Severe weather delayed our reactions. Henry brought his A game. And the ships sailed en masse.
Then it was perfect. Here it’s funny. It’s both. Regina intitially chose because mongooses are fabled (operation) cobra killers.
The opening scene literally occurs on the day of Walter Elias Disney’s death: December 15, 1966. The envelope Isaac receives from Star Publishing bears that date. This pretty much confirms that the “man named Walt” mentioned by August in 4×17 “Best Laid Plans” was the Author immediately prior to Isaac Heller.
Bonus: 1966 was the year color television really became a viable consumer option following an industry wide push to broadcast half of all programming in color and the introduction of General Electric’s Porta-Color.
Bonus: “When You Wish Upon A Star,” the Disney anthem is alluded to in the publishing company, showing that even though Isaac views himself as a non-hero, he too can make his dreams come true.
Alice in Wonderland
The Apprentice keeps repeating to Isaac, “The time has come…” which is also the starting line of a stanza in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland “The Walrus and the Carpenter.” Turns out our Apprentice also played the role of the Carpenter in SyFy’s Alice.
“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”
Their logo appears on the sales floor television screens.
Zenith Space Command 600
Yes, the first practical wireless television remote control was called the Space Command, because the days of future past were awesome. The 600 was designed for use with color televisions and allowed viewers to adjust hues by increments.
The television Isaac’s awkwardly trying to sell is not, however, and actual 1966 model Zenith Mareseille.
25th Infantry Division
The customer and the shop owner are veterans of the United States’ Pacific War during World War II. The 25th Infantry Division, “Tropic Lightning” was posted at Schofield Barracks on Oahu.
So it’s probably another Lost related reference. However, that particular unit was also the subejct of From Here to Eternity which ends at the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Shortly after this scene, Oliver Stone would would see combat in Vietnam with the unit, the same which inspired Platoon.
Bonus: Isaac’s boss was the White Knight in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.
The Apprentice lays out five wands pens from which Isaac must choose. The scene is only somewhat reminiscent of Olivander’s, “The wand chooses the wizard.” However, Henry breaking the quill at the end mirrors Harry’s refusal of the Elder Wand.
These are probably too numerous to account for, but there’s an obvious Cinderella in the front row at Isaac’s reading. There’s a brilliant Ursula. And there’s the mind boggling superfan cosplaying Regina cosplaying bandit Snow. Needless to say, I was delighted by that one.
Isaac’s surname is inspired by Joseph Heller, another famous Jewish author. The reference manifests in Henry’s role. As a being born in the real world, Isaac was unable to affect him. But it’s that very quality that allows him to track down the renegade Author and eventually save the day.
He’s the catch. All of the books on the rack are mock-ups. On the far right, you can see Shadow Precinct by Bill Burd. Burd is Once Upon a Time‘s property master.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Grumpy: Hi ho, boys, it’s off to work we go!
Obviously every episode is technically a reference to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and half a dozen other Disnified fairy tales, but it’s rare to get an actual line from the film. This was great.
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
Henry instructs Killian to tell Emma’s guard that he’s escorting a prisoner from Kashyyyk. “The old wookie prisoner gag. Works every time.” Better yet, Hook’s our Hand Solo (forgive me.) And they’re rescuing Princess Leia!
Emma’s locked in a tower by the queen, technically her mother, in Heroes and Villains, approaching the Rapunzel reference which they couldn’t do directly since the character’s already represented on the show. But what they did do is dress her following the rescue in Flynn Rider’s clothes! So Emma gets to be both of the protagonists of Tangled.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Killian: You’re telling me that in this other reality I’m an expert with such a weapon?
Emma: You’re a regular Jack Sparrow.
Erin’s Happy Shipper Moments
Rather than reusing the hackneyed true love’s kiss, all the real ships of worth had love-motivated sacrifices.
Emma remembers the way things were before the rewrite, which is convenient for the plot but also gives the opportunity for lots of tasty dramatic irony. So, for instance, when Hook (a mere deckhand) and Henry rescue Emma from her tower, and she runs full on into Hook, there’s a moment where she clearly wants to kiss him. She’s so happy to see him again, she can hardly contain herself. But she knows he doesn’t remember her, even though its clear she makes a quick, deep romantic impression on him. It’s a dramatic reversal of him coming to New York to rescue her from her Storybrook amnesia. Though, of course, he does kiss her.
