Emma in the pilot. Under the guise of an internet date, she confronts a married embezzler, who tries to run away. She crosses busy traffic (In heels!) to get to where he had parked his car, which she had booted. When he smarts off to her, she slams his head against the steering wheel. This is her first scene in the whole series, mind you.
The clock starting to tick.
Regina's speech about how the adoptive parent is the real parent, villain though she may be.
Snow White's Defiant to the End moment with her stepmother, knowing her child escaped. "Good will always win."
Episode 2 - The Thing You Love Most
Emma cutting down half of Regina's apple tree after she had Emma framed and then threatening that if Regina keeps coming after her she'll cut down the rest of the tree.
The ensuing conversation When Regina discovers Emma in her backyard:
In the second episode when you first realize the epic Batman Gambit Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold is playing you can't help but be impressed. It gets even better when you realize there may even be a Memory Gambit involved. Do we have the show's first Magnificent Bastard here?
The Evil Queen's battle with Maleficent, telekinetically throwing dozens of weapons at her unicorn so her guard would be down, then wrapping a chandelier around her.
When The Evil Queen smokes out to avoid Charming's sword, she reappears in her castle and we see the sword fly past her and stick through the wall. The only way to explain this is if the sword passed through her while she was in smoke form. To reiterate: A sword passed right through her and she didn't so much as bat an eyelash. Evil? Yes. Badass? Hell yes!
Episode 3 - Snow Falls
Snow White being able to fend off Prince Charming during Episode Three and giving him the scar that makes him easily recognizable.
Episode 4 - The Price of Gold
Emma's conversation with Ashley in Episode 4
Emma: Screw 'em Ashley: What? Emma: Screw. Them. How old are you? Ashley: Nineteen Emma: I was eighteen. Ashley: When you had a kid? Emma: Yeah. I know what it's like. Everybody loves to tell what you can and can't do. Especially with a kid. But ultimately, whatever you are considering on doing, or giving up, the choice is yours. Ashley: It's not exactly what you might think it is. Emma: Never is. People are gonna tell you who you are your whole life. You just gotta punch back and say "No, this is who I am." Want people look at you differently, make them. You wanna change things? You have to go out there and change them yourself - because there are no fairy godmothers in this world.
Emma's logic on why Ashley should keep her baby.
Episode 5 - That Still Small Voice
Archie standing up to Regina about Henry's treatment, especially the bit about how a child's therapist can be very influential in determining the best place for a child in a (potential, hypothetical) custody hearing. Booyeah.
Archie, darling! You grewaquad when we weren't looking! It's the first time anyone other than Henry, Emma, or Gold has told her off!
Archy: Or what? You'll destroy me? You'll do your worst? Because I will always do my best!
When Emma rescues Archie and Henry from the collapsing elevator. She has Henry safe in hand, the elevator is going to fall with Archie still inside. They're saying hasty farewells before it drops, and the moment borders on a Tear Jerker when Archie uses his umbrella to hook onto Emma's gear at the last second.
Regina finding out Emma is now the town's deputy:
Regina: This is now official town business, you're free to go. Emma: Actually I work for the town now. Regina gives the Sheriff a look Sheriff: She's my... new deputy. Regina: They say the mayor is always last to know. Sheriff: It's in my budget.
Episode 6 - The Shepard
The future Prince Charming, now just a humble farmer forced into heroics, kills a dragon by using his smarts, after all the knights who were talking down to him get roasted by relying on strength alone.
Even better, the technique he used to outsmart the dragon was one that he'd perfected in his work as a shepherd. Take That, arrogant knights.
Episode 7 - The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Regina and Emma getting into a fistfight at Regina's father's tomb. Immensely satisfying to see Regina finally get some manner of come-uppance for her actions (and if you're a fan of Regina, she whacks Emma a pretty good one as well).
It also nicely averts the TV standard catfight or avoidance of females fighting or females being unblemished by fighting. The two of them pull out nice solid punches hard enough to cause visible injury.
Graham's break-up speech to Regina just before that. Talk about standing up for himself for the first time in decades.
Graham: I've realized that I don't feel anything, Regina, and I know now it's not me. It's you. Regina: So you're leaving me for her? Graham: I'm leaving you for me.
Episode 8 - Desperate Souls
Mr. Gold's Batman Gambit to get Emma elected sheriff. First he makes her look like a hero by setting a fire she can save Regina from, and then gets the townspeople to admire her even more by getting her to suspect him, and denounce his actions at a public debate.
Emma standing up to Mr. Gold and going the heroic route. Not many people have the courage to stand up in front of half the town and tell them that the thing they love her for was fake, but Emma had so much courage that Mr. Gold planned on her doing just that.
Plus, Emma's declaration after the fire that she would save Regina every time, because that's what good people do.
Awesome and creepy is the sight of Rumplestiltskin appearing as the Dark One for the first time, humiliating the soldiers who humiliated him and wiping them out in seconds.
Episode 10 - 7:15
Grumpy's declaration that he wants the pain of his lost love, however bad it feels, because "It makes me who I am. It makes me Grumpy."
Also a Tearjerker when we learn just how true that is: he used to be named Dreamy until he was forced to give up on his love for Nova.
Snow White threatening to start a fire if the king and his men didn't let Grumpy go.
Stealthy, the eighth dwarf. Just days before the prince's wedding, security at its highest, and he stages a break-out from the king's darkest dungeons. And he wears a beret.
Episode 11 - Fruit from the Poisonous Tree
Regina may be evil, but it's still pretty impressive how she pulls not one, but TWO Batman Gambits in ''Fruit From the Poisonous Tree". As Regina, the entire thing with Sidney Glass turning on Regina and trying to expose her ends up with cementing Sidney as someone Emma can trust, allowing him to spy on her, with the added bonus of making Emma look like a fool in front of the town for attacking what ends up being Regina's proposal for a playhouse. And back in the fairy tale land, Regina seduces the Genie, gets him to murder her husband, and then set him up for the blame by having him use vipers that come from his hometown. Regina might tend to not be very subtle, but in this episode, we learn that she might just have the trappings of a Magnificent Bastard after all.
Episode 12 - Skin Deep
Mr. Gold confirming that he knows he's Rumpelstiltskin, and remembers everything.
