[OUAT] Recap • 611 Tougher Than the Rest

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By Justin Kirkland Entertainment Weekly

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Happy belated New Year, Oncers, and welcome back to Sunday night’s most insane hour of television. If you’ve stopped thinking about Once for even just a second, you might be confused walking into tonight, so let’s review, because you can bet your bastard child turned Savior-killer that you can use it:

– Belle and Rumple’s son, Gideon, is underneath that cloak… same one, we assume, that kills Emma

– Speaking of Emma, she and Regina are trapped in an alternate universe with Robin

– Aladdin and Jasmine are on their way back to Agrabah

– The Evil Queen is a snake, y’all

And with that let’s get started in… Minneapolis? In the winter of 1990? Hm. Okay. A little blond girl is burning a book underneath a bridge, as little girls are wont to do when they’re homeless under a bridge. Anyway, as she’s about to burn The Ugly Duckling, a young man stops her. Of course, it’s baby Emma, and after her young friend brings her in, that’s where we get intel into that last name… she assumes the name Swan, because of course.

We fly back into the alternate universe, where Robin has robbed Emma and Regina, but that’s the least of their worries, because y’all… remember? Regina is bad news here because she’s the Evil Queen, so they hide before Henry finds them. Lurking in the forest, Emma finds Pinocchio and the two reunite. When Emma explains the situation, Pinocchio agrees to help a girl out. She’s looking for help in regard to a wardrobe… just like that one that saved Emma’s life. The bad news is that it’s gone, but he knows where the wood came from, so replicating it could work. As they turn around after what seems like seconds, Regina is gone, having written a note that definitely took much longer than a couple seconds to write. But Regina has questions about Robin that she needs answered.

Back in Storybrooke, Hook and David are on the hunt for Gideon because he’s definitely not feeling good vibes about Emma. David’s determined to leave Snow as is until he fixes things, but fixing things means taking out Belle and Rumple’s son… just when they’re getting to know him 28 years later. Anyway, Gideon reveals that he wants to kill Emma to become the Savior because that’s how power works: When one loses it, another gains it. And when he does, he’ll travel to the land that is under the rule of the Black Fairy. It’s all very complicated.

Regina goes back to the first place she ever saw Robin, and there he sits! But when she walks in, everyone freaks out because… Evil Queen. Everyone runs away except for Robin, which leaves Regina to ask her question: Are you happy? He says he’s great, and it breaks Regina’s heart. He asks her to tell him why she even cares, but before she can answer, the Sheriff of Nottingham comes and arrests her.

But there are other missions in this alternate universe — Emma and Pinocchio find that magical tree used to make the wardrobe. But as they talk about Emma’s “Savior-ship,” a familiar face appears, and he has let. himself. go. It’s our boy Hook, and that dreamy hair and body are… um, different. He’s there to protect the princess, but alternate Pinocchio’s lack of knowledge about Storybrooke and Hook’s dumpiness lead to a pretty hilarious duel that ends in Emma knocking Hook out. In the midst of it all, the tool that Pinocchio was going to use to carve the tree breaks, and Pinocchio is pretty distraught.

In the forest, Rumple finds Gideon retreating to think about his “fate.” As Gideon tries to walk away, Rumple stops him, but that’s not what you do, because this 28-year-old has the angst of a 14-year-old and you don’t want to mess with that. Anyway, Rumple demands that he hit him, because if Gideon can’t hit him, how can he kill the Savior? He starts to do it, but Gideon says that he doesn’t need Rumple’s help.

In the woods, Regina and Robin are locked up together, and she takes the moment to boost Robin’s ego, but it seems that in the alternate universe, things are a bit different. They’re interrupted when the Sheriff of Nottingham asks for help and is pulled away. Regina feels relieved knowing it’s Rumple, but when he lets them out, Rumple reveals that he went looking for Belle only to find that Regina’s evil counterpart in the alternate world starved her to death, which, as you might imagine, is not Rumple’s favorite news. Not even top 10.

Back in Storybrooke, David goes to visit Snow and apologize because he’s not going to wake her until she can solve this pesky problem called… well, everything. That’s when Belle shows up, in the most MAGICAL outfit, and argues that they can stop this nonsense and save both of their children. We scoot back to the alternate world to find that Rumple has locked up Regina and Robin again. Regina tries to explain the real world to Robin, and he’s pretty bummed to find out that not only is he not real, but real him is dead. Can you even imagine? Regina explains that real Robin loved his friends and family… and Regina. And they get close enough to kiss, and I’m screaming and you’re screaming, but at the end, it doesn’t happen. Robin breaks out pretty easily, setting them both free.

In the alternate woods, Emma gives wood carving a go, and it doesn’t seem to be working out. But when she looks down and finds a chest, she discovers it has her name on it. When she opens it, there’s a wooden swan inside made for her by Pinocchio, which of course dials back to something we’ve already seen… the fate of the Ugly Duckling. Pinocchio’s father read it to him, revealing that if you believe hard enough you can change your fate. And here we are, with Pinocchio saving Emma with the story again. And THAT’S when we flash back again and realize that young boy from Emma’s past was Pinocchio! So they return to the woods and Pinocchio ~believes in himself~ and guess what? The tree and tools are magical again. Praise magic (but you know… in an appropriate way)!

Anyway, that dreamboat of a woodworker does the impossible and makes a new magic cupboard. Regina shows up with Robin, insisting they need to go, but then she realizes that wishes come true and she can head back immediately. So, in their final moments, Robin passes her his lucky feather… very similar to the one that got lost on its way to her. He says this way a piece of Robin will always be with her, and Emma tells her to bring Robin along, but Regina insists that she can’t. After some convincing, Regina thinks it’s worth trying and Robin does, too, so they make a run for it.

Emma makes her way out, and so does Regina, but deep in the woods, it appears that Robin wasn’t able to make it after all. But then there’s a second boom, and guess what? IT’S ROBIN! We’re all yelling together. Anyway, show’s not over, so let’s keep going.

Emma is walking through the street with her Savior sword when she comes across Gideon. Thankfully the outfits don’t match, which we have to assume is a good thing, but the story remains the same. Gideon knocks Emma’s sword away and everyone except for Snow rushes into the street. Gideon freezes them with fire (yes, I know that sounds bonkers, but play with me here), but Emma’s magic overrules Gideon and she sends him flying backward and holds a shard of the sword to his throat. Gideon says he’ll still kill Emma and disappears, leaving Henry and the gang pretty jazzed.

Regina introduces everyone to Robin, explaining that he’s not actually Robin but she brought him back anyway because you gotta take it where you can get it. Emma takes the opportunity to go and thank Pinocchio for finding her and sending her on her way to fulfilling her fate, and he hands her those Ugly Duckling pages she almost burned. It’s very sweet. We end with a thoughtful conversation between Belle and Rumple about their son, who has absolutely gone WILD. He admits he doesn’t want Gideon to kill Emma because it’s just out of hurt, and he doesn’t want that fate for his son. But as Gideon contemplates his next move in the clock tower (before smashing it, which is definitely rude), Rumple tells Belle that maybe the only way to stop him is by working together.

What do you think? Have we seen the last street struggle between Gideon and Emma? Can Belle and Rumple actually ever work together? And how JAZZED are you to see our boy Robin back in play? Hit the comments, and we’ll see you next week.

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