We begin this much anticipated post-hiatus episode with a prince, charging through the countryside on his valiant steed - and it turns out it's Phillip. A pregnant Aurora is waiting for him by the ever-used gazebo when suddenly a magic cloud dumps the entire population of Storybrooke in the field next to them.
"We're back," Snow announces sadly.
Over in New York, Emma makes an entrance a la Season One, wearing a hot dress and sky-high heels, and she's meeting what appears to be her boyfriend. What the hell!!!
They're talking about work and Henry and it's clear they've got some history together, however brief. He seems as though he's a thoughtful guy, and Emma is clearly happy - which is an odd thing to see on this show, it really is. And for the record - Jen Morrison looks ten years younger when she smiles. I'm glad they're letting her do that. She's a beautiful girl, but when she smiles she's just breathtaking.
Her boyfriend gets up to "see to something" and everyone's favorite leather-clad pirate slides right into his seat, startling Emma who has a clear memory of nailing him in the 'nads with a knee earlier that day.
Hook begs her to hear him out. He tells her that everything she believes about herself is wrong and then he slides a slip of paper with an address across the table at her. Emma tells him to get lost and he looks at her with those fathomless blue eyes and says "I know you, Swan. You sense that something is off." He asks her to go to the address written on the paper, and when she's through, he'll be waiting in Central Park.
In the Enchanted Forest, meanwhile, Aurora gives Snow the update - the ogres have been routed and the land is prosperous again. David asks for a loan of horses to get them to their castle, and Regina, resplendent in some Season One Evil Queen wear reminds them that the castle is hers - and it's still standing because she put a protection spell around it. Snow tells Regina that they're all going home together, a united front, and she won't take no for an answer.
Aurora pulls Phillip aside, clearly terrified. "We have to tell her about them," she says, referring to the new arrivals. "If we don't, she'll take it out on our child." Way to stick up for your friends, Aurora.
Back at the restaurant, Emma's boyfriend, who is now revealed to have the name of Walsh, is trying to get her to eat dessert. He turns the dessert dish around to reveal the engagement ring he'd put there. Emma is shaken and gets up to leave but Walsh chases her down and Emma points out they've only been together eight months. She's not sure this is right but oh, holy shit. She just told him she loves him. And he loves her back.
Walsh is fine with a long engagement - he just wants to spend his life with her. Emma asks for time to think, and then she heads for that amazing apartment that no one could possibly afford on the salary she'd be making. Henry is gaming and Emma grabs a controller and badly imitates someone who is gaming as Henry grills her about her evening.
"Poor guy," Henry says as he realizes that Emma didn't say yes. He also brings up that Walsh is the only guy she's ever let him meet. Emma looks perplexed a moment, realizing this.
Over in the Enchanted Forest, David is organizing his subjects and Hook is packing to go. He's got no interest in hanging with the Charmings - he wants to find his ship (and of course, wallow a bit over losing the woman he loves).
"I tried the hero thing," he says to David. "It didn't take."
Alone again, naturally...
He gallops off and then it's Neal's turn. He wants to stop at Rumple's castle on the way to Snow and Charming's place. He thinks there might be some lingering magic he can find that will get him to Emma.
Snow and Charming tell him there's just no freaking way and they're not even going to try (whatever happened to hope?) and Neal isn't taking that so well.
Back in New York, Emma is looking at the slip of paper that Hook gave her. We see her breaking into the magical rent-free apartment, and a few moments later she discovers that its former occupant was Neal. She also finds the bloody rag that Rumple had on his wounded chest, and a camera with an embroidered strap that says, "HENRY."
Duly freaked out, she hunts Hook down in the park, and he starts babbling about fairy tales and kingdoms and curses. He tells her the camera was left by Henry when they were in New York last year and he can help her remember all of it. He produces a potion to help her and she decides not to drink the bottle of unknown stuff the gorgeous stalker is trying to get her to drink. She has him arrested for assault instead.
Back in the Enchanted Forest, Belle is consoling Neal, telling him that she thinks they can get Rumple back since they didn't find his knife. Snow on the other hand, has been alerted to the fact that Regina has wandered off. When she follows, it's to find that Regina has removed her own heart and is burying it in the woods. She can't bear the pain of being without Henry.
Snow reminds her that no matter how much pain she feels or how spectacular her cleavage looks in that dress, she can't bury her heart in the woods. She tells Regina not to give up hope - her happiness is out there, somewhere, and Henry would want her to have it. Regina replaces the heart, and together they move to rejoin the others.
