Now that Ingrid is gone, Elsa can finally bring down the ice wall that surrounds the town line, but there’s still an invisible force field around the town that ensures that anyone who leaves town cannot ever come back. Not sure how they figured out that detail, but oh well. Besides. there’s a bigger problem the Nevengers must figure out. Hans had taken advantage of Elsa and Anna’s absence to take over the kingdom of Arendelle, and the royal sisters and Kristoff have to return home immediately to fix that. But how are they supposed to go back when they’re now in the Land Without Magic? Traveling between worlds is virtually impossible, after all. Gold decides to make locating a portal back to Arendelle a priority, not because he wants to help the royal sisters, but because he knows that if Anna found out he was also in Storybrooke, she’d most likely tell everyone about his plan to free himself of the dagger’s control. And he can’t have that happen, especially since he plans to slip away from town with Belle after fulfilling his goal, using the cover story that he’s just taking Belle to see the world, something she’d previously expressed an interest in doing. Upon going back to the abandoned manor house, which apparently belongs to THE Sorcerer (so where is he?), the magic walking broom helps Gold and the still-controlled Killian find a Door Portal that would enable Elsa, Anna and Kristoff to return to Arendelle. Utilizing the full extent of the whole heart-control thing, Gold gets Killian to approach Emma and the Arendelle natives to let them know about the portal. However, Emma instantly knows that something’s off about Killian and questions him about his strange behavior. But since Gold is currently playing Mr. Ventriloquist, Killian can only say what Gold makes him say, so of course he tells Emma he’s fine. But what’s really awesome about this scene is the moment when Killian starts to walk off. Without any warning, Killian reaches out and grabs onto Emma’s wrist. If the fact that Emma’s hand seems to be shaking when the camera focuses on this is any indication, he must be gripping Emma’s wrist really hard. I cannot see any other way to interpret this other than Killian trying to fight against Gold’s control. And from the looks of it, he came very close to succeeding. I really think that is epic, because this is the very first time we’ve seen someone actually try to fight off the effects of heart-control. In fact, prior to this moment, I didn’t think it was possible. The fact that Killian could do it here and nearly fought Gold off completely seems a testament to the strength of Killian’s will, not to mention his love for Emma. Because of course he would try to warn her about what Gold was planning, especially since he knew Gold was planning to crush his heart while Emma and the others were distracted with the portal. And even though Killian’s attempt to fight didn’t last too long, it did seem to strengthen Emma’s gut feeling that something was up. She certainly did look suspicious as she watched Killian leave. But it wasn’t until Emma, Henry, Snow and Charming saw Elsa, Anna and Kristoff off that Emma got the confirmation she needed. (By the way, who was watching Baby Neal?) Before Anna stepped through the portal back to Arendelle, she commented how she wished she’d been able to meet Mr. Gold. Which leads to Charming telling her that Gold and Rumpelstiltskin were one and the same, and Anna reacting with reasonable shock and alarm. Obviously, she filled them in about Gold’s plan to sever his ties to the dagger, as Snow and Emma arrive at the clock tower just as Gold is starting the ritual. To make sure they won’t stop him, Gold freezes Snow and Emma right before Emma could use her magic against him. Just when it looks like Gold will actually win, Belle suddenly appears out of nowhere, holding the real dagger (which Gold had set down before initiating his ritual). How she managed to get there without anyone seeing her, I can’t quite figure out, but regardless of how she did so, she succeeds in preventing Gold from completing his ritual and kept him from crushing Killian’s heart. She then commands Gold to teleport the two of them to the town line.
