword behind her, and Snow appears taken aback by her daughter's words. "You're right..." she whispers, "Emma... hope is a very powerful thing..." but then she shatters the illusion by adding, "Which is why I'm going to have to snuff it out of you and that awful son of yours. Kill them." Before her knights can act, however, Charming tells them to wait - he's spotted Henry, returning to the dock with some armfuls of bread in tow. The huntsman points this out to his Queen, who is pleased, and she comments that she is going to enjoy watching him die in front of his mother. Hook tells Emma to save Henry and return things to how they were meant to be, and if they succeed then what happens to him here won't matter. Emma is surprised, again being told to save her boy, and she runs away while Killian readies his weapon.
A battle ensues.
He kicks a wooden pillar, causing an outdoor shelf full of sacks to tumble down on the knights - including Lily - and making it so that the face off is just between he and Charming. He holds his sword awkwardly, and Charming asks the pirate if Emma is worth his life. He says that he's willing to find out, and, after a pause, the huntsman knocks Hook's sword with his, half knocking him off his balance. Hook looks uneasy, knowing he can't take on such a skilled fighter, and then the battle truly begins. The blades clash continuously, with Hook only acting defensively. He manages to dodge several of Charming's attacks, only just, but his reflexes soon become practically expert. When Charming prepares to slice his head in two, Killian blocks his sword with both his own blade and his hook, managing to push against his force enough to disarm him completely. He then elbows the huntsman in the face, causing him to fall to the ground, and aims his weapon at him from above. "What do you know..." the pirate utters, "I'm a natural!" He smiles, and Emma and Henry watch worriedly.
And Hook is far from the victor...
The Queen steps onto the scene, but she surrenders her arms when Hook points his sword at her instead. She begins stepping sideways, making it so that Hook has to turn on his heels to maintain an eye on her, and he begins to ask, "What about you, your majesty? Should I make quick work of -" Suddenly, Charming uses one of his daggers to stab Hook from behind, inflicting a fatal injury. Emma screams, and as Hook dies in the arms of the huntsman, his killer leans in close and whispers in his ear that he never did like pirates. Killian's sword is dropped, for good, and Emma wants to step in an help somehow... but she can't. Henry beckons his mother, while all she can do as watch as her boyfriend's stab wound is made deeper, and his corpse drops to the ground. Henry insists on fleeing the scene, but the death of Hook shakes Emma to her very core. She calls out for him but it's no use. Meanwhile, Snow White flares up a fireball in her hand. Emma and Henry run away round the corner, making it so that the Queen's attack misses them by a hair's breadth. Hook continues to lie dead on the floor.
Sometimes the best teacup is chipped.
Belle is seen sipping some tea from one of her teacups as she watches over her baby, putting the cup down when he whines and gently rocking his cradle. Rumplestiltskin then enters the cottage - dressed in the kind of leather usually seen on Prince Charming in the fairytale land that was - but his silence alerts his wife that something's wrong. Pulling up a chair, he tells her that he's just learned of a threat to their realm; if left unchecked, it'll destroy all that they've built together - all their happiness. This confuses Belle, who points out that her husband is the Light One, so whatever this force is he'll overcome it. He assures her that it's more complicated than that, because eliminating this threat means he has to make a difficult choice, and he could make the wrong one. At this, Belle gently places her hand on his and promises that he won't, as he never does. "You're a hero, Rumple," she adds, to which he replies, "Yeah but what if I'm not?" In response, Belle decides to grab one of her teacups and saucers, handing it to the Ogre Slayer and telling him that things never seem quite as bleak after a cup of tea. Rumple takes the tea, but almost immediately drops it onto the floor, spilling the contents everywhere. He picks it up, apologizing, but Belle says that it's alright, pointing out that it's just chipped (see "Skin Deep"). "We can fix it," she guarantees, but Rumple tells her, "I'm not so sure it's as simple as that..."
Henry tries one last time to persuade Regina...
Regina is packing her possessions from within her den when she's startled by the sudden exclamation of "Mom!" Henry enters, saying that he knew she'd still be there, but Regina appears annoyed by his presence, assuring him that she hasn't the time for stories because she needs to hit the road before the Evil Queen has her head. However, her unbeknownst adoptive son reveals that he brought someone else this time, so maybe she'll listen to her. At this, Emma walks inside, surprised at first to see Regina in such a getup. "Let me guess, you're his other mother," the bandit deduces - Emma introduces herself - before adding, "I have to give you credit, breaking her out of that tower couldn't have been easy." Emma then requests that her son give them a minute, and he obliges, exiting the underground hideout through its tree trunk entrance. Regina tells Emma once he's gone that her son could use some reining in, for he's been running around the forest and getting into trouble with his nonsense. Emma ensures her that everything Henry said about this reality is true, but Regina doubts it, not knowing why she's wasting her time with a madwoman who calls herself "the savior".
