As much fun as it was to watch the core cast wander around the woods for half a season talking to themselves and embarking on ill-advised romantic adventures it was even MORE fun watching them all back in Storybrooke trying to co-exist. Even if it was just for barely an entire episode. And even if that episode featured, like, an hour long “Welcome Home!” sequence. What the heck was that even anyways? Boat rolls in and the entire town is waiting on the docks to greet them with every last person on the boat getting a moment with loved ones. Well, I mean, almost every one of them. Poooor Unfortunate Sooooul Shoot, even the Lost Boys got their boat exit shot guys. The group of extras that are now going to populate the non-existent orphanage or share that loft with the Charming family (can you imagine?) got an exit shot. It was ridiculous and goofy and then in the middle of the so sweet it makes your teeth hurt fuzzies Mary Margaret dropped the ultimate sugar bomb and told the town Regina saved all their lives. And no one snarked. Then, before we could bask in the fan ficcy glow of the opening we were back in fairytale land where Charming celebrates his nuptials with hair extensions (it grew like an inch from the chapel to the bedroom guys) and Mary Margaret celebrates with obsessing over Regina. Ostensibly this story was meant to contrast with Emma’s journey in the present (we’ll round back to this). But really it just worked to continue to flesh out the relationships between Snow and Charming and Snow and Regina. Snowing was, for the first time in living memory, fun. They were flirty and adventurous and wandering into Harryhausen’s Clash of the Titans for a honeymoon adventure. And Regina took the time out of looking fabulous bitch to pop in and mock Snow and give her the little talking to she needed so she could power up and defeat Medusa and save her husband who fails at instructions. He turned into a rock. It’s love, guys. Whatever else is between Snow and Regina there is that love. And we see flashes of it when Mary Margaret backs Regina up in front of the crowd and when she’s the first to her unconscious ass’s bedside. Which, speaking of. Let’s discuss how stupid Regina was but how it was perfectly fine because of how in character it was. Like Henry Regina has a big ol’ ego and all Peter Pan has to do is stroke it a little and she’s on his side, firmly believing he’s the son she’s missed and she’s finally earned her happy ending. Even as I found myself yelling at the screen not to go into tombs with the little jerk I could still get it. And it’s a shame, because as much sense as her stupidity made Emma’s perfect intuition was a muddy mess of reasons. Emma’s established to be intuitive, and she’s also established to be distrusting, but her suspecting Henry was not himself went against all those weeks of character development and the reasons given for her suspicion were less rooted in core Emma qualities and more rooted in some psychosomatic bull honk unveiled for this episode only. Was she jealous of Henry and Regina? Was she looking for trouble to avoid her family and Neal? Was she looking for a problem because she’s the savior and being a hero is now her bag? The writers sort of shotgunned all those ideas out there, and then wandered away to kill off Blue or give us a Neal/Hook conversation about how they both want to bang Emma. And while the flashbacks focused on Snow White I think this episode was supposed to be actually be about Emma and her myriad of reasons for suspecting something was up with Henry. Her refusal to relax was supposed to parallel Snow’s refusal, and the end, with Snow learning to relax and Emma learning she cannot relax, was, I think, meant to mean something. Instead it all got lost in the very sudden ending where Peter Pan revealed his plan. If he were further through puberty he would have stroked a mustache by the end. The Pan plot wasn’t the only thing detracting from Emma’s arc. There was also the bit where the entire town wants her to marry the guy that abandoned her to prison 10+ years ago. Almost the whole town. Her dad supports her however because he’s a good dad when he’s not lusting after Hook. Does she need to start wearing a chastity belt outside her pants? Will that be the only way people (okay mainly just Neal and Mary Margaret) finally understand? Woman has says she’s done with dating for a while and thus far the only people accepting that are her dad and the pirate we don’t want her to hook up with because he’s supposed to get his hook in Charming’s sword sheath and no I am not sorry for writing that innuendo that’s so bad it could count as flirting on Once Upon A Time. We get it show. Emma is a fetching young woman. She deserves to be happy. And yes, in some circumstances, romantic relationships with exes can make a person happy, but it’s a little perplexing isn’t it? The show has sort of become that guy at a party constantly plying Emma with men and saying “you know you want it” while she firmly rejects them. It’s a little nasty guys. Either make the story go somewhere or back off (and no, devoting fifteen minutes to characters SAYING they’re backing off is not backing off). Notes Eric and Ariel are reunited. He is a fishmonger. Words cannot express my delight. Ginny Goodwin running might be a national treasure. Tinkerbell guys. Tinkerbell. First her and Regina being a BrOTP and Regina standing up to Blue for her and the two of them getting loaded, and then her shutting Hook down so hard I think he pinched something. I REALLY hope she sticks around. She can be the new Ruby…once she gets a new wardrobe. Ratty ballet costumes are NOT in. Blue is dead. It was awful. Seriously. Is she actually dead? Because I kind of thought she was the true architect of the curse and everyone’s fate and was looking forward to THAT plot. Instead we got her forgetting she has a wand and getting her shadow lamely ripped from her person. Hook trying to sleep with Tink. Just. Gimme a moment. I hope he makes a pass at Regina next. Regina fainting like Judy Garland in The Pirate. Why was Medusa in the Enchanted Forest? Does this mean more Greek mythological figures are there? Regina telling Emma not to be jealous and it not being the end or the world. These two need to be best friends or make out. Enough is enough. Henry in Pan was perfect because the better of the two young actors got to do all the heavy lifting for those Emma and Regina scenes. Guy is wonderful. Though Jared Gilmore plays Evil Pan REALLY nicely. Maybe because Pan is a fully drawn character and Henry is just a plot device so he has more to work with (and a performance to emulate)? Rapunzel has been cast for the second half of the season and she’s Alexandra Metz! Besides having an AWESOME first name she’s also black. Which means we’re finally getting a woman of color princess. Rebecca Mader has also been cast as an unnamed villain that should show up by the end of next week’s episode. Much money is placed on her being Cruella DeVille. Next Week: The mid-season finale! Peter Pan tries to curse Storybrooke, which SHOULD mean his most loved person or thing must die. Is this the end of Rumpel? Or Pan? Or Storybrooke? ANSWERS.