“Once Upon a Time” season 3 wrapped up on Sunday with a surprise visit from a character that rumors had been spiraling around like frozen fractals. Yes, Queen Elsa of Arendelle has arrived in Storybrooke with ice powers in tow and the speculation for season 4 is already running rampant. Before I begin to speculate though, let’s talk about season 3 as a whole…the good, the bad, and the evil.
“We’re never going to get out of Neverland,” I found myself saying for the first half of the season. Peter Pan turned out to be Rumplestiltskin’s dastardly father who tried to turn Henry into a Lost Boy FOR WAY TOO MANY EPISODES! Here’s a recap in no particular order: We got Hook’s backstory and learned that he looked really good as an officer (I swear that costume was recycled from “Pirates of the Caribbean’s” Captain Norrington). We learned about Balefire’s adventures in Neverland. Charming was cursed with the same poison that killed Hook’s brother so he couldn’t leave Neverland, but of course found a way out of that. Why are we still in Neverland?! Rumple went off and did his thing. Regina went off and did her thing. They all came together. Peter Pan became Henry. Henry ended up captured as Peter Pan. Somehow Emma or Rumple figured this all out and then Rumple killed himself (Nooooooo!) and his father, but Regina’s curse had to be reversed, which would wipe Storybrooke off the map. Since Henry was not of that world he couldn’t go with them, so Regina doctored Henry and Emma’s memories so they could live happily ever after with no recollection of Storybrooke. They drove off in the yellow VW bug with new memories of a happy life without magic in what would have been the best ending/wrap up of a series. A year later in New York City, Henry and Emma are having a great time together in an apartment that Emma could never afford. Then Captain Hook shows up trying to make Emma remember. She didn’t and we had to wait a couple months for the Olympics to pass to figure out where this was going. Something about a Wicked Witch…
A few months later for Oncers… Captain Hook, in full Hook garb, (which I now find funny considering he was wandering around modern day New York City dressed as a pirate but was so concerned about Emma’s outfit when they ended up in the past on the season finale) is doing his darndest to make Emma believe in magic and remember the past. He gives her a potion and she remembers! After her almost fiancée, the man she has been dating for a year who we find out was the Wizard of Oz, turns out to be a flying monkey, she gets with the program and heads to Storybrooke. It turns out everyone is back in Storybrooke (Yay!), but they don’t remember the last year (Boo!), but Mary Margaret is very round with child. It is unfortunate that she doesn’t remember that moment with Charming (I’m sure Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin do!). Emma’s getting a (much) younger sibling! Henry is kept in the dark as to the true nature of Storybrooke. This is sad for Regina who thought she would never see her son again, but now that she’s seen him she’s just the Mayor of Storybrooke to him.
Everyone is trying to figure out what and who triggered their memory loss and their return to Storybrooke. We get the flashbacks between the Enchanted Forest and the present, and we SLOWLY unravel that a few things went down in the E.F. First of all, Rumple is ALIVE!!! Neal and Belle managed to recover and release “The Dark One,” but with terrible consequence. Neal and Rumple end up sharing a body to keep them both alive because the cost of the spell is life of another. Neal eventually sacrifices his life to save Rumple and the town and dies a hero. Meanwhile it turns out that Rumple’s recovery was orchestrated by Zelena, the Wicked Witch of the West, who is responsible for all the confusion and misery in Storybrooke. She just happens to be Regina’s crazy jealous half-sister, who is mad at the world for her mother abandoning her and Rumple’s decision to train Regina and not give her the attention she believed she deserved. She has a bit of an envy problem that turns her literally green. Zelena is set in her ways of revenge, and is very much stuck in the past. She refuses to move forward. Determined to reset the past to gain everything she thinks she deserves, she sets a curse in motion that would allow her to time travel. The curse involves stealing Charming’s courage, capturing Regina’s heart, kidnapping Snow White’s unborn child, and using Rumple as a puppet via the dagger that controls him – she also needs his brain. Along the way she turns more people, like Little John, into flying monkeys.