...and Emma's talk of love does the trick.
Regina slings her packed sack of possessions over her shoulder and tries to leave, but Emma stands in her way and promises that she can help; "Your happiness is still a possibility; your first step is going after the man you love." Regina says that her happy ending isn't a man (see "Mother"), and Emma says that of course it isn't... but love is a part of all happiness, and the bandit has to be open to that. If she goes to Robin then all she has to do is tell him how she feels, to which Regina points out that Emma is skipping over the part where she'd have to crash his wedding. "What does your heart tell you?" asks the blonde, and Regina assures her that she knows what her heart says - but what if his doesn't say the same thing? "Isn't that a risk you're willing to take?" Emma persuades, "I just watched the man I love die..." Regina offers her condolences, and Emma continues in saying, "The worst part is that I never told him I loved him. Not once. I was too scared. Too scared that... somehow saying it would make it real, and change everything. But now I'll never have a chance to take that next step with him because he's gone. My only chance with him is if you don't make the same mistake I did." Regina is visibly moved by Emma's words.
The wedding proceeds.
We are shown a panoramic view of a small, woodland church before being taken inside to learn that this is the venue of Robin and Zelena's wedding. The groom is standing at the end of the altar with his Merry Men - including Will Scarlet, his best man - all nearby. The Bishop before them is the same one who conducted Snow White and Prince Charming's wedding in the original version of events (see "Pilot"), and Isaac is in the crowd, there to make sure that everything runs smoothly and according to his design. The church doors then open thanks to a group of maidens who all then swoon out of the way to reveal the bride, and the guests rise to attention as Zelena enters, dressed all in white with a bouquet of yellow flowers clutched by both hands. An organ starts to play, and he is clearly very happy. Robin smiles upon seeing her.
Outside, Regina, Emma and Henry can be seen running towards it; the latter points out that they haven't heard the wedding bells yet, which means there's still time to but a halt to everything. As he says this, he looks at the one large wedding bell which sits unmoved nearby.
Rumple arrives to ruin everything.
Zelena continues to approach the altar as music plays to mark the occasion, and Isaac appears happy that nothing's deviated from the book yet. Soon, the bride makes it to her groom.
Regina has misgivings, unsure of what she's even going to say to Robin, but Emma says that in this case actions speak louder than words (see "Heart of Darkness"). Henry adds that once she and Robin share true love's kiss, everything should be great again. Regina nods, convinced, and Emma smiles almost tearfully. Regina wonders what it is, and Emma recalls - although she knows the bandit can't - having promised her once that she'd help her find her happy ending (see "A Tale of Two Sisters"), and she's glad to be there to see it. "You got this, Regina," the magic-less savior assures, but then Rumplestiltskin appears out of nowhere and assures in turn that none of them are crashing this wedding - "Dearies."
Rumple unsheathes his sword in preparation for battle and Emma does the same, telling Regina and Henry to go while she handles the Dark One. As the two adversaries begin to circle round one another, the Ogre Slayer questions what Emma has just called him, assuring her that she has the wrong name. "We'll see about that," she professes, again telling Regina to go before her blade finally clashes with Rumple's. The sound of swords hitting one another is prevalent in the background as Regina approaches the church doors, hesitating a little before finally creaking one of them open. She peers on through at her fated true love (see "Quite a Common Fairy") as the bishop is in the middle of conducting the ceremony. Outside, blades continue to clash and Emma soon sweeps hers across the air in an attempt to slash Rumple, but he manages to curve himself back in enough time to avoid the attack. As this goes on, Regina keeps on watching as the bishop asks Zelena if she takes Robin to be her lawfully wedded husband.
Regina has reservations.
More sword on sword action, including a deft twirl on Emma's part, and Zelena smiles and says, "I do." This comes as a blow to Regina, whose eyes widen upon hearing it. Henry watches as the battle between his mother and the supposed Light One rages, and it appears that the two of them are matched relatively equal to one another. Their hitting and blocking culminates in their swords pressing against each other, which is more of a struggle for Emma than the knight she's opposing. Eventually, he pushes her backwards, then using his light magic to make her go flying unconscious into some nearby sacks. Henry calls out for his birth mother but she's unresponsive, and from within the church Regina becomes alarmed due to the ruckus going on outside. Henry picks up his mother's sword in the decision to take on Rumple himself. "Out of my way, boy," he says to his unbeknownst grandson, but Henry makes clear that the Light One will have to go through him if he wants to get to Emma. Regina remains caught between the two ongoing events; outside, the boy who says he's her son is in danger, while inside Robin is being asked if he in turn takes Zelena to be his lawfully wedded wife.
