If there was ever an episode to fear to this day, OUAT’s second midseason finale qualifies as such. Now, as I said: To this day. I definitely don’t want to think about what that means for the season finale and following seasons…

Contrary to last episode, we had some flashbacks to pre-Curse FTL again; flashbacks that were meant to reveal a bit more about Cora, and her association with Hook (or is it the other way around?).
In a time shortly before the Curse, with already evil Regina who has Belle imprisoned and Jefferson left in Wonderland (since Regina has his hat), Hook finds his way to Regina’s castle. He wants to free Belle so she can help him kill Rumple. How he found out about Belle is still a story that needs to be told – I somehow doubt that this is common talk around town, especially since it is to assume that people may know that Belle went with Rumple as his price for helping her village, but not that he sent her away and Regina caught her. Because if the people knew, Rumple would know as well – and obviously he doesn’t.
This whole scene is a wonderful treat for all Rumbellers out there.
On the one side, there is Belle. She outright refuses to help Hook; not only because she doesn’t have the means (i.e. the magical weapon Hook talks about – assumedly the Dark One’s dagger?) or knowledge to kill Rumple, but also because even if she had it, she wouldn’t use it against him. Here is where I wonder how clear Belle’s closeness to Rumple becomes for Hook; there are several hints that should tell him even without her words that she doesn’t see a monster in him; for example this detail of while Hook uses “Dark One” to name him, she says his actual name.
On the other side, Hook tells something about Rumple attacking Maurice. And wait a second – Rumple attacks Belle’s father? Given the point in the time line we can make out here, it has to be after Regina told Rumple that Belle is dead. In other words: He is furious and seeks vengeance for a love lost and allegedly “killed” by her own father (depraved-heart murder, anyone?). So much for power being more important to him than Belle. Question is – does Belle recognize this? Does she, in any way, know what he believes happened to her, what lie Regina told Rumple? If she does, she’d have a lot to interpret when it comes to Rumple’s behavior… or maybe she doesn’t because she, contrary to him, knows about his love for her (the thing with the kiss working and all).
Interesting is that she never reacts in any way to the news that Rumple attacks her father. Her loyalty seems to be fully with Rumple. Was she indeed home for a short while and treated at least partly like Regina says, only to be then abducted by the EQ? Moe’s reaction to Belle in SB hinted at them not having seen each other ever since Belle left with Rumple – that Belle’s in love with Rumple is new to her father. So that would speak against her going home first before Regina locked her away. But why then this lack of reaction to Hook’s words? Or is it just that she doesn’t believe him, because he is a stranger – and above that one who wants to kill Rumple?
And here comes this thought I’ve been carrying around for a while again – what if Hook understands Belle’s feelings for Rumple during this encounter? Before, we didn’t know that Hook knew Belle; now that this is clear, it kind of changes everything. What if Hook also knows about his feelings for her? Hook is anything but stupid, he’s proven that more than once, and if he thinks this whole conversation over in a quiet moment, he may realize what Belle and Rumple mean to each other.
This would be viable knowledge in his plans for revenge; the moment he arrives in SB and finds out that Belle is also there, he’ll know what – who – to go for. Plus, she’s alone in the library apartment (as far as we know), and not anymore in Rumple’s house where she may have been protected… at least a bit (there’s far more magic in SB and to Rumple and Regina than we’ve seen so far, it appears). Will he see her as a threat – or bait? Both can be Rumple’s downfall, because for all we know, he’s not immune to this biggest weakness that Cora mentioned a few times now: Love. And with him, this weakness is doubled – represented in both Belle and Bae. If nothing else, those two matter to him and he will do everything in his powers to protect them.
I know that this is entirely open for interpretation, but since it is exactly what I’m doing here: Rumple’s eagerness to protect SB or this world in general has to come from his desire to not only save himself (being the coward he admitted to be surely includes worrying about his own skin, literally), but first and foremost also Belle and – wherever he is – Bae. He’ll do that at all costs, without any regard to the lives of anyone else around; even including Henry.