YMMV but the scene was in Regina's power. But the Oh, Crap on her face sells it how dangerous he still is.
A big part of Regina's power came from supposedly being the only one who knew what was what. And considering Regina's casting the Dark Curse was all part of his master plan, it's hard to argue he wasn't the real power in the story. And the slow spread of that evil smile over his face as he quits pretending to be an ordinary shopkeeper/landlord...CHILLS.
Especially when you consider that he may or may not know about the promise Regina made him.
Previously, Rumplestiltskin had only done a few small tricks. Here, a king makes a deal with him to end the war, and Rumplestiltskin says "Okay" and the war is over.
The price for the war's end? Belle. That's how much Rumplestiltskin wanted her, even before he fell in love with her.
Rumplestiltskin doing to Gaston what we wish Disney's Beast could have done to his.
Mr. Gold coolly ruining the business of the man he believes responsible for Belle's death. And then, when he tries to return the favor, Mr. Gold somehow manages to tie him up in the back of his own repossessed van, takes him out to a cabin, and absolutely wails on him.
This episode is the most out-of-control we've ever seen Mr. Gold. Yet it's revealed that by the time he's through, he manages to strike up a deal with Regina, starting the 'Nolan disappearing' scheme that drives the rest of the season's 'real world' plot, a scheme he planned on betraying in the first place. Effectively, he creates a scheme that takes Regina's mook Mr. Glass off the board, at the same time as he's getting out of a jail sentence, drawing Emma closer to the truth, making Regina trust him.All while coolly eating an apple.
Episode 13 - What Happened To Frederick
Kathryn slapping Mary Margaret when she finds out about the affair between her and David. It's a painful and sad situation, yes, but one must admit Mary kind of had that coming.
Leroy cutting the power to force everyone to buy candles, saving the nunnery.
Episode 15 - Red-Handed
Red ate her boyfriend. Huge tear jerking horrific imagery aside, Little Red Riding Hood just ate her boyfriend. That was a giant holy crap moment.
Red's grandmother for being bitten by the wolf and stares it down! It might be because she's related to the wolf, but the wolf had just finished eating her dad and all of her brothers, so the only other explanation is that Granny fended off The Big Bad Wolf through sheer force of will!
Snow White: Sooo, your granny's kind of intense...
Episode 16 - Heart of Darkness
Red staying behind and turning into the wolf to give Charming a chance to catch up to Snow.
Later, we see one of the guards has claw marks on his face, making him the only character besides Granny to survive an encounter with The Big Bad Wolf.
Grumpy informing Snow White that he and the other dwarves are all going to help her get James back. "Let's show that king what Snow White and Seven Dwarves can really do!"
Rumpelstiltskin manipulating the situation between Snow White and James to finally get his hands on a bottle of Love.
For that matter, he's got a very nice collection even before that.
Episode 17 - Hat Trick
Mary Margaret instinctively pulling out her Snow White fighting skills to knock Jefferson out the window.
Earlier in the same episode, after Emma is drugged and tied up, she gets herself free within seconds of waking up.
Regina walks into the Sheriff's office with a smug grin on her face, certain that she had gotten Mary Margaret to escape. Instead, she sees Mary Margaret in her cell, nonchalantly reading a newspaper. But what tops it off is MM's equally smug greeting of "Madam Mayor."
Rumplestiltskin: I called a truce in the ogre wars. I walked into the middle of the field of battle, and it ended. And I brought the children home.
Mr. Gold revealing to Regina how he used her Exact Words against her in the deal about Kathryn, and has controlled things so that all the evidence points to her.
The Blue Fairy's calm and serene response to Rumple blaming her for Baelfire going through the portal without him. Sure, she's equally magical, but it's a stark contrast to the reaction of every other person in the enchanted forest.
Emma declaring that the gloves are coming off in their rivalry, actually cutting Regina off, and declaring that she is going to make this a fight.
Episode 20 - The Stranger
Regina tells Henry that she is transferring him out of Mary Margaret's class. Henry says to Regina's face that she framed Mary Margaret, she will lose, Snow White will have a happy ending, and good will win. Oh, and he's not transferring classes.
Mr. Gold figuring out exactly who August is and getting his father to show up at the shop at exactly the right time to confirm it.
Henry proving he has a set of Brass Balls by taking the poisoned apple turnover from Emma and gobbling it in front of her in a form of Heroic Suicide to not just save her life, but prove to her once and for all that he's not making up the curse.
Likewise, grabbing the steering wheel to avert Emma's ill-conceived kidnapping attempt. Suicidally brave, and willing to give up his own chance at happiness and escape for the sake of everyone else? The kid definitely takes after Grandma Snow and Grandpa Charming.
Snow White and the dwarves' attack on King George's castle, which a big chunk of the budget had clearly been reserved for.
The fairies putting the guards to sleep. Who knew fairy dust could make such loud explosions?
The townspeople's uprising against Regina. Even though it's All Just a Dream, you can see that Regina is genuinely terrified of them now that they know what she's done.
Mr. Gold tweaking the curse so that Emma dying means the curse is broken.
Episode 22 - A Land Without Magic
The Huntsman frees Charming, gives him his weapon and provisions, and then proceeds to blatantly lie to the Evil Queen about what happened. This is well after she's made it clear what will happen if he crosses her.
Emma's fight switching back and forth with Prince Charming's battle, as both must fight Maleficent in her dragon form. Bonus epic for Emma finishing the battle by tossing her father's sword into the dragon's heart in the same manner Maleficent was defeated in the original movie.
Also, the fact that Emma pulls a gun on the dragon, despite the fact that it doesn't work.
Prince Charming cut Rumpelstiltskin with a sword. On the face. Rumpelstiltskin even seemed shocked for a brief instant.
Especially since we know that with all of Rumpel's power, Rumpel was playing around until he could get Charming to listen. He wasn't expecting an actual fight.
Charming asserting himself and getting in Whale's face for leading the angry mob. This gets a look of newfound respect from his long-lost daughter, who only knew him as weak-willed David Nolan.
Snow fighting off the wraith, and saving Regina, with a cigarette lighter and hairspray. It's even more awesome when you realize she saved a woman who's held a grudge against her for decades and wanted to kill her as well.
Prince Phillip sacrificing himself to the wraith so Mulan and Princess Aurora could live.
