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Episode 1 - Pilot
- Snow White immediately pulling out Prince Charming's sword when the Evil Queen interrupts their wedding.
- Prince Charming fighting off two Evil Queen soldiers at the same time in a broadsword fight all while carrying his newborn daughter, Zhao Yun style.
- He manages to kill both of the evil soldiers while making sure the baby doesn't even get jostled too hard. Talk about great dad. Even with his skill, you can tell it's sheer determination carrying him through. He makes it...because he's just got to.
- Emma in the pilot. Under the guise of an internet date, she confronts a married embezzler, who tries to run away. She calmly 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."
- 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.
Regina: What the hell are you doing?!
- The ensuing conversation When Regina discovers Emma in her backyard:
Emma: Picking apples.
- In the second episode when you first realize the epic Batman Gambit Rumplestiltskin/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!
- Snow White being able to fend off Prince Charming during Episode Three and giving him the scar that makes him easily recognizable.
- Emma's conversation with Ashley in Episode 4
Emma: Screw 'em
Emma: Screw. Them. How old are you?
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.
- 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.
Archy: Or what? You'll destroy me? You'll do your worst? Because I will always do my best!
- Archie, darling! You grew a quad when we weren't looking! It's the first time anyone other than Henry, Emma, or Gold has told her off!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
Graham: I've realized that I don't feel anything, Regina, and I know now it's not me. It's you.
- 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.
Regina: So you're leaving me for her?
Graham: I'm leaving you for me.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mr. Gold confirming that he knows he's Rumplestiltskin, 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 the truth. 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.
- YMMV but the scene was in Regina's power. But the Oh Crap! on her face sells it how dangerous he still is.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Reveal on Abigail's Hidden Depths.
- Charming defeats the siren with Heroic Willpower.
- Stealthy's Stealth Hi/Bye when Dreamy runs away.
- Leroy cutting the power to force everyone to buy candles, saving the nunnery.
- 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 staring 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...
- On a related note, Granny casually wielding a bigass crossbow and coolly shooting Red.
- 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!"
- Rumplestiltskin 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.
- 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."
- Villains though they both may be, but both Regina and Cora prove themselves to be Magnificent Bitches, with how they masterfully manipulate events in their favor throughout the episode, in both the present and past, respectively.
- Rumplestiltskin's Badass Boast.
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.
- Even without his powers, as a middle-aged man with a limp, Rumplestiltskin demonstrates to August that he is utterly dangerous, pinning him to a tree and threatening him with a knife.
- 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.
- And before that, Regina manages to turn the situation around so that she doesn't get the blame. Unfortunately for her, while Sidney confesses that he did it, no one believes him or her, which fuels Emma's declaration more.
- 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.
- Mary Margaret delivering a first-class What the Hell, Hero? to Emma over her attempt to run away.
- 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?
- More importantly - who the hell expected fairies to be so damn deadly!?
- 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.
- 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 Rumplestiltskin with a sword. On the face. Rumplestiltskin even seemed shocked for a brief instant.
- Especially since we know that with all of Rumple's power, Rumple was playing around until he could get Charming to listen. He wasn't expecting an actual fight.
- Emma's Kubrick Stare and beating up Regina when Henry is in a coma.
- Jefferson's pissed that he got screwed over his deal with Regina once again, so how does he deal with it? By breaking Belle out of the insane asylum and giving the following instructions: Go to Mr. Gold and tell him that Regina placed her there. If you don't get that, recall how Mr. Gold nearly beat her father to death. Jefferson was planning on unleashing the Beast onto Regina for screwing him twice.
- The very last moments of the season has two moments of awesome.
- The first being that everyone begins to remember. The nun turns around and advises Regina, who is in the middle of an Oh Crap! phase, to run with her tail tucked between her legs.
- The second? We see the culmination of all the scheming and deals that Rumple has made throughout the first season that aspiring Magnificent Bastards can aspire to.
Episode 1 - Broken
- 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...
- Regina's delightfully 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- "What? That's it?" Cue Charming going to town on King George's mooks.
- *whistle* "BACK. AWAY. FROM MY. DAUGHTER." Followed by Snow firing an arrow into an ogre's eye and saving Emma.
- 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.
- Belle telling both Rumplestiltskin and her father where to go. No one decides her fate but her.
- Rumplestiltskin showing off his magical ability and saving Belle.
- While in flashback, he gets an Armor-Piercing Question in on his ex-wife, about how she could leave their son.
- Hook: Challenged to a duel by the Dark One, not only does he not try to run away, but he makes the first move. It's not even that he thinks to win; he pretty clearly knows how grim the situation is. Love him or hate him, the guy's got guts.