Swing and a miss.
The bride smiles at her groom, who smiles back... but then he appears unsure of himself. He turns his head and notices Regina standing at the door, peering in. Her expression is bittersweet, and he smiles at her. But then, "Go!" Henry is exclaiming toward Regina, telling her that she has to stop that wedding. This distraction gives Rumple the upper-hand, and he's easily able to use his sword to knock Henry's completely out of his grip. Regina sees this and appears worried, quickly turning back to the wedding as Zelena questions why Robin is looking away, waiting for her "I do". Regina smiles at him once more as they continue to stare at one another. Meanwhile, Henry assures his sword-toting grandfather that he won't hurt him, because he's supposed to be a hero in this world. After a pause, Rumple says that that's exactly why he must do this - to make sure he remains one. With that, he begins to swing his sword with the intention of beheading Henry where he stands, but, when it comes to the follow-through, Regina suddenly stands in between them both, and so the blade is drawn across her torso instead.
A hero's sacrifice.
She coughs and stumbles as it happens, ending up on the floor as she clutches her midsection. Henry is worried for his adoptive mother as the wound she's sustained appears fatal, but this rather sates Rumple, who proclaims, "It's done." The Light One then uses his magic to disappear, while Emma wakes up on her pile of sacks. She sees Regina clutching a bleeding wound with Henry crouching over her and comes running over to help. Crying, Henry asks his mother why she didn't go into the church, and she says that she couldn't let him die. The wedding bells then begin to ring, and Emma looks up in shock. Henry follows suit, and his birth mother woefully declares, "We're at the end of the book. We're not gonna be able to change anything now." Turning to the church entrance, she sees as the wedding guests being to pour out as a group, centered around the newlyweds Robin and Zelena. The former is shocked to see Regina in such a state and dashes over to her, followed closely by his bride and some Merry Men. He crouches over her alongside Henry while Zelena asks what's going on, her flowy gown getting in the way.
Zelena shows her true colors.
This causes her to selfishly complain that she's got blood on her dress, and Robin asks his wife if she can't see that someone's injured. "This is supposed to be my day!" Zelena cries, "And she's ruined it!" She looks down at her hand as it suddenly begins to turn literally green with envy (see "It's Not Easy Being Green"), covering this with her other hand before tearfully retreating back into the church. Isaac steps out from amidst the guests, watching as Regina stares up at Robin, who promises that she's going to be alright. She thinks otherwise, however, and more tears are invoked in Henry. Robin places his hand on her still-bandaged one as it becomes covered in blood from her wound, and he promises her further that she won't die alone. She smiles hearing this, but Isaac is then heard exclaiming, "Too little, too late!" This warrants a hard punch in the face from Emma, knocking the former Author to the ground and making it so that the contents of his satchel spills out: both the book, and his previously enchanted quill. The magic-less savior orders him to change things; return them to the way they were - bring back Hook, save Regina... but Isaac says he can't.
Henry becomes the new Author.
He's not the Author anymore. He can't change a thing. As he says this, Henry becomes drawn to the fountain pen lying on the floor. He stands up, leaving his adoptive mother's side, and begins to approach it. When he lifts it from the ground, it glows blue - just like it did with Isaac all those years ago (see "Operation Mongoose, Part 1"). Emma is confused as to what's happening, while Isaac just looks angry. Picking up the book as well, Henry stares at the re-enchanted quill, being told by Isaac that he's the next Author. The pen ceases its glowing and the young man says that he can feel it, then being begged by Emma to fix everything and make things the way they were. "Without ink, he's not writing anything," a smug Isaac assures, and Emma picks up her dropped sword in order to cut her hand open. She points out that her blood was supposed to work last time, but Henry reminds her that that would only work if her blood were to be mixed with darkness, and she's not the savior in this version of things anyway.
Everything is put back in place.
Isaac smiles, but then Henry says that just because he wrote out one savior... doesn't mean they didn't find another. "And in this world we don't need a dark savior - we need a light one." Regina blinks her eyes as her wound grows more drastic, and Henry tells her to hold on as he once again crouches down at her side. Isaac implores the boy to stop, but Emma pushes him back, telling her son to do it. The new Author dips his quill into his mother's blood and uses this to fill in a blank entry of "Heroes and Villains". He writes: "Thanks to the hero Regina's sacrifice, Isaac's villainous work was undone". Finally, Regina's eyes close, but Henry dots his sentence with a period, and this mark of finality allows for the magic to be worked. The words light up, along with the rest of the book, and soon the whole of this world is affected. A bright flash of white light marks the changing of things for the better, and all becomes well again.