 
At least this is what I think we see in his almost-obsession to turn that portal into a death trap. He does that knowing that there’s a fifty-fifty chance that it could also be Emma and Snow coming through – while “no one can survive this”, as he says. He rather sees them killed than Cora in SB. It’s not like I don’t understand it, considering how and what Cora is, but it is still pretty upsetting to think that he’d do it. However, there was also this moment in his shop when he is talking to Regina – and it almost seems like he wants Snow and Emma to die. Certainly this can only be me seeing a bit too much, but somehow he was a tad too detached to that thought. As we’ve determined before, Rumple is not a bad person; there is still something good, something human in him, despite all that Dark One influence. Willingly killing Snow and, more importantly, the Savior, is pure evil – so much that even Regina has to stop him.
Cue my brain cross-referencing this to Dr. Rush from SGU again, who lived by the premise that sacrificing the life of one is excusable as long as the many are saved… and the mission. There may not be that much of a difference between Rush and Rumple here; though with Rumple, contrary to Rush, there are loved ones – and they are connected to his mission. But would that excuse Rumple’s readiness to see Emma and Snow killed? Would that explain why he is accepting it just like that? Could their death be any use to him, other than having two truly good persons less against him and whatever he is planning or might be in the future?
Regina is no different in the respect that she wants to protect those she loves – or, more precisely, the one she loves, and that is Henry. Only that for her there is more at stake; not only Henry’s life but if she makes the wrong decision, also Henry’s love for her, or however wants to call it. The condition for him to, like, talk to her at all, still stands: She has to change, she has to lose the Evil Queen act and become good (again), or she loses Henry for good. And she actually does her best to really become “a better mother”, as she tells Rumple – thus also disagreeing with his plan. Well, at least for about a minute. Then he can convince her that she loses no matter what, with either Emma or Cora coming through, since one may take Henry’s life, but the other for sure will take Henry’s heart.
So Regina agrees – and when we see her with Rumple when they first steal the fairy dust diamonds with the help of a wand (the one from Cinderella’s fairy godmother – the devil is in the detail they say, huh?) into which the magic from the diamonds is sucked (great idea!) and later are at the well, she even appears to be quite comfortable with what they’re doing. It shows very well how much of that weak person that is easily taken influence on still resides in Regina, and that she is addicted to magic – an addiction like every other where you don’t care about the consequences when you follow it.
When the two Rs lay down this protection spell upon the well/portal, Regina has once again this devilish expression on her face she constantly held back in FTL as EQ. It is as if Rumple has, for the second time, succeeded in turning her to the dark side – and even more, it also seems as if this is exactly what he wants. Where I again wonder why. Maybe because that no matter what they do, he must know that sooner or later, Cora will find a way to SB, and then, at the latest, he’ll need Regina at her best again. Without her dark side, Regina will do her best to not use magic – and if only for Henry. Possible is that the more she lays off that magic, the weaker it gets – or probably the stronger her inner hesitation gets, leading to her being weak in a sense that she will not have the mental power to defeat Cora.
The magic that seals the well looks already bad in itself. If color is any indicator, Rumple was right – this would have killed everything that comes through. Now, Henry is able to convince Regina to get this curse off the portal, as it is possible that Emma and Snow come through – and then they’d die. I think it is very fascinating how Lana Parilla plays that; this inner conflict of her addiction against her love for Henry, and her need of his approval. It’s a perfect job she does, really. You can actually see how she fights with herself to make the right decision; how good and evil take turns in ruling her from one second to the next.
Finally, she makes a decision – and it is the right one. Or is it? As said, this magic has to be pure bad power, pure evil. And Regina absorbs it all. Now, bad magic. Green. Kinda has me thinking of something. Something magical… something emerald green magical. There is this theory about Regina and how she could turn out to be – or become – the Wicked Witch of the West. But this is a theory that really got out of hand, therefore I’ll have an own post for it that will follow this review.
Something else I noticed and that really confused me was Rumple’s lack of reaction. He only said Regina’s name once in an attempt to stop her; after that, he remained calm and said nothing else. He could have stopped her; sent her flying like he did with Red. But he didn’t. Surely this didn’t happen out of sympathy, or because he has a soft spot for Henry, Regina and their fragile relationship. There’s too much at stake with the prospect of possibly Cora coming through and endangering them all. So how come he stayed back like he did?
 
While new questions arose, I’m excited that some of those I asked last week were straight out answered – for example how it is possible that Regina saw Cora’s dead body. Now we know how it happened; even though Cora was never really dead, Hook obviously could make her believe the same. The only thing that remains to be told is how Rumple knows Regina saw it, but I guess that can very well be because she told him.