- Rumplestiltskin casually reattaching Doctor Whale's arm. Magic: 1, Science: 0.
- Archie yelling at Dr. Whale to leave during his therapy session with Regina.
- Emma renewing her Living Lie Detector license and calling out Hook on his bullshit. With a knife. And ogres.
- Henry kept a cool head and (despite being justifiably terrified) tried to help a confused and violent Franken!Daniel. The kid's got guts.
- The Theremin used in the background music during the scene set in The Land Without Colour is ten kinds of awesome.
- 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.
- 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 not mess 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.
- Granny shooting a gun out of his hand, immediately followed by an explosion.
- 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.
- 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.
- Emma versus Hook. It look like she's losing the entire time... and then she gets the compass and starts kicking his arse.
- This needs elaboration. There's an entire duel at Lake Nostos. Mulan is deflecting fireballs from Cora, Snow White shooting at her with bows and arrows, and all the while the duel with Captain Hook is happening. This is a great climax to end out the "stuck in the Enchanted Forest" arc.
- Snow's Improbable Aiming Skills and getting the group out of Rumplestiltskin's cell by using magic.
- Regina absorbing the magic cast upon the well and saving Emma and Snow.
- Emma's Heart Is an Awesome Power moment. She's not only immune to Cora's heart-ripping ability but she can also blast Cora back.
- The exchange between Cora and Emma when Cora tries to rip out her heart:
- And when she's still depressed that it wasn't actually her, just something that Rumplestiltskin did to her, he reveals he had nothing to do with it. And then it slowly dawns on her that she used magic. Her magic.
- Villainous example. Cora and Hook arriving in Storybrooke in a freaking pirate ship was pretty damn cool.
- Emma using her "product of true love" magic purposefully for the first time to see Pongo's memories. Unfortunately, she didn't see all of the 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.
- Mulan rescuing Belle.
Mulan: *punch* Yeah. I know.
- Belle being a Badass Bookworm and a Combat Pragmatist for the entire episode. Highlights include...
- Tracking down the Yaoguai because she can translate a foreign language.
- Pushing a bookshelf on Hook.
- Defeating the Yaoguai by dousing it with water and then saving Phillip.
- Figuring out Hook came on his ship, finding the invisible ship, freeing Archie and getting him to call for help, retrieving Baelfire's cloak, and fighting off Hook who had her gun.
- Rumple himself gets one upon re-encountering Hook.
Hook: What magic you gonna hide behind today?
- Cora goes to try and win Regina to her side, and Regina doesn't take it for a second.
- But then Cora proves she's still much better at manipulating people when she wins her over before the end of the episode.
- The townspeople working together to save the shrunken Anton, who just moments ago was trying to crush them.
- Emma chases a man through the streets and tackles him to the ground. Turns out he's Neal, also known as Henry's biological father and Baelfire, Rumplestiltskin's son.
- In Rumplestiltskin's backstory, there is a moment of underrated courage. Hurting yourself is hard. Most people who hurt themselves do it because they hate themselves, but it is still hard to cause actual physical pain, to suppress the innate human instinct to shift your aim just a little to the right and avoid a whole mess of pain. But Rumplestiltskin was able to do it. His dad was branded as the village coward, and Rumplestiltskin hated him for branding him with the label of 'the coward's son' for all of his life. He was eager to prove himself in battle. But then he realized that, if the seer was right, he was going to die tomorrow, and he had a son on the way. So rather than let his son grow up without a dad, he took a sledgehammer to his leg, throwing away his life's ambition of proving his courage, endured the ridicule he almost definitely got at camp, and then made the trek back home with a broken leg. Given that his wife wasn't showing when he left, but she had a baby in her arms when he got home, this trek took him at least eight months to make, going so slow that his reputation preceded him, probably aggravating a minor break into a permanent limp. For this, his town tormented him, his wife left him, and he was called a coward so much that even he began to believe it. But that might have been the bravest moment of his life.
- Captain Hook makes it into the real world, and in a world without magic, he gives his crocodile a piece of his hook.
- YMMV, but Snow White's "World of Cardboard" Speech declaring that she will kill Cora.
- Regina calling out Snow White on their fake acceptance of her and Black and White Morality. Regardless of whether or not you agree with Regina, it was a cool speech. Made less awesome by the fact that Cora is playing her like a fiddle.
- With Gold's help, Emma actively uses her magic to put up a shield around the store.
- The Charming family standing together, swords drawn, to protect one of their own.
- Snow, despite her moral struggle, doing what has to be done to save her entire family, coming up with a story right on the spot to ensure it happens.
- Cora gets the distinction of being possibly the first person to ever trick Rumplestiltskin.
- The fact that she didn't go into the deal intending to trick him almost makes this a Crowning Moment of Sadness instead.