Welcome (back) to Storybrooke.
When the bright flash is over, Regina is still lying on the ground. Only, there's no wound, and she's in Storybrooke. Henry is standing over her, watching as her eyes open up, and she utters her adoptive son's name upon seeing him. He cries tears of joy while she checks her stomach for any blood; there is none. She's completely okay, and she joyously gets to her feet in order to hug the one she loves most. She congratulates him on having done it as, in the street behind her, Emma and the Sorcerer's Apprentice also get to their feet. Henry assures his mother that "we did it", and then Robin Hood comes running from around the corner, relieved to see Regina and rushing to embrace her. Henry, meanwhile, hugs his other mother, who's happy to see her son but soon remembers that the state of Hook is uncertain. She begins to run to the apartment.
Emma is still unable to tell Hook how she really feels.
"Where is he?!" Emma exclaims upon bursting into her parents' loft, wanting to know if Hook survived the trip home. Mary Margaret and David, who are busy reuniting, tell their daughter that he was over by the kitchen counter, but all that remains is Henry's dropped storybook. Emma is adamant that everyone reappeared where they were before this whole mess started, and she begins to worry that the man she loves really is dead. "Yeah, sorry about the mess," says Killian from upstairs, "I really needed to find that book and I'm usually a bit tidier." Emma is both shocked and relieved, dashing upstairs in order to hug him. They fall back onto the bed, still holding hands, and Hook asks his girlfriend how many times he has to tell her he's a survivor (see "Rocky Road"). He adds that he didn't mean to cause any panic, only he woke moments before her parents and came up there looking for her boy. Emma assures him that Henry's fine and she's just glad he is too. She pauses and Killian wonders what's wrong, leading her to say that, when she watched him die, she was afraid she'd never get the chance to tell him something. "Tell me what?" he asks excitedly, and she smiles before saying, "I..." but then she chickens out and tacks on, "...want to thank you for sacrificing yourself. Henry and I couldn't have succeeded without you." "'Course, love," he responds, "It's all in a day's work for a hero." The two of them smile and touch noses intimately.
Belle: not happy.
With everything back in its rightful place, Mr. Gold is lying on the floor of his shop while Isaac is once more standing behind the counter. He sees the Dark One's car keys resting nearby and so he grabs them and makes a run for it. Rumple tries getting him to wait, clutching his tight chest as he manages to get to his feet, and demands to know where he's going. However, Isaac just says that he's sorry, adding that he can't risk that "bum ticker" of his slowing him down. As he goes to leave, Belle enters, and Isaac tells her that Rumple is all hers before exiting. Belle closes the door behind her, clearly enraged, and Rumple appears touched that she came back for him. She assures that she only came back to make sure he didn't try to hurt anyone else, but he says that she doesn't understand, claiming to have only done what he thought was best. As he's professing this, he collapses due to the pain in his heart, and Belle crouches down beside him, now worried. His eyes are closed.
Isaac is schooled by some real heroes.
When we next see Isaac he's speeding out of town in Gold's car. However, as he makes his way closer to the exit, he is cut off by the sheriffs' vehicle and forced to break. David steps out, to Isaac's chagrin, and soon hauls the former Author from out of the driver's seat. Once he's been removed, he's faced with Mary Margaret; she is clearly very unhappy. David has retrieved Isaac's satchel from the car also and begins to go through it, but the satchel's owner quickly grabs the newspaper from inside, saying that he needs to see. He turns to the segment on miscellaneous bestsellers, and David grabs his arm and begins walking him over to the police car as he rubs in his face that he's not on that list. He has no bestseller, no fans and no awards, and all Isaac can utter is, "It's all gone... My life." He's leaned up against the vehicle he's about to be driven away in the back of as Mary Margaret approaches and says that there's something she needs to know. Years ago, he set them on a path (meaning as in he altered, wrote, and made them do it with no choice) to hurt Maleficent and her daughter... why did he want to hurt everyone so badly? "The truth, Charming... it's not you," Isaac admits, "But who you represent. You remind me of a boss that I once had." David expresses surprise that one bad boss started all this, but Isaac professes to have had a lifetime of bad bosses; of people like the Charmings who fancy themselves heroes pushing around people like him. He saw it as being his turn to win and to be the hero. "But you became a villain," Mary Margaret chimes in, "Because that's what villains do. They make themselves happy at the expense of others, but it just makes them more unhappy. I know what it is to feel your heart go dark, and that... that isn't something to idolize: it's something to pity." Isaac is forced to reflect upon what he's just been told.
Best Author ever?
