ONCE UPON A TIME 6.18 Recap: The One About Redemption

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Even though I kind of always had a love/hate relationship with ONCE UPON A TIME (mostly love, I promise!), one thing that this show has always done right has been character development. Almost seven seasons in, the show has its faults, but this has always been one of its very important strengths and, after all this time, they are still delivering brilliantly in my book.

Last night’s “Where Blue Birds Fly” was an amazing example on how you have a character go full circle and find redemption. When I saw the promo last week and realized it was a Zelena episode, I thought it was just going to be a filler until the big musical everyone has been talking about. But I stand corrected. Following the trend of the past three episodes, they delivered another very strong hour about a character that has been mostly in the backburner this season, had a bit of humor and family time with Snow White playing Motherzilla of the bride and even managed to move the plot along.

If that’s not an episode that hits all the right marks and passes with flying colors, I don’t know what is.

During the flashbacks we saw that Zelena always chose magic over anything else, thinking it made her powerful and feared, and that that was all she needed out of life. It turns out she was once friends with the guy who would become the Tin Man and she ended up being the reason he became one, ultimately. The heart he needed in order to be a normal mal again needed to be powered with magic and Zelena was not willing to part with hers, even to save an old friend’s life. Major kudos to the bonus of finding our how the Cowardly Lion came to be, though. That was such a special touch and left me smiling like an idiot afterwards.

Back in Storybrooke, the Black Fairy tries to recruit Zelena and, in order to do so, shows up in her house and takes baby Robin in her arms. Now, you don’t mess with mama bear Zelena, and she refuses the evil fairy’s offer and decides then and there that she will take on the villain all by herself, because she is way more powerful than both Regina and Emma. Of course her plan backfires and she and Regina – who went to the dwaves’ mines after her crazy sister – end up trapped and fall straight into what had been the Black Fairy’s plan all along. She needed Zelena to use her magic to turn all the fairy crystals in the mine black, so that she would be able to use it as a powerful weapon against the Savior.

And Zelena, in her deluded mind that she just had to be better than everyone else, plays right into her hand, giving her the ultimate power. Regina is obviously furious with her and tells her she should just take the black crystal, pack her bags and go back to Oz, because she just made everything worse for everyone here. We could actually see Zelena’s heart breaking in that moment and how Regina’s harsh words cut her deep.

But here is where this show excels in character development – Zelena goes back home with Robin and she is determined to just leave this godforsaken town once and for all, but somewhere along the way, she realizes she has the tool to fix everything, if only she could let go of her pride and her magic. So she does exactly that and, to everyone’s surprise, saves the day.

So now that we got a powerless Zelena in Storybrooke, what does that mean for the character? I sure as hell hope it doesn’t mean she’s expendable now, especially with contracts still up in the air and major changes planned for season 7. As much as she has been neglected this year, I still find Rebecca Mader’s Zelena completely delightful and I don’t want her going anywhere any time soon.

Elsewhere in Storybrooke, we had Snow going full on Motherzilla of the bride. She even interrupted a much needed – and anticipated – sexy times scene for Hook and Emma in a delightful parallel to that early OUAT moment when Emma walked in on her parents. And was that just me, or was that scene the longest Captain Swan love scene in the history of this show? My shipper heart was screaming in joy and I admit I had heart eyes the entire time I was watching them. Haven’t you heard, my babies are getting married!

So Snow interrupts sexy times and recruits everyone to go check out wedding venues. Even though they are on the verge of the Final Battle, she thinks a wedding is exactly what they need to decompress and have fun and take their minds off of impending doom – at least for a little while. No one wants to do it and David is so not in the mood to do this, when they need to be thinking about a way to help his daughter defeat the Black Fairy in the Final Battle. It takes most of the episode and a lot of hilarious scenes, but Emma and David finally make her see that having a wedding now isn’t going to change anything, and that they shouldn’t rush into anything just because they might die soon.

This episode was just so solid and very reminiscent of old school ONCE UPON A TIME, that it was a joy to watch. After a mostly just okay first half of the season, they have really found their footing again and are doing an amazing job.

ONCE UPON A TIME returns next Sunday, April 30, at 8/7C on ABC.

