Once Upon a Time Season 3 Recap
Do you smell that? That late-September smell that tells us, yes, our show is coming back. In just a few short days on September 28th, the show that’s had us spell-bound for three years is coming back to us after a 140 day hiatus. The first episode will be called “A Tale of Two Sisters” followed by “White Out” the very next week. Personally, I can’t wait to get back to Storybrooke and discover what chilly surprises are in store for us.
But just in case you missed a couple of episodes or don’t have the time to re-watch the entirety of season 3 before the premiere, I’ll take you through a recap of the season which introduced several new characters, new lands, about five freaking curses, and complicated Henry Mill’s family tree more than anyone in a daytime soap opera.
We left season 2 with Team Moms, Emma and Regina, heading off to Neverland along with the sinister Rumplestiltskin, the ever-lovely Charmings, and the rogue Captain Hook on his ship to find Henry who’d been captured by Tamara and Greg. In season 3A, the six misfits had to forget their rocky histories with each other and come together to brave new lands – and a new villain – all in order to save their dear Henry (who is weirdly related to each of them in some way).
Neverland being a new land meant new characters for our heroes, and who better to start off the list than the famous Peter Pan himself?Though, this version of Peter Pan wasn’t the delightful boy-who-never-grew-up you know from you childhood. The Once writers put their own spin on him, turning him into a dark villain who sends his shadow out to capture more Lost Boys. He’d tricked Tamara and Greg into kidnapping Henry and bringing him to Neverland and, with their use clearly run out, they were both killed off early in the season. Peter wanted Henry because Henry, being the product of both True Love and Darkness, has the Heart of the Truest Believer – which Pan needed to become immortal.
Other new characters introduced in 3A included the famous fairy Tinkerbell, Pan’s right-hand-man Felix, everyone’s favorite little mermaid Ariel (and her Prince Eric), and a new face playing the role of Robin Hood along with his son Roland and his Merry Men (Hood was introduced briefly in episode 2.19 Lacey and was played by Tom Elis, but was re-casted with Sean Maguire for season 3).
3A also brought along some new romances; In Tinkerbell’s premiere episode we find out she and the Evil Queen Regina were once friends! Tinkerbell helped Regina find her soul mate, the mysterious “Man with the Lion Tattoo”. While Tink and Regina’s friendship doesn’t work out so well, we do find that the mysterious soul mate is, in fact, Robin Hood. And, in a Hook-centric episode where we discover Hook wasn’t always a pirate and once had a brother, he and our savior Emma lock-lips in a kiss that many fans had long awaited (not this fan, but that’s beside the point) after Hook valiantly saved her father, Prince Charming. There was also a moment between Mulan and Aurora that hinted at Once’s first ever homosexual relationship, but when Mulan tried to tell Aurora how she felt about her, Aurora revealed that she and Prince Phillip were expecting a baby and Mulan left broken-hearted to join Robin Hood’s Merry Men.
By the end of 3A the group had freed Henry from Pan’s grasp (after a twist that revealed Pan to be Henry’s great-grandfather), but not before the sinister boy had a chance to cast a new curse to send everyone in Storybrooke back to the Enchanted Forest with no memories and Pan himself in charge. Fortunately, Rumplestiltskin was able to kill Pan, but only by sacrificing himself in the process. Then, with Regina’s redemption arc on the rise, she is able to at least break Pan’s curse with her own by reversing the curse. Everyone would be sent back to the Enchanted Forest but at least with their memories intact. In order to do this, Regina had to sacrifice the thing she loves most, her son Henry. Before reversing her curse she sent Emma and Henry away with false memories of a good life together where Emma never gave the boy up. The last episode of 3A ended with Storybrooke winking out of existence, and Emma and Henry driving away with no memories other than Regina’s false ones. Right at the last second, however, we see a flash forward to one year later where Emma and Henry are living happily in New York. There’s a sudden knock at their door and, in a surprising twist, Hook is revealed to be standing there, telling a disbelieving Emma that her family is in danger and needs her. She slams the door in his face and we were left with that for the rest of our winter hiatus!
Cut to three grueling months later and we finally got season 3B. Hold on tight for this, because it’s wild, twisted, ride.
It is revealed that a year has passed since Regina sent Emma and Henry away and everyone returned to the Enchanted Forest. However, our heroes are yet again back in Storybrooke with no recollection of the missing year. The only reason they even know at least a year has passed is because Snow White is sporting a very big baby bump (due to actress Ginny Goodwin’s real-life pregnancy!). Meanwhile, in New York, Emma and Henry have been living happy, normal lives together and Emma even has a new beau, Walsh (who proposes!). But Hook is quick to make an appearance, much to forgetful Emma’s dismay, and try to convince her to take a memory potion. After much convincing (and a visit to NYC jail), Hook finally gets Emma to drink the potion and her memories of her true life are restored. When she tries to tell Walsh that she can’t marry him and has to leave with Henry, he’s revealed to be…a flying monkey!