The book entitled "Once Upon a Time" sits beside the book entitled "Heroes and Villains" in Regina's mayoral office, and Henry is sitting in front of them with his new magical quill in tow. "It is tempting, is it not? The power of the quill..." says the Sorcerer's Apprentice as he enters the room suddenly, startling the brand new Author. Henry states that he just keeps thinking maybe he could use it one more time to bring back his dad, but the Apprentice pulls up a chair as he explains to the child that not even an Author can bring back the dead, no matter how much they might wish it. Henry points out that Hook was dead and subsequently brought back to life, to which the Apprentice says that Hook's death was never real; it was a fiction created by Isaac and now, thanks to the boy, that fiction has been erased. To prove his point, the Apprentice begins flicking through the "Heroes and Villains" book, revealing it to be entirely blank. But, Henry's father Baelfire died in the real world (see "Quiet Minds"), and that, sadly, can never be undone. "The best way to show your love for those that are gone is to tell their stories, and this book," - he tapes "Once Upon a Time", before opening it - "these stories... can never be erased, because they are more than stories. They are the truth. And the truth is what you must write. I hope that you can resist the temptation of the quill. The power to change reality is only outweighed by the cost." Staring at the pen for a while, Henry soon decides to snap it clean in half, adding that no one should have that power. The Sorcerer's Apprentice smiles, telling the boy that it would seem, this time, they have found the right person for the job.
Some last-ditch Rumbelle.
Rumple finally comes to, still on the floor of his shop, as Belle remains crouched beside him - the dagger is resting nearby. Gold manages to sit up, to his pain, in order to face her, and his worried ex demands to know what's happening. Weakly, he tells her that it's his heart. The last human fleck of red is disappearing. Belle realizes this means his ability to love will be snuffed out (see "Sympathy for the De Vil"), and between breaths he manages to say that at least in the end he was able to get one last taste of humanity, recalling how happy they were in Isaac's book; they were in love. Saddened, Belle points out that she was already in love, and everything they had in the book could have been had for real. He could have been a good man with a good marriage... but it wasn't good enough. She now wants to now why. Rumple admits that he didn't believe it, and asks who could ever love him. "I knew what I was getting, Rumple," she assures as his unsteady hand caresses her cheek, "I wasn't going to pull back."
Rumple's third or fourth death scene.
The Dark One interjects that he made her do just that, going on to say that there's a whole world out there for her, and he believes she should go with Will and explore it just like she always wanted. "I don't love Will," Belle admits bluntly, tears forming in her eyes, "And I'm not letting you die alone!" They are close to one another, both crying, and proceed to press their foreheads against together. Rumple then reaches out and grabs his dagger, advising Belle to go far away. When the man is gone, only the Dark One remains. He throws the dagger back down to the floor, and the name Rumplestiltskin remains evident upon its blade. He is still deeply pained, and deeply worried, warning Belle that the Dark One without a human attached is more dangerous than she could ever imagine. However, as he tells her this, the pain is his chest gets worse and worse, to Belle's fright. He struggles to breathe and soon passes out yet again on the shop floor. Belle calls out his name - "Rumple!" - and is able to turn him on his back. Fearing the very worst, she tries calling out his name more times in an attempt to get him to respond... but he won't.
Everything is back the way it was.
In Henry's storybook we are once again shown the iconic image of Snow White kissing Prince Charming after he's just woken her up from a sleeping curse (see "Pilot"), and the page is then turned to an illustration of their wedding. Henry and Regina are looking over it as celebrations are had in Granny's Diner, where we see that the dwarfs are once again back up to seven. Robin greets Regina with a kiss and sits opposite she and her son, not wanting to puncture the party but needing to ask if his true love checked on Zelena. The Mayor assures that her sister is still locked up and still pregnant... but that's something they'll be able to deal with. "Together," Robin adds, taking her hand with a smile. He informs her that Will is looking after Roland, so perhaps he could take her for a walk in the moonlight. She laughs, entertained by the idea, and the two of them leave Henry in order to go do this. Nearby, David and Mary Margaret, along with the baby, are standing opposite Emma and Hook, and the latter is being told by the prince that he didn't mean to kill him, although to be fair he didn't have a heart. His wife asks if he's saying it's her fault, going on to amend that what she thinks David is saying is: "We are sorry." Hook assures them that they don't need to be sorry, although he does intend to hold it over their heads for a very long time, and Emma says that she thinks they all know what happened in the world wasn't real.
Lily decides to find her father.