ONCE UPON A TIME 6.15 Review: A Jewel Of A City

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Last night’s ONCE UPON A TIME turned out to be everything I’ve always wanted to see in this show, but never knew I wanted it until I got it. Regina, Snow and Emma having a girls night out was by far one of the most entertaining sub plots in a while, and drunk Snow White is my new favorite Snow.

But let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Emma thinks Hook left Storybrooke out of his own free will and is devastated by it, even is she’s trying to be strong and not show any emotion. Regina decides that what Emma needs is a distraction from her heartache and that a girls night on the town is an excellent option, so she tells David to go back to sleep so that Snow can join them. And that right there is character development at its very best, because who would have ever thought that the Evil Queen, Snow White and her daughter, the Savior, would ever go out for drinks together? If you watch the show from the very beginning you can definitely appreciate how far they have come.

I just love when a show knows how to treat their characters and do right by their stories. Even though I loved the fact that Hook, Ariel, Jasmine and Aladdin were teaming up – and we’ll talk about that in a second – the girls were really my favorite part of the episode, even if it ended up on a sour note. Emma ends up talking to the bartender and opening up about her feelings and how Hook broke her heart, and he gets her to shed a few tears. It turns out, though, that the cute bartender was actually pain-in-the-ass Gideon and it looks like the Savior’s tears are pretty powerful stuff, so now he’s making Emma help him defeat the Black Fairy, while he is holding her tears hostage.

I guess it’s a step up from trying to out right murder her at least.

Elsewhere, Hook is stuck in Nemo’s submarine and Gideon sent them through a portal back to the Enchanted Forest. Now they’re stuck in their old realm with no way of getting back home, unless they find a kraken and get some of its blood. A kraken, it seems, is very, very difficult to find and when Killian finally finds one, it’s trying to eat Jasmine and Alladin. He obviously opts to save them and is furious that they’ve cost him the only kraken that he had encountered.

Long story short, Jasmine and Aladdin board the submarine, but some sort of explosion happens and they start taking in water, so they have to abandon ship. Nemo and Killian’s little brother, Liam, take off and Jasmine, Aladdin and Killian go on a search for Jaffar. Killian is convinced that if the guy is powerful enough to make an entire city disappear, then he can definitely help him get back to Storybrooke. They use Nemo’s device to find Jaffar and it leads them to a cabin in the middle of nowhere.

It turns out that it’s Ariel’s home and that Jaffar has been stuck in an urn there for ages. As we discover through flashbacks, Ariel and Jasmine go way back and became fast friends when Ariel was searching for Eric in Agrabah. Anyway, they think that Jaffar must be a genie if he’s stuck in a lamp, so they decide to let him out and use the three wishes. But obviously, things are not that easy and the sorcerer was merely trapped inside, and puts everyone to sleep the moment he is out, just so he can confront Jasmine alone.

The princess is terrified of him, but she faces her fears and, ultimately, defeats him. Before that, however, she demands that he tells her where Agrabah is and he laughs at her and tells her it’s been in her hands all along, inside the engagement ring her father wanted her to wear.

So Jaffar is defeated, Jasmine finally gives in to Aladdin and true love and they free Agrabah. Now Hook is still stuck in another realm, but Ariel has a handy communication device in a shell. Killian decides to give it a shot, saying that he has one just like it back in Storybrooke. He pours his heart out and tells Emma that he would never leave her by choice and how much he loves her and she thankfully hears everything.

However, Gideon – being the little jerk that he is – has cut her side of the shell, so she can hear Killian, but he can’t hear her or know that she knows he’s trapped in another realm. Sigh.

I really, really despise Gideon.

A new episode of ONCE UPON A TIME airs next Sunday, April 9, at 8/7c on ABC.

ONCE UPON A TIME 6.13 Recap: A Hero’s Quest

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Last night’s ONCE UPON A TIME shed some light to Rumplestiltskin’s past and presented us with a surprising twist. It turns out Rumple wasn’t always consumed by darkness – he even tried to avoid magic altogether after the Ogre Wars – and the responsible for his first kill using dark magic was someone I would never, ever have imagined.

After he became the Dark One, Rumple returned to the Ogre War and defeated the ogres all by himself, becoming a hero. However, one of the soldiers was not happy about that at all, as he firmly believed that he was destined to be a hero and save them all. He was also wielding the Savior’s sword, which he believed would grant him victory against the Ogres.