The “specific annoying little world” Cora was sent to is indeed Wonderland – and I’m waiting for the explanation as to why Rumple thinks of it as annoying. Also do I hope we can await a clarification regarding Cora’s “crossing through many worlds” she talked about in the last episode. Maybe she tried to flee from Wonderland, but never quite found the right world (i.e. FTL)? At least she seems to be powerful enough to subdue the people of Wonderland and have them accept her as their queen. The Queen of Hearts; of course, what other name should she have chosen?
Funnily enough, the QoH is the one without the name-giving organ – and really, this sentence is open for interpretation. I see it literally and figuratively; for now, however, I have to go with the first.
Regina makes a deal with Hook (wonder if this deal-making attitude has something to do with the Dark One’s magic…) – she takes him with her to SB where he can skin his crocodile. In exchange, or as a payment, she wants him to kill Cora. By ripping her heart out with his hook. So much for how he got this ability. Regina enchants the hook – one heart he can rip out, and no more. Now we could have wondered for a moment how it is possible for him to rip out Aurora’s heart, but… well. This is ONCE UPON A TIME. Don’t look for an easy answer, as there surely is none.
Hook of course finds Cora – or, as Regina promised, she finds him. And as was to be expected, the whole assassination plan goes wrong. Hook killing someone as powerful as Cora? Even Regina should have known that this is close to impossible. Technically. Because if Cora still had had her heart, Hook would have succeeded, as he came close enough and even had his hook inside her (not gonna apologize for that, not after what Hook said later to Emma).
Cora explains that she keeps her heart someplace safe. Okay, first of all – did she rip out her own heart? Because this is totally… is there even a word for it?! Second – hello solution of all our problems. More or less. If Cora never took her heart back and it is still in this safe place, then the others only have to find it. Okay, not “only”, but… it is a way. Never said it was an easy one. I don’t know how much one can influence another when they have their heart; and if they can also change their character. But at least they – preferably of course the Good ones with the Charmings & Co. – would have a way to control Cora. This would eliminate at least one problem (since I sense many more to come).
Hook tries to get Cora’s heart and can’t rip it out since it isn’t there – which makes him ultimately face the most dangerous antagonist he’s probably ever met. Whether he can be happy that he’s been caught in a mother-daughter-quarrel can be argued – but at least it saves him his life, as Cora sees her chance to use him for her purpose.
Speaking of. Regina promises Hook that she’ll take him with her to this “land without magic”, thus Storybrooke. Cora then tells him that he won’t be able to remember because of the Curse – effectively making him her ally. But what if Regina had influence on who can remember and who can’t? Until now, we have no idea how and why Jefferson had his memories even when the Curse was still active, and if she maybe left him with those memories to torture him, as he remembered, but had to live in SB and without Grace. It is possible that it was entirely Regina’s decision. Of course it could also be that Jefferson was still in Wonderland where the memory wipe didn’t affect him, even though Regina was still able to take him with her (but if she was able to magically influence Wonderland, she wouldn’t have needed the hat… mhh…).
Or… when Cora was pushed through the mirror – maybe this was Jefferson’s way out. One goes in, one goes out – and since Cora most likely didn’t get the chance to turn around immediately, Jefferson may just have realized and taken this opportunity. Then, however, it would be again for Regina decide that he remembers. Jefferson’s is another story that yet promises to become very interesting, since he is special, in some way, seeing his history.
However – what I want to say is that Hook may have had a chance for revenge had he remained loyal to Regina (given that Cora would have let him go…); 28 years earlier and possibly with a Rumple who doesn’t remember. We don’t know yet when and how he got his memories back, if he ever lost them in the first place (although that still remains to be revealed it is still doubtful he would let his own Curse take away his control).
As far as Cora is concerned, well – she doesn’t even plan to let this Curse happen to start with. Making almost the same deal with Hook as Regina did before – passage to his “crocodile” (how come they all know about it anyways?!) in exchange for help with getting rid of someone, this time Regina. The plan works… at least until Regina hits a soft spot while saying her goodbyes to a “dead” Cora.
Regina’s wish to see her mother killed can’t come entirely from herself. How she sobbed over her mother’s body and confessed her love makes having Hook kill Cora way too evil in contrast. It is possible that this is again influenced by Rumple, since he as well wants to see Cora gone; maybe more than Regina. Cora, on the other hand, isn’t unaffected by Regina’s love and spares her daughter’s life where she wanted to kill her before – proving that love is indeed the most powerful magic.