Thanks to Glinda, Zelena has a weakness. Her magic is all stored in the jewel of a necklace she wears (convenient). Regina, who up to this point has had her butt kicked by her older sister, whips out some light magic and takes Zelena down while taking possession of her magic and tucks away in her vault. Rumple, no longer under the Wicked Witch’s control, gives the dagger to Belle to protect and PROPOSES (I cheered out loud!). Alas, Rumple hasn’t fully converted to goodness. He gave Belle the fake dagger and kept the real one hidden away so only he truly could control himself. He takes his revenge on a powerless Zelena during a jail visit. She turns into a china doll before shattering into a million pieces and blows away. Meanwhile, we see the magic release from her jewel and the time portal she had been trying to create open, which I don’t get since the baby wasn’t there, Charming took back his courage, Regina her heart, and Rumple his brain (whatever).
Now we have arrived at the season finale! Twenty episodes of Neverland and The Wicked Witch, and we finally get a double episode I really care about! I love so many of these characters, but this season felt like getting beaten by a dead horse with Peter Pan and the Wicked Witch of the West. I couldn’t wait to get out of Neverland and I just wanted Dorothy to drop a house on Zelena or throw a bucket of water on her, which sadly did nothing. Yes, I was excited to see Ariel early in the season, but at this point I barely remember the significance of her being there. As a huge fan of Sleeping Beauty, I adore Aurora and Philip, but they have never been strong enough for me on “Once Upon a Time,” and that continued when they appeared this season. All I really remember was wishing Peter and Zelena would just go away already!
With Peter and Zelena dead, things finally got interesting! Snow and Charming, now happy new parents, set about hosting a naming ceremony at Granny’s. Oh, I forgot to mention that somewhere in all of the Zelena madness, they got Henry to remember magic thanks to a kiss from Regina and he’s all the better for it except he had to learn that his Dad died. Everyone, including Emma and Hook, spots something shooting into the sky in the distance. It turns out to be the previously mentioned time portal. Emma is now magicless (or not), but she stupidly decides to go check it out. She and Hook end up getting sucked into the past in the Enchanted Forest with no way to get back.
Like the prime directive or a warning from Doc Brown, they realize that they have to be careful not to interfere or change the past because it could drastically alter the future. They can’t stay out of their own way though and Emma inadvertently causes her parents not to meet when they were supposed to according to Henry’s story book. They seek out The Dark One to help them get back to the future, and when they arrive at Rumple’s place they realize that pages in the story book are now blank due to the alteration of the timeline. Rumplestiltskin agrees to work on a spell to get them back home, but they have to go to Charming’s ball to get Snow White back on track to fall in love. It works…sort of. In the process Snow drops the ring, which is key to Charming falling for her, and Emma gets arrested by Regina’s soldiers for helping Snow escape.
Snow, Charming and Hook, with the help of Red Ridinghood, set out to rescue Emma and retrieve the ring. In prison, Emma befriends an unknown woman. Both are scheduled to die in the morning. Emma picks the lock and breaks out, but she can’t leave this woman behind to die. While the two are escaping they run into the rescue party. Outside of Regina’s castle, things continue to move in the right direction with Snow and Charming and the story returns to the pages of Henry’s book. Hook and Emma believe the best thing to do with the unknown woman is to bring her back to Storybrook because in this world and timeline she is supposed to be dead. She doesn’t like that idea so they knock her out and bring her along to meetup with Rumple. Rumple admits he can’t send them back to their time and decides to wipe his memory and lock Emma and Hook up in his vault. Once in the vault, Emma realizes she has her powers back and she can open the time portal. Hook goes through first with the woman. Just as Emma is about to Rumple shows up wanting to know about his son. Emma tearfully tells him that he died a hero and that she loved him. Rumple lets her go and as the time portal closes Rumple takes the potion to forget what he has seen and heard.