It was particularly awesome when Henry walked in on Regina about to kill David with her newly acquired magical powers and stopped her.
A minor but still potent one for Belle, in that she makes Gold promise not to take revenge against Regina for imprisoning her. This is the woman who had her locked away in an asylum for 28 years. Granted, he was as much angry that Regina lied to him out of spite but Belle still made him swear not to seek vengeance. Why? Because she wants him to be better than that. Doesn't work, but still...
Episode 2 - We are Both
Regina'sdelightfully hammy entry into the room and subsequent pwning of Granny, Grumpy and everyone else there was fairly Badass in a villainous way.
Red should also get a mention for her efforts in "We Are Both," being the only one to walk forward and ask Regina, who has just used her magic on everyone trying to deal with her, what she wants. She also delivers a bit of a What the Hell, Hero? to Charming to make him realize that he needs to focus on the town and Henry, instead of burying himself in his efforts to retrieve Snow and Emma from the Enchanted Forest.
Charming convincing everyone in Storybrooke to stay and reminding them that their Storybrooke selves are still a part of them, basically saving everyone from destroying themselves.
Quickly followed by his storming into Regina's house to get Henry back, broadsword in hand. It's shiver-inducing to see him carrying it while dressed as David.
Awesome moment for Josh Dallas as an actor, because despite the costume change, it's obvious that that is Charming walking in, not David.
Henry surrendering himself to Regina to protect the townspeople from her.
And escaping immediately after! It fails, but it's still awesome that he had a plan in place.
Regina fighting off Cora's magic and getting her revenge on her mother, by pushing her into the magic mirror.
"It's off to work we go." As the Dwarves head down to the mine to start looking for fairy dust. Lee Arenberg makes this line sound incredibly Bad Ass.
Snow judo flipping over a revenge-crazed Aurora who put a knife to her throat from behind.
Emma using gunpowder from one of her bullets and lighting it, setting the magic wardrobe on fire, essentially sacrificing her only chance to return to Storybrooke so that Cora wouldn't use it to go after Henry.
Episode 4 - The Crocodile
Belle telling both Rumpelstiltskin and her father where to go. No one decides her fate but her.
Rumpelstiltskin showing off his magical ability and saving Belle.
Emma with the help of Hook knocking out the giant the first time with poppy dust. Then after he awakens, capturing him with his own booby trap and getting him to give her his magic compass. And finally getting him to detain Hook for ten hours while she gets back down the beanstalk. Emma just pretty much rocked in this one.
Episode 7 - Child of the Moon
King George tries to shoot a wolfed-out Ruby. Granny shoots the gun out of his hand with her crossbow, then says that the next one "goes between [his] eyes." Do notmess with her granddaughter.
Allow me to reiterate. Granny shot a gun out of King George's hand. A split second before he would have murdered Ruby in cold blood, after framing her and tricking her into believing that she killed Billy. With a crossbow.
David gets points for having enough faith that Ruby won't kill him in wolf form that he goes up to her, unarmed, and talks her into letting him get close enough to give her her cloak back.
Crossing over with Heartwarming, the fact that Ruby was willing to hand herself over to King George and get killed in order to protect the people she cares about.
Granny with a welding torch. Just...yes.
After everything George has done in this episode, David finally gets to punch him in the face. If that doesn't make you cheer, nothing will.
Also Red screaming at David to not kill George. This man framed her and wanted her for dead to spite David, but even she knows he's not worth the trouble if it meant corrupting David.
Quinn steals Red's cloak. She begs him not to destroy it. As soon as he says that he knows she's a wolf, she stops begging and immediately kicks his ass.
Henry taking control of the fiery nightmare he and Aurora have been trapped in, allowing him to communicate with Emma and Snow.
Episode 8 - Into the Deep
Aurora sassing Cora.
This deserves elaboration. Aurora has been kidnapped by the most powerful evil sorceress in history. She's chained up in a pit and confident that the others will not give up their way home to get her back. Not only is she not afraid, she snarks at Cora without so much as batting an eyelash, and then mocks her for losing the compass in the first place. To her face.
And then she immediately sees through Cora's "offer" to tell her how to bring Phillip back with dark magic, knowing that kind of magic always has a price too high to pay. And responds to the bait by kicking a wooden plate into Cora's shins and telling her she's not that stupid and she will never betray the others.
Hook adds himself to the Magnificent Bastard list as he flawlessly plays Aurora to get her under Cora's control.
Episode 9 - Queen of Hearts
Emma versus Hook. It look like she's losing the entire time... and then she gets the compass and starts kicking his arse.
Villainous example. Cora and Hook arriving in Storybrooke in a freaking pirate ship was pretty damn cool.
Episode 10 - The Cricket Game
Emma using her "product of true love" magic purposefully for the first time to see Pongo's memories.
The gambit Snow and Charming pulled on the imprisoned Regina with Rumple's help. If Regina agreed to change her ways she would be let free; but if she tried to harm Snow with the dagger Rumple provided, it would activate a protection spell on Snow and Charming and she would be banished. The latter, unfortunately, is what happened.
The fact that, as we learned in earlier episodes, despite Cora screwing him over, Rumpelstiltskin ends up getting exactly what he wants anyway.
Episode 17 - Welcome to Storybrooke
Kurt Flynn telling Owen to haul ass in a Heroic Sacrifice and fighting off both Regina and Graham for the kid to get away.
Also calling Regina out on her bullshit, saying that even if she has everyone else in the town wrapped around her finger, she can never have Owen.
Henry pulling one over on Baelfire and running off into the woods, grabbing some dynamite and running to the wishing well in order to cut the knot and destroy the town's magic. It didn't work, but that kid still has more balls than a Krogan warship for trying.
Owen getting it all on video without getting caught. Agent Mulderwishes he was that guy.
The fact that Rumple is able to stop Regina from hurting Snow by just standing there. No shouting. No fancy magical display. Just the knowledge of what he's capable of is enough to make Regina back down.
Episode 18- Selfless, Brave and True
Mary Margaret firing off arrows while listening to "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
August standing up to Tamara after learning about her ill intent regarding Storybrooke. After years of being cowardly and dishonorable, he finally decides to stand up for other people.