- The fact that, as we learned in earlier episodes, despite Cora screwing him over, Rumplestiltskin ends up getting exactly what he wants anyway.
- 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.
- Villainous Example: Regina's Cruel Mercy on Snow, stating that Snow's own Start of Darkness is all the leverage she'll need to win it all.
- 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.
- Mary Margaret firing off arrows while listening to "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
- Think about it. In our world Snow is a school teacher. She resorts to the old ways to get over what she's done. While rocking out on her iPod. Only in this show would that be something that you wouldn't bat an eye at. And, to make it better: iPods only exist in our world. Yes, Mary Margaret is the one who is the Joan Jett fan.
- Owen's reaction to Regina in his motel room. After he just saw her rip out someone's heart. Badass.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hook reveals how big of a Magnificent Bastard he is by completely playing Regina.
- And telling her to her face how he's going to play her. Granted, he dismisses the plan out of hand but still...everything he said was exactly what he did.
- Owen and Tamara taking down Regina with Sufficiently Analyzed Magic, showing that Muggles Do It Better.
- 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.
- Owen being Dangerously Genre Savvy about the dangers of Evil Gloating, so he won't tell Regina his plan.
- Emma throwing down Tamara, even though the latter escapes.
- Young Bae escapes from the Shadow's clutches by lighting a match and waving it around.
- Regina's continued defiance, despite the Cold-Blooded Torture inflicted by Greg and Tamara.
- 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, Rumplestiltskin, 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. Rumple, 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.
- Gold ripping Tamara's heart out and crushing it, after giving her a Hope Spot to boot. Technically a Kick the Dog, but, well, she was The Scrappy, so many did not mind.
- Tamara had one herself shortly before, when she told Henry to run and declared You Shall Not Pass to the Lost Boys. It didn't redeem her from the Scrappy Pile, but it was still pretty cool.
- Apparently, Pan and Gold were cordial once, and upon his return, Gold admits to a lost boy that he's going to die here, but he'll take down as many as he can with him.
- ALL of Regina's sassy one-liners.
- 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.
- When Peter Pan introduces himself to Emma while everyone else is sleeping, she instantly shoves him up against a tree with her sword and demands to know where Henry is. She even expected him to gloat about how she was never gonna see Henry again.
Peter Pan: Oh, did I forget to introduce myself? I'm Peter, Peter Pan.Emma: *shoves him against a tree with her sword against his throat* Where's Henry?Peter Pan: You've got fire, I like fire.
- Prince Charming shows some awesome sword fighting skill and deflecting the Lost Boys' arrows with his sword!
- Gold reaches new levels of Crazy-Prepared when he cuts off his own shadow, and tells it to hide his Achilles' Heel dagger where even he can't find it.
- Tinker Bell, just Tinker Bell. For starters pulling a Calling the Old Man Out on the Blue Fairy for her hypocritical reasoning for not helping out poor Regina.
- Tinker Bell asking the Armor-Piercing Question to Regina, for her inability to let herself be happy.
- 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 parents' 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 Rumplestiltskin. 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.
- 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*
- Neal laces an arrow with Anti-Magic squid ink and fires it at Pan, who promptly catches it and mocks Neal for the effort. Neal then reveals that he coated the shaft instead of the tip. Cue Pan freezing up from the effects of the ink. Like father, like son.
- 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 experience 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.
- 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.
- After Peter Pan offers him a deal to kill David in exchange for him and Emma leaving Neverland, Hook essentially tells him to fuck off and redoubles his efforts to keeping David alive. Why hello there, Character Development.
- 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.
- 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.
- After The Reveal that Peter Pan is Rumplestiltskin's father, the two have a confrontation where Pan tries to tell Rumple that they're Not So Different. Rumple's response is basically that as terrible as his behavior was with Bae, he was still a better father than Pan.
- Rumplestiltskin 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.
- 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.
- 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 faulty lie detector seems to be working again.
- 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.
Rumple: Ah, but I'm a villain. And villains don't get happy endings.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- Hook has Emma meet him in the park to help her jog her memory. Emma goes to the meeting, only to have him arrested for forcing a kiss on her in the last episode.
- 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.
- 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!"
- 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 Rumplestiltskin'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, Rumplestiltskin 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 Rumple 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.
- 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 Rumplestiltskin losing his son in the most tragic way possible, at the very least, he has finally been vindicated as a parent.
- Rumple's training session with Zelena — her being tasked to catch Rumple while blindfolded, having to rely on magic alone. It takes her less than a minute — with a little prompting from Rumple — to succeed.
- Zelena keeping her trump card from Rumple 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 Rumple has been so desperately trying to reach. Rumple 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Rumple 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.
