ReviewsTelevision & Film

ONCE UPON A TIME Emma Changed Her Fate … Or Did She?

Episode 611 “Tougher Than The Rest”
Written by Adam Horowitz & Edward Kitsis
Directed by Billy Gierhart

This week’s episode is inspired by a twisted version of a classic tale. But at least in this case, they admit it’s a twisted version. And it was done to great effect. The tale was The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson.

As a young girl living under a bridge having run away from a group home, Emma was met by an older boy as she was ripping pages out of a storybook and using them for kindling. He stopped her just before she burned the aforementioned tale, explaining that the “ugly duckling” believed in itself so much that it changed its fate and became a swan. Young Emma tried correcting him that it was always a swan. But the lad, who we would later find out was a young Pinocchio, said it wasn’t how it was told to him. Thus, not only did it inspire young Emma to adopt the last name “Swan”, it also set up the overarching theme for the episode.

In Wish World, Emma and Regina blew any chance of using the portal to get back when they were held up by Robin Hood. I love the fact that it only stretched this particular subplot for one episode. Historically, such things would last so long, it would rival the milking of subplots on Dragonball Z. But this season, they’ve been much better about moving things along.

A former puppet making puppets. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

Emma got the idea to seek out Pinocchio in Wish World to build a wardrobe (like Geppetto did for baby Emma) that would send them back to Storybrooke, since he dismantled the original years ago. Regina ditched them to go looking for Robin Hood.

Except that Robin Hood was actually Robin of Locksley and he stole from the rich and … kept it. Hopefully this reintroduction will be a less whiny version than the last one. After all, his version of Marian died before they could marry.

The two got captured by the Sheriff of Nottingham before being “freed” by Rumpelstiltskin. Then as revenge on the Wish World Evil Queen for locking Belle away and starving her to death, he decided to take it out on Regina. He threw her and Robin in a prison … from which Robin could escape.

Emma and Pinocchio found an enchanted tree which he could carve a wardrobe from. He had a magic chisel handed down from Geppetto since non-magical items couldn’t affect magic wood. But in an encounter with an old, drunk Captain Hook with a big gut, the chisel was broken. Eventually, Emma convinced Pinocchio that if he truly believed, he could be the woodcarver his father was and wouldn’t need an enchanted chisel. It worked.

When the cabinet was completed, Emma and Regina took Robin along through the wardrobe and into Storybrooke. They reappeared coming out of exploding trees, presumably acquired from Michael Bay. And Emma went to face her fate.

Why does Gideon dress like he’s heading to the Jedi Temple to kill younglings? (ABC/Jack Rowand)

While that was happening, Gideon had appeared in Storybrooke as the guy in the hooded robe from Emma’s vision. He had been raised, and harshly treated by the Black Fairy in another realm, for 28 years. What is the deal with 28? Emma was 28 when she found out she was the Savior and broke the spell everyone was under. Now Gideon was 28 and wanted to kill Emma.

And why? He wanted to stop the Black Fairy and needed to become the Savior to do so. After all, asking for the Savior’s help wasn’t sufficient enough. He has to kill the Savior in order to take her power, since in the end, there can be only o– … Sorry, wrong franchise.

There was a sword battle between Emma and Gideon. And she got the best of him! And the sword was shattered! She changed her fate!

But wait … she was wearing different clothes in the vision, meaning that it wasn’t the vision. And Gideon promised he would still kill her before he disappeared. And Mr. Gold warned Belle that war was coming to Storybrooke. And it ended with a vandalizing Gideon, inside the clock tower, smashing out the face of the clock. Jeez, how many times are they going to have to fix that thing? And there are still too many episodes yet. So the fate could still be coming.

So a big thank you to the writing staff for not lingering on the Wish World story line any further than this episode. And please don’t make this Robin as whiny as the previous one. While I’m not the most thrilled with the whole “I knew all along” trope that Pinocchio expressed, I’m still thrilled to see where the rest of the season leads. Fate or no fate?


Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on ABC.

Daniel C. Handley

Dan Handley was raised a Trekkie, fell in love with "Star Wars" at an early age, and became obsessed with comic book superheroes. He spent his youth dreaming of how to get real superpowers, starships, and so on.

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