'Once Upon a Time' plot review: 'The Song in Your Heart'

Let’s take a look at "The Song in Your Heart" as the dual-faceted episode it is. For now, we'll concentrate on the actual plot and save the musical aspects for a separate review.

“The Song in Your Heart” brings the core characters together in a way that captures their individual journeys towards becoming the family they now are. Of course, that includes Hook and Emma’s wedding. Then, it pits them against the Black Fairy and the be-all-end-all of curses.

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To start off this episode, we were introduced to yet another sad moment in Emma’s childhood. Then, the scene switched to the Enchanted Forest of the past where a pregnant and desperate Snow made a wish on the star, Reul Ghorm, whom we know as the Blue Fairy. Snow wanted a happy ending for her unborn daughter, even if she couldn’t have one for herself. Blue answered her wish with the magic of music. As cheesy as it sounds, it was an effective technique that did a better job of tying varying plot lines together than other attempts we’ve seen.

As a result of Blue’s wish granting magic, the populace of the Enchanted Forest woke up in song. After an incisive tour through the kingdom (and a flash of Oz), the Charmings lost their musical power, and shortly thereafter, their memory of the entire escapade.

The reason for all the musical madness, Blue explained, was to capture their songs, and put them in Emma’s heart. The idea was that Emma would then have a part of her family with her always, and she’d be able to use the powerful magic of song to defeat the darkness of the final battle. When Snow pointed out that Emma won’t know she has this magic, Blue told her “we’ll just have to hope.” Sound familiar?

In a sequence of deciding what to wear mere hours before the wedding, Emma and Hook learned that Rumple double crossed them. The Black Fairy established that fact by ruining Snow’s wedding dress, which she had just given to Emma. Honestly, I was surprised that nothing else was said about that.

Anyway, after being confronted by the Black Fairy, Emma went to tell Hook “don’t worry,” which he correctly interpreted to mean “goodbye, just in case I don’t make it.” He pleaded with her to let him help, but of course she refused. This really bothered me. I feel like her character has become trusting, and she just got done telling him they face everything together. Why then did she insist on just the opposite? Maybe it’s just me, but I want to know why she went through the trouble of bringing him back from the underworld just to keep pushing him away. I know she wants to protect him, but can’t she imagine what it must be like for him to lose a second love of his life? Why bring him back for that?

Visibly distraught, Emma went back to the station to look through her ever growing box of things she’s kept since childhood. Henry walked in to find her staring at a picture of him when he was younger. When he asked her what she was doing, she told him that she was reminding herself what she’s fighting for. I know that Emma has opened herself up to being vulnerable, but why would she need to look through a box of old stuff to remember what she’s fighting for?

Meanwhile, Regina and Zelena made good on their word to find a way to stop the curse. Regina was familiar with it, because it’s like the one she cast. She and Zelena isolated the time freezing component with the intention of freezing the entire curse. Just as Zelena boasted and wondered aloud what Rumple would think, he showed up and poofed the potion out of their hands. In his ever sarcastically sassy way, he said, “I wonder how it works on people,” and froze them (along with the Charmings and Hook who were also there).

Emma went to face the Black Fairy, but to no avail. The Black Fairy displayed Emma’s frozen family, and announced to Emma that she is still all alone. At this point, Emma’s magic failed and her hand began to tremble, so she ran away. That surprised me. I guess I expected Emma to just walk up and slug her after that.

Somehow this rendezvous led to Emma deciding to just give in to the Black Fairy on the supposition that the rest of her family would then be free from threat, and Henry wouldn’t end up alone. She told Henry as much, and it all seemed very ill-conceived and didn’t feel right to me. However, it did lead to a nice grown up Henry moment, where like his grandpa Charming, he wiped the desk in frustration. Then, voilà! A new storybook page showed up depicting Snow’s wish. I love how random pages appear at just the right time!

Emma confronted the Black Fairy again, but this time offered her heart. However, the Black Fairy couldn’t crush it, and exasperatedly growled, “Why won’t you die?” Henry walked in and answered her question while he showed Emma the extra page, and explained that her song wasn’t her weakness, it’s her strength. She used this renewed strength to unfreeze the rest of her family and the Black Fairy left. Some fans have wondered why Emma didn’t defeat the Black Fairy right then and there, but I suppose as much as they wanted it to be, it wasn’t THE final battle.

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Of course, there was the wedding. It seemed a good way to end the episode. Everyone seemed happy, even baby Neal made an appearance, and the vows seemed genuine. Hook’s smile when Emma says “I do” was adorable. He tells her that she got her happy ending, but she replied that it’s not, it’s a happy beginning. Cue the last song. Watching them dance and sing was as out of character as seeing them be honestly happy. The ending of the song was punctuated with the dissonant tolling of the clock, and of course it wouldn’t really be the beginning of a curse without the town crier to announce it! Go Grumpy!

Wedding sans singing:

Much of this episode is reminiscent of the end of Season 2, and the first half of Season 3. Emma not wanting Henry to be alone really stood out to me. Some fans have pointed out that the curse separating them and affecting Emma’s memory, and Hook having to find her and make her remember (which is what the finale promo suggests) is a huge throwback to season 3.

If the singing and dancing had you rolling your eyes with humor laden derision, don’t worry, you’re not alone. If, however, you found yourself giggling with delight and singing along, be sure to check out our musical review. Oh, and don't miss the two hour finale "The Final Battle," which airs at 8 p.m. on Sunday, May 14!

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Carissa Shuman

Carissa is a writer, editor, and artist with a love for science and science fiction.

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