- Robin Hood seeing through and setting off the trap on the door leading to Rumplestiltskin'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.
- The brief Hope Spot as Zelena's envy disappears once Glinda welcomes her into the Sisterhood of Witches.
- The spell Zelena enacts once she has all her ingredients counts as Visual Effects of Awesome.
- 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 contained 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."
- Rumplestiltskin killing Zelena by secretly switching the dagger Belle thought she had. The brief moments of Zelena begging for mercy are cruelly satisfying to watch as well.
- The very fact that time-travel, deemed the most impossible thing in this universe, actually happens.
- Emma and Hook recruiting Rumplestiltskin to help them reconstruct Snow and Charming's relationship. Keep in mind that this is original, full-on Dark One Rumplestiltskin, 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 Rumplestiltskin.
- Snow surviving Regina's execution by fire using the dark fairy dust to change into a ladybug.
- Emma picking the lock to her own cell, and getting out. Then deciding Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right in rescuing Maid Marian, timeline be damned. The Doctor would be proud.
- 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.
Episode 1 - A Tale of Two Sisters
- Regina, after seeing a good look at her past self in the magic mirror, deciding not to undo her character development and saving Marian from the Ice Monster.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Anna proves her Incorruptible Pure Pureness by refusing to kill the sorcerer's apprentice, then when it turns out Rumplestiltskin 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 Rumplestiltskin: 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. Rumple was this close to winning, for keeps. Anna basically saved everyone and made him lose his composure. After sending Anna back home, the normally calm and cheerful Rumplestiltskin grabs his dagger and screams in frustration. Read the list above? Good, Anna driving him into a rage, and the facial twitch beforehand when she has him by the balls, makes her perhaps the biggest hero of the series, or season four at the very least.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Rumple 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 Rumplestiltskin 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.
- 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.
- 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 Rumplestiltskin). 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.
- This is the episode that Anna and Elsa were reunited. 'nuff said.
- Anna and Kristoff's a Battle Couple now, folks.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Rumplestiltskin fully regains his Magnificent Bastard bona fides by getting himself and his new allies into Storybrooke without his magic. He poses as a professor to give Belle the method of getting the fairies back out of the hat, but also slips in the release of Chernabog, allowing Ursula and Cruella to pose as fellow redeemed villains when they give Regina the method to defeat it.
- His entry back over the town line - throwing aside his stick that he's had to rely on since losing his magic, clearly showing that the Dark One's back.
- The Visual Effects of Awesome for Chernabog, perfectly replicating the look and movement of a Ray Harryhausen creation.
- Chernabog in general. He's so powerful that neither the Dark One, the three Queens of Darkness combined, or Emma and Regina together at full power can even hurt him, let alone destroy him. He isn't even truly destroyed in the end, the summoning of him is just cancelled out.
- Regina's attempted Heroic Sacrifice, pretty much the final confirmation that her redemption is sticking.
- Maleficent vs Chernabog. From her response to being the one chosen with the greatest potential for darkness ("I knew it."), followed by holding him off singlehandedly, and capping it off with her Dying Curse when she thinks that Ursula and Cruella have abandoned her; "I hope you choke on my bones.".
Maleficent: You want darkness? I'll give you darkness.
- When she starts to lay into his son simply because poor Pinocchio can't help her, Marco calls Regina out demanding to know why after all she's done, taking away everyone else's Happy Endings, she thinks she deserves her own Happily Ever After.
- Belle laying down the house rules when Ursula and Cruella walk into Gold's shop:
Belle: Try anything and both of you will hop out here as toads!
- Cruella and Ursula out-gambitting Snow and Charming via Bait and Switch, allowing them to resurrect Maleficent. Just how smoothly it goes off is a good sign about their competence as villains.
- Gold's gambit in pretending to be Hook in order to trick Belle into giving him the dagger is brilliant and gut-twisting.
- Maleficent's She's Back moment, another great moment for the special effects team.
- Maleficent's revenge-fueled fire is so strong it's still burning a tree decades later.
- Hook shows his potential for redemption before actually obtaining it by not taking Poseidon's deal for the means for his revenge. He knows how much he would treasure having any remnant of the person he loved, like Ursula's singing voice is to Ursula due to coming from her mother.
- The young Ursula's singing. You really do believe it could draw sailors toward their doom.
- How is an unconscious Hook rescued from drowning? Ariel returning out of nowhere.
- Although Ariel being trapped due to Elsa's shrinking of the Jolly Roger isn't awesome, knowing that the royal family of Arendelle was able to get back at Blackbeard for helping Hans conspire against them is nice to hear.