Again and again, and despite Hook’s obvious resourcefulness, I wonder: What does Cora need Hook for? Even now, long after the Curse, she lets him live, even lets him keep his heart (as we saw last episode). Right now, only one thing makes sense: She needs him to keep Rumple busy. Last thing she knows is that Rumple and Regina are working together. So she knows that there are two persons in SB who don’t want to see her there (or anywhere else, for that matter); at least two with magical abilities… so far. And that, if her daughter proves to be as good a student as Cora herself was (still assuming she was Rumple’s student), those two could unleash near unlimited power together. If Rumple is taken care of by Hook, he won’t be able to fight Cora at the same time; Regina and him won’t be able to combine their powers, which seems to be direly needed to have a chance against Cora.
 
With perfect timing, Emma and Snow not only get the compass, but also gets Regina rid of the protection spell – and mother and daughter come through, finally back in SB. But there’s a long way they had to best before that.
The beginning of this episode finds the Quartet finally in Rumple’s cell. Though it’s not really something to be happy about, seeing how it all turns out. At first, Emma learns that this is the place where Snow and Charming learned that Emma is the Savior. Big surprise for Emma, who had no idea her fate was decided before her birth already. It marks the moment she becomes a bit more thoughtful; and to Snow she later confesses that her trust and self-confidence issues have kicked in again, as she feels like merely a pawn in an elaborate game.
Now, at the point I was tempted to agree. Emma’s doesn’t seem to be made for this fairy tale life; she is, as she told Henry in the very beginning of OUAT, “a real person”. Only because she had the power to break the Curse doesn’t mean that she’s able to do anything else. Not if Rumple didn’t see her fit to do so, since, as she correctly assumes, this is his Curse and all his doing. To be exact, I still think that Rumple never saw a greater purpose in her than breaking the Curse; but then, he also didn’t know what he’s learned now from her.
Searching for the squid ink Rumple told them through David would be their way to defeat Cora (stall her, anyways), they all four crawl through the cell – which is practically an invitation to lock them in. An invitation Hook and Cora accept – after they’ve followed the four women thanks to their secret spy Aurora.
The moment Emma calls for Hook and asks him to reconsider is a powerful scene. Again I want to believe that Hook would have been willing and ready to change sides if only Emma had trusted him. He definitely makes it believable that this was a poor decision on her end, and that a little more faith could have brought them a big advantage. But alas, what’s done is done, and Hook leaves with Cora – and me with the big question if Captain Swan will ever have a chance (still shipping them… another ship to go down with…).
Rumple’s ink plan doesn’t seem to work either – Mulan finds a vial, but it is completely empty. Instead, there is only a small scroll with Emma’s name written on it repeatedly, from top to bottom. It is a dire situation they are in… until Snow comes up with an idea. Just like with Regina’s spell book that allows spells to be blown from the sites to enact them, the ink on the scroll also flies through the cell the moment Snow blows it away – and it dissolves the cell doors.
Here’s now where a lot of things come together again.
First – the cell. I wondered several times before why Rumple, as this powerful magician he is, never escaped his cell. The explanation – the cell is enchanted. This seemed to be an explanation; but only for a moment. Because Rumple, as the Dark One, is the most powerful magician; otherwise the fairies would have been able to stop the Curse. But they never had a chance. So whoever enchanted the cell, it is to assume that it was no one with the Dark One’s powers (unless it was Zoso, which doesn’t sound right at all, plus it’s the same powers Rumple has). That leaves magic that would never be powerful enough to stand up against the Dark One – so there was never a reason why Rumple had to stay in the cell. Plus, he also had the ink that, as we saw, was able to get through the doors. The only reason why he stayed was… he himself. And as Rumple later, when Emma asks him, says: He was exactly where he wanted to be.
This goes over to the second point: Rumple in the Charmings’ castle as a prisoner. So of course he wanted Regina to enact the Curse, and of course he wanted to be included since he needed to go to our world to find Bae. As far as we know, the whole reason to create this Curse in the first place and give it to Regina was to get to his son. And Regina only got it because she is the only one with a) enough reason to use this Curse (her hate for Snow and her willingness to destroy her happiness), b) enough power and c) someone she loves and whose heart she can use (her father). Rumple may have had the first two, but not the third; even if Belle had still been with him, he would never have taken her heart. And there we have our difference between Regina and Rumple – he may be a coward, but she certainly is weak enough to make decisions she will regret for the rest of her life without the chance to redeem her actions.