Tamara could easily have just come off as a Smug Snake it's impossible to care about after the other great villains the show has given us. But then she shows her stuff by standing her ground as the Dragon starts going One-Winged Angel on her, and interrupting it with a taser.
Episode 19 - Lacey
Rumplestiltskin shrugs off being shot by Robin Hood like a boss.
Belle knows by now that Rumple is dangerous - he's been straight up torturing Hood, after all, and she's been forced to clean his blood - but she still frees Hood without a second's thought, regardless of what happens to her.
Robin himself, stealing from the Dark One to save Marian. Most people would have summoned Rumple and begged for his help, usually getting roped into a deal that ends up screwing them over. But Robin had the balls to break into the Dark One's house and take what he needed, consequences be damned.
Episode 20 - The Evil Queen
This is from the promos before the episode, but the monday before the episode aired, Disney released this to chronicle all the Evil Queen has done in her life. Regardless of what happens in the episode, it's still awesome.
Snow White saving the disguised Regina, showing more impressive fighting skills than ever before.
Snow quickly deducing that the peasant girl is a disguised Regina and immediately aiming an arrow at her.
An Offscreen Moment of Awesome comes when Hook casually mentions that Owen and Tamara also quickly managed to take down Maleficent, who had become a virtually invincible shade after her Dragon form was previously "slain" by Emma.
Henry on the tire swing being watched by Gold...and Gold being watched by a scowling Granny with a crossbow. An old lady with no magical powers is brave enough to go up against the town's most powerful magician. Never Mess with Granny indeed!
Regina is struggling to slow down the trigger. Then Emma adds her power, and they do more than slow it down; they shut it off completely.
Even more awesome is the fact that Regina held it off as long as she did one day after being brutally tortured.
The fact that The Evil Queen, Rumpelstiltskin, Captain Hook, Snow White, Prince Charming, and the daughter of the latter two are all going to work together to save Henry. Admit it, in your wildest dreams, you never imagined this team-up.
From Peter Pan. Whoooaaa.
Not to mention the relationships involved to and through Henry. Hook (even though not related to Henry) had an affair with Bae's mother (Henry's paternal grandmother). Regina is Henry's adopted mom/step-great-grandmother. Rumpel, Snow, and Charming are his grandparents. Let's face it - Henry really is everyone's Morality Chain.
Episode 1 - The Heart of the Truest Believer
Emma telling her parents that while she appreciates them trying to be parents, they're her age and she's just as experienced as they are.
Snow calling out Regina and then punching her in the face.
The crew repels the mermaid attack.
And Charming's Pre-Asskicking One-Liner. "I will not be capsized by FISH!" (doubles as a funny moment) before using a cannon.
Emma figuring out that it was the crew's anger, not the mermaid's magic, that was causing the storm. She performs a Heroic Sacrifice by throwing herself into the water, forcing the others to stop fighting and unite to rescue her.
The speech at the end where Emma declares herself the leader and demands that everyone put aside their differences and work together, and if not, then get out of her way.
Henry snarking at Tamara and Greg was glorious. It's no wonder given who his mothers are.
Neal pulling off some wicked moves with his father's walking stick.
When the ship is being attacked by mermaids Charming tries to fire a cannon at them while Emma and Snow try to stop them with a fishing net. Regina is unimpressed and just throws fireballs at them, defeating them in seconds.
We gotta give props to Henry. Peter, for whatever reason, decides to teach Henry to shoot a crossbow. Henry was suppose to shoot an apple off of Felix's head. What does Henry do? Tries to shoot Peter. It fails, but that took some serious balls.
Also considering; Henry probably wasn't even trying to kill Peter. Henry is a combination of Rumplestiltskin's smarts, with the morals of a knight of Camelot, he didn't shoot to kill. By shooting Peter he managed to discern that shooting Peter wouldn't work even at close range, and if he had actually hit Peter, he would have found out either A) that Peter is unkillable, or B) that Peter has an antidote to the incredibly dangerous poison on the arrows (or C, of course, that Peter can be killed by the poison and therefore no longer his parent's problem). That's arguably more badass than trying to kill him.
The fact that Peter caught the arrow, with no concern whatsoever, was one. It reinforces the vibe that Neverland is his turf, and he's practically invincible here.
This is the episode that cements Felix has nerves of steel. In one of the previous episodes he was sent to deliver a message to Rumpelstiltskin. Many fans though he was being cocky and didn't realize just who he was talking to. But this episode shows that he really doesn't give two shits about any of the potential danger around him, and not in a cocky way. He's just genuinely not afraid. Hell, he was smiling when he was waiting for Henry to potentially/accidentally kill him while trying to shoot the apple off of his head.
Neal's method of getting to Neverland, with fantastic teamwork between him, Mulan, and Robin Hood despite their having just met.
Robin being probably the most unfailingly heroic and charitable man in the show, by helping a complete stranger, the Son of Rumplestiltskin no less, save his family without any gain for him at all and at great risk to his own family. And then offering Mulan the position of the first woman to join the Merry Men.
The writers having the guts to make Mulan a bisexual, in a show based on children's stories.
Well, I wouldn't exactly call most of the original fairy tales "children's stories"...
Regina during her confrontation with Tinker Bell. First, she breaks free of Tinker Bell's bonds, then when Tinker Bell tries to poison her with nightshade to kill her, she just rips out her heart and dares Tinker Bell to crush it and when Tinker Bell says she sees no reason not to, Regina gives her a very good reason that choosing anger and revenge will make Tinker Bell end up just like the woman she is so angry at.
Episode 4 - Nasty Habits
Neal escaping from Felix by untying the knot he was in and then knocking Felix out cold
Felix: You may have grown up, Baelfire, but it appears you've grown up stupid.
Neal: I have grown up. Now I don't know if I'm stupid or not, but I do know I know how to tie an overhand knot. *knocks Felix out*
And then he tricks his father into getting the same ink on his hand to protect Henry from him.
Pretty much the entire episode proved how great Neal is. Almost every scene he was in he displayed his Genre Savviness about Neverland and proved that even though he's grown up since his time being there he definitely learned a few things and is definitely not a pushover.
Episode 5 - Good Form
Killian, realizing how corrupt his king is, renounces him and declares himself a pirate with a Rousing Speech that gets the entire crew on his side.