- The Apprentice finds out that the Author has gained a God Complex and has been manipulating events all for the sake of a "better" story. When the Author is unrepentant, the Apprentice decides enough is enough and traps him in his own book as punishment.
The Apprentice: How dare you force me to do that to that child!?The Author: It makes for a better story.The Apprentice: Return the quill. You are ill-suited for this job. You have abused all the rules. You have lied. You have deceived us. You have forsaken your holy duty, and now... you must be punished.
- Snow finally deciding that she and David have to stop lying and tell the truth:
- Maleficent putting the entire town under a massive sleeping curse. This is easily one of the biggest acts of magic we've seen and she does it without breaking a sweat.
- The absolute game changer of the whole show, as August reveals that there isn't any one Author, but it's a job that's been passed down from the beginning of time at the Sorcerer's discretion. With all the characters included on the show, this means the ranks of Authors include the likes of the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Carlo Collodi, J.M. Barrie, L. Frank Baum, Mary Shelley, Lewis Carroll, and of course Walt Disney, and likely there will be more to come.
- A massive villainous one — Zelena survived Gold's attempt on her life last season, followed Emma and Hook back in time, killed and replaced Marian, and has been successfully impersonating her ever since. And we only find this out in the scene where she reveals herself to a dying Gold, and forces him to agree to spare her and help find the Author in exchange for a potion to save his life. Yeah, you read that right, this time, it's Rumplestiltskin who's forced to accept a Deal with the Devil, one that makes him someone else's pawn.
- For added Nightmare Fuel she even does the Dark One high, mocking voice and giggle at him while she's doing it. And fiddling with his respirator. Yeah, suffice to say, he was Bring My Brown Pants levels of terrified.
- It gets even better the more you think about everything she had to do while playing said role: call Regina a monster while pretending to be someone without magic, who therefore couldn't do anything to defend herself if Regina decided to try and kill her; try to help save her from Marshmallow (which also required real knowledge of archery); let herself be frozen by Ingrid; be nice and forgiving to Regina after being saved, and pull an I Want My Beloved to Be Happy; then make the curse come back to separate Regina and Robin without anyone catching on; then feign love for Robin (and make out with him) while also being a mother to Roland. And all this, without Gold or Regina ever catching on! Zelena, I read your book!
- And of course the finishing touches are how she taunts Gold with having switched cough medicine for the elixir, and then how she is able to blackmail Regina through him to do everything she can to corrupt Emma. Truly magnificent.
- Robin Hood chasing down a thief in the middle of NYC on a HORSE, just to get Marian's purse back.
- How Robin escaped the Wicked Witch: since he couldn't fake his way out, and he didn't know which Witch was which, he shoots one of the Wizard's machines, filling the throne room with smoke long enough to cover his escape.
- Minor one, but Emma calling her parents out on what they did to Maleficent's child when they try to shift the blame to the Author is definitely satisfying.
- Madeline (Cruella's mother) telling off Isaac. At the moment, it seems excessive, but when you've been acquainted with Isaac for more than a few episodes, it just seems like he caught her at a bad time, was as inconsiderate as ever and then got a few very perceptive observations about his general demeanor.
- Regina gets one over on Gold in the most awesome way possible. She takes out Belle's heart and threatens to crush it if he says a word about her plans to Zelena. She's most likely bluffing, as Belle volunteered for the plan (maybe), but that still means she's bluffed Gold, a Consummate Liar and Magnificent Bastard, into backing off.
- Gold's plan was brilliant. He knew Cruella wanted the Author dead from the beginning (if not the exact reason why), but let her think he was ignorant. He used Cruella's desire to kill the Author to further his plans. The awesome part about all of this was that it required him to do very little. He let Cruella hatch her plan to kill the Author, then when she kidnapped Henry, he knew it would force her into a deadly confrontation with Emma. Knowing a parent would kill for their child, and armed with the knowledge that Henry was in no real danger, allowed Gold to separate Hook and Regina from Emma and let Emma do the rest. Regardless if the kill was justified, Emma's heart is darkening.
- Isaac taking away what Cruella loves the most: her ability to kill.
- The fact Cruella's Beastmaster power was strong enough it could even control Maleficent in her dragon form.
- Regina successfully talking Emma out of killing Lily is both this and a Heartwarming Moment:
Regina: If you go down that road, the way back is not an easy one. Trust me, I know.
- Gold tricking Maleficent with his talk of Emma and Lily, so that Will Scarlet can break into the mayor's office behind her back and steal Belle's heart back.
- It won't last (based on the previews for the next episodes) but for a hot moment it was pretty awesome seeing Maleficent on the heroes' side.
- It has a dark undercurrent to it (because she's just doing it to spite her and it will cost her any chance to have her own biological child in the future) but Regina standing up to Cora and drinking the potion was pretty awesome. So was how she got the Sheriff's confession.