Unfortunately, they're being watched, and they find themselves suddenly under attack from the skies and Regina is injured by a screeching, flying monkey with razor sharp talons and fangs who really doesn't look half-bad, CGI-wise.
A man's voice shouts at them to "Get down!" before he successfully chases the flying monkeys away. He introduces himself as Robin Hood, and when Little John (one of the Merry Men) addresses Snow in a casual manner, Regina reminds him to show some respect "or at least some restraint at the buffet."
Oh God, I've missed the snarky Queen Regina.
She's standoffish in the extreme to Robin, and they head off to warn the others.
In New York, meanwhile, Emma is talking over this engagement thing with Henry, and she seems to be leaning toward yes. Henry lets her know he's already texted Walsh to come over for dinner, and he's got a sleepover planned at another kid's house so they can be alone. Way to spike mom's guns, Henry!
Emma sends him on ahead to the apartment and she pulls out the film she'd had developed from the camera she found in Neal's apartment. Next we see her breaking Hook out of jail.
"I've been in my share of brigs," he complains, "But none as barbaric as that. They force-fed me something called bologna."
Emma confronts him with the pictures, which are all of her and Henry in Storybrooke and New York. He urges her again to take the potion, but she shows a whole lot of reluctance. She likes her life and she has a guy she loves.
"Perhaps there's another you love in the life that you lost," Hook suggests, and his soulful eyes bore right into her.
Emma drinks, and a moment later, she calls him "Hook."
"Did you miss me?" he asks.
We did, Hook. Oh, we did.
Over in the Enchanted Forest, Robin is reunited with Belle and Neal, and Regina's not so sure about taking a thief into the group.
"He's kinda cute, huh?" Snow asks.
"He smells like forest," Regina snarks.
They've arrived at the castle at last, but find it's encircled by a new protection spell, one that Regina didn't enact. She wants to rush in, but Robin offers them safe harbor in Sherwood Forest.
In New York, Emma and Hook are having a drink and he fills her in on some of the last year. He was on the Jolly Roger when he got a message: there's been a new curse, enacted by he doesn't know who, and the note said only Emma could save them all.
Emma's not sure what she's going to tell Henry - Hook only had enough memory potion for her. The door buzzes and it's Walsh. Emma's distressed at the thought of having to break up with him, and Hook is just plain distressed by the thought of him. Emma takes Walsh up to the roof to have a talk, and tells him she can't marry him.
"I need to go home and take care of some things," she tells him.
He's upset and seems to not understand what's going on. "Emma, if you love this life, then keep it," he begs, but she can't.
His demeanor changes abruptly. "I wish you hadn't drank that potion," he snarls, throwing chairs and yelling at her just before he dives off the roof and becomes a flying monkey. Emma smacks him with the metal pipe of convenience and he disintegrates just before Hook comes up to save her. Emma's clearly unhappy at yet another crappily-ever-after scenario.
The next morning, she's making Henry his breakfast, and tells him they're going on a trip, claiming it's related to work. Henry is cool with a no-school trip but he's a little perplexed at the sight of a pirate coming through the door. They have this hilarious exchange:
Emma explains him off as a client, and for the record...this is the first time she ever calls him "Killian."
Then she heads to the closet and grabs that iconic red jacket and away they go.
We see her pulling up to the curb in Storybrooke, which looks pretty damn deserted. Henry's asleep in the back. Hook tells her that he doesn't know what the new curse did to the town, so Emma heads up to talk to her parents and find out. David answers the door and he remembers her.
For all of them, it's literally been like it was yesterday that they said goodbye. They have no idea who cast the curse or why. The entire last year of their lives has been wiped away. "How do you know that it's been a year?" she asks, and just then Snow comes waddling down the stairs, very, very pregnant.
Back to last year in the Enchanted Forest, and we see the wicked witch talking to a flying monkey, asking him if he got Regina's blood. He dutifully produces a claw and drops the blood into a beaker. The witch is pleased, and she smiles into the mirror, proclaiming that Regina may be evil, but she's Wicked, and in her opinion (certainly not ours) Wicked is better.
I'll give this one five hooks out of five.
The snark was on point, the pirate was a dashing rapscallion, Emma was happy and then angsty, and Snow is knocked up. All good stuff, and all paving the way for our new story arc.