So he made it his mission to tell everyone in their village that Rumplestiltskin was a monster and that they would all pay the price for his use of dark magic when he defeated the ogres. Rumple promised everyone, including Baelfire, that he wouldn’t use magic again, so not to give into the darkness.

Everything was alright for a while, but the soldier with the hero complex was relentless in telling everyone that Rumple was a monster – so much that it started to affect Baelfire as well. At the same time, a real monster started terrorizing the village and several men who went after it ended up dead. So the villagers begged Rumplestiltskin to do something about it. Baelfire encouraged him, saying that he could do it without magic, and that he could finally be a real hero. Rumple even gave him the dagger, so that Bae would be able to stop him from doing anything drastic.

When they get there, they soon find out that the monster was, in fact, the hero soldier, who wanted to prove that Rumple was a monster, so he could be a hero to the village. When he attacked Baelfire and Rumple and told them that he would go back to the village and tell everyone that Rumple was the monster terrorizing the village, the boy panicked and ordered his father to go after him and kill him.

And here’s where it all gets heartbreaking – Baelfire was the one responsible for Rumplestilskin’s first kill and he never even knew about it. When they got back to their cottage, Rumple gave him a memory potion, making the boy forget all about it and live his life believing that his father was a monster.

Back in Storybrooke, Rumple and Belle are desperately trying to find Gideon before he does anything stupid. Eventually, Rumple does find him and traps him in the clock tower to try and talk some sense into the stubborn kid. But, of course, things wouldn’t just be that easy and Gideon tricks his father and escapes, taking the dagger with him, so he can now control the Dark One. His first order of business – he orders his father to stay out of his way. His main goal here is to restore the hero’s sword, so he can kill Emma and become a Savior.

His next step is to find out how he can restore the sword, which he orders his father to tell him. It turns out that the Blue Fairy was the one who created it, so he would need her blood to fix it. In the end, Rumple stops Gideon from hurting Blue, but does it himself instead, so that his son would not be tainted by darkness.

And I appreciate what Rumple was trying to do, but that still won’t fix anything and he’s only helping his son to fulfill his twisted plans. I really hope he has a better plan, because things are not looking good at all.

Meanwhile, Not!Robin is determined to leave Storybrooke. The box he stole last week was his attempt to find a potion that would undo the spell protecting the town line. He even enlists Zelena’s help to get the hell out of that town, which she is definitely onboard. When they’re getting ready to leave – and Zelena even brought the Evil Queen in her snake form along – Regina finds them and tells them it’s not going to work because they’re all trapped in Storybrooke. Not!Robin tries, anyway, and gets blasted off the magic wall, spilling potion everywhere.

The Evil Queen, smart little villain that she is, escaped her cage and bit Not!Robin, in an effort to get some of the potion that had spilled on him – thus, ending the curse that had been cast upon her.

So now we have a deranged Gideon gunning for Emma, and an Evil Queen on the loose. Awesome.

Meanwhile, my baby Killian spent the entire episode trying to psych himself up to tell Emma about his past with David’s father. When he finally gets home, after some liquid courage, Emma surprises him by showing him the ring she had found. So he got down on one knee and proposed and my fangirl heart nearly exploded. I know it’s bad timing and he needs to come clean with her, but right now? I don’t care because my CaptainSwan babies are getting married and everything is puppies, rainbows and unicorns in my world.

A new episode of ONCE UPON A TIME will air next Sunday, March 26, at 8/7C on ABC.

ONCE UPON A TIME 6.12 Review: The One With Revenge, Realizations and Stabs in the Back

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Last night’s ONCE UPON A TIME came as a complete surprise for me. I have never been a huge fan of Charming flashback episodes, so when I saw the promo for it last week, I have to say I wasn’t too excited about it and thought it would be only be an okay episode. However, “Murder Most Foul” turned out to be not only entertaining in its endless twists and turns,  but a testament to how fantastically well these characters are being written and developed.

The episode starts with our heroes celebrating Emma’s and Regina’s safe return to Storybrooke. David steps outside for a moment and that’s when he starts seeing his father’s ghost. And here’s the kicker, he had always thought that his father was a drunk, who didn’t care about his family at all and that had died in a ditch somewhere because of his alcoholism.