- Present-day Regina is pretty awesome too. She steals the quill and the Author from Gold when he's literally writhing on the floor at her feet (and rightfully spurns his attempt to suggest they work together), tricks Lily into letting her get some of her blood for the ink, and then confronts Zelena with the possibility of making her an Unperson. The look on Zelena's face when she realizes her half-sister isn't bluffing is priceless. But then, when Zelena reminds her of Cora and what she did to her, she chooses instead to leave Zelena alive, alone and with nothing, while going off to have a happy life with Robin. It's marred by the Author spiriting himself away to Gold's side but still—she's learned, she's letting go of revenge in favor of moving on and trying to find happiness in the future, but she's still able to be intimidating, scary, and anti-heroic when she needs to be.
- It's brief, but when Lily the Dragon goes to flame Snow White, Maleficent leaps to try and save her—and then David leaps to save her.
- Henry. Pretty much everything he does is one:
- Finding Isaac, Regina and Hook on his own.
- Standing up to Isaac, Blackbeard and Rumplestiltskin, beating the first two.
- Becoming The Author, reversing what Isaac did and rejecting the path Isaac took.
- Regina taking the sword for Henry, the one she's always loved and the only one to help her retain any goodness as Mayor Mills, rather than stop the wedding and kiss Robin. That's right, the woman who fought so hard for True Love and went evil because of being denied it just gave it up...for her son. Because as we've seen, maternal love is just as powerful and good, and because she knows her happy ending is about more than just a man. Not only is that act so heroic that it starts unraveling the book, allows there to be another Author, and provides the blood of a Light Savior to fix everything...but she still gets Robin anyway. Virtue is its own reward, but you can still be rewarded for your virtue.
- Emma and Hook working together to take out Dragon!Lily.
- Hook actually manages to beat Charming in a sword-fight, despite being completely untrained in the alternate universe.
- Emma has a number of incredibly awesome moments.
- Convincing Regina to try for her True Love, not just by appealing to her that it's the only way to save them all, but by telling her how she had watched Hook die in front of her without telling him she loved him, and she didn't want Regina to make the same mistake she did. Regina, who doesn't even know who she is at this point, is visibly moved.
- Telling Regina, just before they enter the church, that she had sworn as part of Operation Mongoose that she was going to help Regina get her happy ending. "Now I'm just glad I'm here to see it."
- Sword-fighting with Rumple (who as the Light One is just as powerful as the Dark One in some ways, and we all saw how good Rumple was at weapons fighting). She's come a long way from the bail bondsperson who could barely use her father's sword against Maleficent and kept depending on her gun.
- Punching Isaac in the face. Why yes, Emma did just punch out her realm's version of a god.
- Using her light magic to blast the Darkness out of the Apprentice.
- Finally getting the courage to tell Killian she loves him, the three words she fears most in the world because they signify commitment.
- And finally, tearing the Darkness away from Regina and taking it into herself to become the Dark One. Why? Because "I'm not going to let you lose your happy ending!" Despite the fact she's just become the vessel of pure evil, all she says to Hook and her parents is that they saved her from darkness before, so she knows they can do it again. It's even a reversal of what happened the first time the Dark Curse was cast—now they have to find her. And she clearly believes they will.
- Merida's first trailer showed her shoot an arrow, hit the bulleye, then cleave that arrow in half with another arrow.
- On a meta level, the casting department once again did an awesome job with Merida. Actress Amy Manson is a perfect fit for the role, just like Elizabeth Lail and Anna in the previous season.
- Even better, it's a Mythology Gag to Brave, where she did the same thing (although in that movie, the first arrow wasn't hers.)
- Dark Emma's Creepy Awesome personified entrance at the end of the episode, showing that she managed to get her dagger back from Regina during their time in Camelot, no one can touch her, and now they're all going to be punished.
- Even before then we had Emma's Curb-Stomp Battle against Merida. She effortlessly catches every arrow Merida sends her way, then telekinetically drags her into range for a heart crushing. If the others hadn't shown up when they had, that would have been the end of Merida.
- Leroy's Leaning on the Fourth Wall speech about how he's sick of being a side character and is going with the heroes this time.
- How does Zelena get rid of the Anti-Magic bracelet? Cut off her hand and then effortlessly reattach it with magic. The Wicked Witch doesn't screw around.
- Followed by Regina knowing full well how much making a portal back to Oz would take out of her, and playing for time until she can reattach the bracelet.
- The first sight of Camelot.
- Arthur and his knights facing down Grumpy and the other dwarves in Storybrooke's main street. Grumpy tries for the Badass Boast about daring to go against a dwarf and his pick-ax...and then Arthur promptly disarms him and has him at swordpoint. "And is that how you would dare speak to a king?"