What this, however, doesn’t explain is why he didn’t simply stay in his castle or anything. Instead he remained a prisoner. Was it to make one last deal – help for the Charmings in exchange for the baby’s name? He didn’t need the prison for that; had he been free, he could just have offered this deal to them, even if they hadn’t asked him. One way or another, he would have learned Emma’s name. So there has to be yet another reason.
But, when it comes to the name, there is a third thing: Emma’s name on the scroll. Perhaps he knew all along that Emma would come to FTL and need his help to return to SB. Perhaps he really is that incredibly genius of a chess player who has a second game finished in his head when the first hasn’t even begun. But maybe this is only about the name. Was always about the name. Fairy tales work with the power of names; I think I said that in another review already. And it doesn’t matter if it is the contract Rumple signs for Cinderella, or the scroll with Emma’s name Snow uses to free them. His or Emma’s name – both belong to to the core magical persons (unlike Regina who has only “inherited” the magic from the Dark One). Had he signed with “XXX”, it maybe wouldn’t have worked. And had he written, say, Snow’s name instead of Emma’s, Snow could have blown on it as much as she wanted to, but without any use. The power may be in the ink, yes, but what is written could matter as well. And thus, there is another reason why he needed Emma’s name – not only to his own, but also the others’ benefit, all the while still serving his plans. Moreover would all that make sense with regards to the original Rumplestiltskin tale where knowing his name is the key to defeating him.
 
Free again, Emma, Snow and Mulan leave Aurora behind – following her own wish so that Cora won’t know that they’re onto her again. They find Cora and Hook at Lake Nostros, the lake of the Siren Charming killed, where Cora has already managed to bring some water back (some may be an understatement here) and, thanks to the ashes they strew into it, opened the portal. It is, just for the tension, a matter of microseconds when Snow manages to shoot the compass both Hook and Cora have to hold on to from their hands with an arrow.
What ensues afterwards is actually a nice fight. While Snow and Mulan take care of Cora (or try to), Emma – and of course it has to be her, because why not include the slightest Captain Swan hint when they can – attacks Hook with a sword. And they fight. And, assuming that Emma was never before in a sword fight (don’t count her encounter with Maleficent, the dragon), she does it pretty well in my opinion, even though Hook beats her up… for the moment.
And still, despite him being on Cora’s side and showing himself to be antagonistic, he’s nevertheless the one to catch the satchel with Aurora’s heart in it when Cora sends it flying right into the whirling water, also abandoning his duel with Emma for the moment – letting his defenses slip. And he also gives the satchel willingly to Mulan, without any further ado – showing once again that he indeed has a good side. I’m starting to wonder what it will take to make him change to the right side completely; if he can be kept from getting revenge and made to see the greater picture; that killing Rumple will help no one, least of all him, just as supporting Cora is the wrong thing to do because as I see it, she will only use him, and maybe even try to kill him in the end.
Emma comments on him having a soft side. His “I don’t” doesn’t sound entirely convinced to my ears; it is rather a “nah, don’t say that, can’t be true” kind of reaction and tone. He may add that he just likes a fair fight, but seeing that he was the one who ripped out Aurora’s heart in the first place, this is an interesting reaction. After all, there is always also a part of him that doesn’t fully agree with Cora’s ways; and that is exactly where the Good ones have to approach him.
After the satchel catch, it all goes back to normal fighting; and to a little nonversation, with Hook doing most of the talking that includes also this: “When I jab you with my sword, you feel it.” — This is when my jaw dropped, like, to Neverland. Seriously. This was definitely nothing I ever expected to hear on that show… well, that or anything like it. Only problem is that while he gives his suggestive speech (the guy was in suspension for 28years… something tells me he desperately needs a woman…), Emma uses her chance to get the compass that lies under her in the sand. Lucky for her, showing it to Hook also causes enough distraction so that she is able to get the upper hand again.
And then there is the fun moment: Emma knocks Hook out. Not so much the fact that she did that is funny; but the way he looked and fell. Had definitely something cartoon-y to it. I was only waiting for the little blue birds to circle his head.
