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Recap / Once Upon A Time S 6 E 17 Awake

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Season 6, Episode 17:


Regina, Emma, and Snow desperately search for a means to break the sleeping curse on her and Charming, while Hook allies with an unexpected face from his past to escape Neverland. Meanwhile, during the time of the first Dark Curse, it is revealed just how much Snow and Charming had to give up in order for Emma to fulfill her destiny.


  • Absentee Actor: Meghan Ory is excused in the flashback by Ruby being hung over.
  • Adapted Out: The rest of the Piccaninny tribe, presumably, since in this version Tiger Lily is an ex-fairy rather than the daughter of a chieftain. Considering invokedValues Dissonance, this is probably for the best.
  • Adaptation Species Change: Tiger Lily went from human in previous adaptations to a former fairy in this series.
  • The Atoner: This episode makes it clearer Gideon's claim to be this was the truth, considering what he does to help save Emma's parents (and though he didn't know it, Hook).
  • Avenging the Villain: The Lost Boys want to kill Hook as revenge for Pan's death.
  • Badass Boast: A rather dark version, considering the threat involved, but not surprising for Gold.
    Gold (after being told facing the Black Fairy will leave nothing left of Storybrooke): That's a risk I'll just have to take.
  • Bait-and-Switch: After everyone drinks the potion to wake Snow and Charming, it appears the dilution worked on them, only at the cost of all of them falling asleep instead. But it turns out they were just stunned/knocked down by the backblast of the curse breaking, and are just fine.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: It is revealed that another source of pixie dust (and presumably stronger than the versions we've seen before) is the Pixie flower, which only grows where there is great evil—and just as such evil can create curses that keep true loves apart and deny them happiness, the flower and its dust can break such curses and bring true loves together, no matter where they are. This is shown by literally having the place where the Black Fairy is hiding in the forest be covered with them; where the one in the flashback came from is not explained, unless it was Regina's presence.
  • Because Destiny Says So:
    • According to the Black Fairy, she and Emma have been fated to fight each other since the dawn of time, since the Black Fairy created the Dark Curse, and Emma was born to break it.
    • When it turns out one Pixie flower was spared from the destruction, Emma invokes this, saying it survived "because it needed to." But it turns out Gideon, in a small but critical show of resistance against the Black Fairy, did this deliberately.
  • Being Good Sucks: In the flashbacks, Snow and Charming have to give up their chance at an early reunion with Emma so that everyone else who has been trapped by The Dark Curse can be saved.
  • Continuity Nod: During the flashback portion of the episode.
    • Snow is first seen during the "Groundhog Day" Loop we were shown in "Welcome to Storybrooke", and immediately starts interrupting and changing things—actually stopping to talk to Granny as she puts out her sign, making Marco drop a screw he was using to repair the store sign, making Pongo growl at her so Archie gets dragged across the street, and ultimately running into Regina, thereby crushing the bouquet she had for David in his coma.
    • When David is woken by the pixie flower, his memories take up with right back where he last remembered being—fighting the Evil Queen's guards and putting baby Emma in the wardrobe.
    • Regina's threat to blow up the mine with Archie in it (to force Snow to reveal she's awake) is a Call-Back to "That Still Small Voice", where demolitions almost brought the mine down and, in saving Henry, Archie almost died there.
    • Gold doesn't remember anything because he has yet to meet Emma and hear her name. Charming says it to him, thus waking him up.
    • When refusing to let Gold stop him and Snow from getting to Emma, David snaps that Gold "isn't the one with a child who's all alone out there." Gold looks briefly pained then disagrees that Charming has no idea what's waiting for him out there, clearly referencing Baelfire.
    • To distract Regina, Snow has everyone search for David in the woods. That's where he really did run after waking in "Snow Falls."
    • The meeting place for Snow and David is Zelena's farmhouse. Because this is still in the first season, no one is there and it's boarded up.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • After the first attempt to break the Sleeping Curse only weakens their hearts so they will both sleep, the message Snow gives to David about it on his smartphone just so happens to catch an image of a Pixie flower in the forest behind her, giving them the key they need to break the spell.