- Charming saving Regina and Robin from Percival.
- Emma blasting Regina out of her house after pretty much daring her to woman up and be the Savior.
- Regina, Snow, Charming, Arthur, and Leroy all standing up against the Fury, giving some of their life so none of them have to die.
- After four seasons of Snow and Charming letting the arc villains manipulate them, they've finally learned that they should just trust each other and not let it happen. This lets them play Arthur for a sucker and would have ended the story right there if he didn't cheat with the magic sand.
- Emma's plan is pretty brilliantly awesome too: not only does she have Gold as a blank slate to fashion into the hero she needs to draw Excalibur, now she has someone to train him, via heart-control: Merida.
- When Arthur and his knights interrupt the ritual to free Merlin, arrogantly berating them for lying to him about both Emma and Regina's identities, Regina stands up to him (and gives Emma time to still use the potion) with a wonderful Bring It moment and starts hurling fireballs as of old.
- Although it starts off rather painfully (with her threatening Belle and mocking his cowardice), seeing Gold stand up to Merida and start fighting her with true determination and bravery was awesome. It got even better when she revealed she was training him, not to help Emma, but to defeat her, so they can both get free and help those they love.
- Belle, hands down, is a walking CMOA. To sum up: her very first scene involves her working out from a spellbook how to undo magic Merlin couldn't comprehend (because he'd been sealed in a tree for a thousand years), causing him to give her genuine and admiring praise for her cleverness. (Her response? "About time someone noticed.") This causes Merida to zero in on her for assistance in rescuing her brothers, and while she does get tricked and knocked out, as soon as she wakes up she reads Merida the riot act for her actions. Then she succeeds in recreating the Witch's Potion of Mor'du (even while trying to talk Merida out of using it); switches it for plain water so that Merida will have to save her brothers on her own; and when it looks like Merida will have to fight her way out of the clans' camp, seems ready and willing to fight at her side. Then in present-day Storybrooke, she a) stands up to Regina and the others when they refuse to help her with Gold in order to focus on Merlin b) helps Gold escape from Merida in the pawn shop (first by tricking her with a mirror, then by literally pulling a rug out from under her, knocking her out), and c) forces Gold to stop the car when he tries to flee with her across the town line, proves she still won't stand for his cowardice or selfishness, then turns and heads back into town because there are people she cares about back there and she won't leave them to face Emma alone. Bad. Ass.
- Merida, once she is forced to face her fears by Belle, uses her bow just as she did in the film...only this time it's to shoot cross-wise through the paths of the three arrows about to execute her brothers, splintering each one in half. Not only is this is badass in and of itself, it's (in her mind) making up for having failed to make a bowshot to save her father Fergus's life. And then, when the three young sons of the clans all make to attack her with their swords, she draws her own.
Merida: Ye've just seen what I can do with a bow! Do ye really want to see what I can do with a sword?
- Gold himself, finally. His very first act in the episode, as quiet and painful as it is, takes a huge amount of courage even if it is to aid him in a seemingly cowardly act (running away, though it does save his life and lets him warn Belle): breaking the teacup, symbol of his love for Belle, to give him something to cut his bonds. He then somehow makes it all the way back into town to the library to meet up with Belle. After once again succumbing to his cowardice in trying to flee Storybrooke, he eventually shows up Just in Time to save Belle from Bear!Merida, clearly ready to sacrifice his life before he fortuitously discovers the bag of anti-transformation powder Belle took with her—and then, not even knowing it would work, throws it in the mouth of a raging, snarling, colossal bear. Is it any wonder he proved worthy of drawing Excalibur from the stone? And then of course there's his epic speech to Emma afterward.
- Zelena, of all people, in how ballsy she was standing up to Emma. While her taunt about Neal was typically cruel and low, everything else she said about villainy, the danger of joining with Emma, how important it was to be devoted to her baby, and how unforgivable betrayal can be (particularly between a parent and their child) was absolutely on the money—and Emma's face clearly showed the points she scored against her. And she did all of this while having no magic with which to defend herself. Whatever else can be said about Zelena, she's not nearly as cowardly as she seemed. You almost have to admire her.
- And a smaller, but no less important, awesome moment is when Henry, summoned by Regina to use the mushroom to call Merlin, is asked whether he's up to this, considering what Emma had done to him and Violet. His response is to immediately declare the woman who did that was not his mother, he believed the real Emma was still in there, and he would do anything to save her and get her back—which means yes, as a chosen Author he was quite ready to seek Merlin's help.