It's undoubtedly morally grey, but Regina ripping out the Lost Boy's heart and getting him to give Henry a message was ruthlessly effective.
Ariel stabbing Regina in the neck with a salad fork. Or mini trident, if you prefer.
Lana Parilla's uncanny impression of Pat Carroll's Ursula.
The real Ursula letting Regina know just how much she appreciates being impersonated.
Regina, fed up with the Charmings, taking off and teaming up with Rumplestiltskin.
Regina choking Rumplestiltskin's vision of Belle, revealing it to be Pan's shadow.
Regina: What is this? Amateur hour? Did you really believe that was Belle?
Rumplestiltskin: Why are you here?
Regina: Well, for starters, it appears I'm saving your ass.
Episode 7 - Dark Hollow
Emma trapping Pan's shadow by lighting a candle with magic, using a trick Regina had just taught her.
John and Michael Darling unflinchingly driving into Storybrooke just as the protective spell comes down and shears off the back of their car.
Gold has Pandora's Box stashed away in his shop. One can only speculate on how he got such a powerful item, but it's pretty awesome.
Episode 8 - Think Lovely Thoughts
After The Reveal that Peter Pan is Rumpelstiltskin's father, the two have a confrontation where Pan tries to tell Rumpel that they're Not So Different. Rumpel's response is basically that as terrible as his behavior was with Bae, he was still a better father than Pan.
Rumpelstiltskin goes to rescue Henry from Pan. Regina has this to say to him:
Regina: Listen closely, Gold. If you don't return here with my son, I'll make whatever Pan has planned for you look like child's play!
Regina and Emma pooling their magic to block out the moon.
Neal shutting down his father's attempt to haggle over a way for Charming to leave Neverland, telling him to do it just because it's the right thing to do. And Rumple immediately agrees.
The reaction the other characters have when Rumple first rejoins the group and Neal tells everyone that Rum is there to kill Henry, not save him, because he will be his undoing. Every single one of them who has a weapon turns and points it at Rum saying that if he wants to kill Henry, he'll have to go through all of them first. Including Hook.
Episode 9 - Save Henry
The heroes are cornered by Pan, and he uses magic to lash them all to a tree, saying they'll be bound by the strength of their own regrets. Snow and Emma are strugging to free themselves...Regina tears through the bonds like they were made of tissue paper. Despite arguably being the one with the party to regret the most? She regrets not a single damned thing - because it got her Henry. She then grabs Henry's heart right out of Pan and drops him.
More awesome because a recurring point was made that, out of all the group, Regina is the only one Pan was completely dismissive of and didn't really bother with, referring to her with arrogant scorn constantly. Now he's paid the price for underestimating the Evil Queen.
Just when it looked like he was about to be sucked into Pandora's Box, Pan pulled one last trick: He swapped bodies with Henry.
Episode 10 - The New Neverland
Tinker Bell confronting the Blue Fairy and demanding her wings back. Nice to see her having to deal with just one of the people she's screwed over before her death.
Hook officially cementing his character development by risking his life to save David, Tink, and Neal. He gets hurt in the process but shrugs it off.
Emma noticing that something was off about Henry. Her faultylie detector seems to be working again.
Episode 11 - Going Home
Rumple pulling a Taking You with Me on Pan by calling his shadow back to him and using the Dark One dagger to stab both himself and Pan, through Pan's back.
Rumple: You see, you may have lost your shadow, but there's one thing you're forgetting.
Pan: And whats that?
Rumple: So have I.
Also, when Pan tries one last attempt at manipulating Rumple, saying he can give the two of them a happy ending if Rumple removes the dagger from them, Rumple's response?
Rumple: Ah, but I'm a villain. And villains don't get happy endings.
Tinker Bell finally believing in herself and getting the pixie dust to work so she could fly close enough to trap Pan's shadow, and then destroys it.
Regina Mills destroys the curse and gives up the thing she loves most to do so.
Gold was willing to cut off his own hand just to save everyone.
Episode 12 - New York City Serenade
Snow and Regina get attacked in the woods by a flying monkey, and it almost drags Regina away. Who saves them, almost out of nowhere? The Man with the Lion Tattoo himself, Robin Hood.
That Flying Monkey that almost got Regina? Emma met one. She beat it up, and tossed it off the roof.
Especially awesome given the character development it entails. Previously, Emma preferred to handle situations all on her own, and when things got too much for her she turned to Rumplestiltskin and Regina more than her own parents. Not only did she go to proper authorities, she was unashamed to admit to them that Hook had forced a kiss on her. Emma changed over the last year. Nobody saw it coming.
Episode 13 - Witch Hunt
Regina easily defending Roland Hood from a flying monkey, turning said monkey into a stuffed toy for him to play with.
Regina's fake Then Let Me Be Evil rant during the staged argument between her and Emma. Admit it, she had you going for a minute:
Regina: Do you remember who you're dealing with? If you all want me to be The Evil Queen, then fine! That's exactly who you'll get!
Then to put a point on it, she starts an earthquake in the Town Hall!
When it looks like Regina is cooking up some horrible spell for the others, Robin aims an arrow at her, and when she starts choking him, he says that it won't stop him, and when he dies the arrow will fly straight into her heart anyway.
"I don't care if the lollipop guild is protecting her!"
Episode 14 - The Tower
Emma dressed like a true Disney princess. Jennifer Morrison looks positively stunning in that dress. Charming teaching his daughter how to dance. Too bad it's just a nightmare, but still.
Charming and both his encounters with nightroot. First, saving a victim of it (none other than Princess Rapunzel) by giving her the courage to overcome her fears. Next, drinking tea laced with it, and facing down his own insecurities, and triumphing on his own, without any help from anyone. Zelena probably doesn't know the half of how much courage is in that sword.
Zelena using Rumpelstiltskin's own dagger to shave him is a nice demonstration of how powerful she is. Her control over the dagger is a chilling sight to behold. whether actually shaving him or nicking him accidentally on purpose.
Even without his dagger, Rumpelstiltskin gets his own moment when at the end of the episode, it's revealed he managed to escape from his cage, with Zelena being none the wiser.
Subverted in the next episode: it wasn't Rumpel who escaped, it was Neal.
