This was a bit of an odd hour for me in that a lot of it felt predictable, but in a way that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the episode, mainly because each beat felt necessary for the stories they’re telling this season, especially Emma and Regina’s.
- I liked the Camelot and Storybrooke portions of this episode equally, but for completely different reasons. Like will probably happen a lot this season, I appreciated the humor and romance of the Camelot portion, while the Storybrooke half was just as good, but in more of a “hurts so good” way. For me, this hour proved how smart the writers were in the way they set up this season; as much as I can marvel at the great acting, heartbreaking moments, and growth for everyone in Storybrooke without the Savior, it would definitely get a little depressing if that was the entire episode.
- Instead, we had the great levity of the ball scenes. The moments between couples at the ball were very sweet (before it got all murder-y), but it was actually the scenes beforehand that I liked the most. Emma’s moment with Snow was great, and I love that Snow got to experience that with her daughter, given all of the things she’s been forced to miss. I also loved Regina’s scene with the Charmings, from the two suggesting she pick something “a little less scary” to Charming teaching the adorably shy Evil Queen to dance. Moments that show the complicated history between characters are always done well on this show, and I think we can add those two scenes to the list.
- At the ball itself, we have to talk about Henry’s first crush, right? It was great that Charming was the one to give him a push (“You’re from another land, you’re mysterious!”) and seeing everyone kind of cautioustly watch was cute. Also, props to Henry, because it has to be really hard to approach a girl when your entire extended family is in full view. I also liked that Henry and Violet had a moment in Storybrooke as well; it’ll be fun to see them experience the same romance in two different places.
- I’m not sure how I feel about what went down with Regina and Emma in Camelot. I liked that Regina stepped forward as the Savior, especially when she explained that she did it to keep Emma safe. But then, when Robin Hood’s life was in danger, she made it clear that she would risk that safety to save her true love. With how hard Regina’s worked to have that love, I can’t really blame her for being so desperate to hang onto it, but I do wish she had searched a little harder for a solution before turning to Emma. Because really, even if she didn’t use the dagger, she made it very, very hard for Emma to say no. Plus, the whole reason Robin Hood was in trouble was because of Regina’s actions as the Evil Queen, making her request that much harder to swallow. It’s worth noting, she obviously made the right choice, the Savior choice, in Storybrooke, but not before giving Emma another taste of darkness, something that, most likely, led to the mess they’re in now.
- I also think the writers have to be careful with how Regina uses the dagger. In this hour, the two women discovering the accidental ways Regina could use it was sort of comical, but there was a bit of a vindictive tilt to the way Regina said “I could get used to this” that I didn’t love, and ultimately, however accidental it is, seeing someone manipulated is never really all that funny. There’s also a chance that this was the first of many steps to Emma taking the dagger back for herself, which would be kind of interesting.
- As I alluded to, I was a much bigger fan of Regina’s choices in Storybrooke. I think this arc is ultimately going to bring out a really great side of her; not having Emma the Savior as a crutch is going to make her step up and fully embrace the good. There’s no room for any evil in the new Savior of the town, as she learned in this episode. As much as I love Regina, I’ve always been a little “meh” about her relationship with Robin, but her desperation in keeping him safe, to the point where she was willing to sacrifice herself, was definitely admirable. Of course, what was more important was that she didn’t have to, with their little group standing next to her and defeating the fury all together. This was the part of the hour that felt the most predictable, but necessary. Now Regina has the full support of the town (or really just the dwarfs, who basically stand in for the citizens), so hopefully we won’t have to deal with their doubt each week.
- That moment by the pond was also another great one for Regina and the Charmings, as they were the first to stand beside her. The fact that these two, who have arguably been most wronged by Regina, but have completely forgiven her, is a huge part of why everyone else has to. And beyond just forgiving her, in this episode they took care of her after the first fury attack, helped her out before the ball, and then put their lives on the line for her, all of which shows that she’s a part of their family now.
- I really enjoyed the scenes between Belle and Hook in this episode. I’ve always thought they had a lot in common (and we have occasionally had scenes between the two that show this) but with the new developments this season they have even more to discuss. I thought Belle played a very nice role here: supportive of Hook’s cautious optimism while still laying down hard truths about loving a Dark One. The end scene at Granny’s was nice as well; only on this show would Captain Hook and Belle as drinking buddies make total sense. Also, I couldn’t help but feel for Belle as she carried the rose around everywhere, but I do love her determination when it comes to her relationship with Rumple.
- The stuff with Hook and Emma was ultimately pretty heartbreaking, but in a way that made me excited for their journey this season, which I think is only going to make their relationship stronger in the long run. In Camelot, I loved Hook’s concern about Emma using her dark magic again, and the way she sought him out immediately afterwards, like he was her anchor to the good, said a lot about the significance of their relationship. In Storybrooke, I loved that Hook wasn’t swayed by dark Emma, even though she may have appealed to the darkness within himself, willing to wait for “his” Emma. As much as it sucked that true love’s kiss didn’t work, I’m glad that he seemed to recognize it was because she wasn’t open to it, not because they’re not true loves. Hook has come a long way since we first met him, and nothing showed that more than his line to Belle at the end of the hour: “I spent over a century trying to kill the bloody crocodile. I can spend at least that long trying to save the woman I love”. Yeah, this arc’s going to be tough to get through, but also really, really great for these two.
- Odds and ends: Emma looking into Granny’s and feeling left out plus her decidedly non-evil moment with Henry at the docks: sign there’s still good in there?…When Regina said “I’m doing what I should have done in Camelot”, does she actually remember what happened there? Or was she just referencing what Belle told her about magic being used?…The stuff with the sword/dagger is interesting, I’m curious to see how the sword got back into the stone and how exactly Emma will have to remove the light to get it out.
How did you feel about this episode? Let me know in the comments section!