Storybrooke may be gone for good - and Oz could be on the horizon - as we wait out this winter break after Once Upon a Time Season 3 Episode 11.
Our TV Fanatics, Robin Harry, Michelle Carlbert, Jim Garner and Carla Day are joined below by Gareth from Once Upon a Fan to debate the role of the savior and who was the biggest hero and whether our villains have been redeemed.
And in case you missed it or want to see it again, you can always watch Once Upon a Time online here at TV Fanatic.
If Storybrooke is truly gone, will you miss it?
Robin: A bit, yes. Storybrooke was almost insignificant this entire season, but it was fun if just for a break from the costumes and sometimes questionable CGI.
Gareth: Yes and No. It is such a huge part of the series but I also like the fact that they are prepared to move the show into new territories. It keeps it fresh. I am looking forward to seeing what they do with Oz. Storybrooke is nice to revisit at times though so I hope it isn't gone completely.
Michelle: I too feel conflicted. On the one hand it's nice to see the characters in different worlds. but Storybrooke was their home and I truly hope it's not gone forever. I just can't see everyone living out the rest of their days in fairy tale land, no matter how much fun it is to visit there from time to time.
Jim: Absolutely! Then again, I don't think it's gone forever. First, as others have said, it's the heart of the story. Second, even the preview at the end said something about Storybrooke facing true evil. How could if face it, if it's gone?
Carla: Not particularly. Storybrooke wasn't unique in the same way as Fairy Tale Land, Neverland or Wonderland. It was just a small town. The show was more about the characters than the town of Storybrooke when they were there. If anything, it felt temporary, so it makes sense for it to disappear.
Emma was born in the Fairy Tale world. Is being able to stay in the real world because she's the savior a cop out?
Robin: It does make sense that she's able to escape the curse since she did the first time, but the explanation they offered was weak. I found the whole "black fairy" thing an even worse cop-out. Even if they're setting up another villain, that was way too convenient with no previous mention.
Gareth: I'm totally confused by how all that worked. I need to rewatch. I was left with the impression that Regina's gift to Emma was the ability to stay in the real world with a new set of memories. Be interesting to see whether this is the correct timeline or some kind of alternate universe that has been created for her?
Michelle: Yeah, I kind of had that thought when it all happened. But I think it had to be done. The alternative would be to leave Henry all alone and that wouldn't really work for the story. So while it was a bit of a cop out, I let them have it.
Jim: It was only in the sense that Neal had to go back. Given that Neal wasn't brought here by the curse, he should have been able to get in the car and leave with Emma and Henry too.
Carla: I didn't have a problem with Emma being able to stay because she wasn't affected by the original curse. It made sense that she wouldn't be returned to Fairy Tale Land (FTL) when the curse was reversed. The problem I had was that Neal wasn't also left behind. He wasn't in FTL when Regina cast the curse. Why did he go back? That makes no sense. Though, Tinkerbell and Hook were sent back presumably to FTL and neither of them were affected by the spell originally either.
Who was the biggest hero of the episode?
Robin: Rumpelstiltskin, hands down. His love for his family superseded his fear, and he sacrificed his life for those he loved. Greater love hath no man than this.
Gareth: Rumple's moment of sacrifice was fantastic. Stripped of all magic and making a stand as a human, with all the frailty that goes with it. Robert Carlyle was just amazing.
Michelle: Is there even any question? Rumple's sacrifice proved once and for all that he no longer puts power before love.
Jim: It was a tie for me. Rumple, followed closely by Regina. It was beautifully poetic that the two biggest villians of the show were the two who sacrificed the most to save everyone.
Carla: Rumple. He finally killed the Dark One within him. I'm not sure how directly the prophecy that Henry would be his undoing applied, but Henry did lead him to his father and ultimately "undoing" his evil side. He sacrificed himself for those that he loved.
Captain Hook was the last to say goodbye to Emma and the first to appear in the real world. Is the show pushing for a Captain Swan hook up and are you on board if they are?
Robin: I think that's where they're heading. Her goodbye with Hook was much more "charged" than with Neal, and now Hook gets a head-start with Emma 2.0, misguided-but-awesome kiss included. I'm absolutely cool with that. Hook challenges Emma in a way that Neal can't.