Even driven half out of his mind, Rumplestiltskin is still Storybrooke's best Magnificent Bastard. Zelena's shaving him was meant to terrify him, but instead he deduces that she lied about her reasons for shaving him and figures out she was after his blood. It doesn't matter how he escaped after that, what matters is he didn't escape until he had that starting point to begin foiling her plans.
Episode 15 - Quiet Minds
In this series, Lumiére is not the candlestick: he's in the combined flames of all the candles being lit. Given his name, it's actually more appropriate. And out of nowhere, he displays enough power to subdue Zelena for a while, especially when there was no indication of him being able to do anything other than talk.
Regina catching an arrow from Robin Hood. You know, the guy whose arrows supposedly never miss.
Neal willingly sacrificing himself to save his father and the rest of Storybrooke. He even implies that he's just following his father's example. Despite Rumpelstiltskin losing his son in the most tragic way possible, at the very least, he has finally been vindicated as a parent.
Episode 16 - It's Not Easy Being Green
Rumpel's training session with Zelena — her being tasked to catch Rumpel while blindfolded, having to rely on magic alone. It takes her less than a minute — with a little prompting from Rumpel — to succeed.
Zelena keeping her trump card from Rumpel when he refuses to have her enact his Dark Curse: the slippers allowing her to go to any realm, including the Land Without Magic that Rumpel has been so desperately trying to reach. Rumpel was perfectly justified in not having her cast the Curse, but his needless dickishness toward her about the whole matter makes Zelena's response oddly satisfying.
Generally Zelena in this episode. Yes, she complains and is sometimes bratty (we still have no idea of her age, so it might be appropriate), but it takes her seconds after learning that she's adopted and that her father resents her to leave their abusive relationship and look for her other parents. She spends the episode doing things, not just enduring them, and she's so proactive - asking the wizard help, proposing to pay him, asking Rumple help, thanking him, trying to take Regina out of the contest, running away in a moment of lucidity, starting her Evil Plan. No matter what you think of her goals, she has the motivation to back them up.
Regina beating Zelena just by remembering one thing she learned from their mother:
Regina: Never bring your heart to a witch fight.
Episode 17 - The Jolly Roger
Ariel following the example of all the Adaptational Badass Disney princesses who have appeared on the show so far, knocking Hook down and intimidating him. He does turn the tables pretty quickly, but how many viewers even thought that sweet little Ariel had it in her?
Regina training Emma to use magic. She transports Emma to the middle of a rope bridge, and then slowly destroys it under her feet. As Emma successfully saves herself from falling to death, Regina even chastises her regarding the potential she has yet to tap into.
Hook fighting Blackbeard for the Jolly Roger. Hook wins by outwitting Blackbeard into stepping on a weak floorboard, clearly demonstrating who knows the Jolly Roger better.
Ariel giving Hook a well-deserved slap on the face after ruining her one good chance at finding her prince. She then immediately sets out to find him on her own, and succeeds.
A passive one for Emma: She represents such a threat to Zelena's plan that Zelena feels the need to curse Hook so that if he kisses Emma, her powers will go away. Given how powerful Zelena is, there is obviously much more to Emma's magical powers than we have previously seen, which is no small statement considering the multiple CMOA's that Emma has managed to pull off when she truly puts her mind to doing magic.
Episode 18 - Bleeding Through
Emma growing more confident with her magic, even pranking Hook a few times with it!
When Regina has the nerve to ask Belle for help, Belle finally gets a chance to call her out on all the horrible things she's done to her, ever since they met. Regina practically wastes no time sincerely apologizing for all of it:
Belle: What do I have here? Self respect. Why on earth - or any realm - would I help you? The woman who imprisoned me in a tower in her castle, and put put me in an asylum for twenty-eight years; who's done nothing but mentally and physically torture me, ever since we've known each other!!!...Get out.
Regina holding off, and eventually vanquishing Cora's ghost. You can almost hear how cathartic it feels for her whenever she tells the ghost to back away from Snow.
Rumpel continues to prove his mind is his most dangerous weapon. He exploits Zelena's desire for his approval by pretending to go along with her plan and admitting he was wrong for choosing Regina over her. He seduces her to get close enough to take back his dagger. The plan failed, but he was inches away from getting his dagger back. When Zelena angrily takes her offer back to change the past so Bae doesn't die he states he was honoring his son's wishes by helping the others stop Zelena. It's a big deal for his character to do what his late son wanted as oppose to using magic to bring Baelfire/Neal back.
Episode 19 - A Curious Thing
Robin Hood seeing through and setting off the trap on the door leading to Rumpelstiltskin's cage, saving Regina from getting burned.
Hook fighting off the flying monkeys in the name of Henry, eventually joined by Emma, Charming and Regina.
Emma hurting Zelena enough to let Henry go. Zelena was right to be so threatened by Emma; her composure was clearly shaken afterwards.
How the curse was cast. Snow and Charming realized they needed Emma to stop Zelena, so they cast the curse. Charming volunteers to have his heart crushed because he is the thing Snow loves most, and Snow goes through with it no matter how much it hurts because she knows it needs to be done. Zelena interrupting them and altering the curse so that they won't remember her is pretty awesome, too, in a villainous way, as well as to make sure that the new Dark Curse very closely mirrors the first one.
How the curse was broken. Once again it was broken by a mother's love for a child. Except this time it wasn't Emma's love for Henry, it was Regina's.
Episode 20 - Kansas
The brief Hope Spot as Zelena's envy disappears once Glinda welcomes her into the Sisterhood of Witches.
Regina's victory over Zelena, particularly how she suddenly begins to wield light magic just as she's being held down by Zelena. Even better, she takes Zelena down in one shot.
Also, she seals Zelena's amulet in the box that contains Cora's heart and locks it away in Cora's casket. The Evil Queen leitmotif plays as she smirks wickedly at the casket as if saying "I win, mother."
The very fact that time-travel, deemed the most impossible thing in this universe, actually happens.
Emma and Hook recruiting Rumpelstiltskin to help them reconstruct Snow and Charming's relationship. Keep in mind that this is original, full-on Dark One Rumpelstiltskin, who still bears a grudge against Hook to boot, and yet they actually get him on their side.
Emma being forced to blend in and wear Enchanted Forest-appropriate clothes, which do nothing to hide her beauty. Past Hook certainly agrees!
