And so we’ve reached the end. The Elsa and Anna find their way back home, new villains are woven into the plot, and one of our main characters finally wakes up … and I’m not talking about Marian. “Heroes and Villains” may be Once Upon a Time‘s winter finale, but it looks like it could be the start of something a little less Frozen.
The episode opens with our heroes facing the ice wall at the edge of town. With Ingrid gone, Elsa is able to magic it away, but, of course, things are not that simple. Emma checks the town line for magic traps and realizes that, for the third or fourth time, crossing the out of town will have dire consequences (I’m adding “town line crossing issues” to my OUAT BINGO card). Those who leave will never be able to return. This puts a damper on the Frozen girls getting home for some reason and Emma and company set out to find an alternative.
Rumpel is plotting and still threatening Hook. His life would have been so much easier if the Snow Queen had succeeded, but no matter. When the stars align with the pattern of the hat, he’ll be able to cleave himself once and for all from his pesky dagger, and will take Belle away to the magical land of New York City. He tells Hook to distract Emma and company and keep Anna away from Belle. Since Anna knows his true nature, it would be unfortunate for his wife to actually know what’s going on. Rumpel and Hook follow more damn brooms to the Sorcerer’s house and find a doorway to Arendelle and hook tells the girls how to get home. Emma knows they’re something odd about Hook’s reactions, but can’t figure out what.
Speaking of Belle, the flashback takes us back to when she was being held captive at Rumpel’s palace. She’s rummaging through his things when she believed he was away. He catches her of course and says it was a test. They natter on about morality and Belle asks him about his treasures. She wishes to see the world. One of these items in a magic gauntlet that can find a person’s weakness. Wouldn’t that have been handy to have, oh, I don’t know, at any point before now? Rumpel explains that it’s about manipulation and usually leads you to the thing they love most. Now we know the Deus Ex Machina of the episode.
In the present, Rumpel makes Belle breakfast in bed and tells her they’re going to go on a honeymoon to New York, forgetting to mention all about the town line curse. Belle is excited and begins to pack. Henry comes into the shop and tries to help, but instead knocks over a bunch of things. Lo and behold, the gauntlet is in the shop, and the wheels in Belle’s brain start turning.
Marian is de-iced and Regina gives her heart back. Regina goes to the dinner to sulk, but Marian shows up and is genuinely thankful. She understands that time doesn’t make much sense when time travel is concerned and says she’ll bow out if that’s what Robin wants. Robin chooses Regina and they have the “divorce isn’t always bad” discussion. Everything looks peachy until Marian collapses. The ice magic has somehow made it to her heart. The only way to stop it is to take away magic and cross the town line. Regina tells Robin that he and Roland need to go with her. Regina’s happy ending is spoiled again.
The Belle/Rumpel flashback continues and Belle accuses Rumpel of having a hole in his heart. Rumpel snaps his fingers and zaps her outside to take care of the laundry, which bothered me on many many levels. She finds a Dalmatian puppy, and the audience knows that we’ll soon be meeting some new antagonists. She follows the dog into the woods and is taken by a dark and shadowy figure. Rumpel goes off to find her, but a raven drops a message threatening Belle’s life if he doesn’t bring the gauntlet. He brings the item and calls out Maleficent, who has a great new costume (I love Kristin Bauer Van Straten and am so glad she’s coming back to the show!).
Ursula and Cruella show themselves and demand the gauntlet. Villains never get their happy ending, and maybe the gauntlet can change that. Rumpel gives it to them and takes Belle. But all isn’t what it seems, as later Rumpel goes back to the trio and takes back the gauntlet.
Continuing the theme, Rumpel goes to Regina and they discuss the mentality of a villain. He tells her to take her happiness by any means necessary, but Regina doesn’t want to fall back into old patterns. Instead, she lets Robin leave and soothes her soul with shots with Emma. Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff have tearful goodbyes with Emma and the Charmings, but not before Anna puts to and to together and tells them not to trust Rumpel.
Rumpel puts his plan into motion and attempts to crush Hooks heart. Emma arrives in time but can’t do anything to stop him. Everything looks hopeless, but at the last minute Rumpel finds himself physically unable to do it. He asks why out loud and Belle steps forward holding the dagger. Oh snap!
It is about time Belle gained a backbone. All season she’s been relegated to babysitter, or background. She’s barely spoken and has been in the dark on every single thing Rumpel has done all season. This isn’t the Belle we know and love. Finally, she wakes up and realizes that her relationship is a sham and that her husband is a liar. She followed the gauntlet to the thing Rumpel loved most and it wasn’t her, but the real dagger (good for you, girl!). Rumpel is commanded to walk over the town line so he can never come back.
Finally, Emma shoves Hook’s heart into his chest, and Regina and Henry find a secret room in the Sorcerer’s house filled with empty storybooks. This must mean that the Author lives her. Anyway, Emma joins operation Mongoose and is determined to find Regina’s happy ending.
Oh, and six months later, Rumpel visits an Aquarium in New York and finds Ursula there working as a fish feeder. He recruits her to his new plot: finding the Author and taking happy endings for themselves. He just needs to make two more stops first.
The finale is a great place to end the winter season. Belle finally walked out of the abuse and stood up for herself, Rumpel got to play the villain, and Frozen is over! Our new trio of baddies are just the right amount of silly and I’m excited again. Bring on Part 2!