But here’s the thing, we actually find out why David was separated from his twin brother – and that was because his parents made a deal with Rumplestiltskin in order to save at least one of their children – and that David’s father tried to get little James back when the boy ran away to Pleasure Island, in an attempt to get away from the king. With Pinocchio’s help, he found little James, but the King found them before they could leave the island, and ordered the boy’s father’s death.

Back in Storybrooke, David is determined to find out what happened to his father and why he keeps seeing his ghost, so he enlists Killian’s help to sneak into Emma’s place to get a book of spells and ingredients to make a potion, so that they can track his father’s last steps. Killian is so not on board with this plan, because here he is, trying to prove that he’s a changed man and that he is worthy of Emma’s love, but her father wants him to revert back to his pirate ways. He helps David against his better judgement, and what follows their mission is just hilarious, as a prince and a pirate try to do magic without having any magical powers. The moment when they’re debating how to stir the potion counter clockwise was easily one of the funniest scenes of the season.

But they do find out that David’s father was on Pleasure Island and, thus, seek Pinocchio’s help. Our good friend Pinocchio sheds some light on the last few hours prior to his death and how he was stone cold sober, as he tried to find James to bring him back home. That nearly undoes David, because he had spent his entire life thinking his father was a drunk, careless bastard, who had walked out on him and his mother. So when he finds out that he had actually been trying to bring his family back together, and that the King had ordered his death, he is hell bent on having his revenge.

Killian tries to stop him, but David handcuffs him to a bike post and goes straight to the King, determined to kill him and avenge his father. He challenges the King to a duel, but Killian – bless his heart – gets there just in time to stop his friend from doing something he would most definitely regret later. It takes a while, but David finally understands why Killian was trying to stop him and finally sees him for the good man that he is, and not just a pirate. And that’s all that he wanted all along, because our baby Killian was terrified about asking David for Emma’s hand in marriage.

That scene was just so sweet and funny and heartwarming, that I had tears in my eyes and a smile so big, that my cheeks hurt. So he finally has Emma’s father’s blessing and a ring –  all he needs to do now is actually propose. My CaptainSwan heart was nearly singing with joy at that point, but of course, they had to go and stab us in the back with such an unexpected twist, that made my head spin.

It turns out that Hook saved David’s father, only to murder him right afterwards, just so he wouldn’t tell anyone that he had killed the King’s guards. And that’s definitely going to come back and bite him in the ass.

Other highlights:

  • Killian going for a session with Archie, so he could talk to him about how to convince David that he was a good man, worthy of marrying his daughter. The look on Archie’s face when Killian showed him the ring was all of us watching that scene. Archie is definitely a CaptainSwan shipper;
  • Regina finally realizing that this is not her Robin and that he will not be able to replace him;
  • Emma and Henry spending some quality time together. After so much stress and drama, they deserve a little bit of fun.
  • Regina and Snow being besties. Not only that, but this episode highlighted just how far all these characters have come and how much they have grown and developed. While I’m not always super happy with their creative decisions, these writers have really done all of their characters justice and they treat them with the utmost respect. Unlike other shows.
  • CaptainCharming is the best BrOTP in television. I just absolutely adore their friendship and how far they have come since they first met.

ONCE UPON A TIME returns next Sunday, March 19, at 8/7C on ABC.

ONCE UPON A TIME Teasers: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Mid-Season Premiere

These midseason hiatuses are always painful, right? The ONCE UPON A TIME ones, in particular, are even moreso because they are so long. But fear not, the ABC hit show returns this weekend and, having watched the premiere, I can say you are in for a crazy ride for sure.

As you all remember, the last time we checked in with our heroes, things were not going well for anyone. The Evil Queen used her wish to create a world in which Emma had never become the Savior. Regina also uses a wish and asks to be transported to wherever Emma ended up, so she can save her. And it turns out that a world in which Emma is not the Savior and Snow and Charming are not kicking some serious ass is just not right.