Later, Emma in a beautiful red dress worthy of a royal ball, courtesy of Rumpelstiltskin.
Episode 22 - There's No Place Like Home
Snow surviving Regina's execution by fire using the dark fairy dust to change into a ladybug.
The troll bridge scene plays again, except this time Snow has already had to use her dark fairy dust. Which is no problem at all, since she just grabs a handful of sand and bluffs the trolls into letting Charming go.
Hook revealing how he managed to get to the real world and help Emma regain her memories: he traded his precious ship. Considering how he would never let go of that thing, that's pretty amazing.
The final minute: water starts gathering around a sigil-like marking on the floor and pools up. A form starts to take shape and solidifies. And Elsa makes her presence known, pulling off a glove and firing off a burst of ice to obliterate her erstwhile prison before walking off.
Not to mention her costume looking exactly like the cartoon counterpart is a CMOA for the costume designers.
Marian trying to take on Marshmallow with a bow-and-arrow. Sure, she gets her clock cleaned, but still, that took some guts.
Also, her calling out Regina in both the past and the present. While it may have been premature in the present, the fact that she's brave enough to stand up to the woman who almost had her executed is commendable.
Episode 2 - White Out
Anna was Prince Charming's swordfighting teacher and given what we know about his skill with a sword, she was one hell of a teacher.
The reveal of the true Big Bad of the season, the original Snow Queen. Who introduces herself by refreezing a tub of melted ice cream in a combination of Mundane Utility and Mundane Made Awesome, then casually leans against a wall that turns to ice as she does.
Combined with a funny moment, Snow's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Granny, Happy and Grumpy, reminding them that they got through most of their lives without electricity before, so they should quit bugging her. And get a flashlight.
Episode 3 - Rocky Road
The Snow Queen cutting off what appeared to be a season-long plot at the knees by freezing Hans as soon as she's out of the urn, throwing back at him how he was just talking about Elsa. It also doubles as long-overdue Laser-Guided Karma from the movie.
And right after that, she makes Hans's brothers back off with just one look.
Emma using her light magic to counter The Snow Queen's magic and save the day, after previously doubting her effectiveness as the savior of Storybrooke.
Hook successfully blackmails Rumplestiltskin into helping them. Let that sink in for a moment...
Kristoff fights off a few of Hans' brothers with his ice pick and holds his own for an impressive amount of time.
One of the best bits in that scene is him deflecting a sword with the pick before striking with it. It looks like something out of Assassins Creed III
Also willing to let Hans kill him if it meant him not getting his hands on the urn. He still gets it, but the fact that Kristoff would make that sacrifice proves how far he's gotten from his gruff loner ways.
Episode 4 - The Apprentice
Anna proves her Incorruptible Pure Pureness by refusing to kill the sorcerer's apprentice, then when it turns out Rumpelstiltskin counted on that, she does it again by not killing him despite severe temptation he orchestrated himself. Then she gets hold of his dagger and quickly figures out the rules, which she uses to make him send her back home, and leave him no closer to getting the sorcerer's hat.
It's worth noting that this makes Anna one of only five people to successfully beat Rumpelstiltskin: The other four were 1)Cora when she tricked him out of their deal for her firstborn, 2) Regina when she successfully lied to him about Belle's death, 3) Hook when he got Belle to forget her memories, and 4) Baelfire when he tricked Rumple into getting Anti-Magic ink on his hand, preventing from killing Henry (which he wasn't planning to, but Baelfire believed he was.) Anna's in some very distinguished company there.
It's not just that. She made him lose his composure. After sending Anna back home, the normally calm and cheerful Rumpelstiltskin grabs his dagger and screams in frustration.
As disappointing as it was for Gold to relapse hard into villainy, he reminded us why he was a great villain to begin with this episode. Hook blackmails Gold into re-attaching his hand, using the threat of telling Belle about the dagger, and Gold warns him the hand will change him for the worse. Hook becomes more dangerous and violent, and has to make a deal with Gold to get rid of the hand again, because Gold has switched the daggers so Belle has the real one, and thus can't be blackmailed. Gold forces Hook to help him kill (or magically imprison) a man in return for getting rid of the hand, videotapes Hook doing so, removes himself from the tape, and uses it to blackmail Hook into keeping quiet and doing as he wants. Here's the kicker - the hand did nothing at all, Gold just knew that telling Hook so would make him subconsciously less likely to rein in his negative impulses. It showed, once again, that threatening what Rumplestiltskin values is a very, very dangerous proposition, and his relationship with Belle is one of the things he values most (though not enough to actually reform).
The best part about Gold manipulating Hook was that Gold initially didn't force him to do anything. When Hook blackmailed Gold for his hand back, Gold warned him telling him that the hand was part of the man he used to be. Hook didn't listen, refusing to believe any of the Dark One's lies. Later, when Gold was proven right, Hook demanded his hook back, gets it, and Gold telling him that his hand never was cursed. "You were right. The Dark one lies. The Dark One tricks.The only thing that hand did was give you permission to give in to your true nature." Hook's face was priceless as he realized that he was the one performing these misdeeds and not some outside force. Essentially, Hook brought this on himself.
It was an excellent episode for Rumplestiltskin's use of manipulation. In the "flashback" portion of the plot, he needed someone who had "faced their inner darkness and overcome it" in order to open a vault containing an item he wanted. First he sent Anna to give a potion to an old man, expecting that she'd believe it was poison and refuse - which she did, after which he revealed the potion was an antidote, and the old man turned into a mouse because Anna hadn't given it to him. When Anna said she hadn't overcome inner darkness because she was never tempted, he provoked her into trying to kill him - knowing she wouldn't go ahead with and thus would 'overcome her inner darkness' and enable him to get into the vault. Exceptional piece of psychology and manipulation.
Episode 5 - Breaking Glass
The flawless recreation of Elsa's ice bridge.
After years of being constantly used, abused, and being denied his freedom, Sidney finally grows a backbone and turns against Regina and throws his lot in with the Snow Queen. The Snow Queen promises to free him if he leads Regina into a trap so she can take her magic mirror. And in a surprising Pet the Dog moment, the Snow Queen keeps her word and does set him free.