    • The only weapon aside from the sword that can stop the Black Fairy (by banishing her back to her realm) is a piece of a wand that Tiger Lily just so happens to have with her...and Neverland is where Hook's attempt to get back to Storybrooke just so happened to send him. Considering how important it is for the heroes to win the Final Battle, it's quite likely this is a legitimate case of Because Destiny Says So.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Turns out, the Evil Queen put a failsafe into the sleeping curse, so that any attempt to break it would just cause both Snow and Charming to sleep, rather than just one at a time.
  • Double-Meaning Title: More downplayed than most, but it turns out it isn't just referring to the attempt to break the Sleeping Curse on the Charmings but that, unbeknownst to us, there was a point during the first season when they had already come "awake" from the Dark Curse and needed to decide whether to go to Emma at the expense of everyone in town or go back "asleep" until she came to save them all.
  • Enemy Mine: Hook and Tiger Lily have a colored past, but are willing to work together to get Hook back to Storybooke, so that he can deliver to Emma a wand that can defeat the Black Fairy.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even Rumplestiltskin has some standards — other than not harming children — for he has no intention of joining his mother, who makes even Rumple at his worst look like a fairy princess.
  • Evil Is One Big, Happy Family: The Black Fairy seems to be trying to invoke this literally, telling Rumple she wants him to join her willingly, so that they can finally be the family they were meant to be. Gold has the appropriate response.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Exactly how evil Gold is now (despite having the power of all the Dark Ones) is uncertain, but he's clearly willing to sacrifice the town and everyone in it aside from him and Belle to stop his mother and save Gideon. Yet he is still unequivocally set against her, despite her claiming he will join her willingly in the end.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Black Fairy is all over this when meeting Belle for the first time.
  • Genre Savvy: Rumple is quick to realize that the Black Fairy has Gideon's heart—because when she has Gideon destroy the Pixie flowers, he leaves one behind, something someone who was truly her willing ally would never have done.
  • Heroic R.R.O.D.: Emma's starting to have the hand tremors that signify her magic shorting out again.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • In the flashbacks, Snow and Charming are willing to give up their one chance to be reunited with Emma in order to ensure that she can one day become the Savior.
    • In the present, Snow gives up the only apparent way to break the sleeping curse in order to bring Hook home.
  • I Like Those Odds: When Tiger Lily tells Hook there's just one of him and at least twenty Lost Boys in Pan's old camp (where he needs to go to get the magic he needs to escape), this trope is Hook's response.
  • In the End, You Are on Your Own: The Black Fairy is trying to invoke this in order to both demoralize and ultimately defeat Emma, and it's what Snow and Charming are trying to prevent. In the end it fails thanks to a combination of Gideon, Regina and all the others, Hook, and even Tiger Lily.
  • Internal Reveal: Gold learns that the Black Fairy has Gideon's heart, though he has yet to reveal this to the heroes. Also, Hook finds out David knows about him killing his father, and they reconcile.
  • Living Shadow: In a nice Call-Back to Season Three, Hook brings his to life in order to get word to Emma.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • The Evil Queen's modified sleeping curse was only designed to affect Snow and Charming. Regina has everyone in town (or at least, all the named characters) affect themselves with it as well, so that it will overload and break on its own.
    • Gideon's curse was meant to keep Hook from going through any portal back to Storybrooke. It said nothing about his shadow, which we know can cross realms and, being something made of darkness, might well be immune to the curse regardless.
  • My Greatest Failure: For Tiger Lily, her former friend the Black Fairy turning evil. She blamed herself so hard that she gave up her own wings and went into self-imposed exile in Neverland.
  • Mythology Gag: Hook asks Tiger Lily if she's still mad about what happened at Skull Rock, probably a reference to his nearly drowning her there in the Disney movie.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The preview for this episode made it look like Snow and Charming would break the curse, and then travel back in time to find Emma before she could become the Savior. In fact, the attempt to break the curse takes all episode, while the stuff focusing on Snow and Charming is all flashbacks.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: In the flashback, Regina attempts to blow up the mine with Archie in it to force Snow to reveal she's awake. But not only do the other townsfolk show up to prevent this and let Snow get away, it's this which inspires Snow to stay and take the potion with Charming instead of going to raise Emma, by reminding her how heroes sacrifice their happiness for others. If Regina had left well enough alone, the Charmings would have left and, assuming it was correct that this would keep Emma from becoming the Savior, so that the curse would never be broken, the rest of Storybrooke would stay unhappy forever, and although Snow and Charming would be together and with their daughter, they would eventually be eaten up by guilt at what they had done to the rest of their friends and loved ones. Thanks, Madam Mayor!