So Hook, Emma, and Henry (who still does not have his true memories) return to Storybrooke to help out the town who has lost a year’s worth of memories. Enter season 3B’s villain, the Wicked Witch of the West a.k.a. Zelena. It’s revealed that Zelena is Regina’s estranged half-sister, Cora’s first daughter from an affair (Henry’s poor family tree just got a whole lot more complicated). She’s jealous that Regina got everything Zelena never had. Cora sent Zelena away as a baby, but raised Regina. And Regina got to be taught magic by everyone’s favorite Dark One, Rumplestiltskin (who Zelena has a big crush on). Zelena was his student for a while but he abandoned her too because he needed a sorceress to cast the original Dark Curse which requires a sacrifice – the heart of the thing you love most. Unfortunately, Rumple was the thing Zelena loved most, so that just wouldn’t do. So he left her and chose Regina to enact the curse instead.
This all made Zelena very upset and she made it her life’s goal to get her revenge on Regina and come up with a way to travel back in time and change the past. It’s been stated before that one of the rules of magic is that you can’t change the past, but Zelena is more powerful than anyone suspects. In order to make a spell to send them back in time, she needs Charming’s Courage, Regina’s Heart, Rumplestiltksin’s Brain (who she is controlling thanks to possessing his dagger), and the unborn Charming baby. The only thing that can stop her is Emma’s light magic, which she’s been practicing with Regina and getting better. But, Zelena manages to take Emma’s magic away by cursing Captain Hook’s lips so that the next time they kiss, it will strip Emma of all her magic. Emma’s been in denial about her feelings for Hook so it’s not threat at first until Zelena almost drowns Hook and Emma gives him mouth-to-mouth to resuscitate him and it’s enough to take away Emma’s powers. Meanwhile, they find Henry’s old Once Upon a Time book to give him back his true memories, and the curse that causes the town to have no memories of the missing year in the Enchanted Forest is lifted when Regina kisses Henry with True Love’s Kiss and breaks it.
During all of this, a few new characters are introduced including, Rapunzel, Blackbeard the pirate, Dorothy Gale, Glinda the Good Witch, and the famous Wizard of Oz himself (turns out it was Emma’s ex-flame Walsh! Zelena turned him into a flying monkey). We also, unfortunately, lose a main character. Beloved Neal Cassidy sacrifices his life to save his father, Rumple, so that Zelena won’t win. This, of course, pisses Rumplestiltskin off and he’s mad with lust for revenge, but powerless because Zelena still controls him with the dagger.
The Wicked Witch is finally taken down by, surprise surprise, Regina! Everyone’s favorite Evil Queen had been working the whole season to become a better person, for Henry and her new love Robin Hood, and was able to use light magic instead of dark to defeat Zelena and take the witch’s pendant which is the source of all her power. They lock Zelena up, save the newborn Charming baby (who they named Neal after, of course, Neal Cassidy who sacrificed himself for them, aww) and all seems well. Rumple seems to give his dagger to Belle, the only one he can trust with it, but it’s unfortunately it’s a fake. Rumple is later seen going to Zelena’s jail cell and killing the powerless woman in revenge for his son. He makes it appear that Zelena killed herself so that he seems innocent. Then, after three long seasons, he and Belle are finally wed! Which is both adorable and heartbreaking at the same time because Rumple has now based his new marriage on lies (good job, buddy).
However, all is as well as it appears. They stopped Zelena, but not before her time-travel spell was enacted. Emma and Hook go to check out where the spell is taking place and they accidentally fall into the portal, sending them back in time to around the time her parents, Snow White and Prince Charming, first met. After several mishaps, fun references to episode 3 of season 1, Hook and Emma finally manage to get back to their own time with little to no severe changes from the past. Except one. Emma, being the good-hearted person she is, saves a woman from death and brings her back to the future with them. In Storybrooke, it is revealed to Emma that this woman is Maid Marian, Robin Hood’s wife. The entire season, Robin Hood and Regina had been falling deeper in love and now his wife, the mother of his child is back, and Regina is pissed, stating that Emma is just like her mother and “never thinking of consequences”. It appears that our redeemed Evil Queen is back on a path to darkness again as she angrily tells Emma that she better hope to hell she didn’t bring anything else back. It then pans out to where the time-portal was, revealing a jar amidst the rubble that came back with them from the past. It opens and a blue ooze pours out and forms the image of a woman wearing a blue dress. She blasts some ice from her hand and there is no question that our new villain for season 4 is going to be none other than Elsa, the Snow Queen from Frozen!
We were left with that exciting image for an excruciating 140 day long hiatus and next Sunday, our patience will pay off as we watch the season 4 premiere! So I hope this article gave you the refresher you needed and remember to be in front of the TV on Sunday, September 28th on ABC at 8/7c!