So, as it was to be expected, Emma gets hold of the compass, Hook is out of the picture (for now), and mother and daughter are ready to return to SB – without Cora. Only that Cora has another idea. She’s still threatening Snow, and keeping both women from reaching the water. Ultimately, she comes face to face with Snow – and tries to rip her heart out, or is about to, because that is what her daughter would want, as she says.
In general is Cora’s whole “my daughter needs me” attitude something that took me some time to get a grip of, because it sounds strangely… how to say that… it sounds a lot more disillusioned than anything that came from Cora before. Cora has no idea of how things have changed; that, even though Regina and Snow will never be best friends (not even close…), she wouldn’t want Snow’s heart(…I hope…). Not anymore, not now that she’s finally finding back to herself, away from her evil side; to the Regina she needs to be for Henry. While until now, Cora was a complete and smoothly formed picture, she suddenly becomes cracks – and those cracks, this disillusion showing now from a woman who her daughter wanted to be killed, and who then wanted to kill her daughter in return, may just prove to be the most dangerous trait Cora now possesses.
Save the best for last they usually say; but this shocker (you know, those things OUAT sells us as “best parts”… I should start spelling them with a capital letter…) comes ten minutes before the ending… which forebodes that this is not yet the worst part. Worst as in – a matter of perspective.
Because when Emma pushes Snow away just in time and Cora’s instead grabs for her heart, we find something out we haven’t seen before, nor known possible: Emma’s heart can’t be ripped out. Cora tries it, once, twice, trice, but to no avail. Instead, Emma emits a magical power surge that sends Cora flying away. And as Snow rightfully notes: This is a great subject for discussion. It indeed is. Especially with the information that follows from Rumple.
Seeing Emma and Snow crawl from the well, Henry and Red are of course delighted. Regina and Rumple… not so much. Now, with Regina it is understandable, what with her fear of losing Henry to Emma again and all. But Rumple? Shouldn’t he be, at the very least, neutral? I don’t expect him to be relieved, much less happy; or well, I don’t expect him to show it. But what he shows here looks almost disappointed. I get that he leaves the place because he just doesn’t belong there, to that reunion of family and friends (and yes, that makes me sad). Was he hoping for Cora, to prove a point? To know where they stand and not be left in the dark any longer because now, they again have no idea if and when Cora will come to SB? Or is there another plan behind it, as I already mentioned earlier? I’m still trying to get a grab of that thought; a possible reason why for the moment, he seems to want Emma and Snow dead, or at least gone.
Maybe I am anything but objective – certainly I am, as a Rumple fan – but OUAT has long since taught us that pure evil doesn’t exist, as doesn’t pure good, but that there are layers to it, many layers; that there are many shades of grey to where else only black and white are shown. And since the wish to kill Emma and Snow, two good persons and no real threat to him, for solely his purposes would mean exactly this pure evil thing…
Rumple, Regina, The Charmings and Team 7 soon find their way to Mr. Gold’s shop, where Snow kisses Charming awake. Everyone is happy; almost. It is heartbreaking to see how Regina is excluded, and excludes herself. Even after Henry has hugged her, which has to be one of the sweetest scenes – I’d love for them to reconcile and Emma and Regina kind of become equals when it comes to the mother role for Henry -, she still isn’t invited to dinner. Which I was sort of expecting, to be honest. But hey, I’m an idealist. She looks so incredibly sad, knowing that what Rumple told her before has become true: Saving Emma made her lose Henry again. There were two losses to decide between, and she chose the one that would destroy her heart – rather than the one that could destroy her son. And it forms a picture of a Regina who has changed, just as Henry recognizes it.
Leaving the family stories aside, most interesting is the little conversation between Rumple and Emma. As it is also extremely revealing. It is him to whom Emma reports Cora’s failure to rip her heart out, something that clearly surprises Rumple. He tells her that this wasn’t his doing; he didn’t make Emma, he only took advantage of what she is. And this has to be the truth – not only because his surprise as well as his obvious delight (meaning the small twitch of one corner of his mouth) make it believable, but because if he had “made” Emma, if he had taken influence in any way on Snow and Charming and/or Snow’s pregnancy, Emma most likely would never have had the effect, the powers she has now.
So what she has and can do comes from herself. From her magic, a word Emma can’t bring herself to say. I liked how that tiny smile appeared on Rumple’s face when she and also he understood that she has magic. In whatever way, but she has it.