Emma and Regina blasting the Snow Queen's rather beefed-up version of Marshmallow with a sustained magic attack, not letting up until it's completely melted.
Elsa is locked in chains that will only release her when she feels no fear. So she forcibly calms herself down and insists she's not afraid, and they open. She proceeds to knock the Snow Queen on her ass with a single blast of ice.
The Snow Queen successfully turned Sidney against Regina and used him to lure her into a trap. When the trap is sprung, she gets what she wants, and easily restrains both Regina and Emma with her magic, two characters with immense magical power themselves.
Episode 6 - Family Business
The Heroic Sacrifice of Belle's mother, fighting off a pair of ogres until Belle was taken safely away.
After the Snow Queen comments that Rumpel doesn't have any "leverage" over her, he shows up with the Sorcerer's Hat, claiming if she harms Belle he's coming after her.
The Snow Queen proves she is every bit as cunning and manipulative as Rumpelstiltskin himself. She reveals the reason Emma and the heroes know of her relationship with the Savior is because she allowed it. This proven earlier in the scene with Ingrid watching from afar as the heroes find her ice cream truck with more evidence of Emma's past with her. It is implied that everything is going according to her plan.
Episode 7 - The Snow Queen
A villianous example. Ingrid the Snow Queen is everybit a Magnificent Bastard. So far her plan had worked perfectly except a slight curveball that was Rumple's hat. However, previous Big Bad Zelena also show that much magnificent bastardry in the early phase of her plan. So we'll see how long it'll last this time.
When Helga catches the Duke of Weaseltown (because this guy deserves the label even more than the film version) making moves on Ingrid, he claims she was the one coming on to him. Helga winds him up by warmly thanking him...for showing her what a jerk he was before she agreed to marry him.
Episode 8 - Smash The Mirror
The so far unseen Sorcerer was able to create a door to take the Snow Queen to the Land Without Magic. Given how difficult it is to move between worlds it says something about how powerful he is that he can do this almost on a whim just to get his hat back.
He can also see every possibility of the future, and apparently with complete ease (unlike the Seer and Rumpelstiltskin). He foresees Emma's birth and gives the Snow Queen a scroll with her name on it, strongly implying that he's also where Peter Pan got the scroll with Henry's face on it from.
It also becomes more awesome when you realize that the Sorcerer's prediction about Ingrid reuniting with her sisters became true in Shattered Sight, just not in the way she expected.
Despite Elsa being clearly appalled at Anna, under the Shattered Sight spell, intending to trap her into the urn, she tells her that she loves her and accepts her entrapment rather than hurt her.
Combines with Nightmare Fuel, but Ingrid freezing Arendelle can be counted as this. Just like Elsa, she almost casually freezes an entire kingdom in seconds! It shows just how powerful people with ice magic can truly be.
Elsa, when overhearing Snow and Charming discuss the possibility of Emma giving up her powers, gets a badass look on her face as she steals the locator spell, tracks down Emma herself, and manages to convince her not to go through with sacrificing a part of her.
Episode 9 - Fall
This is the episode that Anna and Elsa were reunited. 'nuff said.
Regina's combination "The Reason You Suck" Speech and Rousing Speech about how if Snow and Charming want to be leaders, that means they have to occasionally make hard choices where there's no right answer. Snow actually finds herself agreeing with it, stunning everyone.
Episode 10 - Shattered Sight
Henry's marble trap used on Hook, reminiscent of something out of Home Alone, and his escape. Made even better when Gold mocks Hook for failing to capture a kid.
Hook's own awesome moment comes when confronted by a vengeful Will Scarlet...whom he slams into the wall and knocks out in just one blow before continuing off after Henry as if nothing had just happened.
Cursed!Snow and Cursed!Regina's sword fight. With Snow effectively kicking Regina's ass. Especially when she threatens baby Neal.
One has to be said for the strength of Anna and Elsa's relationship. In contrast to the rest of her plans throughout the arc succeeding perfectly, Ingrid's determined efforts to split them apart failed utterly. In this episode, enraged by Anna's appearance, Ingrid makes a last desperate attempt to turn the sisters against each other (reminding them that Anna trapped Elsa in the urn) but it's completely ignored. Despite Ingrid's clearly demonstrated Magnificent Bastardry, their bond is so strong that their aunt's efforts to break it ultimately come across as pathetic.
Following up on this however is that once she realizes this, but also that a) Anna still loves and wants to save her despite what she'd done to her and b) Gerda did still love her and was sorry for imprisoning her, Ingrid in turn reveals how good a person she still was at heart by sacrificing herself to save everyone. And does so while blessing Anna and Elsa's (and Emma's) love and families, and thanking Emma and Elsa for reuniting her with her sisters. That took a lot of courage and strength of heart too.
Episode 11 - Heroes and Villains
Belle stopping Rumple from crushing Hook's heart with the dagger and then making her husband take them both to the town line where she lays down the mother of all Reason You Suck Speeches on him and proceeds to use the dagger to force him over the town line and into the world without magic to strip him of his power, knowing that he won't be able to get back into Storybrooke afterward.
For that matter, Rumple's Oh, Crap expression when Belle shows up.
Hook gets a great verbal one when Rumple, about to be ready to crush Hook's heart, says that he's surprised Hook hasn't crumbled and started begging for his life by now. Hook replies that he wouldn't ever do that because between the two of them, he isn't the one who's a coward. Made better since Rumple's later reaction to being banished to the world without magic validates Hook's insult.
Although we don't get to see it, the Frozen trio reclaiming Arendelle in roughly two days definitely counts. Anna even gets to punch Hans in the face again!
While it didn't work in the end, the Queens of Darkness' plan in the past sure was ballsy, ransoming Belle from Rumple like that. The fact that they revealed themselves one by one to keep him off balance and keep their advantage sure helped.
Cruella mouthing off at Rumple about his height. "Do you want me to get you a stool so you can look me in the eyes when you threaten me?"
Also, even when Rumple gets his artifact back from them, he doesn't attempt to kill them, which shows even he fears fighting all three of them at once, as their combined power might prove a match for his.
Georgina Haig's Elsa was already an impressive live action adaptation in her Snow Queen outfit, but seeing her in her coronation dress with her hair up may well get you thinking for a second that you're actually seeing the CGI version.