‘Once Upon a Time’ Recap: “Tougher Than the Rest”
Emma seeks out an old friend, Regina and Robin reunite, and Gideon makes his presence known, all on this episode of Once Upon a Time.
The midseason premiere picked up not quite where we left off and instead began with an important moment in Emma’s life. As a preteen, Emma briefly lived on the streets after a bad time in a group home, but a strange teenage boy convinced her that she deserved more. After he persuaded her not to burn the pages of her fairytale book–especially the story about the ugly duckling–Emma turned herself in and gave herself a new last name: Swan.
In the present-day Wish Realm, Regina and adult Emma deal with the aftermath of missing the portal back to Storybrooke. Emma finds August, who, with some encouragement from Emma, eventually believes in his abilities enough to build them a wardrobe similar to the one Geppetto built for baby Emma and young August. Along the way, Emma encounters hilariously old and chubby Hook and also realizes that August was the one who talked to her that day by the fire, setting her on the path toward becoming the Emma Swan we know today. After returning to Storybrooke, Emma’s first priority is making Hook lay off the rum and dessert, while her second is thanking the real August for what he did.
Emma and Regina don’t return to Storybrooke alone, either, and instead bring the Wish Realm version of Robin along. Soon after causing them to miss the portal, Regina ditches Emma at August’s house, explaining that she has to at least talk to this version of Robin. She finds him in a pub, and he assures her that he’s happy, albeit with no idea why she’s asking. Regina ‘s crushed, especially because everyone else in the Wish Realm also seems to be happier without her.
However, after Regina and Robin are captured, first by the Sheriff of Nottingham and then Rumplestiltskin, Robin admits that it’s not quite that simple. Evidently, his Marion died before they wed, and he steals for himself instead of the poor, neither of which make him very happy. He also surmises that Regina’s Robin must have loved her very much and been very happy because of it, offering Regina some much-needed closure. After meeting him, though, Emma suggests that they take him back to Storybrooke. This Robin has little to lose and quickly agrees, though it does feel like something bound to go south eventually.
While Emma and Regina are in the Wish Realm, Gideon appears to his parents, both of whom are stunned that he’s now a full-grown man. Gideon reveals that he was raised by the Black Fairy, but that Belle’s influence on him as a baby kept him good. However, he also admits that he wants to kill Emma, but only so that he can become a Savior himself and save a town terrorized by the Black Fairy. Rumple offers to help him, while Belle goes to Charming and Hook instead, begging them to help her stop Gideon. They say yes, mostly because it’s in all of their best interests to prevent Emma’s death. Rumple also privately reveals to Belle later on that he doesn’t want Gideon to kill Emma either, mostly because of what it will mean for their son’s soul.
However, none of their attempts to prevent the fight end up having an impact. At the end of the hour, after Emma’s return to Storybrooke, she and Gideon have what seems to be the sword fight from her vision, though with slightly different details (Emma’s shirt is the wrong color, for one). This time, she’s strong enough to ward him off with magic, stopping her death for the time being. Gideon swears he’ll be back for her, but fingers crossed he waits for the finale.
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