After defeating dragon Lily, Hook asks Emma why she trusted him with her life just now. She responds, “It’s complicated. Might take a while.” She ends up not telling him, but it gets Killian’s brain going in the right direction so that when they begin working on his fighting skills, and she’s playing the flirty mentor, he’s able to see clearly that in the world she’s trying to get back to, they were close. He comments that he’s rather jealous of this other Hook from her world, and echo of being jealous of the Hook she seduces at the end of Season 3.
Sadly, this is followed up by Killian’s sacrificial death giving Emma a chance to escape. Returning the trust, he figures if she manages her mission, his death here won’t mean anything. He’s right, but his death still deeply wounds Emma emotionally.
When later Emma attempts to convince Regina to go after Robin and her happiness, she explains, “I just watched the man I love die…The worst part is that I never told him I loved him. Not once. I was too scared. Too scared that somehow saying it would make it real and change everything.”
After Henry saves the day and returns everyone back to their original selves in Storybrooke, Emma makes a mad dash for the apartment to make sure Killian’s there. There’s a brief tease when we think he’s not, but he’s just up in the loft. She runs up to him and tackles him onto the bed. He’s happy to see her, of course, and tickled at her enthusiasm. She starts to come clean about her feelings, and his face shows he expects her to finally say it–he even has this adorable tiny smirk and a nervous swallow of the throat–but then she dodges into a thank you for saving her and Henry’s lives. Because he’s Killian, and he totally gets Emma, he simply responds it’s just another day in the life of a hero. But, of course, all of the Captain Swanners everywhere started throwing things at Emma on their televisions.
And finally, when Regina gets attacked by the Darkness and Emma decides to tether herself to it to save Regina, Hook begs her not to with tears in his eyes. She finally tells him she loves him before grabbing the dagger and sacrificing herself for Regina’s happy ending. That’s a three hanky ending, folks.
In Heroes and Villains, Rumple and Belle have a new baby and a happy marriage. But Rumple is keeping secrets about his first son from her, and Isaac uses that to manipulate Rumple into being villainous. Rumple attempts to talk to Belle about the dilemma in vague terms and ends up dropping his teacup in his nervousness, producing the infamous chipped cup that symbolizes their relationship.
When Henry returns the characters to where they were, Rumple is dying in the shop. Belle comes in looking for him, wanting to make sure he doesn’t hurt anyone else. But he knows these are his last moments, and when the man is gone, along with his ability to love, the Darkness will be the greatest danger the town has ever encountered. Faced with his impending death, Belle admits she doesn’t love Will (with the implication that she still loves Rumple) and won’t let Rumple die alone, but Rumple sends her for help to defend against the Darkness that is inside him.
Emma encourages Regina to go after her happy ending, starting with going after Robin. “My happy ending isn’t a man,” Regina states, with the implication that it might, in fact, be a woman named Emma.
Emma becomes the Dark One to save Regina from being killed by the Darkness like the Apprentice was. Regina protests that there must be another way–she doesn’t want Emma to do this–but Emma doesn’t see one, not yet anyway. She trusts that her family will find a way to banish her darkness once again as heroes. (Mmm, redemptiony.)
When Regina meets Robin after he rescues her from Evil Snow White, they share a drink at a pub, just as Henry suggested. Regina tries playing it cool, but Robin is all sincerity. He holds her hand to clean her wound in the age-old way of dowsing it in alcohol. She thought he’d be dirtier, but he’s always admired her skills. They’re clearly hitting it off, and Regina’s face becomes more and more open to the possibility that he really is her true love. He propositions her with taking his place as leader of the Merry Men. She asks what’s driving him out of the business, and he delivers a most romantic response, one that melts her very heart: “Have you ever met someone that you would change your entire world for? Someone whose eyes you just knew you were born to gaze into?” And as she gazes into his eyes, his words have struck a chord. Too damn bad he’s talking about Zelena.
And, of course, breaking the Isaac curse hinges on Regina stopping the wedding between Robin and Zelena and using true love’s kiss to undo the magic. She doesn’t manage it, though they do share an ambiguously sweet smile, instead sacrificing herself for Henry before he gets killed by Rumple. Robin and wedding party are leaving the chapel and see Regina. He runs to her. Zelena complains about getting blood on her dress, showing Robin what kind of false true love she really is. Robin promises that he won’t let Regina die alone.
Upon returning to Storybrooke, Robin asks Regina about Zelena. She says still locked up and still pregnant, but we can deal with that. Robin then invites her on a long moonlit walk. Unfortunately, that never happens thanks to the release of the Darkness. Robin attempts to save Regina by running into the Darkness, but he just gets thrown backwards.