The scene that follows is, I’ll admit, a sad scene, particularly in regards to Belle. It turns out she figured out Gold was up to no good when she chanced across a magical gauntlet among the items in Gold’s shop. During the flashback scene, we saw that Dark One Rumpelstiltskin obtained the gauntlet when he went off to Camelot for some reason. The gauntlet was said to help the user locate what a person loves the most. My guess was that Dark One Rumple intended to use it to help him cast the curse, since it could only be cast if the spell caster sacrificed the thing they loved the most. Finding this gauntlet immediately put Belle on the alert, as she’d been led to believe Dark One Rumple had given up that gauntlet years ago to save Belle’s life when she was threatened by the Queens of Darkness, Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella DeVil. Yeah, Cruella exists in this show’s universe, too, which is surprising. Maleficent and Ursula make sense, as we’ve already seen they existed in earlier episodes. And we’ve previously met Aurora and Ariel, who were their heroic opponents in the original stories. But Cruella? Where’d she come from? I know Archie’s dog is called Pongo, but we haven’t seen him since season 2, and even that was a vague hint to Cruella being a real person. Anyway, finding the gauntlet back in Gold’s possession obviously made Belle wonder what else her husband had been lying to her about, and when the gauntlet led her to the real dagger, she very quickly figured out the rest. In the scene at the town line, I was super proud of Belle for having the courage to take a stand against Gold and see him for what he was. At the same time, I did feel bad for her, because she really did love Gold, so you know it was just so crushing for her when she commanded Gold to cross the town line, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to come back to Storybrooke. But in that moment, she proved herself to be a very strong woman who was able to make the right decision, even if it was hard for her. In this moment, she more or less makes up for her behavior in 'Family Businesses.' However, I do not feel the least bit sorry for Gold, because he once again brought it all on himself. Not only did he lie to Belle, he horribly abused the second chance at life his son gave him by once again choosing power over love, attempted to cause harm to his grandson’s mother, directly threatened/physically controlled said grandson’s mother’s boyfriend, (you’d think that after what Zelena did to him, Gold would have had the character to not force someone else to go through the same ordeal, even if that someone was a man he had a never-ending oil-and-water relationship with) and also would have willingly allowed a whole town to be annihilated as long as he got his way. When Belle banished him from Storybrooke, he got exactly what he deserved.
So, for the most part, things ended quite well for those who deserved it. Elsa and Anna were able to send Hans packing and they fulfilled their mother’s last wish by making sure all of Arendelle regained their memories of Helga and Ingrid’s existence. And Anna was finally able to marry Kristoff. (I’m going to miss the Frozen cast. I’d like to see them come back for cameos someday). And Killian was able to get his heart back, which led to an unfortunately short moment between Killian and Emma, with the former celebrating the fact that he could properly feel emotions again.
Meanwhile, in the Regina/Robin subplot, Marian is no longer frozen after Ingrid’s defeat, so it’s safe to return her heart to her chest. At first, it looks like this is the end of the romance between Regina and Robin, but Marian approaches Regina at Granny’s Diner to thank Regina for her efforts in saving her life, also saying that if Robin’s heart is leading him towards Regina, she’ll graciously step out of the way, since Marian doesn’t want Robin to stay with her simply because he feels obligated to do so. So, all should turn out great, right? No, out of nowhere, Marian starts to freeze again. The only way to ensure she’ll live is if she crosses the town line and enters the Land Without Magic. And since they can’t force Marian to face a completely new world on her own, Robin would have no choice other than to go with her. This of course leads to a rather emotional farewell at the town line between Robin and Regina as Robin prepares to leave Storybrooke with Marian and Roland, with no chance of ever being able to come back, let alone see Regina again. So, now that Robin’s gone from her life, Regina once again gives into her ‘I can never get my happy ending’ state of mind, which is illustrated when she rips up the loose page that showed what would have happened had Regina listened to Tinkerbell years ago. I totally get why Regina is so heartbroken, but at the same time, she should know by now that she shouldn’t just give up hope because something seems to be impossible. It should have been impossible for Emma and Henry to come back after the events of ‘Going Home.’ And yet, they did just that two episodes later (even though it took a while longer for Henry’s memories to return.) To quote the 10th Doctor from Doctor Who, which is among my favorite shows, ‘not impossible... just a bit unlikely.’ Anyway, as Regina is sitting at Granny’s mourning the loss of Robin but satisfied over Gold’s banishment, Henry bursts in, announcing he found a secret room inside the Sorcerer’s mansion, which is filled with blank books that strongly resemble his storybook. The only conclusion this could mean is that this is where the mysterious Author wrote the book, meaning they’re one step closer to finding him or her.
And then, in the final moments, it’s shown that the episode flashback served another purpose apart from showing us the gauntlet. It also served make us realize that Queens of Darkness will be the main focus through the rest of the season. Gold is now in New York, where he seeks out Ursula, who is working at the city’s aquarium (somehow). Gold now plans to join forces with the Queens of Darkness to find the Author themselves. And the stage is thus set for the second arc of season 4.