- In a way, this episode is Awesome because we get to see the Origins Episode for EVIL in the Once universe. Okay, so there were bad people long before this, but seeing the first Dark One like that, with links to Arthurian, Christian and Greek mythology as well? Talk about an awesome origin for the Dark One.
- Emma, this time around, in how she resists the Darkness and stands up to the spirit of Nimue by declaring that no, she was never nothing, and if she lost the dark powers (even, by implication, had no magic at all) she would still not be nothing. To hear this come from the abandoned orphan who for the past four seasons has been struggling with her identity as the Savior and her self-worth, this has to be the biggest Crowning Moment of Awesome for her to date. Merlin's discussion with her afterward about whether a person might one day come who was strong enough to resist the Darkness and use its powers for good, but that he would never wish that burden upon anyone, also makes for some interesting implications for Emma—if she doesn't simply turn out to be able to resist the voices in her head and use the reforged Excalibur to destroy the Darkness and free herself.
- It's bad for the heroes, and therefore only a dark form of awesome, but the fact Zelena doesn't just betray them and join Arthur but that she proves able to use the same spell Merlin himself devised to control the Dark One, and to change Excalibur into a means to control Merlin, shows just how powerful her magic is.
- Emma being powerful enough to kick-start Zelena's pregnancy to full labor is impressive. More so as she just wants Zelena without child to pull off her big plan.
- The entire sequence revealing the truth—-that Emma turned Hook into a Dark One to save his life—is brilliantly done, amping up the tension before the Wham Shot, and that Zelena is the one to reveal the truth makes it more delicious.
- The casting of the witch, who looks just like the animated character.
- The idea of Mulan training Merida in swordplay is just brilliant and the two work perfectly as a partnership.
- Mulan realizing the wolf attacking her is more than that, kicks over a pot of magic that covers them with a cloud...and the wolf turns into Ruby, who thanks Mulan for the help.
- Merida, Mulan and Ruby working together against Arthur and Zelena is glorious to watch. Great bits include Ruby using sleeping powder to take out Zelena and when Arthur gloats that Merida is on her own, the leaders of the three clans show up to help. After Arthur and Zelena flee, the clan leaders kneel to Merida, now truly respecting her as their queen.
- When the witch arrives at her coronation, Merida declares she'll not give over the magic helm and will do anything to protect her kingdom and the witch can do her worst...at which point the witch reveals that's exactly what she wanted to hear, as this was all a test to prove Merida's worth.
- Also great is when the witch arrives, Ruby is ready to jump on her and Mulan has to hold her back.
- After Mulan and Ruby decide to hit the road together, Merida closes the episode vowing revenge on Arthur with a fire ready to burn.
- Regina, in trusting Zelena with the baby because she believes it will save her sister, as Henry saved her.
- Gold's defeat of Hook is awesome no matter how you look at it. If you like Gold, it's proof he truly isn't a coward any more and also that he can be a hero, even if he does use Cruel Mercy. If you don't like Hook, or didn't like what happened with Milah, he gets humiliated and held accountable for one of the major acts that set Rumple on his path to villainy and the Dark One.
- Even if "Rumple" is right and what comes of it produces great evil and horror, and even though we've already seen the consequences to herself, her friends and family, and Storybrooke, Emma outsmarting Nimue and Hook both by stealing the latter's memories and by adding a forget potion to the curse is pretty smart and quick thinking on her part.
- Hook's sacrifice, and the one Emma intended before him.
- Regina viciously calling out Hook for intending to destroy yet another family for his revenge. This finally gets through to Hook.
- Regina having the belief in herself (bolstered by the support of the town and her loved ones) to make the Apprentice's wand work and send Zelena back to Oz where she belongs.
- Emma's ultimatum to Gold.
Emma: All right then, Dark One. Then you're going to do something for me.Gold: And why in the world should I do a thing like that?Emma: Because I still have magic. And I bet I can get to Belle and tell her the truth, tell her what you did, before you can kill me.Gold: You really think you can beat me, Miss Swan?Emma: Do you want to take that risk? Do you want me to show Belle the kind of man you really are?
- And the end result of this is not only getting him to open the portal for her to go to the underworld, but to come with her, to the place he openly admitted his fear of earlier in the episode. Bad. Ass.
- Shortly after Season 3's Winter Finale, Michael Coleman, who plays Happy, made some disparaging◊ comments◊ about Swan Queen, saying everyone, including all the writers and actors, doesn't want the ship to happen, that all the fans are rude, and blocked◊ people◊ who called him out. Adam Horowitz,Lana Parrilla◊, and Jennifer Morrison made it clear that he did not speak for them and they were not happy with what he said. Adam even defended against someone who defended Michael's actions. Even if you don't ship Swan Queen, everyone deserves respect and kudos to them for choosing to stand up for that.