Princess Emma is just a boring princess, who is afraid of her shadow and, quite honestly, is just annoying. When Regina drops into this world, she is still considered the Evil Queen, so things do not go well for her. It takes a while, but she does manage to wake Emma up to her real self. When they have secured a magic bean from Rumplestiltskin and are nearly home – portal open and all – Robin Hood shows up and robs them. Regina is so shocked to see him, that she is frozen in place. The portal closes and then they’re stuck there.

And that’s exactly where the premiere picks up. Here are five things you need to know about “Tougher Than the Rest”.

We will finally find out the origin of Emma’s last name. It turns out that she wasn’t always Emma Swan, and the story behind it is just beautiful. And you won’t believe who inspired her to take that name.

Alternate Hook is hilarious. This is easily one of the highlights of the episode. Let’s just say life has not been kind to Captain Hook in this alternate universe and he is so not the gorgeous, badass pirate we have all come to know and love. There are points in which Emma looks so amused, which just makes the whole thing even more hilarious.

Pinocchio has been a very good boy. And he plays a huge role in this episode. Plus, it’s always good to see him and Emma together. Their friendship has always been one of my favorites on this show.

Robin Hood does not steal from the rich to give to the poor. Regina is in for a surprise, because that is not the Robin she knows and loves.

Rumplestiltskin’s power trip is genetic. And let’s leave it at that.

ONCE UPON A TIME returns with an all new episode this Sunday, March 5th, at 8/7c on ABC. You can also browse through photos from the episode above.

ONCE UPON A TIME 6.07 Recap: Has the Evil Queen Gone Too Far?

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Last night’s ONCE UPON A TIME showed us just how evil the Evil Queen can be. With a fantastic episode, featuring Snow White and Prince Charming in a storyline that was actually interesting, the ABC hit show proved that it has gotten back to its groove from seasons past. “Heartless” showed that the Evil Queen is just cruel and… well… heartless in her crazy quest for revenge against Snow White.

Snowing. I’ll be the first to say that they usually bore me to death. I used to really like Snow White and Prince Charming in the first couple of seasons, but for the past two to three seasons, they have both been pushed to the back burner and seemed to have made that spot a permanent residence. They hadn’t had any interesting storylines for a while now, so last night’s episode was truly a breath of fresh air for these two. It really felt like a season 1 episode and it was such a joy to see Snow when she had just escaped her kingdom and was still trying to learn how to be a badass. I admit I liked the flashbacks a lot more than the present day storyline, but that was mostly because I love that part of their story together, when they were still getting to know one another and Snow was still a bandit and a fugitive. To see them realize that they had actually met before and saved each other’s lives, but just hadn’t seen each other’s faces then was so touching and brilliantly executed.

Now back at the present, the Evil Queen is obviously out to get them and her new plan actually works. When she threatens them to give up their hearts or she will make everyone in Storybrooke drink water from the River of Lost Souls, they are put in an impossible position. Either way they lose, so they just have to choose if they’d like to save the town or save themselves. Knowing them like we do, we all knew it was a no brainer that they would eventually sacrifice themselves. But then the Evil Queen proved that she is ruthless and even more cruel than we thought, because she managed to alter the sleeping curse in order to fit Snow’s and Charming’s very special case of a shared heart.

She put the actual curse on their heart, so that when they use a true love’s kiss to save each other, the one doing the saving falls under the curse, while the cursed one wakes up. That way, they will never be able to be together again. So way to go, Evil Queen. You got what you wanted.

The worst ship of the year. Speaking of the Evil Queen, can we officially declare that she and Rumplestiltskin make the most bizarre, icky ship to ever grace this show? Every time they’re on my screen together – making out *shudders* – it feels like a car crash. I am completely horrified and yet, I can’t look away to save my life. I have no idea where this partnership (relationship?) is going, but I really, really don’t want to see them together. It seriously gives me the creeps.

I loved that Zelena saw them and told Belle everything just to spite the Evil Queen, but that caused Belle to confront Rumple and that was glorious. I still hope that she never, ever gets back together with him, but seeing Belle standing up for herself and her unborn child was awesome.

Captain Swan. I just had to squeeze this in because that vault scene was just so fantastic and made my heart nearly burst with rainbows and little hearts. Hook and Emma are a testament that a relationship can work and that we don’t need contrived drama just for the sake of drama to keep them apart. Their relationship has its faults, yes, but they have amazing writing on their side and showrunners who are not afraid to let a couple stay together and face adversity together. Other shows should really take notes from ONCE UPON A TIME on how to handle a relationship between two characters after they get together. Yes, ARROW, I’m looking at you.

