The closest thing to magic truly is a good spin class
Credit: Jack Rowand/ABC

The winter finale of Once Upon a Time is before us, and I know there’ve been some growing pains this season. It’s practically a brand new show, and it’s taken us to places we’ve never seen before, places we’ve seen on spin-offs (I’m looking at you, Wonderland), places that made us lose our emotional MINDS, and now it’s taken us to Soul Cycle. But at the end of the day, we gather here to get answers to questions we had laid out for us in the first episode. What’s going on with Rapunzel and Gothel and this weird diagram that keeps showing up all over things? Well, you just wait.

Once Upon a Time at Soul Cycle

And if two settings weren’t enough, we’re also in San Francisco with Henry and Regina. They’ve come on a mission, and that mission? Find Zelena, and y’all won’t believe where she’s at. She’s a spin instructor at SpokesPeople. I can’t make this up, guys. I honestly can’t. Of course, Zelena doesn’t know what’s going on either. She just knows that she hates Roni because she ruined her daughter’s life. These sisters can’t catch a break. That’s when Henry figures out Lucy is hurt, so he takes off to Hyperion Heights while Regina stays behind to get things right with Zelena.

Regina mixes a potion in with some liquor and gives it to Zelena, but it doesn’t immediately work. But as Regina tries to explain it all, Zelena realizes the truth and thinks it’s hilarious that she teaches spin. Same, girl. And while they have things to do, it’s going to be tricky just walking away from her life as Kelly. If the spin life wasn’t alluring enough, she’s apparently engaged to be married. She’s having a real Hannah Montana moment, because she wants to help, but Kelly’s got a wedding, y’all! But she agrees to help because that’s what heroes and Hannah Montana would do.

Once Upon a Time in The Past

Back in the old world, Lucy isn’t doing so great either. Drizella is over here delivering terrible news about Lucy’s eighth birthday, but she’s stopped in her tracks, literally, by Victoria who uses some dark magic to turn her to stone. So everyone is chill for eight years, but God knows this world can’t be stable for too long. Skipping eight years forward to Lucy’s birthday, Drizella is still stoned and the sky turns dark. Gothel shows up and breaks the dark magic curse with her legion of evil backup singers, and Drizella is free.

We get a couple doses of Zelena this episode, but in the past, Robin is 25 years old! Regina has gone to Zelena and Robin to warn them of Drizella being free and suggest that maybe it’s time for witches to step up and find witches. It’s great to see our girl. While that happens, Hook goes on the search for Rumple’s help, where he reveals he has a white elephant. It can’t stop the trouble Drizella and Gothel can bring, but it will protect the most precious relationship. And at that time, Alice stops with a letter for Hook to deliver for her.

Lucy and Henry ride into the woods on his motorcycle, where she gets to meet our girl, Tiger Lily! Hey, girl! He leaves Lucy behind, armed with her faith and her book, and insists she can make it all good, even if the curse hits. She just has to believe in the Land without Magic. That’s when Henry goes to work on that tree with Geppetto’s ax. But as night falls, we find ourselves with the same scene from the beginning of the season, where the witches are coming after them and Henry stays behind to fight as Lucy escapes. Full circle!

All the witches congregate, and you know what? It’s kind of terrifying in The Ring sort of way. Anyway, they gather to cast the dark curse. But Rapunzel/Victoria shows up to try to stop Drizella. But Drizella shuts her down pretty fast. In that moment though, Regina and Zelena show up with friends to stop her from casting the curse. But things aren’t looking great. One of the hooded witch figures is actually Henry. He’s poisoned, and Jacinda and Regina can’t stop it from taking effect… unless they go to a Land without Magic. So Drizella is banking on Regina exacting this: and who knew! She has the final ingredient, which is oddly specific: magic from a witch who has crushed the heart of the thing she loves most. It’s like bay leaves, but organic. So Regina agrees because that’s what you do for your kid, ya know? But she warns: it’s not over. But it’s not looking super hopeful as the magic swells around the team.

In the woods, Rumple gives Alice his cup and says she should return it to him. That will be his key. And in that moment, we get something super interesting. That letter Alice passed on? It was for Robin BECAUSE THEY ARE LOVERS! They kiss, and Once Upon a Time is woke, if only for a few moments. But as everyone stands embraced and Regina technically makes her turn to the dark side (for the greater good), we finally get this curse origin story. And the meaning of that drawing, which is what the witches stood on to exact it. (Recap continues on page 2)

Once Upon a Time in Hyperion Heights

Lucy isn’t doing great in this coma, guys. But Anastasia is crushing it thanks to Lucy’s stolen tear. And even though Lucy’s life hangs in the balance, Rapunzel/Victoria is absolutely jazzed because Anastasia is back in action.

Elsewhere in town, Tilly goes to find Hook. That symbol from Eloise’s notebook has been spray painted on a wall. And it’s starting to appear in a lot of different places. It’s the one from the witches’ curse, and it’s not the last time we’ll see it.

Rumple takes Anastasia away to see if she can identify which dagger has magic. She picks up one that looks like Rumple’s, but she puts it down, insisting she doesn’t think it’s that one. In that moment, all the knives fly into a shelf, and inside is Rumple’s real dagger. Anastasia isn’t sure she’s ready, but Lucy needs her help, so she better get ready. But as they’re discussing the plan, Anastasia feels someone’s presence, saying “it’s her.” But she can’t control herself, and as Gothel makes her appearance, the magic is so intense that it blows everyone away. Anastasia tries to take off and runs into Drizella. She promises she’ll keep watch after Anastasia, and I think we all know how reliable that is.

Henry makes it back to Hyperion Heights and Jacinda says he should read to comatose Lucy, and he knows exactly what part to read to her. He tells the story of how Emma’s true love kiss woke him up once upon a time. And then Henry tells Lucy that he believes her finally and offers the same kiss on the forehead, but Lucy doesn’t wake. And Henry’s belief is shaken again.

To be honest, I was a little confused as well, but as Zelena and Regina return, they discuss that both parties have to believe and right before her little coma, Lucy stopped believing. And to fix it all, they have to get their magic back. Of course, that means they’ll have to break the curse, which would kill Henry, so we’re stuck. Dead Henry or Dead Lucy.

Drizella has escaped with Anastasia, and she tries to take her magic, but it doesn’t work. Anastasia takes Drizella’s, and then Gothel pushes her down in a well with Rapunzel. And in her stead, there’s a whole room of witches’ cloaks, and they’ll fill all eight along with Gothel and Anastasia, and y’all know some bad stuff is going to go down.

Was it a good first part of the season? Well… it was fine. We still have time to grow, and let’s just be real, things are looking darker than ever. That twitchy, appear and reappear business was super spooky, and with the recurring characters we’ve gotten to see, I think there’s plenty to come back to in March, so put on your witch’s hood and hope for the best.

Episode Recaps

Once Upon a Time

Everything you’ve ever read about fairy tales is true—the residents of Storybrooke are living proof.

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