Back in Storybrooke everything seems right with the world. Rumple and Belle marry with their own vows and I squeed some more. Charming and Snow announce that they are naming their son after a hero, Neal, to which Emma and Rumple both approve. Emma and Hook hookup outside of Granny’s to the cheers of all Captain Swan fans. Regina is making out with Robin Hood…another awesome storyline lost in Zelena and Pan madness. Years ago, before the first curse, Tinkerbell took Regina to meet her true love. All Regina saw was a tattoo on his arm before she ran away, never to meet him. Turns out that tattoo belonged to a widower named Robin Hood. Over the second half of the season a relationship has been growing between the two of them and with her heart back it seemed like the Evil Queen was on track for true happiness and love. Not so fast (Noooooo!)! The mysterious unknown woman who Regina had locked up in a cell and was planning to execute until Emma saved her and brought her to the future turns out to be Maid Marian, Robin’s wife and mother of his son (CRAP!). And Regina and Emma were getting along so well! The evil Regina seemed to be right on the edge as she snapped at Emma for interfering. Back at the site of the time portal, an urn that had been in Rumple’s vault got dragged to the future and spills out leaking blue liquid into the markings Zelena had drawn in the dirt. The blue stuff comes together and turns into Queen Elsa who struts out. *END OF SEASON*
So Regina is PISSED, but how pissed can she be? Tinkerbell told her the man with THAT tattoo is the man for her, her true love! Maid Marian may be back, but Tink made her prophecy. Can time travel change that? I don’t know, but I expect things to get frosty between the Charming’s and Regina again.
Speaking of frosty, let’s talk about Elsa. Much of the fan reaction so far seems to be that a new villain has arrived. Did y’all see “Frozen?” Elsa is never really a villain in it! Some speculation is that they are going to go back to “The Snow Queen,” but I’m not buying it. Many characters that appear in Disney animated films have been brought to life on “Once Upon a Time,” and at times they have had a vague resemblance to their animated counterparts like when Belle wore a yellow gown. They never have looked exactly like their animated self until now! No one questioned who that was. The gown, the hair, the powers – it’s Disney’s “Frozen’s” Elsa! Could it be that the she’s there to help Regina with the power of love instead of something evil? I don’t think she’s there to be a villain. I don’t think Disney would want to turn her into that when she’s so beloved. I just hope they get Kristen Bell to play Anna.
Rumple and Belle are married! I despise the term “Rumbelle,” but this is by far my favorite OUAT ship. You know the fake dagger is going to stab Rumple in the butt at some point and hurt Belle’s unwavering trust in him. I hope it doesn’t happen, but I’m sure it’s inevitable. Does this mean Rumple will be another chance at fatherhood? I hope so because the thought of Belle reading stories to their child just warms my heart!
Emma may have angered Regina, but she didn’t mean it and other than that she’s in a really good place. She finally understands the importance of family after thinking that she lost her mother during her adventures in the past. Thanks to Snow’s brush with death, Emma decides to stay in Storybrooke instead of taking Henry back to NYC. She’s got a new boyfriend after losing her first love and the father of her child a few episodes ago. Is she going to look in the mirror one day and think, “what am I doing with a pirate captain?”
Are they going back to the Enchanted Forest? Zelena brought them back to Storybrooke, but is that where the fairytale characters want to be now that they have all their memories back? I can’t figure out what world they want to be in and I don’t think they know anymore either.
My hope for next season is that the story keeps moving along and they it doesn’t get trapped fixating on particular characters that get dragged out too long (I’m looking at you, Elsa!). Some of the best episodes of OUAT over the years are the ones that explore past fairytales of the Enchanted Forest. Those episodes focus on a character or two’s backstory for one episode and I feel very fulfilled. I felt like there was more excitement over the backstory episodes of Ariel and Tinkerbell then the entire Neverland storyline. Peter Pan overstayed his welcome and so did Zelena. Stick to the core characters, bring in new ones on a short term basis, and stop cursing David for angst, use Elsa wisely and I’ll be one happy Oncer.
Share your thoughts on “Once Upon a Time” season 3 and what you are hoping to see in Season 4 below.