Although, seeing her parents as real villains made her sorry for holding a grudge against them for so long (see "Best Laid Plans" through "Mother"). Emma and Snow share a heartfelt hug as Lily watches from the bar, clearly feeling out of place. Seeing this, Emma requests that her company give her a second as she approaches her old friend, asking her if there's something wrong. Lily holds up her moon-shaped necklace and wonders if Emma remembers it. She does, recalling that she almost got Hepatitis stealing it back from Lily's boyfriend's rat-infested place (see "Lily"). Lily explains that it's a piece of the egg she was hatched from (see "Best Laid Plans"), as well as the only clue she has as to who her real father is. Emma suggests she ask her mother, but Lily says that she doesn't know either. This confuses the savior, and Lily explains that "it's a dragon thing", meaning it happened in dragon form. Emma asks if her friend would like to find him, and Lily asks in turn if she'd mind her sticking around Storybrooke and looking. "I think that'd be great," Emma condones, but the calmness of the event is soon aborted when Belle comes rushing in with bad news in tow: "Rumple, his heart, he said it's almost gone, and, uh... he said we're in danger." Everyone appears both confused and worried.
We are treated to a shot of Main Street with Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer in particular focus. Inside, meanwhile, the Sorcerer's Apprentice is setting the hatbox down beside an unconscious Rumple, and Hook - who's watching alongside Emma, her parents and Henry - recalls that the Dark One once tried to use the hat to free himself from the dagger (see "Heroes and Villains"). The Apprentice says that what they're about to do is not unlike that, because they will be pulling the darkness from him and containing it. Belle, who's crouched beside her ex-lover, asks if that means his heart will be healed, but the old wizard as unsure as of yet, saying that perhaps it will be if the strength is there. Before he rips out Rumple's black heart, he apprises that this is more dark power than the hat has ever been asked to contain, and Emma tells him to do what he needs to do. "Purest evil, blackest gloom, darkness too can find its doom," is the spell he utters to remove the organ, and there really is only a brief fleck of red humanity left inside.
The darkness is removed.
The Apprentice then waves his spare hand over the hatbox and allows it to undergo the full transition into the Sorcerer's hat. He picks it up and turns it on its side, holding the heart in one hand and the hat in the other. As he gets to his feet he says another spell, and this makes it so that the light from inside the hat begins to withdraw the blackness from within Rumple's heart. The darkness exits in swirls, rippling into the portal-like swirl of the magical container, and, as this process takes place, the name Rumplestiltskin becomes aglow on the dagger - which remains on the floor. The process nears completion, and Rumple's name vanishes utterly, leaving nothing but a pattern in its wake. Soon enough, there is no more darkness left to remove, and Rumple's heart is entirely white. The Apprentice puts the hat down and places Rumple's heart back into his chest, then looking to the empty dagger and arriving at the conclusion that there is no longer a Dark One. Worried, Belle points out that he's barely breathing, and the Apprentice tells her that Rumplestiltskin was the Dark One for centuries; his return to the man he used to be will not be easy.
Emma tries to save the Apprentice.
A spell is then cast over Rumple to preserve him, until they discern if they can help him. Belle takes major issue with the word "if", but there's no time to ponder - the hatbox begins to glow violently and Emma warns everyone to step back. Everyone does, watching confused as the box begins to rattle due to all the darkness inside of it, which writhes like living ink. Eventually it bursts forth from its prison and flies right at the Sorcerer's Apprentice, holding him still and forcing its way down his throat. With the darkness inside him his eyes turn black, but Emma quickly attacks it using her renowned light magic. It emanates from her hands and tackles the Apprentice head-on, forcing him to his knees and making it so that the darkness exits his body, continuing into the air in flying wisps of black. Emma continues to contain it with her magic, pushing against its force and making it so that it slithers through the letterbox, out into Storybrooke's open air. It flies off into the town and Emma quickly orders Mary Margaret and David to go out there and stop it, promising to be right behind them. As they leave, she implores Hook to help her make the injured Apprentice comfortable.
The search for Merlin begins.
The Apprentice is laid down on a bed in the back room of Gold's shop, and Emma, who's holding the blank dagger, asks what it was that just attacked him. The old wizard explains that, long ago, before their stories began, the Sorcerer battled the darkness. He was able to keep it from consuming the realms by tethering it to a human soul that could be controlled by a dagger. He nods toward the one in Emma's hand and she stares at it, realizing that she's being told about the origin of Dark Ones. The Apprentice nods, explaining further that the Sorcerer is the only one with the power to destroy the darkness once and for all, before it destroys everything. Emma asks where and who he is, and the Apprentice reveals, "He's far, far from here. Find him. His name... is... Merlin." Following this revelation, Emma looks to both Hook and Henry with a pragmatic understanding while the Apprentice reiterates that they must stop the darkness and find Merlin. His eyes then close.
Regina is swarmed by the darkness.
