Season 6, Episode 1:
As refugees from the Land of Untold Stories flood into Storybooke, Emma deals with unexpected side effects from her powers. Meanwhile, Gold attempts to wake Belle from her Sleeping Curse, while Regina and Zelena have to reassess their relationship.
- Alone with the Psycho: There's some definite shades of this when Emma visits Hyde, helped along by him being imprisoned in a cell at the Storybrooke asylum.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: The Evil Queen lampshades this, noting that Zelena finally got a sister, just not the one she was hoping for.
- Break Them by Talking: Hyde attempts this with Emma, but although she is clearly shaken by some of what he says, she mostly finds ways to gloriously shut him up.
- The Bus Came Back: Archie, just in time to help Emma out with her Savior PTSD. Lampshaded obliquely by Archie himself, when he tells her that the time a person needs a therapist most is when they don't want one or think they don't need one (i.e., he "came back" because he was needed).
- Celestial Deadline: The sands from the Temple of Morpheus only allow someone to enter a cursed sleeper's dreams for one hour; if they haven't succeeded by then, the sleeper will be stuck in limbo (the "red room of fire") forever.
- Chekhov's Gun: Turns out the Tragic Keepsake from the previous season finale, the fletching from Robin's arrow, was more important than it seemed, since Zelena misplacing it is the impetus to her argument with Regina...and when Regina declares to Snow she believes in hope and a new story with a better ending, the feather returns to suggest she's right about him.
- Cruel Mercy:
- Jafar chooses not to kill Aladdin, as seeing him reduced to a physically and mentally broken wretch is a more fitting revenge.
- After he refuses to tell her about the meaning of her visions and what new danger threatens everyone, Emma mentions to Hyde how she's aware from her own time in prison how bad the loneliness gets...and then threatens to leave Hyde with that same loneliness, with no one ever visiting or speaking to him again. He is suitably impressed.
- Did the Earth Move for You, Too?: What looks like it was going to be Hook and Emma's first love scene gets interrupted by everything shaking thanks to the arrival of the dirigible from the Land of Untold Stories.
- Eternal Recurrence: Emma is not the first Savior. There have been many, and they've always ended the same way — their powers burning out, being plagued by visions of the villain who finally defeats them, and then said defeat playing out.
- Evil Gloating: Both Hyde and Jafar are in rare form.
- Heroic RRoD: It seems that after all these years of using her magic, it's starting to burn Emma's body out.
- Hope Springs Eternal: Snow White and Regina's conversation is about this, and in its own way so is the talk Henry has with Regina.
- Lampshade Hanging: Zelena is quite surprised that the heroes were able to beat Hyde so soon, without the usual weeks of back-and-forth plot twists.
- Loophole Abuse: Because Belle is pregnant, when Rumple uses the Sands of Morpheus on her, the baby is affected too, allowing him to appear in the dream world...and since in that world you envision things as you want them to be, he can appear as an adult to test Belle. And finally, because he is her baby, and he has an inborn true love for her as she does for him despite not truly knowing each other yet, this lets his kiss break the Sleeping Curse.
- Mythology Gag:
- No-Sell: Mr. Hyde is able to shrug off a Combined Energy Attack from Emma and Regina, as well as anything else other than the device Jekyll builds.
- The Other Darrin: Because Naveen Andrews was unavailable to reprise his role from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Jafar is played by Oded Fehr.
- Reality Ensues:
- So the memories of their first meeting and the love they shared as children were restored to them, they got to reconcile with their redeemed mother, and they bonded over their shared loss. This means Regina and Zelena can live together happily now as sisters, right? Wrong: Regina still blames (and does not trust) Zelena due to what happened with Hades and Robin, while Zelena resents that Regina went to Snow for help instead of her own flesh and blood, and feels that "destroying" the Evil Queen got rid of the part of Regina she had most in common with.
- After all these years of fighting evil, suffering loss, and going through pain and darkness and so much emotional turmoil, it's all finally catching up with Emma. Lampshaded by Archie. Also, the process of dealing with this is going to be long and require a lot of hard work; there's no pill to take, no shortcuts.
- Gold thinks he can just re-create how he and Belle fell in love to wake her up and get her back. But she remembers all the heartbreak and so can't forgive him, and it's swearing to protect herself and their baby that allows "Morpheus" to wake her. She then declares she won't let him ruin their family like he did his first one, and that he needs to embrace true love if he's ever to get what he claims he wants with her.
- The Sandman: This is essentially what "Morpheus" acts as thanks to the dream sands, and how he is able to appear in Belle's dreams, and it's even reflected in how he dresses.
- A Storm Is Coming: Whatever new (or old) threat is coming, Emma is determined to face it...even though her visions say it will claim her life.
- Secret Test of Character: "Morpheus" puts Rumple and Belle through this in order to ensure that Belle doesn't just continue the cycle of forgiving him and inviting more heartbreak.
- Shout-Out: Of all things, when Jafar taunts Aladdin with the fate of Saviors, his words are a paraphrase of the fate of The Giving Tree: "...you give, and give, and give, and for what? They pick the fruit, they cut the branches...and in the end all that's left is this shaky stump."
- There Are No Therapists: Averted after two to three seasons without him; Archie is back and is willing to counsel Emma, if she will accept the help of a cricket.
- The Un-Reveal: It's never explained exactly how Rumple gave Hyde "the keys to Storybrooke"; he certainly never has control over its magic, nor is he the Mayor or possess any powers over the town's existence as Regina did when she cast the Dark Curse the first time. Presumably this means Rumple using the Apprentice's wand to make a portal there for Hyde and the dirigible.*
- Villains Never Lie: Henry reminds Regina of the dangers of taking a villain at their word, when speaking of his belief that Robin was not obliterated as Hades said but got to go to a better place as a reward for his heroism. However Emma, despite initial reservations, believes almost everything Hyde tells her. Henry does note that the reason villains lie is to hurt the heroes as much as they can...and in Emma's case, what might hurt her most is the truth.
- Villain Team-Up: The episode ends with the Evil Queen visiting Zelena at her farmhouse, most likely to suggest one of these.
- You Can't Fight Fate: According to the Oracle, while the future is fluid and the sequence of events can be changed, the end result of things is always as foreseen.