Just a final comment before I go: I am so glad they didn’t kill the dog in the Enchanted Forest. So glad. Wilby lives!

A new episode of ONCE UPON A TIME airs next Sunday, November 13, at 8/7c on ABC.

ONCE UPON A TIME Sneak Peek: Henry’s Anger Towards Hook

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Emma invited Hook to move in with her at the end of last week’s ONCE UPON A TIME and while the lovebirds might be happy about the arrangement, one person isn’t. Specifically, Henry doesn’t seem to be pleased about Emma’s beau living with them. Enter the Evil Queen, who encourages Henry’s anger and jealousy towards Hook and — in the sneak peek below — reveals Hook’s secret to Henry: that Hook had kept the scissors that can remove Emma’s fate and sever her “savior-ness”.

Meanwhile, Emma spends the upcoming episode trying to convince Aladdin to work with Jasmine to help Agrabah, while Regina teams up with Snow and David to free Archie from Zelena.

Finally, in flashbacks to the past, Hook finds himself kidnapped by the mysterious Captain Nemo and held captive inside his legendary submarine, the Nautilus.

Don’t miss an all new episode of ONCE UPON A TIME tonight (October 30) at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on ABC (U.S.) and CTV (Canada).

ONCE UPON A TIME 6.05 Recap: Secrets, Sacrifices and Lies

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Last night’s ONCE UPON A TIME continued the trend of incredibly solid episodes it has been pulling off since season 6 started a few weeks ago. With the exception of the the second episode, this season has been pretty fantastic and – despite my initial reservations, the Evil Queen is doing wonders for this show.

Lana Parrilla continues to be absolutely breathtaking in her job, and I admit I almost forget that the Evil Queen and Regina are played by the same person. Regina is so serious now and so intent on helping, while the Evil Queen is just delightful. Even though she is evil incarnate, she is just light and funny and sarcastic and I would seriously watch an hour of the Evil Queen being fabulous. Now that she has paired up with Zelena and is slowly turning the Wicked Witch back to the dark side – which is her best, most entertaining self – those two will be a force to be reckoned with.

That SPA day scene was just so entertaining – especially with them discussing if they had ever been involved with the Dark One – that I just had a ridiculous grin on my face for the entire thing. Even though Archie had been kidnapped and forced to be a babysitter to little Robin, they put him in a spot that allowed the two villains to be fantastically funny.

That said, I just absolutely adored the Agrabah flashbacks. It has been a solid 20 years since I last saw Alladin – and I was never much of a Disney girl – but I remember that Alladin was one of the movies that I actually really liked. Seeing Jasmine and Alladin in those outfits made me feel like I was 8 years old again and that the cartoon I watched as a kid had just come to life. And that is the biggest compliment I could ever give them.

The way they connected both stories was really well done and I was actually surprised to find out that Alladin did give up his powers. For a moment there, I actually believed he was dead and, to be honest, I don’t know what is the worst for Emma – him being alive or dead. Because if he were dead, that would mean she was really destined to die. But if he gave up his powers and then Agrabah fell, then that means that if she were to do the same, Storybrooke is doomed. Poor Emma just can’t catch a break.

But what I really loved in this episode was that Emma finally came clean and told her family everything. Those quiet family moments are what make this show great and we were sorely missing those lately. Maybe that’s why I like this season so much. Of course, the Evil Queen forced her hand, but this is the Emma that has grown and evolved since season 1. This was the Emma that we had last seen in the season 5 finale – not that scared, I-can-do-everything-by-myself shadow of a character we had been treated to in the past four episodes. So kudos for that.

But it’s like they can’t have one single moment of happiness. I love my CaptainSwan. I really do. I’ll be honest and confess that they’re the reason I still stick around, five years later. But they’re just repeating the same tired old formula every single season. When one of them has a breakthrough and takes a step forward, the other goes and does something incredibly stupid and takes ten steps back. And I get it. I really do understand why Killian did what he did, but my god, man, what part of the “let’s not keep secrets from each other anymore” memo did you not understand?

