For the first half of the Season 3 finale, check out the recap for “Snow Drifts.”
In the city of Portland in the year 2001, Neal picks a lock on a gate. It’s all about the tumblers. He brings Emma inside a closed amusement park. This is obviously their first date. Neal mentions that he has a complicated past. His home life was great once. Then things went south. Neal says, “That’s how you know you’ve really got a home. ‘Cause when you leave it there’s this feeling you can’t shake. You just miss it.”
In Fairy Tale Land past, Emma is tossed into a dungeon. The woman imprisoned next to her is the same one Emma saw in town. She’s the person she wanted to save from the Evil Queen. This mystery lady won’t reveal her name. Her anonymity is what’s keeping her family safe. She got on Regina’s bad side by protecting Snow White. Both she and Emma will only be imprisoned for one more night. After that, everyone in the dungeon is to be executed unless Emma can pick the lock. It’s all about the tumblers.
Prince Charming captures Snow White in a net as a very familiar scene plays out. This time, however, Snow doesn’t have the prince’s ring. Hook confirms this as he steps out of the woods. The ring is in the queen’s castle. Snow White can help them all get inside. She lets Charming know that she’s saving the dark fairy dust in the pendant around her neck for a special someone. The Evil Queen blames her for ruining her life. Snow can use the fairy dust to turn her into a bug—a bug that can be squashed.
Charming all but admits that he isn’t marrying his true love. He wonders if she’s even out there at all. His chat with Hook is interrupted by Red, who was sent by Snow to get them into the castle. In the dungeon, Emma breaks out of her cell. She frees her neighbor as well. The two of them run into Hook, Charming and Red. Snow White is still nowhere to be found. That’s because she’s confronting the Evil Queen with her dark fairy dust. It turns out to be no match for dark magic. Snow White’s execution is ordered. Emma and the others watch helplessly as Regina sets her ablaze.
Emma knows that if Snow White had truly died, her daughter would have faded from existence. Charming realizes the bug that’s bugging Hook is, indeed, Snow. The Blue Fairy arrives to help with some light magic. Emma is overjoyed when her mother returns. Snow is confused by this. She later warms up to Charming. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there may be consequences to saving the woman from the dungeon. So Emma knocks her reluctant new acquaintance unconscious for a journey to the future.
Snow White swipes Charming’s ring. They need to get to the docks before she uses it to buy safe passage. The only way to the harbor is over the troll bridge. Without dark fairy dust, Emma knows her parents will need help. Actually, they won’t. Snow White bluffs her way into saving Charming. Trolls aren’t exactly known for their cleverness. Emma watches her parents from afar as they begin to fall in love. She opens the storybook. The blank pages are now filled again with images that came as result of the greatest tale of true love ever told.
Rumplestiltskin tells Emma and Hook that he can’t open the portal. He’s making a forgetting potion since he now knows too much about his own future. Rumple sends Emma, Hook and the mystery lady to his castle vault. There’s no way out. It’s here that Emma admits to Hook that she was crushed when Snow White didn’t know who she was. She realizes that Henry didn’t bring her back to Storybrooke to break a curse. What he was really doing was bringing her home. Neal was right. You don’t have a home until you miss it.
Emma realizes she has her magic back. She opens the portal. Hook and the prisoner go through. Emma is about to follow until Rumplestiltskin grabs her. He wants to know about his son. Emma tells him the truth. His boy died a hero. She begs Rumple to drink the forgetting potion. He does. Emma joins Hook and the prisoner as they return to Storybrooke. She rushes to hug her parents at Granny’s. She missed them so much. She’s not going anywhere. This is exactly where she and Henry belong. Emma even made her way into the storybook under her alias—Princess Leia.
David announces that his son is being named for a great hero. His name is to be Prince Neal. Cheers and tears flow through Granny’s Diner. Moments later, Emma learns that Hook traded the Jolly Roger to save her. This leads to a passionate kiss under the night sky. Elsewhere, under those same Storybrooke stars, Belle is led through the woods to Rumplestiltskin where they exchange their wedding vows. They share a kiss, as do Regina and Robin Hood just before they enter Granny’s. The prisoner from the past is panicked when she sees the woman she knows only as the Evil Queen. Then she’s overjoyed to see her long lost husband, Robin Hood. This mystery prisoner’s name: Marian.
Robin Hood is stunned as he hugs his wife, who in turn hugs their son. Regina is devastated. She blames Emma for this. She warns that she better hope she didn’t bring anything else back with her. Turns out she did. At Zelena’s barn, an urn opens. What looks like liquid metal spills out to transform into a human form. It’s a blonde-haired woman in a teal dress. Her face remains unseen as she removes one of her gloves. Ice shoots from her hand towards the urn which freezes instantly. The unseen figure exits the barn with a walk that suggests she has a purpose in mind once she reaches her destination. She’s headed for downtown Storybrooke.