Mary Margaret and David are stood in the middle of Main Street, but the escaped darkness is nowhere in sight. Emma and Hook soon come running after them to help, the former still with the blank dagger in tow, and they ask where it is. David reveals that they do not know, and Mary Margaret adds that it just disappeared into the night. The four of them remain cautious, and then Regina and Robin approach in confusion, having been out on their moonlit stroll. Regina asks what's going on and Hook informs her that the Dark One is no longer tethered to "the crocodile", leading the Mayor to further inquire where the hell it is. The sound of slow-moving whispers is heard from nearby, at all angles, and Emma comes to realize that it hasn't gone anywhere - the darkness is surrounding them. They're all looking around, but Regina is the first to spot it. From the point of view of the darkness itself we watch as it approaches the former Evil Queen and wraps itself around her. Regina is pulled away from the others, swarmed by the inky blackness that is the Dark One in its purest form, and both Emma and Robin call out for her.
Emma decides to sacrifice herself.
The latter asks what it's doing and Emma concludes that it's snuffing out the light, to which Robin declares that he's not going to let it. He takes a run at the darkness but it pushes him back, causing him to roll away along the pavement. The savior assures him that that's not going to work on this thing; the Apprentice told her that they have to do what the Sorcerer did and tether it to a human soul to contain it. With that, she approaches the endangered Regina with the dagger in her hand, to both her parents and Regina's protest. The Mayor insists that there has to be another way, but Emma tells her that there isn't, tearing up as she exclaims that Regina's worked too hard to have her happiness destroyed. She goes to move the dagger into the swirling void, but David calls out in defiance, leading Emma to turn to her parents before she willingly sacrifices herself. "You figured out how to take the darkness out of me once!" she reminds them (see "Best Laid Plans"), "I need you to do it again... as heroes." The darkness increases in speed as it attacks Regina, and Emma is once again distracted from putting a stop to things, this time by Hook. He runs toward her, begging her to wait, and then tells her not to do what she's about to do.
The new Dark One.
All she can do as she stares brokenheartedly at the man she cares so deeply for is finally admit what she should have told him a long time ago: "I love you," she confesses, and there's a brief moment of intimacy before the pirate is pushed back, so as to get him out of the way for what comes next. Emma launches her dagger-baring hand into the darkness and an inner-storm rages. Regina is freed from its grasp as it's forced to latch itself to Emma instead, writhing its way down her outstretched arm before beginning to swarm her entirely. The savior screams, and all those around her appear stunned and devastated. From above we watch the darkness consume her, going around in circles like a whirlwind, and Regina clutches Robin as all this unfolds. The whirlwind of darkness soon fully envelops her, and through a brief gap she's able to gaze out at her loved ones before being lifted into the air. The darkness keeps on spinning with Emma inside of it - and then, in a bright flash of light, it completely disappears, leaving no trace. However, with the savior gone the dagger is able to drop to the ground. The shot moves in dramatically to reveal the name of the new Dark One etched upon it: Emma Swan.
"We Can Fix It!"
Henry frees his mother.
As Henry frees Emma from the chains that bind her, he says that he doesn't understand how she remembers when no one else does. She tells him that it must have been part of Gold's plan; her punishment in this world is that she knows the truth but she's powerless to do anything about it. One manacle drops to the floor and so Henry starts working on getting the other one off, questioning what she means when she says "powerless". She apologizes, commenting that she's no longer the savior because she's got no magic, but Henry says that that's alright, pointing out that they knocked out the guard and rescued her without it. The second manacle drops and the kid tells his mother that he knows how they can fix all of this; they just have to stop Robin Hood from marrying Zelena and give Regina her happy ending. She questions the fact that this is even going on and Henry assures that this world is kind of messed up, but they can fix it. She likes his confidence and he points out that he was able to find her, which she commends, then asking how exactly he managed to do it. "Hook," he responds, and Emma wonders what Gold did to him. Henry states that Hook isn't exactly the man Emma knew back in Storybrooke, to her worry.
- The title card of this episode features a swan, in reference to the surname of the series' main protagonist.
- This title card is only present in the version of the episode which also includes "Operation Mongoose, Part 1".
- The same title card is featured in the non-syndicated version of "There's No Place Like Home".
- The way in which the letters form to make the main logo is different than in other episodes, as is the musical accompaniment.
- When this episode is aired in syndication without "Operation Mongoose, Part 1", it has the exact same title card as the latter.
- Several callbacks are made throughout this episode and the one before to old episodes in the series through certain scenes and snippets of dialogue.
- The cottage Rumple shares with Belle resembles the one he lived in with originally with Milah and Baelfire (shown in various episodes).
- Black Beard offers to duel Hook for captaincy of the Jolly Roger, just like in "The Jolly Roger".
