Once upon a Time returns for its mid-season premiere with an adventure in the wish realm for Emma and Regina, while Rumple and Belle contend with meeting their grown-up son, Gideon.
When we last left them, Emma and Regina were stuck in a realm created from the Evil Queen’s wish, an alternate universe where Emma Swan was never the Savior. Fortunately, Regina travelled to that realm to snap Emma out of this notion. But as they were about to jump into the portal back home, they were distracted by the arrival of Robin Hood.
The rest of the episode dealt with Emma trying to find her way home, with the help of August, and Regina coming to terms with seeing Robin again. There was even the obligatory Once Upon a Time flashback to Emma’s childhood, where young Emma was living on the streets, but after being reminded of the tale of the ugly duckling by a young August, she decided to change her name. And thus we got the origin story of Emma Swan.
Meanwhile back in Storybrooke, Rumple and Belle were confronted by their grown-up son, Gideon. He hinted that he was not so well treated by his grandmother, the Black Fairy. Given how terrible Rumple’s family has always been, this is no big surprise. And so the tradition of Once Upon a Time messed up families continued. Gideon is operating under the mistaken notion that by killing the current Savior (Emma), he will become the next one. Honey, that’s how Dark Ones are born, not Saviors. Both Rumple and Belle try different parenting methods on him, to no avail.
Hook and David try to figure out a way to save Emma, but they end up running around Storybrooke without really getting anything done.
Back in the wish realm, Regina tries to figure out if Robin was better off without her. Turns out, he’s a bit of a jerk in this alternate universe, though not necessarily because he never met Regina. They both get captured by the Sheriff of Nottingham and then by Rumple but manage to escape. In the end, Robin somehow ends up joining Emma and Regina on their return trip to Storybrooke.
I was never a fan of the Outlaw Queen ship (as much as I wanted Regina to be happy), and I feel like she made some real progress getting over him after his death last season. But it’s typical Once Upon a Time to bring back characters in this weird loophole-y way. Still, I’m not too keen on having this alternate version of Robin return (it’s a bit like that whole Rose and the Tenth Doctor situation in Doctor Who). Anyway, there are sure to be consequences. Like, what about Zelena and baby Robin?
The wish-realm arc lasted only an episode and that was a pleasant surprise. I was afraid they would linger too long in this alternate reality, but at least Once Upon a Time did not go down that route again. Still, there’s a lot going on for the rest of the season so we’ll see how things play out.