  • Oh, Crap!: Gold's reaction when his mother, the Black Fairy, shows up in his shop. And then again when his mother reveals she has the Dagger.
  • Plot Coupon: Tiger Lily provides Hook with a piece of the wand that initially banished the Black Fairy to her realm, something Emma needs if she is ever to defeat her, so that his portion of the episode is spent trying to get it to her.
  • Plot Hole: No reasoning is ever given for Snow and David's conviction that Emma cannot become the Savior if they raise her; it's just taken for granted despite how obviously they could just raise her to know that she is the Savior and has to go to Storybrooke in 18 years to break the curse. That was even the original plan. In the pilot, before Snow inconveniently went into labor she'd been going to go through the wardrobe pregnant and raise Emma. In "The Stranger", we learned that the Blue Fairy had even intended both parents to go through (until Geppetto forced her to lie about how many people could use the wardrobe).
    • If they raised her, she may never have met Neal and never given birth to Henry, and given that it was her giving True Love's Kiss to Henry that broke the curse, she might not have been able to break it otherwise - but past Snow and David couldn't have known that. Although if she died the curse would have broken automatically, meaning that since Emma's mortal and is inevitably going to die one day, the curse would have broken eventually anyway. Also, even if neither Henry's birth nor her death ever happened, it is her destiny to break the curse—so it's likely fate would have made events transpire in ways to ensure she broke it regardless.
    • An even bigger plot hole is the pixie flower itself. Crossing realms is very difficult, especially to the Land Without Magic that's the premise of the show. The only ways to do so were the magic beans, the Dark Curse, the magic wardrobe, the Sorcerer's powers and Peter Pan's shadow. Other portals, such as the hat, mermaids and so on, were only shown to work within Storybrooke after magic was brought to town. Yet, the pixie flower opened a portal to the Land Without Magic outside of Storybrooke even before magic was brought to town; the flower is described as being able to bring true loves together "no matter what separates them", but for that to apply even to a lack of magic strains credibility a bit.
  • Retcon: 18 years before the start of the series, dust from a pixie flower woke Snow and Charming from the Dark Curse. However, they had to put themselves back under and sacrifice their chance to find Emma, in order to ensure she could one day break the curse for everyone else.
  • Spanner in the Works: Gideon. The key to the Black Fairy's plan at this point seems to be ensuring Emma will have to face her all alone; he undoes this by allowing one Pixie flower to survive, thus providing the means to wake Snow and Charming. But Snow sacrifices it to help Emma get Hook back, after which a good portion of the Charming inner circle takes the potion too to wake them...which means now not only are all of them awake, Emma has Hook back too and the wand that can defeat the Black Fairy. Talk about a ripple effect!
  • Status Quo Is God: Because changing the past and undoing the entire show at this point would be far too major a shift, Snow and Charming being woken from the curse in Season One and trying to get back to Emma is undone—they choose not to do so, trusting that Emma will find her way to them as destined to and thus save everyone, and they (and Gold) take a potion to put them back under so nothing is changed. The point of the past segments is instead to provide the means to get Hook and Emma back together, and to inspire everyone in saving Snow and Charming.
  • A Storm Is Coming: It is repeatedly stated that a great darkness, and war, are coming to Storybrooke.
  • True Companions: This is invoked when everyone who knew, loved, and was affected by Snow and Charming choose to take the Sleeping Curse together to wake them up, in return for them having chosen to go back under the curse so that Emma could still come and save everyone's happy endings. After waking up and being told what happened, Snow underscores this by stating that while she gave up her chance at a family to save everyone, now she "had an even bigger family."
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: After the attempt to break the sleeping curse fails, Snow and Charming have one day to find another means to do so; otherwise their now-weakened shared heart will cause them both to fall asleep.
  • Wrong Assumption: Hook thinks Tiger Lily is there to rescue him. She isn't, she just needs to get a particular magical artifact to the Savior before it's too late, and intends to use him as her "errand boy" because she thinks he still has his ship and can cross realms. Played with in that once she finds out he is in love with the Savior and very much wants to help her win the Final Battle (as well as get back to her), Tiger Lily releases him and they genuinely work together to achieve both their goals.