‘Once Upon A Time’ Recap: Did Emma & Snow Return To Storybrooke?

Let's discuss the Queen of Hearts' identity, Emma's personal discovery & all of the other mind-blowing revelations from the winter finale! Well, that was exhausting. The Dec. 2 episode of Once Upon A Time finally delivered the reunion fans have been waiting for, as Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Emma (Jennifer Morrison) returned to Storybrooke — but they didn't make the journey alone, and life in the real world is about to get real.

Once Upon A Time Season 2 Episode 9
Image Credit: Courtesy of ABC

This was the most jam-packed episode to date, so let’s digest it revelation-by-revelation, shall we?

Who is the Queen of Hearts?

Much to the surprise of absolutely no one, Cora (Barbara Hershey) was revealed to be the face behind the mask on Wonderland’s throne. It turns out Regina (Lana Parrilla) sent Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) to steal her heart many years ago in exchange for a free ride to Storybrooke, but when Cora informed him that Regina’s curse would also erase his memory, he agreed to double-cross her.

Instead, Cora formed a protective barrier around their corner of the enchanted world — that explains why Mulan (Jamie Chung) and the others were “frozen” and didn’t know why — and she chilled with Hook for 28 years, waiting for Emma to be born and for the curse to be broken.

Does Emma have magic powers?

Why yes, she does! During the girls’ epic battle with Cora and Hook, Cora attempted to steal Snow’s heart, and Emma jumped in the way to save her. But rather than pull out Emma’s heart, Cora was knocked back by a mysterious force that came from within our golden-haired savior.

I think I speak for all fans when I say I’m stoked about this development, and really excited to see what Emma’s magic is capable of. I figured there had to be more to Emma than what we’d been shown so far, and I think they picked the perfect time to reveal it. Bravo, writers. Bravo!

Is Regina one of the good guys?

I’m hesitant to say Regina is good — promos for the show’s January return reveal she’s still very much a heinous anus — but to her credit, she really came through for Snow and Emma this week, seemingly using her own magic to pull them through the portal back to Storybrooke.

Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) was convinced — or at least we thought he was convinced — that Cora would win the fight and enter the portal to Storybrooke, but Regina listened to Henry (Jared Gilmore) and allowed the girls’ to make it through. She did it to prove she was becoming a better mother to Henry, but it kind of bit her in the ass when he lovingly addressed Emma as “mom,” and commenced an extremely gif-able group hug with Snow.

WTF is going to happen next?

The final moments of the episode revealed at least two story lines that will surely make fans anxious for the show’s Jan. 6 return: For starters, Aurora (Sarah Bolger) told Mulan that Prince Phillip (Julian Morris) is actually alive, and his soul is merely trapped in another dimension. So… let the questing commence!

(And can we talk about Mulan and Aurora for a hot second? That last scene, when Mulan cautiously inserted Aurora’s heart back into her body, had to have been written purely to send #Mulora fans into a frenzy. They can go looking for Phillip all they want; we know these two princesses are meant for each other.)

Last but certainly not least, Hook revealed he still had one more trick up his sleeve — and by “trick,” I mean “portal-opening bean” — so the episode ended with him and Cora sailing into the Storybrooke harbor! Did I say the real-world was about to get real? Because I meant it’s about to get rrrruuuullll.

Oncers, what was your favorite part of the insane winter finale? Was it Emma using her powers for the first time? Snow waking Charming up with true love’s kiss? Cora and Hook’s unparalleled badass-ery? Drop me a comment with your thoughts on the episode, and your predictions for January. (Together, we can survive the hiatus!)

— Andy Swift

More Once Upon A Time on HollywoodLife.com:

  1. ‘Once Upon A Time’ Recap: Snow & Charming Reunite — And It’s Hot
  2. ‘Once Upon A Time’: Are Sparks Flying Between Charming & Ruby?
  3. ‘Once Upon A Time’ Recap: Ruby Loses Control & Someone Dies

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