The last two episodes of the first half of Season 3 bring the whole crowd back to Storybrooke (including, unbeknownst initially to everyone else, Peter Pan) and then takes them all out again, pressing an exciting reset button going into the break.
Unsurprisingly, Peter Pan is defeated – since he was the major villain of this arc, that was to be expected. It appears that finally, Rumplestiltskin does not take the coward’s way out and sacrifices himself in order to kill Peter Pan. Whether or not Rumplestiltskin is really dead remains to be seen. It was a classic case of “never found the body”. Either way, if Rumplestiltskin is gone, his story arc would have been completed.
Peter Pan tries to cast the same curse that the Queen used at the beginning of the series. Therefore, the Queen has to cast a counter-curse which unfortunately results in the following: 1) Storybrooke vanishing; 2) everyone who came from the fairy-tale world (and presumably other worlds as well) going back to where they came; 3) Emma and Henry escaping at the town line, losing their memories of Storybrooke in the first place; and 4) Regina giving them new memories, where Emma never gave up Henry and has instead spent the last eleven years with him. I would assume that she gave her some of the memories that she had, altered to feature Emma instead of Regina. Now, however, that Regina has no Henry to keep her grounded, how she going to react in the Enchanted Forest? Back to her old self? Or will she be willing to change?
The scene at the town line is quite heartbreaking. Henry finally insists that Regina is his mother, and when push comes to shove, he would not want to leave her. He no longer thinks of her as a villain, as he did for the entire first season. Emma, meanwhile, has to say good-bye to her parents, her former boyfriend, and her potential boyfriend at once. The scene is well-written so that it is not maudlin or overly sappy. It is realistic – as realistic as one can get when curses are at stake – and sweet.
Finally, there is a one-year jump ahead to match up the story with the actual actors and real-world timeline. This should serve to make the reset button more poignant when the show resumes in March.
Season 5, Episode 10 (Brothers in Arms)
At first, this just seemed like an ordinary episode that happened to include perennial federal favourites Jimmy and Wolf (guest starts Scott Grimes and Alan Doyle, also known as Russell Crowe’s sidekicks in Robin Hood). There was a major conspiracy that had to be solved, Jake and the rest of the Doyle clan managed to solve it, and apparently all was well until the last scene, when the family patriarch Malachy went upstairs to the Doyles’ office only to discover an unknown perpetrator with a gun. This twist was hinted at earlier in the episode, but the viewers were easily distracted by the goings-on of the main plot to pay much attention to Mal’s side-story until it was too late.
Since Republic of Doyle is returning in January, the cliffhanger is well-placed. Hopefully, with Callum out of the way and Sloan neutralized into just a bratty teenager, the season can carry on and we will find out the identity of the shooter next week.