Emma is the product of True Love. Already in the season premiere we learned that this is the reason why Emma is the Savior; why she was the only one able to break the Curse (that and the failsafe Rumple included in the Curse). Also we know, as it has been said often enough, that True Love is the most powerful magic. So that leaves the question: If Emma is the result of True Love, if she is personified True Love, then how much power does she possess? Could it be greater than that of Rumple/the Dark One, or anyone else for that matter, since people like Cora (assumedly) and Regina got her powers from Rumple? And – will she be able to use it?
Something tells me that she will have to learn it first; and that only Rumple can teach her. Which will create a curious alliance I’m absolutely looking forward to if it proves to be true. Possible is also that Emma is unconsciously, instinctively able to use this magic now that it has been activated through (like with Cora), as we can guess, the broken Curse. We saw that she has certain powers before, for example when she touched Regina’s arm and by that helped her “activate” the hat in the season premiere. Now it has become clear that Emma indeed carries magical abilities; they only have to be put to use; and soon, with Cora coming to SB.
And Cora is closer than any of them predicts. The last scene shows us Hook’s ship – at the coast of Maine, heading right towards Storybrooke. It is the bean, the dried bean Hook stole from the giant that was, as hinted at, “revived” in the waters of Lake Nostros. The moment I saw that bean in 2×06, I knew it would have some importance – and it did. I just never thought that it would help Cora and Hook, of all people.
So this is how we end. With deadly danger approaching an oblivious and celebrating town that just welcomed back its lost daughters. Where will it go from here? Well, this is something for another post, since everything I can possibly write now will include spoilers for upcoming episodes.
 
What is no spoiler: Aurora and Mulan have been left behind in FTL; after Hook caught the heart, Mulan went back to Rumple’s former cell and inserted (sorry, no idea how to call that… that word has to be invented first) the heart back into Aurora – where I wondered how she is able to do that without magic. Maybe it comes from the heart itself, but it is strange to see someone do that who has no magic at all… at least as far as we know.
Now Aurora tells Mulan of what Cora said to her when she was imprisoned – that a soul taken by the Wraith is never entirely lost. Here we have a new quest for the duo that will now try to find and free Philip’s soul to restore it to his body. Meaning we’ll see more FTL action, even without the others from SB… or will we? Because, well, no one is to say that some of them will not return to FTL; there’s a lot to do, a lot to rebuild, and sooner or later, all those FT characters have to go back… theoretically.
 
And then there are two other things we learn:
Water is powerful. Here it is the host of the way from one world to another where before not even Rumple could create such a portal… or maybe he just didn’t know how. But then was the well his idea to begin with; he brought magic to SB through it in the season premiere. So there has to be another reason why he didn’t use it earlier; and I doubt that it is a lack of power. Possible is that the portal has to be initiated on both sides; and as long as Rumple was in FTL, he couldn’t do that.
Now the question is: With the well and Lake Nostros on the other side, and with the compass in their possession – could they return to FTL? Could they even travel at will, or open a permanent connection? Is that what they want even? And what about the well without the compass? Is there a chance to send Cora through to get rid of her for good when she has nothing to keep her on the right way?
 
The reason why parts of the FTL remained unaffected by the Curse is, quite simple, Cora. Her Gandalf-like magic forms a shield over some part of the land, keeping the Curse from it. But, as we also learn they will still be frozen in time. So all those years, while Emma – and Bae – lived their life and aged accordingly, the rest was put on hold. Nice way to keep it all in a working condition, so to speak. This also means that all those in SB never missed a day of the lives of those who are still in FTL – and were inside the cover spell. Which then again means that there may await us more encounters of old friends (and enemies?) in FTL than just that between Snow and Lancelot…
 
After 7 pages I end this review. As I told Spooky earlier, I have to stop writing these reviews. They’re getting longer and longer, and if this show keeps up its quality and pace, I will end with 20-something pages… or more.
 
January 6th is the date we all have to mark in our calendar; then 2×10 awaits us with, as the promo already shows, new and exciting scenes and episodes.

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Tags: Belle, Cora, Curse, Emma Swan, Emma/Hook (CaptainSwan), Hook/Killian Jones, Jefferson, Magic, Once Upon A Time, OUAT, Regina/Evil Queen
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