Why, why would you lie to Emma? I know you’re afraid to lose her, but you’re missing the bigger picture here. You’re risking an entire town and all the people in it. God only knows what may happen if you force Emma to give up her powers. But then again, why does everyone always take a villain at their word? Who says that those visions are actually true?

I don’t know. What I know is – there’s no more ONCE UPON A TIME if they kill the Savior, so they are going to figure something out. And Emma is not giving up her powers because she would never sacrifice Storybrooke just to save herself. So it’s going to be okay. There may be a bumpy ride ahead, but our girl Emma will be just fine in the end.

And on a last note, I absolutely loved that touching moment between Emma and Henry in the crypt. It had been a while since we last had such a great scene between Jennifer Morrison and Jared Gilmore, but they really knocked it out of the park. It felt like season 1 all over again.

ONCE UPON A TIME airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC (U.S.) and CTV (Canada).

ONCE UPON A TIME Recap: The Evil Within

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Last night’s ONCE UPON AT TIME took us back to its roots. In one of the most solid episodes we have had the pleasure of watching in at least a season and a a half, “Strange Case” had an old school kind of vibe and it felt so much like a season 1 episode. It was well balanced, had plenty of action and drama and just the right amount of screen time for its ever expanding group of characters. But mostly, it was just fun.

Back to school. Finally we got to see an interesting storyline involving Snow White. She has basically been in the back burner for a couple of seasons now, mostly going along for the ride, but we saw Snow taking control of her own life again and making an effort to have things go back to normal – or as normal as they can be when one is a fairytale character and lives in Storybrooke. But we got a really awesome glimpse of the Charmings family life in the beginning of the episode, with Charming being an endearingly obnoxious jealous dad and the family just having breakfast together, which was just great to watch.

That first scene was just so incredible and light and it made me smile so big, because this is what they have always wanted. The entire family together as Emma, Snow, Charming, Baby Neal and Henry gathered in the kitchen as they got ready for the day. Not even Regina’s arrival with Jekyll broke the spell of that entire feel good first moment of the episode. That one scene has been six years in the making and it was incredibly overdue and such a joy to watch.

But when Snow gets to school, things aren’t as they used to be. For starters, little Henry is now a teenager and even has a girlfriend, so that was her first reality check. Time has passed and things have changed. When the students don’t respond to her lesson as they used to, she is crushed. It takes Jasmine – and hey, we all knew that was Jasmine, right? I can’t even remember the name she used right now – telling her that she needed to let go of the past and adapt to the new normal, for Snow to get in the groove of how things are now. Embracing her true self is liberating and she delivers a kickass lesson to her students as badass Snow White. Brilliant subplot, brilliant delivery and brilliant dialogue. I loved every single thing about this plot and I can only hope they keep it up.

Jekyll, Hyde and the Evil Queen. First of all, the Evil Queen is delightful. Can we please keep her forever? Lana Parrilla is doing such an amazing job at separating both characters and she is just plain funny as a full on evil villain. There is a lightness to her voice and every single line that completely contradicts the despicable things she is capable of doing and it’s just amazing. Standing ovation to Parrilla for her outstanding performance.

Now, let’s talk about the abrupt end of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde storyline. Although, now that it’s over and it’s clear that they couldn’t really go any further than that, I admit I’d had the impression that they would play a larger role at least until the midseason finale. However, their story served its purpose to highlight that Regina is pretty much screwed. Despite having separated the evil and good parts of herself, this particular storyline showed us that there is no way to separate both parts completely. Jekyll was still capable of evil, just like Regina will have to live with the possibility of the evil within her rearing its ugly head again.

What became clear, however, is that there is no way to defeat the Evil Queen – at least not without losing Regina as well. The serum that Jekyll created was lost forever and it took Hook killing him for Mr. Hyde to die as well. When Jekyll turned on Belle, she asked for Killian’s help using a mermaid shell he had given her earlier that day. As it turns out, the good scientist was also a villain and tried to kill Belle in order to exact his revenge against Rumplestiltskin. When Hook pushed him into a spear that ran him through, his doppelganger, Mr. Hyde, also perished. That only showed them that in order for the Evil Queen to die, Regina will have to perish as well.