- Henry recalls Hook teaching him how to sail, shown most prominently in "It's Not Easy Being Green". However, it should be noted that Henry's father Neal also had a hand at teaching him how to sail in "The Miller's Daughter".
- This episode features a dark version of the roundtable commonly featured in Prince Charming's castle.
- Granny, a member of the dark council, is seen clutching an arrow shaft in contrast to her knitting needles, the latter of which she wielded the last times she was seen at a council meeting in "Pilot" and "A Curious Thing".
- Hook begins to grow jealous of the "other" him, just like he did in "Snow Drifts" when he and Emma traveled to the past.
- Rumple is dressed in the same leather outfit usually seen being sported by Prince Charming in various flashbacks.
- Rumple chips a teacup in front of Belle, just like she did in front of him in "Skin Deep".
- Regina assures that her happy ending isn't a man, which ties in with her proclamation in "Mother" that Robin isn't her happy ending, but a mere part of it.
- The bishop who conducts Robin and Zelena's wedding is the same bishop who conducted Snow and Charming's wedding in "Pilot".
- Emma tells Regina that actions speak louder than words, similar to something her mother says in "Heart of Darkness".
- Emma also refers to the time when she promised Regina she would secure her happy ending in "A Tale of Two Sisters".
- Regina peering in through the church door at her true love but being unable to walk in and do anything mimics the time when she was unable to pluck up the courage to walk into the tavern and meet him in "Quite a Common Fairy".
- Zelena turns literally green due to being envious of Regina, just like in "It's Not Easy Being Green".
- After being revealed as alive, Hook asks how many times he has to tell Emma that he's a survivor, as he did in "Rocky Road" and again in "Heroes and Villains".
- Hook refers to the kingdom of "Kashyyyk" which, in Star Wars, is the home planet of the Wookiees. Wookiees themselves are mentioned by Henry, who cites "the old Wookiee prisoner gag". This is a nod to a scene in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope where popular character Chewbacca is used as a decoy prisoner to get past some guards.
- Emma talks of muscle memory and Hepatitis, the latter of which is a disease characterized by the inflammation of the liver.
- The title of this episode was implicitly confirmed by executive producer/co-creator Adam Horowitz, via the release of the previous episode's title on his Twitter account, on March 13, 2015. It was officially confirmed on March 18, 2015.
The episode, along with "Operation Mongoose, Part 1", continued to remain flat from the previous episode with a 1.7/6 among 18-49s but saw 5.42 million viewers tuning in, a 1.2% increase. However, the numbers were down from the previous season's finale, which had a 2.3 rating.
The episode was met with excellent reviews.
- Hilary Busis of Entertainment Weekly noted that "Tonight’s two-hour finale, though, indicates that Once is stepping away from that formula. Next season won’t center on our heroes rallying together to defeat some flashy, newly introduced foe based on a classic Disney villain." She then noted "The last thing Once ever needs is more characters, and Merlin notwithstanding, tonight’s cliffhangers indicate a show that’s trying to get back to basics. Expect to spend the bulk of next season—or at least its first half—with the show’s main ensemble, rather than a new batch of screen-time-hogging allies and antagonists. (Well, unless everyone ends up taking an extended trip to Camelot.)"
- Amy Ratcliffe of IGN said of the episode, "The Season 4 finale of Once Upon a Time relished in the lighthearted aspects of telling a story set in a fairy tale world while also hitting some emotional notes and developing characters in new ways. They also took a bold step forward by turning The Savior into the Dark One. The inventive twist opens the door to so many opportunities, and it's heartening to see the series continuing to change the game." Ratcliffe gave the episode a 9.2 rating out of 10.
- Christine Orlando of TV Fanatic gave the episode a 4.7 out of 5 stars.
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.
- ↑ Adam Horowitz tweet #1.
- ↑ Adam Horowitz tweet #2.
- ↑ TV Ratings Sunday: 'Revenge' Finale & 'The Good Wife' Rise, 'Once Upon A Time' Flat, 'A.D.: The Bible Continues' Down, by Amanda Kondolojy, TV by the Numbers (May 11, 2015)
- ↑ "Ratings: ‘Good Wife’ Hits Four-Month High in Finale" from Variety (May 11, 2015)
- ↑ "Once Upon a Time recap: 'Operation Mongoose'", by Hilary Busis, Entertainment Weekly (May 10, 2015)
- ↑ Once Upon a Time: "Operation Mongoose" Review, by Amy Ratcliffe, IGN (May 10, 2015)
- ↑ "Once Upon a Time Season 4 Episode 21 Review: Operation Mongoose" from TV Fanatic (May 10, 2015)