Gareth: I have been adamant throughout this season that Neal and Emma are end game. Now I'm honestly not sure. Hook and Emma have much more chemistry. Neal's goodbye was a bit lacklustre while Hook and Emma just smolder. I've been flying the flag of SwanFire but CaptainSwan is winning me over.
Michelle: I really love Neal, but after watching Hook and Emma together, I definitely think I'm learning more toward a Captain Swan pairing. Emma and Neal will always be bonded because of Henry but I think she's such a different person than she was when they first met and now Hook is more the man for her. Swan hook up and are you on board if they are?
Jim: I like the new and improved Captain. I wouldn't mind Emma getting "Hooked" on him for a bit :) Yep, I went there.
Carla: I also always thought that Emma and Neal were destined to be together, but now I'm not so sure. The chemistry between Emma and Hook is undeniable. They sizzle unlike any other couple on the show. Though, it's also that Hook is naturally charismatic while Neal is more reserved and low key. I think Hook would have chemistry with a wall if he wanted. I'll wait and see what happens when they all get back together again. Hook's kiss didn't break the memory spell....
Are Rumpel and Regina still considered villains? Have they been redeemed?
Robin: Yes and Yes. These two have come so far, and their redemption means more in the face of their past villainry. They both finally learned how to let love guide their actions rather than fear or vengeance, and the sacrifices they've made have redeemed them.
Gareth: I think their redemption story arcs have been well covered now. I would hate to see the emotional development in their characters lost and have them reset to season one. I think that is why new villains with new agendas are being introduced. It gives Regina and Rumple somebody to fight against.
Michelle: I also say Yes and Yes. I think they both did things in this episode that will redeem them for their past wrongs. But at the same time, I think there will always be a part of them that is a villain. But I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing. I think that it's the sort of thing that will help them to fight enemies harder and in ways that maybe the "good" people can't.
Jim: I'm not sure one good act completely redeems them, at the same time, I'm not sure I would fully consider them villains anymore either. I'm really torn, I love them both so much now, I would be crushed to see them go back to evil.
Carla: They have redeemed themselves in the eyes of their family, but I'm not sure that's enough for when they get back to FTL. They are still feared there and will have much to overcome. Will they fall back into their old habits to resolve problems? Will Regina bow down to Snow and Charming as the rightful King and Queen? She's lost Henry, so what is there for her now? Rumple at least has Belle to help him get through the transition. Perhaps, Regina will get second chance with her true love, Robin Hood!
Do you think Rumpelstiltskin is truly dead?
Robin: Oh, heaven, I hope not. Robert Carlyle is my favourite thing about this show. I have no idea how they can/will bring Rumpel back, but they absolutely need to!
Gareth: Hell No! Rumple will be back but I do think he will be transformed. The dagger has been used in an act of self sacrifice and I think that will have profound effects for Rumple. A new version of Rumplestiltskin will arise.
Michelle: Not a chance. Or if he is truly dead, then they will find a way to revive him. It felt like the Blue Fairy was barely dead five minutes before she was back giving them the wand. Death is relative on this show and Rumpel will be back again. I have no doubt about it.
Jim: I pray he's not. The Blue Fairy was back from the dead awfully quick.
Carla: No. The spell that reversed the curse will somehow save him.
What was your favorite scene from this Once Upon a Time Season 3 episode?
Robin: For me, nothing even comes close to watching Rumpelstiltskin twist that dagger, then kiss his estranged father as they faded away. What a powerful scene. There was so much in that scene; pain, triumph, forgiveness, love. Darn it, I'm getting teary again.
Gareth: The moment Rumple sacrificed himself. Everything about that scene was fantastic. The way he kissed his father and embraced him as the light enveloped them, it just gave me chills.
Michelle: It's a hard choice because I felt equally heartbroken during the long goodbye scene at the end, but I have to say that Rumpel's sacrifice is my favorite. I loved when Rumpel stabbed him that Pan turned back into the old man he was. It was fitting that he died in that form.
Jim: Regina explaining her gift to Henry and Emma. Heart warming and tear invoking all rolled into one!
Carla: When the show jumped forward a year and Hook showed up at Emma's door. It gave hope of what's to come in the second half of the season. I'm excited to see what happens next. How will Emma and Henry get to FTL? And what's happened in the time that's passed?