Season 3, Episode 22:
There's No Place Like Home
Still stuck in the past, Hook must enlist the help of Snow White and Charming (as well as Red Riding Hood) to rescue Emma from the Evil Queen's dungeon, even as Emma makes a choice which will change the future. Eventually the timeline is set back on its proper course (mostly)...but not only did Emma unknowingly rescue Maid Marian, she inadvertently brings along the Snow Queen.
- Butterfly of Doom:
- The Rumpelstiltskin of the past is very aware that knowledge of the future could completely screw up those events to where they never happened. He refuses to be told any details and later brews a forgetting potion so that he can continue his plans without second-guessing himself.
- Hook also references the trope when warning Emma that her saving the woman in the dungeon could have unforeseen consequences such as her raising a mass murderer or accidentally killing one of the dwarves while drunk. Emma's solution is to take her back to the future with them so her presence won't change the past...but this still has consequences, since she turns out to be Maid Marian, ruining Regina's happiness with Robin Hood. As petty as her response is (since Marian wouldn't have been in danger and need rescuing in the first place if not for her), Regina is absolutely right to tell Emma she Didn't Think This Through. And of course, she also accidentally brought back the Snow Queen as well (a literal snowball effect?)...
- Chekhov's Gun: Even before the woman in the dungeon's identity was revealed, the fact she refused to give her name to Emma (thus keeping her from knowing what the consequences of saving her would be) was a bad sign that changing the past by not letting her die was going to backfire heavily. It was just a matter of waiting for the other shoe to drop.*
- Chekhov's Skill: Emma's skill at lock-picking, taught to her by Neal.
- Close-Enough Timeline: Even though Emma and Hook do change the past, their efforts to get the timeline back on track lead to only inconsequential alterations to the present.
- Continuity Snarl: Rumple has the Black Fairy's wand, which he says can open the time portal if one of those who recently came through it uses magic to activate it. But back in Season 3A, the Mother Superior/Blue Fairy had it, necessitating the whole subplot with the Shadow so that Gold could switch Henry and Pan back to their rightful bodies. Since this episode takes place well before the Dark Curse was cast and the squid ink was used to imprison Rumple in the dungeon, could it have been taken from him then? One would assume that if it were simply brought over from the Enchanted Forest with everything else, it would have been in the pawn shop instead.*
- Dead Guy Junior: Snow and Charming's new baby is named Neal.
- Delayed Ripple Effect: After Snow White's execution, Emma is still in existence. Neither she nor Hook consider this could be because as long as they are in the past they are (at least temporarily) immune to the effects of any changes in the timeline...but it turns out they're right and the reason she's still there is Snow isn't really dead.
- Dramatic Irony: Hook's talk at the campfire to Charming...where he reveals Emma's parents don't approve of him and Charming praises him for everything he's doing to save her. Lampshaded by Hook himself.
- Epiphany Therapy: Emma's fears and her desire to keep running are resolved thanks to her having seen her mother (seemingly) die, then spending time with her parents but having them not know her—she realizes she doesn't want to lose them and that home is with them in Storybrooke. Realizing this is her home (an indirect Title Drop) allows her to recover her magic so that the time portal can be re-opened.
- Fake Shemp: The final scene has Elsa viewed from the back, played by an anonymous crew member as the role hadn't been cast yet.
- Faking the Dead: Snow White's execution, thanks to the dark fairy dust.
- Forced to Watch: Emma, Charming, and Red look on in helpless horror as Snow White is seemingly burned at the stake.
- Glamour Failure: Variation—the illusions on Hook and Emma are not dispelled, but the Blue Fairy, being what she is, can tell Emma is not who she seems. She is also able to get an inkling that demanding an explanation could have grave consequences for the future, so wisely does not press her.*
- Guile Hero: Not only does Snow White use the dark fairy dust to save herself from execution, when the time comes for her to save Charming at the Troll Bridge as per the original timeline, she's able to do everything she did the first time around by bluffing them with ordinary sand.
- In Spite of a Nail: Certain things happened the way they were supposed to, despite the interference of Emma. Justified in the case of Snow and Charming still getting together: If they didn't, then Emma would never be born, which would make the events of the episode impossible.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The whole reason Marian was in a position to be rescued, so that Emma would bring her forward and ruin things with Robin Hood and Regina, was because Regina had locked her up and was going to execute her for refusing to reveal Snow White's location.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Regina is smirking when Snow White accosts her with fairy dust—until she tells her it's dark fairy dust.
- The looks on both Regina's face and Emma's when Robin Hood reveals Marian's name.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Emma rescuing Marian. Hook even acknowledges what she did was a noble thing, but warns her there may be consequences...
- Shout-Out: The episode title is of course from The Wizard of Oz. But amusingly it actually has nothing to do with the source material (since by this time Zelena is dead), instead referring to Emma's character arc.
- The Un-Reveal: Since it was never explained the first time around, viewers could be forgiven for thinking this episode might explain just where Snow got the dark fairy dust from—but no. In fact Blue doesn't even address it, though you would think that being Snow's fairy godmother would have led to her disapproving of such a thing, even if it was to be used against Regina.*
- Wham Line: "Marian?!"
- Wham Shot: An urn brought from Rumplestiltskin's vault opens and releases Queen Elsa at the end of the episode. To put this into perspective, not only was this kept a complete secret, with only the people filming the scene knowing about it, but Frozen's home media release had only been less than a month before!
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Bringing back Robin Hood's wife just when he and Regina have fallen in love and she has become one of the good guys.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: Apparently the subversion of No Ontological Inertia wherein Emma's magic remained lost even after Zelena's magic was stripped from her was actually a Double Subversion—because in her desperation to flee Storybrooke and its fairy tale dangers, Emma simply convinced herself it was still gone.