Welcome again to the land of fairy tales where the Prince is under a sleeping curse and his true love Princess is in another dimension trying to get back to him so she can awaken him with a kiss. At least, that’s where we’re at so far in the series. ‘Queen of Hearts’ is the last episode until the series returns from hiatus in January and it delivers what you would expect from a mid-season finale. You know when the hour passes by quickly that you just watched a great episode, and surprisingly, ‘Once Upon a Time’ delivered. But I’m getting ahead of myself… Let’s proceed to the recap!
Fairy Tale Land:
Reminiscing in Fairy Tale Land, Evil Queen Regina is back (and frankly, I’ve missed her!) catching Hook in the process of trying to kill Belle who she has been keeping prisoner. Of course, Hook initially went there to rescue her but he wasn’t doing it out of the goodness of his heart. He heard a rumor that she knew of a weapon that could kill Rumplestiltskin, but when she tells him the contrary, he decides to kills her for her uselessness.But the evil Queen has other plans for Hook and tells him about her curse to bring everyone to Storybrooke, a land with no magic. She entices him by telling him there, he can kill Rumplestiltskin with just a flick of his wrist – no magic needed. There is a catch (isn’t there always). He must kill Cora.
The Evil Queen enchants Hook’s hook to be able to rip out one heart and using the Mad Hatter’s hat, sends him to Wonderland. Surprise, surprise! The Queen of Hearts is Cora! Hook tries to nab her heart but it isn’t where it’s supposed to be. But Hook’s heart is and Cora reaches through his chest to grab it. She makes Hook confess that Evil Regina’s wants Cora dead as well as her plans about the curse.
Cora spares Hook on the condition that he helps her get close to Queen Regina to rip her heart out. Of course she gets him to agree by letting him know the little fact that Regina forgot to tell him: that everyone who gets to Storybrooke won’t remember anything so how is he able to kill someone he won’t remember? She promises Hook that he will remember everything if he helps her.
The rouse begins and Hook brings what appears to be a dead Cora to Regina. Regina confesses to the “dead” body saying that she had to kill her because she is her weakness. Regina loves her mother but her influence on her is too strong and she must go through with this curse without any weakness. This touches Cora and instead of killing her daughter she decides to cast a protection spell from the curse.
As the curse begins, Cora and Hook watch as the little patch of land under her protection is untouched. She tells Hook that the curse will be broken in 28 years and when that happens, they will resume their quest.
Regina and Gold know that David won’t wake up until Mary Margaret is back to kiss him. Unfortunately, they don’t know if the message on how to beat Cora was delivered so they must devise a plan B just in case it’s Cora that gets through the portal. He tries to convince her to join him to gather enough magic to kill whoever came through the portal but Regina is reluctant because if Mary Margaret and Emma came through first, they would be killed. Gold tells her that whoever comes first would be a win-win for her. He taunts her by telling her if she truly wanted to be a good mother to Henry and protect him, she should prove it by helping him (Ouch! Way to go for the jugular, Gold!).
Regina and Gold head to the mine where all the diamonds containing fairy dust is located. When the dwarves and Belle find out they have taken it all, they head to Gold’s shop and ask Henry where they are. Henry realizes that Regina lied to him and heads to find her and stop what she is about to do.
Henry and Belle reach the well but it is too late. Gold and Regina have already cast their spell. Henry tells her that Mary Margaret and Emma will defeat Cora and they will be the ones to come through. After all, he says, good always defeats evil and she should know that more than anyone. (Another ouch for Regina!). He implores his mother to have faith in him just as she wants him to have faith in her. If she indeed has changed, she will reverse the spell.
The four musketeers, I mean Mary Margaret/Snow, Emma, Mulan and the possessed Aurora, get to Rumplestiltskin’s cell. While they didn’t find the squid ink, Aurora did find a very long scroll with Emma’s name written repeatedly on it.
Possessed Aurora finds the right moment to trap them all in the cell as Cora and Hook magically appear. She uses magic to grab the compass and leaves with Hook.
The blame game is once again played (give me a break!) with Aurora blaming herself for being trapped in the cell, Mulan blaming herself for not protecting Aurora better, Emma blaming herself for not stepping up to be the savior she was prophesized to be and me blaming myself for not fast forwarding this part.
Cora and Hook head to Lake Nostros (the dried up lake that reversed the King’s curse and allowed Snow to conceive). Cora uses her magic to drill through the dry bed and out comes a geyser.
Mary Margret/Snow continues to stare at the scroll left by Rumplestiltskin and realizes that it was written in squid ink. She blows on a portion of the paper and the ink magically turns in to a cloud and destroys a portion of the cell gate. Aurora tells them to tie her up as she can’t be trusted as long as Cora holds her heart. The three of them then head off to get the compass back.
But is it too late? The portal is open and just as Cora and Hook are about to jump in with compass in hand, an arrow is shot and knocks it to the ground. Mulan, Emma and Mary Margret/Snow get there just in time and a battle begins.
During the battle the bag containing Aurora’s heart is knocked toward the portal but Hook saves it and uncharacteristically gives it to Mulan. Mary Margaret/Snow tells her to get it back to Aurora. Emma manages to land on the compass, knock Hook out and defeat Cora will the strength of her love for her mother. The mother and daughter head to the portal hand in hand not knowing about the spell that was cast on the other side that will kill whoever comes through.
Regina takes in all the magic so that the spell on the well is reversed but it looks like it also closed the portal. Henry is devastated, but then a hand appears and out comes Emma and Mary Margaret. A family reunion of hugs and kisses occurs.
And since we’re on the subject of kisses, Mary Margaret and Belle quickly head over to David where the dwarves are surrounding him. She gives him a kiss and he wakes up. True love wins after all.
Emma confronts Gold and tells him that she knows he created the curse and he could have escaped his prison. She accuses him of rigging all of her life’s events. He tells her that all he did was use what she was: a product of true love. Everything she did was her on her own decisions and achievements. She tells him about her confrontation with Cora and he tells her that the magical force was all from her.
Mulan manages to put Aurora’s heart back into her and they decide to go try and save Prince Phillip.
Henry hugs Regina and tells her he was right. That she did change. But that doesn’t change the situation as Henry joins Emma, Mary Margaret and David for a family dinner leaving Regina all alone.
As for Hook and Cora, they managed to use the magic bean he stole from the giant and in the distance they are seen approaching Storybrooke on his pirate ship…
Finally! An episode that brought the magic that made ‘Once Upon a Time’ such a great show to watch in the first episodes of the first season. The mid-season finale brought the family separation story to a close and gave Aurora a open happy ending (in case the writers need her for another time). While I wasn’t too fond of the changed Regina, it was still sad to see that no matter what she does, she is still left alone without Henry. She took a lot of hits tonight and I wouldn’t be surprise if she just chucked it all and became evil again.
The nods to the Snow White fairy tale was cute with its reversed roles of a sleeping David surrounded by elves waiting for a Princess to wake him up and Hook being the huntsman who is to rip out the heart of Cora and return with the dead body to the Evil Queen for proof.
And while we’re on the subject of Cora, it seems that the second half of the season will now be centered on Hook and her hell-bent on going after Gold and Regina. This will be interesting as it looks like Regina will get to be center stage instead of the Charming family.
All in all, the episode ended as all fairy tales do… with true love conquering all.
What did you think of the midseason finale? Did it live up to what you hoped it to be? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!