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Recap: ONCE UPON A TIME They Left A Man Behind


Episode 520 ” Firebird”
Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Ron Underwood

Just when I thought we were running out of villains, the back stabbing began. And sadly, someone got left behind. Just repeat after me. “It’s not the last episode. It’s not the last episode. It’s not the …” …..


In flashback, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) went looking for the boy who found her to find out more about herself. In the process, she was found by a bounty hunter, Cleo Fox (Rya Kihlstedt), who was going to take her to Phoenix to turn her in for the reward on her head. At the motel they were staying at, Emma got out of her handcuffs, logged onto Cleo’s computer, and found the county records site. She wanted to go to the courthouse to see if they had anything on file about her past. After going in to the courthouse to obtain files only to find out that they had next to nothing to give her, she decided to break in and look deeper herself.

When she broke in to look for more files, Cleo was also there and told her she needed to leave. The alarm was tripped and police started to show up, so the two jumped out through a window. Cleo got a shard of glass in her gut. Just before she died, Emma found out that Cleo had a daughter that she had given up as a baby. Emma ended up gathering all the information on Cleo that she could and took it to her daughter so she would know where she came from.

Going down! Finding that ambrosia is going to be ... um ... Hell. (ABC/Jack Rowand)
Going down! Finding that ambrosia is going to be … um … Hell. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

There really didn’t seem to be any real point to the whole backstory other than to have the obligatory flashback, explain what inspired Emma to become an investigator, and explain why she wears her red jacket. Cleo had one that she called her “armor”. Emma found a similar one at the store the daughter was working at to have as her own armor. Other than that and one slight reference in the later storyline, it seemed rather pointless, albeit interesting.

In Underbrooke, Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) and Peter Pan (Robbie Kay) took Zelena (Rebecca Mader) and held her hostage in exchange for Hades (Greg Germann) tearing up the contract. But when they were going to give Zelena back without her heart, Emma intervened and stopped them with a magical blast. Then Zelena kissed Hades, his heart started again, and the curse banishing him to the Underworld was lifted.

Rumpel was still unable to awaken Belle (Emilie de Ravin). Pan offered Pandora’s Box to contain Belle until she could be taken to her father in exchange for Robin Hood’s (Sean Maguire) heart. So Rumpel took Robin’s heart. Then when he went to put the heart into Pan, it turned out that Rumpel returned Robin’s heart when Pan wasn’t looking. The “heart” he put in was actually a wine bag filled with water from the River of Lost Souls, and Pan was dissolved into a cloud of green smoke. So Pan is gone and Rumpel is as evil as ever. As much as I like evil Rumpel, I still think it was a waste not to explore him more as the hero he was trained to be in the first half of the season.

Prepare Emma's heart for a test? Hades has it in the bag! (ABC/Jack Rowand)
Prepare Emma’s heart for a test? Hades has it in the bag! (ABC/Jack Rowand)

For their help in getting Zelena back, Hades removed all of their names from the headstones. He then told them a portal back to Storybrooke would be opened up in the graveyard and would stay open until sundown. But Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) couldn’t go back since his body had been rotting. The only way he could restore his body would be with a magical herb called ambrosia. Hades took them to the library and opened up an elevator to a part of the underworld where Emma would be tested before they could get the ambrosia. He removed Emma’s heart for her since it would be required for the test. Then Hades and Zelena went to the graveyard where there was another crashed clock tower with the portal opening on the clock’s face, and they went through. And to Robin’s disapproval, Regina (Lana Parrilla) talked him into letting Zelena take their baby across with them. Rumpel followed shortly afterward.

While Hook and Emma went down to find the ambrosia, the rest of our intrepid heroes set up outside the library where Henry (Jared Gilmore) used his Author powers to show each person his or her unfinished business so that they could all move on. Then Cruella de Vil (Victoria Smurfit) showed up to shut it down. With Hades gone, she would rule the Underworld. And she wanted people to torture. So she had the Blind Witch (Emma Caulfield) magically seal the heroes in the library using one of Hades’ own spells. That way, they couldn’t follow Hades back into Storybrooke.

Hell hath no fury like a ... man? ... scorned. (ABC/Jack Rowand)
Hell hath no fury like a … man? … scorned. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

Meanwhile, Emma and Hook were down below to get the ambrosia. The test was to see if her love was real. So she set her heart into a set of scales when fire consumed Hook. Instead of retrieving her heart, she pulled Hook from the flames. And that turned out to be the test since the door to the ambrosia opened. Unfortunately, Hades had already destroyed all of the ambrosia. As Emma got on to the elevator to return topside, Hook decided to stay since nothing down there could help him. Emma pleaded with him to complete his unfinished business and cross over. It was an emotional farewell, though a rather anticlimactic one.

When Emma got back topside, she and Regina were able to combine their powers to break through the spell trapping them. Henry decided to leave the story book behind. So it seems they’re not going to explore the possibility of Henry becoming mad with power. The only thing about Henry that they ever did to explore his character beyond the first season is his forgetting everything in a another previous season. The effort to make him the eternal unblemished hero has made Henry a boring character. Get with it, writers! Anyway, everyone remaining made it to the portal and got through just in time.

So will we be seeing Hook again? Or is Colin O’Donoghue’s contract not being renewed? Only time will tell. But now, it’s time to return to Storybrooke.


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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