No, I didn’t forget to do a recap this week. I spent a few extra days with my family after Thanksgiving and didn’t get the episode watched until last night. It was clearly set up for what looks to be some major show downs in the winter finale next week. Or the set up for the second half of the season. (Returning in January. So how can it really be a winter finale?) Or both.
I think I’m going to have to abandon my normal recap one setting and then the other format since the stories were taking place at the same time and interacting thanks to the shadow world. Fortunately, we have Storybrooke Present and Enchanted Forrest Present, so it will be a little easier to keep everything straight. But prepare for some location jumping.
Our story opens with Hook coming down the beanstalk. He’s greeted at the bottom by Cora who is not happy he stole the enchantment from her and used it to get the compass. She’s even less happy when she learns that Snow and Emma have it, and she leaves him there, promising to head to Storybrooke without him, complaining that “I didn’t travel through all those worlds to not get my revenge.” She heads back to her new vault of hearts and reanimates some of the people from the settlement she killed to go get the compass.
Meanwhile, Snow and Emma are still reacting to the news that Aurora met up with Henry in the shadow world. They quickly figure out that this is a way to get help from Regina and Gold, so Aurora goes back to sleep, meets up with Henry, and relays the message.
Henry wakes up in Storybrooke to a room where David and Regina are both dozing. He quickly relays the message to them.
Gold, meanwhile, is on a date with Belle at Granny’s. They are about to try a hamburger when Regina shows up. The temperature drops (figuratively) and Granny talks about closing to keep everyone safe, but Regina says they don’t need to do that. Gold has no interest in working with her, and even introduces Regina to Belle as “the one who locked you up for 28 years.” But when Regina announces that Cora is coming, he quickly changes their tune. They argue a bit about who is to blame for the fact that she isn’t really dead, but they do agree to work together.
They meet up with Henry and David at Gold’s shop. Gold tells Henry the way to trap Cora is to use some magic ink. It was used on him by Snow and Charming, which is why he was in a cell in some of the flashbacks. And there’s a supply in the cell where he was held.
Henry and Aurora meet up at the agreed upon time, but Henry can’t get the message through. The reanimated people that Cora has sent are attacking them, and that makes it too noisy for them to talk before Aurora wakes up. Snow and Emma manage to defeat these zombies, but Mulan tries to escape with Aurora only to have Aurora be captured. Cora is delighted with her consolation prize. It wasn’t the compass, but she knows they will trade the compass for Aurora. Cora even tempts Aurora into cooperating with the promise that she knows a way to give Phillip back his soul, but Aurora is having none of that.
Meanwhile, when Snow, Emma, and Mulan get the ransom demand via crow, Mulan is ready to give in immediately. But Snow and Emma are much less ready to give in. They’ve got until sundown. Maybe they can come up with a way to defeat Cora between now and then. It all depends on learning what Henry had tried to tell them. And there is one person who can learn it – Snow. But she will need a sleeping potion to get through her defenses so she can return to the shadow world.
So while they try to find the poppy seeds, we head over to Aurora, who is freed by Hook. He sends her on her way with a message that his offer to Emma to work with her still stands.
So, let’s head back to Storybrooke. Henry awakens not having delivered the message but determined to try again. However, he’s badly burned on his arm, and David and Regina both state that he is not to return if he will get hurt. So David agrees to go under a sleeping curse. When Henry sees Aurora ripped out of the room, they figure she won’t be back, but they figure that Snow will try to get to the room. If so, David can deliver the message and then they can kiss, which will wake him up, breaking the curse. So Regina goes about making the sleeping curse. They have to put it on a spinning wheel. Just before David goes to sleep, he learns he won’t be in that room everyone’s been visiting but he’ll have to find a way to get there.
He pricks his finger and wakes up in a barren land. He realizes he is standing on the roof of the room, so he breaks through and makes it in. Sure enough, there is Snow. He relays the message, but when the initial pleasure of seeing him wears off, Snow is not happy he’s submitted to the curse. They go to kiss, and realize they are only shadows of themselves. They can’t actually touch. Charming is trapped in the curse while Snow awakens.
Our last shot of Storybrooke is Regina and Gold trying to reassure a worried Henry while silently admitting that there has been an unexpected complication.
Meanwhile, Snow wakes up in a panic determined to go back to at least be with David. Emma convinces her the best thing they can do is return to Storybrooke so she can kiss him instead of spending all the time asleep being with him in the shadow world.
But that’s when they notice that Mulan has left and taken the compass. Snow quickly tracks her down, and the two are fighting over whether they will make the trade or not when Aurora herself shows up.
Meanwhile, Cora discovers that Hook has released Aurora. She is furious and about to kill Hook when he tells her he has a present for her.
Back with our heroes, Aurora is talking about how Hook released her and isn’t such a bad guy. “I think he cares for you,” she says to Emma.
And with quick cuts, we see Cora holding a heart saying the same thing. The present Hook got for her is Aurora’s heart. Cora now controls her and knows exactly what they are doing. So much for the element of surprise.
Along the way, we got several discussions about having faith as Emma, Snow, David, and Henry all needed to be encouraged at various times. I really liked that touch.
And Emma and Snow talk about who is to blame for everything they’ve endured. Snow gets Emma to see that she can’t blame herself for Henry going to the shadow world since he bit the cursed apple turnover meant for her. Ultimately, they do place the blame where it truly belongs – Regina. She is the only person responsible for her actions, after all.
I know many people complained early on when we found out they’d have zombies in this episode. I’ll admit, it wasn’t my favorite opening tease, but it does fit the world they’ve created since we’ve seen these hearts many times before.
So, I’m sensing an unhappy ending for Aurora and Phillip. But I’m wondering just what will happen next week. Will Cora and Hook make it to Storybrooke? What about Emma and Snow? You know they are going to set up something major for the final moments since this is teased as a winter finale and it will be over a month until we get new episodes. Any thoughts on what that might be?
Let me know your thoughts on this episode and predictions for next week in the comments.