That led to an incredibly touching moment between Emma and Regina, where they mirrored the request Emma made at the beggining of season 5 – Regina asked Emma to sacrifice her, if push comes to shove. Emma promised her that she will do everything in her power to prevent that from happening because that’s what family does. This was just so beautiful and touching and it showed us how far these two amazing women have come.

Rumbelle. Look, it hurts me too. While I was never a Rumbelle fan, the child in me mourns for one of my favorite princesses. This relationship has come to a point that it’s completely toxic and abusive and I can’t see any way for them to even think about getting back to the way they were. Even though Rumple might be trying to change, he just can’t. He goes about it all wrong and, in an effort to protect Belle, he traps her in the Jolly Roger with magic, so she can’t leave. But that wasn’t the main problem here.

That final scene between them – after Hook has saved her from Jekyll – where Rumple is basically threatening her that she will go back to him whether she likes it or not, that was the final nail in this ship’s proverbial coffin. Because you know what – that is not okay. If you love someone, you don’t use threats or force or anything that may harm them to make them get back to you. What Rumple is doing has all the telltale signs of an abusive relationship. And when Belle tells him she will never go back to him because she has always seen who he really is and apparently he can’t change, he tells her that she will get back to him no matter what.

I’m sorry, but I can’t get behind a ship that promotes this kind of behavior. At this point, I don’t think Rumplestilskin can be ever be redeemed because – even though he tries to put his love for Belle first – he will never give up his power. And no matter what happens, he will always put that power first and that is not what a healthy relationship is supposed to be about. I really, really hope that Belle stays as far away from him as possible and that Emma and Regina can help her protect her baby boy when he’s born.

Jasmine. So we all knew it was her, right? While we only caught a glimpse of what their storyline is going to be about, I admit I am so curious to watch this unfold. So Jasmine apparently is looking for Alladin in Storybrooke, so that opens so many exciting possibilities – especially for Emma to understand what being a Savior is all about. Also, it has been a solid twenty years since I last watched Alladin, but is there a possibility that the Oracle is actually Jafar? Have you taken a look at that staff she keeps walking around with? I saw that theory last night on Twitter and I actually think this could be a possibility.

Overall, though, this was such a great episode. It had been a while since I finished an episode of this show and had that omg, I want more feeling.

A new episode of ONCE UPON A TIME airs next Sunday, October 23, at 8/7c on ABC (U.S.) and CTV (Canada).

ONCE UPON A TIME: Learning More About Dr. Jekyll’s Serum

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Dr. Jekyll’s serum is a big focus of this week’s ONCE UPON A TIME. In flashbacks we learn that Jekyll is working on his serum in the past — the serum to separate a man’s personality into two: good and evil. He wants admission into the Scientific Academy in his land in order to finalize his work, but one of the high-ranking members doesn’t seem eager to grant it, despite the support of the man’s daughter. Apparently the members of the Academy think that Dr. Jekyll’s work is too dangerous and should be stopped. So Jekyll turns to Rumplestiltskin for him in completing his work. But as with everything involving Rumplestiltskin, Jekyll learns that his help comes with a hefty price.

Meanwhile, in modern day Storybrooke, the Evil Queen and Mr. Hyde continue on their quest to steal Jekyll’s serum. They head to Mr. Gold’s shop (where he debuts his new hair-do) and Hyde asks him for a cameo necklace. Mr. Gold wants to know what he’ll get in return, but Hyde responds “nothing”. And that’s when Gold learns something very important — Hyde can’t be killed. At least not with Gold’s magic. Which could mean he’ll be forced to help him.

Elsewhere in the episode Snow looks forward to her first day back in the classroom as a teacher. We’re also going to meet Karen David’s new character (see photos below). She’ll be playing Princess Jasmine/Shirin and it seems that in Storybrooke she’ll be working alongside Snow at the school. Meanwhile, Emma looks forward to Hook moving in with her, but Hook finds that he has to protect Belle from Mr. Gold, who has made sure she can’t leave the confines of the Jolly Roger. Will this put a crimp in Hook and Emma’s?

Don’t miss an all new episode of ONCE UPON A TIME tonight (October 16) at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on ABC (U.S.) and CTV (Canada).