ONCE UPON A TIME – “Tougher Than the Rest”

Once Upon A Time Review: Friends and Foes

First off I’m incredibly excited to have this show back! It’s been a long hiatus since the mid-season finale. I’ll be honest- I actually got into the show last summer before Season 6 started but boy am I glad I did. It has so many of my favorite Disney characters but with their own Once Upon A Time twists…

WHERE WE LEFT OFF AT THE MIDSEASON FINALE: Emma and Regina were stuck in the enchanted forest, while Snow and Charming remained under the joint sleeping curse and the Evil Queen was turned into a parrot? That’s right the big reveal at the end of the mid-season finale was that Gideon was the one in Emma’s vision…. Oh man – exactly what Belle feared would happen under Rumple’s influence seems to have happened anyway even after her sacrifice. Where will this half of the season take us?

The episode begins in Minneapolis in the winter of 1990. A random boy (who we later learn was August) befriends a young runaway, Emma, and convinces her not to burn pages from a storybook about the ugly duckling. “When we believe in something strongly enough we all have the power to change our fate….” This brief encounter leads Emma to the police station and when she is asked her name, she responds with “Emma Swan.” Interesting to finally learn how she got her name.

In the Present

In the Enchanted Forest….

ONCE UPON A TIME - "Tougher Than the Rest"
Courtesy of ABC

When we once again meet up with Emma and Regina, we find Robin stealing from them. Seeing the face of her true love, fake or not, throws Regina for a loop and results in loosing them the opportunity to return home through the magic bean portal. Emma comes up with a plan to get them home by finding Pinocchio and asking him to rebuild the original magical wardrobe that first took her to Storybrooke. However, after seeing Robin, Regina needs some closure so she goes in search of him and ends up getting them both captured. This couple really has been one of my favorites so having Robin back in any capacity is wonderful.

ONCE UPON A TIME - "Tougher Than the Rest"
Courtesy of ABC

Meanwhile, Emma is confiding in Pinocchio (who seamlessly comes and goes at the most perfect times throughout this show) and gets interrupted by none other than Killian! This sure was a brief comic relief as the doppelganger of Hook in this reality is actually a fat and creepy version. In the midst of a scuffle Pinocchio’s chisel breaks leaving him disheartened and unwilling to continue trying to help Emma. Eion Bailey’s performance as Pinocchio has always been exceptional and this time is no different.

Robin and Regina share a moment when she learns that he never married Marion in this world so he’s not exactly the same version that she knew. Just when we are enjoying the possibility of a resurgence of this couple, Rumple returns just in time to cause the usual trouble and puts them in jail because in this reality Belle is dead so he needs to hold someone accountable. While they are locked in, Robin and Regina share yet another emotional moment and leads him to getting them out so he can return her to Emma. After all he is a thief!

After Pinocchio leaves her, Emma finds a carved swan. This brings her back to the memory from earlier. She goes to find him and tells him he can change his fate like the swan he carved her. He finishes building the wardrobe right as Regina comes back with Robin. Just when we think we are going to have to go through another goodbye, they decide he should go with them. All three step through the wardrobe and return to Storybrooke.

While In Storybrooke…

ONCE UPON A TIME - "Tougher Than the Rest"
Courtesy of ABC

We learn that Gideon was raised by the Black Fairy and it seemed to have toughed him up. He plans to kill Emma in order to become a savior and save the land controlled by the Black Fairy. In hopes of reconciling with his son, Rumple tries convincing Gideon to help him destroy the savior but he gets a resounding NO from the later. Meanwhile, Charming refuses to wake Snow because he wants to fix everything that has gone wrong. Something tells me Snow won’t be very happy with him when she finally does wake up. Belle comes in to share the news of who Gideon actually is with Charming and Killian and asks for help in locating him. She thinks that she can talk some sense into him. Again, not sure Belle or Charming are thinking straight these days, at least Killian serves as the voice of reason this episode. However, it’s a moot point as everything comes together at the end of the episode anyway.

With Emma back in Storybrooke, her vision comes to fruition as she finally meets Gideon. The big moment we’ve been waiting for all season is upon us and yet it ends up being mostly anticlimactic. Emma defeats Gideon for now as he disappears.

The episode ends with Rumple and Belle having a heart to heart. They end up realizing that both of them have justified their actions but they must come together to try to help Gideon who coincidentally is pretty pissed at his defeat. It looks like Storybrooke is in for yet another tough time.

So Once Upon A Time is back! Tell me what you guys thought of tonight’s episode and what you think the rest of the season has in store for us.

Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.